Posts

Showing posts from 2005

So Much Treasure!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3, NIV

Without a doubt, Tutankhamen or King Tut for short is the most famous Egyptian pharaoh today. When he died at 18 years old, his followers buried him in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. After over 3,300 years, in November 1922, British Egyptologist Howard Carter found the tomb. It almost escaped discovery.

Carter was searching for the tomb for a long time. But King Tut’s enemies’ erased almost all the ancient records about him. Carter only found an inscription here and a mark there. His financial backer, Lord Carnavon, almost backed out of the project. He felt that so much time and money had gone to waste in what seemed to be a futile search. But, Carter persuaded Carnavon to fund one more dig. He even promised that he would pay for the final excavation if it would come out empty. Within days, Carter discovered the tomb. He exclaime…

The Birth of Our King

Open your Bibles in Matthew chapter one verse one. Yes, you heard me right. Matthew chapter one verse one. When I began reading the New Testament, I admit that I found chapter one of Matthew boring, particularly the genealogy of Jesus Christ. I mean, I was not that excited to read that this person begat another who begat another and on and on and on. I think you felt the same way also.

It is also challenging for pastors like me to preach an interesting sermon on the genealogy or the family tree of Jesus Christ. Yet I believe God has a reason why He placed it in the Bible. It says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.” (Contemporary English Version) Notice that it says “everything” or “all of it is useful.” That includes the genealogy in Matthew chapter one.

Family trees are important. When we buy dogs, we want to check its pedigree. Or, let us say your…

Should We Celebrate Christmas? (Part 3)

Those who are against celebrating Christmas claim it has pagan origins. However, I believe the real reason was Hanukkah, an eight-day Jewish festival of rededication that starts on December 25.

Almost 200 years before Christ was born, Antiochus Epiphanes (a successor of Alexander the Great) persecuted the Jews. On December 25, 167 B.C. he prohibited the practice of their religion and desecrated the temple by sacrificing pigs (an unclean animal according to the Jewish Law) on the altar. The Jews fought back and won. Exactly three years after the desecration of the temple, on the very same day the Jews rededicated it. They cleansed the Temple. They built a new altar in place of the polluted one. They kindled anew the fire on the altar and lit the lamps of the Menorah or temple lampstand. Since then, the Jews celebrated the Hanukkah (a Hebrew word for “dedication”). They also called it the Feast of Lights. Scholars believe the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus observed Hanukkah and they …

Should We Celebrate Christmas? (Part 2)

Those who don’t celebrate Christmas claim that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. They say that we don’t really know the exact date. They claim the date was only fixed in the fourth century.

But Dr. Daniel Wallace in his book, The Birth of Jesus Christ: The Day Jesus Was Born, disagrees. “Why do we celebrate his birth in December? The tradition for December 25th is actually quite ancient. Hippolytus, in the second century A.D., argued that this was Christ’s birthday. …in the fourth century, John Chrysostom argued that December 25th was the correct date and from that day till now, the Church in the East, as well as the West, has observed the 25th of December as the official date of Christ's birth.”

Some point to Luke 2:8, where it says that on the night of the birth of Christ, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (NIV) They claim that since it was winter, the shepherds were not in the field that night. Some modern scholars s…

Should We Celebrate Christmas? (Part 1)

Not all Bible-believing Christians celebrate Christmas. That’s a fact. However, the question is not “Who has the right belief?” but “What is the right attitude?”

We are commanded in the Bible: Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with… one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience. (Romans 14:7, 5, The Message)

Christians differ on minor issues due to many reasons. One reason was their backgrounds or past experiences. Paul wrote the guidelines in Romans 14 to discuss how Jewish and Gentile [non-Jewish] believers would live in harmony in the church. For example, Jews grew up with a lot of dietary restrictions. Gentiles did not have such a list of “clean” or “unclean” animals. So, when the…

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 salvati…

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 …

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 Ch…

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 H…

Standing Up By Kneeling Down

Last Monday night, October 24, Rosa Parks died of natural causes. She was 92.

Who was Rosa Parks? She was a black American seamstress. On December 1, 1955, she took a Montgomery City bus on her way home from work. (During those days, the bus companies segregate the blacks and the whites. They also authorized the bus drivers to choose where people could sit. They even carry guns to enforce segregation.) She sat behind the seats reserved for whites. Then a white man boarded the bus. The driver told the blacks sitting just behind the white section to give up their seats for the white man. But she won’t budge. The driver had her arrested. The court convicted her for violating the segregation laws. She appealed her case. A year later, the US Supreme Court declared the segregation laws unconstitutional.

Her case was the catalyst that led to the modern civil rights movement. A boycott ensued led by Martin Luther King, Jr. that paralyzed the transport sector of Montgomery. This sparked non-viol…

Why Wait For Others?

Note: Our server was down last week. Sorry for the late posting.

Let me share a poem entitled “New in Town” which I read in The Biblical Studies Foundation website (http://www.bible.org).

The first time I worshipped at their church
About two months ago
I signed the registration card
So all of them would know

That I had just moved into town
And needed a little part
Of the loving concern for each other
That a Christian has in his heart.

I checked the proper boxes
To indicate my age
My marital condition
My sex, my spiritual stage.

No one smiled or shook my hand
When the services were through
And Satan whispered in my ear
“See, no one noticed you.”

But I stayed home each night that week
In hopes someone would call
It didn’t have to be the Preacher
Just any one at all

Who cared enough to take the time
In our dear Saviour’s Name
To bid a stranger welcome...
But no one ever came.

And then a thought came to my mind
That I’d like to share with you
Why should I sit and wait for others
To do what I could do?

So, I joined …

Drowning in the Midst of Lifeguards

For the first time in its history, New Orleans’ city pool had no incidents of drowning during one summer. So they threw a party where 300 people came (100 of them certified lifeguards). At the end of the party, four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool. To their horror, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive the victim but it was too late.

In an ironic twist, he drowned surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful, drown-free summer.

Now imagine our church. We are strategically located in the prime financial district of the country. Most of our members hold key positions in their company. We know the Lord Jesus as our Savior. But are we fulfilling our strategic role as “lifeguards?”

Two weeks from now Makati Gospel Church will host the Christian Life and Witness (CLW) course. We are the only venue in Makati and the only church in the 65 CLW venues all over Mega-Manila to hold two courses. Believers not only from MGC but also from other church…

Who Knocked Down The Walls of Jericho?

This is a true story.

An old lady wanted to talk to the pastor after a worship service. She wants to thank him for the help she received from his sermons. “You do correctly handle the Bible,” she said to the pastor. “Do you know that until this morning I had always thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were man and wife?”

Now that’s sad.


Here’s another one. The Sunday school teacher called in sick. So the pastor taught a boys’ class in his place. He decided to test the kids. So he asked who knocked down the walls of Jericho. All the boys denied any involvement and instead blamed his seatmate for it. It was a shocking experience for the pastor.

At the next board meeting he lamented about the experience. “Not one of them knows who knocked down the walls of Jericho!” The group was silent until finally one seasoned deacon spoke up. “Pastor, I’ve known all those boys since they were born and they’re good boys. If they said they didn’t know, I believe them. Let’s just take some money out of the repai…

Surfing on God’s Wave

“One of the next great moves of God is through the Christians in the workplace.” - Billy Graham.

Surfers don’t create waves. They just ride on it. One of God’s waves in our times is through the marketplace. The question is, “Are we surfing on it?”

Ed Silvoso, author of Anointed for Business, pointed out that God called the church to “make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19, NIV) and not just individuals. People change when their heart changes. To transform a nation, we must start with its heart. Other than the government, at the very heart of the nation is the workplace. Thus workers (both white and blue collars) play a major role in our country’s transformation.

We influence the workplace not only through hosting Bible studies in our companies but also applying what we have learned from it. We reach out to our peers and associates by sharing the Gospel to them and doing business by the Book. We pay the right taxes. We apply sound business practices. We uphold the highest business …

Things We Christians Can Do To Help Our Country (Part 4)

“So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Contemporary English Version

In January 1999, Coach Ken Carter chained the doors of the gymnasium of Richmond High School in California. Why? Fifteen out of his 45 players were not doing well academically as part of their contract as student athletes. That controversial decision earned him both ire and praise. What’s the big deal? The team was undefeated. The record was 13-0 to be exact. The lockdown caused them to forfeit two league games. Despite that, Coach Carter declared, “No practice and no games until grades improve.”

His efforts paid off. One of his players was Wayne Oliver. He was a straight-F student before playing for Carter. He ended up with Oklahoma’s Cameron University. In fact, al…

Things We Christians Can Do To Help Our Country (Part 3)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

We saw already that in order to help our country we need to obey traffic rules, throw our trash properly and pay our taxes. This checklist may sound trivial to you. But if we can’t be trusted with small things, we can’t be trusted with big things.

In order to help, we must also speak positively about our country.
The trend nowadays is to focus on the negative, to dwell on the bad things that are happening in our nation.

The Bible commands us to “think about… whatever is true… noble… right… pure… lovely… admirable… excellent or praiseworthy.”I am not saying we ignore or deny our plight. But we are to keep thinking about “the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (The Message)

One way of doing that is to be proactive.

A Letter We Wouldn’t Like To Receive

Allow me to share an article that, depending on our point of view, would touch our hearts or step on our toes.[1] I read it from The Biblical Studies Foundation website (http://www.bible.org).

Some time ago an 18-year-old woman attended a worship service. For the first time in her life she heard a gospel message. The following Tuesday the pastor of the church received a letter from her. It read:

Dear Pastor,

Last Sunday I went to your church. I heard you preach that all men have sinned and rebelled against God. Therefore, they all face eternal separation from God. But then you also said God so loved the world He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins and that all those who believe in him would go to heaven.

My parents recently died in rapid succession. I know they did not believe in Jesus. If what you preach is true, they are damned. You compel me to believe that either the message is true, or that you yourself don’t believe this message, or that you don’t care. We live only thre…

Things We Christians Can Do To Help Our County (Part 2)

People accuse us Christians of having no earthly good because we are so heavenly minded. But that should not be the case for we are the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). The salt won’t do any good if it stays in the saltshaker “and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house.” (v. 15, Contemporary English Version)

Last week, we talked about obeying traffic rules and throwing our trash properly. Today we will continue our series on things we can do to help our country.

We are to pay our taxes. God commanded us to pay our taxes and pay it right. God is honored when we keep only one accounting book. We must also pay it on time for delayed obedience is disobedience.“You people are robbing me, your God. And, here you are, asking, ‘How are we robbing you?’ You are robbing me of the offerings and of the ten percent that belongs to me. That's why your whole nation is under a curse.” (Ma…

Things We Christians Can Do To Help Our Country (Part 1)

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (Jeremiah 29:7, NIV)

When God exiled the Jews to Babylon, He commanded them to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city”.In other words, they must pray and work hard for the good of that country even if it conquered and enslaved them. For, as the Contemporary English Version has translated it: “The more successful that nation is, the better off you will be.”

Now we are foreigners in this world because “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20a, NIV) That’s why I believe we have the same mandate just like that of the Jews in Babylon. Thus, let me share and comment on what I heard over a radio commentary about a booklet entitled “Things You Can Do To Help Our Country.”Remember that good Christians ought to be good citizens.

First, obey traffic rules. We Filipinos are famous for our driving. We even joke that we practice “d…

Decoding The Da Vinci Code (Conclusion)

“Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope. Give a kind and respectful answer and keep your conscience clear. This way you will make people ashamed for saying bad things about your good conduct as a follower of Christ.” (1 Peter 3:15-16, Contemporary English Version)

As we conclude our discussion on The Da Vinci Code, now what? Let us always remember that The Da Vinci Code is neither the first nor the last attack against Christianity. So, what do we do next?

First, we need to develop the right aptitude. We need to be competent.“Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope.”We have to know what and why we believe. Learn how to study the Bible on your own. Don’t be content with what others say about what the Bible says. Dig into the Word yourself. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of…

Decoding The Da Vinci Code (Part 3)

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NIV)

No matter how believable a claim may sound, you can dismiss it if it does not have a factual basis.

That’s exactly the problem with The Da Vinci Code. It is a novel, that is, a work of fiction. But it presents itself as factual.
In the opening page of the book, you would find this claim: All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.For example, the book claims that, in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine outlawed altered and destroyed the Word of God. But, allegedly, “some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive.” (The Da Vinci Code) He particularly mentioned the Nag Hammadi scrolls. Bedouins discov…

Decoding The Da Vinci Code (Part 2)

“When we told you about the power and the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were not telling clever stories that someone had made up.” (2 Peter 1:16, Contemporary English Version)

However, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code accuses us of believing a lie. The controversial bestseller claims that “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.” Allegedly, the early church believed Jesus was not God but only “a mortal prophet... a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless.” Supposedly, the doctrine that Christ is God was only “officially proposed and voted on in the Council of Nicea” in 325 A.D. And, the book emphasized, it was “a relatively close vote”.

But that is not historically accurate! The Da Vinci Code did not get the facts straight. The Council of Nicea merely affirmed that Jesus is God. It did not invent the doctrine. It only recognized what the apostles really taught. And, when the Council adopted a creed in favor of the truth that Christ is divine, it was a vot…

Decoding The Da Vinci Code (Part 1)

Image
Someone wrote, “My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects.”

So can’t I. For our Lord Jesus commanded us: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, NIV) That’s why we Christians must know not only what we believe but also why we believe. Sincerity is not enough. We could be sincerely wrong. We need to be sincerely right. Our faith is not blind but intelligent. Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Last Thursday, I gave a talk to our Young Pro Fellowship on the bestselling suspense thriller, The Da Vinci Code. TIME magazine hailed it as “The Novel That Ate the World.” More than 25 million copies are already sold worldwide. The novel is also translated in 44 languages. It topped bestseller’s lists such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Publishers’ Weekly. A movie version is in the making with Tom Hanks taking the lead. TIME also recently named author Dan Brow…

Not Getting Any Younger

Last Sunday, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Yes, I am “only” 36 years old. Whether I’m still young or already old depends upon your point of view. But what I saw in the “40 Million Minutes” video (http://www.sermonvideos.com) made me pray the prayer of Moses: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

An average person lives 77 years. That’s 40,000,000 minutes. Exactly what the Bible said. “We can expect seventy years, or maybe eighty, if we are healthy, but even our best years bring trouble and sorrow. Suddenly our time is up, and we disappear.” (v. 10, Contemporary English Version.) That also places me in the category of mid-lifers. :-(

Now you do the math…

On the average we spend 40 minutes every day on the phone. That’s a total of 2 years in a lifetime. I think it could be more. Have you noticed that to most of us the first thing we usually touch in the morning is our cell phone?

We spend a total of 1½ hours each day getting ready for…

Being Faithful In So Little

One very stormy night an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel. They asked for a room. But there was none for them. But the clerk took pity on them. He said, “I can’t send a fine couple like you out in the rain. Would you be willing to sleep in my room?” The couple hesitated but the clerk insisted.

The next morning, the man said to the clerk, “You’re the kind of man who should be managing the best hotel in the United States. Someday I’ll build you one.” The clerk just smiled politely.

A few years later the clerk got a letter from the elderly man. A round-trip ticket was enclosed. He asked the clerk to come to New York. When the clerk arrived, the elderly man brought him to a magnificent new building. Then he said to the clerk, “That is the hotel I have built for you to manage.” The elderly man was William Waldorf Astor, and the hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria. The young clerk was George C. Boldt, the first manager of the hotel.[1]

Our Lord Jesus once said, “Anyone who …

Ignorance or Apathy?

A reporter interviewed a man on the street. “Which do you think is the biggest problem in our nation today: ignorance or apathy?” The man answered, “I don’t know and I don’t care!”

As Christians, we cannot afford not to know. We cannot afford not to care. One of my favorite Bible teachers, Dr. John MacArthur, wrote, “I believe that we need to take every legal means available to us as citizens to effect change in country. Every time you have an opportunity to do that—you need to do that.” That is not a violation of the separation of church and state. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure freedom of religion. It is the responsibility of the church to serve as the conscience of the state. MacArthur added: “If there is a forum where you can say what needs to be said, then you need to say that. If there is a letter that you can write, then you need to write that letter. If there is a vote that you can make, then you need to make that vote.”

Personally, let me emphasize my convict…

PRO-Government

“Hello, Garci?”

That controversial wiretapped chat on cheating in the last election between President GMA and COMELEC Commissioner Garcillano stirred up loud protests demanding her resignation. Peso-dollar exchange remained volatile. Prices of almost everything went up. It seems we are polarized as a nation.

As Christians, we cannot help but be involved. Yes, we are heavenly-minded. But we should have earthly good. What do we do in the midst of this brewing storm?

We should become PRO-Government. Now, before you react, allow me to explain. One of the three institutions that God ordained is the government. (The other two are the church and the family.) “Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power. People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished.” (Romans 13:1-2, Contemporary English Version) How we relate to the government reflects on our relationship with God.

So, first we must PRAY for the government…

Pay It Forward

Remember the movie Pay it Forward?

It’s about Trevor McKinney, an eleven-year-old boy who shared this brilliant idea: When we benefit from someone else’s good deed, instead of paying the person back, we have to “pay it forward.” Now we have something to pay forward. We ourselves would not have heard the Good News if people then were not sent to share it to us. That’s why every believer should be involved with missions.

First, we can pray. The Lord Jesus said, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:38, Modern King James Version) Be informed by reading about mission work in Christian magazines or newsletters from Christian organizations or over the internet. Through that, we would know what to pray for.

Second, we can go. Consider joining in a short-term mission trip. My wife Ellen went with a group of women to Indo-China late last year. It was a very memorable experience for the team. They visited a tribe displaced by ethnic cleansing…