The Doorway of God’s Grace

“…You will be called the breach-mender, and the Restorer of ruined houses…” (Isaiah 59:12)

Months prior to the birth of my son, Franco, there were numerous speculations. Some people would approach me and say “Franco will most likely be a basketball player because you were a basketball player”. Or “I bet Franco will be a preacher because you are a preacher.” Or “Most likely Franco will be handsome because…well…ahhh…you are a preacher.”

Whether we like it or not, there are things we inherit from the generation ahead of us. Our physical looks. Our mental abilities. Our emotional make-up. Even our interests and ambitions. But the sad thing is this: we can also inherit all the negativity that runs through our family line.

Some families have traces of indescretion and immorality running through the veins of every family member.

Some bad temper. Others of failure. Others of some kind of addiction.

Look at your family line. Somehow you may be able to detect a pattern of negativity — some weakness, addiction, self-worth concerns, wrong mindsets —- that is common to every generation in your family.

But here is the good news: There is a way to break that pattern!

Our God detests seeing His children enslaved by some form of bondage. His heart bleeds whenever he sees innocent children continually victimized by Satan’s  victory in earlier generations. God’s goal is clear: to set us free!

And His strategy is clearer: Usually, he takes one person from a clan, and uses that person as a doorway for his blessing, freedom and healing to enter the family bloodline.

That was the same thing God did with us through Jesus.

Through one man, salvation entered the human race. Through one man, restoration of the fallen nature began. Through one man, we were all made right with God.

Could it be possible that God wants you to be that “doorway” for your family?

The 1st reading today promises:

“…You will be called the breach-mender, and the Restorer of ruined houses…” (Isaiah 59:12)

My friend, it may be no accident that you are the only one in your family active in church, or attending that bible study group, or reading your bible regularly, or inclined towards spiritual things. Maybe you are the “breach-mender” or “restorer” that God is looking for.

Do you want to be a “doorway” of God’s grace for your family?

Begin this lent. Open your heart even more to God. Commit to that church, community, parish or prayer group. Be an active Christian. Pray hard and live righteously.

Before you know it, you will see the breach in your family mended and your ruined house restored.

Who knows, you may be that “doorway” that God is looking for!

Bobby

Home in Heaven Empty-Handed

“…What does it profit you to gain the world while you destroy and lose yourself…” (Luke 9:25)

The mall is a wonderful place to draw lessons from about life…

especially when there’s a “sale”.

Sometime ago, when I was just a boy, my family made the mistake of going to a mall at a time when it was conducting a grand “sale” of different items. Naturally, the mall was filled with people, a crowd beyond the regular size. Just like any child, I was thrilled to be in a mall so I did the most common sensical thing: tried convincing my parents to buy me every toy I saw (Well, almost every toy. I didn’t want no Barbie Dolls.) But to my surprise, my parents refused and simply convinced me to stay close to them as we tried to ease our way out of the crowd.

You see, the goal of my parents was simple: to get me home safe and sound. They didn’t want to indulge my desire to buy a toy at the risk of losing me in the crowd. They would rather see me home empty-handed than lose me with a toy in hand.

Same thing with our heavenly Dad.

Sometimes, God will not indulge our deepest and most sincere prayers in this lifetime if it would mean losing us forever. Maybe that’s why that promotion hasn’t come yet. Or that dream car seems elusive. Or that lifetime partner is still nowhere in sight. Perhaps God knows something we don’t. Maybe our hearts are not ready for what we pray for. Or our souls will be at risk if that prayer is answered. Or our relationships will suffer, or our faith compromised.

Rick Warren, author of the book “Purpose Driven Life” once said: God is after our character, more than our comfort.

The gospel today amplifies the same thing:

“…What does it profit you to gain the world while you destroy and lose yourself…” (Luke 9:25)

Indeed, home in heaven empty-handed is much better than lost forever with a toy in hand.

Stay blessed!

Bobby

The Joy of Being Friends with God

“…Give me again the joy of your salvation…” (Psalm 51:14)

When I was a young boy, one of my closest friends was my cousin. We were about the same age and naturally, we became real close. We played basketball. Played cowboys and indians. Watched videos. Fish. It was like Batman and Robin. Or Lone Ranger and Tonto. Or Dolphy and Panchito…mmm,  I better stop here.

Until one summer…

I forgot how it happened but somehow we hit a snag in our friendship. He did something. I said something. Tempers erupted. I turned my back. He turned his. And for close to a year, we refused to talk to each other. It was war. And I wasn’t willing to lay down my weapons and surrender. Neither was he.

That was a difficult time for my young life. Somehow, knowing you are at odds with your good friend (and a relative at that!) became a source of discontent and lack of peace. I was irritable. I lost my zeal for the things I did. And for close to a year, I wasn’t really myself. Deep in my heart, I wanted to reconcile. But my pride overshadowed my desire to reach out to my cousin.

This may have been how the Psalmist felt by the tenor of his request:

“…Give me again the joy of your salvation…” (Psalm 51:14)

That should be the request of every person enmeshed in sin.

You see, sin is separation from God. It cause a strain in your relationship with Him. It shakes your friendship with God. It cuts your connection with Him. No matter how big or how small your sin is, it has the same effect — robs your joy, diffuses your zeal, extinguishes your zest for life.

Look at your life today. Do you have joy in your heart?

No, I am not talking of fleeting fun that you can get from a few bottles of beer or a two-hour movie. No, I am not referring to being happy like when you pass the board exams or win in a lottery. I am talking about JOY — that deep and profound exaltation of one who is right with God, whose conscience is clear, and whose soul is at peace.

Some movie actress was interviewed on TV the other day. She just ended a seven year relationship with a man who never married her but sired her three children. When asked about her plans, she paused for a second as if holding back the tears, and with a trace of cracking of her voice she replied, “I just want to be happy.”

There are many out there like her. Or some readers of this block may be. They recognize the emptiness in their hearts and the meaninglessness of their lives. Unfortunately, they do not know what they need. Booze? Success? Wealth? Sex? Another non-committed relationship?

The human heart longs for only one thing. To be right with God. To be reconciled with Him. To shun sin and embrace life.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. This is the best time to confess your sins and return to God. That is one step towards peace. One step towards contentment. One step towards inexplicable joy — the kind of joy brought about by God’s salvation!

A blessed lenten season to you, my friend!

Bobby Q.

P.S. Today, my cousin and I are still very good friends. And I protect our friendship as best as I can. And what a joy it truly is!

The Power of a Willing and an Available Heart

“…And he asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’…” (Mark 8:5)

I woke up this morning a bit tired but inspired. You see, last night I spoke before a small prayer meeting of around 25 people. They call themselves a mission team, a group of men and women from my community Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon who decided to respond to God’s call of bringing His love to other people by conducting weekly open prayer meetings.

There were just a few of us in that room but it seemed that the room was jampacked. What filled the room wasn’t the number of the people but the size of the hearts of those who attended.

During the time of prayer, I couldn’t help but be proud of my brothers and sisters. They were simple folks with jobs to keep and bills to pay. But they were extraordinary. Extraordinarily in love with God. Extraordinarily on fire for His mission. Extraordinarily passionate for lost people.

And last night, as I lifted my hands in prayer and my voice in songs, I whispered a simple prayer in my heart: Lord, multiply them!

For just like in today’s gospel, Jesus can perform miracles through hearts that are willing and available for Him. Just like the loaves and the fish, our hearts are received by the Master who then blesses them, (sometimes) breaks them, and then gives them away. 

Sometimes, we look at ourselves — our abilities, our resources, our strengths, our time — and feel that we don’t have what it takes to bless the world. In our heart of hearts, we want to do much good with our lives, but somehow we see our circumstances vis a vis the challenges of life and we simply feel inadequate.

My friend, Jesus asks you the same question he asked his apostles in today’s gospel:

“…And he asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’…” (Mark 8:5)

As if saying: Show me what you’ve got, give them to me and see what great things I can do with the little that you have.

I left that prayer meeting last night thankful. It’s always good to be reminded that what is important before God is not so much our numbers, but the size of our hearts. It isn’t so much our ability but our availability.

It is true when it comes to doing mission work. It is true when it comes to living our daily lives!

Stay blessed!

Bobby

Alone with God

“…Jesus took him apart from the crowd…” (Mark 7:33)

My second daughter 3 year old Mara has been extra demanding lately. Not that I am complaining. Not at all. I just find it thought-provoking.

When I am on the computer working on a talk, she’d snuggle beside me and ask that we play some computer games. When I am doing scripture study, she’d embrace me from behind and ask that I read her a story. When I am practicing for a speaking engagement, she’d continuously tug at my trousers and plead that we watch Dora the Explorer on video.

Many things may explain this…

She has a new baby brother born only a few weeks ago and our attention has been mostly on him…

She is adjusting to her first few days in school and away from us for a number of hours in a day…

I have been so busy lately preparing for her kid brother’s baptism that I hardly spend time with her…

While all these explanations may be valid, I want to believe that the real reason behind all these is something more basic, more common, more natural — It is every child’s need to feel special in the eyes of his or her parent.

It is Mara’s desire to feel that even if Papang already has three children now, she is still his one and only “buddy”.

That she is still unique.

That she is still worth making time for.

That she is not relegated to second fiddle just because there is a new baby in the house.

Now wonder Jesus did what He did in Decapolis in today’s gospel.

Jesus could have just raised his hand and pronounced healing to all. Jesus could have just whispered a prayer from afar and the man would’ve been healed. Jesus could have just directed one of his apostles to lay hands on the man and the result would have been the same.

Really. Jesus didn’t have to do what he did. But he did.

“…Jesus took him apart from the crowd…” (Mark 7:33)

Why? I have a theory. To let the man know that even though Jesus had a crowd to attend to, the man still deserved his special attention. That the man wasn’t a generic face in that crowd. That He was special. That Jesus knew his unique circumstances. That Jesus was aware of his distinct fears and anxieties. That Jesus wasn’t just a preacher before him but a healer beside him.

You know what, God has the same message for you.

He may have a million stars to manage and thousand species to attend to. But you are unique. You are special. He knows your pain. Your worry. Your anger. Your resentment. Your dreams.

And you are worth His time. As you read this blog, know that Jesus is “taking you apart from the crowd”. To listen to your prayers. To hear your petitions. To be with you. To embrace you. To comfort you. To assure you that He sees you in the crowd. That He will carry you through.

Turn to Him now. This is a special time…your time alone with God.

Bobby