Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunday Service September 21, 2008

We had our highest attendance of 71 this Sunday since coming to this church family. While we try to figure out the reason for this relatively fast growth, we acknowledge that it is primarily the work of God through the Holy Spirit.

It is also worth noting the balance of our attendance. We had 26 adults, 28 children, and 17 young people. It has been our mission to bring the families in our community to the family of God. Basically that would include the parents, specially the fathers. We believe that when the father is a Christian, he could greatly influence the other members of the family.

As one of the pastors of the church, I never tire of lifting up our members to God in prayer. I don't follow a list in my prayers but what I do is I try to remember those in the front row going to the rear. A church in that size, it is still possible to remember their names and where they are sitting that Sunday. Sooner I will not be able to pray this way, but I believe there will be more people praying for others by that time.

Just for the practical things we do in our church, let me enumerate some.

At the start of every service, we read the Bible together as a church. We assign three verses for each, including the children. We read two chapters from the books we are reading in series. We are done with Ephesians and Philippians and we are going to read Colossians this coming Sunday. We are upholding the authority of God's Word in our lives and at the same time training our members to make Bible reading a part of their lives.

We also give time for corporate prayer before the end of the service. We ask for prayer requests and inform people of answered prayers every time. We have emphasized the importance of prayer in our existence as a church.

In lieu of the usual Sunday school, we break into small groups after the sermon to discuss how we could apply the truth and principles we have just heard from the sermon. I think this one is really a defining part of the way we do church. Most of the churches are unable to help their members find opportunities to apply God's Word in their daily lives. It doesn't matter how skillful the sermon is; what matters is the impact it makes in the life of the Christian. A changed life is always the goal of every sermon. A life redirected, inspired, and empowered to serve God and glorify Him is what defines the things we do in the church.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

“…Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two:…”

I am feeling a little confused these days. I don't know if you have tried working in a secular job, but I think I am in where it's getting nearer and nearer to a place where I have to choose between full-time ministry and my job. And I know I am going to choose ministry. At least I have a much clearer vision now that God wants me in the ministry. (When I was 15 I made a commitment to become a pastor, but I took a different route. Now I am 29, I think I never really succeeded in this career at least to my expectations.) After 14 years, I am involved in His work as a pastor while working on my Bible degree. I think that is not a coincidence.

What is really bothering me is the timing. I know eventually I will resign from work. To be honest, working in the business world is not exciting anymore like it used to be. I have learned a lot in my work from giving trainings, which is my main job, to events organizing, marketing and more, and I am dying to use those skills in the Church.

I happened to read Phil 1, “…Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two:…”

I think for now I’ll just take Paul’s advice: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. I think this is how Paul also lived his life, conscious of the reality that anything could happen, gave his whole heart to whatever he finds to do. I will just give my best shot in whatever I do, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord.”

Friday, September 5, 2008


"Maturity is the length of time you can wait to be recognized for any accomplishment."

When I started in my current job (not the pastoral but the secular job as company trainer), every now and then I would be praised fro every accomplishment. I would be motivated to work harder because of the recognition I am was getting. After sometime, my work is no longer an avenue for applause and recognition. It is not that I am no longer performing. In fact, I am confident that I am better, more equipped and more effective than ever.

I think it is a natural point in one's career that recognition and praises are things in the past. We should get past the stage where we draw our motivation from people's approval. Naturally, we are being required to grow into a certain degree of maturity to not even expect for compliments. I have realized that my effectiveness in work is not determined by compliments but by the impact it makes in creating positive change in others and in the organization.

My motivation is no longer to "win their favor when their eyes is in (me)," but "doing the will of God from (my) heart" and to "serve wholeheartedly, as if (I) were serving the Lord, not men, because (I) know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does..." (Ephesians 6:6-8)

The rewards may not be immediate, but the longer I can wait, the more my maturity.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunday Service August 31, 2008

Yesterday we had a record attendance of 54. We are praying to reach at least 60 regular attendance at the end of the year. I think it's good number considering that at the start of the year there were barely 20.
We praise Him for His work in this church. Clearly it is God's power in display. We couldn't have done it on our own.
Admittedly, the pastors in this church are not the most gifted pastors around. We are virtually neophyte except for the 12 years of pastoral experience of my father. But this is his first pastorate after more than a decade of being away from the ministry. I am just in my first year of my theological studies. Kuya Joel, the other pastor has no "formal" Bible training. What we have is our hearts committed to Jesus. We have the Passion for God, and Compassion for People.

We don't worry about what we don't have and what we don't know. We just try to be faithful with what we have and what we know. We just allowed God so much room to work in. We consider ourselves as partners, with God as our Chairman, President, CEO and General Manager. When you do that, you could never go wrong.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Walking on waters

Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

This is part of the devotional message given during the my bible school sportsfest. Peter, unlike his fellow disciples who were contented with the safety and comfort in the boat, dared for a new experience with Jesus. He climbed out of the boat he was in and experienced an extraordinary miracle of walking on waters.

I am not there yet. I am not Peter. I don't know, but I may be just like the disciples, unwilling to leave their comfort . It is not that I am not willing to get intimate with my Lord, but i still don't have that kind of faith that Peter had. The thought of resigning from my job to be a full-time pastor excites me, just like "walking on waters" did to Peter. What an experienced that would be to fully put my whole life to the mercy and grace of my Master!

And Peter, "walked on the water and came toward Jesus." The ultimate experience!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Violence in Mindanao: How should a Christian response?

I have since avoided tuning in to news radio because I don't want to hear "negative" things. As much as possible I don't watch primetime news programs because out of the many news items seen on TV, most of the time there is no positive news. All we get are news about the latest corruption in the government, the most brutal crimes, accidents and every imaginable bad news.

However, I find it irresistible to tune in to some news program today because of what is happening in our place. Muslim extremist are burning houses and killing people in others parts of the island. As much as I want to ignore it, I couldn't. I must admit I am feeling a little fear that such violence might reach our place, though we have always thought that it's next to impossible because of the geographical location of our city. Recent reports have it that there are sightings of strangers in our city. I think that's a cause for alarm.

How then should we handle this situation as Christians? Fear? Ignore? I don't know. What I know is I have to give to the Lord all my fears. And He is in control.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jesus feeds the multitude

In our time today, we see a lot of people who are hurting and hungry. I see them everyday around me and they don’t seem to realize their true condition. I think they feel alright. They don’t feel the pain anymore. Sometimes it’s easy for us to just ignore them and go on with our life. We already have enough trouble in our own lives to be bothered by other people’s problems.

But Jesus when He saw the crowd, He had compassion on them. The disciples wanted to disperse them but Jesus insisted that they give them something to eat. Jesus still continues to give orders to us to feed the hungry, comfort the hurting, clothe the naked, and give water to the thirsty as He would when He was still here.

But we are just like the disciples. “Lord, it would take eight months of a man’s wages to buy bread for them!’’ If I were there, that would have been my response to the Lord’s orders. And trust me that would still be my response today.

In the Philippines, people are literally hungry. Prices of basic commodities are beyond reach of an ordinary employee. Even our church members are struggling to make both ends meet. As a pastor I would love to give something to them for a little relief but I don’t have anything. Honestly, preaching and Bible study don’t matter to them anymore when their stomachs are empty.

Then there was a little boy who brought five loaves of bread and two fish. The Lord blessed them and the people were satisfied.

I wish I could tell you about something like that in our church.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

That big cinema house

About that "almost impossible" vision again, I passed by this old cinema house right at the middle of the city. It has not been used for five years I think. It's just one of several movie houses that had closed shop in the last several years. However, a few of them have been converted to worship center by some churches. Of course, the rent is not really cheap. However, those churches have many members to help cover the rent.

In relation to the vision of our church, I was wondering if we could use that old movie house in the future. Will we ever come to that point that we can have an auditorium that big?

I don't know. But I will continue dreaming. They say I can't make it happen; God-given dream are impossible to achieve through human means. If my dreams are that impossible, maybe it's God's dream.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Vision for our Church

Ours is just a small church in a baranggay (district) of 30 thousand residents. It's already 12 years old when we came early this year and it had suffered a lot because the original members and previous pastors left the church. And when we came, the attendance was around 20 and nobody was playing the instruments. The congregation would sing the praises without even a guitar accompaniment. I thought that was a dying church fighting for dear life.

When God called my family to pastor the church, it was with reluctance that we accepted it (I said “family” because my father had been a pastor for 12 years until he left active ministry 10 years ago and my sisters are in the seminary). But when we did accept it, we never bargained for anything and we saw it as redemption for my father and the family. It was a “second chance” to serve God in manner that He had originally called us. We just put ourselves in God’s disposal and committed to obey Him no matter what. We knew it wouldn’t be easy. Humanly speaking, ministry is the last thing we would give our lives to. But we just love our Saviour Jesus so much.

Now here we are 5 months after. Balulang Christian Alliance Fellowship has now 35 adult in worship attendance and around 25 children. God has brought in 3 new families and we have started discipling them, especially the Men. We are so blessed that our men is almost as many as the women, unlike other churches that the men are widely outnumbered by the women three to one. We believe that once the father is a disciple, greater is the chance that the whole family will follow.

The five months have never been easy. The problems in the past are still haunting us, and there are still unresolved issues, though most of the current members are not part of them. We are praying that God will sustain us through this ordeal and He will give us wisdom.

Another problem is the financial aspect of the church. However, we believe in our Almighty God as the supplier of all things.

Personally, I want to see our church having 1000 members in 5 years. That may look unbelievable, but with God nothing is impossible.

I am going to put in my thoughts about that vision in my next post.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My first post

This is my first post. I still don't know what to put here but I'll try my very best to put something here that may benefit other people. Perhaps at times I will be writing some things just to express myself. Sometimes it might be words from my heart. Whatever they may be, I hope you will enjoy reading them.

Till my next post.