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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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.

The Death of a Puppy, the Resurrection of the Heart

December 23, 2014, 6:39 in the evening, my favorite puppy Diobels died. Around 7:45 the same evening, I buried her with great tears. I even tried to pray for her resurrection.

What happened challenged me to think and reflect, How many times have I cried for the people that I serve in the ministry? Do I care and love enough? Is service to people really service if you don’t love them enough?

The last time I did pray with tears for the people whom I serve was about two years ago. Something is wrong. I don’t love enough the people now. My heart needs fixing.

Love at its Fullest

There can never be a satisfying definition of love. I must admit those given by Merriam-Webster, Oxford, and others ran fall short of this wonderful virtue that I am feeling inside. It speaks of an array of facets that are so pleasing to be spoken of.

True love is always sacrificial. It is willing to think of the good of others first, before the self, and in fact delights in doing it. And, most often, to some extent it is willing to give good things to others even at the expense of hurting the self.

Genuine love is selfless. It is a selfish-less act. It is an emotion that could only be satisfied by seeing that the highest need and desire of others are met even if the self loses everything. It is like being sacrificial at the highest degree.

Candid love delights in the truth. If you love someone, you are willing to give him or her the truth – and it includes the kind of truth that hurts. The truth that corrects and rebukes, the powerful truth that exposes the painful reality.

Superb love has great tolerance and patience. It is able to forgive – without limits, to the good sense. Not just seven times, but seventy times seven times.

The list of the good qualities of love can go on and on and fill the pages of an entire book. And all of it leads to the Superb kind of Love – the love that is willing to give life for the others. The kind of love that is exemplified by Jesus Christ, when He gave up His life in ransom of the sinful.

Now, that is real love.

 

 

Criticism or Love?

English: Christians in Action, Parkview Road. ...
Often, in the Church we find judgement and judgemental people.

Humanly, it is very easy to judge, especially in a Christian community. I have observed again and again that Christians are more prone to judge than the others.

And why?

Christians know better. We have a lot more of the moral values at our disposal. We know a lot regarding the right and wrong, the high standards of acceptable ethical living. But these things, no matter how good they are, are being used by the devil to bring discord to relationships and the brethren. Our knowledge of morality is being used by Satan to our destruction.

We easily become backbiters, when we discover that some of the brethren has certain weaknesses that we do not have. Or, when we are criticized, admonished, or corrected, we become super self-protective that we deny them and criticize them in return – all because we are self-righteous. These devilish attitudes are very common and observable in the Christian community. We see seldom see mature Christians who are able to face correction and criticism in humble ways.

On the part of those who give criticisms, very few of them are correcting their brethren for the sake of love. Very, very, rare. More often they simply do it out of self-righteousness too, to exalt the selves by degrading others. Their ways of correction easily reveal the inner motives of their heart.

One good example of what I am saying can be observed during the meeting of leaders. When one leader is accused by another leader, the accused one retaliates by pointing out the weaknesses of the one who corrects him or her. There is no real acceptance or acknowledgement of the mistake, only refusal and self-protection. This example is very common. There are many others which strongly illustrate my idea.

What is happening to the Christian churches? Where is the love? It is very good to return to the exhortation of Paul to the Galatians:

 (Gal 6:1-5) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

We should bear one another, and not fight or pull down the other. We should not think lofty of ourselves, for we are accountable ourselves to the Lord. Looking too much onto others diminishes our real examination of the self.

Almost Four Days

Dr. Mariana checking the oral health of a woman.
Dr. Mariana checking the oral health of a woman.

God taught me wonderful new things during the recent four-day medical mission done at the place where our current local church is. The experience is overwhelming, fruitful, challenging, and uplifting.

It was headed by the Mercy Link and the Youth With a Mission, targeting the island of Mindoro for the dental, medical, and mission outreach. The doctors, nurses, and medical technicians were coming from different countries – Brazil, New Zealand, Korea, and the United States.

Their arrival to our place at Lumangbayan san Teodoro was truly God’s answer to our long-time prayers. We had been seeking God on how we could provide medical assistance to the community and at the same time offer them the friendship of Jesus.

Their outreach started on Monday morning, May 6 and ended on Thursday, May 9 at midday. Almost four days. Days  that granted me some helpful thoughts to live by.

1.) It is not about what we could receive, but what we could possibly give. The direction of love is always not towards the self, but always towards the service of others. I went there with very little pocket money and resources, challenging the provision of God. As I was trying my best to keep up with my physical needs, the unexpected happen – someone from the Church took away my reserved bowl of fish! I was expecting that they would be the ones who would give me assistance, but the opposite happened. Anyway, it is about what I could give, not what I could receive.

2.) Trusting in God does mean not underestimating Him. Continuing the first learning above, God showed me that my ‘trust’ wasn’t great enough. Truly trusting Him would mean being open to whatever ways God could open up and spill over His resources – in ways that we have not possibly thought possible. For my example I was worrying about my food – but God gave me extra that for two times my food was spoiled!

3.) Be always ready to Hear His Word and heed Him. On the second day of the Medical Mission, I was commissioned by God to take every opportunity to share His Word. That was very clear to me on His Word. Yet for so many times I let my hesitance and weaknesses took over me – how I regret those times that I could have shared the Gospel and invite them to the Church! Those missed opportunities – could never be brought back.

4.) Strive to build relationships.  Offering medical assistance means a lot to the needy people. But making them see and feel that their presence and friendship is special to us is a different thing – it will make them stay with us even after our medical resources are exhausted. The diagnoses and medicines provide physical healing, but when wrapped in love they will also prove to give spiritual and emotional healing.

5.) True humility always seeks out to serve – not minding the self. This is so true for the servanthood example of Jesus found on Phil. 2:5-8. Jesus took aside personal glory and instead embraced the life of a human servant all for the sake or true service. True service always has the heart of humility at its center.

6.) Give your best shot every moment. Every deed, especially those done for God and His Kingdom should truly demand the best of us. This is a helpful mindset. Not everything could be repeated, once done, that’s it. It’s either we exerted a mediocre effort of our very best. The same specific goals, in the same place for the same group of people – a specific ministry – once accomplished, could very rarely be expected to happen again.

God, You are the Supreme Lord of the universe. The Only One who is Sovereign. You have entrusted us so much, may You find us faithful and diligent. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I Tried to Give Out of Love But…

Recently I tried to express love to other people by returning the same kind of favor I received regarding my studies. Last year as a graduating student in a Bible College, some of my friends helped me to pay for my tuition fees amounting to more than P 11,000. Their helped subsidized the cost by almost 50%. So, this academic year I also tried to help a certain student financially, but it wasn’t easy and it revealed the weakness of my love.

She is a second year student at the City College. Her family is poor and decided to temporarily stop her schooling. Out of urgent decision to express love and appreciation for an aspiring student, I told her that I would pay for the half of her tuition fees.

She told that to her parents and they let her study again, banking on that ‘word of promise.’ However, as I was asking her some simple questions, it gave me some doubts if she was really deserving. I knew that the minimum grade to qualify for the academic scholarship in her school is only 80%, which she told me she could not possibly attain for the very disappointing reason that she is a lazy student, she admitted. Wow, a thought crossed my mind, is it really that she’s lazy, or is just shy to admit that she lacks the brains? The idea that she’s not brilliant is more tolerable though than being lazy. Could I offer help and subtly tolerate laziness? That would be the opposite of one of my goals for helping, for I’d like to ignite enthusiasm and kick off laziness.

The months of saving money was never easy. I had to walk many times, and deprive myself often of some foods. Worse is that my father was beginning to question why I was fast consuming my allowance. But I had to keep on asking him, for the sake of the girl. About the second week of March, I was only to save less than half of her total tuition fees, coming short of my promise.

I was ready to give her the money, but there were obstacles. It seemed very well that the girl wasn’t exerting enough effort. Three times I told her where she would be able to get the money, but all those times she didn’t come. The first one she never replied to my text messages; the second one she insisted her own place of choice; and the third one, which I supposed to be the ‘last chance’, still she insisted for her own choice.

She got really into my nerves. Many times, I refrained myself from texting her so I could not permanently withdraw my help. I couldn’t understand why she had so many excuses where all she had to do is get the money.

And one time she blamed me that she waited in her place of choice… Oh my dear, and many other words.

Well, maybe those words are enough to convince you that she doesn’t really deserve the money. Yes you’re right, by my judgement. But do I have to give her the money, though she is undeserving? Of course yes.

In her I remember my self in front of God: pitiful and nothing. In trying to extend my patience I realize again and again that my love is very far from the love of God He continuously extends to me: He always showers His blessings and forgiveness upon my soul, a very sinful soul who does the same sins over and over again.

Redundancy? Yes. Because I am a redundant sinner before God. Oh Lord, how could I have Your heart? Why is it that I am so slow to love and to forgive?

If I would like to imitate God’s love, then I will give her the money, undeserving that she is, out of pure heart, unconditionally.

Do I have the right to withdraw my help financially and the love that goes with it? No. Never even in the least sense.