Marriage and the Love Between a Man and a Woman

RinaPeru's photo

It’s Bro. Edu Cortez’s fault, that very talented photographer behind the lens of Extreme Details Photography – glory to God! He posts these beautiful photos of brides and their grooms, their poses and bodies speak of a language only a man and a woman so in-love with each other know and understand. These evoke exquisite emotions that are not commonly felt – well, not by a wife in her mid-forties like me :)! But, alas! The hopeless romantic in me succumbs to wonderful thoughts about love stirred up by these prenup and wedding photos.

They definitely make me think about the love that captures a man and a woman and brings them to a place where they could give of themselves to each other – in mind, in spirit, in heart, in body – in the sanctity of marriage. It is almost magical; a spellbinding process that is beyond their control.

I can’t help but think about Jacob and Rachel. Jacob, upon seeing Rachel for the first time, wept. Could it be that the rush of emotions was like an avalanche washing over him he just couldn’t express it in words he chose to weep? A love so powerful it seized him in an instant and spurred him to kiss that beautiful young woman who had just captured his heart? The Bible tells that he “lifted up his voice and wept”. I imagine that there were actually no words that came out of his lips but maybe only a pained cry, the soul’s expression of an emotion so strong and wanting to be released. Doesn’t love do that? It moves you so much it hurts?

Without a doubt, the love between a man and a woman is beautiful because it was from God and created by Him. It was part of His design of things from the time of Adam and Eve. And though disobedience drove the very first couple out of Eden, God did not take back the gift of love that He had given them in the beginning. And so, it is what we know and have to this day.

wedding2

Man and woman were created for each other. They are bound by love that makes pure, sanctifies, and not defiles – only in marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). The man honors the woman by giving himself to her in marriage, while the woman honors him by submitting to him. The husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25). The love of Christ sanctifies, nurtures, endures. It is a love that serves and suffers long.

So when I see a groom holding his bride with much love, care, and admiration, I am in awe of this wonder that God has given His creation.

I have been blessed with a faithful husband whose love holds in sickness and in health, in trials and in triumph. Often, the problem with couples, especially those who are still young, is that they are so idealistic. They look at other couples or spouses and compare. That’s where discontent, criticisms, complaints, fault-finding, and strife come in.

A year after our wedding, I experienced all these things with other marital problems. That’s why soon after, our marriage broke apart. (To read more of our testimony, click here).

When we received the Lord Jesus Christ and He restored our marriage and family, there were still problems and challenges we faced as husband and wife. But our Savior’s mercy and grace held us and taught us.

The world teaches women to be independent and self-sufficient, even to be independent (or defiant) from their husbands, thanks to the feminist movement. But this is in direct disobedience and rebellion against God’s commandment.

Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives [submit] to their own husbands in everything(Eph. 5:24)

For those who live and walk in the Spirit, we know that there is actually liberty in obeying God’s Word to submit to our husbands. Going into the marriage with reservations and holding back ourselves, and striving against our husbands could actually be a prison that we make for ourselves. When we willingly release ourselves in submission to our husbands, we usher in God’s approval, and hence, His favor, and everything flows easier.

This kind of submission doesn’t mean we must lose our voice. It means we honor our husbands by listening to them, respecting their decisions, opinions, and views, be led by them, and not usurp their authority.

This is God’s grand design for marriage.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

rina

The Place of Humility

RinaPeru's photo

RinaPeru's photo

I was wheeled into our newly-refurbished kitchen for the first time in many years, and besides my delight to see our old kitchen transformed into a more modern and sleek design, I felt dwarfed by the walls and cupboards. I was looking up to them whereas before, I was eye level to them.

I could not contain my pleasure for having been able to eat again in the island (more of a peninsula) of our kitchen after many years of being in and out of illness. But the great mercies of God which I have continuously seen at work in my life drive me to that place of being bowed down low, in trials or in victories, and poised to offer a profusion of sincerest thanksgiving.

In times of great joy as what I had felt the moment I sat in our kitchen, there is only remembrance of God’s enduring mercies and unfailing goodness, and words are never enough to thank Him even as I raised my hands in praise and worship. Later on when I was in our room, I knew that the cupboards seemed to have gone higher because I was sitting in my wheelchair, whereas before, many years ago, I stood in the kitchen while I worked.

Sitting low in my wheelchair and feeling dwarfed by the things around me serve as a constant reminder to stay in the place of humility. The Lord spent years teaching me humility. Those trying years saw me really grappling to walk alongside my Savior. He walked beside me, went before me, but always, He held me when I was about to fall and raised me up when I did fall flat on my face. He allowed all that – stumbling, falling, hurting myself, raising me up – so I could learn the important lesson of humility and total dependence on Him (yes, not on my own wisdom and strength), among other things, and be partaker of His holiness (Heb. 12:10).

You see, pride and being “Ms. High and Mighty” could be a “disability”. This could make a cripple out of a follower and the Lord is determined to do away with it. So, this follower was chastened to God’s satisfaction (I hope!) and learned to make my paths straight so that my “lameness” (or disability – pride, self-sufficiency, among other things) was healed (Heb. 12:12). That’s the way I looked at the whole process of learning and healing and becoming whole.

So, I did learn humility – the hard way. Victories sometimes attempt to displace me from my posture of humility and thanksgiving, but remembrance of God’s goodness and tender mercies drive me to earnest repentance and keep me rooted in that place of humility. It is always this:

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4)

The place of humility is a place of grace.

…be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5, emphasis added)

The posture of lowliness is the posture to receive grace upon grace. We received God’s amazing grace that moment when we fell down on our knees and humbled ourselves before Him. And we will receive the grace to illuminate His light and be used for His purposes as long as we stay in this place of humility, for humility precedes honor (Prov. 15:33, 18:12). I think about Mary and her exemplary life of lowliness coupled with quiet strength. This is something a servant of the Lord could emulate.

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My gratitude list ~ things I’m thankful to the Lord for:

7. Being able to eat in the dining table (peninsula) in our kitchen after many years.

8. The Lord Jesus’ faithfulness to draw me closer and remind me of His enduring mercies and goodness.

9. Precious lessons learned in my walk with my Savior-Redeemer.

10. The delights photography – lights, colors, shadows – brings!

11. The love, peace, joy, and unity in the family

12. Home improvements

13. Tidied up and decluttered cabinets – clean house!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

rina

Sanctuary

(Meditating on Psalm 84)

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
(Psalm 84:1-2)

One of the many things that I love about our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, is its offering of a 24/7 sanctuary. That is, a sanctuary for the weary soul and the sick body.

All over the country, there are outreach stations, pastoral houses and fasting houses where one could take refuge. These are not towering cathedrals, no, they are far from such. In fact, some outreach stations could be so bare with only curtains for walls, but these could be havens for anyone looking for rest, both for the soul and the flesh.

In these houses, the workers of the Lord’s vineyard praise and worship night and day, with fasting and prayers. Their soulful singing and worship invite the glory of the Lord, hence, though the place is not built with marble and hardwood or gilded columns, God’s anointing descends and imbues the worshipers with power from on high.

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah 
(v. 4)

I was one who ran to God’s sanctuary often. When my body was so sick and couldn’t seem to find the way to heal, I ran to this sanctuary. In fact, our whole family lived there for a season, in Pampanga Fasting House. I found great comfort in plunging myself at the feet of Jesus in His sanctuary, completely yielding myself to His mercy. I believed in His existence. I believed He sees and knows and moves among the children of men. I believed He heals. I had to believe and I did, with all my being. That’s why one afternoon when I thought I was breathing my last, I signalled for the one caring for me to call for the prayer warriors who were praying and fasting to pray for me. And even when I knew it could be my last breath, I was believing and surrendering, and He proved to me that He is real and true, faithful and unfailing.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 
(v. 5)

They go from strength to strength… (v. 7)

One can trust God in His sanctuary which is filled with His anointing and power. One can run into this place, not to gaze at the magnificent paintings and murals on the ceilings and walls for these are only found in cathedrals and basilicas, but to find solace for the soul and healing for the body.

This is what sanctuary really means.

It was where Sis. Dina and her dying daughter ran to when the doctors in the hospital could no longer do anything for Janna. They ran to the fasting house in Sauyo, Novaliches in Quezon City where praying and fasting sisters awaited them. And Sis. Dina, the fraught mother, found solace to her soul, and Janna found healing to her body.

When Sis. Sarah was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and she was told by the doctor that only surgery could prolong her life, she refused it but instead travelled to the same fasting house to find strength and solace there. And when her tumor broke open while she was travelling in public transport and blood leaked out of her blouse, she was determined to reach God’s sanctuary. And she arrived there where sisters in Christ ministered to her.

Like what I did in 2004 when I lived in Pampanga Fasting House, comforted day and night by constant praising and strengthened by prayers with fasting, so did Sis. Sarah. She lived in God’s sanctuary until the day the Lord brought down His healing upon her, and she rose up from her sick bed.

And there are still many who run to God’s sanctuary to take refuge there, at any time of day or night. This is declared in their testimonies. I can’t possibly mention each one.

God is real and He makes known His power among men. The kingdom of God has come near to [us] (Luke 10:9). It is manifested through His amazing testimonies.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(v. 11)

Read in full the testimonies mentioned above:

To read more of God’s amazing testimonies, click here.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

Going Back to the Well

I lie long and silent on the sofa, back flat on the sturdy surface, as my weary flesh throbs away the rigors of the day. It has been a rather long and struggle-filled day. As silence finally settles in our home with only the faint sound of my husband’s praising in the guest room, I have time to think and pray some more. Pray silently over and over. For even though the weary flesh and mind shout rest, there is this desire to draw still closer to the Lord Jesus.

In the midst of seeming lack of clarity, we really cannot afford to be apart from Him who gives light.

There could be various things that could bear down on one’s soul. I’m particularly wearied by household challenges that involve maids who lack self-discipline. Maids whom I share the Gospel with but remain unmoved, indifferent, and therefore continue in their ways which are so different from ours. At times this gets me and my husband into unavoidable conflict and disagreement because he just wants to consider the necessity of having maids, what with my need of assistance and our whole household to tend. But for me, I just want maids who are devoted to their work, who sincerely care for the welfare of the household and the people they serve.

Sometimes I get frustrated that these daily challenges encroach into my spiritual quiet, provoke me and even bring me to a place of weariness and discouragement. Often, my soul shouts, wanting me to be fully well so I could manage and tend our household myself.

It is past midnight and I am here lying on the sofa trying to find a solution to all this, all the weariness making me as still as a log. Questions flood my mind but the warmth and comfort from the faithful Lord that are slowly enveloping my tired body don’t escape my notice. He whispers gently, He touches the exhaustion away, and I stop analyzing and just say deep in my heart and mind, “I love You, my Jesus; I love You, my Lord” over and over.

In the silence, when one’s tired mind and body are ready to succumb to rest, He whispers His love and comfort and the soul is restored. 

…he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul… (Psalm 23:2,3)

Why do we sometimes find ourselves near to unravelling, succumbing to bitter conflicts, painful discouragements and self-pity? I’ve heard others who even have lost their spiritual fervor.

My husband gently stirs me up. He’s done praising and he will carry me to bed. As he lifts me up in his arms, a still small voice speaks in my heart, “I’ve given you all you need so you’ll never be thirsty. Remember what I had given you at the well. It is all you need. It is flowing freely, eternally. You might have forgotten to drink and fill yourself up to overflowing. Come. Come again and drink freely.”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13, emphasis added)

Yes! Yes! Yes! How could we have forgotten? We may praise, worship, pray, and read the Bible everyday but we forget to wield the power of the Spirit! Sometimes we get into praise weary and come out of it weary still, forgetting to drink up and fill up all our vacant places to overflowing. Or maybe sometimes, we enter into praise with our minds busy with other things and come out of it almost not being able to contain and control the many plans that fill up our minds.

We go through weaknesses and weariness because we let our minds forget the power of the Spirit that the Lord has given us and what it can mightily do to our lives. We forget because we let the enemy stimulate our minds with other things, things of this world  - the Internet, social media, worldly pleasures, etc. Others become passionate with their jobs, careers, and businesses more than with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

But the fountain of living waters should be more powerful than any discord, discouragement, disappointment, self-pity, grief. It should bring more fire and passion than any job, career, or any other pursuit could. That is, if we let it flow in us freely and not block or choke it. Apostle Paul warned, “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19) and “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).

The Lord is that “Fountain of Living Waters” (Jer. 17:13). All other sources are “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). No wonder, even when one keeps on drinking in (not God’s light and living waters) what one thinks could fill, one remains thirsty and empty.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

Faith that Works Through Love

Every time I read something about the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and the imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (like the book I’m reading now, Maranatha: Our Lord, Come) or hear news that a brother or sister in Christ has gone to be with the Lord, I have this instinctive desire to do more for Christ and it’s basically triggered by fear. But always instantaneously with the thought are these questions, “Why would you want to do that? You want to make sure that you will be saved? You want to do more just so you will be assured of salvation?” And even before the questions are complete, I know that to even think to do more to make sure I receive God’s promised salvation is misunderstanding God’s grace altogether.

I know there’s no way I can work for and earn my salvation; the Lord Jesus has completed the work for me. So, that checked, how can these reminders minister to me? It is not to do more to make sure I will be saved, but to be more faithful to my Savior, to burrow myself deeper into Him. For it is my faith which keeps me attached to Him. For to be far from Him, let alone be cut off from Him, would spell death for me. For it is faith in Him that has saved me. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

So, what I can do is to prove my faithfulness to Him. When I seek Him more with all my heart and spend more time in His presence, I’m being faithful to Him. When I do my best to obey His commands, honor them, and live them out in my daily life, I’m being faithful to Him. When I desire Him to expand and grow my love for others, so that I delight to think about the welfare of the widow and the fatherless, to the “least of these”, and do something for them, I’m being faithful to Him.

It is my faithfulness to Him that drives me to do more, and it has become clear to me that I can only prove that faithfulness through my love.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love(Gal. 5:6, emphasis added)

Faith that works through love.

It took two full years before I got a good grasp of it. For faith without works is dead (James 2:20). And the greatest faith is rendered as nothing without love.

…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)

So, it is a trio:

FAITH that WORKS through LOVE.

Now I understand fully why our dearly beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda would want to leave the comforts of home and the congregation of the saints and enter into the “lions’ den”, the camp of the most feared terrorist group in the country, the Abu Sayyaf, to preach the Gospel, pray for the sick hostages, and help with their safe release.

It was great FAITH that WORKED through unfeigned LOVE; fearless faith proven through fervent love for the Lord and for the unsaved. He loves the Lord so much he would obey Him and follow Him to the ends of the earth. Halleluiah! To God be the glory!

And I think about beloved Brother Alvin Flores, one of the prayer warriors who went with the beloved pastor in that most dangerous peace mission, as he went to be with the Lord just three nights ago. Together with his companions, he experienced the horrors of being in the constant presence of the enemy; escaped at night without the light of the moon and stars, in danger of wild beasts and falling into deep ravines; stayed on the ground with his knees deeply rooted in prayer as bombs fell from military planes, cutting down trees and turning over the earth in their wake.

Their faith saw them through that 3-month ordeal and came out of it unharmed. Faith that was not without love. And it is this faith that was proven through love that Brother Alvin finally laid at his Savior’s feet as he saw Him at last.

Related posts:

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My gratitude list ~ the things I am thankful to the Lord for:

(For over a year now, I have been joining Ann in sharing my one thousand gifts list, but I haven’t been numbering mine. I believed that my weekly list was just a small fraction of God’s daily gifts and to number them would be putting a limit to the rather COUNTLESS blessings. But today, I will start to number them, but write only the ones that may edify and encourage others, leaving the rest written on my heart).
  1. For another evening out with the family (another “travel test”); relishing these healing moments from the Lord.
  2. For the loving support and patience of my beloved husband; he is one with me in stepping into faith at this time of our life.
  3. For the love of my daughter Hannah, quietly receiving her little brother’s hostilities and punches inside our parked car just so I wouldn’t be stressed while their dad went into the restaurant.
  4. For Tim always wanting to sit beside me when I go out to the garden.
  5. For Thursday night which found me praising, worshiping, and weeping before God; weeping in deep gratitude for His enduring mercies – how can the soul forget?
  6. For brethren welcoming fellow Christians from the states, embracing and showing brotherly love. Blessed to see the wondrous sight!
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

God Causes Them to Know Him

(Meditating on Psalm 83)

Psalm 83 speaks of Israel’s prayer to God to confound those who conspire against her. But how can we apply some of the verses of Psalm 83 in our present-day lives? We’ll consider this:

So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.
16 Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.  

That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth. 
(Psalm 83:15,16,18)

I would like to use these verses in a positive way: that God pursues them whose evil deeds have multiplied and overflowed. That He pursues them with the “tempest” of His purposes and frightens them with the “storm” of His punishment. That He is determined to frustrate their schemes and confound their evil plans, that they may be put to shame and be greatly dismayed. So that they will know Him and turn to Him.

On the other hand, we know also that the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10a), and God may allow him to carry out his work, then use it for His purposes and turn it into victory in the end. So that, behind the calamity, we might find life and have it to the full (John10:10b).

Such is the moving story of Bro. Eric Fajardo, a former policeman who lived in depravity, but there came a time that he reaped what he had sown. The day he thought he would be honored in a town’s important occasion where he was the guest speaker turned out to be the darkest day of his life. He brought along his family for he wanted them to witness this special event in his life. But before he could even set foot on stage, there was a bomb blast followed by indiscriminate firing. When the smoke subsided and Bro. Eric could see clearly, he saw his whole family sprawled on the ground, bloodied and lifeless.

Read more of Bro. Eric Fajardo’s testimony here.

I believe that God causes us to cease from committing evil by allowing calamities (maybe in the form of illnesses, suffering, heart-wrenching problems, etc.) to come upon us so “that [we] may know that [He], whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (v. 18) and turn to Him and surrender our lives to Him.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

Hope for the Smudged and Broken

My father was an artist. I remember vividly one evening when I was in grade school that he came home drunk. He had been working on a special project for our town’s celebration every summer called AgRo (the exact words these letters represented escape me, but AgRo was like an expo of various agricultural products, native arts and crafts). His project was a set of pitcher and half-dozen mugs sitting on a tray all made entirely of bamboo. For hours on end, he patiently polished the bamboo pieces until they were shiny and smooth. After that, he painted on each one a cluster of bamboo trees.

When he left the house that afternoon, he had finished painting all the pieces and meticulously set them on their bamboo tray to dry. But a neighbor, his old buddy, who came from Manila came to our house and saw my father’s work. He held and examined them, admiring each piece, as my mother and I watched.

When my father arrived that night, he saw at once the paint smudges on his bamboo project. He knew there was no way to repair them. He was so dismayed that in great feeling of frustration, he shoved the whole tray from off the table and all the pieces fell on the floor. My mother and I were shocked. When he left, I saw his pained expression. I felt for him. Slowly, my mother and I began to pick up the pieces and mended the broken handles with wood glue.

After almost four decades later, I would come to know, really know, another Father. But instead of seeing Him greatly dismayed with me – covered in miry clay and all broken – He mercifully and lovingly picked me up, mended my broken parts and healed my wounds.

How could something that is covered with filth and with a heart and body so broken it couldn’t function properly be transformed into a thing that radiates the beauty and light of its Creator? But that is how the mercy of my Father in heaven works in a terribly messed-up life like mine was.

His workings are all so wondrous. But why doesn’t everybody see that? Why don’t the smudged, the wounded, the broken run to Him to be recreated, to become new – a new creation? These are the things that I saw:

  • One cannot see the truth in one’s life

One has been completely blinded by Satan’s lie that one believes one’s life is good, all good. I have two female friends who live as a couple, and by the world’s standards, they are blessed abundantly – health, finances, happiness – that their favorite line is “God is good!” To be in the belief that God blesses and favors those who do not obey His Word and follow after righteousness is a very dangerous thing. For it would be more difficult to make them un-believe the lie.

  • One cannot believe that God can forgive and change him or her

A testimony was shared to me by a sister in Christ whose mother-in-law asked her doubtfully when she told her about  the Gospel of salvation, “Can God forgive my sins?” (Her mother-in-law had committed abortion many times due to poverty. In the Philippines, one need not go to the doctor to have an abortion).

But God forgives anyone who comes to Him and repents and receives the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. This is His promise:

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool. 
(Is. 1:18 NLT)

The mother-in-law believed and plunged herself at Jesus’ feet, repenting and humbling herself. She was made into a new creation – sanctified and clothed with righteousness.

Endnotes:

  • Read more of my testimony here.
  • Know the keys of salvation here.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,