Say Yes

July 29, 2008

“…Yes, Lord…” (John 11:27)

I remember the day my dad taught me how to swim. Everytime he dared me to let go of his grip, he would always ask me, “Do you trust me?”. And i would always respond with a slight nod but my grip on his hand remained firm. My body did not agree with my mouth. My heart wanted to believe, but my mind could not. The water was too cold. My body too weak. The day I learned to swim was on the day I learned to trust, and let go.

The same could be said of many of us. Those among you reading this blog can perhaps identify with me. When you wanted to believe but somehow the circumstances of your life tell you otherwise. Your heart wants to trust but your mind could not. Either you were too young or too old. Or too busy, or too insignificant. Or too sick. Or too poor. And you end up with the question, “Can I trust God to carry me through?”.

Perhaps Martha was in the same boat. Jesus, their best friend, was late, and so Lazarus, their brother, was dead. She wanted to believe but her mind could not. Can Jesus really still help their brother now? Her heart tells her to believe. But the stench of death from behind the stone tells her not to.

And yet when Jesus asked her if she believed in Him, she mustered all her strength to say two words which may have sealed her fate, and her faith.

 “…Yes, Lord…” (John 11:27)

Two simple words that says so much. Of a trusting heart that dares to see beyond the visible. Of a believing spirit that dares to let go despite the uncertainty. Her mind may have analyzed the situation and told her that what Jesus was about to do wasn’t possible. But her heart dug deep within to still say two words which made the biggest difference in her life and the life (or death)  of her brother.

And that’s what God asks of you today. To say those same words to him when he asks you of the status of your faith. Despite the financial troubles. Or the sickness. Or the death of your loved one.

Say yes. Confess your faith. Even if your mind resists.

Believe that Jesus is strong enough to move the stones of your life.

Have a blessed week!

I remain, in Christ,

Bobby Q.

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The View from Above

July 24, 2008

 

“…but their hearts have become calloused…” (Matthew 13:15)

 

I am writing this inside an aircraft 47,000 feet above sea level.

 

It’s Thursday morning and I am on my way to Bacolod to preach. I gaze outside the window and I see a sight I don’t usually see everyday — the view from above.

 

I see below me what I often see above me — clouds. I hover above on what I usually step on to — land. I fly above where I usually swim under — sea. What a view!

 

From here, the world seems so great, peaceful and tranquil. That is because you don’t hear and see what God hears and sees.

 

You don’t see the 5 year old boy sleeping on a cardboard on 21st street.

 

Or the young widow who just lost her husband to a stroke…

 

Or the distraught teenager about to slash her wrist…

 

Neither can you hear the cry of the young parents over the death of their child…

 

Nor the sobbing of the convict after hearing his sentence of imprisonment for a crime he hasn’t committed…

 

Nor the anguish of a wife left by her husband for another woman…

 

Yet from up here, God sees and hears them all.

 

That was why God had to do what he did 2,000 years ago. He came down from above to be with those below. That He may feel their pain, and bear their burdens. That He may cry with the widow, and touch the leper. That He may comfort the weak, and give hope to the sinner.

 

And God still does that today. No, He cannot bear to watch His world suffer. From above, God still calls us to come to Him and whispers His love to the down-trodden.

 

Even if the hearts of men and women have gone callous to His love, and deaf to His voice. What He said 2,000 years ago can still be said today:

 

 “…but their hearts have become calloused…” (Matthew 13:15)

 

But God will not give up nor give in. For as long as he sees a streetchild hungry or a widow in pain, He will not remain above. He will come down daily to love His world.

 

Do you want to feel His presence? Be still. Feel the presence of this loving God filling your heart with His warmth.

 

The view from above may be great for you and me. But that is because we are not God.

 

We don’t have the eyes and ears that He has.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

I remain, your friend in Christ,

 

Bobby Q.

Naturally

July 22, 2008

“…They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’…” (John 20:13)

All she saw was the stone that was moved. Naturally, she thought somebody tampered with the tomb.

All she saw was a tomb that was empty. Naturally, she thought that the body was stolen.

All she heard was silence from within. Naturally, she thought that the dead remained dead.

She was dead wrong. (No pun intended!)

“Naturally”. A word that limits. A word that grounds your faith. A word that shields your view of the impossible.

When we allow our limited human experience to dictate on what we should believe, we can miss out on the many miracles of God in our lives. In a sense, we limit God. We place Him on a box. We fence Him. We often say sentences like…

“…That evangelistic goal is impossible…”

“…That sickness is terminal…”

“…That set-up is too ideal…”

“…That commitment is too good to be true…”

And many hopes are dashed because we try to limit what God can do based on our previous experiences. Cause and effect. That’s what they call it. If this is what you do, this is what you get — Naturally. But please, let us not use that word when it comes to God. He is not bound by that. On the other hand, the “natural” yields to the “supernatural” when it comes to God.

That was what happened to Mary Magdalene on the first Easter Sunday. Her natural reaction was to shed tears. She wasn’t aware, that as she wept, God was already doing the impossible — He who was once dead was now walking among the living. And that was why the angels had to ask her to show her the folly of her reaction to the empty tomb…

“…They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’…” (John 20:13)

Anybody weeping right now…perhaps because of a recent death in the family…or because of loneliness…or anxiety…or pain? Before you indulge in your misery, pause for awhile and remember Mary’s experience. Perhaps as you weep, God is already doing the impossible. So be strong. Look inside. The tomb is empty. And it’s not because the body was stolen. It is just God, doing the impossible.

Naturally.

I remain, in Christ,

Bobby Q.

Jesus in our Midst

July 21, 2008

“…and here there is greater than Solomon…” (Matthew 12:42)

“Blessing and Glory”

“God Alone”

“O Send Forth Your Light”

“In Your Light, We See Light”

“Fountain of Life”

These are just some of the most popular songs written by Catholic Charismatic Renewal master songwriter Bro. John Keating. But he is not one who would boast about it.

John is one of the most humble and down-to-earth people I know. Despite the prestige. Despite the honor. Despite popularity.

I remember one time, while I was hearing mass together with John, the parish choir, completely oblivious to John’s presence in the crowd, even sang one of his songs.

Everytime I recall this incident, I couldn’t help but wonder at how the choir missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the man who has captivated so many among us in the Charismatic Renewal because of his music. But no. They failed to recognize greatness in their midst.

Same thing can be said of those people who failed to recognize Jesus when he walked this earth 2,000 years ago. No wonder Jesus had to say:

“…and here there is greater than Solomon…” (Matthew 12:42)

And the sad thing is this: until today, we still sometimes fail to recognize Jesus in our midst.

In that streetchild sniffing rugby by the alley…

In that officemate who lost a son in a vehicular accident…

In that senior citizen left abandoned by her family in a home for the aged…

In that wife abandoned by her husband…

Jesus is everywhere, calling us to recognize Him.

Today, I invite you to open the eyes of your heart to his presence. In your office. In your homes. By your side. Within your heart.

Look closely. There is someone greater than Solomon there.

Have a blessed day!

In Christ, your friend always,

Bobby Q.

Cushion the Blow

July 18, 2008

“…learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart…” (Matthew 11:29)

Have you ever committed a big blunder and were forgiven so graciously for it?

I have.

Last night, my wife and I braved the heavy downpour of rain as well as the terrible EDSA traffic to travel from Cubao all the way to Sanctuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park to visit the wake of the mother of a wedding “ninang”. When we got there, to our surprise, we couldn’t find the name of the deceased posted on any of the doors of the funeral parlor. It was then when I decided to check on the text message I received earlier during the day which contained the details of the wake. (This was something I should’ve done even before we left Cubao, right?). And then there it was. The words jumped out of my cellphone: WAKE IS AT SANCTUARIO DE SAN JOSE, GREENHILLS.

Whoa! With a sheepish smile, I turned to my wife and said with all the energy I could muster, “I am so sorry..”. Jeng sighed a little, paused for awhile, and gave me a very familiar look, a look that I have seen from her so many times in my life: the look of love and understanding. “That’s ok, Pang,” she said. “Let’s just go to Greenhills.”

That’s it. No blaming. No tantrums. No “get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness” kind of tone. This is my wife. And I am blessed to have someone like her in my life.

I believe Jeng has taken to heart one phrase in the gospel today:  

“…learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart…” (Matthew 11:29)

She has indeed learned well from her Master. For that is how God truly responds to our faults in life: gentleness and humility.

When we renege on our commitments…

When we fall for our favorite sins…

When we neglect our most treasured relationships…

When we make mistakes…

God, in humility and gentleness, comes to us with the same look of love and understanding. He isn’t one who shoves to our faces our greatest booboos in life. He doesn’t place acid on our wounds. He doesn’t trample on us as we lie battered on the ground. Instead, God cushions our greatest faults with gentleness and compassion.

And last night, God showed how he cushions the whiplash of my blunder. Not only did He give Jeng the grace to understand, He also miraculously opened the EDSA traffic going back North so we can make it to Greenhills in less than (believe me!) twenty minutes.

Yes, my friend. This is the God we have. Come to Him today in prayer with all your blunders in life. And see that look from Him. Be consoled.

He is an expert at cushioning the blow.

Have a blessed day!

In Christ, your friend always,

Bobby Q.

Hard to Please?

July 16, 2008

“…and revealed them to the childlike…” (Matthew 11:25)

“…Papang, I want to watch Aladdin…” goes my 3 year old daughter. “Again?”, was my knee-jerk reply. She has been watching this VCD almost everyday over the past week. But I guess that’s the great thing about children: nothing is routine. There is always something novel about everything.

That was probably why Jesus said that so much about the Kingdom of God have been hidden from the wise but were revealed to the childlike. Because the childlike are the only ones who can fully appreciate what the Kingdom of God offers. They, in a sense, are not hard to please.

During the time of Jesus, the wise and the learned are rarely seen among his disciples. Most of His followers were simple folk. Those whose lives were uncomplicated. Those whose desires were simpler. Those whose minds were uncluttered. Those whose hearts were open to what Jesus offered. Only they could fully appreciate the life Jesus was offering them.

What was true then is still very much true today. The learned scientist is still quick to criticize religion. The busy corporate man is still slow to make time for church. And this has nothing to do with intellect or success. Even among the poor and dumb are those who are likewise callous to what God offers.

Simplicity and childlikeness, my friend, is really about the disposition of the human heart.

They are those who still marvel at sunsets, and breath in the fresh morning air. They don’t find prayer a routine and scripture is always new to them. They find delight in the life sharing of others. And not grow tired of doing good. For them, God has always something new to offer. And nothing He gives they take for granted.

Today, try to look within you. Do you still look forward to your time with God? Or has prayer lost its glitter in your life? Do you still marvel at scriptures despite the many times you’ve heard a passage? Or is the message been relegated to mere information? Do you still find life in serving God? Or has it become a mere task that you OUGHT to do?

Friend, dig deep. Somewhere within you is a child. Simple. Pure. Excited. Touchbase with it. And you will realize that when it comes to God, you are still not hard to please after all.

Have a blessed day!

I remain, your friend, in Christ,

Bobby Q.

Shortchanged

July 14, 2008

“…he who loses his life for my sake will find it…” (Matthew 10:39)

I left the pay parking area a few days ago in a bad mood.

I was supposed to receive P55.00 as change for the parking fee. Instead, the cashier mistakenly gave me only P45.00, P10.00 short of my supposed change. But it was too late when I realized it. I was already pulling out from the ramp when I noticed the mistake. The honking cars from behind convinced me not to even think of going back just to complain. But I learned a valuable lesson that day: sometimes we feel about that when it comes to life in general.

You work hard for that promotion only to realize that the company had been planning to lay you off over the past year.

You took good care of your girl only to realize that she is now a few months pregnant, and the father has no plans of owning up to his responsibilities.

You exercise everyday only to find out from the doctor one day that you have cancer.

Shortchanged — that’s what many of us feel about life, sometimes.

It’s a good thing that the opposite is true when it comes to our relationship with God. Today’s gospel tells us about this: “…he who loses his life for my sake will find it…” (Matthew 10:39)

 In Christ, we emerge on the longer end of the stick. We gain more than we lose. We receive more than we sacrifice. We lose so that we win. We give so that we gain. In Him, we are never shortchanged.

On the other hand, we always shortchange God. Despite the blessings, we complain. Despite the love, we hate. Despite the provision, we squander.   Despite the forgiveness, we sin again.

Today, I encourage you to analyze the kind of relationship you have with God. Who is shortchanged? Who gets the raw end of the deal? Who gets the bad side of the bed? Is it you or God?

As for me, I know that being shortchanged for P10.00 is really nothing. Nothing compared to how I’ve shortchanged my God all these years.

And that was probably why I did not even consider going back to that cashier and claim my rightful change.

In the realm of life and salvation, I am already more than compensated for that.

Have a blessed day!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.