Love, Courtship, and Marriage

Regarding man-woman relationships, God has ordained that commitments be lifetime and not temporary. Therefore, a man should court a woman not because he sees her as material girlfriend, but rather as a prospect wife; and the same goes for the woman, a “yes” means she accepts that he is the ideal husband.

This in turn calls for God’s Perfect Will. It could be determined by three factors: the right person, the right time, and the right ways.

1) The Right Person. 

MAN

Ephesians 5:1, 23-30 (KJV)  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

A man in courtship should possess these two basic qualities:

A) Spiritual Maturity to lead the wife and the children spiritually; and the

B) Capacity to provide for the physical needs of the family.

In order for a man to lead a family to God, he should know a great deal about the Bible and practice a life of obedience. He should also have a good testimony and years of Christian ministry. Furthermore, the man should draw the woman to holiness, and his love for the woman is shown to draw the woman closer to God first, then to himself. The love of the man too is sacrificial, and looks upon the needs of the woman as much as he looks upon his own needs.

WOMAN

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Basically, the woman should have meekness and the heart of submission. Yet the woman should also be spiritually wise, and knows how to deal with wrong decisions coming from the man. She must not submit in wrong decisions, yet be meek to tell her opinion to the man in a way that will not disrespect his authority over her.

Proverbs 31:13, 15, 30 (KJV)  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

The woman should also have a sense of responsibility and care for the family. She must be family-oriented. Furthermore, she knows how to work with her hands, that is, earning extra money for the family. Above all, she should be God-fearing.

2) The Right Time

The view of the lifetime commitment and the qualities of both the man and woman will determine the right time of entering this kind of relationship.

Strictly speaking, for the man, he is discouraged to enter courtship if he is still spiritually immature. This includes​ being jealous, possessive, short-tempered, disrespectful, etc. The man should mature first in his area of weaknesses. A good guideline to follow is possessing these qualities, which are the mark of a true spiritually mature person (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23):

1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Moreover, a man that has not yet finished his studies and has no work is definitely discouraged to enter courtship.

For the woman, she should also possess first the traits enumerated in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and Galatians 5:22-23.

For both the man and woman, they should have a deep sense of maturity and responsibility because courtship is the first step towards marriage and entering this first step means that they are ready to leave behind the life of being single.

3) The Right Ways

The man entering Courtship should have a deep sense of respect both to the woman and her family. He should formally ask for the permission of her parents. He should acknowledge the fact that an unmarried woman belongs first to God, then to her parents.

Courtship should be done most of the time in the home of the woman, with her parents present. Respect for the woman should be regarded highly, and there should not be a single hint of lust involved, even after obtaining the woman’s “yes”. Touching, kissing, and petting are strictly forbidden.

Dating outside the woman’s home is subject to the approval of the woman’s parents. No dating should be done without the approval of the woman’s parents. Dating should also not be during the night, and certainly not in dark and private places. A group date involving many Christian friends and couples is much more desirable.

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Selfless Love

Matthew 16:24 (KJV)  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

That was the Scripture God gave me when I had a motorcycle accident in 2015, teaching me to offer my life for His service. A year later, God reminded me of the same thing – if I wanted to show love to God and to others, it must be selfless.

I had the motorcycle accident when we were traveling for our Bible Study in Naujan. I suffered a large cut on my head and the people said it was by God’s miracle that I did not suffer internal head injuries. That time, God was testing me if I would still serve Him despite what happened – it was the test of willingness to offer to God my physical life. After a year, I was not the patient anymore – it was my father. He suffered from a pulmonary disease and a mild heart attack. And still, God was teaching me to serve Him by loving others selflessly.

How did God teach me to love selflessly so I could serve Him with a fresh start?

Firstly, God taught me to deny my comfort for the comfort of others. My father suffered from a mild heart attack because of strenuous physical labors. Partly I was blaming myself because I should be the one doing those heavy labors – I knew the doctors warned my father against heavy tasks after he suffered his first heart attack in 2007.  Worse, in the hospital, God revealed my selfish heart – it was so self-centered – I hated the discomforts of staying in the hospital. I was not thinking of the discomforts of my father who was in the ICU, I was only sympathizing with my own hard feelings. I felt ashamed. How could I be that selfish!

As days went by, God was pushing me more to realize my selfishness. As I was seeing the patients and their families, my heart was aching to see them broken and hopeless. I always wanted to comfort them with the love of Jesus from the Bible – but one thing was hindering me – too much thinking of the self! I argued in my mind that I needed more sleep, that I needed more time for myself, and some other reasons. There was a clear battle between thinking of myself against my desire to serve others. I saw clearly that prioritizing my wants hindered me from loving and serving others.

Secondly, God taught me to be sensitive for the needs of others. I found it true that as you deny your own comforts to give comfort to others, you will naturally be sensitive to their needs. The hospital was full of patients and people from all walks of life – from the rural and urban places, the rich and the poor, the believers and the unbelievers – but they all shared a common trait – they were all in need.

Being sensitive to the needs of others did not call for a reactive thinking, but for a proactive one. The former was telling me to respond to the emerging needs I saw in them; the latter was instructing me to think what I could possibly do before things might actually happen. Being proactive in thinking trained me to adjust my whole life and time management. I had to wake up earlier to pray for strength and guidance. Then I would talk to some people and pray for them. I also had to think always of different ways to give strength and comfort to my father and to the others – some ways work for certain people, but not to the others. I was the one adjusting for them and not the other way around.

Lastly, God taught me to exalt Him and not the self. This was the lesson I found to be the hardest to learn. As I was ministering in the Emergency Room, the different Medical ICU Rooms, and the semi-private wards – doctors, nurses, and people began to notice me as a religious and spiritual person. Soon, I earned their respect. With their high respect and regard, I felt that my ego was being fed! The natural self-centered I was coming to life! Grant me Lord the Grace to exalt You and not the self (Psalm 115: 1)!

The test of character was even stronger when I gained friendships with the opposite sex who were attractive. Soon, I felt that I had to make my physical appearance and gestures better to maintain and develop those friendships. I really saw myself taking decisive actions to draw people to myself and not to God – but of course with the ministry as the outside covering. But God was gracious in convicting me of my sin of self-glorification, and soon I was praying for a new heart with the right motives (Psalm 51: 10). After that prayer, every time I would go out to minister to the people, I would pray first for true humility and selflessness.

During my ten days of staying in the hospital, did I really learn those three truths of selfless love? To a small degree, maybe – but I know that learning is a lifetime process. I know that in the future, in everyday life, I will find myself again being entangled so much in the self that will hinder me in loving Jesus and serving others. But my prayer is that God will always give me the Grace to fight this sin of self-indulgence, and be a more selfless person.

Whether it is the offering of life like in the motorcycle accident that I had or the denying of personal comforts and glory like in my ten days of staying in the hospital, they both call for a selfless love as my service to Jesus. For Jesus Himself, the great God (Hebrews 1: 8; John 1: 1), also denied Himself greatly of heavenly glories and humbled Himself as the Father’s Servant (Philippians 2: 6-7; Isaiah 53).

 

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be all the Glory!

This Wonderful Gift

I praise God for creating the universe
And everything that is in it
I praise God for the meet-up of my parents
And for their marriage

I praise God that through my parents
He raised me
I praise God that He let me see
The wonders of this world

I praise God that He made me weak
So in Him I find strength
I praise God that I am not wise
So He is my wisdom

I praise God that despite my shortcomings
He allowed me to pass this LET Board Exam
I praise God for it is His work
The Glory belongs to Him

It takes more than that

26 OCTOBER 2016, 02:09 PM

I really thought I would be successful that time. But I was wrong. My efforts were not good enough.

For some weeks already I was planning to have a fasting in a place far from home – an ideal haven where I could have a full hold on God. Though my determination still falters on the last few hours, I still believed I would finally have it.

It made me think then and have a deeper introspection. What contributed to my failure? Or more blatantly, am I that far from God already that I could not fast?

Maybe it would help more if I say first my reasons for fasting.

My first reason is the feeling of utter helplessness. I have become so desperate in my situation that I needed something powerful just to meet my spiritual needs. I was actively pastoring a Church for the past few months, and the time has come that I would like to be the sheep now and not the shepherd. I would like to be fed and led, and be strengthened. I need the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to heal my dying soul. I was like a deer panting for water (Psalms 42:1). The whole Psalm Chapter really says my condition.

Secondly, the ministry demands it. The last time I fasted about two months ago the gift of healing flowed powerfully everytime we prayed together. I do not mean that I receive more of God’s power when I fast; His miracles and healing are released by His grace and not by our good works. But, by fasting God is more able to prepare me first for His great works. Still I could not say that fasting is my little contribution, because I became successful in some of my fastings only because of His Grace. In God’s mysterious design, I fast and pray, and He moves more — yet I have no part in that. Maybe it is because God exalts the humble (James 4:10), and that fasting is basically the humbling of the soul before God (Psalm 35:13).

The third reason is that I really miss my intimate moments with the Lord. Since the advent of the wi-fi connection at home, my habit of long time spent in praying died with its coming. Much worse happened when I bought this Android cellphone. I am inclined into technology and it consumes my time heavily. I have to fast to break these addictions. I have to separate from the world and be silent to once again hear the voice of the Lord.

Lastly, I need guidance and answers. Does the Lord really want me to pursue my teaching profession while pastoring? My logical mind says no, for teaching will take much time from me — some quality time that I should spend with God and with the members of the Church.

Now let us return to the first question, why did my efforts to fast fail?

One reason is that I lacked all the necessary preparations. Before you fast, you have to prepare yourself spiritually and physically. I lacked both. I rarely prayed for it, and for some weeks already I was staying late at night then woke up late in the morning. Fasting demands that I saturate myself first in fervent praying, and that my physical body is prepared for it.

The second reason for my failures is that I have to make some things right first. Of course I know I will fast to ask for God’s help me to fix the wrongs in my life, but I do sense that I have to fix some of them now before I meet the Lord in prayer. Fasting is a sacred time with the Lord and for sure it has the spirit of repentance, but we will be able to show that our repentance is truly true if we start making amendments in our life now before the time of fasting comes. After all, my shortcomings in the family and Church really take the issues right back at the heart of self-denial and obedience. If I would really deny myself now and choose to obey, more than half of my shortcomings would be resolved now even before I fast. I hate to approach God in fasting with fake repentance, and much worse, to fast with no real intent of changing my ways, just like what God saw in Israel when they fasted in Isaiah 58. They fasted hypocritically with no repentance in their hearts.

To fast before God with a right heart is not a complicated thing, but not an easy one either. It takes more than sheer determination. It takes more than a simple sacrifice. It takes more than the usual planning. It will demand your everything — because you will meet your Holy God.

Food for the Body and Soul

22 OCTOBER 2016, 02:54 PM

This Saturday afternoon visit to church is an exceptional one. I was expecting to do some cleaning and grass trimming but I guess either I was late or I came too early. Nonetheless, I was able to reflect once again on a few things – that are connected to foods.

After leaving the church to have a little snack, I never thought that such simple act would not only invigorate my physical body but also my soul. Before I finished my bread and hot chocolate drink, I saw Celine walking towards me in an act of preparing for a warm embrace. And wow, how I missed the child!

I met Celine last Summer in our Daily Vacation Bible School. After the said activity’s success, she became a regular attendee of our Church. But because I was so vocal in teaching about false religions in our Sunday School for adults, we lost her because her relatives’ religion was our topic for one Sunday. Her family was offended. So seeing Celine once again in an act of intimacy ignited good memories between us. I remembered the simple card she gave me before that has the phrase “Best Teacher Ever”.

After my short moments with Celine, I went back to the church. Still there was no one. I was offered some kikiam and palamig for free by a Christian family. I insisted to pay and started to have some conversation. It was a nice attempt to start relationships.

The blessings around foods would not end still. I received a text message from Ate Nelda inviting me to a food fellowship. Wow! The family is dear to me, they have been with me for some time in the ministry. We had some dinner together and it was also the start of their ministry called “God’s Promises for the Youth Ministry Center”.

Food is one of my love languages. If you want my presence for an hour or so, offer me some food and we’ll have some quality time together! It not only brings refreshment to the body, it also brings warmth to the soul.

Notebook

18 OCTOBER 2016, 05:52 PM

Please don’t mind the wrong spelling in the picture. I purchased the notebook as a small reward for the Bible Study that we just started two weeks ago. I thought of it as a little encouragement to anyone who attends the said small group who will show earnestness for knowing the Bible.

The notebook could be thought of as a small, cheap thing. Indeed. But if wrapped in love and concern, it could certainly touch the heart.

Why touch the heart? As the teacher and facilitator of the Bible Study, I act also as its pastor. And as a pastor, I should imitate the Chief Shepherd, the Lord God. Going back to the popular Shepherd Psalm, the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Psalms, we could all see the love and care of the One True Shepherd of our souls.

The first verse of the Psalm tells us that God gives the overall love and blessedness that we need to the point that we are truly satisfied. The second verse expands from the first one, giving us spiritual nourishment and peace that we experience in His presence. Then the third verse tells us of His guidance. The following fourth verse tells us of His protection, which includes His discipline as a part of it. The fifth verse tells us that enemies will not win over us, and the last verse that this such goodness will be done for us all the days of our lives.

As the pastor of the Bible Study, I should then make sure that I give them the similar care and love – of course I admit I am not capable of giving the same as the Lord gives, but I could start by showing them that I am sincere. Moreover, maybe the best that I could do is to help them realize such goodness from God Himself – by drawing them near to God.

Of course I know that times will come that I will give admonition and rebuke, but still I must not forget that above all things the Fatherly Love of God should be utmost. May God help me then to demonstrate such love.

Even by using this small notebook.

Broken Fellowships

By the term broken I didn’t mean having fractures. I only meant inward brokenness, or the brokenness of the heart.

I and my friends in the ministry and faith gathered as we were celebrating a birthday party. Our conversations however were mostly contrary to the usual ones that you’ll likely to hear during like events. We were happy to see each other, but we were also open to hear and learn from the wounds of the past.

In fact, I recall a particular passage in the Bible where God promised destruction as His discipline for His erring and stubborn children but also the rare privilege of being excluded from His anger upon hearing some who were talking of their sinfulness before God. Truly, God is near to them that are of a broken heart, and saves those who are contrite (Psalm 34:18).

I will go on to say that being broken and repentant in heart is something that pleases God, a sacrifice or a gift that God never takes for granted (Psalm 51:17). That is a lesson we learned from David when he was on the act of repenting to God after he realized his sins of adultery and murder.

Truly, it delights God to hear our praises. But often, we become hypocritical of concealing our weakness and sins and just choose to tell our good side – our ministry, sacrifices, and everything good that we do for the Lord. These good things are not bad in themselves, but God desires too that we reveal who we are truly before God – weak and always in need of help. This kind of spirit should never leave the Christian – it is a sign of continuous humility before God.

I observe that as Christians we are all in danger of feeling strong in ourselves. We often look on the outward things: the results of the ministry, the number of our members, our sacrifices, the amount of money that we contribute, or spiritual gifts at work, and the list could go on. But are these things really the measure of our true spirituality and condition before God? I am afraid that often, it is not.

I am saying this because we could choose to hide our flaws and sins behind our ministries and achievements. But deep inward – the part that sometimes only God could see (because we hide it from others) – we are filthy, weak, and in need of help.

Let true humility and repentance be in our hearts. It is never a shame to be honest before God. And by being broken, we could allow God to cleanse and mold us so we can be a blessing to others. By being tried, we could be a source of strength to others (2 Corinthians 1:6).