What is your “lampstand”?

January 31, 2008 

“…When the light comes, is it to be put under a tub or a bed? Surely, it is put on a lampstand…” (Mark 4:21)

“There are so many ads of apartments up for lease…” I uttered as my wife and I drove by the curve. Jeng smiled, “I think you just notice them now because we are thinking of investing in real estate.”

I guess she was right.

It’s not the case that more apartments have been for rent lately. It’s just that my wife and I have been extra observant of those kinds of ads recently simply because over the past months, we have been praying about buying a condominium unit or apartment. In a sense, you can say that recently we have been actively on the look-out for opportunities to invest.

Sometimes, I wish that I can be as active in terms of looking out for opportunities to let God’s light shine on those around me. 

“…When the light comes, is it to be put under a tub or a bed? Surely, it is put on a lampstand…” (Mark 4:21)

“Lampstands” are the many opportunities that God gives us daily so that we can let our light shine before others. These “lampstands”  are all over us.

That beggar who sits by your doorstep.

That streetchild who tapped on your windshield last night.

That officemate who was just left by her husband for another woman.

That new leadership position in your organization which now gives you the chance to organize an evangelistic event in your office.

Friend, you are God’s light. And God is calling you to be sensitive to all the “lampstands” — opportunities — He sends your way everyday. Make use of them. Maximize them. Take advantage of them.

The opportunity comes in many forms. But sometimes, the most effective “lampstands” are those that stand in the midst of pitch-black darkness. It is where the light can shine the brightest.

Our wedding principal sponsor and sister from our prayer group comes to mind. Her name is Ate Roseanne.

Ate Roseanne is a beautiful woman blessed with a very loving husband and two lovely daughters. She is a gifted speaker and writer with an exceptionally humble heart. But while she is known for what she has, she is more known for what she hasn’t — a healthy body. You see, Ate Roseanne has been afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis for over two decades now. Yet despite her sickness, she continues to love and serve God with everything she’s got. That is the reason why her burden has been eclipsed by her faith.

Ate Roseanne has a very unlikely lampstand: multiple sclerosis.

But this lampstand is one of the best lampstands anyone could have. Once Ate Roseanne was placed on it two decades ago, her light has shone brightly and unceasingly. It has enlightened not only her own life, but more importantly those around her, including this writer. And there are more stories of people I know whose faith shone brightly when placed on the lampstands of pain, fear and suffering.

How about you? Are you going through some difficult moment right now in your life? Is it sickness? Or unemployment? Or insecurity? Or the loss of a loved one? Or unconquerable worry?

Friend, that is your lampstand. This is the best time to shine. To keep your joy. To witness with your faith. To remain faithful in the midst of a trial. To forgive despite the injustice. To love without reciprocity. To continue inspiring and blessing others.

Make good use of your “lampstands”. They are there for a very, very good purpose.

To let your light shine the brightest…for your God.

Have a blessed day!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

 Bobby Q.    

P.S. By the way, I am part of a ministry called “Lampstand Inspirations”, the goal of which is to bring God’s light through retreats, recollections, motivational seminars and other inspirational events. “LI” serves parishes, prayer groups, communities, churches and companies. If you are interested to know more about “LI”, check its website link from this blogsite. Hope to be given the opportunity (lampstand) to serve you and your group, my friend!

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Pssst!

January 30, 2008

“…Whoever has ears ought to know…” (Mark 4:9)

An American friend once shared with me a true story…

He was in grocery shop in the U.S.A when he noticed an asian looking woman-shopper. Looking closely at her, he was almost sure that she was a Filipina. Being a regular visitor of the Philippines and having a lot of Filipino friends, he was tempted to strike a conversation with her. However, he first wanted to be sure. So guess what he did.

My American friend said, “Pssst!”. The only person who whirled around to see where the sound came from was…you guessed it: the Asian-looking shopper. Only then did my American friend approach her. And true enough, she was Filipina!

The Filipina was receptive to the sound made by my American friend because it was something she was familiar with. It was programmed in her subconscious, but more importantly, imbedded in her Filipino heart.

In the same way, the voice of God is programmed in our subconscious and imbedded in our hearts. In fact, I believe that from the moment of our conception, the very first voice we heard was the voice of our Creator.

But somewhere along the way, we became deaf to His voice, and insensitive to His promptings. The noisy world in which we were born has a way of preventing us from hearing the inherent call of our lives: to be with Him and to live for Him.

That is the reason why I am a preacher and a writer. Just like the sower in today’s Gospel, my desire is to be the megaphone of God hoping to awaken our senses to the loving inner voice of our Maker and so that “…(W)hoever has ears ought to know…” (Mark 4:9)  the unconditional and personal love of God for all of us.

I firmly believe in the following:

1. Preaching before a crowd…somebody out there will hear and give his life to God.

2. Through my books…somebody out there will read a sentence and be changed forever because of it.

3. Through my videos…somebody out there will know of God’s love and decide to serve Him for the rest of his life.

4. Through this blog site…somebody like you can hear the soft whisper of our loving God, and pass on the Word to others.

That is my prayer. That is my hope.

That through this blog, God’s voice may cut through the noises of your world (e.g. workload, bills, deadlines, tuition fees, heart aches, disappointments, worries etc.).

That through this blog, God’s face may shine through your darknesses.

That through this blog, God’s love may enter your world and perhaps, change your life forever.

Say this prayer with me today:

Dear Lord, I pray to hear your voice in the midst of this busy day. Let me be sensitive to your presence, and be receptive to your love. Change me. Love me. Comfort me. I want to know you more today. Amen.

And just like in the grocery shop, you might just hear a “Pssst!”. Turn around.

Your loving God is calling you.

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

P.S. If you want to partner with me in sowing seeds of God’s love to your friends, you can do the following:

1. Get your friends to visit this site daily.

2. Buy my books and give them as gifts to your friends. (Check out the “Media” Section of this blog. Email me if you want to order and I will let you know where you can buy them.)

3. Buy my VCDs and DVDs (Check out the “Media” Section of this blog. Email me if you want to order and I will let you know where you can buy them.)

4. Tag along a friend to any of my preaching engagements. (Check out the “Preaching At” section of this blog for my speaking engagement schedules.)

Who knows? Your efforts might just fall on “rich soil”.

Bottomline

January 29, 2008  

“…Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me…” (Mark 3:35)

I thought it was going to be another ordinary dinner date. I was wrong.

I was in high school when I asked her out. She was about my age, studying in another school from across town. To be honest, she was quite mysterious to me. Unlike other girls I dated at that time, she seemed more confident of herself and was always cheerful. It was because of this that I decided to ask her out on a date. Little did I know that our short conversation that night was the beginning of my long journey back to God.

It was during that evening when, for the first time in my life, I heard someone speak so boldly about her relationship with God. No pretenses. No preaching. No sugarcoating. Just a plain and simple testimony of how much she exerienced God’s transforming power in her life. To be honest, I tried so many times to veer away from the topic but she seemed to manage to always insert God into the conversation. 

Our night ended quietly without much funfare compared to my previous dates. No, I would not even consider it a turning point in my life. But it was, I admit, the beginning of my search for this God whom she spoke of so passionately.

Honestly, nothing came out of that dinner date. The girl and I never entered into any serious relationship after that. In fact, we never went out on another date since then. I don’t know where she is or how she is doing nowadays. But one thing I cannot deny is this: that she was a catalyst in my eventual conversion from a life of sin to a life with God.

Today, I am a Catholic lay preacher conducting retreats, recollections and prayer rallies for the Catholic faithful. I am what I would consider a devout Catholic. But the girl who spoke to me about Jesus was not. You see, she was a born-again Christian. The irony, therefore, is this: The person who helped me become a good Catholic was not even one.

Because of this reality, I realize now one fundamental foundation of my ministry: what changes lives are not the labels of your denomination, but Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Catholic Church, and I will always do. But I love Jesus first and above all. This, my friends, is my bottomline. That you may be Baptist, or Lutheran or Evangelical. But if you love Jesus and live your life as his disciple, then I will embrace you as my brother or sister in Christ.

Rick Warren, author of the book “The Purpose Driven Life” once said when he spoke during his visit here in the Philippines two years ago: “A Catholic who loves Jesus is more of a brother to me than a baptist who does not.”

And this idea did not originate from Warren. It was Christ himself who said:

“…Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me…” (Mark 3:35)

The members of Jesus’ family are not just the Catholics or the Baptists, but each and every person who has made an explicit decision to live as His disciple. Before the cross of Christ, labels may not matter that much. It’s the heart that counts.

That, my friends, is His bottomline. Let it be your bottomline too!

Have a blessed day!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.  

  

Mission Statement

January 28, 2008

“…The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul’…” (Mark 3:22)

Recently, I heard one of our speakers in our prayer group share about a true story (I changed some details so as not to avoid any possible allusion to any individual or group)…

A Christian denomination (“denomination A”) once came up with its Mission Statement. One of its members, Roger (not his real name) decided to show the Mission Statement to his friend, Arnold, who happen to be a member of a different Christian denomination (“denomination B”) in order to test if his friend would agree to sign it even though they belong to two different denominations.

To Roger’s surprise, Arnold, after reading the statement, gladly agreed to sign it. Roger then reported the matter to the leader of his denomination who was known to be anti-ecumenism. The leader’s response was a classic. “Roger,” he began, “the reason why your friend agreed to sign our statement was because he is not a devout member of his denomination.”

After hearing this, Roger decided to bring the statement to the leader of Arnold’s denomination. To his surprise, the leader also agreed to sign the statement. Roger reported the matter to the leader of his denomination. His leader, after musing over the situation, finally replied, “Roger, the reason why the leader of denomination B was willing to sign this statement was because this is a bad statement. Quick, help me re-write it.”

Pride, biases and narrow-mindedness. More often than not, these three team up to prevent unity among us.

When one insists that he is right and the other is wrong.

When one refuses to accept that the other can be right and he can be wrong. 

When one fails to see the commonality in the midst of their differences.

And I am not just talking about ecumenism and Christian unity. The same can be said of our governments and politics. Of our companies and organizations. Of our communities and prayer groups. Of our society in general. And worse, even of our families.

Pride: Our parish has more projects than yours. 

Bias: The poor are poor because they are lazy.

Narrow-mindedness: I could never work with you because of your personality type.

No wonder the Scribes had a difficult time accepting Jesus.

“…The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul…” (Mark 3:22)

Even if Jesus was talking of the same God they served. Even if His words seemed logical and obviously moral. Even if he sounded holy and upright. They refused to believe. Why?

The triple tag team composed of pride, bias and narrow-mindedness,  reared their ugly heads and blinded the scribes to what could have been an opportunity to advance mightily God’s kingdom in their nation.

Friend, sometimes we can fall on the same trap. Our pride prevents us from cooperating with others who seem to be better than us. Our biases can prevent us from working together with those who may be different but are also desirous of achieving for your society or your organization what you hope to achieve for it. Our narrow-mindedness can cause us to miss out on an opportunity to learn and grow from the wisdom and experiences of others.

Today, I challenge you. Put the triple tag team to rest for awhile. Stop burning bridges and instead start building them. Stop slandering and start serving. Stop sowing seeds of criticisms, and start scattering seeds of affirmation. Try to see everyone from the perspective of God.

Let humility, impartiality and open-mindedness be part of your principles starting today. Write it down in black and white. Try going around and get others to believe in it too.

You’ll be surprised, dear friend. 

So many out there would be willing to sign that mission statement with you.

Have a blessed Monday!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q. 

You are not the Messiah

January 27, 2008 

“…He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men’…” (Matthew 4:19)

Over the weekend, I brought along my family with me to Tagaytay where I gave a one and a half day retreat. During one of the breaks in the sessions, I took my three year old daughter Robelle for a stroll around the sprawling grounds of the venue.

As we were busy conversing about mundane and childish topics like the stock market and the economic crisis (Robelle’s favorite topics), we noticed an attractive looking fishpond a few meters from where we were. Seeing this, Robelle broke into a run towards it shouting excitedly, “Papang, fish! Fish!””.

When we got to the pond, I saw what she saw: A school of fish gathered by the surface of the pond where streaks of sunlight touched the face of the water.

As we inched closer to where the fish were, we noticed they  retreated one by one out of sight beneath the murky waters. Then I just realized what happened: In drawing close to the pond, I unintentionally blocked the streak of light.

Then it dawned on me: Don’t we sometimes do the same thing when it comes to “fishing for men and women” for the kingdom of God?

Occasionally, we get the wrong impression that the success of our evangelistic endeavors is dependent mostly in our abilities, influence and gifts.  As a result we obstruct their view of Christ. At times, we even feel very disappointed when a person whom we’ve been trying to evangelize for so many years still refuses to take God seriously in his life. And we penalize ourselves for that. As if evangelization is all about us and our capabilities. As if people are drawn to us. As if we are the light that they seek. 

 In today’s gospel, Jesus called Peter and Andrew to ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men’…” (Matthew 4:19). And throughout their ministry with Jesus, Peter and Andrew realized that an important fishing principle of their profession also applies to their evangelistic vocation: That people are really drawn, not to them, but to Jesus, the True Light of the world.

Last Thursday, I preached before a parish crowd somewhere in Paranaque, Metro Manila and I exhorted them to never give up in bringing their relatives and friends to the Lord even if they are rejected. I told them to simply fulfill their role of inviting people to their prayer meetings and parish activities, and if given the opportunity, to share with these people about God’s love. I told them not to be too hard on themselves especially when people don’t respond to them the way they want them to. Why? Simply because they are not the messiah. Jesus is. And their role is simply to introduce them to Him.

Dear visitor, how about you?

Do you feel disappointed over the fact that your spouse has yet to take God seriously in his life despite all your efforts in bringing him/her to the Lord?

Or do you feel that your such a failure for not being able to bring your children to church on Sundays?

Or that your campus ministry work has not yielded the fruits that you envisioned to reap?

Friend, stop banging your head on the wall. All God asks of you is to come after Him and do your best to fish for men and women. At the end of the day, people will be drawn to the Lord, not so much because we are good or capable, but because God’s Light has shone on them.

Don’t seek to take the spotlight off the Lord. Let more of His light shine on them. For after all, the title of “Messiah” has long been taken by the man on the cross. And just so you don’t forget…

…the man on the cross is NOT you.

 Have a blessed Sunday!

 In Christ, always your friend,

Bobby Q.

P.S. My apologies for this late posting. It was a long retreat this weekend and this has been my only time to write. I hope you are still blessed!

No Place Like It

January 26, 2008

“…He came home…” (Mark 3:20) 

I am writing this as I get ready to leave for Tagaytay this morning where I am scheduled to conduct a retreat over the weekend. 

Tagaytay is one of those places that I just love to visit. The cool breeze. Breathtaking sceneries. Reflective silence. Not to mention the delectable Tagaytay specialties like the Mushroom Burgers and Buko Pies. 

Some people ask me why I chose to stay in Manila when I am the kind who delights in a simple life.

“Why not settle in Davao, your home province?”, some would often ask me. Whenever confronted with this question, I simply shrug my shoulders and smile.

Sometimes, I find myself asking the same questions. Why did I decide to settle in Manila? Why did I barter the simplicity of the province with the stresses of the city life? Why slug it out in the rat race of the Metropolis when the slow and non-competitive life of the province is much more attractive?

I found the answer sometime ago when I was on a preaching engagement in Dumaguete. Dumaguete is a beautiful place. Your typical province where there are no traffic jams and road altercations. Everyone seem not to be in a hurry, and people have the time (and the energy!) to smile. People in Dumaguete often joked that because of the proximity of the places inside the city, you get to one place faster than your test messages.

But it was in this place when I confronted the question: Why am I in Manila when the province is a more attractive place? 

Friend, the answer is simple: Metro Manila is my home.

Years ago, I read in one of Bo Sanchez’ Kerygma editorials, that home is not where it is convenient or comfortable. Rather, home is where God calls you to be. Where God is, there is your home too.

A long time ago I have been convinced that despite the disadvantages of living in Metro Manila, this is where God calls me to serve Him primarily.

This is where I am primarily called to preach. Where I am primarily called to evangelize. Where I am primarily called to write my books. Where I am primarily called to witness to my faith. Not Tagaytay, or Davao or Dumaguete. But Metro Manila.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus decided to go home. 

“…He came home…” (Mark 3:20). 

And his stay there was far from comfortable and convenient. There, his relatives tried to seize him because they said he was out of his mind (v. 21). The Scribes even  accused him of being possessed by demons (v.22). But instead of leaving and going to where it is safer, where he is accepted and where there are no criticisms, Jesus stayed on and preached. 

Why? Because at that time, that was where the Father has called him to be.

How about you, dear friend? Where is God calling you to be right now? Where are you called to witness? Where are you called to make a difference?

Perhaps it is in an office where you are ostracized because you refuse to join the gang whenever they choose to watch lewd shows in town. Or in a company where you refuse to comply with the boss’ instructions to give a bribe to that government agency. Or in a family where your new found convictions about your faith is disfavored by most.

Friend, God is telling you today to stand firm and have courage. He is where He wants you to be: Home.

There is simply no place like it.

Have a blessed weekend!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

What’s the Catch?

“…He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16)

Lately, my wife and I have been on the look out for condominium units that are for sale. Working on a tight budget, I decided to surf the internet to find a unit that would fit my capacity to pay. After almost two hours of surfing, I chanced upon an announcement featuring a condominium unit for sale with an exceptionally low selling price. The specifications were perfect for my needs, and the price suited me well. Really, it was too good to be true!

Immediately, I scribbled the name and number of the contact person and started dialing the number. A pleasant sounding woman answered the phone and introduced herself as the condo unit owner. She described to me the unit with all its added features and amenities. I was impressed. “This might be it!”, I though to myself. Just to be sure, I confirmed the selling price and true to its ad, it was really sold almost 40% less than the regular price of most condos with the same size. The answer to my last question however, doused my fire. 

“So, ” I began, “When can we move in?” 

“Next year.” she answered.

“What?”, I almost screamed from the other end of the line. “How come?”, I asked.

“Sir,” she giggled, “this is a pre-selling promo. The units are not yet there. You start paying your monthly amortization now and we will build your unit in time for March next year.”

That’s the catch!

Look, I have nothing against a pre-selling scheme for condo units. And I know that pre-sold condos are usually cheaper. Fine. But some ads ought to say these things so as not to deceive the buyer. Had I known that the condos were not yet built, then I would not have wasted my time calling up the seller. I thought the ad was too good to be true, and I guess I was right! 

God, on the other hand, did not engage in such a scheme when he said,

“…He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16)

Reading through this verse makes one think of salvation as cheap. You ask, “Is that all I need to do?”. Believe and be baptized? There must be some catch there somewhere.

Friend, there is no catch. Jesus meant every word he said. No tricks up his sleeve. No hidden clauses on the contract. 

Believe. With your heart, mind, mouth and life. The way you live your life must reflect that belief. Live righteously. Work with integrity. Speak with honesty. Serve diligently. And love unconditionally. Live what you believe.

Baptize. Salvation isn’t self-willed. You need God to bring you to heaven. You need Him in the person of the Holy Spirit. Baptism allows you to achieve what you cannot attain on your own.

But while salvation is pure grace, it isn’t flat-out cheap. It is expensive. Too expensive, in fact, that you could not afford it. That’s why it’s good that it has already been paid for.

No wonder Jesus had the guts to say what he said in the above quote. He was the one who bought salvation, that ‘s why he can give it freely to anyone he wishes. Including you.

Go ahead, claim that promise. Receive that mercy today. Dial God now through a short prayer of commitment. Inquire with your parish priest, pastor or community leader about this great bargain. Do not be afraid, dear friend.

There is no catch.

Have a blessed day!

 I remain, your friend in Christ,

 Bobby Q.