Don’t be swayed

15 more days…then what?

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin…We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one…we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true…in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
1John 5:18-21

We all are counting the days when we can all go back to “normal.” I shudder at the thought that I should go back to doing the normal things before the Wuhan/CCP virus invaded. What has this event taught us about ourselves? About the world around us? The people from other countries? How different are we from each other? No difference.

It is amazing really how God has allowed technology to be used for His glory. Much like Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him because he was their father Jacob’s favorite, so they threw him into a pit, then sold him off for cash. But God allowed it and watched over Joseph all those years he was in Egypt till He brought Joseph to prominence. Because of that, with confidence in God, Joseph reminded his brothers with those words in Genesis. Consider the words spoken thousands of years ago and apply it to the world’s state, to yourself, this time in human history.

The perpetrators of this weaponized corona virus (my opinion) meant it for selfish reasons, whatever it is they intended, God allowed it for good. Families have re-acquainted themselves with each other (husband with wife, fathers with children, children with mothers, brothers with sisters); homes are cleaned (spring cleaning); books on the shelves are being read; church has been brought back to its roots, the home; the air is cleaner; skies are bluer; and most importantly, the Word of God, the Gospel is reaching places the pre-virus world had not seen.

Dear ones, do not be swayed by what the world is saying, instead, look around you and see that the Lord is good. Beware of those who try to give you a narrative filled with untruths and deception. I encourage you to ask the hard questions no one dare ask regarding anything, even regarding this virus. Don’t be content with what this or that person says, learn for yourself.

Use this extra time to exercise prayer, logic and reason. Isaiah 1:18 invites us to, “Come now let us reason together...” and again in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” In Hosea, a reminder is given, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge…” and in the book of James, the invitation is given, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives to all liberally…” therefore, ask!

Since the quarantine/lockdown, our five classes for the semester have been placed on a Long Distance learning mode. Our four students, were given their assigned readings and “home works”. Sadly, all four have not been able to send in their work/s online amid varying challenges (technical and financial). It is with confidence in the Lord we pray they continue to receive wisdom and understanding from Him as we all enter our 45th day of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in our area.

Our student #1 is a mother of two small girls, she has her hands full, her husband works overseas; student#2 serves her family since the start of the “ecq” days (she’s got two girls as well, older); and students 3 & 4 are in the dark. Pray for these four.

Where we are today, started before the week of March 10, 2020. Do you remember what you were doing when all of this began? That week, Nenita had just celebrated her birthday and had just finished teaching classes, Isaiah and the Gospel of John, that Friday afternoon, we had an impromptu “potbless”.

Before that, beginning the last week of February, we were invited to join the 2020 Fortify conference in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, southwest of Manila. We joined the brethren who flew in from SoCal, Reliance Church, Temecula, and Calvary Chapel Vista, CA. It was a fruitful week in the Lord. 3) While in Puerto Pricessa, we’d heard rumblings about a virus from Wuhan.

Celebration of my wife’s birthday should have continued that week, or so we thought. As that weekend began, suddenly these acronyms, words and phrases dominated internet and local news: CDC, DOH, WHO, ECQ, PPE, quarantine, quarantine pass, lockdown, corona virus, social distancing, N95 face mask, face mask, covid, covid 19, CCP virus, wuhan virus, China, novel corona virus, shutdown, amelioration, stimulus checks, unemployment, etc…

For those of you who know me(my wife specially), questions abound in my mind regarding this added event of 2020. They include the: what, where, how, when, who, why. The year 2020 is proving to be filled with stories worthy of praise for God…

1) In early January on a Sunday afternoon while spending time with the grandchildren at a local mall, Taal volcano near Tagaytay erupted after 43 years of silence, reminding us in the CaLaBaRzon area that it is no longer idle as many believed. Ash was blown into cities northeast of the volcano, that included Santa Rosa, it wasn’t a dry kind of ash, it was wet with a briny smell. The volcano is after all surrounded by what once was salt water, but is now a freshwater volcanic lake.

2) After that, we (Nenita and I) found ourselves in a “bumper to bumper bender” with a passenger jeepney. We were hit from behind. With the incident, the Lord allowed us to experience Philippine law at its finest in the city of Santa Rosa, Laguna, which surprised us, from the traffic enforcer to the police investigator to the fiscal’s office to the fiscal himself, all of whom exemplified courtesy and respect. This episode with the bumper rolled through March, with the offending party (not us) making arrangements to settle the damage incurred by our vehicle through the Fiscal’s office.

It is April 30, has anyone really figured out what’s going on? The only way I’ve approached the predicament we find ourselves in, is holding fast to Whom I believe. The narrative we’ve been given is one of dire and dread, leading those who are faint of heart to lose it. Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ reminds and calls to you, to me, “Do not fear any of those things you are about to suffer…” This tale being weaved regarding the man-caused virus, has been allowed as a 1) reminder to believers; and 2) a call to an unbelieving world.

Jesus Christ spoke the words above in a letter He wrote through John the apostle for the church in Smyrna. Much like us today, despite the unknowns, the church was called to remain faithful till the end, you and I must do the same, hold fast knowing in Whom you have believed. In the words of my wife, it’s not who we are anymore but Whose we are.

Take this opportunity to spend more time in His Word, being in prayer for our leaders and the world at large, and consider these: What has God shown you of Himself during these quarantine days? How has He revealed His love to you? In all this, Who is Jesus Christ to you today? Press on!

Fortify Palawan…and beyond!

Draw your water for the siege!

Fortify your strongholds!

Go into the clay and tread the mortar!

Make strong the brick kiln!

Nahum 3:14

A message for God’s workers regardless of the position, from pastors, teachers, deacons, administration, missionaries, musicians, etcetera…this evening as Rod led the 2020 Fortify – Narra, Palawan team in a time of prayer, the Holy Spirit brought me to this verse. My initial thought was that I would speak this singular verse to the team. But I could not muster myself, to get up, and by the time I did, it was too late, P Rod had begun the last minute reminders for the team for the next two days, had I missed my moment?02/25/2020

Yet the Lord allowed this verse to stay with, He wanted me to consider the truth encapsulated in this word in scripture. At first, the word ‘fortify’ stood out as it is the theme of Cross Culture’s missions ministry. I searched and found the word six times (NKJV). In a way, it reminded me of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.

Though this part in Nahum was a warning for the Assyrians in Nineveh to ‘prepare’ for the siege expected from the Lord, it may very well be a warning likewise for the body of Jesus Christ, His church against the apostasy that was, is, is to come.

Breaking it down, thus the Lord’s revelation to me:

The siege is the Field God’s workers scatter seeds on; plow in; and reap from. It is a picture of the battle the missionary faces, which is all part of the ‘job description.’ Paul gives Timothy the reminder that he is like a soldier, enlisted by the Lord, there are dangers from without and within the church. Hosea 10:12 spoke of fallow ground as does Christ when He gave us the parable of the sower of the four kinds of soil.

The water we get to draw from is that which is given by the Holy Spirit… ‘out of him will flow rivers of Living Water’ (John 4:14; 7:37,38) The battle begins by drawing water, so we are not weakened/dehydrated/thirsty spiritually, we are called to ask Him to fill us with His water to allow us to stand fast against the onslaught perpetrated by the enemy (Ephesians 6:13-20). Therefore, be filled with His Word, being in prayer in the Word.

Fortify strongholds…the church…the body of Christ…in the ESV, strengthen your forts…the congregation, the assembly of believers. The call is to not neglect coming together so that we get to build each other up in the Word in word and in deed.

The Bible is full of warnings/reminders against apostasy, Paul spoke of it, Jude was passionate warning the church of certain men who creep in; the old testament reminded the nation of Israel through Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, and the prophets…don’t go far from the Lord!

Go into the clay…(the people that make up the church, teach the Word wholly) strengthen it, tread…clay needs to be molded according to the Potter, mortar is “a mixture of lime with cement, sand, and water, used in building to bond bricks or stones.”

Jeremiah 18:6; Isaiah 64:8, spoke of the clay being in the Potters hand; then in the NT, Paul reminds us that we are God’s workmanship created unto good works…Ephesians 2:10…which is why his call to us in Romans 12:1,2 being able to present ourselves, a living sacrifice, not because of us but because of Him Who called us.

Make strong… as we go through the siege, the Lord Jesus tells us that in this world, we will have tribulation…but we are to strengthen one another because He has overcome the world… we are to encourage one another…1Thess 5:11; Hebrews 12:12; 1Peter 5:10; Revelation 3:2 we are called to fortify each other and ourselves…in the Word, in prayer asking as we ought…2 Timothy 3:16,17

The picture we have is that of man who is made of clay is strengthened by the three-fold elements of water, straw, and baking through heat under the sun.

This is the church of Jesus Christ being built up, Peter uses an Old Testament reference of being living stones; the other is that the Lord is molding us to the image of His Son (Jeremiah 18:4; Romans 8:29, 9:21)that is done by those three elements mentioned in this last paragraph…a picture of the Triune Godhead working on a vessel honoring God, God’s masterpiece(Poiema)… are you surrendered?

Is the Potter having His way in you?

Are you being…?