I am happy to see a church friend come among us at this time. Pastor Bart arrived late Thursday night from a 17-hour flight from the US East Coast via Hong Kong to Manila.
Pastor Bart has been here a couple of times to teach in RBIPT but his longest stay was his first. This was in 1992 when I, being only a pastor of 2 years, worked with him in the leadership of MCBC when my co-elder left for a 7-month furlough. I think he was still in seminary at that time and only three years later would become one of the pastors of the Trinity Church in Montville, New Jersey, well-known for pastor Albert N. Martin (retired) whose cassette tapes became the catalyst for Philippine church reformation in the eighties.
Pas Bart is here for another RBIPT module on Christian Ethics, a study of worldviews and the relevance of the Law in our day. We are expecting about 25 men, mostly from the Visayas and Mindanao. At least 10 of these are first-timers whom we got to know at the recent pastors’ conferences in Valencia and Iligan cities.
Please pray with us that this two-week course would prove profitable to all who attend.
Yesterday, showing no signs of jet lag, Pas Bart preached to us the whole day. After giving a testimony of his conversion experience in the Sunday School, he moved to the topic of anxiety in the morning. This was to be our meditation for the whole day.
The text in the morning was Phil 4:4-9. Every old-timer knows this text. But we need to be reminded time and again not to be anxious. Anxiety is a common malady which hits the mature as well as the young.
After looking at the nature of anxiety, that it was a sinful response to providence, we were led to its treatment. And it consisted of a three-fold regimen. First, was to introduce our problems to God (v6) without neglecting thanksgiving. Second, was to get on a different treadmill, to re-orient our minds and let them dwell on things worthy of thinking about (v8). And thirdly, to implement the exercise plan we have been given, that is to walk in obedience and to cultivate a clean conscience so that the God of peace may walk with us (v9).
The subject was continued in the afternoon. Focus shifted to the Old Testament scriptures, particularly Isaiah. This was by way of expanding the second exhortation above to engage in good meditation. We dwelt mainly on Is 40-45 which were chapters of comfort for the people of God.
The launching point were the three comforting voices of Isaiah 40. The first voice (40:9) called us to meditate on the character of God, to behold His power and immensity, His control over all things. The second voice (40:6) called us to meditate on the abiding word of God whose promises are true and faithful. The third voice (40:3) pointed us to the redemption of God in the person of Jesus Christ, the real solution to the greatest anxiety every sinner ought to have, the judgment of God.
The medical consultation was worth it. We have been seen by the great physician. We have been diagnosed with anxiety. He has given the treatment and told what to do. May He give the grace to apply.