I’m back to blogging. But I’m just not sure how regular I can blog. Ministry has been more busier than ever. I’ll be asking for your prayers.

It’s been years since I was really moved by the resurrection of Christ. No other event or doctrine has moved me than this one. I deeply agree with Lecrae’s words in Don’t Waste Your Life: “Paul said if Christ ain’t resurrected we’ve wasted our lives.” I don’t want a wasted life! Nobody does!

Lately, I got to think about my calling as a full-time church/youth worker. While I’m enjoying it, I can’t deny that it is becoming more and more challenging. (I once wrote about my discouragement in the ministry.) Here are some of the realities that I face in full-time ministry:

  • Ministry growth comes with increasing organizational challenges and pastoral responsibilities.
  • Of course, there are still those times when the ministry becomes stagnant.
  • I still deal with people who are “extra grace required” (EGR).
  • When people need my help, they come to me. But when times are good, they usually don’t remember me. (Is it just me?)
  • It’s such a thankless job!

Then I got to think about the resurrection again. If it’s not real, then I’m wasting all my time, energies, and resources for the ministry. Paul says it best:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain19If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:14, 19, emphases mine)

But I’m thankful that the resurrection is real! My calling, my ministry, and even my life aren’t wasted. And because it’s real, I can be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [my] labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Because of the resurrection, my calling is never in vain! To the resurrected King Jesus be glory forever and ever!

It’s almost a month since “Starting Over Again” hit the theaters. The mania must be gone by now. So let me finish my blog series with one more manhood lesson from the movie. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series.) And let me sound another spoiler alert.

Starting Over Again Manhood Lessons from Starting Over Again (Part 3)

Actually, the last lesson isn’t really on manhood; it’s for women as well. But since men are the leaders in relationships, I’ll be directing this blog on them (as I did in the past two blogs).

In one of the scenes, Marco Villanueva (Piolo Pascual) had sexual contact with his beloved Ginny Gonzales (Toni Gonzaga). The problem is they’re not married yet. Again, Marco is not setting us (men) a good example.

Let’s take a look on what the Bible says about sex and sex before marriage. There are lots of things the Bible says about sex. But let me show you a few. First, we have to understand that God created sex (“by him all things were created”—Colossians 1:16). Therefore it is good (“everything created by God is good”—1 Timothy 4:4). Also, God designed sex to be enjoyed by a husband and a wife. God commanded our first parents Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and [to] multiply and [to] fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). He gave this commandment to a married heterosexual couple.

However, sin distorted it. After the Fall, when our first parents first sinned, sin distorted everything including sex. That’s why there are now various kinds of sexual perversion, including adultery, homosexual intercourse, and of course, pre-marital sex (PMS).

Clearly, PMS is forbidden, for sex is reserved for married heterosexual couples. The Bible gives us lots of command to avoid sexual immorality (including PMS). Examples include Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Colossians 3:5, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13, among many others.

In his book Religion Saves, Mark Driscoll follows the pattern of the Bible and advises single men (and women) not to have sexual contact until marriage. He writes some wise words:

[S]ingle Christians are prone to ask where the line is. That question is sinful because it is asking how to get closer to sin rather than closer to Jesus. The Bible says, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality [Ephesians 5:3 NIV].” Paul says elsewhere that a single man should not touch any woman in any sexual way [1 Corinthians 7:1]. The issue is not where the line is, but, as Song of Solomon often says, when the time is. That time is the covenant of marriage. Until then, the New Testament repeatedly says to avoid porneia, that junk-drawer term for all kinds of sexual sin. As my friend John Piper often says, by God’s grace and the Spirit’s power, “theology can conquer biology.” A marriage must be built on the worship of God so that spiritual intimacy can enable all other intimacy, such as mental, emotional, physical, and sexual, without shame and without sin.1

Single men, don’t engage into sexual relations with someone who is not (yet) your wife. Wait for the right time, that is when you’re married. I was always hard on Marco and I will again be for the last time: Don’t be like him!

1Mark Driscoll, Religion Saves (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 197-198.

Last week, I started a blog series about the manhood lessons I got from the romantic blockbuster, “Starting Over Again”. In the first installment, I talked about how Marco Villanueva (played by Piolo Pascual) failed to win the respect of his girlfriend, Ginny Gonzales (Toni Gonzaga). I also encouraged men (husbands and aspiring husbands) not to be like Marco and to be worthy of respect from women (their wives or their wives-to-be). Today, I’ll be sharing another lesson. And again, I’ll issue a spoiler alert.

Starting Over Again Manhood Lessons from Starting Over Again (Part 2)

In the beginning of the story, the architecture student Ginny had a big crush on his then-professor Marco. She’d do whatever it takes to get noticed by her crush. She was aggressive! Eventually, her hard work paid off. Marco agreed to be her boyfriend.

It appears that there is a role-reversal here. Instead of Marco pursuing Ginny, it was the other way around. But men, being the leaders in the relationships, should initiate; women will simply respond. Mark Driscoll writes:

Because the Bible repeatedly states that the husband is to be the loving and leading head of the family, any romantic relationship should begin with the man taking initiative to kindly and respectfully request an opportunity to get to know the woman better.1

Now you might say that there is no explicit command in the Bible that says that men should initiate. But before you dismiss this idea, I want you to consider Christ’s marriage to His bride—the church. There is nothing worthy in His bride. Yet, He pursued it. He “loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Talk about taking initiative! As followers of Jesus, we must image His marriage to His bride.

I hope this is clear. But there is a problem, which Driscoll points out: “Too many Christian men are too timid and need to have more courage to risk rejection in their pursuit of a wife.”1 Sadly, I agree with him (I hope I’m not one of those guys). I guess Marco was afraid to risk rejection and so seized the opportunity that there was an aggressive Ginny waiting on him.

Men, don’t be like Marco. Initiate, take risks, and be prepared for rejection (that’s life!). (For a related discussion, see my blogs Men as Risk-Takers Part 1 and Part 2.)

PS I’m thinking of writing a blog answering the question, “What would I do if there’s a ‘Ginny’ around me?” Just keep in touch.

1Mark Driscoll, Religion Saves (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 194.

Last Monday, I got to watch ABS-CBN’s news broadcast Bandila, which reported a “mysterious” flesh-eating disease breaking out in Pangasinan. Soon, netizens were uploading related posts on Facebook and the hasthag #PrayForPangasinan trended on Twitter. The newscast should be releasing a part 2 of the report, connecting the outbreak to a “prophecy.” (Unfortunately, I did not see. But a report says it was changed.) However, the report turns out to be a hoax, as the provincial health officer stated.

Honestly, I was really bothered by the report…in a bad way. I felt something’s fishy is going on (and the reports proved my doubts right). Let me share some of my thoughts. Allow me to be organized:

1. I believe (and all of us should) in the authority of Scripture, which is also inerrant and infallible. Therefore, we must be careful towards people who claim to have a “prophecy from God.” In fact, 1 John 4:1 exhorts us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Scripture alone has the final “say.”1

2. The “prophecy” came from Indian “prophet” and Jesus Ministries founder Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj. (And I’m not familiar with him. It’s actually my first time to hear of him. Let me do some further research.) According to Selvaraj, the disease, along with other illnesses, typhoons, and famines, will come if people don’t repent and pray. Well, the call to repentance has long been established (see Luke 13:3 & 5, and also consider its context). Though calamities and epidemics are powerful reminders for the need of repentance and revival, they are actually not needed in order for people to repent. With or without them, people should repent of their sin and rebellion towards our holy and sovereign God. (That’s why we are doing evangelism and discipleship, for in them we are calling people to repentance and we see a lifestyle of repentance. And we should do this even without calamities or outbreaks.)

3. I really can’t tell what could be the motive behind the report. During the headlines, Bandila reported the news using the hashtag #MisteryosongSakitSaBandila. Furthermore, they divided the report into two, with the second one to be shown the following day. (Again, I wasn’t able to see it. When I was searching the station’s Web site, the whole report was even removed.)

I hope my thoughts will make you think.

1Speaking of prophecies, I really am still caught up with the spiritual gifts or cessationist-versus-continuationist debate. (And I really don’t want to go deeper into that topic now.) Like many of us, I’m also a student of the Word. For now, I stand with what my church generally believes—that some gifts (tounges, prophecy, etc.) still exist, but must be exercised within biblical boundaries. I guess that’s a continuationist stand, or moderate cessationist if I’m not mistaken.

I’m back to blogging. The last time I posted was back in January. And yes, I missed the Valentine’s week. You might be wondering why I passed a strategic week for my blog. Well, I had a busy ministry schedule so I chose not to blog for a while (February is also a strategic month for youth ministries). But don’t worry; I’m now making up for it. Anyway…

A week ago, I watched the romantic-movie-turned-instant-blockbuster, “Starting Over Again” (the film earned P200M in just five days!). A good mix of comedy and drama, it tells the story of a professor-turned-chef, Marco Villanueva (played by Piolo Pascual), and his girlfriend, Ginny Gonzales (Toni Gonzaga).

Starting Over Again Manhood Lessons from Starting Over Again

I never thought that I will be able to mine manhood lessons from the movie. Now, I’m sharing the first one here (watch out for the other lessons in the following weeks). I’m also sounding a spoiler alert. I’ll be talking about some parts of the movie, so I might spoil the movie for you. I’ll do my best not to give too much away.

One memorable scene from the movie is that of Marco’s wedding proposal to Ginny. Unfortunately, he got rejected. To make matters worse, Ginny left for Barcelona without saying goodbye or giving an explanation.

When fate allowed the two to cross paths again, Marco got his explanation. He finally learned the “acceptable reason” he so deserved. So what was Ginny’s answer? She began to see her father in him. Her father, as she described, was a talunan (defeated) and mahina ang loob (weak-spirited).

Okay, I don’t agree with Ginny leaving Marco just like that. But I think there’s an important lesson here. Men are called to be the leaders in relationships. In a marriage, husbands are called to be the lovers and leaders (Ephesians 5:25; see also v. 23), while wives are to submit and respect (vv. 22-24). But if the husbands (or aspiring husbands) are not worthy of respect, how can we expect their wives (or future/potential wives) to respect them? (Of course, wives must submit or give respects regardless of their husbands’ “respectability.” But I also believe that husbands should work hard to make themselves worthy of respect.)

It appears that Ginny subtly lost admiration for Marco. She had a hard time following his leadership.

In his excellent book Religion Saves (see my review here), Mark Driscoll advises single men to aspire for a wife who will follow their leadership. He wisely writes:

Since the Bible calls you to lovingly and sacrificially lead your family, you need to have a wife who follows your leadership. This means she agrees with your theology, trusts your decision-making, appreciates the other men you surround yourself with for counsel, and also respects the way you seek her input and invite her counsel as you make decisions. If she does not naturally follow your leadership, you can be sure that if you marry, there will be frequent conflict.1

So husbands (and aspiring ones), don’t be like a Marco! Work hard to make yourself worthy of respect from your wives (or future wives).

1Mark Driscoll, Religion Saves (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 198-199.