Men of Prayer

Though all are commanded to pray, it is the men who are to lead in prayer. They are to be leaders at home and leaders in Christ’s church. But just as the apostles confessed their inadequacy at this heavenly engagement, we, much lesser men, readily admit of the same difficulty. However spontaneous this exercise may be, we need to be guided as to how to pray.

That was the rationale of our men’s retreat last Saturday. The subject was “The Godly Man’s Prayer Life.” 

The first message tackled the issue of the private prayer life of a man. While a number of reasons could be given as to why we pray, we merely focused on the most basic: it is commanded. Hopefully, this would not be the only reason why we pray. I am sure there are loftier motives. But why the need for a command at all?

The answer is sin. Sin detracts us and hinders us from drawing near to God. It makes us disbelieve God and it causes us to believe in ourselves. It makes the glitter of the world more attractive to us than the unfading beauty of our Savior. It pictures God as unforgiving and unapproachable whenever we come with a heavy heart, convicted of sin.

That is why we need to be commanded. We need to be told. We need to be encouraged. We need to be taught that we can pray without ceasing because God has His hears open to our cries at all times. Approaching God as repentant sinners, undeserving of the least of His mercies, we should never expect to be turned away!

The second message dealt with the practice of public prayer, that is, leading in prayer meetings.

There is a component of public prayer that is absent in private prayer, and that is the element of edification. The men who lead at a prayer meeting do not pray their own personal prayers (much less their personal devotions), they are acting as the voice of the whole congregation as the church draws near to God. Thus, they must pray loud and clear enough to be understood by all.

The bugle call in an army must be distinct enough for the soldiers to know that they are not being called to chow but to attack the enemy! The same is true in public prayer. How can the saints express their agreement when the prayer of the one leading is so indistinct it sounds like gibberish? Or how could the people say amen when they are lulled to dreamland by the circuitous route the prayer takes towards its destination?

The men have to be direct to the point. Long prayers are not necessarily more pious. In fact, God knows what we need even before we begin to pray.

Thanks be to God for the reminders. I pray that the retreat would stimulate more private prayer among the men. In addition, I pray that there would be more edifying prayers in our prayer meetings.

We’ll see this on Thursday!

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Farewells

Farewell to sister Dinna who is leaving tonight for New Jersey, USA. She will be away for four to six months as she meets up with hubby. We will miss her!

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Farewell too to our regular attender Stephen who is moving for good to Cebu. We will surely miss chatting with him after the services!

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Farewell too to Mommy Lily of Molino Grace Bible Church who is now with Christ in glory. May the Lord comfort the family during this time of grief. After preaching at the funeral, I posed with daughter Duch and granddaughter Natalie.

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Day One

Today marks day one of our actual building expansion program. I say actual because day one really started when we began praying that the Lord would provide an extension to our meeting place.

We hope to double the 200 seat capacity of our present building to 400 to comfortably accommodate present as well as future members and visitors. The Lord has tremendously blessed us over the years and this would be our third expansion program after our church building was built in 1989. The last one was in 2011. Indeed, we believe that although men plant and water, the Lord causes the growth.

Presently, one half of our Sunday attenders are either visitors or unbelievers. Half of this consists of the members’ children–a captive audience for the regular preaching of the gospel. The majority of the other half comes from our Bible Studies in the community.

Although we are encouraged at the numbers, we will rejoice with unspeakable joy if our friends and loved ones would also know the Savior whom we know. We are not content in merely seeing a building filled, but a building filled with saved sinners.

May we not therefore slacken in prayer. For after we have done our duty of evangelism, even if aggressive and without let up, the results are exclusively in the Lord’s hands.

We look to the Lord to provide all of our needs. He is a God who hears and answers prayer. May He raise up a multitude for Himself in the community where He has called us to labor. But along with this, may He provide an appropriate meeting place where they will be able to worship Him wholeheartedly as well as undistractedly.

To God be the glory in MCBC.

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Linda and Brenda

Birthday greetings to sister Linda who celebrated her birthday yesterday together with youngest son, Conrad. Linda is one indefatigable senior who has served the Lord with gladness ever since she became a member of MCBC. Her unchanging prayer request is for the salvation of her family.

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Please pray too for sustaining grace to sister Brenda who is suffering from cancer. She will be out of the hospital today, having been confined for a few days due to an infection arising from her low immunity. Providentially, her whole family (except her mom) was there when I visited so I was able to chat with them and do a brief devotional and prayer.

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Depressed Singles?

As I was dusting my bookshelf recently, a book accidentally fell to the floor from the top-most shelf. The title read, “Depression in the Christian Family.” I have never read the book (not that I don’t get depressed) but the curiosity in me made me glance at the Table of Contents.

Chapter 7 caught my attention: it was entitled Singleness. I knew all along that singleness could be a cause of depression. But I thank God that we have a batch of singles in our church who if asked by others whether they were married would reply “No, but I am happily single.”

Nevertheless, taking the dropped book to be a providential cue, I chose this to be the topic of our singles workshop, which I entitled “The Challenge of Singleness.” I could have entitled it “Depression and Singleness” but I should not be surprised if only two people attended. But I was happy that 19 singles participated in our workshop last Thursday.

The main question I threw at them was: What causes depression in singles? I pretended to be a single (I once was) and put myself in their shoes and answered the same question. Our answers were similar: nasty comments, failed expectations, societal labels and stereotypes, social stigma, loneliness, identity crisis, insecurity and low self-esteem.

How can these real challenges be confronted? I read Chapter 7 of the book but I must admit that I profited more from Chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians. In fact, it is from that informative chapter on relationships that I drew my six words of encouragement to the singles.

1. It is not wrong to be single. True, the societal norm is marriage. It even has a Biblical foundation. It is not good for the man to be alone. Yet, notwithstanding Paul’s exhortation to those burning with passion to get married, there is no universal command to get hitched. The world may think it is wrong to be single especially with the passing of years. But to be single is not living a life of disobedience.

2. In fact, it is a gift from God, (underscore “from God”). We rejoice when we receive gifts from men but some of them are redundant, some inappropriate and ill-fitting, some badly timed. God’s gifts are always perfect, well-timed, appropriate and an exact fit. They are for our good. Singleness then should be accepted with joy and not bitterness and should be cause of thanks to God.

3. It is a good state. If ever singleness is praised in this world, it is because of sexual promiscuity or an independently liberal spirit. Otherwise, there is a stigma of being single and left out. But Paul says that it is a good state. In fact, short of issuing a command, he encourages his readers to remain single in view of the things which he mentions.

4. It is also a calling. Being single at this point in time, singles must make the best of their situation to serve God and give glory to Him. If they seek to excel in their vocations, they must strive to be the best Christian singles they can be.

5. It is practical. It is easier to be just thinking of yourself in difficult times such as persecution or economic crisis. But not just in distress, considering the greater flexibility, mobility, time and resources that singles have in their hands, undistracted devotion to the Lord is more easily secured. Other than these, it might also be practical to mention that marriage is not doing very well in this world with 50% divorce rates in what are known as Christian countries. They may be spared from a thousand troubles if they are to remain single.

6. It does not preclude marriage. They don’t have to remain single all their lives. If God is pleased, He can provide a partner for them if that is what they need. But God knows best. Our duty is to pray.

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Happy Birthdays

Happy birthday to my former jogging partner Deo (who celebrated his birthday Thursday, February 19) and May, wife of deacon Cielo (who celebrated her birthday Friday, February 20). May the Lord give you long life and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Love Lived 2

Love is not provoked. Offenses ranging from hearing sarcastic remarks to resurrecting old resolved issues in time of conflict will come. But while the world will resort to verbal and even physical tit-for-tat, love is not easily agitated. It does not fight back. It is not impulsive. It manifests the fruit of the Spirit which is self-control. It is understanding. It is not easily upset but rather keeps its cool.

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. It forgives and forgets. It does not accumulate hurts and develop bitterness. It does not keep a record of offenses for use in future arguments. It has a forgiving spirit that is conscious that everyone sins and deserves God’s wrath. It loves peace and harmony rather than discord. As someone has said, “It is not being hysterical at the historical.” It avoids expressions, such as, “There you go again!”

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. It listens to loving rebuke and correction. It avoids occasions of sin whether on the TV or on the internet. It hates sin and is grieved by it. It studies the word to develop discernment to avoid the things that are evil. It does not tolerate wrongdoing.

Love rejoices in the truth. It enjoys devotions and prayer with spouse. It delights in the Lord’s day and in the ministry of the Word. It does not tolerate lying and half-truths. It seeks lost souls to witness to. It speaks the truth in love.

Love bears all things. It bears the weaknesses of our spouses. It takes on responsibility if it means giving a break to our partner. It is the husband doing housework or child care as the wife and mom goes shopping. It stays by our loved one’s side in time of sickness and pain. It is bearing one another’s burdens. It is sympathizing with our partner in time of grief and heaviness.

Love believes all things. It trusts in each other’s words. It respects the leadership of the husband. It believes in the submission of the wife. It is confident in the husband’s and wife’s faithfulness. It is not suspicious without reason.

Love hopes all things. It gives room for growth and improvement in both of the partners. It prays for spiritual progress in areas of immaturity. It has a positive outlook in the future of the relationship because God’s grace is available to help. It looks forward to the day of perfection in Christ when all sin will be done away with.

Love endures all things. It faces trial dependent on God’s grace so that it is able to endure and to weather the storms of life without parting ways. In the world marital problems lead to divorce. It looks at marital trial as God’s means of conforming to Christ and therefore for each partner’s good. It remembers the marriage vow where it was promised that under all circumstances the partners will stick it out together to the end.

If love is to be true in our relationships, it is love that is lived and not just lipped.

Pictures of the past day:

First Bible Study with Rosanna's Family (Feb 17, 2015)

First Bible Study with Rosanna’s Family and Chalsea’s Classmates (Feb 17, 2015)

It was Chalsea's Bday and Some Classmates Were Invited

It was Chalsea’s 15th Bday; Here with Mama, Lola and Lolo

RBIPT students still at it at 7:40pm in the evening doing Greek long quiz.

RBIPT students still at it at 7:40pm in the evening doing Greek long quiz (Feb 17, 2015).