Friday, November 25, 2005

A Joyous Occasion

Once there was a pastor who was baptizing converts. He accidentally stepped on the foot of one of the participants. At that time the poor participant was suffering from an ingrown toenail. When the baptism was over, the pastor was shocked to see the blood in the water. He begged for her forgiveness. “Why did you suffer this pain in silence,” the pastor wanted to know.

She replied, “I thought it was part of the ceremony.”

Seriously now, there’s no need for blood in the water because the precious blood of the Lord was already poured out on the cross 2,000 years ago. Baptism doesn’t save us. Faith in Christ saves us. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV) But, that doesn’t mean that we put it off or that we undermine its significance. We believe this is an initial, important act of obedience. It’s a public declaration of faith. Faith in Christ alone for salvation is the only requirement for baptism.

The Lord Jesus instructed His disciples to remember His death and resurrection. He gave two visible symbols (called “ordinances”) as reminders—baptism and communion. They are object lessons that represent great spiritual truths for believers. “When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.” (Romans 6:4, The Message)

Thus, I congratulate our dear brothers and sisters who will declare their faith in the Lord through water baptism. Let us pray that they would “continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6b-7, NIV) They will be baptized in the anniversary service of the MGC at 10:00AM today. We have cancelled the Young Adult BS so that we can witness the baptism.

I also encourage everyone to join our 24th anniversary celebration. Always remember: God “who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Eyriche Cortez
English Worship Service

P.S.
For those who will be baptized today, we have a last-minute briefing. We will meet at during the fellowship time at the Annex building. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Plea to Fish

Let me share a story I adapted from “People Sharing Jesus” by Darrell W. Robinson:

Once there was a group of fishermen living near a lake teeming with fish. And the fish were hungry.

Week after week, the group met to talk about their call to fish, its abundance, and how they might go about fishing. They carefully defined what fishing means and declared that it will always be their primary task. They searched for new and better methods of fishing. They sponsored special meetings called ‘The Month for Fishermen to Fish.’ They built large, beautiful buildings called ‘Fishing Headquarters.’ They loved slogans such as ‘Fishing is the task of every fisherman.’

However, one thing they didn’t do: They didn’t fish.

They also organized a board that sent out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. They hired staffs and appointed committees that held many more meetings. They sponsored costly nationwide and world-wide conferences to debate, promote and hear about all the ways of fishing such as new fishing equipments or baits.

But the staff and committee members did not fish.

They built large, elaborate, and expensive training centers where the original, primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years these centers offered courses on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishing.

But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing.

Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs. Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who don’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be.

Is a person a fisherman if, year after year, he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?

Brethren, God called us to be fishers of men. Are we really fishing?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Whose Responsibility Is It Anyway?

“Once upon a time there were four men named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. But Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody and Nobody did the job that Anybody could have done in the first place.” (Anonymous)

In other words, as one writer wrote, “If it’s everybody’s responsibility, it’s nobody’s responsibility.” We tend to assume that others are supposed to be responsible, not ourselves. Sadly, that’s how people view evangelism: “It’s the pastor’s duty, not mine.” But it is our responsibility. I can’t do it alone. You can’t do it on your own. Together we can do it. You and I need to share the Good News of salvation to those who haven’t accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help. But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? (Romans 10:13-14, Message)

Now let’s imagine for a moment that the person who shared the Gospel to you have the same mindset. Where do you think you ended up? We are eternally indebted to that person. What better way to repay but to eagerly share the Gospel to another.

I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you… (Romans 1:14-15, NET)

So, let us stop thinking somebody else would evangelize. Let us do it ourselves. And if you want to know how, join the Christian Life and Witness Course here at MGC this Thursday (Nov. 17, 7PM-830PM) or Saturday (Nov. 19, 10AM-1130AM). This week’s session talks about “The Christian’s Witness.” God opened this door for us to be trained to share the Gospel. I pray that we would grab this rare opportunity.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes… (Romans 1:16)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Getting the Right Message Across

Since the other week, I got a lot of text messages requesting for divine help on the alleged impending execution of Bro. Ferdie Flores, a missionary in East Timor. In fact, I got SMS as far as Canada. Frankly, I’m wary of forwarding text messages like that. So I double-checked it.

Well, I learned that there is really a Bro. Ferdie Flores and that he is really a missionary in East Timor. However, the rumor about his execution is just, well, a rumor. It is not true. Actually Bro. Ferdie, Jeannie his wife and their two kids are facing persecution daily. Last week a mob of about 250 people did surround him with stones, sticks, and machetes. But the Lord intervened and the crowd dispersed without incident. As of now, according to his pastor, things are calm yet violence could erupt at any time. Bro. Ferdie needs our prayer. But, contrary to reports, there was never an arrest or an execution.

It’s very much like the Gospel. Most people heard the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew He died on the cross, rose again on the third day, ascended to heaven and promised to return someday. However, they make a mistake when it comes to how to get to heaven. They fail to understand that we need to receive the Lord as our Savior.

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.” Romans 10:2-3, NIV

That’s why we must join the Christian Life and Witness Course here in Makati Gospel Church. We need to learn how to share the Gospel clearly, accurately and passionately!

Almost 350 people came to attend the first session here in our church last Thursday night and yesterday (Saturday) afternoon. I’m praying that more people from MGC would come. We are not just providing a venue for other churches. We want to maximize this course by ensuring that most if not all of our people would avail of the training. Even if you missed session 1, you can still join. We will arrange a make-up class for you. So, sign up and rev up your faith!

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. 1 Peter 3:15