Valencia

It’s my fourth day here in the Central Mindanao city of Valencia in Bukidnon province. Malaybalay city, about an hour’s bus ride to the north, may be the capital but Valencia is the larger city in terms of population and commerce. It’s progress and potential can be measured by the fact that a second Jolibee outlet has been opened in recent years and just lately a 24-hr McDo has just been inaugurated. I guess that’s the easier way to measure the economic growth of a place. But the earning capacity is not enough to compete with the more prosperous cities outside Bukidnon which have SM Malls.

But material prosperity is just skin deep. The real issue is how far has the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated this mountainous landlocked locale. I was happy to see many Christian churches along the highway and I hear that successful mission endeavors abound in the mountains. I was also elated to hear that many have recently taken a second look at the teachings they have held and the traditions they have practiced in light of the truth of God’s word. Historic Reformed doctrine has attracted quite a number.

Having a church plant in Valencia and wishing to do our share in the work of reformation, we began a pastors conference here last year (actually the second, the first one was hosted by our sister church in Cebu) which was well-attended. This annual pastors conference had as its theme this year the controversial topic of The Doctrines of Grace.

I was encouraged to see close to 100 participants. More could have come had their churches not sponsored camps and conferences on the same dates. There were a few pastoras but these were actually the wives of the pastors who came. Here, in many instances, the pastor’s wife automatically becomes a pastora. But these women were kind enough to help in the food and accommodations and we allowed them to sit-in at the back. They were not passive participants though as you could hear their amens along with the men and at some points the high notes of their praise upstaged the men’s singing.

Pastors and leaders came from as far as Bohol in the Visayas and Cotabato in the South. The province of Misamis Oriental in the north was well represented by participants coming from Naawan, Opol, Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog. We had people from Agusan del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Davao city itself. But the majority were from Bukidnon province.

By and large, the spirit of the two-day nine-message conference was good. I preached on TUP and my co-speaker preached on LI. That makes up TULIP, the acrostic that expresses God’s sovereign grace in salvation. Like the conference in our sister church in Cubao there were a few pointless, sometimes even provocative questions in the Q and A but I believe that most who came were sincere to learn and to be taught.

For some, the theme was an eye-opener. For others who are reforming, especially those who are at the receiving end of criticism from their peers and superiors, the conference was an encouragement to press on. Still, for others whose numbers have dwindled ever since they began teaching these truths, the meeting was comforting.

May these pastors go home to their respective places as noble Bereans not just to intellectualize the word but to see these truths humble them in their own lives and ministries that glory would be given where it belongs, to God rather than to man.

After the conference, I had the opportunity of preaching to 400 young people at the Higaonon youth conference up in the hills of Malaybalay, Bukidnon. I pray that these youth would bear the yoke of Christ early and be saved young.

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Registration Committee Composed of Fellowship Attenders Hard at Work

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Men from Tagum, Davao del Norte and Dinagat Island, Surigao

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Hymn Singing Just Before I Preached on Total Depravity

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Group Pose (Left)

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Group Pose (Right)

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Bro Alvin, our man in Valencia, gives some pointers

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Men from different municipalities in Bohol

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Men from Cagayan de Oro

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Men from Davao City and Agusan del Sur

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Men from Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Norte

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Pas Steve Lectures in the Afternoon

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RBIPT Reunion at Town Plaza

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Davao Group Leads Morning Devotions at Our Inn; They Invite the Owner (4th from L)

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Our Man in Digos Uses the Hood of a Vehicle as Makeshift Pulpit as He Leads the Devotions

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Boy Comes up Close and Personal with the Owner

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Thanks to the Women Who Assisted in Food and Lodging

Gatherings

I was happy to see about seven ladies from our Cooper street Bible Study attend last Sunday morning. Most of these are heading to Malaysia to work as domestics. It was their first time to attend a Bible study last Saturday. Pas. Mike prayed for them in the pastoral prayer.

Saturday too was the last Bible study of Bro. Louie at Joy street. He left for Perth, Australia last Tuesday and will not be with us until November. I continue to pray for his family that there would be souls that would follow his footsteps in trusting Christ for salvation. Five of those who attend the regular Bible study attended the youth meeting last Friday.

Last Monday, a dozen pastors gathered at MCBC for a fraternal. Pas. Joey Sarmiento gave a devotional on “The Pastor’s Care for His Wife.” The pastors enjoyed good fellowship with one another.

I thank God that I have a wife who is easy to love and care for. I am helped rather than hindered in my ministry. When I schedule pastoral oversight meetings with the members, my wife gets the pole position.

7 of these ladies attended last Sunday AM

Cooper St BS last Saturday – 7 of these ladies attended last Sunday AM

Joy St BS every Saturday afternoon

Joy St BS every Saturday afternoon

Pas Joey on

Pas Joey on “Care for the Wife”

Aha! Three Wives Were There!

Aha! Three Wives Were There Too!

It was Pas. Jeremiah's Bday too!

It was Pas. Jeremiah’s Bday!

Group Picture

Group Picture

Redeeming the Time

We had 21 young people attend the youth fellowship last night. Pas. Mike encouraged the attenders to spend their summers wisely and not to waste their time on foolish things. The text was Eph 5:15-16.

Dinner was hefty (thanks to the duo of Susan and Sudi) and was served prior to the devotions. I trust the minds of our teens were still alert as they listened. But they had no questions so it looked like they got the point.

Pam led some interesting games afterwards. After the enjoyment, we bade goodbye.

Time redeemed.

The Night Began with Dinner

The Night Began with Dinner

Then Teaching..

Then Teaching..

Then Posing...

Then Posing…

Then Thinking...

Then Thinking…

Then Playing...

Then Playing…

And Playing...

And Playing…

And Pretending.

And Pretending.

Worldliness

Worldliness can easily be shrugged off as a minor inconsistency to what is a normal Christian life. It is not as wicked as taking another man’s wife or even taking another man’s life. It is not as evil as blaspheming God’s name or reasoning out that He does not exist. Rather, the twisted logic goes, it is something that every believer has to live with as he goes about business in this fallen world with all of its material attractions and entertainments. Anyway, this problem will disappear as soon as the new world comes.

But is worldliness a benign threat that should cause no alarm or does it pose a clear and present danger to our souls? Should it be tolerated as a relatively harmless weakness or should it be viewed as a malignancy that eats up our spiritual lives and leaves our souls a barren waste?

We let our invited speaker, Pas. Mon Macapagal, pastor of the Cubao Reformed Baptist Church answer these questions in our recently held annual church retreat. Pas. Mon preached two messages on the theme “You and Me Against the World-The Church and The Individual Christian Against the World.”

We were reminded that worldliness is not just a way of life but primarily a state of heart. The change must therefore come from within. There must be a renewing of the mind, an ordering of attitudes to value those things which truly matter and not those things which are fleeting and temporal.

It was also pointed out that the temptation is so strong that a clear imperative had to be given by the apostle John in his first epistle for the children of God not to love the world. Included in that command is the duty to mortify lustful desires and boastful pride and the motivation to that duty by saying that the love of the Father is not with those who love this world.

We were then given a few practical directives by our speaker as to how to overcome worldliness beginning with examining the inclination of our hearts, then to setting the right priorities in life, being committed to resist the creeping influence of worldliness, availing of the means of grace to strengthen us, and making a stand for God and choosing to serve Him rather than the idol of money and material things. Last but not the least was the reminder that one of the sins that Christ died for on the cross was worldliness-a great motive for us to repent of this sin which so easily entangles us.

We missed a few people at the retreat but the fellowship of those who were there was warm and sweet. We thank God for using Pastor Mon in our midst and pray that the Lord would bless His ministry in our sister church in Cubao with abundant fruit.

May God use the messages that were preached to make MCBC a more heavenly minded church without ever losing its earthly usefulness.

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Enter March

Construction work continues with our building expansion. I was elated that a few of the workers including the engineers attended worship last Sunday. Adjustments were made as the rear entrance to the worship hall was no longer usable. The side exits have become the main entrance to the preaching area. Thanks be to God that distractions were minimal last Lord’s day.

My Office is Now in Ruins!

My Office is Now in Ruins! (3-2-15)

What Was Once the Entrance is Now a Gaping Hole

What Was Once the Entrance is Now a Gaping Hole (3-2-15)

Pray We Finish Before the Rains Come

Pray We Finish Before the Rains Come (3-2-15)

Meanwhile, it was good to listen to and critique the RBIPT students and the regular MCBC preachers as they took turns in expounding successive verses from the book of Philippians at the RBIPT preaching clinic. We opened the evening sessions to the public so that some members were able to attend.

May God use these sessions to improve the capability and effectiveness of the students in presenting the truth to people. We read in Acts 14 that God uses a certain manner of preaching to save the lost. Paul preached boldly yet with reliance upon the Lord.

Preaching Clinic (3-3-15)

Preaching Clinic (3-3-15)

We were also able to visit one of our college teens, Kathlyn, who was involved in a vehicular accident at the West Service Road near the Villamor flyover early Saturday morning. A drunk driver fell asleep on the wheel of her car causing her vehicle to smash the side of Kathyln’s car which was heading on the opposite direction. The impact threw Kathlyn who was sitting on the left rear side to the right side of the vehicle causing her face to hit some of the car’s accessories.

The accident created a monstrous traffic jam Saturday morning but thank God, all three victims of the accident are safe. Kathlyn suffered a huge cut on her forehead which has now been sutured. Please pray for her recovery. She is still experiencing headaches.

I took the opportunity of my hospital visit to point her to Christ and to be urgent about it considering the uncertainty of life. I told her to be thankful that God was good to her and spared her from more serious injuries.

Young people, be urgent in trusting Christ for salvation!

Visiting Kathyln in Far-Flung St Luke's QC

Visiting Kathyln in Far-Flung St Luke’s QC (3-8-15)

My She Get Well Soon!

May She Get Well Soon!

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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