A TRIBUTE TO BILLY GRAHAM

 

I was captivated by the photo of a young man preaching before thousands in a football stadium. His charm, his wit, his eloquence and his passion resounded loudly in my heart. He had a no-nonsense approach to preaching the Gospel message. You either take it or you leave it. No double-talk. No sugar-coating. No theatrics. Just pure and simple challenge to either walk with Jesus or walk away from Him.

It was 1997. I was only 25 years old when I chanced upon a book on the life of renowned evangelist, the late Billy Graham. I couldn’t put the book down. I was mesmerized by his life and his mission. Back then, I was in the midst of a tedious and serious life discernment process. I was searching for my vocation. I knew God has called me to preach. But it seemed like he was also calling me to get married. As a Catholic, I found it difficult to reconcile the call to preach and the call to married life. Only priests or lay consecrated men preach. And they aren’t supposed to get married.

Yet here comes Billy Graham, preacher and family man rolled into one.

I resonated with his passion to preach and his love for lost people — two things closest to my heart. That’s essentially who I am.

On that day, God birthed into my heart a new image of how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I will get married, raise a family and preach to the ends of the earth like Billy Graham.

That was more than 2o years ago. Today, 12 Catchfire Rallies and thousands of preaching engagements later, I look back with gratitude to the late Reverand Graham who was laid to rest yesterday. He never knew me but just like millions all over the globe, I am who I am today largely because of him.

He shone the light and paved the way. He is the preacher par excellence.

He is my inspiration.

He is Billy Graham.

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PAIN IN THE NECK

I was recently diagnosed to have “cervical spondylosis”.

Scary medical term, huh?

It only means though that I have arthritis of the neck, at least that’s how my good doctor explained it to me — that my neck is older than my age. Without proper care of the neck, the painful sensation can radiate from my neck down to my arms. Quite painful, to be honest, when it is at its peak like say two weeks ago when I was rushed to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.

Now, two weeks later, and feeling much, much better, I got a chance to reflect and see my situation through my spiritual lenses.

My lifelong burden is basically a “pain in neck”, in both the literal and figurative sense. No more carrying of heavy stuff. No more random sleep posture at night. No more playing basketball. Quite a burden to carry for the rest of my life, don’t you think so?

Well, not until you see it from the perspective of Someone who carried something on his back in worse circumstances.

Compared to His burden which broke his spine, my burden only scarred a portion of mine.

I caused my burden, He didn’t cause His.
Mine was a pinch while His was a punch.
Mine can be relieved by medication while His can be relieved only by crucifixion.
Mine can be eased by therapy while His can be eased only by death.

And here’s the clincher: His burden was for my salvation.

Could I not then at least share in His burden by offering my pain for the salvation of others?

Everytime the shooting pain radiates from the neck to the arm, let it be for that lonely man behind bars who misses his family day after day.

Everytime the discomfort comes at night, let it be for that woman trapped in that marriage with that violent man.

Everytime a wrong posture hurts, let it be for that troubled young man hooked into drugs.

How about you? Are you going through some kind of physical or emotional pain now? Use it well. Offer it for the salvation of souls. Let it be your humble share in the salvific act of Christ.

Let your every pain, discomfort, irritation, and burden this week echo so loudly in eternity with every soul saved.

As for me, the pain in my neck will always serve as a reminder that my sins dealt the pain on the neck of my Savior.

The least I can do is share in that pain…even just a little and even just for a little while.

Have a blessed week ahead!

*————————–*
P.S. Thanks for all those who have been praying for me! I am getting better by the day!

THE FATHER’S LOVE

What made David weep over the death of his son Absalom?

…the very son who undermined his authority
…who rebelled against him
…who sought his death.

What made Jairus plead with Jesus for the healing of his daughter?

…despite his status
…despite the embarrassment
…despite the possibility of rejection.

The Father’s love.

Immovable.
Tangible.
All-consuming.

Yet the love of an earthly father pales in comparison what that of the Heavenly One.

For His children.
For His precious ones.
For you and me.

If David and Jairus did what they did, what makes you think God the Father won’t do that for you?

Be at peace, Child. No matter what you will face today, everything shall be well.

Simply because of the indescribable and overwhelming love of the Father for you!

HE IS HERE

I woke up on the morning of Father’s Day with only one thought as in years past: I have to greet my father.

And then it hit me: My earthly father is no longer around…for the very first time in all my 41 years.

I can’t text or call him anymore. I can no longer treat him out to his favorite Max’s Restaurant. I can’t watch PBA games with him anymore.

He’s gone and there is nothing I can do to bring him back.

I woke up sluggishly that day. I crawled my way out of the bed and dragged myself to the showers. I climbed the stairs to the session hall with lead-heavy legs and worked my way to preach that morning. Several times during my talk, I had to catch myself and hold back my tears. Father’s Day is just not Father’s Day without Papang. It’s just not the same.

The 2 hour drive that afternoon from Tagaytay to Manila was no different. The beautiful scenery of the Sta. Rosa roads didn’t bring much comfort and instead, only amplified the emptiness of not having Papang on Father’s Day.

And then I arrived home.

The moment I entered our living room, my family, all five of them including my wife Jeng, greeted me excitedly and joyously. Kisses. Hugs. A song number. Celebrating mass with them. Then pizza at our favorite family place, Shakeys.

Just before I retired to bed that night, when all of them were already asleep, I caught a glimpse of myself on our full length mirror. There, before me stood a man I barely recognized. Familiar yet different. The squint of his eyes. The curl of his lips. The hunch on those shoulders. The tilt of his stand.

There he is. My dad. My Papang.

His spirit lives in me. His values dwell in my heart. His words embedded in my mind.His strength emanating from my being.

Papang isn’t gone.

He is here.

And for as long as I strive to live my life in honor of my father, I know he will always be.

Have a blessed Father’s Day to all my fellow dads out there!

OF DOORKNOBS AND LIFE

Mara left our bedroom door open while the aircon was running. She apologized to Jeng but afterwards, before Jeng closed the door, she found out that the door knob lock was actually pressed down the whole time. It turns out that it was a good thing that Mara did not close the door, otherwise we would all be locked out.God can turn our mistakes around and make them a blessing.

It’s true with doorknobs.

It’s true with life.

LITTLE ACT, BIG IMPACT

Every little thing, when done with God, can produce big results…A little pebble struck down a giant in Goliath.
A little staff parted the Red Sea.
A little faith in Abraham produced descendants as numerous as the stars.
A little conviction led Nehemiah to rebuild the mighty walls of Jerusalem.
A little bread and fish fed thousands.
A little-known carpenter changed the world.

If you think you’re little, then rejoice!

You are big in God’s plans!

So keep praying. Keep loving. Keep serving.

Every little act, if done with God, will surely result in a big impact!

TOO LATE?

Abraham was seventy-five years old when God told him to migrate from Haran.Sarah was ninety years old when she gave birth to Isaac.

Moses was eighty years old when he stood before Pharaoh to petition the release of the Jewish slaves.

Simeon was “a very old man” when God’s promise of him seeing the long-awaited Messiah was fulfilled.

Nothing is ever too late with God.

Not with them. And definitely not with you.

So hold on to his promises. He is not done with you yet.