MAKING THINGS RIGHT WHEN CHOICES WERE WRONG

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Many today misuse the grace of God to excuse their behavior to continue living in their lifestyle of sin.

Yes, the grace of God is available to save us from sin, but it is also available for us to say NO to sin.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Nick and Elma came to church after being invited by their children. They have been in a live-in situation for years and had thought that since they’ve been in the same situation for 25 years, God would somehow understand.

The grace of God empowers us to correct whatever wrong we’ve stood for in the past.

Watch their testimony on how God spoke to them to make things right.

 

FORGIVING WHEN YOU’RE HURTING THE MOST

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Oklahoma City Thunder coach Monty Williamswife was killed in a car accident. And in front of 900 friends and family members, he delivered a moving and speech of love, strength, wisdom and forgiveness.

I want to close with this, and I think it’s the most important thing we need to understand. Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well, and we have no ill will towards that family.
In my house, we have a sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard, and that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well. So let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

Towards the end of his speech, he thanks everyone who came and said something profound.

“We didn’t lose my wife. When you lose something, you can’t find it.
I know exactly where my wife is.”

Words of hope, security and faith.

On a time of trial, where are our eyes turned towards?

Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Here’s the video of his eulogy.

 

THE PROBLEM WITH REDEFINING MARRIAGE

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Through the years, certain words have been redefined.

I remember growing up, the word “salvage” meant someone getting killed. But later on, I found out that it really meant rescuing and saving something or someone.

Same with the word “dope”. I grew up thinking it was drugs. These days, young people say, “That dope doh!” which means, “That’s so cool!”

In basketball, to get a facial doesn’t mean going to a dermatologist to get cleaned. It means getting dunked on in your face.

Certain words when redefined seem harmless. But there are certain words when we redefine them will not only be dangerous but outright destructive.

Marriage is one of them.

Jesus in Matthew 19 talks about marriage.

1. Marriage is a PHYSICAL union.

Matthew 19:5 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

It is a physical union, a coming together of sorts, between a man and a woman. These days, we have moved boundary lines and allowed marriage no longer just for male and female but people of the same gender.

We’ve rebelled against those lines and said we can have an affair as long as it’s in secret. Ask Ashley Madison about it. Their tagline says that because life is short, then have an affair.

2. Marriage is a PROVIDENTIAL union.

Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

It is God who joins two people together.

While it is true that He does that, in the bigness of the Sovereignty of God, He has given us the freedom of choice to make the decision who we will get married to.

3. Marriage is a PERMANENT union.

Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Divorce is the undoing of the work of God.

The only reason why divorce was allowed was because of the hardness of our hearts – sin.

That’s why in many wedding vows, the promise is till death do us part. It’s not until another career do us part nor another bank account do us part or another person do us part, but until death do us part.

“When emotions become the primary basis for our decision to get married, then emotions will also become the primary basis for our decision to separate.”

Here’s my message yesterday at Victory Fort that further expounds on this topic of marriage.

God bless you guys.

RUDE (Dad’s Side of the Story)

My friend Joe sent this link to me from You Tube and I couldn’t help laughing and at the same time nod my head in agreement. So I went ahead and blogged about it.

Found in the link is a cover of Magic’s song RUDE by Benjie Cowart.

As a dad of an 11 year old girl, he thought he’d respond to the original song’s line,
“I’m going to marry her anyway.”

“I was like, ‘You know what? I need to write a response to that because the dads are not being represented well,” replied Cowart who is a professional Christian-music songwriter from Nashville. Cowart is also an instructor for the National Praise and Worship Institute at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.

Here are a few of my favorite lines from his parody.

Seeking permission to marry my princess, son what’s wrong with your big head?
It’s the first time I met you, why would I let you run off with my baby girl?
Get back in your Pinto. It’s time that you go. The answer is no.

You say you want my daughter for the rest of your life,
well you gotta make more than burgers and fries.
Get out your momma’s basement, go and get you a life.
Son, you’re 28, don’t you think it’s time?

Why you gotta call me rude?
I’m doing what a dad should do — keep her from a fool like you.

And if you marry her anyway, you marry that girl, I’m gonna punch your face.
You marry that girl, I’ll make you go away.
You marry that girl, you’re in the bottom of a lake.

You may not get this, let me explain coz you need to understand
This is forever, she deserves better
She really needs a grown man
I know what you’re thinking, you think you’d still take her
Now give it your best shot
I may be a Christian but I’d go to prison
I’m not scared of doing hard time


———

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sadistisches/5763313907

“THE PRICE OF WINNING A PRINCESS”

 

We attended Patrick (my brother in law) and Carla’s wedding yesterday.

It was awesome, elegant and God honoring.
Of course, my wife was a mess with tears pouring down her cheeks. Their “baby brother” just got married.

I’ve been to many weddings and officiated hundreds of them, but this one was extra special.
Not just because the groom was special to me since I’ve seen him grow up from being a boy to a mature young man, but because the way he honored Carla, his parents, his future in laws and most especially his Lord and Savior, Jesus.

You go to weddings and they easily become all about the couple.

While the wedding obviously highlighted Patrick and Carla, but more than that, God’s presence, faithfulness and grace was front and center.

I’d like to share with you Patrick’s vows to Carla.
This was one of the best I’ve heard coming from a groom.
Probably it was also because I had front row seats watching how God brought them to where they are now.
Indeed, God is faithful.

 

Dear Carla,

It’s been 32 years of searching, waiting and praying.
And finally the Lord answered my prayer.

I vividly remember the first time we met.
It was on aug 8, 2012.
You were wearing your grey shirt complimented by your beautifully tied hair.

Both of us were volunteering at the relief operations.
And little did I know that God was starting to align our paths.

But the process of our paths aligning did not come easy.
You know, honey, for 30 years, my life has been smooth and steady.
But the moment we got together, this steady and smooth life of mine became one stretching, challenging and faith building journey.
The odds were not in our favor.
You had fears. I had fears.
Doubts were starting to cloud our hopes.
Insecurities started to creep in, tricking us that this relationship will never work.
It seemed like it was a losing end.
You know, but I realized that loving you entails fighting for you.
I stood up against against my fears.
I battled all the doubts. And I boldly moved in faith to overcome my insecurities.
I guess that’s the price of winning a princess.

God is good.
By His grace, I was able to fight hard.
And that’s the reason why I am here standing in front of you today.
And just like in the letter that I was supposed to give to your mom and dad, in which there was a promise, I want to say it to you again and in front of all these people that are dear to us.
I promise to love you unconditionally … and to take care of you … to provide for you to the best of my God-given abilities… to always be there for you… and to always be a source of affirmation and encouragement to you and to our children …
And through these, I hope it will assure you that you made the best and right decision.
May this day remind us of God’s faithfulness and grace in our lives.
And that together, with Christ being in the center, we can do great and amazing things.
And Carla, from being a friend, to being my ex-girlfriend, to being my ex-fiance, now my wife, I promise to love you to the very end.

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22)

——-

If you’d like to hear the audio version of Patrick’s vow, I’ve included it below this post.

http://paolopunzalan.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Vow.m4a

WHO DETERMINES YOUR VALUE?

My son and I were driving through Pasig one Valentine’s Day. He was about 9 years old at that time. As we passed by Canley Road where there were lots of motels advertising “QUICKIES”, he asked me why the rooms were so cheap and why they were rented out only for a couple of hours.

Good thing I was already able to explain to him about the “birds and the bees”.

I told him that it’s unfortunate that people no longer wait for the officiating minister to say, “Now, you may kiss the bride.”
They end up saying, “I did” rather than “I do.”

Genesis 1:26 says that we were created in His image and in His likeness. What does this mean? This means that you and I have value. We are valuable not because of the clothes we wear, the car that we drive, the title on our business card nor the village we live in.

We are valuable because we were made in His image. Our value is intrinsic.

Which begs the question, “What would it take for your partner to get you in bed?” What would your boyfriend or girlfriend need to offer you to get you to sleep with him/her?

Let me propose to you that it should nothing be less than 2 words. Three won’t do.

“I love you” shouldn’t be enough.

You are worth waiting for.

Not 3 words but 2. And those 2 words? “I do.”

Until he can back it up with a ring, don’t give in.
Until she says “I do”, you can’t give in.

Jackson Pollack, an abstract expressionist painted a painting. It looked like my 5 year old can do the very thing he created. However, a man named David Martinez bought the painting on November 1, 2006 for a whopping $151.2 million.

You see value is determined by how much one is willing to pay for.

And the value you place on yourself will determine what and who you will give yourself to.

Now if you don’t think you’re worth that, you’ll give yourself for a whole lot less, then you’ll wonder why you feel cheap and he doesn’t treat you with the value you deserve. You gave him what he wanted at a discount.

Remember, you are no longer your own, but you were bought with a price.

You are so valuable that Someone sacrificed and died on your behalf.
Now THAT is real love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

—————

PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelehen/

THE WEDDING VOW

I just attended one of the most beautiful weddings.

It wasn’t because it was lavish though it was well executed.
It wasn’t because it was a big wedding though there was a good number that attended.
It wasn’t because the food was extravagant though I’d say it was one of the best I’ve had.
It wasn’t because the venue was posh though it was exquisite.

It was because the presence of God was inexplicably near.

I always tell the couples who are about to get married not to be so anxious about how grand, lavish, posh and chic their wedding should be.

Excellence doesn’t necessarily mean extravagance.

The important ingredient? God’s presence.

You can have a wedding with a price tag of 2M and yet not have that key ingredient while you can have the simplest yet the most amazing because of God’s presence.

The highlight for me was Ina’s vows.

Right after the wedding, I zoomed to the bride and the groom and requested a copy of it because I wanted to share with you what she said.

Here it is…

“Hi Edson, my love! We are finally here.

As in a marathon, we are done with the conditioning, training, and preparation for the beginning of the race. We have reached the starting line. And I am so glad that I am hand in hand with you as we begin this.

As I was reviewing how the bride is defined in the Bible, here’s what I found:
HOLY, PURE and UNBLEMISHED.

I am not any of those, I realized.

But here’s the deal breaker, I can face you now, my head held high … expectant, joyful, and wearing a white dress, only because Someone took my place and on the cross nailed together with Him is all of my dirt.

I can face you as your bride only through Jesus Christ.

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. This is what I hold onto now. I belong to you. I am confident, not in myself or your goodness, but in the help we have.

You know that Jesus first publicly revealed His glory in a wedding… and I am sure He didn’t only do it through the wine. I am confident because our help comes from Jesus. And He has helped make this day glorious. He will be here to make the coming days, weeks, months and years even more glorious.

I have no fear in committing to submit to you, my love, because in you I see a man who puts God first in everything. So now, at our starting point, I vow to:

1. follow where you lead
2. support you in your decisions
3. respect you and put you next to God in my priorities
4. to belong to you and look only to you for comfort
5. to put effort to always be like the bride you married
6. to be always excited to exalt God’s Name with you.

And when the difficult times come, when we feel like it’s too tough to hold on, I’ll be like that gum that is stuck under the desk, or on the sole of your shoe. I’ll stick. I’ll be that but less annoying.

So Edson, my love, I vow to be your bride today and your wife for life.

I love you.”

————-

More pics here by Elain Ojeda.

 

 

“WHY SOME DON’T MARRY?”

“Why do singles push marriage at a later age or push it away altogether?”

This was one of the questions of our volunteer leaders asked recently.

It can be one of three things: many are UNEASY, UNCERTAIN or UNCLEAR. (this list is by no means exhaustive)

Probably uneasy because of the many horror stories we’ve heard or even the bad experiences we personally have gone through. Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that there has been a 40% increase in annulments in the Philippines.

Uncertain because of what might the future hold. After all, financial stability is a major consideration for anyone who is going to get married.

Unclear would refer to the purpose of marriage.  It is possible that a wrong understanding of marriage can make a person terrified at making that big leap.

TEST DRIVE

Because of these reasons, some have chosen cohabitation.  They move in together to ‘test-drive’ the relationship. (previous blog post here)

Now, test driving the relationship is not a good idea.

Number 1, your partner is not a car.

Number 2, the other person feels devalued and depreciated, particularly the ladies, if the relationship doesn’t work out because we all know that as soon as we drive a car out of the dealership, there’s an automatic 20% mark down it’s original price. Depreciation happens.

Number 3, it doesn’t work. How come? Research tells us that couples who cohabit before marriage have a higher rate of divorce than those who don’t.

MARRIAGE IS A GOOD THING.

The Bible says that “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)

Marriage is a good thing.

The Bible doesn’t just state that, but even health science supports it. (article here)

Here’s a short summary of the article:

* Men alive at 48 years old have a 90 percent chance of reaching 65 if they are married, but only a 60 to 70 percent chance if they are single.

*A married man with heart disease can expect to live, on average, nearly four years longer than an unmarried man with a healthy heart

*Unmarried people spend 2x as much time in hospitals as married people.

*Rates of major depression are 9x higher in unmarried men.

*Depression, and in particular dysphoria – a feeling of anxiety, depression, and unease – is higher in single women compared to married women.

MARRIAGE IS FROM GOD.

It’s not just a good thing but also a God thing.

He invented marriage. He instituted it. It was His idea.

Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher was married for 86 years which was why they made it to Guinness World Records. They were asked what their secret was.

His answer? “No secrets. There isn’t any secret. It was only God that kept us together.”

Her answer? “We are both Christians and believe in God. Marriage is a commitment to the Lord. We pray with and for each other every day.”

Since marriage is God’s idea, it is He who will give grace to keep the 2 together.

PS. I like what Louise commented below. There are those who have been called to be single so that they can serve Jesus in this lifetime which I believe is a high calling.

GOD’S DESIGN FOR THE HUSBAND

In his 6 volume historical masterpiece “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, Edward Gibbon wrote in 1776 five major causes of the fall of the Great Roman Empire.

5. Decay of religion.
4. Unsustainable buildup of armaments.
3. Hunger for pleasure.
2. Increased taxation.

Interestingly enough, the top in his list was the “breakdown of the family.”

You would think that it would be a problem in the leadership or an invasion by another empire.

1. Breakdown of the family…

Hmmmm…. interesting.

As the familiar saying goes, “Everything rises and falls in leadership.”

Husbands have been given the task to lead the family.

The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing… (Eph. 5:23, Msg)

The Bible tells us in Eph. 5 how we are to lead…

1. Lead lovingly.

Husbands, love your wives … (Eph. 5:25)

We are called to lead not in an authoritative or domineering manner, but lovingly.

One of the best ways to lead the family is to love your wife the way Jesus loved the church.
You want to see your kids grow up secure?
One of the best ways the Bible tells us is to love your wife unconditionally.

2. Lead sacrificially.

Sacrifice is giving up something you really really want.

… just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …. (Eph. 5:25b)

Too many marriages are filled with “I”, “me” and “myself.”

If you’re not ready to give up ‘self’, re-think marriage. It just might not work.

3. Lead spiritually.

…to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word… (Eph. 5:26)

The word ‘husband’ means ‘to cultivate’, ‘to till’, ‘to take care of.’ In other words, the husband is a gardener.

If a garden is dry and dying, we go to the gardener and ask what’s the matter.

In a marriage and in a family, when things are dry and dying, the final accountability that God has ordained is with the husband.  He is the leader.  He has headship, therefore with it comes responsibility.

Seems impossible? You bet!

But God doesn’t tell us to do something without giving us both the grace and the ability to fulfill what we’ve been called to do.

In Christ, we can do all things … and He gives us the strength.

Have a great week ahead!