Jenn and I came from a couples’ retreat last week. It was great for a couple of reasons. One, we were not teaching. It was great for us to just sit in and listen. Two, we heard from the best of the best in Victory (Joey & Marie Bonifacio, Steve & Deborah Murrell and Juray & Deah Mora).

In the next couple of blogs, I will be sharing what I learned from the retreat.

On the first day, Joey and Marie focused on the area of communication.

Their session was hilarious because they shared a lot about their personal experiences with regards to this topic.  Seventy percent of marriage problems stem from communication or the lack of it.

“In our marriages, we can either build walls that would divide or walls that would surround our marriage and thereby protect it.” – Joey and Marie Bonifacio

Here are the 4 things that can build the W.A.L.L.


Words are powerful.  The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that ‘life and death are in the power of the tongue.’ Our words can either bring life or it can bring death in a marriage.

Words that build – “I’m proud of you, I love you, I appreciate you…” can definitely bring life in a relationship.

On the other hand, words that tear down – “You’re just like your dad/mom, You’ll always be that way, You’re such a bum, You’re irresponsible…” can definitely sentence a marriage to death.


While words are powerful, just as powerful are our actions.  One can say “I love you” and yet what they communicate can be the exact opposite when they fail to prioritize the relationship.  Time is a major indicative of love in action for it speaks of who takes first place in the calendar.


Listening is a major part of communication.  It is possible to talk for 45 minutes and not communicate at all.  In a world where people feel uncomfortable during times of silence, this is such a vital skill to keep honing.


We can talk.  We can spend time.  We can shut our mouths to listen.  But if there’s no life in a marriage relationship, it will fall apart soon enough.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 tells us to “Enjoy life with your spouse.” Have fun.  Enjoy.  Be silly.

At the pinnacle of every marriage relationship, for it to work, the LIFE (Jesus) has to be in the center.  For without Him, we can do nothing.


I haven’t blogged in more than a week.

Well, this might be a good way to start blogging again.

Listen to the advice of LA Mumar (aka Pastor Max).


Playing with our 2 year old Joaquin is a lot of fun.  Last night, I taught him how to punch like Manny Pacquiao.  After he did it to me, I responded by acting like I was a punching bag.  He laughed so hard he wanted to do it again.  So he did.  And I reacted the same way.  He said, “Again, Daddy, again.”  So he punched, and I acted.  ”Again!”  So he punched again and I acted.  This happened a few times.

Stuff like these are fun.  But at some point, it gets old.

I remembered what G.K. Chesterton said about God not getting tired.  Tyler Kenny calls it the “Childlikeness of God.”

A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.

—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 42


“Believe in yourself.”

“Have faith in yourself.”

“Let the children express themselves and discover the good inside of them.”

These are some of the statements you’ll hear these days.  The intention is pure yet statistics show that this hasn’t been the healthiest trend.

“Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all…” may not necessarily be a helpful statement.

Andrew McAffee wrote an article for Harvard Business Review recently talking about how young people today are getting more narcissistic.  Read his article here.

He mentioned a book by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell entitled “The Narcissism Epidemic” and quotes an excerpt from the book.

“”We found that… college students in the 2000s were significantly more narcissistic than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The Boomers, a generation famous for being self-absorbed, were outdone by their children. By 2006, two-thirds of college students scored above the scale’s original 1979-85 sample average, a 30% increase in only two decades… The upswing in narcissism appears to be accelerating: the increase between 2000 and 2006 was especially steep.”

Twenge and Campbell present a lot of evidence that “overconfidence backfires” and that narcissism does not equip people to succeed in today’s competitive world.  They really make good solo performers and make great entrepreneurs because of their high tolerance for risk.  But in most contexts, narcissism is a handicap.  It makes them less valuable professionals and less valued collegues.  In a world of increased team play, the one man show syndrome is not highly valued as we thought it would.

Jesus was right when He said that “to be the greatest, you have to be the least.”  He also said that to lead, you need to serve.

As parents, we need to teach our kids to learn the value of team and serving in that context.
As leaders, we need to exemplify the team spirit and realize I don’t have to be the know-it-all.
As citizens of a nation, lifting others up and putting their needs first may be an ultra revolutionary concept that will take this nation around.

“Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Jesus made it clear that our confidence, our strength and our source has to be Him and Him alone.


I had a family huddle with 2 of my kids last night.  We were discussing the value of sacrifice.

I was trying to explain that we can’t always get what we want.  Unfortunately, life is unfair at times and that’s just the reality of things.

One of my kids wanted to be picked up from school later than usual but that would mean having the car go back instead of just riding with carpool mates.

Because we were trying to figure out the best way to become better stewards of what God has given, Jenn and I decided to make a decision to go with car pool for that day instead of the car going back again for the pick up.

Sacrifice is giving up something you value which may cause short term loss but in exchange for greater gain.

Society today has taught our children instant gratification.

We want what we want… and we want it NOW!

Teaching our kids that they can’t always get what they want is a good lesson to learn early in life.  Why?  Because that’s just how life works.

The earlier they learn this lesson, the better it is for them for it will save them from the many frustrations and heart aches circumstances may bring because many of them are way beyond our control.

John 10:15. “…just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”


Reading a book by Chap and Dee Clark.  They sampled a letter of a young lady who is calling out to her dad to be a father.

“I don’t know where to start… there is so much I want to tell you about the real me, but you only see me as your “little girl.”  In fact, we’ve even joked about it before.

I remember when we first moved to Kansas.  I was growing out of the back rub stage, but I guess the move made me need you even more.  You wrote me a letter when I was eight, commenting on this, but I still needed those back rubs.  You sent me the letter nine years later and I read it for the first time a week ago.  I sobbed when I read it.  I realized that every once in a while I still need a daddy to take me in his arms and protect me from this awful world and keep me out of harm’s way.  Yet I need a father ,too.  Someone who will prepare me for the real world.  Daddy, will you be my father, too?”

Here’s a few key thoughts Chap and Dee Clark wanted to share so we can be the dads our girls need to be:

1. Take her seriously.

When a child enters adolescence, the key word for her is independence.  This is an adolescent quest – to be treated as and to feel like an individual who matters.

2. Care about what she thinks.

Let her know that her opinions and ideas are important to you.  She is not just part of the family, but she is an important part of the family.

3. Walk with her through the journey of the adolescence.

She inherently needs and desires a unique relationship with daddy.  This is an opportunity to treat her in a more grown up way and to trust and encourage her as she navigates these years.

But the most important thing is to let her know that whatever happens, daddy is for her, with her and will journey with her through everything she’d go through.


I asked one of my sons last night, “Do you feel people expect more from you because you are a pastor’s son?”

He said, “Not really.”

“Great!”, I said.

Throughout the years of my kids growing up, my wife and I have been very deliberate to make sure our kids understand that they don’t have to act a certain way because they’re parents are in full-time ministry.  However, people can still fall in the trap of looking at our kids and expect that they have to be  the most behaved, well mannered, ‘perfect’, ‘di nakakabasag pinggan’ type of kids.

We consistently check that and ask our kids.

At the end of our conversation, I told him, “You do what you gotta do because you love Jesus not because you are my son.”

“Yeah,” he said. “I do what I gotta do because I am God’s son, not because I’m a pastor’s son.”

I think he hit the nail on the head.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)


We try to curb whining in our home.  Consistency is always a challenge.

Our 7-year-old daughter  (at that time when this happened) did it when she wasn’t able to get what she wanted.

Ryan, our 3-year-old son said, “Mom, I don’t like that sound.”

My wife replied by saying, “Well, Ryan, you also whine sometimes.”

To this he said, “No, mom, I’m just a good actor.”


We were having a meal together as a family.

Janina was eating “Lucky Me” chicken mami noodles.

Jenn asked Ryan a question who was 3 years old at that time, “Ryan, do you want chicken mami?”

Almost in tears and with a confused face, Ryan replies,

“No, I don’t like!!! I want YOU, mom…not a chicken mommy.”


Day 1 of our couples retreat.  I just want to say it has been very refreshing.  Bernard and Ivy are amazing.  They’re some of our finest in Victory.

Some of the things we learned…

  • There are learned Biblical behaviors that we can acquire.  One of which is to be ‘quick to listen’ as James 1:19 says.
  • “Nothing-you-can-do-to make-me-love-you-less” attitude
  • You can plan your action but never your reaction.  That’s why we need to decide ahead.
  • To truly “L.U.V.” by listening is to “listen”, “Understand” and “Validate.”
  • “First duty of love is to listen” – Paul Tillich
One of the most important skills you need as a leader is the ability to listen. The Chinese characters that make up the verb “to listen” tell us something significant about the skill. A King, in order to be a true leader, must listen with earseyes, and heart … giving undivided attention to the people.

  • On a side note, there was a fun, funny, special presentation in the evening by the ladies.  Here goes …