Keep Moving Forward!

“…But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt…” (Genesis 19:26)

“Ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay di makakarating sa paroroonan.” , so goes the Filipino saying. I want to modify that a bit:

“Ang taong lingon ng lingon ay madadapa.”

 How many people do we know who keep looking back?

Regretful. Resentful. Remorseful.

Regretful. “I should not have entered that room with him.”

Resentful. “They accused me of a crime I didn’t commit.”

Remorseful. “God can never forgive me for that one.”

Sometimes, the past can be a prison cell. It traps you. It enchains you. It detains you. It locks you up and prevents you from getting on with your life. Even if God has already freed you from your past, you can still be enslaved by it. In a similar way, this was what happened to the wife of Lot…

Even when God already rescued them from his wrath which fell upon the land of Sodom, the wife of Lot still looked back. She stopped on her tracks and gazed at what she left behind.

“…But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt…” (Genesis 19:26)

For what reason she looked back, I don’t know. Perhaps out of regret. Or remorse. Or resentment. Perhaps to gloat over those who weren’t rescued. Whatever the reason was is of no importance. The fact remains, she looked back when God told her not to.

Last night, as I was driving along Quezon Avenue in dowtown Quezon City, I caught myself doing something really embarrassing: I was glancing at the different strip clubs that were lined up on both sides of the street. Good thing God gave me enough grace to look away. Then a scary thought hit me: After all these years of being a renewed Catholic, I still miss the days when I was indulging myself in promiscuous living. Despite the freedom I enjoy today, once in a while I still envy those who are enslaved by lust. In a way, just like Lot, I am constantly tempted to strain my neck and look back.

In the animation movie “Meet the Robinsons”, the slogan of Cornelius Robinson was “Keep moving forward”. I suggest we do the same. If we are to look back, let us do it only because of gratitude and to learn from our mistakes. Other than those, resist the temptation to glance over your shoulder. God has dealt with your past. He wants you to now focus on your future.

And let nothing, not even your past, get in your way!

Forward moving,

Bobby Q.

Miracles

“…Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’…” (Genesis 17:17)

I missed it before, I didn’t miss it this time around. Maybe you missed it yourself. It’s just a word. Oftentimes unnoticed. Glanced over. Not minded. But it’s there. Please read the passage above and see if you find it.

Leaping from that passage is a word we could relate to. Why? Because just like Abraham, we do it too.

Laugh.

Abraham did just that. When God told him that he will be a father to a son that his wife Sarai would bear, he chuckled. And it was quite understandable. At least from a human perspective.

Abraham looked at his 100 year old body and cringed. Can a live branch come out from a dead trunk?

Abraham looked at his wife Sarai. She smiled at him. Toothless. Wrinkled. Aged. No way can she be a mother at her age?

Abraham caught an image in his mind: an old man with a cane playing piggy-back with a 4-year old child. Crazy? Downright outrageous!

But you know the rest of the story.

Despite Abraham’s unbelief, God came through with his promise. God proved his word true. A son was born to parents old enough to be his grandparents. And the couple’s life was never the same again.

Sometimes, we also do what Abraham did? No, we may not laugh at God (we respect Him that much). But sometimes, we laugh at God’s promises to us. We may not laugh to his face, but we sure giggle in our hearts.

When God reminds you of his promise to give you and your spouse a child…

Or when God refreshes your memory of his pledge to lead you to a partner in life…

Or when God recalls his commitment to heal you…

Or when God re-echoes his assurance of a better life…

What are God’s promises to you? Have you given up on them? Have you trashed them into your box of unfulfilled dreams? Have you given up hope ?

Today, I invite you to re-visit His promises to you. Some may remain unfulfilled because God has something better for you. Trust Him. Hold on to Him. Believe in Him.

God can always make a miracle out of your life!

Awed by God’s miracles,

Bobby

Storms of Life

“…The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock…” (Matthew 7:25)

I write this blog at the height of a storm.

As early as yesterday afternoon, the city readied itself for the hit. Classes suspended. Office workers sent home early. Malls closed-shopped way before the usual closing time.

I, myself, had to rush back to Cubao after I gave a talk in Las Pinas in order to avoid the impending typhoon. My meetings last night were all cancelled. Doors shut tight and the candles readied. 

Thank God for weather forecasts.

They protect you. They keep you safe. They shield you from the inconveniences and even the dangers of a raging storm.

But against life’s stormiest storms, there are no forecasts.

Sometimes, storms come without warning. They enter your “city” unannounced. They come bulldozing their way into your life, leaving your homes in shambles. You know what I mean…

You were expecting a promotion when the GM announced: the company has just filed for insolvency.

You didn’t notice there was anything wrong until you learned from your lawyer: your parents are getting their marriage annulled.

Life has been good when the doctor sadly broke the news: the lump is malignant.

You thought you were living a fairy tale marriage when you woke up one day to a nightmare: the empty closet of your husband says it all.

You were looking forward to your daughter’s college graduation when you received word: it was an earthquake and she was among those buried beneath the rubble.

Storms of life. Mean. Ruthless. Merciless. They come barging in with one single purpose: to suck the life out of you.

That’s why today’s gospel really, really hits a homerun.

“…The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock…” (Matthew 7:25)

Since the storms of life doesn’t give you time to be ready, it therefore pays to be ready all the time. How? Read the passage above.

Make sure your foundation is always rock-solid. Firm. Steadfast. Strong.

There can only be one. Jesus. Only Jesus.

“…This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’…” (Acts 4:11)

Even without the storm, protect your times of prayer.

Serve. Love. Forgive. Persevere. Be faithful. Remain righteous.

These are the ways by which you firm up your foundation.  

So even when the storms come, your house remains standing. Because it’s built on Rock. And there can be no better foundation than that.

Building on Jesus,

Bobby

The “Yes” Man

“…Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs…” (Matthew 7:6)

Invitations to speak. They come in many forms. 

A snail mail beautifully wrapped inside an art paper with words embossed on the front flap: Can you be our guest speaker?

An electronic mail requesting for a motivational seminar in exchange for a hefty professional fee…

A text message asking my availability to address a national convention…

Being a “yes” man, I would have immediately jumped at every opportunity to use my God-given gift to preach. There were souls to save and lives to mend. What better way to serve God than grab all these opportunities to preach, right?

Not necessarily.

It may not have the elegance of a formal invitation to speak in a conference. Or the promise of a lucrative fee from giving a motivational seminar. But they outweigh all of them. I am talking about four pieces of 1/4 cartolina paper pasted on our living room wall. On them were the words: We love you Papang!

This piece of art was made by my wife and two daughters for Father’s Day. And they serve not only to warm my heart but also to remind my soul: That I don’t want to save the world and then lose my family in the process. My family is my flock, my first priority. I will give to them my pearl, the thing that is sacred to me and to God: my time.

No wonder scriptures today says:

“…Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs…” (Matthew 7:6)

Many people say that they want to multiply their time. I have news for them: They can’t. Unless they are Goodah (Open 25 Hours a day), they will only have 24 hours a day. While they can’t multiply their time, they can definitely manage it. Say “yes” to some engagements and say “no” to some. Bottomline: Not sacrifice your time for the people who matter most. 

An evangelistic crowd is definitely far from a herd of swines. But come to think of it, it can be likened to one if compared to the utmost importance of my God-given primary responsibility to bring my family to heaven.

Look around you today.

How are you managing your pearl (time)? Who is benefitting most from it? Your boss or your wife (unless they are one and the same)? Your service or your home? Your crowd or your children?  

I pray for all readers of this blog, including you. May you never throw your pearls to the swines. Say “yes” first to those who, from God’s perspective, truly matter in your life.

Still learning to prioritize,

Bobby

The Platform to Proclaim

“…I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing…” (Genesis 12:2)

When Jennifer Hudson won the Oscars Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie Dreamgirls, she accepted her award but gave away the glory to Someone else. Standing on the platform and raising her trophy in front of a huge crowd, this rising star pointed to the real star of her life. Literally pointing towards heaven, she repeatedly said as tears streamed down her cheeks: See what God can do!

This image on the TV screen stuck with me for weeks. I admired the girl. She not only shared the spotlight that night, she gave it to Him who really deserved it.

I believe, with all my heart, that God gives each one of us a platform to proclaim His goodness.  He gives us success so we can brag about Him. He gives us the glory so we can give Him the glory.

Jennifer’s platform was the Oscar’s. Gary Valenciano’s would be music. Manny Pacquiao’s would be boxing. David Robinson’s would be basketball. The Christian doctor’s would be medicine. The Christian teacher’s would be the academe. The Christian lawyer’s would be the courtroom. Mine is preaching. What is yours?

Today, I invite you to look at your successes in life. Your position in the company. Your fame. Your authority. Your wealth. The respect you enjoy from your peers. These are your platforms. Waiting for you to use them for God’s purposes.

In scriptures, it says:

“…I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing…” (Genesis 12:2)

God gives you a platform not for you to use it to call attention to yourself per se. But you use it to call attention to yourself as you DIRECT their attention to God.

Now, not all of us have the size of Jennifer’s platform (e.g. Oscars, international telecast, media coverage etc.). But all of us, just the same, can use our platform to proclaim.

If you’re a teacher, exemplify excellence.

If you’re a government employee, exemplify honesty.

If you’re a mother, exemplify dedication.

If you’re a husband, exemplify faithfulness.

Each one of us has a platform. My prayer, is that we are able to identify it, and use the same to proclaim.

All for God’s glory,

Bobby Q.

Supermarket Lessons

“…Your father knows what you need…” (Matthew 6:8)

The trip to the supermarket yesterday with my two daughters turned out to be a classic lesson on God’s ways. Let me tell you what I mean…

With Mara (2 years old) in my arms, and Robelle (4 yrs old) tugging at my pants the whole time, I was the picture of fatherhood at the brink of a nervous breakdown. It was a scene that a bride-to-be would not want to show to her future groom. It was what bachelors would gladly point to in order to justify their present state of life.

Believe me. It was crazy. 

What was supposed to be just a thrity-minute grocery activity lasted for more than an hour. Robelle kept running, and Papang kept chasing. Mara kept asking to buy just about anything colored pink, and Papang kept explaining why they shouldn’t.

In the aftermath of that soul-cleansing activity, it dawned on me: What I did for my daughters is what God does for us.

For one, God keeps chasing us.

Just like Robelle. We scamper at different directions. But unlike Robelle, we are fueled, not just by enthusiasm, but by our dreams, our hurts, our guilt, and sometimes, even our pride. And God relentlessly runs after us. To show us the way. To heal our pain. To comfort. To love. To convince us that what we run after is not what we really need. Not the wealth. Not the drugs. Not that relationship. What we need is God. And that’s who God strives to give us.  Today, scripture reminds us:

“…Your father knows what you need…” (Matthew 6:8).

Secondly, sometimes God also says no to what we ask from him.

Just like Mara, we have a tendency to ask God for what we want. But unlike Mara, we don’t just ask for grocery items. We pray for something more. For that promotion, or that car, or that child, or even that healing.  Not bad things, mind you, but also not necessarily what we need.  Can you imagine what could have happened if I indulged every single thing that Mara asked me to buy? We would have ended buying more of wants than of needs. Again, today scripture emphasizes:

“…Your father knows what you need…” (Matthew 6:8).

Dear friend, I invite you to trust in God’s wisdom today. He knows what you need, and He is ready to give it.

Learn your lessons from me. It will save you a trip to the supermarket.

Toasting God’s Fatherhood,

Bobby Q.

The Intangibles

“…as having nothing and yet possessing all things…” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

The past three days, as I took a break from my busy preaching schedule, I began to notice some of the things that I seldom notice at home.

The bed is creaky (sometimes it’s even creepy!)

The sofa needs some new upholstery work.

The dining table stands only on one good leg.

The curtains look more like worn-out blankets.

The cabinet is missing a hinge.

And the ceiling needs some sealing.

But just as I was about to feel depressed, I also happen to realize other things.

— like how heart-warming a quiet dinner with my wife is 

— how a treat it is to teach Robelle how to crayon

— how fun it is to play catch with Mara

— how uplifting an intimate moment with God is

Yes, the words of scripture rings true today:

“…as having nothing and yet possessing all things…” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Compare this with an experience I had with an acquaintance of mine some years back…

…I watched my friend from across the dinner table as he described to me with tear-filled eyes his typical night.

I come home to an empty apartment. I watch cable with only a beer bottle to accompany me. I have only the hissing of the airconditioner to lull me to sleep. Is this all there is to life?

It was a rhetorical question so I didn’t bother to answer. But what my mouth didn’t utter, my heart did. And so I write it here.

Real happiness cannot be found in things and wealth. Not in a fat bank account nor in a powerful post in one’s company. Rather, it is found in what I call “the intangibles” —

— a quiet dinner with your spouse

— playing catch with your child

— swapping stories with dear friends

— time alone with your bible

What are the intangibles of your life? Focus on them today. Dwell on them. Nurture them. Make time for them.

And you will realize that the bed isn’t so creaky after all.

Grateful for everything,

Bobby