THE START OF A MORE INTIMATE, CHRIST-CENTERED FAMILY

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About a week ago, an idea suddenly popped from my head: to start a family devotion. A few years ago, I saw a picture of a friend of mine doing devotions with their family and I thought that idea was a great one. But for some reason, I never really took the initiative to ask my parents if they were willing to have a family devotion once a week. But suddenly, just last week after I met up with my parents somewhere along Commonwealth Avenue, the idea came back to me, as if God was telling me to go for it and ask my folks about it. Without hesitating, I asked my mom if she’s interested, and agreed to have one, as well as my dad.

We decided to have our weekly devotion every Sunday night because it’s the only time within the week where we’re not too busy thinking about work or school, and at the same time, it is also a great time for us to bond and catch up as a family. We decided to start today, 6 September 2015. And because I thought of starting one, they asked me if I can start the devotion. I agreed to do it; my only problem was what should I share to them?

First, I found a message from our home church, Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF), which was preached two years ago. I wanted to show to them why discipleship begins at home but as I dived into the message, I realized that it was not a great first devotion to start with because it only tackles the role and responsibility of a father, not the entire family. So I decided to keep it for future reference and to use it maybe when God wants me to use it as a devotion.

After a day or two, I found a copy of a booklet we bought years ago from CCF, entitled: “Christ-Centered Family Devotions.”(You can download it online by clicking HERE) So I took the booklet and reviewed its contents. I decided to use the material as the series for our weekly devotions. So as I prayed and reviewed for our devotions, I created a slideshow to make it look pleasing and interesting. I ran through my devotions and so as I finalized everything, after dinner, I went down with my laptop and with the booklet.

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My message was about God’s fear – how it is not for us to be frightened nor for us to feel threatened, but God’s fear can be considered as reverence, wherein love and respect would match its definition. Then as I started with a prayer and run through the questions, they gave insights on what do we mean by fear, and is it good or bad to name a few.

Then things got awkward for me when they started asking questions about my relationship with them in the past, if I feared them in a way I fear God or did I fear them the way I fear people who might want to take my life away. I was a bit shocked and did not know how to transition back to the topic so as I explained what my perceptions were when I was young, the more questions became personal. I was telling myself that “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea,” and “Why did I pick this booklet? I could’ve picked any other devotions from the internet,” but then I realized that as I share more about what my insights were with them, it looked like an open forum, wherein unanswered questions dare to be answered. And for me, that experience made me more open with my parents.

You see, having an intimate relationship with someone means that you trust him or her your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and explanations wherein he or she knows that everything is personal and that he or she will treasure your answers. I know that many parents want to help and know their child more often, especially if they’re at their teen years wherein everything might be confusing and scary (I’m not just talking about puberty, kids) and that’s why they ask you questions like “How was your day?” and “How are you?” It’s because they want to be intimate with you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I like it when people share personal things with me because I know that they trust me and they want to hear my opinion about certain topics or issues. Same with our parents, they want you to trust them that whatever you say (or in some cases, we can use the word “reveal”) to them, they will try to help you in understanding you better, and maybe even finding a solution to your problem if they can.

After the devotion, I felt happy and thanked God for this idea that He gave me. I know that He let me find the booklet, not for me to “lecture” my parents, but for us to be open with one another. Next week, my father’s going to lead the devotion, while my mom will lead after a fortnight. I am very blessed to have a wonderful family wherein we can trust each other and be open and intimate with each other.

Yes, discipleship does begin at home and it makes the family closer and stronger than ever. Please continue to pray for our devotions; pray that we may have consistency and accuracy when it comes to sharing God’s Word through the booklet!

I can’t wait for next week’s devotion!

THE myUSTe RAGE!

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“Grades do not measure intelligence; they measure diligence.”

This is what @bobfreking tweeted regarding the long, looooooooooooooong wait for the online viewing of grades of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Manila students…and I’m one of those students who are waiting to view them.

I woke up at around 9am1 with a notification from a friend that grades are out. I quickly rushed towards our PC and headed to the myUSTe website, where we can view our schedules, grades, deficiencies, do online enrollment and the like. I gave up at around 12:15pm1 after a series of failed attempts at opening the site. Yes, the site always crashes because of the number of people trying to view their grades. I opened three to four tabs just to make sure that at least one of them might work. I was feeling anxious about my grades because of the result of my grades last semester. I know that I gave my 100%-ish. But I know that I’m only anxious because I feel as if these numbers will determine my future.

By then, no one was posting whether they had succeeded or not so I took my lunch and took a short nap…or so I thought I did. But I slept for almost six hours. Was I tired? Maybe. I mean, maybe my day would’ve been less stressful if I had gone to two of my three chosen companies to apply for internship, but myUSTe got the best of me.

Waking up at around 15 minutes before 6pm1, I realized that I should check again, thinking there was improvement that I can finally view them. People on Facebook were already posting their “success stories” so I was confident that I would be able to view my grades. I was wrong. Afterward, I started to get frustrated. I was not anxious anymore; rather, I continuously pressed the refresh (F5) button as if I was ready to break it.

But suddenly I stopped. I realized that how I was reacting to the situation was wrong. I’m not just merely talking about the rage of pressing the ‘F5’ button alone but how angry I was that the server would not open. Maybe God wanted me to calm down first and just hang on to Him and know that He is under control.

It says in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

How do we deal whenever frustration and anxiety kicks in? PRAY. Talk to God and give Him all your worries and rage.

So, did I get to see my grades? I posted this at around 8:20pm1 and I still have not. But I know that God will finally help me open myUSTe when my heart is ready, not when it is upset.

UPDATE: [As of 12:51am1, 29th May 2015] I finally got a chance to see my grades thanks to my phone, and through God’s grace, not only was I able to pass every subject but this has been my highest semestral average since my first semester in the University! Praise God for keeping me still for He is powerful and wondrous!

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33 (ESV)

1Philippine Standard Time