Drawing Together or Drifting Apart?

This was the subject of our couples fellowship held last Friday July 31. I jotted down 15 points in a message that lasted for about 35 minutes. There were 2 rationales, 4 reasons, 3 excuses, 4 exhortations and 2 realities to consider. This was according to how I heard and not according to what was written in the outline of the preacher. I welcome any correction.

What is the rationale for laboring to draw closer and making our marriages grow? One, our spouses are not perfect. In fact, they are far from perfect. Like ourselves, they are sinners. And even if they have been redeemed, enough sin remains to make marriage less than happy. Two, marriage was meant to last. It is not like gum that you chew for a while and stick underneath a chair once it loses its flavor. It is like rollerskating uphill; it takes effort to move upwards; once you stop, you start sliding downwards.

What factors make laboring to draw closer a necessity? One, the multiplicity of distractions. There is just so much business around so as to neglect the most important earthly relationship that we have. Two, the possibility of division. It is a reality that couples drift apart, at times, to the point of no return. One stark evidence of this is the reality of divorce and separation even among Christian couples. Three, there is the reality of the intrinsic differences of men and women. Unity in marriage does not come automatically. These gender differences must be taken into account. Four, there is the inevitability of change. We age; the children grow; situations change. We cannot presume that what applied last year applies today. There needs to be constant evaluation.

What are some excuses people make or can make for not laboring? One, “we have been together for so long that we need to work less than we did before.” Or, “we have been together for so short a time that it’s like we’re still in our honeymoon period.” Two, “why the need to labor when my spouse isn’t cooperating? He or she is not doing what he or she is supposed to do.” Three, “we are far too distant that the gap is impossible to bridge; it’s a hopeless situation.” In reality, these excuses don’t hold water. No couple is exempt from laboring to make their marriages better.

Four exhortations were given: one, never coast! Coasting equals drifting. Don’t be content at being “still married.” Rather, enjoyment of each other ought to grow as the years pass. Two, live with each other, especially the husband to the wife, according to knowledge. Don’t assume you know everything about your spouse. There is no auto-update in married life. Three, consciously delight in your spouse. There is more to the Song of Solomon than just Christ and His church; there is a pattern of delighting in one’s partner that each of us could imitate. Coupled with this is maintaining an awareness of the likes and dislikes of your partner. Four, engage in frequent transparent communication, especially in a context of promoting spiritual growth in each other. Talk about the messages that you hear; engage in joint devotions; encourage each other to read the word.

The devotion ended with two foundational realities: one, we must always remember that marriage is a reflection of the gospel, of the relationship of Christ and His church. We either glorify Christ or not. We either display His relationship to His church in a superior or in a mediocre way. Two, we need to be filled with the Spirit. Who is sufficient? May the Spirit be our help in laboring to draw closer through the years instead of drifting apart.

I hope I reproduced the message well. Here are pictures of 14 cute, smiling couples present during the fellowship (I missed one couple who came late) among other pictures taken.

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Complete with Bodyguards

Complete with Bodyguards

Suspicious, Fixated, Joyful

Sisters Suspicious, Frustrated, and Overjoyed

Sweet Seniors

Sweet Seniors

Start of Session

Start of Session

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Ethics Pics

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Welcoming the Students Monday Afternoon July 20; Some are Manila first-timers

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G2+C2+P4=Biblical Ethics; Yes, that’s what we were taught!

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How many shiny foreheads can you count?

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This is much better lighting; after prayer meeting July 23

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Posing as Tourists at Taal Vista Lodge

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Arm and His Family

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Nice Taal Volcano Background

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Band of Brothers from Bohol

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Eagerly Anticipating Bulalo Dinner

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Where’s the Bulalo?

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Let’s Pray First!

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Oh, there it is!

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Absolutely Green!

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Gina Cooks on Day 3 and 4

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Mad Scramble for Ala Mode

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The roof’s falling!

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The students are friendly, don’t be afraid..

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RBIPT Participated in the Metro Manila Earthquake Drill, 10:30am, July 30

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Drop and Cover for 45 seconds..

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D-Day; Final Exams

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Searching for the Answer..

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Teacher’s Favorite: Dried Mango Chips

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Thumbs Up!

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Leave some for me..

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We Deeply Appreciate the Labors of Annie, Mary and Marilyn (not here)

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First Priority to Get a Free Book

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Hmm, which book is the thickest?

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Fall in line, please!

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More interested in the books than in the lecture!  (joke!)

Thanks be to God for a fruitful two weeks of learning and being refreshed from God’s word. I never planned to take the course; I merely wanted to sit in for a few days but I was drawn in; after two days of listening, I decided to finish the course and take all of the tests. I greatly appreciate Pas. Bart’s coming over to teach us rich Biblical material on the subject of Christian ethics. May what we learned not just make us know more but may it impact the lives of all of us who attended.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Anxiety Sunday

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.

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Two Barts

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Preaching in the AM Service

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Fruit of Funeral Service and Visitation: Johnny’s Brother Attends

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Pastor Bart wore the right outfit for the occasion.

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With Old Friends

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Chatting With Pastor Alex’s Darlings

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I didn’t know we had another red-haired member.

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PM Service

All Things

Jacob could cry despairingly to his sons after their return from Egypt (Gen 42:36), “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me.” To lose his children one by one was like a triple blow that knocked his spiritual senses off-center. 

But had he had a piece of Paul’s epistle to the Romans (8:28) the situation might have been better and he might have said “..nevertheless, all these things are for me.”

In fact, they really were. The painful circumstance Jacob found himself in was the proverbial blessing in disguise. The forced migration of his family into Egypt was a providential favor to ensure their survival in a time of great national distress. It also meant a sweet reunion with long-lost Joseph who himself experienced tumultuous times only to realize later on that God would overrule his bitter experiences for good.

But do we not at times behave like Jacob instead of Paul when similar things happen? When the days are dark and the sun never seems to come out of its hiding place? When everything seems to be going wrong? When trials accumulate and there is no breathing spell? Don’t we entertain the thought deep inside that all of these things are meant to oppress us if not crush us into despair and destruction? That all of these things are against us?

Thank God for His whole counsel. His word is clear. We now know better than Jacob. Paul proclaims with confident assertiveness (Rom 8:28): We know all things work together for good. He knows it first-hand and he knows it by the way God has dealt with His own people in biblical history. He knows it and we ought to know it.

Our frail minds are prone to think that good things work for good while bad things work for evil. But no matter how unequally yoked good things are with bad things, God in a mysterious way causes both to work hand in hand, to work together as partners in order to mold us into the people He wants us to be. What a blessing! Nothing happens in our universe that is detached from our sanctification. God is using all things to work together for our spiritual good. All things are His servants (Ps 119:91).

But the promise is not for public consumption. It is for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. God has a people whom He has called to eternal glory and whatever it takes to humble their pride and mold them into the likeness of His Son, making them fit for His glorious purpose, that He will do.

What blessed comfort. 

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I was invited to preach at Calvary Reformed Evangelical Church last Sunday morning.

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I preached on Rom 8:28. This picture was just before I preached.

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Atty Amor leads the worship service.

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Two Young Gospel Workers are Presented to the Congregation; Mark the guy on the left side has attended MCBC for the past 3 weeks.

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Former MCBC Members Jenny (and daughter Alison) and Milet

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Milet’s Family

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Former MCBC attender Faye

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Former MCBC deacon and his family: Nonoy, Jocelyn, Jobel and Bianca

Facing Sickness

We missed one of our seniors last Saturday. He is seriously sick. Considering that older people with their weaker constitution are likely to develop illness more than those who are in their prime, I chose the topic “Facing Sickness Biblically” as our meditation for our Senior Moments last weekend.

I drew two general truths and eight specific guidelines from the word of God to help the seniors respond to sickness in a Biblical way.

The first great truth is that mortality and morbidity will be inevitable in this fallen world. Had our first parents not sinned, we would not be talking about sickness and death. There would be no medical profession or hospitals to speak about. But sin has brought a curse upon this world so that people get sick and die. We live in an unideal world where toxins from the environment, genetic abnormalities, stress, sinful habits, and age result to sickness and even death (2 Cor 4:16; Ps 90:10; Rom 6:23).

The second is that granting that there are earthly causes for sickness, still, God is sovereign and in control of all things, even sickness. Sickness and death do not happen by chance. God oversees even the movement of unseen cells in our bodies. Life and death are appointed; sickness is no exception (Ex 4:11; Rom 8:28; Heb 9:27; Prov 16:33; Job 1:21-22).

The eight particular principles are as follows: First, be a good steward of your body. Take care what you eat; have a healthy regimen of rest and exercise (1 Cor 6:20; 10:31). Second, if afflicted with sickness, pray for healing. The Scriptures are replete with examples of God’s healing power. Nothing is too difficult for Him (Jas 5:14).

The third is, be near to God always (Ps 73:26; 28). In anticipating flesh and heart failure, the psalmist proclaims that God is his strength and portion forever and God’s nearness is his good. This is better than the best earthly medication. The fourth is, when afraid or anxious, pray and trust God (Ps 56:3; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7). We admire David for his courage. He was a champion in many wars, fearing no Goliaths. But this valiant warrior was still frail man and fear overtook him at times. His advice in Ps 56 is invaluable.

The fifth is, strengthen yourself in God’s word (Ps 1:2-3; 2 Cor 4:16). Better to immerse ourselves in God’s word than be caught up spending excessive amounts of time reading literature about our sickness. There is a promise of strength in reading God’s word; medical literature can offer little comfort, if any. The sixth is, fix your faith on Christ (Mt 14:28ff; Heb 12:2). The circumstances of life can have an overwhelming effect upon our spirits so as to bring us down. Serious ailments can come unexpected. We will not sink if our faith is focused on Christ.

The seventh is, make sure your assurance is well-grounded (1 Jn 5:13). We do not know whether the sickness that has been diagnosed will be our last. We better make sure that our faith is real and proven. We better make sure our faith truly rests on Christ and His work. Eternity is just too long for us to be presumptuous. Lastly, give glory to God in your sickness (1 Cor 10:31). Maintain a good testimony even when bed-ridden. Run the Christian race well even when immobile. There is no excuse for not giving glory to God whenever and wherever.

Let’s not get sick. But if we do, we have these truths to hold on to.

Senior Moments 06-27-15

Senior Moments 06-27-15

Mario Leads Hymn Guessing Game

Mario Leads Hymn Guessing Game

Thanks to the Singles for their Excellent Service

Thanks to the Singles for their Excellent Service

Invitingly delicious. This is healthy food!

Invitingly delicious. This is healthy food!

28 Years

All praise and glory be to God for keeping us for all of 28 years. That long history has not been without its downs and distresses; nevertheless, God’s work in this place continues to flourish and press on under His mighty blessing!

MCBC began with 22 founding members on June 20, 1987. That membership has since grown five-fold, not counting those who have moved on to other places. What began as a Bible study of about 10 people has now grown to a ministry that caters to about 200 or more on a Lord’s day.

Looking back at the past, God has truly been faithful. An evangelistic saturation campaign in 1984 of close to a hundred homes in the immediate community netted us merely one soul. Since then however, the Lord has brought many attenders from within and without the subdivision and opened up uncountable doors of evangelistic opportunity for the gospel.

From a foreign-missionary led endeavour, the church is now led by a plurality of three local pastors and five deacons.

There was a time when we were dependent on invited speakers when our missionary went on furlough abroad. Now the Lord has established a pastoral training ministry and gifted men to train so that rarely do we run out of men to preach.

From member’s homes to a rented facility which we called ‘the fellowship house’, the Lord provided a building of our own in 1989. This was extended in 1992. Then again in 2012, now with air-conditioning. Yesterday, we inaugurated our third extension, to fit about 400 in our worship area. In addition, the Lord gifted us with an annex building a few years ago to house our seminary and living quarters for the students.

God has been good to us over the years. To Him we give the glory for all that has taken place. Blessings abound but we do not rest complacent. We continue to look to Him for grace to be faithful. We continue to plead for the salvation of lost souls. We continue to thank and praise Him for all of His undeserved favor.

Yesterday was a blessed day. We had as our guest speaker, Pas. Rodel Lasco of the Trinity Bible Church in San Pablo. He had a fitting text in Is 66:1-2. I was also overjoyed to see former members who are now with sister churches share the joy of the occasion with us.

As we sung in our last hymn in the morning: To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

We had a good crowd.

We had a good and attentive crowd.

Pas. Alex leads the anniversary service.

Pas. Alex led the service.

Pas. Alex follows my routine when I'm on the pulpit.

He follows my routine when I’m on the pulpit.

Old-Timer's Testimony: Roland is 26 years with MCBC.

Old-Timer’s Testimony: Roland has been with MCBC for 26 years.

Relatively New Member: Sharon is 6 years with MCBC.

Relatively New: Sharon has been with MCBC for six years.

Pastor Rodel Lasco

Pastor Rodel Lasco preaches on Isaiah 66:1-2

Brethren from Kalibo and Cainta churches

Former MCBC Members now with Kalibo and Cainta churches

From San Pablo Church

Former members now with San Pablo Church

From Salitran Church

Former MCBC Family now with Salitran Church: Jonathan Recently Baptized

James and former member Janeth from San Pedro Church

James and former member Janeth now with San Pedro Church

Brethren from Naga Church

Brethren from Naga Church

Con's Officemates

Con’s Officemates

My Relatives Attend Too

My Relatives Attend Too

Sudi's Co-Workers

Sudi’s Co-Workers

Sisters

Nadine, France and Sha with Dan and Job

Pastor-Chatter

Pastor-Chatter

Other Guests

Maling and Her Family

Coffee and Ice Cream

Men’s Coffee Fellowship

Wife Talk

Wife Talk Photo-bombed

New Covered Walkway: Where's The Lechon?

New Covered Walkway: Where’s The Lechon?

Time for your milk baby!

Time for your milk baby!

Only 11 of 22 founding members remain.

Only 11 of 22 founding members remain.