Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Let the world hear it!

Fritz Kreisler, a world-famous Austrian-American violinist, wanted to buy a rare violin. He really worked hard to meet the steep asking price. However, when he went back to the owner, he discovered to his chagrin that someone already bought it. He then went to the buyer and begged to buy the violin. But he refused to sell the violin for it is his prized possession among his collection.

Kreisler almost gave up. So he finally asked, “May I play the violin once more before you consign it to silence?” The collector gave his permission. So the virtuoso played with all his heart that he filled the room with a very heart-moving music. Then he gently and lovingly laid down the violin on its case.

The collector’s heart was so touched that he exclaimed, “I have no right to keep it to myself. It’s yours! Take it and let the world hear its music.” (Adapted from Our Daily Bread, February 4, 1994)

Tonight is the last night for the Metro Manila Franklin Graham Festival. It is the finale of a year-long arduous preparation. Even before it is over, let us thank God for all the people from MGC who got involved in the Festival. MGC may be a small church compared to other organizations and churches. But our key leaders are very visible in the various committees (not to mention that Deacon James Tioco is the Chief of Staff). We sacrificially poured out our time, talents and treasure. I believe God will make sure our service for Him is not in vain.

Our church provided a bus that will transport us from Makati to Luneta and back. It will leave 2PM for those who volunteered on different tasks such as counselors, choir and ushers. It will come back at 3PM for those who will bring friends and relatives to the festival. So let us not miss it!

But, in a sense, the Festival is just the beginning. Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16, NIV). We have no right to keep the Gospel to ourselves. Everything we learned in the Christian Life and Witness Course does not apply only in the Festival. We are already equipped to share the Gospel. Keep the momentum we have gained. Never allow yourselves be confined in silence. Let us take the Good News of salvation and let the world hear it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lessons from Pacquiao

As we all know, unless you are living under a rock, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao won by TKO in the 10th round over Erik “El Terible” Morales. I even heard (I hope it is not true in MGC) that there are some churches whose attendance went down that day because their members opted to watch the boxing match. As I muse about the fight, I realized that there are some lessons we can glean from it.

Pride goes before destruction. That’s what the Bible said in Proverbs 16:18. My friend e-mailed me a news item which appeared before the fight. It quotes Morales boasting that if there’s one fighter who had hit him hard, real hard, it definitely was not Pacquiao. “Don't you remember being hit big by him,” Morales was asked by a Mexican reporter. “No, nada,” Morales coolly claimed. Well, we now know that Pacquiao was the first to make him kiss the canvas. But it’s the same with dealing with temptation: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12, NIV) Remember that we are in a fight ourselves. So, instead of being proud of our own feeble strength, let’s us depend on the Lord.

Prepare yourself. Pacquiao lost to Morales before. But that did not stop him. In fact, he trained hard for the rematch. He disciplined himself. And, in the words of sports analyst Recah Trinidad, he ended up “a far cry from the confused, overeager slugger who lost to Erik Morales in a bloody, dramatic showdown… He did a Muhammad Ali, aped Sugar Ray Leonard, and banged at his sparmate with ferocity reminiscent of Roberto Duran.” He knew victory will not come easy. That’s why he really trained hard. The Bible talks about disciplining ourselves: “train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8) Is it our goal to be holy? Then we need to really work out our spiritual muscles! There is no short-cut to godliness.

Proclaim the good news. When Pacquiao won, people texted the news like crazy. People paid P300 just to watch it on the big screen via satellite in SM and Rockwell. The fight was last Sunday. But we kept on talking about it. What about the real good news? We have less than a week before the Metro Manila Franklin Graham Festival on February 2-5. Let us keep on inviting our family, relatives and friends. Keep on texting them. Bring them to the festival. Pray hard that they would open their hearts to God. Like Paul, let us say, “I am so eager to preach the gospel… I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:15-16).

Brethren, let us learn those lessons well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How Movies Can Help You Share the Gospel

We love stories. We enjoy swapping it with each other.

Jesus, the Master Teacher Himself, told many “earthly stories with heavenly meanings” like the parables of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan. He explained: That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight… There are others who need stories.” (Matthew 13:13; Luke 8:10, The Message)

This is also the key reason why people love movies.

That’s why I really believe that we can use the latest blockbuster like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a springboard for the Gospel. Marc T. Newman, Ph. D., of Movie Ministry wrote: “Every week, guilt-ridden Christians lament their inability to invite their unsaved friends to church. But nobody agonizes over inviting an unsaved friend to the movies. Yet it is in the movie theater… that we get a nearly unequalled opportunity to engage our friends in discussions about our culture and its ideas in a meaningful way. Everybody's a film critic, and criticism invites dialogue. It is when we turn over ideas in discussion that opportunities to share God's thoughts occur. …People generally like to discuss movies right after they watch them. We need to set aside time for dialogue after a movie”.

Of course, not everything Hollywood (what Newman labeled the Church of the Cinema) releases is Biblical. In fact, movies often portray Christians as bigots, hypocrites and liars. Movies also present questionable beliefs and lifestyle as acceptable or normal. Certainly I do not recommend that you watch movies with objectionable contents like horror and bold films.

A film in a sense is a pagan altar. Like Paul the apostle in Acts 17:16-34, we can point to a pagan altar “with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD” (v. 23) to spark a discussion about our faith. When there’s a movie that people get so excited about, look for scenes that you can use as an icebreaker. Then bridge it towards what the Bible teaches about the values (whether positive or negative) the film presented. Newman adds, The films need not be overtly religious. …Lord of the Rings is filled with episodes that can spark discussions about friendship, sacrifice, judgment, and sin. …Spiderman 2, seems ripe with possibilities to talk about the cost of doing what is right and understanding one's calling.”

We have included in our bulletin an article by Newman about Rediscovering a Gripping Gospel Through The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. This is your guide in pointing out the Biblical truths depicted in the movie.

Let us seize this cinematic opportunity to share the Good News of the Lord!

Note: To read the Rediscovering a Gripping Gospel Through The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, click this link http://movieministry.com/print_friendly_article.php?article=65

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Why I Go For Narnia

Move over, Harry Potter and King Kong! Make way for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

More than 50 years ago, Clive Staples Lewis released this seven-volume classic series. Since then, it already sold more than 85 million copies. Walden Media and Walt Disney pictures released the US$200 million movie last year (It opened last Sunday here in the Philippines). Zondervan Publishing (the distributor of the series) estimates that, because of the movie, its book sales will soar from 6 million copies a year to a whopping 60 million copies a year. It is making waves in the box office, its worldwide total up to an estimated $525 Million last week.

Now, you may be asking, “Why are you so excited about Narnia?” Like The Passion of the Christ, it is an excellent springboard to share the Gospel. Narnia has a strong, Biblical message.

Let me introduce you to the man behind Narnia. C.S. Lewis grew up in a Christian family. However, his mother’s death from cancer three months before his 10th birthday shook his belief in God. His father never recovered from the loss. Eventually, Lewis turned his back from God and became an ardent atheist. In his own words, he was “very angry with God for not existing.” Sixteen years later, Lewis had a lengthy debate with J.R. Tolkien, his friend and colleague from Oxford University. (If you remember, Tolkien was the author of the classic The Lord of the Rings.) Lewis wrote that, because of his talks with Tolkien, he finally “gave in and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed.” He described himself as
“the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England… [He] came into Christianity kicking and screaming.”

Since then, C.S. Lewis became the apostle to the skeptics. He wrote books defending Christianity, the most famous of them is the classic Mere Christianity.
In 2000, Christianity Today Magazine lauded it the best book of the twentieth century in proclaiming a logical case for the Christian faith.
His faith shone through in everything he wrote. That includes Narnia.

People feared that the movie will be a secular version stripped of its Christian themes. But Douglas Gresham, co-producer and stepson of Lewis himself,
vowed never to “change the words of the master.”

Thus, I encourage you to watch the movie with your family and friends. Then grab the chance to share the Gospel to them with Narnia as the launching pad for the discussion.

Praise God for this open door!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Rich in Christ

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9, New Int’l Version

Have you ever received an e-mail that offered you a chance to be a millionaire?

The e-mail allegedly came from people who have access in secret Cayman or Swiss accounts. You are supposed to help them in wiring the money to another account. All they ask from you are personal data like credit card numbers. In return you would receive a sizable cut. One version claims to be from a Nigerian prince. The latest claims to be from Senator Loi Estrada. I have a friend who almost fell for it.

People who fall for this scam become victims of identity theft. Instead of becoming rich they end up poor.

There is a spiritual version of this scam. People thought they will be saved but they fall for the wrong system. “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)
Instead of becoming rich they end up poor.

But there is way of becoming rich, spiritually speaking. Our Lord Jesus left the riches of heaven to die for our sins. He became poor so that we can become rich. “For in our union with Christ [God the Father] has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world.” (Ephesians 1:3b, Good News Bible)

Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his 8-volume Systematic Theology, listed 33 works of God that we received at the moment of salvation. He called these “riches of grace.” These are “wrought of God… instantaneous… simultaneously given… and are ground on the merit of Christ… therefore eternal” (p. 235, Vol. III). The more we understand these blessings, the more understand how to live a victorious life. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1, NIV)
We need to truly understand our calling in Christ in order to live a life worthy of it.

In Christ, instead of becoming poor, we become rich.