Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Knowing the Grace of Jesus in Christmas (Part 4 of 4)

 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)

Except maybe for a proverb, a single verse of Scripture must not be read apart from it's immediate context. So we have to read 2 Corinthians 8:9 with the verses preceding it. When we do, we will see a church excelling in many areas, but Paul wants them to grow in a neglected area-- the area of giving and self-sacrifice. So Paul wrote about the wonderful brethren in Macedonia. The Macedonians were poor, yet they sacrificially gave for the needs of others. Here is a poor congregation, making themselves even poorer to for the welfare of others. Paul was persuading them to imitate the Macedonians (verses 1-8)

Here comes verse 9. Though the Macedonians were good examples of giving and self-sacrifice, the perfect and ultimate example is the sacrifice offered by the Lord Jesus. If we truly understand the grace of Jesus in Christmas, we will be gracious to others in how we serve them and in how we treat them. Perhaps the most popular portion of Scripture about the Lord's self-humbling is Philippians 2. There Paul urged his readers to have the same mindset as Christ (Phil. 2:5). Doing so will lead us away from selfishness. It will make us look to the interest of others (Phil. 2:3-4)

Theologian J. I. Packer explains the spirit of Christmas this way:

"... the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellow men, giving time, trouble, care, and concern, to do good to others—and not just their own friends—in whatever way there seems need. There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives." (Knowing God; 20th anniversary edition, p.64)

Knowing the Grace of Jesus in Christmas (Part 3 of 4)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
This is the connection between Bethlehem and Calvary; the manger and the cross. As God, he is immortal. He could not die. His incarnation was necessary for in God's design of the redemption, someone must be sacrificed for the expiation of sin.

The purpose of his poverty is laid here: "so that by his poverty, we might become rich", implying of course that before the great sacrifice, before we have inherited all the spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3), we were in a state of poverty. We were poor in the sense that we are subject to pain and suffering as a result of the sin that entered through one man and spread to all mankind. It is a misery so great that would last for all eternity-- if the Lord had not shown his mercy. But he did showed his mercy by sending his Son to deal with this root problem of all our miseries namely "sin".

The rich and glorious King came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:7). And because the root problem of sin has been dealt with, we are now rich. Every spiritual blessing is ours. We are already given much benefit today, and more will be given in eternity: "so that by his poverty, we might become rich."

Knowing the Grace of Jesus in Christmas (Part 2 of 4)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
"He became poor", not by ceasing to be God or taking off any of his divine attributes, but by adding another nature to his divinity. He became flesh (incarnation). And when he came in to the world, he did not choose a palace as a birthplace, rather he chose to be born in an inn where there was no room for him. He was placed not in the finest crib but in a manger.

Becoming poor meant veiling his glory with human flesh. Yes, that glory so bright that not even angels could look upon directly with their bare eyes must now be hidden in frail humanity.

The Mighty One was born a real baby. The one who was sustaining the world was at the same time dependent on his parents. He cries when he is hungry or when his diaper is wet as if he was saying: "Mother, Mother help me"-- yet if he will not restrain his power he would survive anyway. For he doesn't need the help of human hands in order to survive because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25).

Becoming poor meant though he owns all the living creatures in the oceans, he would have to eat a small if that is all his carpenter foster father Joseph could afford.

Becoming poor also meant submitting himself to human vulnerability to pain and suffering; to the abuses of sinful man, to be insulted, to be spit upon, to be accused of wrongdoing when he knew no sin-- a suffering ending ultimately at the cross.

Knowing the Grace of Jesus in Christmas (Part 1 of 4)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Iglesia ni Cristo ministers teach that Jesus was non-existent before he was conceived by Mary. He was just an idea in the mind of the Father. But this verse poses a major problem to that view. You see, Jesus was born in a poor family yet this verse says that isn't Jesus' original state. He was rich before he became poor. If he did not exist before he was born into Joseph and Mary's family, in what sense was he rich before he was poor?

This verse will only make sense in a framework which views Jesus as pre-existing before he became man (John 1:1; 8:58)  And in that pre-incarnate state, he was equal in glory with the Father (Phil. 2:6; John 17:5). He was not just a pre-existing spectator to the Father's activities; he himself was very active in creation and in governing the affairs of nature and history (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:10; Col. 1:16-17). All privileges in the heavens and on the earth were his; in this sense he was rich.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Should Pangasinan Fear the Skin Disease Prophecy?: an Examination of Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj's Recent Track Record

As someone who ministers in Pangasinan, it is unavoidable for me to be asked about  Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj's prophecies. His video clips went viral over social media because it is claimed that he correctly predicted Typhoon Yolanda in April, 2013, six months before it hit Samar and Leyte. While he mentioned several places in his talk, the people closest to me are most disturbed by his prophecy concerning our beloved province. He proclaimed:
“The Lord says there is a place called PANGASINAN. The Lord says it is in the northernmost part in your land. From there a grievous disease will spread all over the world. That will consume the flesh of men; all their upper (outer) skin will begin to decay. It will pierce through the bones. The fear of this disease will spread all over the world. The Lord said that this (disease) will begin from the Philippines.”

These are really horrifying words especially to the less equipped Christians. How should we then respond?

According to the Holy Scriptures, the way to test the authenticity of a prophet and his prophecy is to wait and see if the prophecy takes place:
"You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken." Deuteronomy 18:21-22b (NIV)

But in this case, we don't have to wait. Since this is not Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj's first time to prophesy, what we can do is to test the validity of his claim to be a prophet by examining his track record. My judgment is that he is a false prophet for two recent blemishes on his credentials.

Sundar was one of the group of prophets who prophesied that there will be a devastating war by the Arab nations against Israel beginning in December of 2012. He said Israel was under God's protection since 1967, but this time God will no longer fight in their behalf. He included some details in his prophecy like:
  •     a ten-story building exploding and crumbling with dust and smoke
  •     a missile falling on a high-rise hotel
  •     warplanes flying all over the sky
  •     dead bodies lying on the streets everywhere
  •     having no allies, the Prime Minister will give way half of the city

He then urged Christians to move to Israel "without delay" and stay in the land "because the prayers of the righteous are needed". Yet even Sundar  does not seem to believe his prophecy because he stayed in India in December of  2012. See
Hannah Weiss report HERE.

He predicted that in October 8, 2011 (coinciding with the Yom Kippur), "the church will enter into a new season, a new era, like she has never seen in the entire church history." This new era will be marked by the following things:

    a. There will be a new level of the demonstration of signs and wonders in the church.
Every Christian, not just pastors will be a miracle worker. The signs and wonders that will be experienced by the church will be at an unprecedented level. Yes, you will find no precedent not even in the Bible. Unbelievers who come in the atmosphere of the churches will drop and fall on their knees and cry out to be saved -- even without the preaching of the word.

    b. The church will take on a new identity, from an unholy church to a holy church; from an unbelieving church to a believing church.

    c. There’ll be a great increase in revelational knowledge of God and the things of God. The mysteries of God will be known to the world.

    d. There’ll be a great harvest of souls.
In contrast to the small harvest in the church's evangelistic efforts, there will be a large harvest starting Oct. 8, 2011. People will go and come out seeking where the church is. Angels will appear to people in visions and dreams. These angels will specifically name the church and the pastor they should seek and instruct them: If you go to that church, and if you ask the pastor (specifically named) to pray, you will be healed.”

    e. The spiritual realm will become very, very visible to the believers.
Seeing God face to face will no longer be exclusive to the likes of Moses and Enoch. Every single believer will experience this.

    f. A prophetic company will rise up from the church.
Everyone in church including newly born infants will prophesy. Sundar explains further:
Which means, every pastor will become a prophetic pastor. Every evangelist will become a prophetic evangelist. Every apostle will become a prophetic apostle. Every teacher will become a prophetic teacher, every minister of God will  become a prophetic minister of God. Every person that is named of Christ will no more be an ordinary believer but you will be a prophetic person. You will see visions, you will prophesy, you will dream dreams and God will use you prophetically to set the captive free. This is what God is going to do in the new season.
See also Abugian's " Ten Convincing Proofs That Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj is Truly a Prophet (NOT!)" . For those who prefer examining primary sources, read the transcript of Sundar's talk HERE.


What is being sensationalized in the social media is the supposed fulfilled vague prophecy about the typhoon in Samar and Leyte. Yet our country is ranked by the World Risk Report as the third most dangerous place to live in in 2012 for the many dangers we face all-year round. In fact, If I will claim to be a prophet, name provinces which are known typhoon gateways and predict a calamity, there is a good probability that my "prophecy" will be fulfilled. What is not being discussed in the social media are the serious blemishes in Sundar's track record as a prophet.

Claiming to be a prophet when you are not is a very serious matter. The Law given to Moses prescribes capital punishment for any false prophet:

"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death." (Deuteronomy 18:20)

So my fellow Pangasinenses, should we fear Sundar's skin disease prophecy? In the light of our examination of his recent track record, we can conclude that Sundar is a false prophet. And if he is indeed a false prophet, this is what the Bible tells us:
"Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:22c)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Vinedresser, the True Vine, and the Branches (John 15:1-11), part 2 of 2

We easily overlook the word "true" in Jesus' clam "I am the true vine" and so we miss its significance. He was building on the Old Testament concept of Israel as God's vine (Psalm 80:8-9; Isa. 5:1-7). Under the new concept, there is only one vine in God's garden. A person must be attached to him to be counted as God's own. Being an Israelite doesn't automatically mean you are in God's vineyard; you must be connected to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Somehow I fear, that some of you think you are close to God just because you are connected to an organization formed 17 years ago. You may be diligent in attending the services and activities of Guiding Light Christian Church Dagupan. You may have signed the membership documents. When you are asked by friends, "To what church do you belong?", you answer proudly and without hesitation, "GLCC Dagupan". Surely, many souls were enriched here for all these years. Yet they grew spiritually not because they belong to a special organization, but because they heeded the command to abide in Christ. Even your stay at GLCC Dagupan will not do you any good unless you abide in Jesus.

Fruit-bearing: the result of abiding in Christ (John 15:5)
I heard it a few times; at least once or twice from the mouth of pastors. They assert that "fruit" here means "souls won for Jesus". And so these people measure your fruitfulness by counting the number of souls you bring to the church. Perhaps this is a result of the Evangelism Fallacy. They may have failed to understand that the command to evangelize and make disciples were not given to individuals but to the church. And the church fulfills the Great Commission as various gifts and skills empowered by the Spirit are faithfully used by its members. The gift and skill of gospel communication is one of them, but it is not the only gift.

So what are fruits? I propose that fruits are:

  • The manifestations of a godly life (Gal. 5:22-23). In contrast with the works of the flesh (5:19-21).
  • Accomplishments of eternal value  (John 15:5b). Jesus doesn't mean here that a man separated from him could no longer do woundrous feats. He could still conquer lands, build structures, invent useful things for humanity, create breathtaking artworks-- all the good things in man's eyes. By his common grace, even non-Christians could do great things. What he means by saying “part from me you could do nothing” are deeds that will be remembered and rewarded in eternity.

C. T. Studd said it well: “Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.” Only deeds done for Christ and produced out of abiding in him are the ones that will last for all eternity. What a joy reserved for those who would cling to Christ! Not so to the wicked. The destiny of those who will not bear fruit is eternal destruction (John 15:6; Matt. 3:10-12)

Abiding in Christ vs. Christmas Tree Spirituality

Perhaps you were frightened by the mention of fire and destruction in verse 6. So now you make a resolution: “I will try my best to show fruit so I will not be judged.” You don't get it man! What is commanded of us is to abide in him, and by abiding in him, the branches will bear fruit naturally. Aside from falling into "Salvation by works" mentality,  the other danger with this resolution is we might present a Christmas tree spirituality. It's like bringing a shrub indoors. You attach to it artificial fruits: shining balls, sweet candies, miniature figures and other decors. You display a form of spirituality and morality yet it did not come from the true vine. It's all flesh, devoid of the Holy Spirit's power. What God wants are fruits produced in branches by being nourished by him.
“To be connected to the vine means that the life of Jesus is flowing through us, and this leads to fruitfulness. Fruitfulness will be the inevitable outcome of an interior spiritual life with Jesus” (Gary Burge, NIVAC)
I like the quote because it shows how the fruitbearing operates:
  1. it is from the life of Jesus flowing in us. And since it is Jesus, how could he be fruitless? Never!
  2. it takes place inwardly, not a fruit artificially attached.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Vinedresser, the True Vine, and the Branches (John 15:1-11), part 1 of 2

Among the “I am” Sayings of Jesus, what makes this one unique is the prominent role given to the Father. He is the Vinedresser. That truth alone should us comfort in the assurance that the gardener is not lacking in skill. He is a perfect vinedresser. Some of his actions may be unpleasant to us branches but we have to trust that the vinedresser knows what he is doing. Some of the things the Vinedresser does are two time-tested practices in viticulture:

a. Taking away fruitless branches
Someone is absent in this scene—Judas—he just left a few hours ago to betray his Lord in exchange of 30 pieces of silver. Just like the rest of them, he too was exposed to Jesus' teaching for three long years. But he developed no love for the words of Christ. Judas is unclean (John 13:10-11). He is an example of a branch that was taken away. Those who will persist in their love for sin shall be thrown away from the vine for the health of the vine.

b. Pruning fruit-bearing branches for improved production
The Greek for 'prunes' also means cleans. The means of cleaning the vine is the word of God (verse 3). Three years of continued exposure to the words of Jesus made them clean. And so as long as you keep on exposing yourself to the word of God, you are being cleaned for a fruitful life. Merrill Tenney comments:

“The means by which pruning or cleaning is done is the Word of God. It condemns sin; it inspires holiness; it promotes growth. As Jesus applied the words God gave him to the lives of the disciples, they underwent a pruning process that removed evil from them and conditioned them for further service.” (John and Acts, EBC Vol. 9)

The place of this pruning process is the doctrine of sanctification where we are changed into his image more and more. Sanctification is God's will for us (I Thess 4:3). If you have stayed long enough in the vine, you know that pruning often involves pain. For sure it would be unpleasant, yet it's end result is greater fruitfulness for the vine (Hebrews 12:5-11).

The need to prune sometimes  involves sin just like in the case of David. For this reason, we should not despise those who have underwent severe discipline because of some grievous sin. If they have already repented, and they have undergone that painful process of restoration, then expect productivity from them. Expect to be blessed when you are near them. If they have already humbled themselves before the Lord, they will soon be lifted up (James 4:10).

The need to prune is sometimes preventive of sin as in the case of Paul. "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." (2 Corinthians 12:7)

The need to prune sometimes involves  no known sin at all, as in the case of Job.  Here is a man walking uprightly yet he was put to some of the most unbearable tests. In fact, the Lord is so proud of him. He told Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8)

So before you murmur and complain, “I am walking in holiness Lord. I can't understand. Why are you allowing this suffering in my life Lord?”, consider the possibility that the Lord may be so proud of you as His child. Perhaps he told Satan, “Have you considered my servant __________? (put your name in the blank). There is no one in Pangasinan like him.”

Maybe you are already fruitful, but there is still room for improving your yield; so he lets you go to that painful process called pruning. It may not pleasant at the present time but soon you will see the yield and your joy will be complete.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Index: WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH: Metaphors of Faithful Christian Service in Difficult Times

Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The Devoted Soldier
Part 3 - The Rule-Abiding Athlete
Part 4 - The Hard-Working Farmer (with Conclusion)

THE HARD-WORKING FARMER (Part 4 of 4: When the Going Gets Tough: Metaphors of Faithful Christian Service in Difficult Times)

"The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." (2 Timothy 2:6)

Last year, the National Bureau of Investigation reported a large-scale pyramid scheme that victimized some 15,000 people in Visayas and Mindanao. The culprit is Manuel Amalilio through his Malaysia-based company. The total amount of money involved is said to be around 12 billion pesos. Though I symphatize with the victims, I see that people want to get rich quick without much effort. The multitudes of people falling in line before a lotto outlet once the jackpot hit nine digits is also an indicator of this.

There is no instant income in farming. For instance, planting onions would take three to five months before you could harvest; and while waiting you have to work hard. The idea of working hard for a long period of time in a farm, enduring heat or rain, is simply not appealing to us. Yet for Paul, a faithful servant of God must imitate the hardworking farmer's work ethic. The assurance Paul gives is that if we end endure hardships in serving God, we will enjoy the fruits of our labors when harvest time comes.

I started this series by showing how tough if is for our Christian brothers in America with the current president's agenda regarding gay marriage. Things only got worse since then with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act.

In his inaugural address, President JFK's word: "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." While we Christians should be eager to heed those words, what could we do when the government says, "Because of your gospel convictions, our country does not need you."

In moments like this, we turn to another quote commonly attributed to JFK's father, Joseph P. Kennedy:
"When the Going Gets Tough,the Tough Get Going"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE RULE-ABIDING ATHLETE (Part 3 of 4: When the Going Gets Tough: Metaphors of Faithful Christian Service in Difficult Times)

LEFT: Antonio Margarito's illegal hand wraps confiscated by the California State Athletic Commission just before the Margarito-Mosley bout (Jan. 25, 2009) RIGHT: The then undefeated Miguel's Cotto's devastated face when he fought Margarito (July 26, 2008). It is now highly suspected that Margarito used the same illegal hand wraps in that fight. Cotto faced Margarito again in Dec. 3, 2011. This time, Margarito was badly beaten forcing the referee to stop the fight in the 9th round.

2 Timothy 2:1-6
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." (NIV)

From my memory, here are some of the most scandalous cases in sports:
  • 1988: Ben Johnson at the Seoul Summer Olympics (click HERE)
  • 1992: The Zamboanga City Little League Baseball Team (click HERE)
  • 2008- 2009: Antonio Margarito matches against Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley (click HERE)
  • 2012: Lance Armstrong (click HERE)

Just like the soldier imagery, the athlete imagery is also one on Paul's favorites. In 1 Cor. 9:24-27 for instance, he admires two things about athletes: i) their "giving my all" attitude, and ii) their rigorous preparation. But there are some athletes who want the honor and glory of victory yet they want to achieve it not by hardwork and discipline but by breaking the rules uncaught.

They wanted glory and honor
Yet their deeds brought shame

Let us do life and ministry according to the manual given to us. In tough times, it is very tempting to abandon biblical principles. We keep silent have to speak up; we agree when we have to oppose -- all in violation of what his Holy Word tells us to do.

In this world, Christ is despised together with his cross. They tell us, "Abandon that old rugged thing and I will give you a medal. Throw that old rugged gospel away and I'll give you a trophy. Honor awaits you, just abandon Christ and his gospel."

Some will take the offer; they will throw the gospel away. "Give me my trophy" they say. "Give me my medal" they say. But in the end, it is not honor they will reap but shame. But those who are wise will sing: 

"To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share." (~George Bennard, 1913)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

THE DEVOTED SOLDIER (Part 2 of 4: When the Going Gets Tough: Metaphors of Faithful Christian Service in Difficult Times)

Read Part 1 HERE

2 Timothy 2:1-6
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." (NIV) 

Some Christians believe in Pacifism. They hold that it is never God's will for a Christian to join the military. But it seems that Paul highly regards the soldiers' profession. Whenever he used it as a methapor, he does so positively. In this letter, he shows his admiration for the soldiers' endurance in hardship and their dedication to their duty.

When the commanding officer announces to his men that they would go to Basilan for a military operation, will the soldiers ask,"Sir, do we have a hotel reservation?" or "Sir, we won't go there until you can provide for us blankets, pillows and mosquito nets." No they won't. Though they would be happy if they will be provided with some comfort, they would willingly fulfill their duty with or without it.

The term of service for a soldier in those days was 20 years; two decades of total devotion to the profession without being entangled with civilian affairs. For every 100 enlisted men, only about 50 of them survived to retire 1 . That's an indication of the difficulties a soldier must face within those two decades of service. Paul urged Timothy to have that same intensity of dedication.

How do you apply that today? Does it mean we can only engage in religious activity and not in secular pursuits? It can't be. It can't be because Paul himself would often work to earn and instead of seeing that as a hindrance to ministry, he saw it as profitable to his testimony (1 Cor. 9:1-18). John Stott wrote:

"The Christian, who is intended to live in the world and not contract out of it, cannot of course avoid ordinary duties at home, at work and in the community. Indeed as a Christian he should be outstandingly conscientious in doing and not dodging them. Nor should he forget, as Paul reminded Timothy in his first letter, either that ‘everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving’ or that ‘God … richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy’ (1 Tim. 4:4; 6:17). So what is forbidden the good soldier of Jesus Christ is not all ‘secular’ activities, but rather ‘entanglements’ which, though they may be perfectly innocent in themselves, may hinder him from fighting Christ’s battles." 2

So what are entangling civilian affairs? I take the position that these are activities which keep God's servants from fulfilling the tasks given by God, thus causing his displeasure. Sinful acts are surely included here. Also entangling secular pursuits like taking earning opportunities that will force you to give up church attendance. Or being busy with pursuits that will lead to the non-usage of your spiritual gifts. Even spiritual activities could be entanglements if it leads to the neglect of your primary duties (Acts 6:1-4)

What do we have to gain for being devoted soldiers? It is the pleasure of our Commander-in-Chief (Matt. 25:21)

1. Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament
2. John Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy: Guard the Gospel (The Bible Speaks Today Series)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Isang Pagbubulay Matapos ang Halalan

Ilang mga botante mula sa Classes A, B and C ang dismayado sa resulta ng katatapos na halalan. Sa kanilang pananaw, may mga nakapasok sa Magic 12 na hindi naman karapat-dapat at merong mga karapat-dapat na malayo sa magic 12.

Ang kanilang sinisisi ay ang mga botante mula sa Classes D and E. Sila yung mga nasa pinakamababa sa mga antas ng lipunan.Karaniwan, sila ay may kakulangan sa edukasyon at hikahos sa buhay. Dahil sa kanilang kalagayan, marami sa kanila ay may mababaw na batayan sa pagpili ng mga iboboto: sayaw-awit sa mga patalastas sa telebisyon; matunog na apelyido mula sa mga angkan may dinastiyang politikal, mga pangalang kasali sa sampol ballot na iniabot ni Kapitan; at pinakamalala: mga kandidatong bumibili ng boto gamit ang salapi at groceries.

Upang ipakita ang pagkakaiba ng pagpili ng mga botanteng nagmula sa magkaibang antas ng lipunan, gagamitin natin ang datos mula sa exit polls ng Social Weather Stations noong 2010. Sa eleksyon na iyon, 15% lang ng mga botanteng nakatapos ng kolehiyo ang bumoto pabor sa kandidatong hinatulan ng hukuman sa kasong pandarambong. Pero sa mga botanteng elementarya ang tinapos, isang malaking hiwa na 31% ang bumoto para sa kanya.

Para sa mga botante mula sa Classes A, B, and C, ang mga kababayang mula sa Classes D and E ang nagpapapangit sa resulta ng mga halalan. Maaaring tama sila. Sa aking pagsang-ayon, hindi ko nilalahat ang mga mula sa Classes D and E. Meron din sa kanila ang matalino sa pagpili. Pero hindi maikakaila na napakarami mula sa antas na ito ang hindi marunong pumili ng mga taong dapat ihalal.

Subalit pagdating sa pagpili sa Diyos, ang lahat ay pantay-pantay. Walang kalamangan ang mga mula sa Classes A, B and C sa mga Classes D and E. Lahat sila ay pare-pareho ng saloobin. Lahat ng tao mula sa iba't ibang antas ng lipunan ay pare-parehong umaayaw sa Diyos. Ang lahat ay naghihimagsik laban sa kanya. Ayaw nilang kilalanin ang Diyos bilang Hari ng Daigdig.

Paano ko nasabi ito? Ito ay aking nasabi dahil sa nakasaad sa bibliya:
"Walang matuwid, wala kahit isa.
"Walang nakakaunawa, walang naghahanap sa Diyos.
Ang lahat ay lumihis ng landas at nagpakasama.
Walang gumagawa ng mabuti, wala kahit isa." Roma 3:10-12
Subalit dahil sa kanyang mayamang habag, nagliligtas ang Diyos mula sa Classes A, B, C, D and E. Yun nga lamang, ayon na rin sa kanyang perpektong karunungan, minarapat niya na mas marami ang kanyang ililigtas mula sa mga mas mababang mga antas. Sa anong layunin? Upang walang sinumang magmalaki sa kanyang harapan.

Ano kaya kung ganito ang iyong patotoo:
"Praise the Lord, naniwala ako sa ebanghelyo. Minsan lang ipinaliwanag sa akin, naunawaan ko agad. Buti na lang matalino ako. Hayaan na niyo yung mga tamatanggi sa ebanghelyo; Low I.Q. kasi ang mga 'yan."
Sino ang naparangalan? Sino ang naluwalhati? Ang Diyos ba? Hindi. Ikaw ang naparangalan. Ikaw ang naluwalhati. Ang galing-galing mo kasi.

Anu-ano ang nararapat na tugon sa katotohanang ito:

Una, PAGPAPAKUMBABA dahil nalaman natin na walang anumang katangiang taglay natin ang dahilan kung bakit tayo naligtas.

Ikalawa, PASASALAMAT dahil tayo, bagamat mga hindi karapat-dapat ay tumanggap ng masaganang pabor mula sa Panginoon.

Ikatlo, PAGLUWALHATI sa Diyos, dahil ito ang layunin niya sa pagliligtas sa atin-- ang matanyag ang kanyang dakilang ngalan.

1 Corinto 1:26-31: Mga kapatid, alalahanin ninyo ang inyong katayuan noong kayo'y tawagin ng Diyos. Iilan lamang sa inyo ang matatawag na marunong, makapangyarihan at maharlika sa paningin ng tao. Subalit pinili ng Diyos ang mga naturingang hangal sa sanlibutan upang hiyain ang marurunong, at pinili niya ang mga naturingang mahihina upang hiyain ang malalakas. Pinili niya ang mga pangkaraniwang tao, mga hampas lupa, at mga mahihina sa sanlibutang ito upang ipawalang saysay ang mga kinikilala ng sanlibutan. Kaya't walang sinumang makakapagmalaki sa harap ng Diyos. Sa kanya nagmula ang buhay na taglay ninyo dahil sa pakikipag-isa ninyo kay Cristo Jesus na siyang ginawang karunungan natin. Sa pamamagitan din niya, tayo'y itinuring na matuwid, ginawang banal at iniligtas ng Diyos. Kaya nga, tulad ng nasusulat, "Ang sinumang nais magmalaki, ang ipagmalaki niya'y ang ginawa ng Panginoon." (Ang Bagong Magandang Balita Bibliya)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH: Metaphors of Faithful Christian Service in Difficult Times (part 1 of 4)

"You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.(2Tim. 2:1-6 ESV)

In a gathering hosted by the Christian Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship (CEMF) in celebration of the National Bible Week, Dagupan City Administrator Vlad Mata urged the churches to approach the civil authorities and offer their help in nation-building. That's a very good idea. We become productive citizens of our community and at the same time, we get opportunities to share the gospel of Christ. One such project is CEMF's cooperation with the City PopCom office in conducting mass weddings and marriage counseling. Hopefully through it, the couples will learn about strong marriages and responsible parenthood. And most of all, may they know Jesus as Lord and Savior as participating churches reach out to them.

We should cooperate with the leaders of our community while we are still welcome. Let me repeat that phrase:  "while we are still welcome". There's an element of uncertainty in our times. Now we are still counted by the government as partners in nation-building but it may not always stay this way. There may come a time when we will offer our helping hand to our nation's leaders and they will tell us: "You have no part in nation-building unless renounce your gospel."

There was a time when our brothers in America were very much a part of nation-building in that part of the world. Billy Graham, then the icon of evangelicalism was present in at least 10 presidential inaugurations. Though there has always been opposition to the gospel in the government and everywhere, at least Christians then were free to speak their minds and were recognized by the government as partners in the development of the nation.

Something radical has changed in just four years. Barrack Obama has been reelected and the first person who was  invited to lead the opening prayer in this 2nd inaugural is Louie Giglio, pastor of  Passion City Church in Atlanta. But some opposed the invitation. For what reason? Because Pastor Giglio preached a biblical message on homosexuality almost 20 years ago. Pastor Giglio is not even the most vocal preacher against homosexuality. By his own admission, he did not prioritize this issue for the past 15 years.

Because of the pressure applied against him, he withdrew from participating in the inaugural ceremonies. But even without withdrawing, he will be disinvited anyway. That is clear from the statement issued by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

“We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection, and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part because of his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

There you have it! Everyone who opposes this Administration's agenda can't be a partner in nation-building. By this standard, even Rick Warren who led the prayer in Obama's first inaugural is now unwelcome.

The present is therefore a tough time for our Christian brothers in America. Yet the church had been in tougher times before. In Timothy's time, faithful gospel ministers were not only excluded from participation in nation-building; they were arrested, imprisoned and sometimes executed. In fact, his mentor in the faith was one of those in prison. With no modern postal system, it is possible that by the time Timothy were reading this letter, Paul's already dead.

The time was so tough that Paul reports: "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them." (2Tim. 4:16)

There are indications that due to the toughness of times, Timothy's faith was severely weakened. He had neglected his gift (2 Tim. 1:6) and Paul needed to remind him that they did not received a spirit of fear. Furthermore, Paul saw the need to exhort him to "be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2:1 ESV). The passive voice is noteworthy here. Though Paul is issuing a command that Timothy should obey, it will not be Timothy strengthening himself. The strengthening is by God's grace found in Jesus.

Without grace we would all be weaklings in tough times. As weaklings, we have this tendency to either deny the faith or dilute it so we could avoid the hardships that accompany faithfulness. Without God's grace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have had feared the burning furnace and would have had bowed down before the grand idol. Without God's grace, Daniel would have had abstained from praying to the true God for 30 days in fear of the lions. Daniel and his friends were strong in tough times not because of any inherent strength in them but because they sought strength in God's grace.

In order to encourage the younger pastor, Paul used three metaphors of strength:
1. a devoted Soldier
2. a rule-abiding Athlete
3. a hardworking Farmer

To these metaphors we shall turn in the succeeding posts.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Most Notable Free Kindle Acquisitions for the First Quarter of 2013 (arranged according to acquisition date)


by R.C. Sproul
Reformation Trust

Getting to NO
by Erwin Lutzer
David C. Cook

The Top Ten Leadership Commandments
by Hans Finzel
David C. Cook

The New Testament World in Pictures

by William Stephens
Baptist Sunday School Board

The Twelfth Imam
by Joel Rosenberg
Tyndale House

by Randy Alcorn
Tyndale House

Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church
by Paul Washer
Chapel Library

Jesus in the Present Tense
by Warren Wiersbe
David C. Cook

Apparent Danger

by David Stokes
Critical Mass Books

God Built
by Steve Farrar
David C. Cook

The Truth of the Cross

by R.C. Sproul
Reformation Trust

Why Trust Jesus?

by Dave Sterrett
Moody Publishers

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Words for the Last Days (2 Tim. 3:1 - 4:7)

This is a slightly edited version of the sermon
I delivered at GLCC Dagupan (December 30, 2012)

Hapon ng Disyembre 29, 1896, isang araw bago kitilin ng mga dayuhang awtoridad ang buhay ni Dr. Jose Rizal, dinalaw siya ng kanyang ina, ilang mga kapatid, at ilang mga pamangkin sa Fort Santiago. Sa kanilang pag-uwi, ipinadala ni Rizal ang kanyang cocinilla. May ibinulong si Rizal kay Trinidad: "There is something inside". Maaaring sinadya niyang gumamit ng salitang Ingles upang hindi maintindihan ng mga guwardiya; kung naintindihan nila, malamang kinumpiska nila ang cocinilla.

Pag-uwi nila sa bahay, hindi nila agad binuksan ang cocinilla pangambang minamanmanan pa rin sila ng mga kaaway. Petsa 31 na nang ito ay kanilang buksan. Natagpuan nila ang kapirasong papel; nang ito ay kanilang binasa, sila ay napaluha. Naroon ang isang napakaganda at makabagbag-damdaming tula. Bagamat hindi ito pinamagatan ni Rizal, ang tulang ito ay kilala natin ngayon bilang "Mi Ultimo Adios".

Sa tingin ko, kung alam mong malapit ka nang pumanaw, doon nananariwa sa iyong puso at alaala ang mga bagay-bagay na mahalaga sa iyo. Konti na lang ang panahon mo kaya isinasantabi mo na lang mga mga bagay na di naman mahalaga, at inilalaan mo na lang ang nalalabing oras at lakas sa mga bagay na malapit sa iyong puso. 'Yan ang dahilan kung bakit naisulat ni Rizal sa isang paraang nakakaantig-puso ang kanyang huling paalam.

Hawak natin ngayon ang huling sulat ni Pablo. Ang 2 Timoteo ay isinulat niya ilang araw o ilang linggo bago siya patawan ng parusang kamatayan ng mga awtoridad. At nang isulat niya ito, batid niya na malapit na ang kanyang pagpanaw (2 Tim. 4:6). Subalit hindi kalungkutan ang laman ng kanyang huling liham; sa halip ito ay isinulat ng isang tao na sa tingin niya ay hindi nasayang ang kanyang buhay. Hindi man siya ituturing na matagumpay ng mga kapwa niya Pariseo, sa kanyang sariling ebalwasyan ay matagumpay ang kanyang pananatili dito sa ibabaw ng lupa. Wika niya, "I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)

Ang kanyang alalahanin sa kanyang pagsulat ay kung paano niya bibigyan ng lakas at pag-asa ang isang mas batang pastor na dinisipulo niya. May indikasyon na nanghina ng loob nitong si Timoteo (2 Tim. 1:6-7). Pero bagamat gusto niyang palakasin ang loob ng kanyang disipulo, ayaw rin naman niyang itago ang katotohanan na mahirap ang mga panahong darating. Ipinagtapat ni Pablo kay Timoteo na ang paglaban ng sanlibutan kontra sa mensahe ng Panginoon ay hindi isang pansamantalang kondisyon, kundi isan permanenteng kalagayan mula sa kanilang kapanahunan hanggang sa pababalik ng Panginoon. Patuloy na mamahalin ng sanlibutan ang kasalanan at patuloy nilang kamumuhian ang katotohanan. Ito ang nasusulat sa 2 Tim. 3:1-4:

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (NIV 1984)

Ang pananaw ng marami ay ganito: “Man is inherently good”. Hindi nila nauunawaan ang lalim ng ugat ng kasamaan ng tao. Kaya naman ang kanilang mga mungkahi upang malutas ang problema ng kasamaan sa mundo ay mababaw. Sabi nila, basta magsama-sama lang daw tayo sa isang burol at umawit ng I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, magkakaroon na ng kapayapaan. Subalit pagkatapos ng mga peace talks at habang sariwa pa ang tinta ng mga lagda sa peace treaties, makakarinig ulit tayo ng mga balitang kagimbal-gimbal.

Paliwanag ni D.A. Carson: "What is astonishing is that after the bloody century we have just come through, so many people think that if we simply sit around a table and talk we will sort it all out. Th is attitude is astonishingly na├»ve. Christians should never, ever, be surprised by evil. While we should always be horrified by evil, we should never be surprised by it. Do not adopt a Pollyannaish view of things. Do not be surprised by evil. Hold few illusions about the world. Th ere are many times we should be horrified – surprised, never." 1

Sa talata 5, mababasa natin na ang ilan sa kanila ay mga relihiyosong tayo pa, subalit ang kapangyarihan ng ebanghelyo na bumago ng buhay ay hindi nakikita sa kanila. Ang bilin ni Pablo kay Timoteo, huwag siyang maugnay sa kanila.

They are already present in Timothy's lifetime. So when we read “There will be terrible times in the last days” (3:1), we should not see it as having no application in Timothy's day. In this sense, the “last days” being spoken of here had already begun eversince Jesus' incarnation (Hebrews 1:1)

Included in this group of wicked men in the last days are false teachers who infiltrate the church of Jesus. The ones who are most vulnerable to them are those who
a. lack biblical knowldge
b. lack biblical morality (2 Tim. 3:6-7)

Praise God they will not remain unexposed (3:9)

The last days audience will be resistant to truth and receptive to lies. What will be on demand are preachers who preach the things that will tickle the ears or depraved minds (2 Timothy 3:3-4). It's not the gospel selfish people want to hear; what they want to hear is that it is God's will for them to have a luxury car, so they will hire teachers who will tell them they need a luxury car

Sa mga panahong ito na ang kadiliman ang namamayani, paano mo palalakasin ang loob ng isang pastor na halos sumuko na? Ito ay ginawa ni Pablo sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay n tatlong habilin:

1. Alalahanin at tularan ang mga huwarang Kristiyano
2. Panghawakan ang Salita ng Diyos
3. Ipasa ang Salita ng Diyos sa iba

Unang Habilin: Alalahanin at Tularan ang mga Huwarang Kristiyano
 2 Timothy 3:10-12  You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted...”

After describing the ungodliness that will mark the last days, Paul points to an opposite example – namely Paul himself. Timothy heard apostolic teaching from Paul. Timothy observed Paul's pattern of daily living. Timothy knew Paul's motives for service. Timothy is a witness to Paul's faithfulness. Timothy saw how patient Paul was to difficult people. Timothy saw Paul's sincere love for God and men. Timothy witnessed Paul's endurance even in the most adverse conditions. Paul left the footprints and Timothy should follow them.

Paul especially mentioned about the persecutions and suffering he went through and says that it is not only for him, it is not only for Timothy, but for all who live godly lives. In looking for good mentors, consider how they view persecutions and suffering and how they react to them. Does he preach “It is NEVER God's will for you to suffer”? What will he say when he visits Paul in prison? Will he blame Paul and say: "It's your fault Paul! You are in prison because you did not have enough faith. You did not confess positive things. Follow this instruction Paul. Open your mouth wide and shout: I DECLARE I WILL BE RELEASED FROM PRISON". When that preacher lives by that principle, then he will not be a good mentor for you for he does not agree with verse 12.

Paul's life was a contrast to the attitudes of the decaying society. Paul will be gone soon, but these memories will linger in Timothy's thoughts and it will motivate him to be faithful in life and ministry.

John Macarthur remarked: "Often more than we realize, we are influenced by those we have lived with, worked with, and served with. Sometimes the influence is for good, sometimes for bad."2

May isang TV infomercial na noon ko pa napanood pero kumintal sa aking munting isipan ang mensahe nito. May dalawang bata ang naglalaro ng laruang kotse. Ipinagmamalaki ng isang bata kung  gaano kabilis magmaneho ang kanyang tatay. Sabi pa niya "Paglaki ko, gagayahin kon tatay ko". Bigla na lang sumulpot ang isa pang bata dala-dala ang isang nakakabilang balita: “Ang tatay mo nabangga.”

Maaari tayong mabuhay bilang mga masama o mabuting mga halimbawa; piliin na lang natin maging mga mabuting halimbawa sa pamamagitan ng pagsunod sa halimbawa ng mga Kristiyanong mas mature sa atin.

D.A. Carson asked, “Do you ever say to a young Christian, ‘Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!’ If you never do, you are unbiblical. After all, the apostle Paul can write elsewhere, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ’ (1 Cor. 11:1). Many things are learned as much by example as by word." <sup>3</sup>

Pangalawang Habilin: Panghawakan ang Salita ng Diyos
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

In an age of decadence, both in the society and in the church, the danger is for us to conclude, "If we can't beat them, let's join them". Paul's prescription so that the man of God will not fall into that trap is to remember the biblical convictions. Verse 14 serves as a transition between the first and second points. The godly mentors were only worthy of imitation because of what they have learned and become convinced of. Timothy's mother, grandmother, and Paul-- the godly influences in his life were all students of the Holy Scriptures and were convicted of its  authority.

So Paul's instructs Timothy, if you don't want to fall into the degradation that is prevalent all around, remember the power of the Holy Scriptures. They are sufficient for:

1. Giving the knowledge of salvation; and
2. For directing us to a holy life. It informs us of pure doctrine. It reproves us of errors in doctrine and behavior. Should we stray, it restores us to the right path and it builds us up that we may live righteous lives.

What happens to a man exposed to the Sacred Scriptures? He becomes competent, equipped for every good work. How could the holy writings do that?  It is because of it's divine origin. It is God-breathed (theopneustos).

Paul did not say: "I'm about to depart Tim! So that you will stay safe, make sure you are in company with Pope Peter and his successors. And when Peter dies, someone else will succeed him. Just stay close to the Pope Tim and you could never go wrong". Rather, Paul says "Hold on the the God-breathed Scripture", it will make you completely equipped for every good work. When there is a question regarding faith and morality, go to the sacred Scriptures. That is all you need. That sounds Sola Scriptura to me.

Pangatlong Habilin: Ipasa ang Salita ng Diyos sa Iba
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

So far, the first two points are on the defensive end. The world is decaying but we should not rot together with them. So let us:
a. value godly mentors; and
b. treasure the Bible.

These two are meant to protect and build us up. . The third point is on the offensive side. Kumbaga sa boksing, hindi naman puwede na panay ilag at salo lang tayo. Siyempre susuntok rin tayo.

This is about crossing enemy lines and rescuing at least some of those who are in the decaying society and even those who are already in the church yet are being influenced by the principles of the ungodly world.

Our offensive weapon is giving them the word of God (4:2). We should give them the word of God at all times, in every opportunity and in whatever circumstance. We should give messages fit for the need. If corretion is needed, offer a correction grounded on Scriptures. If rebuke is needed, then don't hesitate to rebuke if you are standing on the authority of God's Word. And if weary hearts need encouragement, strengthen them not by some empty pep talk but by the rich hope found in God's word. We should offer the Word of God with patience even to those who seemed to cover their ears everytime we speak. And all these we should do with precision in expositing the counsel of God.

Surely, many will reject are message, but some will respond positively. Faithfully proclaiming the message is tough in the last days, but some will believe. Out of that believing few, some will emerge as the future leaders of our church, future worship leaders, future musicians, future missionaries, future evangelists and bible teachers. For this the discipleship program that the apostle envisioned:

2 Timothy 2:2 -- "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. "

Step 1. Paul passes the baton to Timothy
Step 2. Timothy is to pass the baton to reliable men
Step 3. These reliable men will pass the baton to other reliable men.

Paul's program is not that we keep our treasure for our generation alone. His program is an unbroken chain of truth-lovers and truth-defenders.

Praise God for the ministry of John Macarthur, but Macarthur is now 73 years old. Praise God for the ministry of R.C. Sproul, but he is now 74. Obviously, they will not be with us forever just like James Boice who left us at the age of 61 and Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the age of 81.

This is one of the reasons why we should keep on giving the word of God. When Paul was near death, it was one of his concerns: so if we are to be imitators of Paul, this should be our concern too. Think beyond 2013. Think about GLCC Dagupan's distant future. For time flies so fast; I didn't even notice that the next year marks the end of my first decade at Guiding Light Dagupan. Some of you were here from the beginning and you too didn't notice how time flew so quickly.

You may say, “Pastor Jun is still young; there is no need to worry about the future of GLCC Dagupan”. Folks, Timothy was a young man when he was instructed to extend the chain. On a personal note, let me say this. I have to say this. I am younger than Pastor Jun. But because of my medical condition, most probably I will depart earlier than Pastor Jun. I am saying this to you younger guys, or even you  older guys who are still expecting 20 to 30 years of productive life. You are this church's Generation Next. And the preparation for that is not later. It is now. It must be now. Let's get serious.

In order to fight a good fight, in order to finish the race, in order to keep the faith, these should be our priorities in the last days.

1. D.A. Carson, From the Resurrection to His Return (Christian Focus)
2. John Macarthur, Second Timothy, MNTC (Moody Publishers)
3. D.A. Carson, ibid 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tinubos Tidbits SMS edition, volume 2

There is no such thing as a "good morning" without God's steadfast love and mercy for unworthy sinners (Lam.3:22-23). Good morning!

God's comfort in your suffering is his way of preparing you to comfort others in their own suffering (2 Cor. 1:4)

Friends who are sincere in faith should be the ones we long to see, and the ones who give us joy. My prayer: "Lord, teach me to miss the right persons."

2 Tim. 1:4-5 "... I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith..." (ESV)

We all know by now that the day of doom is not today. Yet on the other extreme are people who think there is no judgment day at all and that they could go on sinning without fear. May God enrich our understanding of our blessed hope --- the Lord's return.
(sent right after the failed Mayan calendar prediction)

 the sash I want every Christian girl to wear: MISS PROVERBS 31:30
 puwede rin MISS 1 PETER 3:3-4

 (sent right after the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant)

Bago mag-ala una madaling araw, huminga ang aking tatay sa kahuli-huliang pagkakataon. Ang lahat ng kanyang hininga sa nagdaang 75 taon ay bigay ng Diyos na puno ng grasya, habag at pag-ibig. Papuri't pasasalamat sa Diyos na siyang bukal ng lahat ng kabutihan.
(sent a few hours after the death of my beloved father Bernabe Austria Rosario)