Saturday, February 25, 2012

What is the Most Important Thing in the World?

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” – Ruth 1:16~17

Have you, at one point in your life, asked the question, “What is the most important thing in the whole wide world?”

I once saw a very strange movie. It’s about a futuristic place where people have a clock inside their arm, literally speaking. I find it very strange because instead of using money to exchange goods and services, they used their time. For example, if a person wanted to buy something, a certain amount of time would be deducted from his/her clock using a special machine, and if that person was employed, instead of receiving money as his/her salary, a certain amount of time will be added to his/her clock. Not only that, if that person runs out of time -- his/her clock displays ‘00:00:00:00:00’ -- he/she dies instantly. In their world, the most important thing is TIME.

Not in our world. 

If there is a vault that keeps the most important thing in the world, what do you think you will see inside if you open it? 


Relationship is the most important thing in the world. The rests, including power, money and time, are just means to this end. At least, this is what our Creator intends it to be. (Ponder on it.)

When Jesus was asked by a Pharisee, an expert of the law, what is the Greatest Commandment in the Law, Jesus replied with not just one, but two. Both of these started with the word ‘love’: (1) Love God about all things, (2) Love others as much as yourself. And both laws are about RELATIONSHIP.

As a father of three adorable daughters and one very cute baby boy, one of my secret fears in life is to wake up one day estranged from my children. Because if I take a hard look at my God-given role as a father, when all the non-essentials are stripped away, what remains is only my relationship with my children. Our love for each other, and the memories we shared together are the only things that I can take with me to my grave.

Today your Father in heaven yearns to have a relationship with you because he loves you so much. In his infinite wisdom He knows that His children, can only survive and thrive in this world if they cling to Him for guidance, nourishment and protection because this world has many fierce, and hungry lions (according to St. Paul) ever ready to devour them.

Yet the world is filled with many prodigal sons and daughters. Lost sheep. The path of the world is littered with misery, suffering, emptiness, brokenness, strife, etc. because many failed to protect and grow the most important aspects in their lives – their relationships with their God, with themselves, and with others.   

But the good news is that your Father in heaven is a forgiving God. He is always ready to embrace even the worst prodigal son or daughter who repented of his/her sins, and choose to come back to Him. To the Father, your relationship with Him is more important than your sins and the wicked things you did in the past. 

Your Father in heaven is a loyal father. 

Haven't you wondered why your still alive today? Without you knowing it, He was there with you to protect you when you're lost in sins, when you foolishly elbowed with death thinking it was fun. He was there with you even when you deliberately disobeyed, displeased and dishonor Him; He was hoping that you would come to your senses and decide to return home. 

He loves us first, before we love him. He is a loyal Father to you and to me.

How can I claim to be sure of this? Because I am a father. A father should teach his children what’s right and wrong not just by words, but more importantly by his examples. How can the Father expects us to be loyal to Him if He himself cannot be loyal to us? Remember, our Father is a just and righteous God.

One more proof. The Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross so that we, rebels of His own kingdom, might gain life. Isn’t that enough proof? To a father like me, it is enough proof of God’s amazing and out-of-this-world love for us, His children. 

How should we return the Father's great love for us?


Just as Ruth was ever loyal to Naomi so should we to the Father; any father would be very pleased to see the loyalty of Ruth in his child. We should stick with Him through thick and thin, in joy and sorrow, in sickness and in health, in victory and in defeat till our last breath. Why? 
A business man was lying in his deathbed. Knowing that he was nearing his last breath, his wife and all his children gathered around him. Soon the old man opened his eyes and looked around him. Upon seeing his children he started nodding his head slightly as he looked at each one of them. Without warning his mouth began to quiver, and his once tiredness eyes blazed with anger. Being a thoughtful and understanding woman, his wife approached him and comforted him, "Relax, dear. I know you are upset at yourself because you spend so much time with our business that you forget to spend quality time with your children. Don't worry they've forgiven you." All his children nodded their heads in agreement. With all the strength he could muster, the old businessman struggle to voice out what was in his heart, "You're all here? Who's tending our stores?"

Kidding aside, in our deathbed we will not regret the material things that we couldn't buy, the deals that we failed to close, the promotions that we did not get, etc. What we would most likely regret is our failure to treasure, grow, and protect our relationships with our love ones. What we would certainly fear is our failure to establish a personal relationship with God.

Because in the end, the only thing that really matters is our relationships with God, wiht ourselves and with others. The rests are just means to this end. 

Finally, relationship is measured by loyalty. God does not want a lukewarm relationship with us. He expects no less than a personal relationship with Him, a relationship that will stand against the tests of time, a relationship characterized by a timeless loyalty.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Testimony of Raoul Derit

Therefore, if any man is in Christ he is a new creature – the old one has gone, the new one has come. – 2 Corinthians 15:7

I have a confession to make. I was a pornography addict for many years. Not only this, I was also hooked to the other shameful activities surrounding this vice.

It all started when a classmate of mine showed me an adult magazine. Upon seeing the colored photos of naked women my 13-year old mind went crazy; I was deeply fascinated, and absorbed by it that I couldn’t get my eyes and hands off the magazine. Soon I moved on to the next stage. 

After burning a lot of adult pictures to my mind, I finally asked – “What if I do this? How will it feel?” I overheard my male classmates talked about masturbation, and how normal it was for boys my age. I bought the devil’s pitch. Little did I know that I was entering a very long, dark, and miserable tunnel. 

A part of me warned, and pleaded that I should stop, and don’t go through with it. However, another part of me said, “Don’t worry. You can stop anytime you want. It’s under your control.” 

It was a BIG lie. I wasn’t in control. In reality, I was being controlled by lust much like a drug addict is being controlled by a strong desire for drugs.

My addiction to pornography became so bad that there were a couple of times that I was awakened at around 2AM by a strong desire to relieve myself. At that point I knew I was already way over my head. Actually, I was already an addict.

Still I believed that by sheer will power I could break free.  So I gritted my teeth and willed myself to resist. But after a few days or a couple of weeks, I was at it again. After countless defeats, I gave up trying and indulged in my vice instead. But it only made me hate myself even more. 

In desperation, I looked for a magic formula that would make me immune to lust in self-help books, but to my despair I found no such book. Once again I met a dead end.

Finally, running out of option, I approached God. I remember praying – “Lord make me strong enough to resist the temptations“.  But it didn’t work. I thought that I was so dirty that God didn’t want anything to do with me so I availed of the Sacrament of Penance many times only to succumb to my vice days later.

I started to dread going to confession out of embarrassment to confess the same sin over and over again. If I went to confession I made sure that the setup was not face-to-face, and that the priest was not someone I knew. I was ashamed and disgusted with myself. I felt so unworthy of God’s love. I started to think that I was already a lost cause.

But God was not done with me yet.

Despite all the defeats and frustrations I met, I did not stop calling on to God for help. I never lost hope. One evening while I was in Japan for a business trip, I was watching a recorded talk by Bo Sanchez when out of nowhere God spoke to my heart – “You’re fighting alone.” 

These three simple words changed the course of the battle raging inside of me. In an instant everything became so clear to me; I was fighting the Gates of Hell alone. No wonder I always came out defeated. I remember asking myself, “How can I be so blind and stupid? How can I offend such a loving and merciful God?”

That night in Japan, I cried like a little boy out of shame, regret, repentance, joy and gratitude. Spontaneously, I professed my love for Jesus over and over again; the outpouring of strong emotions from within me was so great that I might have exploded if I haven’t done so. My spirit was so ecstatic. 

Then I prayed a prayer that I haven’t said before, “Lord help me. I can’t do it alone.” I felt something heavy was lifted off me and I felt so peaceful. 

That night I reconciled with God and with myself, and my journey to freedom began. I wish I could say that I stopped my vices instantly, but I would be lying which clearly does not align with my Lord's will. 

Before I end my testimony allow me to say something about addiction. During the time I was addicted to pornography I didn’t need a lot of temptation for me to do it; I was simply gravitated to it and my actions were automatic. And even if I didn’t want to do it I still did it; I couldn’t help it. In short, I lost control over myself. 

That night in Japan, God healed me from that irresistible desire towards pornography thus giving me back control over myself. To rephrase the favorite line of my favorite Christian radio drama program, Unshackled, my heart, mind and soul were unshackled that night. Then he gave me His peace and the assurance that He would fight with me. Jesus was enough to revive my soul.

After two decades of slavery to lust, my wounds were so deep and many that it took me a couple of years to fully recover. Now I’m totally out of the long, dark, and miserable tunnel for more than 3 years. God is truly merciful and loving and my testimony attests to what the Bible has said that in Christ we are a new creature – the old has gone, the new one has come.