Sunday, July 21, 2013

Praise



“When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: ‘He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid” (Ezra 3:10-11).

The year is 537 B.C. The place is Jerusalem. The Jews have just returned from a long captivity in Babylon. Some have been gone from their homeland for 70 years. Others have been gone for 50 years. But everything has changed. The countryside is in the hands of their enemies. The city of Jerusalem lies in ruins. The walls have been torn down and buildings have been looted. And worst of all, the temple built by Solomon 500 years earlier is no more. It’s gone. Vanished. Utterly destroyed. The temple itself was razed. The Ark of the Covenant is gone, the altar of sacrifice is gone, and the temple implements are gone. In its place lies a field of rubble.

However, in the middle of all these disappointments, the Jews found themselves praising God.  This story tells us that praise is a choice, not a feeling.  Should we praise God only when we feel like it?  I don’t think so.  We’re to praise the Lord at all times whether we feel like it or not. Many times we won’t feel like praising the Lord. That doesn’t matter. Praise isn’t about our feelings. Praise is a choice we make without regard to our feelings.”  Don’t wait until the victory is won to praise the Lord. Stop and praise him before the battle is begun. Praise God in the midst of the conflict. And praise Him even when things seem to be going against us. Do what the Jews did and praise Him for a good beginning. That will put our soul in the right place to continue to work with joy in the days to come.


It is a great advance in the spiritual life if you can praise the Lord even when things are not going well. In the midst of the devastation of Jerusalem, with only the foundation of the temple relaid, with rubble on every hand, after returning to find their homeland controlled by their enemies, still the people said with one voice, “God is good.” That’s true faith. Anyone can praise God when the sun in shining, all the bills are paid, your marriage is strong, your kids are doing well, you just got a raise, and the future is bright. It’s something else to praise God when things are far from perfect. It’s a great thing to be able to look at your life and say, “It’s not what I wish it was, but God is still good to me.”


Friday, July 19, 2013

Seeing as Jesus.

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36).

Do we see the crowds that Jesus sees? That’s a question I ask myself. In the case of Jesus, it all starts with seeing. And in seeing, he had compassion.

Now, I have to admit that it is quite possible to look at something and see nothing at all. To see the crowds of the world requires something inside. It means replacing my insides with the presence of Jesus. It means redefining my view of humanity. Let’s admit it. By nature we tend to hang around people who look like us, talk like us, act like us and think like us. We love our friends, families, and buddies. While that is not necessarily wrong, yet it limits us from seeing people who are not like us. It limits us from becoming like Jesus.

 Have you ever had this happen? You’re in a crowd, feeling alone and overwhelmed, when suddenly you spot a friend you know. You focus in on your friend and unfortunately we block everyone else out. That’s just our nature. It is our habit.

But if we are ever going to see the crowds as Jesus did, we must open our eyes and break the mold. Jesus saw something the disciples didn’t see.

Were they blind? No, but they didn’t see what Jesus saw. And when this happens, we don’t feel what Jesus feels. The compassion for the crowd is absent and we miss ministering with Jesus. We need Jesus in our lives so that we can see and exercise compassion to the needy ones.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When things fall apart...

When things fall apart….

We all go through challenges in life. Of course, we often think that our circumstances are most difficult. The prophet Jeremiah was going through a tougher situation. His city was invaded. He was homeless, persecuted and probably feeling lonely and hungry most of the time. What he wrote in the book of lamentations is good for us.

“The thought of my pain and my homelessness is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-26 TEV)

When our world is falling apart, it’s so easy to focus on the pain, the problems, the pressure and the difficulties. It’s the natural response. But the biblical response is to turn our focus to God’s love.

I know there are times when we feel angry against God. I speak for myself. Honestly. However, Jeremiah reminds us that even though we’re mad at God, we need to remind ourselves how much God loves us. Focus on his unconditional love. Remember that we can’t make God stop loving us. You and I can complain. We may frown at him or even scream, but he still loves us forever.
We can see this biblical approach in Jeremiah’s life in Lamentations 3:19-26. Jeremiah starts out focused on his pain: “The thought of my pain and my homelessness is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.” Jeremiah was consumed by the devastation around him; it consumed his thoughts and made him bitter and depressed.

If we want to change our lives, we have to change our thoughts. So that’s what Jeremiah does. We see the mental switch in the next verse: “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.”

We don’t know God is all we need until God is all we’ve got. But that’s all we need, because God will take care of us.

We make dumb mistakes when we start doubting God’s love. We start to think, “I know better than God, and I’m going to start choosing my way to do things rather than following God’s way of doing things.” Or we think God is a cosmic killjoy who looks for ways to make our lives miserable.

We need to change our thinking. We need to remember, “The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever. He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong. He takes no pleasure in causing us grief and pain” (Lamentations 3:31-33 TEV).

God loves you. He is not the strict parent that you couldn’t please. He is not the imperfect parent with weaknesses and faults who messed up. He is God — the eternal, all-knowing, infallible God who created you to love you and will never leave you.

So when you feel like you’ve lost everything, stop focusing on what’s lost and start focusing on what’s left: God and his love for you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wasting Hours?

I used to be a type A person (and still am!). You know the type. I'm that type of person who feels if I'm not doing something, I'm totally wasting time. I am that type of person who likes “to do lists.” I grew up being nurtured into believing that work is what life is all about. I can still hear my dad teaching us kids, “Work, work, work.” I was brought up by a society that thinks this way and reared up by teachers who give us greater worth as students when we perform well. I grew up thinking that my worth as a person is equal to the amount of work I put in. Worst of all, I am that type of person who gets really upset when those people around me are not doing their responsibilities as they are expected to. In short, I am often a miserable person. :-(

I am supposed to be a man of faith and yet because of this nature, prayer has been difficult for me at times because I feel it is getting in the way of me accomplishing something for the day. One time, I was invited to take a walk up the San Gabriel mountain trails and I felt like I was going to waste three hours of precious time. Hmmm… Three hours! That’s a lot of time wasted! List of things to do march one by one in my mind. I could study my bible. I could do laundry. I can do research for a sermon. I can study Spanish. I can study how to edit video movies.

Now that I am older, I started seeing how wrong I am when I have this attitude! Prayer is not wasted hours but invested hours. How many times in my life when it was through prayer that I found strength. Taking the time to walk to appreciate God’s beautiful creation is not a waste. So many occasions in my life, I found wisdom and peace through solitude and meditation. Taking time to press the “pause” button in life is important. Out of the silence in my life I hear the whispers of my GOD. Out of quiet comes the understanding that I have people who love me and that I have a wife and a family who care a lot. And best of all, I realize that I care for them too… and that what really matters is not how we perform or what we have accomplished. More important than performance is the relationship I have with my friends, my family and my God.

Monday, February 8, 2010

" DO NOT LOOK BACK AND ASK WHY, LOOK FORWARD AND ASK WHY NOT"

I got this from a friend's email and it was anonymously submitted....
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

A very valuable lesson to learn ...

Interesting quote from the movie "Why did I get married?"
In most cases, especially in relationships, you will only get 80% of what you NEED and you will hardly get the other 20% that you WANT in your relationship. There is always another person (man or women) that you will meet and that will offer you the other 20% which is lacking in your relationship that you WANT And believe me, 20% looks really good when you are not getting it at all in your current relationship.
But the problem is that you will always be tempted to leave that good 80% that you know you have, thinking that you will get something better with the other 20% that you WANT.

But as reality has proven, in most cases, you will always end up with having the 20% that you WANT and losing the 80% that you really NEED and that you already had.
Be careful in deciding between what you WANT and NEED in your life.

Adultery happens when you start looking for what you don't have. "Wow, this girl in my office is a real looker. But it's not her Wynona Rider features that got me. I'm crazy about her because she's also understanding, intelligent, tender - so many things that my spouse is not."

Somewhere along the way, you'll find a woman or a man who will be more charming or sensitive. More alluring. More thoughtful. Richer. Have greater sex appeal. And you will find a woman or man who will need you and pursue you and go loco over you more than your spouse ever did.

Because no wife or husband is perfect. Because a spouse will only have 80% of what you're looking for. So adultery takes place when a husband or wife looks for the missing 20%. Let's say your wife is melancholic by nature.

You may find yourself drawn to the pretty clerk who has a cherry laugh no matter what she says: "I broke my arm yesterday, Hahahaha . . .."

Or because your wife is a homebody in slippers and pajamas, smelling of garlic and fish oil, you may fall for a fresh-smelling young sales representative that visits your office in a sharp black blazer, high heels, and a red pencil-cut skirt Or because your husband is the quiet type, your heart may skip a beat when you meet an old college flame who has the makings of a talk show host.

But wait! That's only 20% of what you don't have.

Don't throw away the 80% that you already have!

That's not all. Add to your spouse's 80% the 100% that represents all the years that you have been with each other. The storms you have weathered together. The unforgettable moments of sadness and joy as a couple. The many adjustments you have made to love the other. The wealth of memories that you've accumulated as lovers.

Adultery happens when you start looking for what you don't have.

But faithfulness happens when you start thanking God for what you already have.

But I'm not just talking about marriage.

I'm talking about life!

About your jobs.
About your friends.
About your children.
About your lifestyles.

Are you like the economy airline passenger that perennially peeks through the door of the first class cabin, obsessed with what he's missing? "They have got more leg room! Oh my, their food is served in porcelain! Wow, their seats recline at an 80% angle and they've got personal videos!"

I guarantee you'll be miserable for the entire trip! Don't live your life like that. Forget about what the world says is first class. Do you know that there are many first class passengers who are miserable in first class -- because they are not riding in a private Lear Jet?

The main message???

If you start appreciating what you have right now, wherever you are, you are first class!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cholesterol and size 36

Few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a few of my High School friends in Las Vegas. Two of them I am very proud of. They are medical doctors. I believe we talked about almost anything and used the late hours enjoying ourselves, reminiscing the good old days. However late in the night, the topic was our health. And so, I took the opportunity to get some free health advice from them. After telling them about my low HDL (good cholesterol level), I was told that I should make sure I watch my diet and not to neglect my exercise. I also needed to decrease my waist line of 36 to 30. And so, with determination, I embarked on being more careful with what I eat. Two weeks have passed and am happy to report that I am still careful.

However, the funny thing happened the other night. While watching the television, a friend of mine opened a box of Cheese-it. You know that kind right? Hmmmm. Crackers that are so cheesy, and so yummy. Without realizing it, I extended my hand towards him asking for some. Though I was a few feet away, I could not resist the smell! Minutes passed and I realized I probably have eaten twenty pieces of cheese-it. How easy it is to be tempted.

I am sure you have experienced the same. Have you ever a seen a commercial on TV and watched a food advertisement on television and suddenly feeling hungry? A funny observation I have is that whenever I cough around people, suddenly, someone else cough after me. Somehow when you hear someone cough, you suddenly feel the need to clear your throat. In fact, just a second ago, as I was writing about clearing our throat, I coughed. The same thing happens when you watch someone release a big yawn and feel the urge to yawn yourself.

Our minds are tricky. The power of suggestion works mightily within our mind. We naturally move toward whatever our attention is focused on. The more we think about something, the stronger it takes hold of us, which is why the good book teaches that we should, "Run from anything that stimulates lusts…” It just shows that temptation is an elusive thing. We shouldn’t flirt with it. It is deceptive. On the outside it looks good, attractive and delicious like that cheese-it.

Here is a lesson I learned from these. Repeating, "I must stop eating too much . . . or stop smoking . . . or stop lusting" does not work well. It is actually a self-defeating strategy. It keeps me focused on what I don’t want. It's like declaring, "I'm never going to do what I am thinking.” I am setting myself up to repeat it because it is those things that we think and have a feeling for that we often end up doing.

Whether it is dieting that we want to do or stop smoking, we need to understand that temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets our attention arouses our emotions. Emotions are powerful, too. They activate our behavior, and unknowingly, we act on what we feel. Hence, I ate the cheese-its because I was not careful. The cheesy smell tempted me and I fell for it. I did not guard my mind.

Not allowing temptation to begin is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don't argue with it, just hang up! If it knocks on the door, don’t invite it for dinner. It is wiser to cut short the temptation in the early stage than wait when it has totally captivated you.

I know I can only speak for myself. But here is something I have learned. Oftentimes this means that it is wise to physically leave a tempting situation. If one has a problem with alcohol, it is better for that person to stay away from situations where alcohol is. If you are like me, whose weakness is a little cheesy cracker, stay away from it. Usually, I advise people to not run away from their problems to solve them. Oh well, this is one time it is okay to run away. There may be times when it is clever to get up and turn off the television set if it tempts you. It is often I tell my kids. Walk away from those who may be leading you to do just the wrong things. Be careful and not dwell on thoughts that may make you stumble. That elusive waist size of 30? I need more discipline to reign over my temptations to make it possible.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tattoing Love

I wish I had a camera. On this cold December evening, as I was walking down Colorado Blvd, downtown Pasadena, I couldn’t help but notice a pale and thin looking man with sunken eyes. He was probably in his 40s but he looked like he was in his 60s. My eyes caught the markings all over his body. This is something that has always perplexed me. What in the world is the reason why some people put tattoos on their skins? This man’s tattoos are different. Almost all of his body is covered with it. His forehead, neck and arms have all kinds of designs and skulls and other symbols only he understands. I can almost guess that all other parts of his body are covered, too. However, as I was looking at him, one word tattooed on his right arm caught my attention. It was the word LOVE.

It was tempting to ask him why he had written that word. In the midst of all the confusing marks on his skin, love stood out. Did he get the tattoo because he was then in love? Was it something he had put so he is reminded of the power of love? Did he think that if he writes LOVE with his arm, he will be a loving man? I don’t know. My guess is as good as yours. However, my point is that I did see the word and it stood out.

Should I do the same? I know that it is common for people to decorate their homes with beautiful quotes of wisdom and even a biblical verse. Does putting a tattoo on our bodies or a decoration at home present who we really are? As I meditate about it, I came to realize that all of us write things everyday with our arms in much less pronounced ways. We may not have a “love” tattoo, but we do write love with our arms when we comfort a sobbing friend, hugging them with love and compassion. We write love with our arms when we get our hands dirty doing volunteer work cleaning up streets and parks. We write love with our arms when we are holding a big spoon stirring up pots of boiling chicken soup and serving them using large Styrofoam cups to homeless friends who have nowhere else to turn for food. We write love with our arms when we swing hammers and dig holes, building and repairing houses for families who need a place to call home.

Yet we write with more than our hands.

We write love with our ears when we sit in hospital rooms, listening carefully to another's story of pain, leaning towards them with eagerness to hear. We write love with our feet when we run for a cause that benefits the poor, the downtrodden and the zero of the society. We write love with our hands when we grab hold of that check and send a donation so that others may be fed and clothed. We write love with our heads when we open up the doors of learning to deserving students by supporting organizations that provide them mentoring and tutoring in schools where there are few role models. We write love with our lips when we whisper in prayer and intercede for their needs.

If you agree with this, then we are a strange people. In the midst of a world marked by tattoos of confusion and terror, our testimonies of humble service, peacemaking, and simplicity, though less pronounced, yet stands out as a bold sort of love written indelibly in our hearts.

Friends, we live in an ever-changing world, mingled with marks of selfishness and hopelessness. Our lives may not stand out as politicians and celebrities, but we can take the opportunity to have LOVE written in our hearts, though hidden, yet obvious to all who encounter us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

How to Trust in God when you're going through a Difficult time

Natural disasters, job losses, cancer, stock market crash, family problems, stress… Seems like there’s always a long list of things that have gone wrong or things we don’t like. Our first reaction when something goes wrong is to worry and be afraid. We think things aren’t going to work out. We freak out. Trusting God shouldn’t be difficult for us Christians, but for some reason, it’s a tough thing to do. There’s a really good sign that says “I will handle all your problems today. - God”. So take a deep breath, stop your fears and worries for awhile and do the following practical steps to help you trust in God, especially when you don't understand or like what's happening.

Step 1 – Say aloud, “I believe in God.” If you don’t believe God exists, you can’t trust him. But He is there. Read the Bible faithfully to get to know who God is, and what He’s like. Start with the Book of Psalms. Stay focused on the Bible and what it says. It will help you to stay grounded, and not focused on all the awful things going on around you.

Step 2 – Believe in God's abilities. If we really believe in all of God’s abilities and powers, we will never be afraid or worried that something won’t work out. It stretches our own faith and belief in him, when we go through difficult times.

Step 3 - Believe in God's willingness to help you through the tough time. God doesn’t want you to stay in the tough time; he wants you to learn some lesson from it. Ask him what the lesson is, and to help you through it. His Holy Spirit is always there, to be called upon in any emergency. Psalm 50:15 says, “Call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” This may be God’s way of calling you to his side.

Step 4 - Believe God can and will work things out for good. Things are always the most difficult when we can’t see the other side of our troubles. We can’t see how it will work out. This really stretches our faith because all we can see are the difficult circumstances in front of us. Trusting God seems extremely difficult. God is calling us to believe what seems impossible. Ask him to help you believe.

Step 5 - Remember the good things God has done in the past. Count your blessings. The good things God has previously done remind us that he can still do good things again. If God provided money for you in the past, be assured he can provide money for you again. If God did something incredible for you once, he can do it again.

Step 6 - Whenever you're tempted to worry, take a deep breath and think of something that makes you happy. Keep doing this every time the worry comes back. This is the only way to stop chronic worrying. You can also memorize some verses that you can claim as you pray and believe in God’s promises for you: 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you”. And Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.”

(Adapted from eHow.com, published by the Philippine GCI web)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Brush Fire!

Brush Fire

If you’ve never seen a brush fire up close, I can tell you, it’s really something to see. A few days ago we had a brush fire in the mountains less than a mile from us. It started as a small little fire at the bottom of a valley in a town next to ours. At first in our usual busy life, it’s something most of us didn’t really care about.

However, in just a day, the mountain close to us was on fire. I had absolutely no idea, but when I looked up north to the mountains from the back part of the house I saw flames burning up trees in just seconds. It was like tongues of fire dancing, like an invisible fire breathing dragon, angry and vehement aiming for total destruction. Because of the three digit temperature, the fire snaked through the ridges and valleys. Embers, like fireworks jumping from one tree to another.

Helicopters, airplanes, fire trucks – all the noise covers the city. I was not able to sleep the first night. As the temperature was so hot, our sliding door in our bedroom was opened to let air in... But it didn’t take long when the wind blew in our direction and filled our bedroom with thick smoke.

The conditions were just right for a fire – it was a dry and the temperatures were around 105 degrees. Although there wasn’t much wind, yet the fire devoured all the dry timber, grass and brush. It just kept going, working its way down and up the mountains mercilessly. The further up the hill it went, the more the air caught it, the bigger the fire got. Fire engines and police cars shut down several streets. My kids watched all of these from our rooftop. Their faces transfixed at the surreal sight.

As white and gray smoke blew over and filled our neighborhood, the orange and yellow flames ate up leaves and branches on all parts of the mountain ranges, whipping up onto the trees, getting as high as thirty feet tall, charring tree roots and turning several trees orange. We were not in serious danger, although we were ready to evacuate at the moments’ notice. But it was fascinating to watch up close. Two things stayed with me: first, the sound of the fire as it ate up the lush brush and tree covering. When you see wildfires on television, you don’t really hear the sound, don’t smell the smoke and don’t feel the heat. It was louder than I imagined with this kind of crackling sound – and second, how quickly the fire can move and how much momentum it gains in a very short period of time. I’m still amazed at how far it got up the mountain in a short time.

The saying, “spread like wild fire” has a whole new meaning for me now.

But there is another kind of fire that spread faster than this fire we saw in the mountains. I have to admit that I was very anxious as the head of the household of nine people with my mother in law (74 years old) and my mom (86 years old). So, I quickly sent an email to my yahoo group, church family and facebook friends asking for prayers. These are my high school and church friends living all over the world. In just a matter of minutes, I started receiving phone calls, emails and facebook notes from them. Everyone was offering prayers. It was amazing! I got messages from New Zealand, Hongkong, New York, the Philippines and Canada. Those who live a few miles away were offering to help us for possible evacuation. A High School friend (Medical Doctor) of mine who lives in Las Vegas even offered me to evacuate at his mom’s house in another city far from the fires. He did not know that there are 10 people in my household! Hahaha.

This fire that spread so quickly was a fire of different sort. A fire fueled by friendship and compassion. This is a fire that jumped from one continent to another. All I can say is that, when we go through real fire or fiery challenges in life, don’t forget that there are people out there who truly care. Reach out to them. When their “fire” is set ablaze, nothing can stop them. Their love which I believe is from the Great God, like fire, moves faster than any brush fire.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Excuses

Think for a moment. How do you live your life? Either you live it for yourself alone, or you live it to serve others.
As we live our lives, we are going to be confronted with whether we give our life for something good or something not so good.

How do you live your life? What is most important to you? What will it be—a career, a sport, a hobby, fame, wealth? None of these will have lasting significance. Here is what I learned, service is the pathway to real significance. It is through ministry that we discover the meaning of our lives. The Bible says, “Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body” (Romans 12:5 MSG).

As we serve together in God’s family, our lives take on eternal importance. Paul said, “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less . . . because of what you are a part of” (1 Corinthians 12:14a, 19 MSG).

God wants to use you to make a difference in his world. He wants to work through you. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.

If you’re not involved in any service or ministry, think about these people. They did not use their physical circumstances as an excuse not to serve.

What kind of excuses we use? Consider these.

• Abraham was old,
• Jacob was insecure,
• Leah was unattractive,
• Joseph was abused,
• Moses stuttered,
• Gideon was poor,
• Samson was codependent,
• Rahab was immoral,
• David had an affair and all kinds of family problems,
• Elijah was suicidal,
• Jeremiah was depressed,
• Jonah was reluctant,
• Naomi was a widow,
• John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least,
• Peter was impulsive and hot-tempered,
• Martha worried a lot,
• The Samaritan woman had several failed marriages,
• Zacchaeus was unpopular,
• Thomas had doubts,
• Paul had poor health, and
• Timothy was timid.
* and you are....?

Wow, that is quite a variety of misfits! Yet, God used each of them in his service. He will use us, too, if we stop making excuses.

(inspired by a Rick Warren message}

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bee Sting

A boy and his father were traveling in a car when a bee flew through the open window. The boy was so highly allergic to bee stings that both he and his father know that his life was in danger. As the boy frantically jumped and tried to avoid the agitated bee, the father calmly reached out and grabbed the bee. When he opened his hand, the bee began to fly again, terrifying the boy once again. The father holding up his hand with an implanted stinger, then said to the son, "Look son, his stinger is gone; he can't hurt you any longer."

As a bee loses its stinger when it stings, so death lost its sting when it stung Jesus. Death lost its sting when Jesus was pierced with those long nails that went through His wrist and feet.

Jesus died a cruel death in order to pay the penalty of our sin.

For the Bible tells us that, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." (John 3:16-17)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Children

My oldest son Ben recently graduated from UCLA for his bachelor’s degree. He is in the process of looking for a job. It seems that he will end up working far from home. My second child, Carmel, has also finished a Licensed Vocational Nursing degree and is looking forward to finding a job in another state before she continues her studies. Abel is two years away from finishing his Civil Engineering degree. Hopefully he stays longer at home when he takes his graduate studies. In short, it is very possible that in two years time, three of my four children will be away from home.

Just like any parents, my wife and I are experiencing the fact that it is so difficult to let go. Our “babies” are leaving us! It was only like yesterday when we were all together. Memories of not long ago come to mind.

I remember the time when I used to take my kids to the rice fields back in the Philippines, jumping up and down on the haystack. I remember their laughs and giggles doing that. I remember when I used to carry them on my shoulder running around the house. I remember when I took Ben with me and climbed the highest mountain in the Philippines (Mt. Apo) in the island of Mindanao. It was a two day climb. Although he was only ten, yet he reached the top with other young children one hour ahead of us, older guys. I remember Carmel playing dress up with some friends. She and her friends transformed themselves into Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. Oh yes, I remember when she was just a toddler, she poured soup in her dress pocket! Carmel was so full of life and passion. I remember Abel when he was only two years old and reciting the Alphabet from Z to A after we taught him A-Z. I remember at church, members where having this game called, "Make Abel smile." Because at that time, it was so tough to make him smile! Of course, today, Abel has one of the most beautiful smile.

And now they are mature, dependable and so passionate about their love of the Lord. But letting go is still difficult. Good thing, David the youngest, is only 14 and will stay with us a few more years.

Through all those years, my children have been a part of our lives. They have been with us doing ministry. They serve with the worship team, summer camps, vacation bible schools and missions trip all over the world. My wife and I are very proud of them all. Of course, we give God all the glory. Friends with little children often ask us, “What do you teach your kids?” and “how do you teach them?”
As I look back, I think there are so many important values we share but one that I feel very important is commitment. I often asked myself, “What do we want them to be committed to?” “How do we teach commitment?”

I believe that the best way to teach commitment to our children is to show them our own commitment. While we are so far away from perfect, here are a few things we feel are important.

• Commit ourselves to knowing and loving God .
• Commit ourselves to loving and serving other people. This includes the love commitment my wife and I have for each other.
• Commit ourselves to spiritual growth through bible study, prayer, attending church, etc.
• Commit ourselves to sharing the good news.

Jesus knew He wouldn't be with the disciples in the flesh forever. He knew at the Last Supper that He would be hanging on a cross within a few hours. This is what He prayed: "Now I am departing the world; I am leaving them behind and coming to You. Holy Father, keep them and care for them" (John 17:11).

Lesson: We are not going to be with our children forever. Parenting is a season. It isn't going to last forever, but it's never too late to start leading. You may be a grandparent now, but you can still be a spiritual leader to those around you. You can echo Jesus' prayer, saying, "Father, before I depart the world, help me to impart godly truths to my children and grandchildren. Before they go on their own, guide me to be a good steward of those you put in my care. We give them back to you, knowing you have always and will always care for them."