LESSONS FROM BIKING AND HIKING TO MT. FUJI

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Our third child, Ryan, recently turned 13. And for some reason, he had the crazy idea of cycling from Tokyo to the foot of Mount Fuji and then hike up to the summit. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It was his passage into becoming a man and my passage of officially realizing that I’m old.

Biking 110 kilometers through several hills and a couple of mountains was not fun. I had to ask myself, “Why am I doing this again?”

This question came up again as we were hiking up to the summit of Mt. Fuji (3,776 m). We would stop and rest. And when we would, I would end up literally asleep for a few moments. When I would wake up, I would literally think I was in a bad dream… a nightmare, actually.

Because we had a lot of time to think and talk, we came up with a few life lessons along the way. Allow me to share them with you.

1. When you fall, just pick yourself up and move on.

At the summit, the winds were strong. They were as strong as 50 kph. Everyone had to stay low and duck many times as the strong winds would come by.

Walking was even a challenge. So there were times we would be swept by the wind and fall. We can choose to stay on the ground or just pick ourselves up and continue. We continued.

Life’s like that. We get hit and fall. The choice is ours. Will we stay knocked out or pick ourselves up and keep moving forward?

2. Don’t miss on what is happening now because you’re in a hurry to see what will happen next.

As we were climbing down from the summit, we were just so excited to go Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 4.45.22 PM
back to base camp and rest. But because we were in such a hurry, we were missing a lot of the stunning view.

Life offers too many beautiful events and experiences. When we are in such a hurry, we miss out on the lessons, messages and the simple joys life has to offer.

3. Preparing is hard work but being ill-prepared is harder.

We trained. We prepared. We got ready.
I read up on a lot of those that did what we did.
But somehow, we weren’t as prepared for what we were going to go through. And boy it was tough.

Preparation is hard work. But it’s harder if we are ill-prepared.

4. Keep your eye on the goal.

While biking, as long as we could see Mt. Fuji from afar, we were encouraged to
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keep going.

We will be discouraged, exhausted and tempted to quit. But as we keep our eyes on the goal, we will eventually get there – one step at a time.
Keeping your eyes on the goal will keep you from quitting.

5. Trust the GPS.

As we cycled from Tokyo to Fuji, I had my Google maps on. I would tell Ryan to turn left when we needed to or turn right as necessary. But there were times he had his earphones on and we would miss a turn because he couldn’t hear me say “turn left.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 7.51.15 AMGod knows which way is the best. He knows the GPS well because He planned it. But because we have too many voices in our ears, we get distracted. Thus, we miss our turn and end up in a place where we didn’t want to be in.

But thank God that, by His grace, He is able to cause all things to work together for our good. As we listen to His voice, He reroutes and gets us back on track.

6. We will face uphill challenges along the way, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

This was what we were trying to convince ourselves about the whole time we were trekking for a total of 8 hours to the summit.

“This will be worth it.”
And it was
The view of the sun rising from the summit was more than amazing.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 8.14.43 AMLife will throw us a few curveballs and get us through uphill climbs. But if we are convinced that this is where God has placed us this season, then when we get to our destination, we will realize that it was all worth it.

7. Don’t just look forward to the destination; enjoy the journey as well.

We so badly wanted to reach the summit that we didn’t even talk to each IMG_0934other. Our legs were hurting and our eyes were shutting due to lack of sleep.

But managing to chat, interact, reminisce, and reflect on these lessons also became a highlight in the end.

 

To watch snippets of our adventure, I’ve posted 2 videos below of our bike trip and our hike up to the summit of Mt. Fuji.

VIDEO 1: CYCLING FROM TOKYO TO MT. FUJI

 

VIDEO 2: HIKING TO MT. FUJI SUMMIT

WHAT IF MY PARENTS ARE NOT HONORABLE?

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An auctioneer brought out an old, ugly and worn out violin with incomplete strings. No one seemed interested for it looked like junk. But after raising the violin for everyone to see, he mentioned that it was a 17th century Stradivarius owned by one of Napoleon’s generals, Count Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor.

Immediately, you could hear gasps coupled with oohh’s & aahh’s.

When we talk about honor, the sense of respect that brings about that “aahh” is what comprises honor.

The Bible tells us to honor our father and mother.
Here are a few FAQ’s I get asked all the time.

1. WHO DO WE HONOR?

We are called to honor father AND mother. It’s not an “or” but an “and”.
Some will say, “Paolo, it’s easy to do that to my mom. But my dad? Hmmm… I don’t think so.”
Or, “Paolo, my dad is so lovable and was always there. But my mom, she was never there. How can I honor someone who didn’t even care for me?”

The command doesn’t give us a footnote, exception clause or fine print. It just says honor your father and mother period.

When we honor our parents, we honor God.

2. WHY SHOULD WE HONOR THEM?

This command has a promise attached to it, “that your days may be long in the land.” (Exodus 20:12)

There are natural consequences to honoring and obeying; and so does the converse. If we dishonor, there are negative consequences.

Honoring our parents is not for their benefit but it is for us.

But ultimately, we honor our parents for our benefit; we do it for the glory of God. The benefits are merely the by-product of honoring our parents.

3. HOW DO WE HONOR?

We honor them through our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

What are we cultivating in our thoughts?
If we cultivate hatred, disrespect and anger, guess what will come out of our mouths?

Matthew 12:34 says that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

On the other hand, if we cultivate gratefulness, forgiveness and unconditional respect, that is what’s going to overflow from our hearts and eventually through our mouths.

4. WHAT IF THEY’RE NOT HONORABLE?

There are times when one may feel that their parents don’t need the honor the Bible tells us to give them.
But again, the Bible gives us the command and says to honor period. It doesn’t say that we are to honor them when they are kind and exceptional parents. We are to honor them because it’s the right thing to do.

Here are a few practical things to do:

a. Give grace.
Sometimes, we have raised the level of expectations to levels we won’t even meet ourselves.
Cut them some slack.
They are wicked, sinful and flawed sinners like the person reading this blog… that’s you and me.

b. Give forgiveness.
Forgiveness lets them off the hook.
We decide to not allow what they’ve done to hurt us the way it has in the past. We let go of the offense.

Note: Only those who have been forgiven have the power to do the same to others.

c. Give honor.
In the military, there’s a statement that they use – “Salute the rank.”

For more about this point, check out this blog by Joseph Bonifacio.

d. Give an example.
If we live a life that dishonors our parents, we end up setting a pattern for our kids to follow. When we dishonor our parents, we model to our kids how they are to treat us.

e. Give thanks.
There is always something to thank God for our parents. You can start by being thankful that you are alive today. Even just that, it’s a reason to be grateful.

The best antidote to a grumbling heart is a grateful heart.

To hear more about this topic, you may watch last Sunday’s message.

TIMES WITH DAD THAT MEAN A LOT

me and my dad

Every year, dads haul their tents and bags and bring their kids to camping to have one of the best times they can have.

This year, we had it at Clearwater Clark Pampanga.

For some dads, it was their first time to camp with their kids. For others, they have come year after year after year. The experience of sunburn (because they didn’t heed mom’s directive to put sunblock), no toothbrush for 24 hours and science experiments aka breakfast/lunch/dinner.

But most of all, times of prayer, worship and learning from God’s Word have always been a highlight.

I love what Bishop Juray Mora said in his message to the dads,

I believe that our future will be greatly affected more by what happens in our homes than whoever wins in the next few elections that we face in our lifetime. Our greatest contribution to our children is not a financial nest that they can rest in. Our greatest contribution to our children is a home where a relationship with Christ is most valued, a home where their mother is loved unconditionally including them.”

To watch the recap of the recent camp, click the video below.

 

 

 

WHEN ELECTIONS CAUSE DIVISION

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One of our Victory Group leaders messaged me this morning asking how she should respond to relatives, friends, and even church members who are at odds due to differing opinions and preferences regarding the ongoing election campaign.

It has become divisive and estranging. Families end up not talking to each other, office mates argue, and friends quarrel over who they feel would be the best to lead at this season of our nation’s history.

Here are a few random thoughts I shared with her:

1. What is most important?

I am saddened by how certain people are responding and reacting to all these. The Bible says we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

That being said, we have to keep things in proper perspective.

Long after this election is over and done with, blood relatives will still be family. Church community will still be our spiritual family. Division or breaking relationship is simply just not worth it.

Some of the candidates won’t even remember us long after the elections are over.

Values determine priorities. And when the priorities are clear, decisions are simpler. It may not necessarily be easier but it is simpler for you know what or who is most important.

2. How about social media posts?

Posting on social media is not the problem. It’s what we post and how we say things are some of the concerns. Forcing, arguing, throwing hate, mud slinging are what makes it unhealthy and problematic.

3. Can I really be sure?

We can’t be completely sure who God has chosen to be the next president, vice president, mayor, councilor, etc. Remember, even the prophet Samuel made a mistake in choosing who the next president was. He thought it was the eldest son of Jesse. David, the youngest son, was who God chose.  Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.

But this is what I am sure of: GOD IS SOVEREIGN!

He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:21)

He is in charge over the affairs of men. He can even use a Pharaoh or Cyrus to fulfill His purposes. How come? Because He is in charge!

4. What should we do?

First of all, go out and vote according to who you feel God has put in your heart.
Samuel had to hear the voice of God.
We all have to go to God, pray and vote according to your conscience.

5. What else can we do?

Pray! Pray! Pray for our nation.
This election campaign has been very divisive.
To reiterate what Ephesians 4:3 said, “Make every effort to keep the unity…”
To make every effort means to do your best within your powers to maintain unity.
“A kingdom divided cannot stand.”

How do we maintain unity? We can agree to disagree agreeably.
When someone shares who they will vote, we can maintain unity by respecting their opinion and not trying to convince them to change their mind. They’ve thought long and hard and hopefully have prayed.

Agreeing to disagree agreeably means respecting their opinion even if it differs from yours.

Remember, we can win the argument but lose the relationship in the process.

To quote Pastor Dennis Isleta, here’s what he said,
“I feel restoration does not begin after the elections but even as early as now. True Christlike character ought to be shown when no one is yet winner or loser. It is easy to be Christlike after one has won, and easy to be less Christlike when one has lost. So is it true about praising God for victory or asking Him for help for the nation when defeated.”

Hope this helps us.

God bless the Philippines!

WHEN VALUES ARE CLEAR, DECISIONS ARE SIMPLER.

Blog Banners.001When values are clear, decisions are simpler.

Now, simpler doesn’t mean easier for many decisions we need to make are difficult. But when priorities are clear cut, choices are simpler.

I read a recent article by Sports Illustrated on Jermaine O’Neal, a six-time NBA All-Star, Most Improved Player in 2002. He helped Indiana Pacers reach the NBA Playoffs 6 times but never got a championship ring.Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 8.34.42 AM

In 2013, he signed with the Golden State Warriors to play through 2014. But after a year with the Warriors, he decided to call it a career. The year after that, the Warriors went on to win their first championship after a 40-year drought.

When his former team won the championship, he was watching the game back at his house in Southlake, Texas. His 15-year-old daughter, Asjia watched her dad watch the game and asked, “Are you OK?”

O’Neal didn’t say a word.

She knew he was pondering on what might have been if he stayed another year.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 8.34.17 AMBut for years, he told his family that they were his priority. His daughter just recovered from an open heart surgery. And while contemplating on signing with the Warriors for another year (the year they won the championship), his son told him, “Hey dad, I need you.”

“Physically, I could have done it. Mentally, no. My son and my family asked me not to, and that was the trump card. That did something to me. I was seeing changes in my son, he became more angry. And for a guy who didn’t meet his dad until seven years ago myself, I understood what it meant not to have a dad there,” O’Neal mentions in his interview with Sports Illustrated.

After she asked her dad if he was ok, Asjia walks up to her room.

A few minutes later, she sends him a text telling him about how happy she was that he was home. After recovering from her open heart surgery, she made it to volleyball team in her school and is now a rising star.

Asjia tells her dad how she appreciates him not only being home but also being able to travel with her to watch her play her volleyball games.

“Dad, you being home is like you being a champion.”

This text made what he gave up all worth it.

“It made me so emotional. When she wrote the text, how much it meant to her, to get that, it cleared up everything. All the emotions I had, missing out on the championship. That did it and I knew right away that my time was over,” O’Neal said.

“Sometimes you can’t be a champion. That doesn’t determine who you are,” he says. “But you can be a champion father, and that means everything. That means everything.”

When values are clear, decisions are simpler.

To read the full article from Sports Illustrated, click here.

 

MAKING THINGS RIGHT WHEN CHOICES WERE WRONG

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Many today misuse the grace of God to excuse their behavior to continue living in their lifestyle of sin.

Yes, the grace of God is available to save us from sin, but it is also available for us to say NO to sin.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Nick and Elma came to church after being invited by their children. They have been in a live-in situation for years and had thought that since they’ve been in the same situation for 25 years, God would somehow understand.

The grace of God empowers us to correct whatever wrong we’ve stood for in the past.

Watch their testimony on how God spoke to them to make things right.

 

FORGIVING WHEN YOU’RE HURTING THE MOST

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Oklahoma City Thunder coach Monty Williamswife was killed in a car accident. And in front of 900 friends and family members, he delivered a moving and speech of love, strength, wisdom and forgiveness.

I want to close with this, and I think it’s the most important thing we need to understand. Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well, and we have no ill will towards that family.
In my house, we have a sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard, and that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well. So let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

Towards the end of his speech, he thanks everyone who came and said something profound.

“We didn’t lose my wife. When you lose something, you can’t find it.
I know exactly where my wife is.”

Words of hope, security and faith.

On a time of trial, where are our eyes turned towards?

Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Here’s the video of his eulogy.

 

THE PROBLEM WITH REDEFINING MARRIAGE

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Through the years, certain words have been redefined.

I remember growing up, the word “salvage” meant someone getting killed. But later on, I found out that it really meant rescuing and saving something or someone.

Same with the word “dope”. I grew up thinking it was drugs. These days, young people say, “That dope doh!” which means, “That’s so cool!”

In basketball, to get a facial doesn’t mean going to a dermatologist to get cleaned. It means getting dunked on in your face.

Certain words when redefined seem harmless. But there are certain words when we redefine them will not only be dangerous but outright destructive.

Marriage is one of them.

Jesus in Matthew 19 talks about marriage.

1. Marriage is a PHYSICAL union.

Matthew 19:5 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

It is a physical union, a coming together of sorts, between a man and a woman. These days, we have moved boundary lines and allowed marriage no longer just for male and female but people of the same gender.

We’ve rebelled against those lines and said we can have an affair as long as it’s in secret. Ask Ashley Madison about it. Their tagline says that because life is short, then have an affair.

2. Marriage is a PROVIDENTIAL union.

Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

It is God who joins two people together.

While it is true that He does that, in the bigness of the Sovereignty of God, He has given us the freedom of choice to make the decision who we will get married to.

3. Marriage is a PERMANENT union.

Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Divorce is the undoing of the work of God.

The only reason why divorce was allowed was because of the hardness of our hearts – sin.

That’s why in many wedding vows, the promise is till death do us part. It’s not until another career do us part nor another bank account do us part or another person do us part, but until death do us part.

“When emotions become the primary basis for our decision to get married, then emotions will also become the primary basis for our decision to separate.”

Here’s my message yesterday at Victory Fort that further expounds on this topic of marriage.

God bless you guys.

BUILD THE A.R.R.O.W.


Building a tree house was one of the most challenging yet fulfilling endeavors I accomplished with my father.
He had a house in the province that had a huge backyard.  Right in the middle of the yard was a massive tree that was shouting to have a tree house on top of it.  I asked my dad if he was up to it.  He agreed and without wasting any time, we got the materials that were suitable for the project.
Now it wasn’t a sophisticated piece of work but it was work indeed.  Aside from the effort and time we poured in, we needed to have the appropriate materials to build our “mansion” in the sky.

As in any building, structure and undertaking, it is important to have the right raw materials. In building a family, there are “raw materials” we need to fashion in the lives of our children.

The Bible says in Psalm 127:1 that “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”  

First and foremost, God is the Builder of any household.  We cannot hallucinate and think we are the master builders.

Furthermore, in verses 3 and 4, the psalmist says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” 

This verse compares children to arrows that we can fashion.  Arrows were made not to merely stay in the quiver.  They were made to be released.  But while they are with us, here are a few things we can build in them.

A – ttentiveness

R – elationship

R – esponsibility

O – bedience

W – isdom

In the next few weekends, I will expound on each “raw material.”

But before I talk about the arrows, I want to make one important statement:

“Arrows can only be successfully launched if the bows are reliable.”

As parents, we need the grace of God to prepare and equip us to raise the next generation of world changers.  And it starts with a relationship with the Master Builder, God.  Any progress or gain will never have a lasting impact apart from God’s involvement, intervention and influence through His Word.

The only way we can fulfill all that God has designed for us as parents is if we allow Him to fashion us and equip us by His Word.

You’ll be surprised how the principles from this antiquated book are still so relevant to 21st century parenting.

Till next weekend’s post.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW

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Worldviews are what dictate how a person behaves. It is our life lens. If we wear sunglasses that are blue, then everything around us will be blue-ish. Having a Biblical Worldview is having the Bible as our life lens.

When my daughter was 8 years old, we were in an amusement center whereParenting World Changers.001 they gave tickets to get prizes like stuff toys. When we got to the Skee Ball, beside our machine was one that had a bunch of tickets unclaimed.

When I saw it, I told her, “Look, free tickets!”
She stared at me with a weird look and said, “Dad, if you get what isn’t yours, isn’t that stealing?”

She got me.
“I was just checking, honey.” Haha.

I grew up with a worldview of “finders keepers.”
Hers was “getting what is not yours is stealing.”

The Word of God has the power to shift our mindsets to right thinking.
And right thinking leads to right living.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

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PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97255458@N05/