Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Prince Charming or A King Leading?

In the 2014 Walt Disney movie “Into the Woods,” there was an interesting scene and exchange of dialogue that captured my attention. This is after Cinderella learned of her Prince’s infidelity. Here’s the dialogue:

Cinderella's Prince: My love, why so cold?
Cinderella: Maybe it's because I am not your only love. Am I?
Cinderella's Prince: I love you. I do. But yes, it's true.
Cinderella: Why, if you love me, would you have strayed?
Cinderella's Prince: I thought if you were mine, that I could not wish for more. And part of me is content and as happy as I have ever been. But there remains a part that continually needs more.
Cinderella: I have, on occasion, wanted more. But that doesn't mean I went in search of it. If this is how you behave as a Prince, what kind of King will you be?
Cinderella's Prince: I was raised to be charming, not sincere. I didn't ask to be born a king, and I'm not perfect. I am only human.

We often tease a brother in our group about his pogi (handsome) problems. But I think that if men would be honest enough to confess, I think that most men, if not every men, will say that they have pogi problems as well. If men are not raised to be charming, they will assume that characteristic and project that they are charming. And each moment a girl looks at them or treat them nicely, they’d say to themselves, “Ang pogi ko talaga! (I’m really handsome/charming!)”

Like Cinderella, in this movie, a woman would want to have a man who can lead. Look at the question of Cinderella, “What kind of King will you be?” We can project to be charming all we want but it there is a limit to physical attraction. There’s an expectation beyond being charming. A sister told me and two other brothers that a man who can lead is what they’re really after. The Cinderellas we seek, after all, may be looking for a king who can lead, who can protect, who is wise and who is sincere. But men are not just to be sincere. They are to be pure.
Cinderella's Prince said, “I thought if you were mine, that I could not wish for more. And part of me is content and as happy as I have ever been. But there remains a part that continually needs more.”

Men, we are to be content and not wish for more. A man may be tied with responsibilities to his parents and/or siblings that’s why he can’t pursue a woman in courtship. But it could also be that he hasn’t given up on the idea that he might still find the “right” woman. And I mean that he hasn’t found yet the prettiest, the loveliest and the sexiest. A man may be fine with the woman he is considering to pursue but he hasn’t crossed the line of making a clear cut decision that he will really court her. Why? Because he might make the “wrong” decision. A wrong decision of not pursuing the prettiest, the loveliest, the sexiest, the easiest to get along with, the wittiest and the list goes on with all of the superlatives into it.

If having a trophy wife is much important to you than giving importance to the will of God in your life, then I think it’s high time you reorient your life to what God wants. If you are a man, then pursue the woman you like as long as it is in the Lord. Saturate your mind with Scriptures and orient your standards to that of the Scriptures.

I don’t have much to say with women. But here’s a confession. Men often thinks that what you really want is prince who will sweep you off your feet. That you want the charming prince. That you want the prince with a castle. That you want the prince with a fancy carriage. That you want the prince that will bring you to the ball and fancy dinner treats. That you want a prince that can bring to a far, faraway land. And so we shy away because we are not too handsome. We are not too charming. We are so dull and boring. We can just rent an apartment. We can just ride the jeepney. We can only afford the food in the carinderia (eatery) across our church. We can just bring you to Luneta Park or sort.

To be continued…

Confronting Sin: How I Express Love for My Church Family (Part 3)

Part 1 Part 2 

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father,” Paul told Timothy. An older man in sin must be approached with respect. An older man would be approached as one would go to his own father. Paul did not specifically mention the age bracket of the older man here but the word presbyteros (πρεσβύτερος) in this context does not refer to the office elders but to the general category of older men. Since I initially established that my intention is to address the singles, I would direct my exhortation and questions to ourselves.

What will you do if you become aware that an older man is sinning? How do you treat the guys in the church with gray hairs? Have you encouraged them by sending a verse from the Bible? Have you asked them to be your prayer partner? Do you seek their counsel? Do you try even to get out of your way and out of your comfort zone to know a senior male member of your church? Or are you just so caught up with your activities with your friends? There so much to learn from this group of people. They have so much story to tell because of their long experience in life. They have witnessed a lot of events that they can help you navigate through life. They may even be a source of wisdom how a single man should court a single woman. They are our “fathers.” If your earthly father is not a Christian, do you take advantage of seeking the counsel of the older Christian men in the church? Do you even consider of getting to know personally your senior pastor?

Next, “Treat younger men as brothers.” Paul used the word adelphos (ἀδελφός) for the word brother. This signifies that both of you came from the same womb, may it be in a literal or figurative sense. There is no superior or inferior ranking here. There is no hierarchy because the word signifies equality. So our treatment with our brothers is with humility. You are not to hate a brother in your heart (Leviticus 19:17). You are to restore a brother caught in transgression in gentleness (Galatians 6:1). Why would we do this humility? The same verse explains that we could end up tempted by the same thing that caught them. For example, you learn of brother who fell in to sexual sin. What would you do? What would you say? In our fallen nature, we have this tendency to say in heart, “Why would he do that? He should know better. I will not commit fornication.” Be careful. You may be the next one to fall because of your arrogant pride. Every men in the church is your “brother.” You may have a brother who came from the same mother. But you also have brothers who born of the Spirit (John 3:6).

Consider the instruction in 1 Thessalonians 3:6 to keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and does not live according to the tradition received from the apostles. We are not to associate with them as verse 14 so that he will be ashamed of his sinful deeds. However, they are not to be considered an enemy in verse 15 but to be admonished as brothers. They are to be reproved warned or reproved gently. Do you see yourself as your brother’s keeper?

Third, “older women as mothers.” Would you use words to strike or beat the mother who gave birth to you when you confront her with her sin? Would you be harsh, unkind and ungracious? You would probably exercise great care, gentleness and love as you confront. Paul provided an example how he confronted two women who assisted him in his gospel ministry. In Philippians 4:1-3 Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Look at how he establish his authority to call the attention of two women who are in disagreement. Read verse 1. He provided the context of love and gentleness. Then he urged them. Paul again used the word parakaleo, which means to come along side. He further instructed his true companion or yokefellow to help Euodia and Syntyche. He reminds him that these women are fellow workers, whom he cares and love. These women have worked with him for the gospel but they are in sin that they need to deal with.

How have you been an encouragement or support to an older women in the church? How have you served the widow? The single mom?

Lastly, “and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Observe that this is the only one among the four groups he mentioned wherein he added the statement “with absolute purity.” I just finished reading the book of Leviticus and there so many instructions and commands to uphold sexual purity. In chapters 18-20, women’s purity are particularly highlighted. There’s so many do’s and don’ts. Bottom line, sexual purity is upheld because God the Lord is our God. You have a problem with pursuing sexual purity? You deal with God. Upholding purity is first and foremost in dealing with younger women regardless if you are dealing with a sin issue or you are just establishing a friendly relation.

Sexual sin is so complex and there is so much perversion with sex. God have laid down already specific rules to maintain sexual purity but man is sickly depraved that purity is not honored. More so, the God, who gave these rules, is not honored. One of the things that God forbids is incest. Again, the church is a family. If you feel a sense of disgust with incest and you feel sick with it, then bear in mind that you may have well commit such sin in your heart if you have looked with a woman in the church with lustful intent (Matthew 5:28). MacArthur said, “That is what is so corrupt and so heinous and so wicked about a [man] who goes to deal with a young woman and wants to help her grow spiritually and ultimately commits sin with her, he has committed spiritual incest by violating the family in the spiritual dimension.”

Evange-ligaw, date-scipleship and the like seems funny. But it’s not a laughing matter if you do them. You will bring disgrace to yourself and you dishonor the name of God. The purity of our sisters in the church must be maintained at all costs. The NIV renders pasē (πάσῃ) as absolute. I like how absolute was used because there’s a sense that it is non-negotiable. Purity is non-negotiable. We can come alongside with women in the church and encourage them to godliness and to holiness but with the absolute sense that their purity is upheld.

I had a talk with a brother about his thoughts on sexual purity. He had a previous discussion with someone who is not a Christian. He was asked why would a man be prevented or prohibited from expressing his love for his girlfriend. If they are committed to each other in their relationship, would a kiss at the back of the hand or smack in the cheeks be wrong? He answered that it is wrong since the man is not yet in a marriage relationship with the woman. Regardless if they are committed to each other, they are not married. Any activity that is reserved for the man and woman in marriage to do is not to be done outside of marriage. You do those things and you steal something that is intimately intended for a brother who will become her husband.

MacArthur provided some counsel from Proverbs how to deal with a young woman. These are areas where man are highly susceptible.

1. Avoid the look - Nor let her capture you with her eyelids (Proverbs 6:25b, NASB).
2. Avoid the flattery - from the smooth talk of a wayward woman (Proverbs 6:24b, NIV).
3. Avoid the thoughts - Do not desire her beauty in your heart (Proverbs 6:25a, NASB). Don’t cultivate a lingering thought pattern in your heart focusing on a woman that is not your wife.
4. Avoid the rendezvous - Avoid situations where only the two of you would end being together (Proverbs 7).
5. Avoid the touch - So she seizes him and kisses him (Proverbs 7:13a. NASB). Don’t be pretentious that a slight brush of the skin from a woman does not cause nuerophysical symptoms in your body.

Janelle Bradshaw counsels a young girl from this verse that if the men are going to treat the women as sisters in all purity, then women must act like sisters in purity. Men, do you treat your female friends as you would treat your sisters (or female kin)? Women, do you treat your male friends as you would treat your brothers (or male kin)? Single men and women, are you walking in absolute purity toward those of the opposite sex? Is your motive in conversing with others and pursuit of relationships marked by purity or is God-honoring?

This seems restrictive and it sounds like having friendship with the opposite sex is wrong. I would argue against such idea. If you are in the church and you are in really submitting to accountability and godly counsel, I’d be sure that you can navigate in building relationship others with much liberty in the Lord. If both single men and women are committed to purity and they are committed to pursuing godliness and biblical maturity, they would be a blessing to each other as brothers and sisters and not just as friends. Protecting the heart, by the way, is a mutual effort.

A further exhortation to men, women are not images but they are image bearers, as Ed Stetzer pointed. Get a real relationship and not a reel relationship. Grow up and stop consuming porn. Grow up and stop acting like a boy. Grow up and act like men (1 Corinthians 16:3).

Men and women, does your desire to compromise purity more than your desire to glorifying God? Are you willing to trade covenant benefits of purity with covenant security of marriage? Are your pursuits of relationship magnify Christ? Does your relationships adorn the gospel?

Confronting Sin: How I Express Love for My Church Family (Part 2)

Part 1

The church is was redeemed by Christ. The church is His bride. His bride will one day be presented perfect before Him. It is said in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

The church, the family of believers, is to be holy and blameless. God wants his family to be holy and blameless. He wants to eliminate sin in His own family. There is a need to confront sin. Here in 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Paul gave instructions to Timothy how to deal with the sins of four group of people: the older men, the younger men, the older women and the younger women. I think it is often time thought that confrontation of sin happens when the sin is already quite obvious or blatant. Confrontation becomes a curative or remedial effort. But I think that conformation of sin should also preventive. I hope I could elaborate more on this as I proceed.

In our culture, confronting others is a difficult task. But whatever is cultural should submit to what is biblical or scriptural. The authority of the Word of God should supersede all cultural biases or inclination. So how is it done?

It is to be done with authority. Titus 2:15 says, “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” This is done not necessarily because you are in a position of authority. But you are doing it with courage and with determination. One is able to settle issues judiciously. I think one who has trained himself in the Word of God is one who could practice this well because he is coming with the authority of the Scriptures.

It is to be done with severity. Titus 1:13 says, “This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith.” The word “severely” has the meaning of abruptness and sharpness in the original language. Confrontation of sin means cutting to the issue the best way possible. I have experienced in the past that there’s a tendency to delay or to procrastinate in confronting others in sin. There’s a tendency to think, “Oh, he will come to his senses eventually.” Or say, “He’s old enough to know what’s right and wrong.” We even excuse ourselves and say, “I’ll just pray for her.” A person in sin has already a warped sense of what is right and wrong. Even a Christian would twist verses in the Bible to justify his or her sin. So don’t be lazy and don’t be naïve.

It is to be done with great patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” It has to be done in words. We talk to the person. It is not done by insinuating or innuendos. Teaching or doctrine must be used to confront of others of their sins. One has point others to the majesty and holiness of God. One has to point others to the sinfulness of man. One has to point others to the grace of God. One has to point others to the futility of self-made righteousness and sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. One has to point others to the sufficiency of the Word of God. One has to point others to the gospel.

In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Paul is saying to Timothy, “When you are going to confront the sin of an older man, an older woman, a younger man or a younger woman, do not rebuke but exhort.” Paul said, “Do not rebuke.” Rebuke hear means chastisement, to strike upon or to beat upon. It implies harshness and violence. It’s like beating someone with blows from a fist (imagine being punched by Pacquiao) or beaten by hammer (of Thor). But instead of a fist or a hammer, you use words to strike or beat others. It’s something we might call a verbal abuse. So this the reason for the prohibition.

Remember that you are dealing with a family member. Remember the words attached to it, like care and love. Let me note also that Paul is writing to Timothy, a young pastor of Ephesus. We don’t know if he’s married or single. So although this is an instructive letter how this young pastor should shepherd his church, the instructions resonates so much truth that can be applied by anyone who wants to grow in his or her church life.

Paul instructed Timothy, “Exhort him.” The verb here is parakaleo (παρακαλέω) and it means to call near or to call to one’s side. It is translated “exhort” in NIV and RSV, “encourage” in ESV, “appeal” in NASB, “intreat” in KJV. Since the original language means that this act is done by calling or coming alongside, the word “encourage” or “strengthen” seems more appropriate. The imagery is two persons walking together side by side. Both person that encourages and person that needs encouragement is walking side by side. It’s not like the encourager is pulling from the front or pushing from behind the one being encouraged.

Like what I’ve said, confrontation is quite often a curative or remedial task. The sinful problem have already arisen and we take measures to redeem or restore a sinning brother or sister. But confrontation can be preventive. If every minister of the Word would labor to admonish every church member and teaching every believer with all wisdom and strive or struggle to perform such task in the power of Christ (Colossians 1:28-29). If every believer would appreciate those who diligently labor, who have charge over them, who instructs them in preaching and teaching and would obey their leaders and submit to them (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 1 Timothy 5:17 and Hebrews 13:17). If all members would really think about themselves as individual members of one another (Romans 12:15). If everyone would constantly encourage one another and build one another up (I Thessalonians 5:11).

If these things are done by church members… by family members, what do you think the church would be like? What do you think how the life of each would be like in light of their calling to be faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ? I think there would be less and less until none would have to stand up before a congregation of believers confessing their sins in shame and regret.

To be continued…

Confronting Sin: How I Express Love for My Church Family (Part 1)

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

- 1 Timothy 5:1-2, NIV

Introduction

I initially got struck with this verse regarding how single men and women ought to behave toward each other, especially in the context of the church. I was challenged to unpack it a bit more for me to understand the context of the verse. I discovered that there’s so much wealth that can be uncovered in this verse. It provides wisdom to guide a believer how he or she should conduct himself or herself.

There are many metaphors and analogies that will describe the church. We have the body and the temple to mention a few. But there is one imagery that beautifully depicts the relationship of Christians that emphasizes common love. This is the image of a family. Our lives are bound together in an intimate loving relationship through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The image of a family conveys a lot more. It speaks of privilege. It speaks of intimacy. It speaks of care. It speaks of comfort. It speaks of protection. It speaks of honesty. It speaks of transparency. It speaks of love. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Love for others is one of the marks of a true believer and follower of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John MacArthur said that love is the backbone of a family. He added that love is the backbone of a church.

Within this framework of love for one another is the element of confronting sins. Part of the dynamics of family relationship is dealing with something that is not right.

The first letter of Paul to Timothy shows that there are issues that the young pastor of Ephesus is facing. Reading the whole letter to Timothy shows that Timothy is faced with issues of wrong doctrine and people showing ungodly character. Chapter 1 verses 5-6 indicates that some in the church have abandoned the truth and some abandoned purity, good conscience and sincere faith. Chapter 1 verse 19 indicates that some made shipwreck of their faith because they rejected faith and good conscience. Chapter 2 verse 8 that there are men lifting up holy hands that shows outward piety in praying to God and yet they have sin in their lives because they have anger and are quarrelling. In verse 9 of the same chapter, young women were adorning themselves with immodest apparel and were concerned of their outward appearance rather with the condition of their hearts. In the following verses, some of the women are usurping the role of men in leadership in the church.

In chapter 5, some of the older women were living in pleasure. Some of the men are not providing for their own. Some of the widowed younger women were growing wanton against Christ. Some more were idle and wandering from house to house and were gossipers and busybodies. Some still more strayed after Satan.

This is the kind of family that Timothy has to deal with. Since it is a family, intimate relations have potential and powerful impact on the life of each member. The apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:9 and 1 Corinthians 5:6 that sin is a little yeast that leavens the whole batch of dough. A sin in a family member needs to be confronted because it could rapidly spread out to the other members of the family.

I will humbly try to present my position on how single men and women ought to behave toward each other based on my study of this verse, how I have grown from my experiences in the past and how I am applying or going to apply my gained understanding in my present situation and with the situation of others I know.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chapter Twelve: The Rendezvous



Chapter Twelve

The Rendezvous

Apprehension beleaguered the heart and soul of Marek, the pauper. He couldn’t find the courage to tell Princess Alythia, whose names means truthfulness and could even mean purity, his true feelings and intentions for her.

Marek’s anxiety even heightened when he noticed that Alythia seemed to be avoiding her. There are occasions that her enthusiasm in meeting him seemed to have waned.

“Perhaps she’s just busy with so many thing,” Marek thought to comfort himself because he has noticed that the princess has been occupied with extramural activities for Excelion and she has been absorbed with her studies. And he doesn’t want to be detrimental to her academic activities.

Although another thought pervades his mind. “What if the princess has already formed in her mind that I have other intentions to her? What if this is the reason why she is avoiding me? What if she disdains the idea of being pursued by me?”

He decided till the concluding term examinations were through. Christmas Day is also nigh. Perhaps it would be fitting to confess his intentions by that time. But Marek’s heart is not given to the idea. He is hopeful to join the princess’ circle of friends, called Metoché, in their travel to Balpine Shire. He was invited by no less than Alythia herself. And if he would tell the princess his heart’s content before the trip then he might be shorn of the opportunity to go with the group. Or they might push on with the trip but they might feel ill at ease with each other’s presence.

While waiting for the suitable time, he decided to chronicle the events in their friendship and his prayers and consideration to pursue the princess. He wrote an allusion of their life story. They were written on parchments fashioned as scrolls. His intention is to provide a lead to what he intends to tell the princess, and also to immortalize a love story that could be a beacon for others. He didn’t mention of the authors identity but it would be clear in the story that it is him who composed the narrative. He labored to think through what would be said in the story. He researched and invented suitable names of people and places. He worked several nights and labored till early mornings. The allusion was done with much prayer because the skill to write has to be infused with the Master’s inspiration. It still has to give due glory and honor to the Master.

He planned that he would personally hand the last scroll to Alythia because the previous chapters were given through a herald. Thus he fervently hoped that Alythia will favorably read what he wrote.

A few days before the trip, Freia asked Marek if he would join them in the trip and he confirmed his attendance. There was a concern however. Her father might not allow her to go up to Balpine Shire because a stagecoach mishap happened. But Marek’s hope was high because Alythia was already allowed by Lord Demas to go. He prayed to the Great Master intervention. Perhaps he could have a chance to speak with her in the cold mountains of Balpine Shire.

It was midnight after Christmas Day when Alythia, Marek, Freia, Alfric Horus and Lady Edisia traveled to Balpine Shire. Pietro and Xalie followed a few hours after. Wahrin, also a member of Metoché, wasn’t able to go up with them because he had organized an assembly in his province on the same date of the group’s vacation.

It was already morning when they arrived. The group took their lodgings in the villa of Freia’s family. The group rested for awhile and proceeded to tour the mountain city. The princess was excited to wander around and was pleased to check on whatever attracts her fancy. Marek just took delight in observing the princess. But he and Freia were conscious of giving rein in her excitement so that she might become prudent in the leisure.

Balpine Shire is known for its lagoon. The group, while waiting for Pietro and Xalie’s arrival, went to ride a boat in the lagoon. It was raining that time but it didn’t dampen the joyful fellowship of Metoché.

They went to several trade fairs and ate delicacies not to be found in Metoria. It was already evening when Pietro and Xalie arrived from the lowlands. They were allowed to rest for awhile. After which, they all went to a pie parlour.

After enjoying four variants of pies, the group went home and retired their bodies.

The following day, Marek was awakened by stomachache and by the alarm set by Alfric Horus. Alythia, still sleepy, thought it was Marek’s doing, so she called his attention. Not intending to cause another ruffle, he turned the alarm off and went down the kitchen to prepare the breakfast.

Before going out for another tour of the city, Alfric was asked by the group to lead devotion. It was a pleasant sight to see friends worshiping the Great Master.

Marek couldn’t think of engaging the Alythia in a conversation during that time. He wouldn’t want to spoil Metoché’s enjoyment.

At a certain point when Lady Edisia and Marek were left in the stagecoach station while other members of the group attended to some errands, the latter confided his plan to confess his proposal to court the princess. She asked him what would be his response if Alythia’s response to his proposal is either negative or positive. He said that he’ll respect whatever it’ll be, though it will be hard if it’s negative. Then she just reminded him just to be ready for the pain if the response is negative. This time, it seemed that Lady Edisia was not restraining him to pursue the princess.

Then they all gathered together again to check on a silversmith. They saw a design and each bought a size that would fit their fingers. The ring would signify the unity of Metoché’s friendship and fellowship. Marek realized that his fellowship with the group is now legitimate. However, he realized that it would somehow affect his plan to pursue the princess. He doesn’t want to waste the bond he has gained just in case Alythia’s response is negative.

Freia and Lady Edisia went home to Metoria early.  Freia have to attend an activity organized by Acropetros. The rest of the group stayed. Marek decided to stay behind also, hoping he could take a chance to talk with Alythia.

The following morning, the remainder of Metoché went to the market to buy the rest of the stuff that was not bought the other day. Marek brought them to Hangar to buy baby carrots and strawberries for Alythia’s mother.

Then they left Balpine Shire. Marek prayed that he’ll be able to bring Alythia home to their villa and then give the last scroll before he would leave. The prayer was granted but he was overwhelmed with cowardice and was unable to hand the last scroll to her.

Intuition dictates that Alythia knew already. The scrolls reveal so much information that won’t escape the princess’ keen perception and understanding. There are also occasions during the trip in Balpine Shire that the princess refuses Marek’s courtliness. It confused him and broke his heart. Her refusal seems outright avoidance of him. He tried to be discreet by being gallant to other ladies of Metoché. Although there are also times that she would welcome his chivalry.

He went home feeling fortunate with the experience he had. He gained new friends and got to know them in a deeper way. The vacation also provided a venue to observe the character of the princess. At the same time, he felt frustrated since he was unable to confide his feelings to the woman she dearly loves and esteems in his heart.

New Year came and he’s more anxious about getting an appointment with the princess. He’s wasting opportunities already and he’s allowing himself to be enslaved by his fear.

He was already ardent to propose when Paedagogue Ocythius came to him and asked him about his plan to pursue his special someone from Excelion. Marek informed his paedagogue that he will propose before long. Ocythius was stunned. He wasn’t expecting that it would be that soon. He thought that he wasn’t really consulted by Marek. He inquired if Marek’s decision matters to him and if his life with Acropetros was considered. The questions penetrated his heart. The inquiries sounded like, “You are not allowed to pursue anyone outside our kingdom.”

Marek believes that he is being guided by the Great Master himself. He also knows that he gets direction from the Book. And he did not lack counsel from his beacons. Ultimately, regardless of the advices he receives, it is he who will decide. Thus he defended his love for the princess by presenting his case. He told his paedagogue that he didn’t disregard him and the kingdom of Acropetros. He loves his instructor and his kingdom. But he also loves Alythia, in a greater conceivable extent.

He also asked Ocythius if he meant to ask him to postpone his proposal. He confessed his anxiety that postponing might mislead Alythia since he already sent her the scrolls and much have been communicated from it. He told Marek to pray.

It disturbed Marek so much. His paedagogue really sounded as if he shouldn’t pursue Alythia. Though disturbed, he was not dissuaded to pursue the princess. He really loves the princess. His resolve was firm regardless if his proposal to court the princess would be turned down.

The following day in Potsherd Tavern, Princess Alythia seemed to have avoided him. It made him feel awkward because almost all of their friends are also there and she’s the only one who didn’t talk with him.

It is the same thing the next day in the Chamber of Annals. He was looking for Alythia to invite her to talk with him. She wasn’t in the Tavern. But he found her sleeping in the corner of the Chamber. He waited outside till the princess awakes. Pietro came and told him to wake up Alythia because she will be late in her class.

He headed to the princess’ spot and found her to have awakened. She turned her head upon hearing the voice of Marek. She appeared surprised seeing him. It seemed also that her countenance was inquiring. “What are you doing here? Have you been there all the while?” She looks angry. He told her that Pietro asked him to wake her up.

Realizing that she’s already late, she ran to her class leaving Marek more troubled. He felt that the situation is so dense and tense awhile back in the Chamber of Annals. He really felt that they are getting uneasy with each other. The urge to talk with her really settled in this time. He wanted to wait upon Paedagogue Ocythius counsel but he deems that he won’t receive it that soon and prolonging his confession with Alythia would jeopardize their friendship and with the rest of the group.

Marek waited for her class to finish and invited the princess to talk. She responded favorably with the invitation. “Here’s the awaited rendezvous,” he said to himself. He sought the intercession of Elder Kannon and his wife Iem. Then he went to talk with her.

He doesn’t know what to really say but the inevitable is already in front of him. They went inside the Potsherd Tavern. They sat face to face in the middle of the table where they had their first proper acquaintance. But she decided to sit next to him to avoid distraction from the outside.

He stammered. He was just thinking of setting an appointment with her but she appeared adamant to push on with their conversation. It seemed that she really wanted to talk with him so he yielded.

He tried to muster all his courage. He even thought of opening in prayer to ease his nerves. Voice trembling and all, he confided that he is praying to pursue her. He prayerfully tried to compose his thoughts and recounted how he ended up deciding to pursue her. He mentioned things written on his personal journal and on the scrolls.

Marek paused and told her that if she needs to think and pray about what have been said then he could wait. But she seemed to be ready to tell him what’s on her mind.

Alythia told him that she appreciates his transparency and willingness to tell her the truth. She said that she appreciates him for trying to protect her from the people of Excelion who are talking about her or the two of them. She realized that somehow someone gave her attention and thought of her in a very special way.

She confessed that she was surprised when one of the officers of Shin Manor asked her before if he was courting her. And then she had some mixed emotions about him. She got confused, she said. She got angry. She felt betrayed. She even thought that Marek could just be using their friendship as a way to get close to her. She asked what did she do or say that made him think of pursuing her. She confided these things with the Shin Manor’s nurse and with Lady Edisia.

After her conversation with the two, she tried to avoid him for some time. But she eventually realized that she shouldn’t behave in such manner and tried to act normally and pursued friendship with Marek.

She said that she was already aware of his intentions to pursue her when she read the scrolls. She appreciates what he did. The scrolls laid it down nicely. She likes reading and she likes how the story appeared like a fairy tale. She initially thought that the scrolls were trash. Good thing she didn’t throw them away.

She said that she was able to recognize the people in the story, the places and the events. That is why even though the author was not indicated, she knew that it came from him. She learned a lot from what have been written. She learned many things about Marek and the things he went through in planning to pursue her. According to her, it was her first time to be sought in such manner.

Alythia said that she prayed to God to help her respond to him. She knows that she could be impulsive and she could just say words that are not appropriate. And she’s thankful to the Master that they were able to talk civilly.

Princess Alythia said that if he had told her early in their friendship his intentions to court her, she would have avoided him and terminated the friendship. And if he had delayed confessing, then she would have avoided him nonetheless. She’s grateful to the Great Master for the timing, though she confided that she would have wanted for them to have talked in Balpine Shire.

She eventually told him that she just wants to maintain their friendship. She believes that she could still learn more from him realizing that he’s also intimate with his walk with the Master. There are also things yet to learn from each other. She said that she has made a commitment regarding her studies. But it’s not her primary reason why she doesn’t want to be pursued. She also told Marek that she doesn’t want to give him false hope. She doesn’t want him to court her because she couldn’t assure him that it will be well in the future.

He told her that he respect what she said. He really wants their friendship to grow. But he just couldn’t easily let go of the feelings that have grown inside his heart. It’s not that he’s insisting on pursuing her. He reminded her of the fact that he have prayerfully thought of her and considered her for a period of almost two years. And his emotions have grown and reached a certain peak that he couldn’t just make his feelings for her disappear instantly.

They ended in a prayer. They went out of the Tavern and saw Kinsley. He and the princess talked and Marek slowly walked ahead. She bade him goodbye as she headed to another direction. He looked back and waved his hand acknowledging her farewell then rushed to the meeting he almost missed.

He attended the commoners’ meeting but his mind wandered back to what he and Alythia have talked about. He couldn’t exactly remember the words that they have uttered. He doubt if he could recount them correctly and faithfully. And as his mind trailed back, the pain started to really sink in his heart and he started to feel a sadness he never felt before. There’s a resounding emptiness that echoes within the walls of his heart every time it beats.

Some of his friends, who learned his fate and who journeyed with him in praying, tried to comfort him. They assured him that things will work out fine.

“The following days will be different from now on,” Marek said but he is hopeful that his friendship with Alythia will really grow. He prayed that they could really act normally and comfortably when they see each other.

Marek started to sing one of the saddest love songs he knows to console himself but then he asked himself, “Why don’t I sing a worship song?” But his mind is clouded. He couldn’t think of an inspired song that will get through the pain.

He prayed still. No one could really understand the heartache, except him and the Great Master. He couldn’t blame him. He has been too good and kind to be blamed.

“My Master, help me to grieve well. I really love Alythia... I love her.” His eyes burned as he cried. And he cried till his tears ran dry.

The Book said, “In everything give thanks for this is the Great Master’s will in Immanuel for you.” It was difficult to thank the Master but it was a necessary exercise of faith in him.