In No Better Place

March 31, 2008

“…With God nothing is impossible…” (Luke 1:37)

I have a dear friend who happens to be very proud of his home province. For him, everything seem to be better in his side of the fence than any other place in the world.

Talk about lechon. “Nothing tastes better than the lechon cooked in my hometown.”, he’d say.

Talk about sceneries. “Nothing compares with the beauty of our sights in our place.”

Talk about fiestas. “We celebrate our fiestas better in my province.”

He’s so convinced of how great his hometown is that I won’t be surprised if he would venture to say that the moon shines better there than anywhere else.

For my friend, there is no better place than his home province. Today, he is a dynamic priest actively serving the Lord…(guess where?).

How about you, friend? Where is the best place for you? Where do you think it would be best to settle down? Where your life can be better? Where you will have everything that you need? Where it is safest? And mind you, I am not talking about geography.

In a spiritual sense, where is the best place for your life? Where should you invest it on? Where is it safest? Where are you most secure? 

For some, it’s in a secure job.

For others, their connections with the influential people.

For many, it is confidence in themselves.

But more often than not, these things are never enough to get you through the pitfalls of life. 

Many of these things crumble in the face of what’s impossible. 

Sometimes, the best treatment cannot cure cancer.

The best lawyer cannot get you off the hook.

The best husband even fail you at times.

Your best abilities cannot win you that promotion.

But not God. As the angel said to Mary in today’s Gospel:

“…With God nothing is impossible…” (Luke 1:37)

Not unemployment, or alzheimers, or a losing court case, or broken relationships. What God wants, God accomplishes. Nothing in heaven and on earth can thwart His plans. Even in the face of what is impossible.

Dear friend, do you find yourself confronted with an impossible situation? I challenge you to turn to Him who specializes on these things. And let Him convince you, that your life is in no better place than in His hands.

Have a blessed week ahead!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

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What’s in a Name?

March 25, 2008

“…Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’…” (John 20:16)

I have a confession to make: I am poor when it comes to recalling names.

This is quite a challenge for a preacher like me who speaks before hundreds and even thousands of people on a daily basis. Difficult as it is to recall names, some of those in the audience would even test you.

One time, I was speaking in a province when after my talk, somebody approached me to ask if I remember her from some conference where I spoke some years ago at some place in the Philippines. Wow! Can you imagine my panic as I tried to dig deep into my memory bank to remember who this woman was.

“Sister, ” I said, (A dead give away. Referring to someone as “sister” is the best most indirect way of saying that you have no inkling who she is…) “That conference was in…sometime in…you were with…” And it was downhill from thereon.

She smirked, walked away grudgingly obviously hurt that I don’t remember her.

What’s so important about names, anyway?

Well, names are more than a couple of letters lump together. Your name speak so much of who you are: your personality, your character, your values, your dreams, your aspirations, and your worth. Remembering a person’s name tells the latter that he is important to you. That he is valuable. That he is special. That he is not just a face in the crowd. That he is worth recalling. That he has impressed you enough for you to remember him.

When Jesus uttered Mary’s name at the tomb, Mary realized her worth before God.

“…Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’…” (John 20:16)

The mere mention of her name assured her of how much she was forgiven and loved by her Master. The mere mention of her name transformed Mary on the spot. From the grieving woman, to the gleeful one. From the desperate disciple to the determined one. For some reason, she found the courage that day to rise up again and hope.

Friend, Jesus knows your name. In fact, everyday, he utters it with keen fondness. In knowing your name, he is in effect assuring you that you are special, valuable and worthy of his love and attention.  That he is aware of your pains. Your disappointments. Your unfulfilled dreams. Your deepest aspirations.

Today, come to Him. Open your life before Him . Tell Him of your worst pains, and wildest dreams. Let Him assure you of how deserving you are of his undivided attention. Go to a quiet place and find solace in the silence.

Shhh, can you hear it? Listen to your heart. A loving voice is calling your name.

Have a blessed week!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q. 

Believe!

March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday 

“…He saw and believed…” (John 20:8)

Two brothers, Tom and Jerry, received similar presents from their dad — a box full of hay.

Tom, upon seeing what was inside the box, walked away from it grudgingly. “Hah! What does my dad think of me, a horse?”, he said to himself.

Jerry, on the other hand, as soon as he saw the hay, immediately jumped inside the box and started removing the hay excitedly. Upon seeing this, his dad asked him, “Jerry, what are you doing?”. Without even looking at his dad, Jerry replied, “If there is hay, there must be a horse in here somewhere.”

Both boys saw the same gift. But both had different reactions. One disappointed or confused or may even be disgruntled. The other excited of what this offers. 

The same thing happened to those who saw the empty tomb on that first Easter Sunday.

Many saw that the tomb was empty. There was Mary of Magdala. Then Peter and John. Even the Roman guards saw it. Many others were informed of it. But guess what? Only a few believed.

Others laughed it off. Still others believed that the tomb was empty but theorized that the body may have been stolen. For many it was bad news.

For John and a handful others, the news of an empty tomb was welcomed. It meant perhaps that Jesus was after all true to his promise of living again. That the tomb was just a temporary stop-over. That He was just going to conquer death to usher in new life for all.

Today, as we celebrate the feast of all feasts, Easter, let us do what John did:

“…He saw and believed…” (John 20:8)

Believe in God’s promises. Believe in God’s wonderful plans for your life. Believe that you can conquer your most nagging weaknesses. Believe that you can bounce back from your worst failures. Believe that you can be free of that long-standing addiction. Believe that you can forgive. Believe that you can obey. Believe that you can live a victorious life in Jesus.

Today, we recall that the stone has been moved to make way for the risen Lord. Let Jesus move your stones to make way for you to rise again.

That’s what Easter did for the apostles. That’s what Easter does for all of us who believe!

Have a victorious Easter, dear friends!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.  

All Roads Lead to Glory

March 22, 2008

Black Saturday

“…Do not be afraid…” (Matthew 28:10)

I just came back from a twenty minute walk around the village with my one year old daughter Mara. We take advantage of these times when I take my family home to my parents-in-law’s house in Pampanga to savor the beauty and joy of nature. (Try savoring whatever is in Cubao where we live, all you will get is either an asthma attack or a lung cancer.)

As I held Mara’s hand, I found myself a bit worried for her. My thoughts turned to what is happening in our country today. The corruption in high government. The poverty everywhere. Crime rate up. Stocks down. Peso rate erratic. Broken marriages. Unwanted children. Sin everywhere. As I contemplated on these things, I couldn’t help but grasp my daughter’s hand tightly and thought to myself: What kind of world will she grow up into?

Then the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel echoed in my heart:

“…Do not be afraid…” (Matthew 28:10)

Suddenly, my fears decreased. My confidence strengthened. My courage awakened. Yes, the world we live in is a mess. But the God to whom we gave our lives to is still in control. He defeated sin. He crushed Satan. He conquered death. That is why there is no reason to fear.

Sin might touch my daughter. Disappointment might crush her heart. Criticism might hurt her ego. Slander might hurt her pride. Frustration might shatter her dreams. Anxiety might rob her of peace.

Yes, she might lose some of her battles. But I am confident that if she remains with her Savior, she will win her war. At the end of it all, she will emerge victorious with her Lord.

And that is the promise to all of us.

God will allow us to suffer the consequences of living in a fallen world. But for those who proclaim Him King of their lives, His promise is ultimate victory where death will not have the last say.

The key word is “ultimate”.

“Ultimate” means final, last, eventual, decisive and crucial. Meaning to say, when everything have been said and done, victory for Jesus and those who follow Him is still the end result.

Just like the apostles, we will grieve for awhile. But just like them, those of us who hold on to Christ’s promises in our lives have all our roads leading to glory.

Have a blessed Black Saturday!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

Drink Deep

March 21, 2008

Good Friday

“…I am thirsty…” (John 19:26)

Nice cars. Several houses. A high-paying job. A successful career. A beautiful family. None of those was enough to keep Martin from pulling the trigger to finally end his life on that warm April night. His reason? The emptiness within was too much.

Martin is a fictional character but he can well represent perhaps millions of people all over the world today. Those who are lonely. Those in despair. Those in pain. Those who are hopeless.

And you don’t just find them in hospitals, orphanages, prison cells or war-ravaged areas. They’re everywhere. From the slums of Tondo to the skycrapers of Makati. From the fields of Ethiopia to the towers of New York. From the sewers of India to the palaces of England. They’re there. Crying. Hurting. Thirsting.

Yes, thirsting. No wonder Jesus echoed what humanity feels on that first Good Friday when he said:   

“…I am thirsty…” (John 19:26).

Jesus was one with humanity during that hour. Just before 3pm on that first Good Friday, Jesus was completely in union with humanity. Because on that day, Jesus tasted what he never did during his lifetime: sin. You see, Jesus was in every way human except that he has no sin. But on that day, all the sins of humanity fell upon his shoulders.

 “…God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God…” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Jesus not only took on our sins, but he became sin for us. I believe his thirst wasn’t just on the physical level. It was a spiritual thirst, the kind of thirst the world experiences because of sin. It is the thirst for meaning, righteousness, peace, and love which we can only have if we have God in our lives.

Today, I invite you to thirst again for God. Seek Him. Return to Him. Invite Him back into your life. Jesus Himself said:

“…I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…” (John 6:35)

I leave you now with the Master. Go to Him. Drink deep, friend. He alone can quench your thirst.

A blessed Good Friday!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

  

 

Why My Singing Career Never Took Off

March 20, 2008

Holy Thursday

“…What I am doing you cannot understand now, but afterwards you will understand it…” (John 13:7)

My singing career peaked and crashed when I was nine years old. 

I remember wanting to join our grade school singing competition. Being the son of a former professional singer (my mom), I was expected to win. I didn’t. I didn’t even get to join.

I started preparing under my mom’s tutelage even months before the contest. I decided to sing the classic Filipino song “May Bukas Pa”.

Day in and day out, we would practice. At first, everything went well, until we reached a portion of the song which was quite tricky especially for a nine year old. Boink! I hit one bad note after another. No matter how much I tried, I simply couldn’t hit the right note.

The days turned to weeks. And the weeks turned to months. I was stuck with that one line of the song. For some reason, everytime I get to that line, I would notice the lights blink, dogs would howl, cockroaches emerging from the cracks on the walls, and lizards dropping from the ceiling.

Until the night before the contest, my mom had to tell me the honest and sad truth: “Anak, there is an elocution contest in a few months from now. I think that’s the contest for you.”

And that was the end of my singing career (it never even took off!).

For awhile, after realizing that I wasn’t meant to be a great singer, I nursed a broken heart. It was only when I became a preacher years ago when the wisdom of it all dawned on me. 

If not for that early realization about my singing capacity, I probably wouldn’t have sharpened my public speaking skills. In a sense, I needed that heartbreaking moment to force me to shift my energy to something more in line with my purpose in life which is: Public Speaking.

Today, I am an inspirational speaker and lay preacher. I speak before all kinds and sizes of crowds. I motivate. I inspire. I instruct. I give hope. Once in a while, before a more a familiar and forgiving audience, I try to sing a song or two. But that’s about it. 

What’s my point?

In today’ Holy Thursday gospel, as Peter tries to prevent Jesus from washing his feet, Jesus tells him:

“…What I am doing you cannot understand now, but afterwards you will understand it…” (John 13:7)

There were many things the apostles did not understand during that first Holy Week. Why must Jesus wash their feet? Why did He have to be arrested? Why must He suffer? Why must He die?

Questions which are answered only by the passage quoted above. During those moments, the apostles were challenged to believe first, and understand later.

In the same way, I understood only later on why I had to end my singing “career” even before it began. It is only now that I realized that God was even then preparing me to be a lay preacher by navigating my life away from a singing “career” towards an early exposure to public speaking. At that time, I didn’t understand. It was only some years back when I did. 

Just like me, Peter and the other apostles, God is probably telling you the same thing today.

Perhaps, there are many things happening in your life now which are difficult to understand, probably even devoid of any meaning.

Why your husband had to die?

Why does it have to be terminal?

Why you failed?

Why she had to suffer?

Why did you have to lose that job?

Friend, if similar questions occupy your mind as you read this, God is telling you today the same words He told Peter,

“…What I am doing you cannot understand now, but afterwards you will understand it…” (John 13:7).

Have faith. Trust. Hope. Know that despite the seeming purposelessness of unfolding events in your life, there is a guiding and loving hand that has control of everything.

He guides. He cares. He loves. His name is Jesus. The one who loves you beyond your imagination, and holds your life perfectly safe in His hands.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

Mr. Embarrasment

March 12, 2008

“…the truth will set you free…” (John 8:32)

I always hated Mathematics. Not for anything else but simply because I was never good at it. Or so I thought. Let me take you back to mid 1980’s…

There, that’s me, sitting in the middle of the classroom of 40 students, with his head bowed down. I dare not look at our teacher as she struts through the middle aisle.

This was “speed math” activity, an exercise our Math teacher does at the start of every class where she randomly calls on any student to answer, on the spot, a mathematical problem.  Within a few seconds, you are supposed to answer her question, otherwise, you get a “strike” mark. On your 3rd “strike” mark, you will be told to leave the room to spend the rest of the class period at the corridors. Talk about major embarrasment!

And I was Mr. Embarrasment.

I can barely recall the number of times I was scolded for not being able to answer the questions. Twice I was sent out. I can still hear my classmates giggle everytime I stammered in an effort to answer the bullet questions hurled at me. Until today, the memory of that poor kid with a bad Math IQ might still be etched in the minds of my classmates.

For so many years, I grew up thinking I will never be good at Math. Until I met Jesus Christ in a personal and powerful way.

It was in college when I took my faith seriously. I was told that I was wonderfully made by God. That I was made in His image and likeness. That no matter what others think, I am always special in His eyes. That with Him, I can do all things.

As a Political Science student, I wasn’t spared from taking Math units. I dreaded the thought of it but had to hurdle those subjects just the same. The only difference this time around was that I was a serious Christian. I had faith that Jesus was going to carry me through.

I remember going up to my Math teacher in college to receive my classcard at the end of the semester. With bated breath I gazed at my grade. Believe or not, I got a 1.25! (In UP, that’s like the second highest possible grade!) 

I left that experience transformed. I realized that I am not poor at Math. Now, I may not be excellent in it. But definitely I knew then that I had the capacity to rise above the lies that have plagued me for so many years.

Friend, Satan is the Father of Lies. His goal to ground those who want to fly. His mission is to keep in darkness those headed towards the light. His passion is to keep mediocre those capable of excelling. His hope to keep enchained by his lies so you will not embrace the wonderful plans of God for your life.

What are the lies of Satan which imprison you today, friend?

That you are good for nothing?

That you will always be below average?

 That you can never be successful?

 That you are destined for failure?

 That you will never recover from that tragedy?

 That you will never overcome that weakness and sin?

While Satan is the Father of Lies, Jesus, on the other hand, is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And He is the only one who can set you free from Satan’s lies.

“…the truth will set you free…” (John 8:32)

Come to Him today. Lay before Him all the lies of the enemy. Let Him deal with them the way He dealt with them in Calvary 2,000 years ago.

Rise above the lies. Embarrass Satan by proving Him wrong. Show Him that you are capable of becoming everything that God wants you to be.

Friend, you are not “Mr. Embarrasment”. Satan is.

Have a blessed day!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.