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Family Life: Building strong families – Celebrate the Good News!

This week, work comes to a halt as our predominantly Catholic country commemorates a very important event in Christendom – the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! These two events are the centerpiece of the good news that Jesus’ disciples proclaimed and were willing to die for, and just as critical for each of us and for our family lives.

Jesus’ suffering and death on our behalf meant that our sins have been paid for, that the sinless one completely paid what we deserve for our sins – death (both physical and spiritual). We cannot self-flagellate and die to atone for our own sins, because anything we do is tainted with sin and is unacceptable before a holy God. We are helpless to ever meet God’s perfect and righteous standards. We needed a sinless one, to perfectly atone for us, and Jesus satisfied God’s requirement. We simply admit our sinfulness, and humble ourselves before him, and we are assured of his forgiveness and acceptance. The good news did not end with Jesus’ death. He authenticated his claims, his work, his deity, by rising from the dead! Jesus is alive and sovereignly rules today in the life and affairs of men and nations. And we can invite him to rule in our hearts and family lives as well, not rely on our own efforts but empowered by his Holy Spirit to do what he commands.

This good news is the hope of any family for a chance to live and relate well with one another – making Christ as Lord and Savior individually and as central to one’s family life. My husband and I have conducted many marriage and parenting seminars that share this good news in over twenty years. We witnessed, counseled, and heard of many transformations, reconciliations as couples surrendered their lives, marriages, and families to Jesus. Just as we read of prostitutes, corrupt tax collectors, ordinary fishermen experience repentance and transformation to a different kind of life in the Bible, Jesus continues to do the same today.

Thirty-eight parents attended our 14 lessons of Bible-based interactive parenting classes in two public elementary schools late last year. Thirty-two parent participants were interviewed and 26 children were engaged in focus groups after going through the program. Parents admitted, and attested by the children, to using abusive physical and verbal discipline practices (68.8%), having uncontrolled anger (68.8%), and spousal fights and infidelity (34.4%) before the program started. The children said belt, hanger, stick, umbrella, slipper were commonly used in spanking them. These conditions seemed to have resulted in the children feeling unloved, afraid, or had become hardheaded and disobedient. As the parents applied the principles they learned in their families, parents learned to replace their negative practices with talking more with their children (90.6%), playing with them (43.8%), giving more praise (68.8%), and teaching them and assigning them chores (50%). Some of them experienced healing in relationship as they applied the lesson on writing a love letter and asking forgiveness from the child they hurt the most.

Some of the parents refrained from or eliminated spanking and cursing (65.6%), and practiced patience and self-control (56.3%). As the parents shared the lessons with their spouses/partners who saw the changes in them, more cooperation and partnership took place (65.6%). As a result, family members felt happier (81.2%), were showing more affection to one another (71.3%), and felt closer as a family (43.8%).

Foundational to these changes and transformation is connectedness with God. Seventy-one percent indicated their trust in God deepened and specifically said that Christ should be at the center of all they do. They started to read the Bible regularly (56.2%), prayed individually and together as a family at night and before meals (65.6%) whereas 87.5% said they did not practice these before. One parent said, Pag-inallow mo po si Jesus sa iyo, parang pag-nag-aano ka sa anak mo, parang napansin ko, “Ay! Mali pala iyon! Iyong ginagawa ko sa anak ko.” Pag si Jesus po iyong center, parang di ka po madaling magalit? Ganoon. Parang nandiyan na siya palagi sa iyo. Parang mahaba na iyong pasensya.

Commemorating an event in history that occurred more than 2000 years ago cannot just be relegated to a work break or family vacation without understanding its significance to our lives. Nor do we celebrate it with the commercialized easter bunny and egg hunt. Jesus’ death and resurrection meant that we have hope, we can change for the better, we can become a more loving person, we can turn our lives and families around when the risen Jesus becomes central to our lives and homes!

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