Your Value is Your Best Defense

If you sell a nice piece of jewelry without first knowing its value, you will most likely sell it cheap. And that would be a tragedy!

It is not much different when it comes to the Christian life.

Unless you know your real value as a child of God, you will most likely end up selling yourself cheap.

The devil is an expert bargainer. He lures you with promises of instant gratification. He dangles before you temptations of various sorts. He sweet-talks you with half-truths that wet your fleshly appetite.

Drunkenness. Lust. Greed. Vanity.

No wonder the government official steals money from the coffers of the state. Or the young man gets addicted to drugs. Or the young girl falls into pre-marital sex. Or the officemate engages in gossip.

They don’t know their value in the eyes of God leading them to sell themselves cheap in the eyes of men.

Consider this.

If you are a daughter of a King, would you dress slutilly in public? If you are a son of a King, would you steal bread from a poor beggar?

No, you won’t. It is simply not right. Princes and Princesses don’t do those things. Self-respect won’t let you do that.

My dear reader, you are a child of a King. You are royalty. First class. Set apart.

It doesn’t matter if you are financially struggling, or ill, or lonely. It does not in any way change the truth that you are valuable in the eyes of God.

In the Book of Isaiah, God said:

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.” (Isaiah 43:4)

You are precious, honored and valued. The first step towards conversion is not so much the recognition of sin but the recognition of one’s value. Once you know how valuable you are, you will realize how worthless sin is.

Then you will not indulge. Instead, you will remain firm.

Your value then becomes your best defense!

Have a blessed week ahead!

In Christ,

Bobby Q.

Win-Win!

When one of my mentors Rogel Plata passed away due to lymphoma in 1996, his body was laid to rest but his words were immortalized. Talk after talk, preachers like me would quote Rogel. And one of his famous quotes that I often use is this:

“I am in an all-win situtation. If I get healed, I can continue to do what I love to do which is mission work. If I die, I get to see Jesus, the Lord of my life.”

This one powerful statement is a fitting reminder to all of us struggling Christians that there is no difficulty that we face in life that we cannot turn into a blessing. It may be lymphoma, or financial struggles, or relationship concerns. If we try to see things from God’s perspective and respond to them correctly, all our challenges can be made to benefit us in the end.

I am reminded of a couple I know who transformed an otherwise stormy marriage into a blessing when the wife was diagnosed with cancer and the husband responded correctly by resolving to love his wife more than ever.

Or the single mother who turned her experience around by starting a ministry for unwed mothers.

Or the sexually-abused boy who used his experience to witness to God’s incredible love by becoming one of the most powerful and influential preachers in the country today.

Or the bankrupt businessman who looked at his loss as a wake-up call to becoming the great husband and father that he is today.

The unfortunate thing is that many of us equate blessing only to something that is pleasurable. But can something not so pleasurable be a blessing?

If you consider the real-life examples I enumerated above, then the answer, of course, is a resounding yes!

You see, our God is so good that in whatever ciurcumstance he allows to happen in our lives, He always gives room for us to respond. And our response, my dear reader,  makes it a blessing or otherwise.

No wonder St. Paul was confident in saying:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Today, look at your challenges. Believe me. Every single one of them is not a dead-end but a doorway to win again…and again…and again!

All it takes is the right response.

Winning with God’s grace,

Bobby Q.

Selfist Spirituality

Centuries ago, the world thought that we, earthlings, were at the center of the solar system and that everything revolved around us.

Until Galileo and Copernicus came and proved us all wrong.

The sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system. This truth humbled us. It convinced us that we revolve around the sun and not the other way around. It reminded us that we are just but a small part of this colossal universe.

In my own life, I also learned a parallel truth almost twenty years ago.

My life is not about me.

That I am not the center of everything that happens to me. That I am not the central character of the unfolding drama that is my life. That my life should revolve around God and not the other way around.

This is the kind of Christianity that was passed on to me, and the kind of Christianity that I subscribe to.

In recent years, however, a new brand of thinking is slowly and subtly making its way into Christianity. It’s what some theologians call the “selfist spirituality”.

The selfist spirituality finds its roots in “new age” philosophy that you can be “god” if you choose to be. It promotes a “me” kind of spirituality wherein the only standard for morality is yourself. It espouses the thinking that you are the “master of your fate” and that all you need to do is to will it, and it will happen to you because you control your destiny.

And the sad thing is that even some priests and pastors take on this philosophy, insert a few bible verses to support their view, preach about it with conviction and voila!

You get the “selfist spirituality”.

You become the center of your faith, the determinant of your future and the controller of your God.

And it is attractive to people who long for hope, confidence and courage. They love to hear that they can be in control and that everything else will fall in place for them if only they have the right mindset and attitude.

Scary thought!

While a positive attitude can really motivate a person to reach his dreams, it is not, however, a guarantee! For there are times when what you want isn’t aligned with what God wants. And no amount of mind re-programming or attitude alteration can exact from God what He chooses not to give.

Indeed, Jesus came to heal, forgive and bless, But He also came to demand submission, obedience and total surrender.

In today’s gospel, Jesus sounded demanding,

“he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

Today, I invite you to revisit your spirituality and be honest with yourself. Who is at the center of it all? Is it really God? Or are you the main character with God in a supporting role? Do you revolve around God, or does your prayer revolve around you?

Always remember, my dear friend, that the more you focus your whole life on God, the more God’s loving eye is focused on you!

Have a blessed week ahead!

Bobby Q.

Courage

“…’Courage, my daughter…’…” (Matthew 9:22)

One cannot say he is courageous unless he has a reason to be afraid. Nowadays, we can never run out of reasons.

Financial — The boss announced possible company downsizing and he said that in the next few weeks some heads will roll…

Health — The doctor just texted you that the test results just came out but that you had to go to his clinic right away because he has to tell you the news personally…

Relationships — The police called. They have your son in their custody, charged with possession of drugs…

These and more could rob your peace of mind. Sleepless nights. Ulcers. Depression. 

In the midst of all these, God speaks to you about courage. 

Courage, my friend, is not the absence of fear but the presence of God.

Let me tell you what I mean…

When I was a little boy, I love to take plane rides but only when I am with my parents. Without them, plane rides are no fun at all what with all the occasional air turbulence and the prospect of engine failure or pilot error. And yet, despite the many threats of riding a plane, all of these shrink in the face of my confidence in the presence of my parents. The fear remained but cut down to manageable size because of who I was with.

In life, facing your fears can be daunting and overwhelming…unless you face them with God.

It is often said that the Christian life is not a boat without storms but a boat which no storm can sink. Why? Because God is in the boat!

So take courage today, dear reader. 

Acknowledge your fear but recognize your God.

And then believe…

He is bigger than your fears!

 

I remain, in Christ,

Bobby Q.

God Knows Where You Are

“he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’. And Matthew got up and followed him…” (Matthew 9:9)

The man heard of the news. But He didn’t bother to learn more. He opted not to. Not that he didn’t care. He did. In fact, he cared so much that his heart leaped with joyful anticipation upon learning of the news.

The preacher was coming to town.

Not just any preacher, mind you. But “The Preacher”. The country has seen preachers come and go for centuries and another one of them should not have grabbed his attention. But not this preacher.

He was different.

Yes, he spoke powerfully and healed miraculously. But more than the message and the miracles was the love that emanated from him. It was compassion at its best. Mercy at its purest. Gentleness at its most pristine.

The preacher, in more ways than one, mirrored a love so perfect that one can’t help but be drawn to him. Could it be true that the image of the God that he preaches is the real image of the God we have? Not of fire and brimstone but of compassion and love?

The man wasn’t sure. Perhaps this was just a wishful thinking, a shot in the dark, on his part. But what if it were true?

If it were, then this could mean a new beginning for this desperate man. A fresh start. A clean slate. The years of hiding behind the mask of pretension can end today. The decades of pain and shame of being called “a sinner” can finally be put to rest today.

Matthew wished. But his doubt was bigger than his faith.

“What if the Master will turn me down or worst, accuse me of my sins?”, Matthew thought. “And what would the people say? Why do I, a sinner, have the gall the approach this holy man?”

That’s why even if the whole town came out to meet the preacher that day, he stayed in his office. His spirit was eager for him to run with the crowd to meet the preacher and to prostrate himself before this holy man. But his heart kept him glued on his chair. Too risky. Too scary. Too humiliating if he would be turned away.

But as always, God knows where we are.

And so Matthew, embroiled in his guilt feelings, didn’t expect what he saw. Right at his doorstep, stood the last man he expected to see.

Jesus.

With compassionate eyes and loving smile, Jesus uttered the two most powerful words that Matthew has ever heard in his life, “Follow me.”

Matthew may have looked around to see if Jesus was talking to someone else. To someone else more holy. Not to a tax collector who stole from the people. Not to a man who has never gone to the temple to worship. Not to a man who made a terrible mess of his life.

But to Matthew’s surprise, there was no one else there. Just him, with all his filth and dirt laid bare before Jesus.

Jesus’ eyes were fixed on him and His words directed at him. Jesus knew exactly who he was calling.

The Gospels do not say if Matthew broke down in tears. But I am pretty sure in his heart, he did.

Jesus knew where he was in his life. That he didn’t have the courage to meet Jesus and beg for mercy. That his pride was bigger than this faith.

But Jesus also knew how badly he wanted to turn a new leaf. Jesus knew that he wanted to start anew with his life but that he didn’t know how. That he hated himself and his sinfulness and that he wanted to finally make it right with God. That he was tired of pretending to be someone other than who he really was — a child of God.

That is God’s same message to you today, dear reader.

He knows where you are.

Your pain. Your guilt. Your frustrations. Your dreams. Your deepest desires.

God knows them all. And that’s why He comes to you today just like what He did for Matthew: To meet you exactly where you are in your life.

God loved Matthew so much for Him to passively wait for Matthew to come to Him. He purposefully went to where Matthew was.

God does the same thing with you today.

Go to Him. Embrace Him. No words are needed. No words are enough. Just turn to Him and never let go.

For the God who loves you knows exactly where you are today!

I remain, your friend, in Christ,

Bobby Q.

Using Your Despair Wisely

(Based on Mark 5:21-43)

John Wesley, legendary Christian evangelist, once said, “It doesn’t matter how great the pressure is, what matters is where the pressure lies.”

For Christians, we are taught to put the pressure, not in front of us, but behind us and use it to push us  closer to God instead of away from Him.

That’s what the two people in the Gospel today did: They used their despair wisely by allowing it push them to go to Jesus.

On the one hand was a powerful man, the synagogue official whose daughter was struggling to live. 

On the other hand was a weak woman, bleeding to death.

Both came from opposite ends of the social stratum yet both went to Jesus. The synagogue official swallowed his pride to seek the help of a wandering preacher while the bleeding woman overcame her shame to touch the cloak of the miraculous rabbi. What made them do what they did?

Despair.

Such a terrifying word. It can cripple you. It can shut you out. It can make you give up. Or…

It can push you closer to God.

I had my own share of despair. When I lost my second child through a miscarriage. When my dad suffered a serious heart attack. When our funds got depleted some years back. When my children got sick. When I fall into sin.

Sometimes the despair can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be re-channeled. Use your despair wisely. Put it behind you and let it push you closer to God. Neither pride nor shame would be strong enough to stop you. 

And I pray that just like the synagogue official and the bleeding woman, you too might experience such staggering power like no other, the kind of power that will leave you completely changed forever!

 

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.