CHRISTIANS ARE FOOLS!

Holy Week is a week of ironies.This week, we saw a master wash his disciples’ feet.
We call the Friday when God was crucified as “good”.
We take the symbol of the most shameful and gruesome death and turn it into a symbol of unsurpassed triumph and life.

And now this — we rejoice on emptiness.

We don’t usually rejoice with emptiness.

We don’t take delight with an empty fridge.
Or an empty stomach.
Or an empty bank account.
Or the empty closet of your spouse.

Yet today, we give our loudest cheer because of an empty tomb.

For us Christians, the empty tomb gives us all the reasons to rejoice.

The emptiness of the tomb fills our lives with joy.
The emptiness of the tomb fills our hearts with hope.
The emptiness of the tomb fills our spirits with life.

From behind the stone that was rolled, the emptiness exclaims so loudly a million reasons to celebrate.

Your pain has purpose.
Your sin is erased.
Your past is forgiven.
Your future is secured.
Your life has meaning.
Your death is temporary.
Your hope is not in vain.

And yes, one last irony: today, Easter Sunday happens to be April Fools’ Day too.

And why not?

Wasn’t He who rose from the tomb this day the greatest fool who ever lived?

For who in his right mind would die for someone like me?
For who in his right mind would suffer for a wretch like me?
For who in his right mind would stand in my place at Calvary?

So today, I rejoice in emptiness. Others will not understand. Others will wonder. Others will shake their heads in disbelief.

I won’t be surprised if they think I’m crazy.

And perhaps, I am. Perhaps we are.

So fools, stand up, be counted and rejoice!

This is proudly our day!

Advertisements

YOUR POST-CREDIT SCENE IS GLORIOUS!

When we watch a marvel movie, my kids would often insist that we stay for the post-credit scene which takes place…well…after the credits. (Obviously!) Long after other people have left, we would be there glued to our seats waiting for the avengers to suit up again one last time before we pack for home.Satan never stayed for the post-credit scene on that first Good Friday.

When Jesus breathed his last on the cross, Satan went celebrating with his minions. He didn’t get to watch the post-credit scene. He thought the last scene was a cross on a hill. He didn’t get to watch that scene where the boulder was rolled from the entrance of the tomb. Had he stayed behind, he would have realized that his merriment was embarrassingly premature.

That is the story of Satan’s life vis a vis every believer of the Lord.

No matter what he throws at us, if we hold on to Jesus to the end, we will still emerge victorious.

Death will not have the final say. Life will!
Sin will not have the closing encore. Holiness will!
Fear will not have the ultimate blow. Faith will!
Hate will not have the last word. Love will!

All Jesus asks of us is to hold on. No matter what “Good Fridays” you may be going through. Never let go. Never give up. Never throw in the towel. Keep loving. Keep serving. Keep believing.

Because for those who hang on, the post-credit scene of your life will not be a lifeless hill under a gloomy sky but rather, an empty tomb bathed in glorious light!

 

IN ONE INSTANT

I was writing a rather lengthy reflection of the Gospel today when one of my children accidentally pulled the plug of my computer which left the screen blank. In one instant, everything I worked for closed to an hour was gone.

Then it dawned on me: Isn’t that what I often do to God?

When I sin.
When I indulge.
When I fail to love.

In one instant, I undermine everything He has done for me on that first Good Friday.

Today, I pray, may we truly value what Jesus did for us on the road to Calvary by living a life worthy of His sacrifice.

He deserves nothing less.

WHY?

Over the past month, I have witnessed the sickness and death of so many good people I know. I stood before coffins with a myriad of questions swirling around my mind. I comforted those left behind with my tears or with my hug, but never with my words because I had none to give.As a preacher, I am expected to know what to say during times like those. A comforting word, perhaps, that would make things easier to bear. I dramatic, philosophical, and theological insight maybe that would somehow lessen the pain.

But no, to my shame, I am often tongue-tied in moments like those.

I simply do not know what to say. There are moments when death requires no explanation but simply an exhortation to keep believing.

Indeed, sometimes, God does things that are devoid of any rational explanation. Sometimes, he does things with us that often may not make sense…at least from a purely human perspective.

WHY did you get sick?
WHY did the marriage of your parents fail?
WHY did your spouse have to leave?
WHY do the bad prosper?
WHY do the good die young?

WHY? WHY? WHY?

Questions.

We have questions in life that are often left unanswered. We stare at a blank wall. We incline our ear to silence. We beckon to a hallowed space.

Nothing.

No reasons. No logic. No meaning.

It is in these moments when we question the good in our God.

Is He really, in the first place?

I’m sure you have your own litany of queries that are unrequited. You sigh and shake your head. You wonder, really, if somewhere out there, a big, all-good, and all-knowing being truly exists as they say.

Let me assure you today, my friend — there is.

As sure as the sun rose this morning and as certain as its setting late this afternoon, there is a good God who loves you beyond your imagination. You just need to keep believing.

Today, Holy Thursday, take inspiration from the experience of a bunch of men who were likewise baffled by what their master intended to do. It wasn’t customary for the master to be doing what Jesus was about to do. It didn’t make sense for the master to be washing the feet of his disciples. Peter protested. Jesus insisted.

“Jesus said, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’…” (John 13:17)

For those among us who are confused, I believe Jesus hurls those same words at us.

In a similar way, God exhorts us today that someday, somehow, explanations will come. Things will make sense.

Questions will be answered.

Perhaps not completely in this lifetime. But surely in the next.

So grieve, yes. Struggle, by all means. Shed tears, if necessary.

But hold on. Keep believing. Trust.

Remember, eventually Peter understood why Jesus did what he did. Peter later on found out that his feet were washed that day by the Carpenter from Nazareth not only because Jesus was after hygiene.

Years later, hanging on an upside down cross in the outskirts of Rome, Peter smiled.

For then, He already knew WHY.

GOD CAN LEAD YOU TO THE DESERT

Jesus didn’t go to the desert.No, he didn’t wake up one day, took his planner and said, “Hmmm, what should I do today? Oh yeah. Maybe a field trip to the desert would be great.”

If you read scriptures, you would realize that he was actually “driven”, “ushered”, “led” to go there by the Holy Spirit.

“And at once the Spirit drove him into the desert” (Mark 1:12)

Why would God bring His Son to the desert? The answer is simple: Because it was necessary.

It was necessary for him to feel weak so he can find his strength in God the Father alone.
It was necessary for him to feel hungry so he will realize that the Father is all He needs.
It was necessary for him to feel vulnerable so he will trust in the Father alone.
It was necessary for him to be tempted with power and glory so that he can find power only in His weakness and find glory only in doing His father’s will.

Sometimes, God does the same thing with us. He leads us to the “desert”.

Where in our weakness, we can find strength in Him alone.
Where in our vulnerability, we can receive his protection.
Where in our nothingness, He can be our all!

After forty days in the desert, Jesus came out stronger and more ready to do the mission entrusted to Him.

God might be doing the same thing with you!

YOUR GOD IS YOUR DAD

The beautiful noonday sun shone brightly that day as I lazily stretched out under the overarching canopy of trees along the mesmerizing Boracay shoreline. Ahhh! What an incredible sight! Jeng, my wife, was enjoying her swim. I was enjoying well… just doing nothing.Then my thoughts turned to the profound.

I asked myself, “How can a missionary couple like Jeng and myself enjoy such pleasures in life?”

Without expecting it, I received an answer. In the deepest recesses of my heart came a soothing and all-loving voice, “Because I am your Dad.”

DAD. That word carries with it an avalanche of consoling truths and comforting emotions.

Dad means strength.
Dad means consolation.
Dad means security.
Dad means assurance.
Dad means safety.
Dad means comfort.
Dad means honor.
Dad means love.

No wonder a not-so-rich missionary like myself is treated to such royalty vacations and above-average luxuries.

My God is my Dad.

The Bible says:

“But my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:19)

The one who truly owns, not just the Boracay seas, but the entire universe is looking after me. He knows I need to rest. He knows I need recuperation. He knows I need to recharge.

Ever wonder if you can make it through your week with your tight budget? Or find the strength to recover from your illness? Or overcome that sin? Or win over that stressful situation?

Think about your Dad.

He is not asleep. He is not having a day-off. He is in control.

And He will supply your needs according to his riches in glory.

Yes, even as you relax by the Boracay seas!

IN CONTROL

The earth will not revolve nor rotate without His permission.
The sun won’t rise, nor the moon shine, nor the stars sparkle without his consent.
The seconds won’t trickle, nor the minutes move, nor the hours pass, nor the days consumed without his approval.
No trouble, discomfort, distress or misfortune will come your way today without his acquiescence.
All blessings that fall on your lap first passed through his hands.
He directs. He allows. He permits.
Our faith is this: If God allows it, no matter how good or bad it may be, He sees something good to come out from it. His purpose is never to harm you nor destroy you but to bless and love you no matter what. In ways we don’t understand. In ways we don’t comprehend.
The Bible says: “God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Not for a moment should you even think that God has bailed out on you. He hasn’t. No matter how tough, painful, difficult or fearful your situation might be. Keep your head high. God is up to something.
God is King. God is powerful. God is sovereign.
He is always IN CONTROL.