Visiting Jojo

Let’s pray for former MCBC member Jojo Andongo. I, along with my fellow pastors, got to visit him last Monday, a holiday, in their hometown of Calasiao, Pangasinan (normally 3 hours away from Manila). The family, but especially Jojo and Elsie were overjoyed by our visit. It has been a long time and they needed encouragement.

Jojo was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. The symptoms surfaced last year when he was still working abroad. (Jojo had left MCBC many years ago and has worked in Singapore ever since.) He was asked by his doctors abroad to go home and have further testing done here. He arrived last March. And it was confirmed that he was seriously ill. He just finished his first chemotherapy session last week.

Jojo wept, confessing that he had lived a wayward life for so many years. He had turned his back on God. Now, he has become remorseful and hopefully repentant. I encouraged him by pointing him to 1 Jn 1:9, a text that I had recently preached on, and told him that there is forgiveness with God. He was comforted.

I told him that if this sickness leads to his salvation, the trial was a mercy from God and it was worth it. He agreed.

Let’s pray for genuine faith and repentance in Jojo. His life is ebbing and I don’t know how much time he has. But I told him whether life is long or short, he must be urgent in preparing for eternity. I told him to read the Bible everyday, having so much spare time just laying on his bed practically the whole day.

Right now he is listening to sermon tapes of local preachers.

Meanwhile, the rest of the family continue to go to church. We had an enjoyable time with them. I was amazed at how tall the children had grown.

May the Lord provide for their needs now that Jojo is out of a job. Above all, may He grant the urgency to trust in Christ and to truly repent not knowing what a day will bring forth.

I thank the Lord too for His safekeeping mercy considering the heavy rains and traffic we encountered going home. What normally took 3 hours took us 7 hours to negotiate going back to Manila.

Thanks too to Pas. Alex who drove for 10 hours to take us on a worthwhile visit. We offered–but, he declined.

Gel and Viel are now teens

Gel and Viel are now teens

With Hans

With Youngest Hans

For now they are a complete family

For now they are a complete family

With Us

With Us

Church Retreat

The fellowship just could not stop. The elders extended at Razons and disbanded at 9:00pm. But the real event of the day was the MCBC Annual Church Retreat. This time we invited a speaker from outside; it was a good time to sit and listen instead of preach.

I invited Pas. Diego Bulatao to preach on love. I actually heard him preach on this subject at the recent pastors conference in Cubao but he couldn’t finish-he was only given an hour and the material needed two.

He got what he wanted at our church retreat-he was very satisfied that he was able to complete the exposition.

We were blessed too. It is good to be reminded about love. We have received God’s love in Christ and we have the Holy Spirit to enable us to love but with remaining sin in our hearts we are still prone to be unloving, selfish and insensitive.

The fact that so many wild ideas about love proliferate in the world does not help. We need to hear time and again what God says about love. Our consciences need to be impressed repeatedly with the duty of loving one another. Our minds need to be instructed constantly as to how God defines love. First Corinthians 13 was a good place to park.

May the word that was heard bear concrete fruit in the growth of this most excellent grace in our midst. Without love, MCBC is nothing. With love, God is glorified and we accomplish much.

We were not only fed spiritually but we had a satisfying lunch fellowship as well. Thanks to typhoon Glenda and the firewood that we stacked from the branches of our fallen neem tree, we had a tasty meal of bulalo courtesy of one of our RBIPT students who is an expert in cooking this exotic meal.

The early afternoon consisted of a series of games where four teams competed for the top prize. There was so much fun and laughter that my grandson thought there was a riot going on and he almost cried. But that was because the team members were giving their heart to the contest. Though we take games for granted it is also a test of love: For the victors: love is not boastful; for the losers, love does not envy.

After the games, we settled down for our prayer meeting. The subject of our prayers was the present needs of MCBC. I spoke to the congregation about the present status of MCBC ranging from the leadership to worship to evangelism and other concerns.

One big project that we have is our building expansion program. With God’s gracious provision, we aim to double the capacity of our present facility. Right now, the Lord has been blessing us with so many attenders that we are having problems of space every Lord’s day. The suggested expansion program would address this need and create more space for future attenders.

All in all, it was a blessed day. The Lord met with us. We were built up by His word and we enjoyed the fellowship as well as the food.

Thanks be to God for answered prayer. May God give grace for everyone to grow in love! May MCBC not just be a united church but a loving church as well! To Him be the glory for all things!

Pas. Diego Preaches on Love

Pas. Diego Preaches on Love

Some Took the Word "Retreat" Seriously

Some Took the Word “Retreat” Seriously

"Di pa nga tapos mag brew e.."

“Di pa nga tapos mag brew e..”

Haaaa?

Haaaa?

Pas. Diego and MCBC Elders

Pas. Diego and MCBC Elders

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Check out more retreat photos: Open “Retreat-Couples” Page Above

Check out more retreat photos: “Dan and Jaden” at rolsev.wordpress.com

 

Again

Sorry folks. Internet problems prevented us from streaming the worship services yesterday and recording the messages. These are the hazards of high technology. We may have the equipment but if the problem is online, we raise our hands in surrender. We cannot expect too much.

Nonetheless, I am posting a few videos of our gifted men preaching in other churches.

The Lord has provided us with manifold gifts not the least of which are men who can preach the word. This has afforded us opportunities to help a few sister churches who have a lone pastor in the leadership.

May the Lord be pleased to edify all of us through the preaching of His word.

Bro. Mario Betangcol at Molino Grace Bible Church

Bro. Mario Asis at Molino Grace Bible Church

Pas. Alex Bartolome at Molino Grace Bible Church

Pas. Steve Hofmaier at Sovereign Grace Church

Pas. Mike Dairo at Sovereign Grace Church

 

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)