Harana

A harana or serenade is usually sung on a calm evening with the suitor, gently strumming his guitar, passionately singing a love song as he woos the woman of his dreams. The lady meanwhile, hearing the familiar voice, is distracted from her business and peeps from her bedroom window delighting at the wafting of the notes on a clear moonlit night.

It only happens in the province, if it still does. There are modified versions in the city though. Like what happened this morning.

I was asked the favor of leading a small group to serenade a young couple celebrating their 4th wedding anniversary today. It was a surprise that the hubby had planned for the wife.

And so, at 5:30 am, with voices still raspy from sound sleep rudely interrupted by our alarms, we sang three Tagalog love songs to Clyde and Sharon. Sharon was all smiles as she peeped not from her balcony (they have none), but from their half-open living room door, halfway through our first melody.

We did not actually wake her up. She had been awake since 3 am. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to her.

I had with me the RBIPT group with whom the songs we sung, two by Sharon’s namesake megastar, were familiar. After singing three songs succesively, the clouds burst forth in torrents! And we burst forth in laughter! Is heaven sending us a message to improve on our singing?

Anyway, after the serenade, I gave a brief devotional with three points:

1. Express praise. Let’s give thanks to God for our spouses. Where would we be without them? Who would correct us intimately without them? Who would pull us up when we are down without them? Who would encourage us dearly without them? No marriage is perfect. But we should be thankful for the one we have, especially if our relationships have been flourishing through the years.

2. Exhibit love. It is the duty both of the husband and of the wife to love one another. And love is not primarily a feeling, as we all thought when we were yet immersed in the world, but doing good to our spouses, having their best interests in view. It is amazing how Paul’s description of love in 1 Cor 13 is strikingly different from the world’s view of the same. 

3. Engage in service. Although we are to cultivate intimacy and closeness in our relationships, we are also to look outward and use the gifts God has given us to serve others for His glory. We should not just have time for ourselves but also for kingdom work outside of our homes.

After coffee and small talk we bid goodbye to the couple.

Happy anniversary Clyde and Sharon!

Early Morning Harana

Early Morning Harana

Maalala mo Kaya?

I Hope We Didn’t Wake up the Neighbors

There We Go!

There We Go!

Rain!!

Rain!!

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

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Happy Faces

 

Goodbye Glenda

Three things caught my attention while walking to church from my home today: most of the people on the streets had brooms and rakes cleaning the front of their houses of typhoon debris, then there were business establishments like Mercury with broken down signs, and then crowding at junk shops with people carrying rusting GI sheets which they probably did not own.

That’s the aftermath of Glenda.

At least we are safe, thanks be to God’s protection. I pray others are. I also thank God that though the winds were strong, the rain was not and we were spared from flooding.

But the gale force winds did not spare a few big branches of the nim tree at the church premises. Still, damage was minimal–just a church sign that needs to be replaced.

God has a sovereign purpose in all things–typhoons included.

“He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter His lightning. They turn around and around by His guidance, to accomplish all that He commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for His land or for love, He causes it to happen. Hear this O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.” (Job 37:11-14)

 

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Woodcutter Mike gets to work.

Woodcutter Mike gets to work.

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The Woodcutter from Gensan

The Woodcutter from Gensan

Not that Way

Not that Way

Big Problem-How do we get that down?

Big Problem-How do we get that down?

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Lets do it This Way!

Lets do it This Way!

The view from our place:

 

Couples Fellowship Jun 22

We had the privilege of having Pastor Dave Chanksi speak to the couples in our quarterly fellowship last June 20. We were reminded of four things:

1. God is sovereign in providence (Ps 139:13-16); it is by His appointment that we are married to our spouses. No person can say he or she married the wrong person unless he or she is prepared to say that God made a mistake in his or her life. We must therefore do our best to make our God-appointed marriages prosper.

2. We have a duty to love our spouses (Eph 5:22ff). Hopefully, we love our spouses more than just out of a sense of duty. Still, that does not negate being reminded that it is a divine imperative. The fact that it is a duty does not dampen romance in marriage. In fact, it enhances it. In addition to this, being faithful to duty keeps us from manifold temptations.

3. We must remember priorities (Gen 2:24ff). Out of so many things to attend to in life, we must not neglect our spouses. It is a primary duty to care for and to minister to our partners.

4. It is a matter of Christ-likeness (Eph 5:25). The marriage relationship should be viewed as a place to grow, mature and be conformed to the likeness of our Savior. 

Did I remember the principles correctly? 

Here are snapshots from that event:

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Two Baptisms

I rejoice in my heart at two young ladies added to the church yesterday through the waters of baptism. Both are homegrown, having been attenders of MCBC ever since they were in their mother’s wombs. Alyssa, the youngest in a brood of five is the fourth baptized daughter of Deo and Alice, thanks be to God! Paula, the second of three siblings of Pas Alex and Bang is the first to be immersed in the waters of baptism.

Thank God for their salvation; I know that heaven rejoices over these young ones. May God preserve them and use them for His glory!

I reproduce their edited testimonies and the video of their baptisms here.

PAULA

I am Paula, 17 years old, 2nd year college. I grew up in a Christian home, taught thousands of Biblical principles and have been attending church ever since I was in my mother’s womb.

Honestly, I wished to be saved and be a member of this church way back when I was a kid. Maybe it was because of the pressure of the environment, but I was too young to understand what salvation and church membership meant.

I lived my life as if there was no God. I never thought of His will. I was lazy going to church. I also lived a life of disobedience to my parents.

When I was in high school, I listened well to the preaching but did not take it to heart. I understood some sermons that struck my attention but the effects were merely emotional, something that did not last until the next hour. Everything was head knowledge.

When I was preparing for college, I prayed for some dream universities. I was confident that I would be able to pass the entrance exams. But God humbled me and I failed. The only exams that I passed were from the school where I am studying today, a school which I did not want to enter, yet God made me understand.

God used a trial which I had with a professor in my favorite subject, English, to cause me to draw near to Him. This teacher was a terror. There were many times when tears ran down my eyes during class. I had a difficult time with this person. I realized no one could help me except God. Every night I came to Him and cried all my burdens, and I found rest in Him (Mt 11:28-30).

One afternoon, while I was lying down on my bed thinking about random things, a question came to my mind, “What else do I need?” I tried answering and ended up coming to God in tears with a verse from Luke 9:25, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

At that point, God made me realize that He was the One I needed. He showed me how sinful, unruly, impatient, boastful, and rebellious I am. On the other hand, He showed me how good, patient, forgiving, gracious and powerful He is. I thank Him for everything He has done to me. I thank Him for my parents and for what i am today.

By God’s sufficient grace, He keeps showing me that He loves me and He continues to open my mind and heart through the preaching and devotions. He did not let me harden my heart. I praise Him for His goodness and mercy.

I may not fulfill my ambitions, dreams and hopes, but God’s forgiveness and salvation are enough. I know that everday would be a struggle but I also know that my God is with me.

I thank Him for my salvation. “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.” Blessed be the name of the Lord!

ALYSSA

Being raised up in a Christian family, I attended church every Sunday as far back as I can remember. But for me, it’s just “nakasanayan” and was the right thing to do on Sundays. When I was younger, I had a lot of fears and one of that is the fear of death. But as I grew up, I tried to ignore those fears and enjoy the “bright side” of life. I spent happy times with my family, met new friends and enjoyed every single moment of it.

I’m a very cheerful person and I often times don’t mind problems. I also consider myself mature compared to my worldly friends because even though I hang out with them I know for a fact the things that I shouldn’t do. I thought I was okay because I didn’t smoke, didn’t take drugs, didn’t get drunk, etc. But I didn’t know that even though I did not do those things, I still loved the world and was attached to it.

Years passed and the more I spent my life in this world “happily,” the more I got farther from Jesus. Days became like a drag. Attending church started to become boring and became just like a requirement. I wanted to change my life so I tried to listen to God’s Word and tried to follow Him but it didn’t work.

Then God started to work in my heart. He made me realize how sinful I am, how deserving I am to be punished eternally in hell. He also made me realize that I couldn’t change myself, that I couldn’t do what I desired because I was nothing and what I needed was Him. What have I been boasting of? Anytime my family would be gone and even my friends. Why should I fear death and not fear Him instead? He is the Lord who died for the forgiveness of my sins.

God really showed me how weak I am. I cried to him. I repented of my sins. I believed in His words and at that moment He forgave me. He gave me the peace that I never had before. By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I am saved.

“For you have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of living” (Ps 116: 8-9)

Baguio Funeral

Home at last! After 9 hours on the road. We had to wait out 1 hour at a gas station 2 km from our home due to heavy flooding. So near and yet so far!

I thought we were river-crossing off-road in some remote area; we were actually along the service road on the way home; 2 vehicles behind us went kaput and got swallowed up by the rampaging flood waters. Thanks be to God there was a gas station nearby that let us park in its premises (even if we never have gassed up with that brand) or else I was in for a major engine job I would not be able to afford. But I meditated on Psalm 23:6, God will be good and merciful every day and every night, rain or shine!

I had gone to Baguio to extend the sympathies of the MCBC brethren to Roland our deacon whose mother passed away in the Lord’s will last Friday night. But I prepared for opportunities. God opened a door Tuesday night. After the Catholic mass, there was a local Baptist church service complete with hymnals and choir. Then, five minutes after the pastor had preached, I was given an opportunity for an exhortation. I had thought that the people would have had enough after two various services. But I was wrong. The Lord answered prayer; the people were very attentive. I pray the word would bear fruit.

I preached on Eccl 7:2-it is good to go to a house of feasting, but better to go to a house of mourning. Lessons regarding the frailty of man, the uncertainty of life, the shortness of our days and the earthly end of our bodies are best illustrated in a house of mourning rather than anywhere else.

Then there was another opportunity given to me before the Catholic mass on the day of burial where I preached on Psalm 23. My primary purpose was to bring comfort to the family.

After the mass and at the cemetery, the Lord gave a last opportunity with a brief committal service and a devotional to call sinners to Christ and to bring comfort to the family.

Everything went well. What we need to pray now is comfort for the Yogawin family, strength after a wearying week, and wisdom as family meetings are conducted.

Thank you for all of your prayers.

 

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After the mass Roland gives thanks to all and announces I will give an exhortation at the cemetery

After the Catholic service Roland gives thanks to all who sympathized and announces I will give an exhortation at the cemetery; we were all uninvolved at the back during the mass

Committal Service

Committal Service

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Was Able to Visit Other Brethren

Was Able to Visit Pastor Pio’s Family in Loakan

Lunch With the Family Before Leaving for Manila

Lunch With the Family Before Leaving for Manila

 

True Confession

Will we see our pets in the new earth? Will there be basketball courts and golf courses? If we find ourselves with glorified white hair, will we be able to dye? These are but some of the many speculative questions that could be asked of life in the rejuvenated earth.

Unfortunately our confession ends with the intermediate and resurrected states and then with the final judgment. There is no substantial word on the new heavens and the new earth, the consummation of Christ’s kingdom, the steadfast hope of every believer.

Of course, speculative questions, some of which border on the foolish, would have to remain in the realm of the unknown. But the Scriptures have something to say about the new heavens and the new earth, a paragraph of which might have provided a more positive finale to the things most surely believed among us.

Nonetheless, attending our modular class on the 1689 London Confession of Faith was a truly profitable experience. It was an accomplishment in itself that we were able to cover all of 32 chapters in more or less 8 half-days, and that without hurrying. I had thought midway that we would not be able to finish but our professor paced himself well and we were able to cover all of the bases at just the right speed. Well done, for a first-time module instructor!

Thanks be to God for many answered prayers during the course. Here are a few scenes from that module:

Pas Dave Stresses a Point

Pas Dave Stresses a Point

Last Day of Class

Last Day of Class

Quiz Pointers

Quiz Pointers

Class Picture

Class Picture

Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Taking the Finals

Taking the Finals

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Video Guy

Indispensable Cooks

Indispensable Cooks

Token of Appreciation

Token of Appreciation

Lunch Break

Lunch Break

Lunch Break

Lunch Break

As Usual

As Usual

Students Enjoy Tagaytay

Students Enjoy Tagaytay

MCBC Elders: United in Knowledge and United in Ignorance

MCBC Elders: United in Knowledge and United in Ignorance

 

 

 

 

Anniversary Sunday

To God be the glory for 27 years of church life! Yesterday was a tiring Sunday, not because it was burdensome but because of energy well-spent in worship, praise, service, fellowship and enjoying all of the activities connected with the celebration of our anniversary.

It was good to have scheduled it on a Sunday as many more were able to join us and our thanksgiving was better expressed in the spirit of Lord’s day worship. I never expected brethren from sister churches to come considering it was a Sunday and there was no public announcement, but they were there to support us, encourage us and share the joy of thanksgiving with us. Most of them were MCBC old-timers coming from far and near who had moved to other churches and who wanted to share the joy of thanksgiving with us. A few of them had “escaped” from their churches to join an unscheduled reunion of former MCBC members!

Pastor Dave showed no signs of wear and tear as he gave stirring exhortations from Luke 11 and Judges 20 which I pray all of us would take to heart if we would carry on until Jesus returns. They were lessons on boldness in prayer, humbling ourselves before God and trusting Him for all things considering that as a perfect heavenly Father He would not withhold any good thing from His children.

Encouraging testimonies were also given during the services that highlighted God’s kindness in using the ministry of MCBC to lead people to saving relationships with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The fellowship was warm and sweet as it has always been in MCBC history. This reality was displayed in the “perpetual” slide show that was played after dinner reliving the earlier years of MCBC church life. People laughed and giggled as they saw how thin, ugly or fat they were in the earlier days!

I went home tired but thankful to God for His presence. I am one of the privileged few who has witnessed the mighty hand of God work in our midst all of these 27 years and more. I pray for the longevity of MCBC. I pray for a younger batch of leaders and members who would carry the torch of God’s gospel for another generation not swerving to the right or to the left but having a single eye for God and His glory.

May the coming baptism of two more young ladies next week be added encouragement to the bounty that we have already received from God’s kind and almighty hand.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Gian Gives Testimony

Gian Gives Testimony

Bridget's Turn to Testify

Bridget’s Turn to Testify

Deacon Prays for the Food

Deacon Prays for the Food

Glenn, Badet and Nigel from CRBC

Glenn, Badet and Nigel from CRBC

Manolo and Georgie from San Pablo

Manolo and Georgie from San Pablo

Brethren from Cebu

Brethren from Cebu

Cuya Family from San Pablo

Cuya Family from San Pablo

Facuns from LB sister church

Facuns from LB sister church

Pastors' Mug Shot

Pastors’ Mug Shots

Jobel now a member of CREC

Jobel now a member of CREC

Young Ones and Young Once

Young Ones and Young Once

Family Picture

Family Picture

Cutting Up the Lechon

Cutting Up the Lechon

Caricatured!

Caricatured!

MORE PICTURES ON ANNIVERSARY PAGE. CLICK ANNIVERSARY FOLDER/PAGE ABOVE.