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Kids pick up your Example

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Children have the natural tendency to imitate their parents. They naturally do what their parent does, think like they think and act like they act. No wonder a child can pick up a value or behavior from his/her parent either good or bad.

Here’s a poem titled “His Example” written by Edgar Albert Guest that encapsulates the image of a child watching and imitating carefully what a parent shows or offers:

There are little eyes upon you,
And they’re watching night and day
There are little ears that listen
To every word you say.

There are little hands all eager
To do the things you do;
And a little boy who’s dreaming
Of the day he’ll be like you.

You’re the little fellow’s idol,
You’re the wisest of the wise;
In his little mind, about you
No suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly,
Holds that all you say and do
He will say and do in your way
When he’s grown up just like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little fellow
Who believes you’re always right;
And his ears are always open
As he watches day and night.

You are setting an example
Every day in all you do,
For the little boy who’s waiting
To grow up to be like you.

A Personal Project:

Start (Train) children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

It is reported that Abraham Lincoln, who was known for his faith, said that for a man to train up a child in the way he/she should go, he must walk that way himself.

What parental example can you give or offer to your child that can bring a compelling incentive for him/her to choose a Christian way of life?

 

 

Are you mature enough?

What is a person to do when faced with tests and trials or difficulties in life (disappointment, disaster, and despair)? Scripture teaches us that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Yet when we encounter difficulties, we often wonder, Why? Most of us would question God on why would He allow these trials and difficulties to come to our lives.

According to John MacArthur, the Greek word of trial connotes trouble or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. The verb form of this word means “to put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose of discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality. So a trial can be in a form of an infirmity (physical limitations or illness), persecutions (ridicule or oppression on account of faith or religious convictions), distresses (disappointments and deep hurts), unusual challenges and pressures, and/or temptations where one can yield to his/her sinful nature once an opportunity arise.

Everyone underwent (or might still currently be undergoing) trials in their lives. No one is exempted. So, what can a trial do unto us? What can it make us?

The Bible tells us something about having trials in our lives. We find it in the book of James: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV).

Most of us want to avoid trials or try to squirm out from the experience of it because of the pain that lies at the center of these trials.

The book of James challenges the standards of the world. Worldly wisdom can see no value in suffering. It says pain is to be avoided at all costs, and only pleasure brings happiness. By contrast, to Christians even trials are a joy because they lead us to maturity in Christ. Christians judge value quite differently than the world does. To us the highest value is not freedom from pain but a faith that perseveres. The suffering that life brings, although bad in itself, can be turned by God into pure joy. (College Press NIV Commentary)

Getting the meat out from the passage in the book of James, God’s goal through our trials is to strengthen our dependence on Him and to strengthen our character as well…for our own maturity. He is the potter and we are the clay. He’s going to mold us to a better shape as we allow Him.bhthe-potter-and-the-clay

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

A Personal Project:

Your response makes the difference. Accept God’s grace in your trials. Unless you accept God’s grace to deal with suffering, certainly you will become bitter. However, if you choose to trust God to bring about His purposes through the suffering, you can avoid the trap of bitterness and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. You can be confident that God is sovereign and will not allow anything to happen to you without His permission, and He will not let any “bad thing” happen that will not eventually bring you more good than destruction.

Hope for Transformation

Somehow, we wanted to change something in us: may it be our behavior or attitudes. Yet, we are always caught up of something that we can’t move forward with our desire to change. We wanted to transform our lives, but we failed most of the times in making such moves. Just for example: making a New Year’s resolution, or even when we committed a mistake and vowed to change and yet we still commit the same mistakes. We keep repeating our bad habits or attitudes. We keep on asking ourselves: will there still be hope that I will be changed?

10603684_840206889407208_4724875433277521777_nAs I started coaching our male Youth’s basketball team, one thing as a coach has to do is to get rid the bad habits…poor shooting, weak rebounding (no boxing out), bad form of dribbling, sloppy defense and no teamwork play. It could really be frustrating if you keep on practicing and making sure those good habitual forms, but once the real game starts, the bad habits start to show especially if you have a particular difficult player to handle with. The question again would surface: will there be hope that this guy would change?

I think this goes also to real life situations where you know a person very well that you keep telling him/her to stop her bad habits and he/she keeps on telling you that he/she wanted to change, and yet you still witness his/her sinful habits. Either you’ll be sad for this person or you’ll totally lose hope that this person will change.

And this goes also to our own personal spiritual life. As Christians, God called us to become holy because He is holy. But yet, from time to time, we forgot about God and His word and do again our sinful things. Actually, it’s our responsibility to change our behavior by “putting to death the deeds of the body”.

Romans 8:12-13
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

A Personal Project:

Do you think God is upset with you because you can’t change your sinful habits? Have you given up changing? Don’t give up. Don’t think that God is upset with you. One thing that is constant is that God’s love and acceptance is unconditional. He loves you in the midst of inconsistencies of your daily walk. Do change according to God’s amazing grace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:1-2
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Unreasonable Fears

fear_of_lion_elephant_storyThere was a lion who feared nothing except the crowing of roosters. A chill would go down his spine whenever he heard a rooster crowing. One day he confessed his fear to the elephant, who was greatly amused. “How can the crowing of a rooster hurt you?” he asked the lion. “Think about it!” Just then a mosquito began circling the elephant’s head, frightening him out of his wits. “If it gets into my ear I’m doomed!” he screamed, swinging at the insect with his trunk. Now it was the lion’s turn to feel amused. Moral lesson of the story: If we could see our fears as others see them we would realize that most of our fears make no sense!

Most of our fears make no sense. The sad part of that is that our fears hinder on what God wanted us to do…reasoning our fears above God’s will. True enough, we had experiences that can cause us to be afraid of certain situation (traumatic), but not to the point of hindering God.

A Bible character named Gideon was called for a certain difficult mission, and that is to deliver his nation out from their oppressive enemy—the Midianites. Gideon was a fearful man, living in a time when Israel had plenty of fear. Gideon questioned God about the problems he and his nation faced and about God’s lack of help. What he didn’t acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey and neglect God. On the other hand, the power of their enemy was so oppressive that they made the Israelites prepared shelters in mountain caves and dens because of fear. Their enemy dictated their lifestyle to live in fear and in hiding.

I will be with you,” God told Gideon (Judges 6:14-16).

God promised to give him the strength he needed to overcome the opposition. In spite of this clear promise for strength, Gideon made excuses. “Me? Save Israel? My family is the weakest and I’m the least (could be the youngest or weakest in profession or poorest).” Seeing only his limitations and weaknesses, he failed to see how God could work through him.

Like Gideon, we are called to serve God in specific ways. Although God promises us the tools and strength we need, we constantly give excuses due to our unreasonable fears. But reminding God of our limitations only implies that He does not know all about us or that He has made a mistake in evaluating our character.

A Personal Project:
This is how the enemy wants from us: to live in fear and in hiding. Nowadays, who are our enemies? Who are those who want us to live in fear? who want us to live in hiding?
Let’s not spend time making excuses. Instead spend it doing what God wants. What are the most common excuses we give if someone asks us for help? What is your most common excuse if God wants you to serve Him?

Restoration

When I got married and became a parent early in my life, I hadn’t thought that I’ll be carrying such big responsibilities. My aspiration to be a CPA was stopped because I had to work immediately to support my young family. Being a fresh college graduate, I have to start working at a minimum wage. My wife then was a full time mother to my kids and didn’t finish yet college. Working with a minimum wage for almost a year made us get into a lot of debt – cash advances, credit cards, etc. I want to get out of the cycle of being always a borrower because I felt like I’m always in chains. But at that time, I thought that I had no choice and this is the only way to survive. The Bible is correct when it says that the borrower is a servant to the lender. I want to be free from debt but I couldn’t.

When I was able to read on the books of the Old Testament, I was able to catch the phrases of “restoration of fortunes.” The people of Israelites were devastated by different assaults to their nation due to their disobedience against God, and they have been praying to God to restore their fortunes. The prophets also wrote about something God can restore their fortunes as long as they turn back to God and follow Him completely. This thought stuck in my mind. God was able to restore the fortunes of Israel because they turned back to God. That became my prayer since then (that was year 2005): “Lord, restore our fortunes; what has been lost to us, please restore them.”

True enough, He listened and answered to my prayers. God restored our fortunes and the process of His restoration is still ongoing. God, by His wisdom and guidance, restored our finances – paid our debts and now, we have savings. It’s not only the money, but God restored also my relationship with my wife when I messed up in our marriage years ago. God restored my trust with her. My wife now is finishing up college. He is restoring Noelli’s education which was lost supposedly when werestoration got married early. God restored also my desire to serve Him. God is able and faithful to restore what has been lost in my life.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” “The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.  (Zephaniah 3:16-20)

A Personal Project: What are the good things in your life that were lost from you? Maybe good relationships, savings, a progressing career, blossoming relationship or friendship, or good health? You’re devastated because those good things were lost and gone, maybe due to broken trust, a lot of debts, mistakes and failures in work or relationship, or a severe disease. Ask God to restore those good things. Turn back to Him. He is mighty to save.

Decluttering

As the year ends, we tend to have some habits. One would be making New Year’s resolutions. Another is trying to jump, having that superstitious belief that one would grow tall by jumping on the New Year’s eve. Some would get a lot of coins and try to shake, inviting prosperity to come upon the new year. And some have the habits of ‘decluttering.’

Decluttering means trying to remove unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place. Maybe you have acquired different possessions, made numerous computer files or documents throughout the year and you’re trying to keep all those declutter-your-homevaluable things or files to be used on the following year and onwards and separating those unnecessary or worthless possessions or files…maybe to give them away, or put them into garbage or delete them.

Decluttering also means trying to get rid of the mess, disorder, and complications, and trying to simplify life. It could be in the form of organizing priorities and commitments in life. Maybe throughout this year, you have a very busy year, and you didn’t know that you haven’t spent more time with yourself or your family. Decluttering maybe trying to figure out what are those schedules that ate most of your time and attention, and not to repeat them again, and organizing well your schedules so not to miss or those important and valuable events in your life, and so that you can spend most of your valuable time with your loved ones.

I think most of us know how to declutter our material possessions, documents, files, time and priorities, maybe not that perfect but somehow kept on working on and going there. But, in terms of our spiritual lives, have we thought also of doing ‘spiritual decluttering’? Did we have overcrowded our spiritual space with a lot of worthless things: busy times, fears, worries and anxieties, addictions in substances or computer games, engrossed with entertainment, sports and celebrities, rather than having more space and time with God, the most important person in our life?

Paul in his sermon to the Lystrans in Acts 14: 15-17:
We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, He let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.

We try to ride in the values that the world offers, rather than what God can offer to us. We know and believe that God can offer us the best things in the world, but the sad part is that often times we choose the way of the world, rather than God’s ways. We can’t help but fall to the trap to temptations of the evil one. There are really things, which are worthless in the eyes of God, which we keep holding on. We need to declutter our spiritual lives. We need to remove all these unnecessary things that can be set aside so that God can fill our lives completely.

A Personal Project: List down your top 3 worthless things you did that overcrowded your spiritual space. It might be an addiction to something, busy work, thorny relationship, fears or uncertainties of the future, or idleness. List down the top 3 of God’s kindnesses provided to you this past year. It might be good health, protection from severe danger or calamity, daily provisions, or even special events like birthdays, anniversaries or special celebrations.

Forget those worthless things and focus on God, thanking and worshiping Him for His kindness and goodness to you.

The gift the Father promised

Acts 1:4   On one occasion, while he was eating with them, Jesus gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”

Because mostly fathers are the breadwinners and the ones who cast visions for their families, they are usually the promise-givers. They promise us that we will have a good life. Once they’re going to earn money, they promise us that they will buy us ice cream, clothes, food, toys, gadgets, etc. as long as they can provide. They promise us to have good education so that we can get a good job. And, towards our birthdays or when we’re going to receive awards or in graduation, they promise good gifts. They are good promise-givers, but some only can keep their promises. Others failed for different reasons. And sometimes, their children would give up on them, probably call them liars, because they failed to fulfill their promises.

Somehow, sometimes, we see God like our earthly fathers. We heard His promises. We prayed earnestly. We hoped for the best to come immediately. Yet, when God sometimes is silent, and we don’t know why, we somehow fail to understand His ways and call Him a liar. It’s just sad, right?Image

And right now, here’s the passage that we can see how God keeps and fulfills His promises. Jesus commanded His disciples to wait for the gift His Father promised. He promised them that the Father will send “another Counselor” (John 14:16) who would guide them into all truth (John 16:13). Jesus is talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit, whom He describes as the gift the Father promised. In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus told His disciples: “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” The gift of the Holy Spirit described here as gift from the Father and being considered ‘good’.

The question is do we have the patience to wait upon God on what He’s going to give us and do in our lives. Are we seeking Him every day, waiting, being sensitive to what He’s speaking to us?

A Personal Project:  Wait upon God. Be patient.