WHAT REALLY MATTERS MOST

We often hear the all-too-familiar encouragement to live in the present. True, because if you don’t, you might miss out the blessing of the here and now. On the other hand, if you get too pre-occupied with the present, you might lose sight of what is sure to come.Death.

Oh you’ve seen it rear its ugly head or smelled the stench of its filthy breath, haven’t you? It may have been while you were comforting a friend who just lost someone he or she loved. Or it may have been while holding the hand of someone you loved as he or she slowly expired on that hospital bed. Or it may have been while they were lowering down the coffin which contained the lifeless body of someone you cared about.

And it may never have occurred to you that the tables will one day turn — that someday, you will have to play a different role in the drama called life; that you won’t be the comforter, or the mourner; but that somebody else will comfort the ones you love or that someone else will shed a tear for you.

Advent is a time to be reminded once again about the mortality of life.

Advent is a stepping back to see life as it is —- a temporary assignment; a mere stopover.

Advent is a season to take stock of one’s life and see what really matters most.

Advent is a moment to put one’s house in order.

Yesterday, I made an inventory of what I have and began to “purge” my closet with my excess.

I always believed that what I haven’t worn for at least a year is no longer mine. So off to the hamper they went. In a few weeks, they will be given away to those who can really make better use of them. Clothes that I no longer use, redundant or even those clothes which for some reason, seemed to have shrunk (especially on the tummy portion) were removed from the clutter of my closet. In other words, I was putting my house in order so that I can do away with my excess and keep what I truly need.

Advent is likewise a time to put your spiritual house in order.

Remove the excesses which burden you. Put away the old self and put on the new. Clean up the clutter in your mind and heart, and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe on you afresh. Make an inventory of what you have and keep only those which really, really matter.

Let me give you a test: If you are living your last day on this earth, what are the things you would choose to invest your remaining time on? Your answer to this question will show to you what you really value in this life.

This Advent season, go ahead, clean up your closet and do away with the excesses.

Life is short.

Invest it on what truly matters most.

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DREAMGIVER

When I was a little boy, my late father, who used to put his arm around me while watching the delayed telecast of PBA games on TV, would say, “Son, one day you’d be doing wonderful things in Araneta Coliseum”, referring of course to his dream of me one day playing ball in the PBA.
As in previous years, just like last Sunday in Catchfire, I have come to realize that God had somehow honored my father’s wish.
I never got to play in the Big Dome, but I got to preach there.
I never got to make shots but I got to make disciples.
I never got to win games, but I got to win souls.
My friend, God is a dreamgiver.
If He planted that dream in your heart, he is committed to fulfill it. Perhaps not in the way you expect him to. But in the way that is perfect for you!

Run Your Race

Often, our tendency is to compare the way we run with the way others run.

He has a better job.
He has a bigger house.
He has a nicer car.
He has a more beautiful family.
He is richer, smarter, and healthier.

The “comparison game” never works. You see, somebody will always be better than you in at least one aspect of life. Comparing brings despair. We question our value. We second-guess our worth.

In today’s Gospel, Peter asked Jesus about John. He said, “Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21). And Jesus was quick to tell him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” (John 21:22).

In other words, Jesus was saying, “Quit comparing, Peter. Start running your own race!”

And besides, if a runner who runs a race keeps glancing at the runner who is running beside him, he can trip and fall. In running your race, focus on your track and on your goal. That’s the only way to win your race.

Today, I am reminded to run my race. Be the best in what God has called me to be. Make the most of what God has given me. It doesn’t matter how others run in relation to me. What matters is how I run in relation to the course which God has set for me.

Be the best Christian, husband, father, son, brother, and friend that I could be. Today, I resolve. I will run my race and I will run it as best as I can!

You should too!

Stubborn Faith

I look to the day when every “why?” will have an answer — every question, an explanation.

Why he had to die so early…

Or the business didn’t prosper…

Or the marriage didn’t work out…

Or the tumor had to be malignant…

Or the dream didn’t materialize…

Unsatisfied, we often raise both a fist and a charge to God just like Martha who said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died….” (John 11:21)

Paraphrased, “What took you so long, Jesus? Why did you delay? Why didn’t you come rushing to your friend, Lazarus, when you heard the news?”

But Jesus had a good reason.

He was about to perform something spectacular to enable exponential growth in the people’s faith. In a sense, Lazarus’ death was necessary for the people’s faith to live.

Martha’s limited human understanding, however, could not fully grasp the divine ways of her friend. Until she saw her brother strolled outside the empty tomb. It was only when she looked around her and saw how the people gasped, knelt and praised God that day that she understood why Jesus did what he did.

Martha had to wait for weeks to find her answer.

We might need to wait a lifetime to find ours.

For some of us, we might even have to wait until we get to the other side to get our answers.

Either way, we ought to wait with stubborn faith.

Stubborn because it doesn’t yield to despair, or resentment or surrender. It chooses to believe that God always has good reasons for what He allows in our lives.

Are you now wrestling with some unanswered questions in your life, my friend?

Choose to wait with stubborn faith today.

Wait. Trust. Believe.

That pretty soon, you’ll hear the rock move and a dead man march out from an empty tomb!

Running on Empty

Empty. Dry. Parched.

You sometimes feel that way, don’t you?

When your best seemed not enough.
When your work doesn’t seem to matter.
When what you do doesn’t seem to make sense.
When no matter what you do, your jump seemed not high enough; your reach not long enough; your effort not good enough.

Life has thrown so many left hooks at you and you’ve heard the umpire exclaim “strike out” so many times already.

You are running on empty.

But perhaps that’s where the problem lies: You are “running”. Scampering after every opportunity. Going after every break. Fixing every trouble in your world.
Let’s take a break today. Slow down. Step back. Sit still in one corner and pray. Your world won’t end if you stop trying to run it. Somebody once said: “Resign today as general manager of the universe because Someone else is.”

A car running on empty needs to stop so it can be filled with gas. A person running on empty needs to stop so he can be filled with grace.

If Jesus was in the Storm

If Jesus was in this storm…

He would go to the streetchild and bring him home…
He would comfort the parents who lost their child in the flood…
He would embrace the orphan and console the widow in the midst of the rain…
He would protect the rescuers as they risk their lives to save those in trouble…
He would feed the hungry and satisfy the thirsty…
He would shield the homeless from the heavy downpour…

BUT JESUS IS IN THIS STORM…

Through you and me, He is.

O Lord, tell us what can be done, and we will!

When Life Doesn’t Satisfy

Money is not your problem. How to spend it wisely is.

Health is not your problem. How to use it productively is.

No major crisis. No major worry. No major challenge.

Except that you are empty.

The work, though not bad, doesn’t satisfy.
The relationships, though stable, do not fulfill.
The achievements, though commendable, do not gratify.

“Something is missing…” you say.

You are not a big-time sinner. You pay your taxes. You occasionally give to charity. You don’t offend anyone. In fact, you are pretty decent in all areas of your life.

But it doesn’t change the fact that you are not “truly” happy.

Something within you persistently cries out, “There must be more to life than this.”

And my friend, I just want you to know that there is.

Scripture says: “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

The problem with an “ok” life is precisely that: It’s only “ok”.

God never meant for us to have just an “ok” life. He wants us to have a full life.

One that has meaning. One that has purpose. One that has passion.

One that truly satisfies.

Today, I invite you to give God a try. Get to know Him a little bit more. Try to focus more at mass today. Say “yes” to that Bible Study or prayer meeting invitation. Open that dusty old Bible. Converse with God.

Who knows? Perhaps true satisfaction for your life may just be a “yes” away.