I served as a Guidance Counselor for a school for several years concurrently while I was a Kids Church pastor. I remember when a young girl came to my office alarmed and panicky because her parents told her that if she didn’t make it to first honor, they will cancel their family trip to Hong Kong. For a 9 year old girl, that was a lot of weight to carry on her shoulders. Imagine, all your siblings will get mad that they won’t get to see Mickey and ride Ocean Park’s Hair Raiser roller coaster just because she didn’t make it to first honors.

I had to talk to her parents and let her know how burdened their daughter felt with that condition. I appreciate their humility for acknowledging their mistake merely wanting to inspire not knowing it was bringing the opposite effect.  They apologized to their daughter and changed their stand.

Acceptance is embracing people for who they are rather than what they do.
Our children need to feel that we accept them whether they get first honor or a failing grade, made a 3 point shot or complete miss the rim, make it to the cheer dance team or get cut from the team.

When we show unconditional acceptance, we give our children a sense of security.

What we are communicating to our kids is this: “I don’t love you because of what you do or what you accomplish. I love you because you are my child. Our love and affection towards you are not based on grades, performance, accomplishments or even behavior.”

We live in a highly performance oriented society. If we get first honor, we are rewarded. If we make it to varsity, we become the favorite in the family. If we win in the student council, we end up being the topic in the family reunion.

That goes on through adulthood. When we land a good job, we are the jewel of the clan. When we achieve something that none in the family has achieved, we become highly favored.

That is why we have a lot of frustrated and badly hurt people because they can’t seem to win the approval of the people they dearly love.

In the process, our kids end up feeling unaccepted, insecure and lack a sense of belongingness.

Obviously, the counter balance is for our children to not strive or endeavor to be the best at their field.

But what I am saying is that as they desire to excel, we appreciate their praiseworthy attempts than criticize for not making the cut.

Acceptance says “I love you no matter what.”

Jesus showed us unconditional acceptance. He didn’t die for us after we started obeying. In fact, the Bible says in Romans 5:8, “He demonstrated His love to us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

He accepted us way before we were worthy of being accepted.

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

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serendipityfoto/3730898356

The “why” is more important than the “what”.

I’ve always been told this as a new parent. If you explain the why to your kids, then it will be easier for them to obey.

However, based on experience, I haven’t been as successful.

When my eldest was 8 years old, my wife Jenn and I would explain to him why it was important to eat vegetables – the nutritional value and meritorious reasons of developing this habit.

Well, it wasn’t working.

So we reverted back to “just-do-as-I-say” method.

As years passed, and as 3 more kids came, I’ve realized an important lesson.

Yes, the why is more important than the what.
But more important than the why is the relational trust the child has with the parent.

I have yet to recall a time when I gave wonderful explanations of the rules and then my children would reply,

“Oh, daddy, now we realize the critical importance of what you just explained. You’ve shed light into this matter. Because of that, from now on, we will do exactly what you say!”

That would be the dream but unfortunately it only remains to be a dream.

The problem with rules and reasons is that you can argue with them point by point and debate issue by issue.

But here’s the truth – YOU CANNOT DEBATE A TRUSTED RELATIONSHIP.

The answers we give to their questions never carry more weight than a healthy and trusted relationship.

Listen to what Reggie Joiner has to say…

“One of the most powerful things a parent can do is to learn to communicate in a style that values the relationship.”

It actually is possible to win the argument and yet lose the relationship.

The goal is not to win the debate. The goal is to win the heart.

I was convicted by my own message last night.

We’ve been going thru a series at Victory metrowide – Abraham’s School of Finance.

Last night’s subject was on Tithing.

Tithing shows up in the Old Testament many times. And it is a covenant He has established with His people.

First mention was in Genesis 14 when Abraham gives a tithe to the King of Salem who is also concurrently a High Priest – Melchizedek.

Second mention was in Genesis 28:22 when Jacob makes a declaration to God that as God provides for his needs, he would give the tenth to God.  Both were pre-Mosaic law.

Many more mentions right after than in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. (Lev. 27:30-33; Deut. 14:22-29)

The tithe is…

1. First
Proverbs 3:9-10. Honor the Lord with your wealth…the firstfruits of all your crops…

2. Whole
Malachi 3:10. Bring the whole tithe to the storehouse…

3. Holy
Lev. 27:30. A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.

Now the question that follows…

Is tithing in the Old Testament? Resounding YES.
Is it found in the New Testament? BARELY. (Besides a few references in Matthew 23:23 and Heb. 7:8)

Should we even tithe?

I believe God did not talk about tithing explicitly in the New Testament because He wants us to ask a different question.

It’s no longer “How much should I give?” but “How much dare I keep?”

John Piper clearly explains it when he said,

“And it is irrational to think that giving ten percent of that money to the church settles the issue of good stewardship. In a world of such immense need, and in a country of such immense luxury, and under the (Great) commission of such a powerful Lord, the issue of stewardship is not: Shall I tithe? But rather, How much of God’s trust fund dare I use to surround myself with comforts?”

I love Jesus because He is such a radical teacher. He would take things a step further.

Adultery? If you look at a woman with lust, then that’s adultery.
Murder? If you hold a grudge against a brother, then that’s murder.

Luke 3:11 says, “He who has two coats let him share with him who has none. And he who has food let him do likewise.” Now, that’s no longer 10%, that’s 50%.

Matthew 19:11, Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler, “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” Now, that’s not even 50%, that’s now 100%.

Luke 21:1-4, Jesus commends the widow. “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”  All means 100%.

Giving in the New Testament takes a radical shift.  It’s not even about 10% anymore.

Why is that?

Jesus really doesn’t want our money, He wants our hearts. It just so happens that our finances has an invisible string connecting to our hearts. He says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

He doesn’t want something FROM you. He wants something FOR you.  Remember, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Ps. 24:1). He owns the cattle in a thousand hills (Ps. 50:11).  He doesn’t need anything from us.  But He wants our hearts.

So the question is no longer –
“How much should I give?” but “How much dare I keep?”

It’s no longer-

“Shall I tithe?” but “How much of the money that I hold in trust for Christ can I take for my private use?”

No longer-

“Can I afford to tithe?” but “Can I justify the lifestyle that consumes the 90% of my income?”

Remember the first principle of giving –
Everything that I have is HIS; None of what I have is MINE.

And as I said in my first statement, I was the first one to get convicted in my own message.

 

 

 

I tucked my kids to bed a few minutes ago.

Two of them had an argument because one said something hurtful towards another.

The easiest thing to do is to tell one to ask for forgiveness and for the other one to acknowledge and forgive. Then life moves on.

I’ve done that so many times.

But tonight, we tried to get to the heart of the behavior.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) says, “Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.”

It is the heart that drives behavior.

I asked both, “When you are mean towards one another, what is really going on? What is the heart of the issue?”

I asked that question because when one is hurt, s/he will try to retaliate to make the other feel his/her hurt.

We talked about the root of the behavior. It really is PRIDE.

“Because I got hurt, I will try to make you feel my pain by hurting you back.”

We don’t articulate this, but in effect, it is what we actually end up doing.

2 QUICK THOUGHTS:

1. As parents, it is good to not just ‘fix the problem’ and then move on. Telling them to go to their room is probably the simplest way to do it. But it doesn’t solve the heart issue. It actually worsens if unresolved.

2. Unfortunately, this type of thing doesn’t just happen to kids. It happens to adults as well… all the time. We retaliate when we get hurt.

Hurt people hurt people. But free people free people.

Lord, teach us to see the folly of our behavior and go beyond the surface to check out the heart issue. When we see the real issue, that’s when we can go to you and ask for grace to overcome. In and of ourselves, it is virtually and absolutely impossible. Yet your grace is more than sufficient.

 

 

 

It was Jenn’s mom’s birthday last Saturday.  Coming home from the Couples Getaway of Victory Fort,  she had a dinner for the whole family all set up – steak, liempo, puchero, and lots of other dishes.  It was a major feast.

Have you ever told yourself, “Ok, there’s lots of food.  I’m hungry.  But I won’t eat a lot tonight.”

Fast forward a couple of hours, you’re burping every minute because of the tons of food you ate.

That was me.

You’ve heard it’s been said to “follow your heart.”  (For this instance, it was follow my stomach.)

You like this guy, just follow your heart.
You want to transfer to another department, then just follow your heart.
You desire to leave your wife because she’s so annoying, then just follow your heart.
You want to spend more time with him even if you’re married because he gives you the attention you don’t get from your husband; then just follow your heart.
You know it’s wrong.  Going all the way won’t be the wisest thing to do.  But then again, just follow your heart.

Not sure if you’ve noticed by now, we are actually masters at self-deception.  At least I know I am.  I’ve lived long enough to realize that.

“I can eat this liempo.  I really haven’t had any in a long time… like 24 hours…”
“Just one won’t hurt.”
“No one notices anyway.”

We’re good at convincing ourselves to do something we know that’s not wise.

Then we end up messing up.  Then we blame our circumstances, others, our childhood, our parents, even God.  We blame everyone else except ourselves.

Let me tell you why we can’t follow our heart.

Jeremiah told us clearly that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

It’s deceitful.  It’s desperately wicked.

What would be a good standard to follow?  God’s given us His word.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. (Joshua 1:8, NLT)

It is our compass.  When we stick to what He says, then the promise is that there is going to be success in all we do.

His Word.  Our standard.

 

 

This was a tough one to write because it exposes the rottenness of my heart.
But here goes . . .

I spoke to a friend of mine yesterday. We were in a meeting when he whispered to me that he had great news.

Excited to hear what it was, he told me that God blessed him with a new car – a Toyota Fortuner. It was a straight trade with his Toyota Vios.

‘But I’ve been wanting one! You can’t have one before me! Here am I stuck with my clunky Crosswind. What in the?’ I didn’t say it but I heard these in my thoughts loud and clear.

(Sidenote: This is not “parinig” for that will take the rottenness of my heart to a sorry and extreme levels.)

I had to go to God and repent. 

Moreso, this is one of my best friends. I need to be sincerely happy for him. 

After realizing my folly and going to God, I now am genuinely and absolutely happy for my friend… seriously.

That’s how much we need transforming grace of God from day to day. So glad He’s in my life and loves me too much not to let me stay the way I am.

“”The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT)