A college student in Manila called up his Mom in the province.
“Mom, I need money,” he asked. “Can you send money over please?”
“Sure,” the mother said. “By the way, there’s a Math textbook you left here at home. I’ll send it over with the money.”
“Uh, oh yeah, Ok,” her son answered.
His mother sent the money and the book.
Later that day, the father asked his wife, “How much money did you send?”
She said, “I sent two checks. One was a P1000 check and the other was a P100,000 check.”
“What?” cried the father in shock. “That’s huge!”
His wife smiled. “That’s okay Honey. I taped the P1000 check on the cover of his Math textbook. I then inserted the P100,000 check somewhere in chapter 25 of his Math textbook. Believe me, he won’t find it.”
Your relationship with God is like a Math textbook. Because I believe the biggest blessings of God for your life are in “chapter 25”—when you go beyond the surface and go deeper in this relationship with God.
My goal today is to bring you to chapter 25 in your relationship with God.
Let me tell you how.
I want to start a new series today I’ll playfully call,OMG! If you don’t know what that means, LOL. (For those my age who didn’t grow up with chat and IM and facebook: OMG! means Oh my God and LOL meansLaugh out loud.)
For the next five weeks, I want to help you get to know God more—which will deepen your trust in Him. And the more you trust Him, the more you’ll be open to His blessings for your life.
I’ve met a lot of people who don’t trust God because they don’t know Him. They’re confused with misrepresentations of who God is.
Here’s what I learned: Your problems are big because your God is small.
Before Anything Else, God Is Daddy
I just arrived from the US the other day.
It was my shortest trip ever: Four days!
But I had to do it.
I was there to meet a very special man who was a spiritual mentor to Presidents, Kings, Prime Ministers, and other heads of government. In other words, he disciples them to follow Jesus. He’s awesome.
This spiritual giant has been working in the United Nations for the past 25 years. Each month, he holds 30+ face-to-face meetings with heads of government, ambassadors, and other high-level officials, guiding them how to lead their country using the Bible.
So for three whole days, I sat around his table (we were just four students—myself, two bishops, and a secretary general) to learn one thing: How to disciple Heads of States. It was mind-blowing.
So on my way back, I felt very important too.
I mean, how couldn’t I?
I spent three days with a guy who takes phone calls from Presidents and Prime Ministers before he has breakfast. How cool is that?
But the moment my plane landed in Manila, everything became clear to me. I knew the first Heads of States I would meet.
That entire day, upon arriving from the airport, I spent time with the two Kings who’ve conquered my heart since I saw them: My two boys—ages 9 and 4.
Together, we did very high-level, critical, world-changing, life-altering work.
We drew robots and airplanes.
We played with little cars.
We played a video game (I lost, as usual).
We jumped around the coach.
Why did I spend the entire day with them?
Because I believe that before I’m a preacher, writer, leader, missionary, and businessman, I’m a father.
And I suspect that God will say the same thing. This is just my personal opinion. I think before God is supreme judge and king of kings of the entire universe, He’s a Father. That’s why when someone asked Jesus, “Teach us how to pray,” He answered, “Say this: Our Father…”
The original word that Jesus used for “Father” isAbba, which doesn’t really translate to Father but Daddy or Papa. It was what a little baby would call his father.
But as I played with my boys yesterday, I began to think of all the other children who don’t experience what they experience. And I believe that one of the reasons why we don’t know God as Father is because of the wrong fatherhood we’ve experienced.
Specifically, I thought of four of my friends: Emmanuel, Grace, Dulce, and Fides. I’ve changed their names to protect their privacy.
But unfortunately, their stories are true.
My friend Emmanuel’s father was a lawyer. Later on, he became a judge and was promoted all the way to the Supreme Court.
Emmanuel was proud of his father. But when our conversations became intimate, he’d tear up, and tell me that he rarely saw his father. When he woke up, his father was rushing out for his breakfast meetings. In the evenings, his father wasn’t home yet.
Emmanuel grew up knowing his father was an important man doing very important things. But as he grew up, he realized he wasn’t one of these important things his father did.
Years later, Emmanuel came to know God in a personal way. Yet for years, he wondered how important he really was in God’s heart.
Some fathers are physically present at home.
But they don’t engage their kids.
Instead, they’re wrapped up in their own world. Either watching TV or surfing the web. That’s why I call them autistic fathers.
Many years ago, I met Grace. She told me that as a child, her goal in life was to make her father smile at her. Because he never did.
Oh, she would find him laughing with hisbarkada.
But never to her.
One day, she came home with very high grades on her report card. In her heart, she hoped that perhaps today, he would smile at her.
But when she gave him the report card, all her father did was look at it for two seconds, grunt, tossed it back, and went back watching TV.
Not one word of affirmation or appreciation.
Her little heart was crushed.
For years, Grace had a hard time imagining that God was pleased with her. She always imagined God having a perpetual frown on his face.
Dulce’s father is the most barbaric father I’ve ever heard of in my life.
When she was 3 years old, he raped her.
Years later, she always had this nightmare of her head being pushed into a toilet bowl. She realized why. Because her father warned her not to tell anyone of the rape or he’d drown her in the toilet.
For the next ten years, for the slightest mistakes (such as a spilled glass of milk), her father would whip her with his belt until blood flowed. When he was lashing her, her mother would tell him, “Don’t hit her below the knees!” So that the wounds would be covered by her skirt.
He would then grab her ankles, hang her upside down, and bang her head on the floor. He would do this for thirty minutes until she stopped crying and was a lifeless rag in his hands. He would do this each week for ten long years.
Here’s the absurd fact of this story: Until the day he died, her father was an elder and deacon in church. To everyone else, he was an angel. Upon arriving home, he was the devil incarnate—and no one knew.
Dulce is now an adult but suffers massive physical, emotional, and spiritual torments. She has gone through 9 surgeries in various parts of her body. Her doctors discovered micro-strokes in her brain, caused by the head banging she suffered as a child. But her emotional pain was even more severe than her physical pain.
I’m happy to say that Dulce enjoys an intimate relationship with God. God has healed and continues to heal her. But it took years of healing and learning to trust a tender loving Father.
Fides was still a small child when she saw her father walk out of their house carrying his suitcase. At that time, she didn’t know that he was abandoning her, her mother, and her two brothers for another woman.
Unlike her brothers who rebelled and got into drugs, Fides became even more obedient. She became even more responsible. Her school grades shot to the moon. Everyone praised her for being such a good girl.
Later on, Fides realized she blamed herself for the separation of her parents. Inexplicably, she believed that if she were only a better girl, her father would have never left. And for years, she secretly hoped that if she became that better girl, perhaps her father would come back.
For years, Fides’ relationship with God was also about buying His love. She would always try to be good to try to please Him—so He would love her. She had this constant fear that if she made one mistake, God would abandon her too.
May The Real God The Father
Please Stand Up?
For many Christians, it’s so much easier to pray to Jesus. After all, He died for our sins. He’s the sweet one. The Father was the mean guy who sent Jesus to die on the cross.
And for many Catholics, it’s so much easier to pray to Mother Mary than to God the Father. Because they believe Mary is more merciful than God. If you can’t go through the front door, go to the back door—Mary has the key.
Which is utterly preposterous.
We have these difficulties because we don’t know who the Father really is.
The Father and the Son are one. And Mother Mary is a beautiful reflection of God’s love for us.
May the real God The Father please stand up?
I changed the names of our four real-life characters. I chose each name deliberately to show you who God the Father is: He is Emmanuel, Grace, Dulce, and Fides.
Daddy Is Emmanuel
A tribe in Africa had a very scary manhood ritual.
When a boy turned 12, the entire community gathered around him for this once-in-a-life-time chanting and dancing ceremony. The elderly women painted red die on his face. His mother gave him a beaded necklace. And the tribal chieftain handed him a long knife with a carved wooden handle.
By nightfall, he was blindfolded and led by six men into the middle of the forest. Once deep inside, the men left him. Alone. In total pitch darkness.
The instruction was simple. Survive until dawn, and he gets accepted as a real man in the tribe.
But the young boy knew very well that the forest was an incredibly dangerous place. It was the home of tigers. Snakes. Bears. Hyenas.
And so for the entire night, this scrawny little 12-year-old boy was now all alone in the forest. The entire night, he held his knife trembling in his hand. Not for one moment could he rest. Try as he might, his eyes could see nothing but shadows around him. In his imagination, every little sound—even a leaf swaying in the wind—was a wild animal ready to pounce on him at any moment.
The whole night, he could hear his heart pounding in his chest.
When his terror overwhelmed him, tears ran down his cheeks. He wanted to shout, “I’m just a little boy! I’m not ready yet to be a man!” But who could hear him now? He was all alone.
But after many hours of fighting his fear and exhaustion, his eyes could see more clearly. Dawn was approaching. The first shafts of sunlight pierced through the thick canopy of leaves above him.
That was when the little boy felt something move behind him.
In terror, he turned around.
And there, standing tall on a rock behind him, was the towering figure of a fierce-looking man holding a long spear.
The boy shouted, “Daddy!”
The father smiled.
“When did you arrive?” the boy asked, “Are you here to pick me up?”
The father said, “Before you arrived last night, I was already here. I stood guard, protecting you the whole time. I never left you for one moment, my son.”
Daddy is Emmanuel—which means God with us.
Friend, I don’t know what darkness you’re going through right now. Perhaps you’re praying for your child who is on drugs. Or your husband is having an affair. Or you’re having financial problems right now. Remember that in your darkness, God is with you. He will never leave or abandon you.
When you’re in pain, God embraces you and feels your pain. He weeps with you. Because Daddy is Emmanuel.
Daddy is Grace
When I think of Grace giving her very high report card to her father—and all he did was grunt—I remember my own experience with my report card.
When I was in grade school, my report card had red marks. (At least, it was colored. Yours was just black and white.) Because I failed in Math and Pilipino.
That day, I went up to Mom and showed her my report card.
All she said was, “Show it to your father.”
Gulp. Oh boy. I walked up to Dad and gave it to him.
He read it, nodded his head, and handed it back to me, and said, “Son, just study some more.”
No spanking. No scolding. No disapproval.
He then said, “Let’s eat.”
That’s why for the rest of my academic life, I kept failing. (Hehe.)
I guess Dad knew that my brilliance wasn’t in academics. It would bloom elsewhere. (Ahem.)
I thank God for having parents who loved me whether I performed in school or not. They just loved me, period. Unconditionally.
Daddy means Grace. Grace means gift.
Two weeks ago, my son Bene came up to me and showed me his Math exam. He was sad because out of 100 points, he got 92. I couldn’t help but laugh. Because if I got 92, my mother would have fainted. Because when I was a kid, out of 100 points, I would get 36. One time, I got 28. I would show those test papers to Dad. And all he’d say was, “Just do better next time.”
Grace means “free gift”.
Here’s my point: You don’t have to please God so that He loves you. He loves you as you are. He accepts you totally.
I don’t care what sin you committed. I don’t care how many times you’ve done it. God loves you and will forgive you of your sins. It will be this love that will bring you to repentance and a new life.
Because Daddy is grace.
Daddy Is Dulce
Dulce means sweet.
I believe God is the sweetest Daddy in the world.
A few years ago, I was in a preaching tour in the US.
I remember one big event. After the last song, I was signing my books. There was an unusually long line of people who wanted my autograph. In front of me were four ushers telling people to wait for their turn.
That was when someone ran past the long line of people, squeezed himself in between the ushers, and ducked underneath the table. He then climbed on my lap, handed me a bottle of water, and said, “Please open, Daddy. I’m thirsty.”
Bene was four years old at that time.
Obviously, I stopped signing books and opened his bottle.
How could Bene do that? Because he was my son and I was his Daddy.
He was confident that I wouldn’t reject him. He knew that I loved him more than the entire world.
This is what Jesus meant when he taught us the “Our Father”.
Like Bene, we too can run to God, climb on his lap, and ask for what we need.
Because Daddy is dulce.
Daddy Is Fides
I like to believe I’m a good father.
But I’m nothing compared to Dick Hoyt and his love for his son Rick.
In 1962, while baby Rick was in the womb of his mother, he was strangled by the umbilical cord—causing a lack of oxygen in his brain. He suffered cerebral palsy and couldn’t speak or control his arms or legs.
As an eight month old baby, doctors told Dick and his wife Judy to place the child in an institution. “Because he was going to be a vegetable all his life,” they said. But the parents refused and brought him home. Dick promised that he would try to give his son as normal a life as possible.
Fast forward today: Dick learned that Rick loved sports. After a lot of pain and exercise (Dick wasn’t athletic), he pushed Rick in a wheelchair in a 5 kilometer run. After the Run, Rick said that while he was in the race, he didn’t feel an invalid.
That was the start of a great adventure. Today, this father-and-son team has participated in 66 marathons and 229 triathlons.
While running, Dick would push his son in a wheelchair.
While swimming, Dick would pull him in a rubber boat.
While biking, Dick would carry him at the front of his bike.
When I watched the life of Dick and Rick Hoyt, I saw a glimpse of God’s love. This is the Father’s love for you.
I don’t know about you, but I must admit that I’m handicapped in many areas of my life. I’ve got weaknesses I still battle to this day.
But in this adventure called life, I’ve experienced my God pushing me, pulling me, and carrying me in his arms.
I know God does the same to you.
Fides means faith. The root word for faithfulness.
God has faith in you. He believes in you.
Daddy is fides.
Next week, I’ll talk about God as Leader.
May your dreams come true,