Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's Harvest Time!

“Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what's right in front of you. These... fields are ripe. It's harvest time!” John 4:35, The Message

“Magtanim ay hindi biro!” (In English, “Planting rice is no joke!”) Remember this song? These words bring mental images of rows and rows of farmers planting in unison stalks of rice in the field. Then after a few moths, the entire rice field is golden brown, ready for harvest. Such a beautiful sight to behold! It’s harvest time!

What we do every Sunday is no joke, either. We are working very hard to make our English Worship Service seeker-sensitive. The music is short but tasteful and meaningful. The greeters are friendly. The moderator is in command of the service, ever mindful that every moment counts. The message is simple, practical and Biblical. (And, if you have any suggestions on how we can improve it more, please let us know.)

Every month we print a lot (and, really, I mean a lot!) of quality, colored flyers. Please don’t throw them away. Let’s make the most of our resources. Give them to those you are encouraging to attend in our worship service. Tell us if you want more. If you need a soft-copy of the flyer, we can e-mail it to you so you can forward it to your list.

When you have guests, please make sure you arrive earlier. If you can fetch them, it will be much better. Introduce them to the greeters and other members. Sit with them and explain the program to them. Make them as comfortable as possible. Then, after the service, accompany them to the visitor’s room at the Annex building. Due to limited space, we can only accommodate the guests in the room. But introduce your guests to our workers in charge of welcoming them. Then, to put them at ease, assure your visitors that you will wait outside. Afterwards, ask them about the service and encourage them to return. Then, during the week, I encourage you to visit or call or text them. Ask for prayer requests. Invite them again to the worship service. Pray for them before, during and after the service.

It’s much like planting rice. It’s a team effort. We do it together as one body. “So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.” Ephesians 4:16b, Good News Bible.

Let me thank all of you who invite people to our worship service. According to the latest survey, around half of our visitors in the English Worship Service are friends and relatives of people from MGC. Please keep on inviting. By the way, this coming June 25, last Sunday of the month, we will have Bro. Francis Kong (a businessman and motivational speaker) in our worship service. His message is “Dynamic Choices for Success.” Invite your colleagues, subordinates, employees, supervisors and managers. You can ask our dear sister Joyce for invitation cards.

Brethren, let’s keep up the good work! It’s harvest time!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The M=GC2 Strategy

“What’s your business?”

That is one of the two probing questions that, according to Peter Drucker, the recognized father of modern American management, corporations must ask to keep itself on the cutting edge. The other question is “How’s your business?” Obviously we have to ask the first before we ask the second.

In a sense, it’s the same question Dr. Rick Warren asked in the Purpose Driven Life bestseller: “What on earth am I here for?” We need to answer it not just as individuals but as a church as well. What’s does God want Makati Gospel Church or MGC to do? I believe we can spell it out through this formula: M= GC2 (No connection to Albert Einstein’s E=MC2)

M=GC2 stands for the Master’s Great Commission and the Master’s Great Commandment.

Matthew 28:18-20 spells out the great commission: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV) We are to develop committed followers of the Lord Jesus.

Matthew 22:37-40 spells out the great commandment: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” We are to love God and people.

That’s our business as a church. That is the reason why we are here on earth. If we want the Lord to build our church, let us follow His blueprint. “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1a) And He promised us His presence and His power if we fulfill His pattern for the church. Rick Warren said, “A great commitment to the great commission and the great commandment results in a great church.” Thus everything that we are doing and are planning to do must be measured according to the M=GC2. That is the true measure of success in ministry.

Brethren, let us fulfill the M=GC2!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Enjoying True Freedom

“I have a dream!”
That was the title of the most famous speech of civil rights leader, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., which he delivered in August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., USA. King spoke about his longing for freedom from prejudice.

Freedom! Such is our need for it that Patrick Henry in 1775 even cried out, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Freedom! In the movie Braveheart, that was the last word uttered by the Scottish hero, Sir William Wallace, at his execution.

But our Lord Jesus Christ already died in order to give us freedom. And He spelled it out for us how to enjoy it: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NIV) To obey is to know the truth. Only then can we experience freedom. There are three things we can glean from these verses.

First, obedience reveals who we really are. “If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples.” (Contemporary English Version) A true disciple obeys his Master. Thus only His disciples experience true freedom. That’s why in the Great Commission, the Lord commanded us to “make disciples... [by] teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:29-20)

Second, obedience requires our entire person. In the New King James Version, John 8:31 goes like this: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” To abide means to continue, live and remain. It’s not an once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-while or once-in-a-blue-moon thing.
It refers to an ongoing, intimate relationship. Abiding requires from us a commitment to obey.
Lastly, obedience releases us. Some people thought that freedom is doing whatever you want. They thought it’s a license to sin. But Jesus warned, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) True freedom is doing what God wants us to do. Obeying Him does not enslave us but actually sets us free. And He promised, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (v. 36)

Thus, I encourage you to enjoy your freedom by obeying God. It is my prayer that we would be free indeed!

Brethren, it’s no longer a dream. As King ended his speech, “Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Mother's Pie

A math teacher asked a boy: “Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were seven of you, your parents and five children. What part of the pie would you get?” A sixth,” the boy replied. “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions,” said the teacher. “Remember, there are seven of you.” “Yes, teacher,” said the boy, “but you don’t know my mother. Mother would say she didn’t want any pie.[1]

The Bible regard mothers highly. When the people of Jerusalem complained that God has forsaken them, He replied, Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15, NIV) The Lord asked a rhetorical question that expected a “no” answer. Yes, there will be some who might forget. But, usually a mother doesn’t forget. Then later on, He promised, As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13) The Lord pointed to mothers as object lessons of His compassion and comfort.

When the Apostle Paul described his ministry to the Thessalonians, he also used the imagery of a mother. “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9) Note the gentleness, the sacrificial love and the hard work—all descriptive of a mother.

Paul even gave the job description for a women’s ministry: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)
People will have no cause to look down on God’s Word if women will fulfill their God-given calling as mothers. And this is not limited to those who gave birth physically. Women who disciple other women are spiritual mothers.

The Proverbs 31 woman is, above all, a mother. That is why today, as we celebrate Mother’s day, tell your mother: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:29)

Brethren, this time, make sure your mother gets her share of the pie also and to all mothers, physical and spiritual, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

[1] From the Illustration Database of the Biblical Studies Foundation (http://www.bible.org/)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Making the Most of the Da Vinci Code

We are commanded in Colossians 4:5, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (NIV) That’s why we see the upcoming Da Vinci Code movie as an open door to reach out to seekers. Allow me to share some suggestions on how we can wisely maximize this opportunity. (I came up with the acronym C-O-D-E to make it easy to remember.)

Create opportunities to share the Gospel. Instead of waiting for an opportunity, create one. If you see a friend reading the book, strike up a conversation about it. Or, after watching the movie with friends, discuss it over a cup of coffee. In Acts 8, God sent Philip to share the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch. He ran up to the man who was riding a chariot while reading the Old Testament. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The eunuch replied, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” That may well be what’s in the mind of your seeker friends.

Offer to listen to the person’s views. Don’t launch prematurely about the errors of the Da Vinci Code. Avoid debates. You would come off as an obnoxious, know-it-all. Ask the person first what he thinks about it. Maybe he is not taking it that seriously. So a lengthy discussion of the book’s flaws might only bore the person. Paul commands us in Colossians 4:6—“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” (The Message) Listening shows that you respect the person. If we show interest in her views, then she will respect our beliefs also.

Discuss the truths of the Bible. Remember that the book is just a launching pad. The best offense is a good defense. In other words, a clear presentation of what the Bible teaches is better than a litany of the mistakes of Dan Brown, the author of the book. You may say, for example, “The Da Vinci Code says Jesus’ divinity was settled by a vote of the council. Let us see what the Bible really says about Jesus being God.” Jimmy Williams of Probe Ministries International (
http://www.probe.org/) said, “Christianity thrives on intelligence, not ignorance. If a real Reformation is to accompany the revival for which many of us pray, it must be something of the mind as well as the heart.” We need to deal with their doubts so we can lead them to faith.

Encourage them to accept the Lord Jesus as Savior. Defending our faith against the baseless attacks of the Da Vinci Code is a means to an end, not an end by itself. In discussing the Da Vinci Code, we are just clearing the way for the Gospel. J. Gresham Machem, a great Christian scholar, wrote: “I do not mean that the removal of intellectual objections will make a man a Christian. No conversion was ever wrought by argument. [But] it would be a great mistake [also] to suppose that all men are equally well-prepared to receive the gospel.” We must take the time to share to people the Good News, that is, Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day. Invite them to believe on Him.

Brethren, let us seize the moment!