Once upon a time, there were three little pigs.
I know this story very well. Because when I was a kid, there were no Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds. We had no iPad or iPod or iPhone–so to occupy our time… we had fairy tales.
The three little pigs left their town in search of their fortunes. Before they left, they bid farewell from their respective mothers. And all three mothers said to their boys, calling them endearing names. One mother said, “Little Lechon, always put a towel on your back when you perspire.” The second mother said, “Little Liempo, always drink your vitamins.” And the third mother said, “Little Longganisa, always read your Bible.”
The three little pigs bought their plane tickets online, rode their budget airline, and when they landed, they texted their mothers, “Landed. Mwah.”
They liked the town they were in and decided to build their respective homes there.
The first little pig wanted things quickly and easily. He built his house made of straw. In no time, it was built, and he went inside, sat on a chair, and played Temple Run in his iPad.
The second pig built his house made of sticks. It took him a little bit longer, but it was still easy and quick, and he too went inside his house to play Scrabble online with his friends from Canada.
The third pig took the longest time and the most effort, because he wanted something that would last for a long time. So he built his house made of stones. While the other two pigs were already snoring inside their homes, sleeping under their cozy blankets, the third pig was still sweating outside, working on his house night and day, carefully and slowly building his stone house, one brick at a time. Finally, when it was finished, the little pig went inside, knelt down to say his night prayer, and collapsed in bed to sleep.
Suddenly, two big bad wolves appeared, very hungry….
The Straw House Falls In 2 Seconds
They saw a straw house, peeked through the window and saw a little pig sleeping inside–and they said, “Lechon!” So the two wolves knocked on the door of the straw house and said, “Little pig, little pig, let us in!”
The first pig answered, “No, no, no, not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.”
The wolves answered, “Then we’ll huff and we’ll puff and blow your house down!”
And the wolves blew, and in two seconds flat, the house crashed down. And because of the wolves’ bad breath, the pig died of air poisoning. And that day, the wolves ate Lechon.
The Stick House Falls In 20 Seconds
But the two big bad wolves were so big, they were still hungry.
That was when they saw a stick house, and when they peeked through the window, they saw a little pig sleeping inside–and they said, “Liempo!” They knocked on the door of the stick house and said, “Little pig, little pig, let us in!”
The pig answered, “No, no, no, not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.”
The wolves answered, “Then we’ll huff and we’ll puff and blow your house down!”
And the two wolves blew–and it took a little bit longer–about twenty seconds–but the stick house crashed down as well. And because of the wolves’ bad breath, the second pig died of chemical warfare. And the wolves ate Liempo that day.
The Stone House Didn’t Fall At All
But the wolves’ stomachs were so massive, they still had room for more. That was when they saw a stone house, and when they peeked through the window, they saw a little pig sleeping inside–and they said, “Longganisa!”
They knocked on the door of the stone house and said, “Little pig, little pig, let us in!”
The pig answered, “No, no, no, not by the Name of the King of kings!” He then prayed Psalm 91 and Psalm 23. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and abides in the shade of the Almighty, says to the Lord, ‘my refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust. Though I walk through the valley of darkness, I fear no evil for God is with me.’”
The wolves answered, “Then we’ll huff and we’ll puff and blow your house down!”
And the wolves blew, and blew, and blew–and after blowing for 20 minutes straight–nothing happened. The stone house was like a rock, standing solid as ever.
Suddenly, in their extreme exhaustion, the two wolves had an asthma attack–their heart gave way–and both of them dropped dead on the spot.
And the third pig stepped out of his stone house and sang, “I can do all things through Christ, I can move the mountains if you are the strength of my life….”
And that day, the little pig had wolf steaks for dinner.
Protect Your Relationships From The Two Wolves
Haven’t you noticed? Everything dies.
We die. People die. Organizations die. Institutions die. Do you know that even planets and stars die? I didn’t know how stars die, so I turned to my 12-year old son and asked him, “How do stars die?” Without a second to think, he said, “A star can explode as a supernova, become a blackhole, or it shrinks into a white dwarf star and finally into a black dwarf star.” (It’s creepy. I sometimes feel my kids are more intelligent than me now.)
Everything comes to an end, except for one thing. The Bible says that anything built on God’s Word will last forever.
But not just listening, or reading, or memorizing the Word but obeying the Word. Jesus said, But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Today, I’ll teach you how to build your relationships that will last forever (all the way to Heaven). I’ll teach you how to build your relationships on rock.
Imagine ALL your relationships (your marriage, or your parent-child relationship, or your sibling-to-sibling relationship, or your friendships) built on rock.
That rock is none other than Jesus.
Here’s my big message for you today: Enduring relationships are built on enduring values. If you want your relationships to flourish, your relationships have to be built on timeless, eternal, old fashioned values.
Just like in the story of the Three Little Pigs above, relationships are like houses. Some are weak and some are strong. Some collapse quickly and some stand forever.
What kind of relationships do you have?
There are three types of relationships. (More on this later.) But before that, let me first explain two wolves that can eat up your relationships.
The two wolves are Temptation and Trial.
1. The Wolf Of Temptation
Bottomline, relationships are destroyed by sin. Sins such as selfishness, greed, temper, envy, jealousy, lying, stealing, hatred, unforgiveness, lust…
Think about it. Relationships flourish ONLY when it’s built on the enduring, eternal, timeless, and old-fashioned values such as trust, selflessness, patience, loyalty, humility, honesty, forgiveness…
When I was twenty-five years old, my father told me something I’ll never forget. He said, “In all my married life, I’ve remained faithful to your mother. Once, there was this woman in the office who liked me a lot, and she told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do with her. But I turned her down. Today, I’m so happy that I’ve never cheated on your mother. When you get married, I want you to be faithful to your wife forever.”
His words are etched deeply in my heart. Not only his words, but his example. Before my father went to Heaven, Mom and Dad celebrated 62 years of happy marriage.
Today, I’m married and I have two boys. And I want to have the same personal integrity my father had. I too want to have the credibility to tell my sons, “I’ve always been faithful to your mother. In all my married life, I’ve never cheated on her. And I want you to do the same…”
And even if you have failed in the past–God forgives you. Bring your sins to God. And you’ll be able to start afresh. You’ll be able to rebuild your integrity. The Bible says that as far as the east is from the west, so far does God take your sins away from you. So don’t let your past define your future. In the eyes of God, you’re a new person now.
Here’s what I found helpful: When I’m faced with sexual temptation, I imagine my two small boys standing behind me. (Yikes!) All of a sudden, the sexual temptation doesn’t look very appealing anymore. Because in truth, my children are always watching me. They may not be there physically, but spiritually, they’re watching. Whatever I do, no matter how secret, will affect them. The umbilical cord was cut at birth, but the spiritual cord between parent and child will never be cut.
Have you noticed? Your kids won’t do what you tell them to do. Your kids will do what they see you do.
All relationships are built on trust. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is a marriage or a parent-child relationship or a friendship or an entrepreneur-customer relationship. If you’re not trustworthy, if you have no integrity, there can be NO relationship.
Here’s the second wolf…
2. The Wolf Of Trials
My married friend said, “Before the wedding, you get an engagement ring. During the wedding, you get a wedding ring. After the wedding, you get suffering.”
Most marriages don’t break up because of adultery, but because of adversity.
When there are no problems, it’s easy to have a happy relationship.
In a restaurant, do you know who are engaged couples and who are married couples? Just look at how close they are physically. If you see the guy and the gal joined together–hand to hand, forehead to forehead, nose to nose, bad breath to bad breath–and beneath the table cloth, they’re playing footsies together–and even if nuclear warheads fall on their right and left, they won’t even notice? And nothing else exists except each other? You can be sure, they’re not married!
But if you see a man and a woman in a restaurant seated separately, so far apart that a six-by-six truck can pass between them, and the woman is fiddling with her cellphone, and the man is looking at the ceiling counting the light bulbs and wondering how much the electric bill the restaurant is paying… you can be sure, they’re married.
Why? Because of the wolf of trials.
It’s easy for unmarried couples to stay sweet. They’re not yet burdened by the daily problems of monthly bills, demanding kids, and pesky in-laws.
Tip: The Only Way To Survive Trials Is To Trust
The Bible says, walk by faith, not by sight. If I walk by sight, I’ll see all the trials around me. Frankly, I’ll go insane.
But if I walk by faith, I see the trials, yes, but I also see a God who is at work behind those trials. Because I walk by faith, I have peace no matter what storm is going around me.
Without that inner peace in my soul, I’ll have very troubled relationships, because I’ll be merely passing onto my family and friends my worries, my angers, my fears…
How do you withstand the two wolves of Temptation and Trial? By building your relationships on rock.
Which brings me to my next point…
Three Types Of Relationships
There are three types of relationships in this world.
1. Relationships Based On Charm
Why do people love certain people?
Most relationships are based on charm or attraction.
· “I love you because you’re beautiful!”
· “I like you because you’re sexy…”
· “I want you because you’re rich.”
· “Your personality is so appealing, that’s why I like being with you…”
· “I like hanging out with you because I feel alive when I’m with you…”
· “I love you because you complete me…”
In other words, “I like you because you’re so likable.”
The “straw house” in the story above symbolizes relationships that are based on charm. They’re based on attraction.
But from experience, these relationships won’t last.
Why Relationships Based On Charm FAILS
First, because the reason of the relationship doesn’t last. Sexiness doesn’t last. Beauty doesn’t last. Personality doesn’t last. Wealth doesn’t last…
Second, the relationship isn’t born out of decision. That’s why Scott Peck says that “Falling in love” is never real love. Why? Love is always a decision. And falling in love requires no decision. (I have yet to meet someone who says, “I’ll decide to fall right now. Ready, one, two, three…. Ooops!”) When you fall, you don’t decide to fall. It just happens. You stumble. You trip. You get dizzy. And you fall. So it’s counterfeit love.
Third, attraction is fake. You’re not really attracted to the person himself. You’re simply attracted to your projection of that person. So when you’re “attracted” or have a “crush” or “infatuated” or “in love”, you’re not in love with the person, you’re in love with a photograph of the person in your mind.
Because there’s a big difference between the person and the person’s photograph. The person will make mistakes, the photograph won’t. The person will grow old, the photograph won’t. The person will have bad days, the photograph won’t.
This is the same as having fans. People ask me all the time, “Do you get affected by all the attention you get? You’re like a celebrity! You’re got thousands of fans.”
My answer: I’d rather have one friend than a thousand fans. Fans are fickle. They come and they go. Because fans don’t love me. They love an image of me in their minds. Once I do something that doesn’t agree with that image, they leave.
Here’s the second type of relationship…
2. Relationships Based On Convenience
The “stick house” in the story symbolizes relationships based on convenience. People in these relationships say, “I want to be in a relationship with you because you’re useful to me.” It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s a “You scratch my back, I scratch your back” transaction. It’s give and take. We meet 50/50.
The stick house takes a bit longer to build compared to the straw house, but even this “working relationship” falls when the winds of trials and temptations blow on it as well.
Life changes. Stuff happens. Either I change or you change. So what if these changes mean that you’re no longer useful to me?
The moment convenience doesn’t work, we leave.
And the big bad wolf eats up the relationship.
3. Relationships Are Based On Character
The “stone house” symbolizes relationships based on character. Timeless, eternal, old fashioned values. Faithfulness. Loyalty. Selflessness. Sacrifice. Humility. Forgiveness.
A relationship based on character says, “I love you not only because you’re likeable or you’re useful. I love you because I’m a loving person.”
Next time someone tells you, “I love you,” ask why.
If he says… “because you’re lovable…” you’ll feel flattered. Same thing if you hear these words, “I love you because you’re so kind, so generous… I love you because you’re such a wonderful person…”
But here’s a fact of life: You won’t be lovable and wonderful 24 hours a day. Will that person still love you during your off days?
It’s not very flattering, but I’d rather hear these words… “I love you because I’m a loving person. That’s just who I am. I will always love you no matter what happens.”
Friend, that’s God’s message to you. God loves you not based on charm, or on convenience, but on His character.
God’s Love is an eternal love.
It’s not based on what you did or what you do.
If it was, we’d be in big trouble.
I read a beautiful article by Jenn Giroux. She said that in the small town of Siroki-Brijeg in Croatia (Population: 13,000 people), not one single divorce has been recorded.
Why? Personally, I believe it’s because the “old fashioned” values are still part of their life and culture. And a powerful expression of these old fashioned values is a beautiful twist in their wedding ritual. (If you’re wedding is near, read carefully. You may want to include this for your wedding rites.)
In our present wedding ceremony, the priest says at the end of the rites, “You may kiss the bride.” But in the town of Siroki-Brijeg, the priest says, “You may kiss the cross.” And both of them kiss Jesus in a crucifix.
Let me backtrack a bit to the start of the ceremony.
When the bride and groom enter the church, they already carry a crucifix. The first thing the priest does is to bless it. And as the man and the woman say their vows, they are holding on the cross–with the priest’s stole draped on top of their hands (Note: the stole is the long piece of cloth around the priest’s neck)
After the vows are said, they won’t kiss each other. They will kiss the cross.
The newly wed couple will then bring home the crucifix and set it on the family altar. Around it, they will establish daily family prayer. That daily family prayer says that Jesus is the center of their family life. When they are blessed, they sing their gratitude around Jesus. When they are in trouble, they kneel at the foot of the cross. When they are fighting, they look at His kindness, His forgiveness, and His selflessness as an example of what they should do.
When you marry someone, you’re not looking for an ideal partner. You’re looking for a cross.
Yes, my wife is my cross. Because loving her isn’t convenient. If I wanted to remain comfortable, I should have remained single. But I don’t want to remain comfortable. I want to remain committed.
Yes, my wife is my cross. My beautiful, lovely, glorious cross. Because she has brought me closer to God and enlarged my capacity to love.
I heard a preacher share this important insight…
Imagine if you went to a fortune teller. (Obviously, I don’t approve of this, but ride along with my imagination.) After reading your palm, the fortune-teller said, “Tsk, tsk, tsk. 24 years from now, when your spouse is 63 years old, he would do something terrible against you…”
So you go home very angry.
Imagine your husband coming home at the end of his workday. He enters the house in a good mood and says, “Hi Sweetheart!”
And you say, “I hate you. Get out of my house, you creep!”
He’s taken aback. “What’s gotten into you? What have I done?”
You tell him, “24 years from now, you’ll do something terrible!”
“What? How do you know?”
“A fortune teller told me!”
Here’s my point. If we knew that people would do bad things against us tomorrow, we’d treat them in a different way today.
Flash News: God knows the future like the back of His hand. He knows every sin you’ll commit for the rest of your life. But He still loves you today!
God doesn’t tell you, “Thirty-eight years from now, when you hit 68, you’ll blow it. You’ll fail me. Get out of here!”
God isn’t like that. He knows the failures you’ll be doing in the future–but He has decided to love you.
I thank God that His love doesn’t depend on what we do, past, present, or future. His love doesn’t depend on your character but on His character.
Because God IS Love.
He’s decided to love you.
His love for you will never change.
May your dreams come true,
PS. On August 24-25, I’ll be ATTENDING a seminar (Yep, I’m not giving it). My friend Jojo Apolo is giving a seminar on how to help people with phobias and traumas. I think it’ll be fantastic. For more information, click here now.