THE PROBLEM WITH REDEFINING MARRIAGE

Blog Banners.001

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

Blog Banners.001

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)

———

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

THE BEST STORY TO TELL YOUR KIDS


About 3 weeks ago, our eldest son, Nathan celebrated his spiritual birthday. We call it that because his physical birth was on November 24, but the day he gave his life to Christ was on July 17, years back when he was about 6 years old.

I remember that afternoon like it was yesterday. We were in the parking lot of SM Megamall listening to a song that mentioned the phrase “born again”. He got curious and asked us what it meant to experience rebirth or if it was even possilble to go back to mommy’s tummy.

We explained to him John chapter 3 when Nicodemus had the same question.  And on that day, God opened his spiritual eyes. I wish I can say he understood everything about his salvation that moment. But like you and me, we grow in the knowledge of our salvation. Coupled with that growing knowledge is the process of sanctification.

As parents, we can believe God for sensitivity to His Spirit so we can present the good news of salvation to our children. There is no greater inheritance we can leave to our kids than the legacy of the gospel. Putting them in the best schools is great. Enrolling them in athletic or musical workshops is admirable. Giving them outdoor education through travel is stellar. However, if they do not know Christ, all is in vain.

Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

The greattest value to Jesus is our soul. And it is for this reason that He came and atoned for our sins that we may have life and life to the full (John 10:10).

May God give us sensitivity to hear Him and spiritual insight to present the best story ever told – the gospel.

INSTANT vs. DELAYED GRATIFICATION

Blog Banners.001“I want some Skittles! And I want them now!!!”

Many of us have had this situation in the grocery store check out line. Grocery stores are very smart. They strategically position the candies and toys right when we’re about to pay… at the time when the kids are tired, hungry, cranky and impatient after tagging along with mom and dad at the supermarket.

We live in a world where we can get things in an instant.
Information can be downloaded in a few seconds as compared to going to a library going through a card catalogue to get to the specific book we need.
Preparing dinner is now quick and easy through a microwave oven as compared to lighting up the stove, heating up the pan and cooking your meal.
Communication moves in lightning speed. Sending a letter is now as swift as blinking your eyes compared to getting an envelope, sticking a stamp and going to the post office send your mail.
Reading news is no longer through the paper bought from a newsstand but via Twitter that gives an update every minute.

It’s a completely different world. But unfortunately, it also has rewired the way we approach life. Because we are used to getting things quick, we feel incomplete and unresolved when we don’t.

And teaching our children to wait has become more complicated and arduous.

Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward based on a greater value.

Psychology Today wrote an article last year that explained it this way.

“In 1970 psychologist Walter Mischel famously placed a cookie in front of a group of children and gave them a choice: they could eat the cookie immediately, or they could wait until he returned from a brief errand and then be rewarded with a second. If they didn’t wait, however, they’d be allowed to eat only the first one. Not surprisingly, once he left the room, many children ate the cookie almost immediately. A few, though, resisted eating the first cookie long enough to receive the second.

Interestingly, the children who were best able to delay gratification subsequently did better in school and had fewer behavioral problems than the children who could only resist eating the cookie for a few minutes—and, further, ended up on average with SAT scores that were 210 points higher. As adults, the high-delay children completed college at higher rates than the other children and then went on to earn higher incomes. In contrast, the children who had the most trouble delaying gratification had higher rates of incarceration as adults and were more likely to struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.”

We need to help our children learn this trait. The earlier they get this, the less heartaches they will experience in the future.

One of the most effective ways to distract our kids from a tempting pleasure is to focus on another pleasure that is based on a greater value.
As Roy Disney said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

By not eating one cookie before dinner, I can have 2 after dinner.
Because I did not spend my money impulsively on a cheaper yet flimsy toy, I can buy a nicer and better one.
If i discipline myself to wake up early to exercise rather than sleep in, I feel
better physically and emotionally.
By keeping my purity before marriage, I end up enjoying greater intimacy with my future spouse without the unnecessary heartaches.

Presenting a greater value to the one that is right before us may seem abstract at the moment but once we wrap our heads around it, we will realize that it is a way better choice.

—–

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geracg/

IMPARTING WISDOM TO OUR CHILDREN

Blog Banners.001Wisdom is seeing and responding to life situations from a perspective that transcends my current circumstances.

Our children today are very smart. My eldest son actually has an IQ of 160. My second son can solve a Rubix cube in 30 plus seconds. My daughter’s musical ability is stellar. And my youngest son who is 6 years old is genius at being funny.

Kids these days can know a lot more from their parents because of Google and You Tube. The information they can gather over the internet is just limitless. (Read a recent blog I wrote about it.)

But as parents who have been entrusted with these amazing brains, how can we even help them if they know more about us? Well, they don’t (know more about us). Smart doesn’t necessarily mean wise. Wisdom comes from experience. Wisdom is applied knowledge.

Here are a few things we can do:

Teach them God’s standards from an early age.

Proverbs is a great way to impart wisdom. Since there are mostly 31 days in a month and 31 chapters in Proverbs, going through one chapter per day with them may be a good start. You may not need to read the whole chapter but simply choose a proverb or two that may apply to something they’re going through at the moment.

Remember that the goal is to train them to become fully functioning adults.

Our desire is to wean them off from us and get them connected to God. The trajectory is that as they become less dependent on us, they will become more dependent on God.

Dependence DIagram

Teach them to seek God through His Word, through prayer and through the counsel of godly mentors.

Remind them about the ‘best question ever.’

Andy Stanley proposes that once we’ve met Christ, the major question is no longer “is this sin?” or “is this legal or illegal?” or “is this moral or immoral?” Many times, we know the answer to these questions. But it’s the little decisions that lead up to that one big fall is what gets us.

He proposes that the best question ever is no longer “is it moral or immoral?” but “What’s the wise thing to do?” It may sound very simple but when we teach our kids this question, it will be incredibly helpful in making the right decisions.

Is it wrong to be in the car parked in a dark area of the village past midnight with your boyfriend? It’s not sin but it’s not necessarily wise.
Is it wrong to watch You Tube seven hours a day? It’s not wrong but it’s not necessarily wise.
Is it wrong to surf the internet all by yourself locked in your room past midnight without internet porn filters? It’s not sin but it’s also not wise.
Is it sin to eat ice cream every meal, every day? Not necessarily but it’s also not wise.

It’s the small decisions that lead up to that one big fall that gets to us.
This question is a good one to teach our kids.

May God give us discernment and lead us as we parent the next generation who rises up before us. I know we are all busy but I pray that we would be able to invest time in imparting wisdom to these precious ones that we’ve been entrusted with.

———

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thearkev/

TRUTH ABOUT LIES

Blog 061115

Sarah, a 4-year old girl was given a clear directive by her mom not to get cookies from the cookie jar for it was almost time for supper.   But since Sarah loved cookies so much, she was tempted to sneak into the kitchen and try to get at least one piece.  But as she was sneaking one out from the cookie jar, her mother comes in the kitchen and asks, “Sarah, what are you doing?”  Quickly putting both hands behind her back to try to hide the cookie she said, “Mom, what do you mean?  There’s nothing in my hands.  I don’t have a cookie behind my back.”  Of course, her mom confronts her and tells her that she was caught in the act.  To this, Sarah replies, “But mom, it’s really not my fault.  Really!  I was just trying to smell the cookies but it got stuck between my teeth.”

How can kids come up with these kinds of stories?  Who taught them?  How did they get this “creative”?  Here are three truths about lying that would help us understand our kids better.

TRUTH NO. 1:  LYING CAN START EARLY

Do not be surprised when your young child comes to you one day with a story that is completely not true. Our eldest child was only 4 when he told his first lie. Of course we couldn’t believe that our cute, sweet and adorable son would be capable of doing such a thing!  But after talking to other parents with far more experience than us, we learned that our son was not an isolated case. Children as young as 3 or 4 years old are capable of lying.

Proverbs 22:15 says that folly is bound up in the heart of a child.

Basically, there are four reasons a child lies: To keep their parents happy, to stay out of trouble, to avoid embarrassment often related to low self-esteem, or because they want attention.  Children may fabricate a story about something good they did in school to please their parents. Or if they know they had done something wrong, they may give you another version of what really happened to avoid the punishment. They may also say some things about themselves that are not true so they can belong or be accepted by other kids. Or simply children may lie because their parents haven’t been spending time with them and this is the only way to get their parents to listen to them.

TRUTH NO. 2 LYING SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN LIGHTLY

Children will lie whether we like it or not. That’s how deceitful our hearts can become as Jeremiah 17:9 declares.

How we handle their lying will determine how honest and truthful they will grow up in the future. In our house, we have established clear boundaries we expect from our children to follow strictly.  One of them is, “You have to be truthful at all times.”  While our society and culture might justify some amount of lying, we cannot tolerate it in our home. We want our children to learn early in their lives that lying has serious consequences.

The foundation for every relationship is trust. Lying breaks that trust. Lying damages our relationships. We want our children to grow up enjoying healthy relationships with others that is why it is one of our priorities to teach them the value of truthfulness and honesty. People who lie think that lying will make things better for them. But actually lying can lead to bigger, and more serious problems if not dealt with properly.

TRUTH NO. 3    LYING CAN BE UNLEARNED

If your child has developed the habit of lying, the good news is it can be unlearned. Our kids can be taught how to be truthful.  If we start early and constantly emphasize honesty and truthfulness in our homes, our kids will eventually learn that lying doesn’t have to be the only option.

There are two ways we can train our kids to be truthful. First is to reward honesty.  We have to make our children realize that it is always better to tell the truth. Whenever they honestly admit some things to us, we need to appreciate them for it. Verbally affirm them for telling the truth (“I’m so proud of you for telling the truth!”).  And at times, even reward them with something tangible like additional allowance or a small toy. This constant reinforcement will encourage them to always be truthful.

Some people would say they don’t like giving rewards. But remember, Hebrews 11:6 says that God rewards His children. It’s perfectly ok to reward as long as it becomes the result of good work rather than a motivation for it.

The second way to train our kids to be truthful is for us parents to exemplify truthfulness. Set a good example for your children. Be truthful and honest in your own everyday behavior. Asking your children to lie for you (“Tell him I’m not home”) is a a way to show them it’s ok to lie. Let your children see you go out of your way to be honest.

If a clerk gives you too much change, point it out and return it. Admit your own mistakes and let your children see how you rectify them. Parental example is very powerful.  If we expect our children to be honest, we must show them how.

Remember, our children are learning from us all the time.

What we do today will make a great impact tomorrow.

___

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7518432@N06/ 

 

“HOW IMPORTANT AM I TO YOU, DAD?”

“Dad, let’s go back to Hong Kong!”

My daughter who was about 6 year old told me when we were looking at pictures from our trip. I asked her what about Hong Kong she enjoyed. I thought, maybe it’s our time in Ocean Park. Or was it the train ride from station to station? Or it might have been buying her tea set in the night market of Mongkok.

Her reply to my question surprised me. She said that it was when we played “Hook” in our tiny room in Shamrock Hotel. I tried to remember what the game was. It was when we were in the room and she was acting like Wendy from the movie Peter Pan. Her brother Nathan was Peter Pan and you would probably be able to guess who’s the bad guy (Hook) in the game. That would be me.

What I realized was that it wasn’t because of the shopping, nor the amusement park that she wanted to go back to Hong Kong. It was simply because of the time spent together.

When we are available for our children, it gives them a sense of importance. They feel that they are prioritized and loved. To them, love is spelled as T.I.M.E. And this would include ballet recitals, athletic events, meal times, graduation from summer workshops.

On the flip side, when we don’t make ourselves available, we communicate that yes, they are important but other things still come ahead of them. Thus, conveying that they are not THAT important.

That’s the funny thing about the discussion about quality and quantity time. I can’t tell my kids, “Alright, daddy has 15 minutes with you here in Mcdonald’s play place. Let’s make sure this is quality time. C’mon, let’s make this memorable.” It will sound conjured, manufactured and artificial. But quality time springs from quantity time. And I realize this is such a precious commodity these days.

A quick practical application to help us gauge our time with our kids is to ask them straight. “How can I be a better dad? What are things you enjoy? What do you consider fun?” Take notes and do it! There’s really no other way.

I love what Barbara Johnson said,

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow,
you have to be in their lives today.”

———-

NOTE: This is part 4 of a 4 week series on Capturing Your Child’s Heart.
To read week 1, click here. (Affirmation)
To read week 2, click here. (Acceptance)
To read week 3, click here. (Affection)

This article, week 3 is on Affection.

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edwardmusiak/

HUG YOUR KIDS!

I don’t know if you grew up in an affectionate environment but I certainly didn’t… at least in my childhood days. And studying in an all boys school didn’t help much. To be affectionate is seen as weak, faulty and lame. Thank God, when my mom became a Christian, we started becoming more expressive with our affection.

Somewhere in our wiring, God designed us desiring to feel loved and liked. Everyone wants to feel like they are loved. If they don’t get this from their home, they will certainly try to get it somewhere else.

Affection validates your statement that says, “I value you.”
Affection can be physical, verbal or through our actions. Affection is not only for parents to be shown to their children but even for husbands and wives. When I show my affection to my wife, Jenn, this can speak volumes to my children. It says to them, “Dad loves mom and is committed to her.” Nothing builds greater security than that.

One practical way to show affection to your kids is to give them a hug. I realize that it’s natural for some while for others, it is way out of the norm.

Listen to what hugging can do.

Hugging is healthy. It helps the body’s immune system, it
keeps you healthier, it cures depression, it reduces stress, it
induces sleep, it’s invigorating, it’s rejuvenating, it has no
unpleasant side effects, and hugging is nothing less than a
Miracle drug.

Hugging is all natural. It is organic, naturally sweet, no
pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients and 100
percent wholesome.

Hugging is practically perfect. There are no movable parts, no
batteries to wear out, no periodic check-ups, low energy
consumption, high energy yield, inflation proof, nonfattening, no
monthly payments, no insurance requirements, theft-proof,
non-taxable, non-polluting, and of course, fully returnable.
(source unknown)

According to an article on Huffington Post, here are 7 reasons why should be giving more hugs.

1. They make us feel good.
2. More hugs = lower blood pressure.
3. They alleviate our fears.
4. Hugging is good for our hearts.
5. Adults may actually benefit for from hugging.
6. Hugs are natural stress relievers.
7. Well hugged babies are less stressed as adults.

Try it today. You’ll never realize the magnitude of its dividends until years later.
Hugging your kids today is a major investment for tomorrow.

—————

NOTE: This is part 2 of a 4 week series on Capturing Your Child’s Heart.
To read week 1, click here. (Affirmation)
To read week 2, click here. (Acceptance)
This article, week 3 is on Affection.

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/david_mz/

ADVENT NIGHT AND CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Traditions are customs and practices we do in a repeated pattern.

Now there are traditions that have become totally useless and outdated but there are those that are good to continue because they bring meaning and purpose to why we do what we do.

Recently, my wife posted a picture of our Advent Night as a family. As a result, we got several inquiries about how we do ours and why we do Advent Nights.

Traditions have a way of perpetuating values. Since the value of Christmas is important – Jesus coming to become like one of us so that He can take our place as a sacrifice as payment for our sins.

When we visit the malls these days, it is not uncommon to see reindeer, Santa, Frosty, candy cane, Gingerbread man, Rudolph, Little Drummer Boy, and many other icons of Christmas. These can blur the main reason why we celebrate Christmas. Certain Christmas traditions can aid us to remind ourselves and our children how the first Christmas came about.

Here are a few videos posted on our Victory Fort website we (Jenn and I) made together with Pastor Joey and Marie Bonifacio to share with you on how you can build your own Christmas Traditions. We pray it will be helpful as you celebrate Christmas this year.

 

 

 


———-