Monday, April 24, 2006


Camp Report: Call to fatherhood

My sons and I went to our church sponsored father-son campout this weekend and the highlight for me was the Sunday morning message. The speaker mentioned about Robert E. Lee and after looking around for while on internet, I found the story/quote:
As he gathered his children about him he must have felt patriarchal for a man just thirty-three. His progeny now numbered four, a boy of eight and another approaching his fourth birthday, a girl in her sixth year and the newcomer in the cradle. It may have been at this time, during the winter of his return from the West, that the youthful Custis unwittingly impressed on Lee his ever increasing moral responsibility for this growing household. Lee took Custis out for a walk one snowy day, and when they had ploughed along together awhile, Custis dropped behind. After a few minutes Lee looked back and found that his little boy was behind him, imitating his every move and walking in the tracks the father had made in the snow. "When I saw this," Lee told one of his friends long afterwards, "I said to myself, 'it behooves me to walk very straight when this fellow is already following in my tracks.' " (Robert E. Lee, by Douglas Southall Freeman Vol I, Chap 11)
Robert E. Lee (in my mind, the hero of the War of Southern Oppression) gets to the point: "Monkey see, monkey do" and how we men live as fathers is what our children will follow.

Of course I had some "quality" time with my sons although I probably spent more time with other dads than with my sons over the weekend. Supposedly this camp is for fathers to bond with their sons but since I spend time with my sons everyday (we are still reading the Bible every night, but have gotten behind pace for reading for the whole year but we side tracked on purpose like read the appropriate sections -- more or less -- from the 4 Gospels during the "holy week" from Palm Sunday to Easter), I didn't feel the urgency to be with them every minute of the weekend. Besides my sons don't normally get to be with their friends in outdoor settings away from their parental eyes (like exploring the woods). Of course when shooting guns, etc. I'm always around since both my sons and I are new to guns and I'm not ready to completely trust them (nor myself) yet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Jesus the anti-State inspired me to write:

Jesus is the anti-State (i.e., alternative to the government). He didn't come to replace any government since He pointedly proclaimed:

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
-- John 18:36,37

No, He came as an antidote to government: The one and only King to testify to the truth. Not the Constitution, not rules, and sure not laws, but instead: the Way, Truth and Life. [Too many politicians are known for lying. The more well known, yet recent "classic" is with the POTUS reasons for starting the Iraq War @ 2003.]

Monday, April 17, 2006


Orderly Worship

I saw Today's blip on Hot Metal worship. The entertainment factor gone all out, if you ask me. Jesus didn't say make a better show or music. But to make disciples. It is not about 1 hour show resulting in an alter call response.

Take a look at 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. Everyone should bring one of:
  1. a hymn
  2. a word of instruction
  3. a revelation
  4. a tongue
  5. an interpretation
All for the purpose of strengthening of the church (v26).

Paul goes into tongues and prophesy which are ignored by the evangelical churches which I'll put aside for now (grin). [I think the problem with charismatic churches is ignoring the command of v40: everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.]

Note that in the midst, Paul describe the role of women at church (v33-35): absolute silence (not just vocal but body language). Could this be the cause of our sissy churches?

Sunday, April 16, 2006



My wife and I had a great conversation about worship (after our rather bland Easter service) and men since her friend's husband had stopped attending church. As I have been blogging about it to explore what the ideal might be, a men-focused church is badly needed to bring and keep men who are action challenged (e.g., sportsmen), rather than mamas-boy (attend church to please his mama) or someone like me who's mentally challenged.

Christ resurrected to give us real life not "religious" entertainment nor sissy, passive "spiritual" life. Mega churches just can't give a hands on manhood training and encourangement as man of the home, let alone manly worship experience. Today, with so much emphasis on reaching to moms and children, she can't help but be a sissy one.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Dead Saturday: spirit over form

I'm never sure what to call today since I grew up in a church that didn't make much deal about Easter. Googling, I find it called Silent or Holy Saturday, neither of which it rings "right." My title is no better (or even worse) but is a good reminder of what took place between Good Friday and Easter.

Anyway, my real objective is commenting on what I've read in "The Life You've Always Wanted" of the first few pages of Chapter 3 "Training vs Trying," about getting ready for a marathon is not about trying but training. Yet in the back of my mind, I'm thinking: churches which are focused on the form are more about "thou shall nots" [but detailed analysis of the Bible], while the churches which are more spirit lead (Pentecostal or charismatic) are more about feelings with little or no details from the Bible. I'm not trying to artificially divide into two types of churches but that's the impression I have gotten over the years where I've encountered various churches.

My wife is into dancing [classical ballet is what she was trained in but she takes all kinds of lessons today] but our current church is the form focused kind so dancing has been put "aside" (for now). She gets asked to dance at other churches (usually the spirit lead kind) and I join her at times.

I am really writing all this because of my sons: I don't want them to see Christianity as list of do's and don'ts and concerned only about the forms. Christianity is about Christ: encounter with the Savior from our wickedness and the only way to wipe out the past (without committing suicide) and to start a new life. And that life is about interacting (i.e., being in love) with Him and as the love bond grows stronger, the following (obeying) Him part should be the natural outcome. And yet we (myself included) put the form over the spirit/love and I can see why children get turned off of Christ and Christianity.

Where am I going with this post? I'm not sure and I may have to edit or rewrite it from scratch but I do want to capture my thoughts of this morning....

Friday, April 14, 2006


Sissy Church Tricks

When I saw: "Episcopal Churches Turn to U2 to Pack Pews" I thought, OK, I did hear that Bono was/is a Christian so it kind of made sense but the little that I scanned over, it seems the title gets the essence: using rock music to pack in the pews rather than a heart change (esp the men). What else will these sissy churches come up to get people interested in churchy life rather than elder (men) lead church of Jesus Christ?


The Passion of the Christ and Good Friday

I finally saw "The Passion of the Christ" today and it was very moving and I can see why others were moved. However, the thing ticking behind the back of my mind was: I don't think the movie can portray it properly but the greatest suffering of Christ was not the physical pain but the weight of the world's sin, past, present and the future. Yes, the blood and gore were not easy to behold but I'm pretty sure that the visible pain were a small bump in the big picture of things from Jesus' (and God's) perspective.

His strategic burdens were the sins of the world and eternal salvation of all, but His tactical burdens were making sure of those He was responsible for, the more immediate needs He had in mind, like warning the women about future calamity (Luke 23:28-31) and making sure His mother was watched by John (John 19:25-27) and even reassuring a thief that he'll be in heaven, too. And last but not least, asking for forgiveness of those crucifying Him.

The question for me is, what are the burdens on my shoulders?

[Updated: minor detail changes (weight to burden) and making strategic and tactical distinctions.]

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Joyless Church Life

"The Life You've Always Wanted" has on page 38:
"They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others"

The pursuit of righteousness is always an exhausting pursuit when it seeks a distorted goal. Steven Mosley speaks [...]

"...our morality calls out rather feebly. It whines from the corner of a sanctuary; it awkwardly interrupts pleasures; it mumbles excuses at parties; it shuffles along out of step and slightly behind the times ... It's often regarded by our secular contemporaries as a narrow, even trivial, pursuit."
Reading that section hit home on how sissy churches have had a helping hand: heaping new rules of "thou shall not" is easier than creating new ways and paths to live a full, good, holy life. It's easy to be passive with new rules rather than blazing new trail(s). Just as it seems harder to create and start your own business (instead of becoming an employee), living a life of purity with the long list of "don'ts" is less joyful but easier said than done: life of purity by a freeman under Christ will always seem more challenging when in fact it is the way it should be. Jesus came and told us:
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10b
He knows what He's talking about: we need to listen and carry out His vision. The question for me is how well tuned am I to listen to Him? Hopefully, I am ready to reply like Samuel:
Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." 1 Sam 3:10b

Monday, April 10, 2006


Anything I do can and will be used against me

You know the saying on police related TV and movies: you the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you.

However, when it comes to being a father, the truth is:
Anything you do, can and will be used against you by your children. Anything you say will be ignored as appropriate [or only if convenient to them]. You have the right to second guess every move you make. You can even consult your wife and your children but don't expect anything helpful: They are who you've made them to be.
I'm not perfect and have to apologize to them more often than I want to and probably not as much as I should.

What's my point? What we do as fathers matter more than what we want to confess to and we need to keep doing the good things.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Father's guidance

I posted one example in my other blog but here's another: Lorena Ochoa in her "Success Takes Hard Work, Dedication, and Faith" talks about her father as the first and foremost influence in taking up golf. How much would it have been better for her if she was focused on something more meaningful like getting married and having children? I mean she's proud of her record setting golf score (which will get broken in the future), of all the things!

Her article is one of many at Yahoo's IMOW (international museum of women) which a friend pointed out with Lisa Ling's "I'll Take Being Single Over 'Prince Charming' and a Picket Fence" (Ling pointed out in her earlier article about her parents' divorce at 7).

Funny how for me, I grew up in a rather conservative church (a protestant denomination) but the worldly influence was so strong (and weak or ineffective influence from my parents) that I thought that getting married while not having children was a good thing, too. [I got the sex only in marriage part down but not the logical conclusion of having children: be fruitful and multiply.]

Unfortunately for me, my father came from divorced parents, too, so he wasn't taught (nor mentored by other men) on how things should be done. Plus he didn't surround himself with men who might be able to help him (as far as I can remember). I've been fortunate to get plug into a church in Austin with strong men's ministry (when few hundred men show up 6AM in the morning to study the Bible, it is very inspiring). This blog won't exist without the kick start it helped me -- as you can read my other posts, I've wandered away from what they teach and where I want to be [which I think is a good thing].

My point? Whatever you emphasize in your life as a father is what your children will get and live out. Monkey see, monkey do. So be careful of what you choose.

Personally, I'd like to think I stand with Joshua:
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15
But only time will tell....

Monday, April 03, 2006


Burn the Ships: why pile on the load?

A friend pointed out "Burn the Ships" and at first I thought it was a good article for fathers but the more I thought about it, the more I think that the problem is misplaced. Men don't need more guilt dump on us to become better fathers.

Yes, we men are selfish and it is easy for us men to be self consumed but I don't think the problem of men today is the lack of commitment or enough sense of duty.

I think the problem of American fatherhood is that we are thrown into a rut from school on and everywhere we turn, we just get piled on more duties. That is, we are:
  1. trained to follow willingingly (the purpose of school and college)
  2. become an employee and continue to follow willingingly
  3. get in debt for cars and homes and other junk and turn into slaves (Prov 22:7)
  4. to stay at the job, one has to spend extra hours at work
  5. after being spent by the job, it's hard to have room for children and wife, especially if she's nagging about this or that
  6. civic responsibilities everything from national to local politics and even HOA for some folks.
  7. church is more of the same: follow the leaders (pastors and teachers), and do more for the church.
Duties at work, duties at home, duties at church, duties at the polls, duties to the bank (credit cards, loans, mortgages). With so much duties on the man's shoulder, it's no wonder he wants to escape. All work and no play? Something is wrong with this picture and it's not hard to see why so many men become self absorbed with their hobbies or watching sports or go drinking with his buddies.

Jesus Christ had a different approach. He said:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-30
Note that in His time, the religious leaders were piling on the rules, the Romans had their taxation and their political thumb screws and I'm sure at home the wives weren't a happy lot either. Jesus in contrast offers us renewal, freedom and a life of empowerment:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
And what is this life that Jesus promised? Life of empowerment is what I believe He had in mind rather than life of more duties. What exactly is this life is what I hope to explore in my blog over time. Stay tuned!


Encouraging is hard

My younger son and I had a conversion last night about how I had no encouragement to offer him and that made me a bad dad. We did talk about how I have given many freedom unlike his peers (I'm of the unschooling philosophy so less study means more education) but he is mostly right in that I'm not filled with words of encouragement.

It didn't help that I wasn't raised that way (and my son mentioned this too as father-like-son thing). But that doesn't make it right that I should keep not encouraging.

At least my son will keep me on my toes since not encouraging is his sign of me not doing my (manly) job...

Saturday, April 01, 2006


A Call to Manhood

I took my two sons and two friends to hear a talk by Tom Joyce a former Navy Pilot who flew during Iran tensions in the 80's and was at the Pentagon on 9/11 very near the explosions at Temple Baptist Church. He even was in the movie "Top Gun" flying some of the plane scenes.

We got the talk late and missed the intro and Joyce was in the middle of introducing other well known authors/speakers definitions of manhood like Robert Lewis

[he had two others listed but I didn't have time to write them down so I hope to listen to the tape and update this post].

Here are my notes:

1 sam 13:14 explains why was david different

real men are:
  1. didn't start as giant killer: did small tasks faithfully, like delivering lunch to his brothers, practice music playing, shepherd,
  2. don't try to be someone else: not wear someone's armor, be what God calls me to be, not what I wish. In sports, coaches can plug you in where you fit based on the skills you show and with their experience you'll be better off doing what they assigned you to.
  3. don't lose heart in tough times. get trained in small things to move to bigger things (9/11 example was about a guy who got blown out of the Pentagon but went back to rescue 4 others in the same room and when asked why he helped, he mentioned what he was trained in the Navy: to protect the mission (i.e., his ship), his shipmate and lastly himself)
  4. have higher power and purpose. God was with David when he faced Goliath.
  5. are eager to succeed: excited to engage in action. can't wait to see God work: Iran tension example was that Joyce was on a combat patrol and they were warned about bogies and was ready to attack Iranian aircrafts (they trained for years for this moment) but the enemy turned north and away from Americans.
  6. encourage others, to take other men to the next level. Touching part of was how Joyce described how his dad would always end with the words "atta boy" (along with "you can do it" and "that's my boy") and that was the last words he heard from his dad 90 minutes before he died.
He mentioned about Saul who said of David (1 Samuel 17:55): who was that man? So David became such a man that even king[s] inquired of him. However all that is meaningless unless one knows who Jesus is. We are incomplete as sinners as fallen being and can only be made complete through Jesus Christ.

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