Unfiltered ramblings

“…Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” John 2:24,25

Since that weekend of March 13, 2020, the world has spiraled for the worst; getting a heaping of obfuscation here, paranoia there. These things can easily side-track us. “…fear not, be of good cheer…”. Jesus Christ has overcome the world! Our prayer is that as you read, you will be encouraged you, all to the Glory of our God and Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

As you flip through these pages, that these are “one mans” thoughts and observations through the lens of Scripture, the standard we all ought to live by. God’s truth becomes personal when I read and apply what His Word says to my everyday. What you have is our continuing journey for “such a time as this.

Leaving 2019, great hopes were in the horizon for the new decade, 2020 started with promise for my wife and I. This is our report…as of June 30, 2020.

The New Year was welcomed with at the home Errol (our son), his wife Cynthia, their children(Nathan, Anya (Nathania), and Nicolas) in their home. Nenita and I spent 2019 Christmas and New Year with them as in previous years.

1st On January 1, 2020, we drove up to Baguio (summer capital of the Philippines). Joining us were Lorenza, (Cynthias mom); coming along were friends: May, her husband Mike and their two children; and Boni, his wife Judith and their two kids.

Baguio City, family & friends January 3, 2020

That was how we kicked off 2020.

2nd …entering the second week, we settled in. But then, a passenger jeepney ran into us, a rear-right-end collision. The cost of the damage was not cheap, for parts and labor, however, the Lord provided the funds through two of the brethren. No one was hurt, thank you Lord.

3rd. Those were followed by the eruption of Taal Volcano near Tagaytay on January 12th. Portions of Northeast Calabarzon received a pungent dose of briny ashfall. You remember that Tagaytay was where MFHBC started the Lord’s work in 2013.

4th Spring Semester started the second week of February. Classes were held at Kingdom Ministries in Silang, Cavite. As you might recall, Pastor Sandy Molo had gone home to be with his(and ours) Lord earlier in December, the relationship the Lord forged between Bro. Sandy and MFHBC continues to this day.

5th The last week of February found us alongside the saints of Fortify on the island of Palawan, in Puerto Princessa, southwest of Luzon. Fortify, God’s vision received by Pastor

Team FORTIFY 2020 in Palawan

Rod Thompson, builds partnerships through the equipping of independent churches in the Philippines. Fortify first came to the Philippines via Tagaytay, the week my journey for a CABG4 bypass began in 2016.

We arrived from Palawan March 3, to continue the semester in Silang. The following week, Nenita celebrated her birthday, a Tuesday, March 10. The remainder of that week is as we say, shaped into what is now history.

6th The events we’ve witnessed and endured since that week truly is unfathomable. How that one weekend in March was transformed into a Sping nightmare in the Orient, and a Fall ordeal in the west. You don’t need me to rehash what we’ve all been through these last three and a half months, or 108 days beginning at March 13…but God.

Our students continued to stay in touch the first few weeks since that weekend in March. Thinking the “shut-down” would be short and temporary, we gave the students “homework” to keep occupied. They were to apply what they had learned in the past semesters, IBS/ Hermeneutics.

As circumstance would have it, most of the students faced limitations in distance learning. They all thrive on learning collectively and not individually, like a competition; in addition, they were faced limited WiFi and financial capabilities.

The first month, two of the students made the effort of submitting their assigned work. Demands of family along with other effects of the “quarantine” mandate from government, homework added to their already stressful days. The semester came to a grinding halt. The Lord has directed us to smoothly reboot the semester in August.

As we wait, I urge you pray our students. God has allowed this “interruption” all to His glory. For His body the church, that we may stand fast in His Word. This was something Nenita and I got to do. In addition to personal time with the Lord, we also found ourselves fellowshipping via the internet with other saints. These 112+ days showed me that I must needs to avail the much more of God’s grace from Jesus Christ, by His Spirit, thoughtfully and purposefully.

March, April, and May are normally the summer months. Curiously, when the government imposed the Philippines version of a “lockdown” and “ECQ (enhanced community quarantine)”during those months, we did not experience the anticipated heat. These were the months new words, acronyms, and phrases were introduced into our vocabulary: ECQ, flatten the curb, DOH, social distancing, CDC, virus, WHO, mask, and so on.

Another noticeable result due to shutdown of factories, minimized movement of motor vehicles, and people, pollution was also on a hiatus. The air we were breathing was cleaner, the sky was bluer and clearer, walking outdoors was conducive to everyones health, then government imposes limitations on such a “healthy” activity.

Nenita further reflected how the Lord has used the shutdown to bring revival, restoration, and rest to weary lives.

1) give earth time to heal from our reckless attitude toward it (Psalm 60:1-5);

2) allow families to be restored to Him, and to each another(Galatians 6:1-5);

3) remind His body, the church, to remain faithful (Jude 20, 21);

4) call attention to a Christ rejecting generation to God’s gift, His love, His Word to be received (Acts 2:38,39, 4:12; 2Corinthians 6:2).

Our dependence on the internet became evident these nearly four months. Again, an instance where evil meant to use for bad, God has used it for good: the Gospel reached the once unreached; Christian fellowship continued online; bible studies became more accessible; Church became a reality for many, no excuses; and many more.

On the ground was a little more challenging as we had more physical face to face, up close and personal encounters others (security guards, neighbors, soldiers, community enforcers, and so on). Regardless of how I view this “_demic,” which I believe to be a ruse, my main duty is to exhibit Christ in me to all men (Roman 13:3). Did I always succeed? No. But because of the grace of God, I am always able get up each time I fall.

Because we do not have a television, Nenita and I were more tuned to reports coming from the USA through the various “non-msm” information outlets off the internet. As Oswald Chambers calls it, we got to exercise the “ministry of the interior,”prayer, as the Lord brings to our remembrance those He reveals through the news, President Trump, our nation, Rodrigo Duterte, the saints around the world.

All in line with what we are called to do, “…seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace…”; “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks be made for all men…kings…all who are in authority…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life…”

The months rolled in and out, we welcomed the new days as we experienced breathing room, for everyone. These days of isolation, the Word in Jeremiah comes to mind. The prophet was told by God to limit his social and personal activities; that was what the Philippines did the first three months of the _demic. This country is a people who loves to celebrate, looking for any and every reason to do so, during the days of ECQ, no celebration or mourning of any kind was allowed.

However,we got to celebrate; on May 28, the arrival of Isadora Jr., youngest grand-daughter to date; then in June feasted on God’s blessings for the birthday’s of Nicolas (11) and Cynthia; on the 21st of June, twenty-eight years of love and grace, our wedding anniversary.

Where we go from here is in His hand. We’ve committed the remainder of the year to Him who called us, which includes a planned sabbatical. Thank you for your faithfulness in coming alongside us through these last seven years.

God bless you and your house, Rizty & Nenita.

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…?