Do you ever take the time to thank God for all that He gives you? The Bible is filled with reasons and occassions to thank the Lord…
Thanksgiving 2016 is here, not many months back, only the Lord knew if this day would come for me. I do thank You Lord Jesus for working in my life beginning with my wife, our children from the oldest to the youngest, our grandchildren, family and church family whom You have used to express the beauty of Your holiness and faithfulness.
Yes, another year passed, You O Lord for these whom you have used in my life! Thank You God for…
Psalm 52:9 I will thank You forever, because You have done it. I will wait for Your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
Psalm 118:21 I thank You that You have answered me and have become my salvation.
John 11:41b “…And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.”
Philippians 1:3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…
1Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this…which is at work in you believers.
1Timothy 1:12 I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to his service
There are many others yet to grace the pages of this blog, press on dear saints. Let us give thanks to God from Whom all blessings flow!!!
2Timothy 1:3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors…as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
An ominous combination if ever there was one, to talk about two cities I am all very familiar with. Charles Dickens, we are told, was making reference to Paris and London, in the years of great upheaval in that part of Europe, the French Revolution. Wherever and whenever we find ourselves to be, there is the least that principle of two at work.
During creation, “God made (two) them male and female…” Genesis 1:27; good and evil; the American Revolution, there were the British against the Colonies; Civil War that followed was between the North and the South; then in this world of economics, we recognize the have’s and the have nots; in the Bible? You have the Old Testament and the New Testament. So yes, it is often a matter of “a tale of two cities.”
Like Dickens, I sit as an observant of two cities, near and far. The first is Manila in the Philippines, the second, California, USA. One is the place of my birth, the other of my re-birth. One was where I learned to walk and talk, the other where I learned to run and speak.
Wow, the days are quickly unfolding just as the bible tells us. Well, for the next few weeks, we shall look at two cities close to me now repaired heart, the Philippines and the USA. Truly, each has a tale to weave. One like an older brother flexing muscles for display, which is all it is these days; while the younger sibling tries to emulate the older. Both are completely lacking the balance of strength and substance. Lets take a quick look at the two cities, beginning with the younger one, the Philippines.
May 2016, two landmark events took place in my life. On the 1st of May, I learned my heart was doing a lot of things it wasn’t suppose to do. I had been overworking it, leading to an enlargement and causing me to experince shortness of breath. In the final analysis, God had me go through a quadruple bypass, a CABG (read about it in previous or upcoming issues), along with repairing my mitral valve. The thing was, other than the shortness of breath, I did not exhibit the typical symptoms of a man going through a cardio vascular problem. Maybe I did, just didn’t know it. If not for the insistence of my wife and daughter in law, who knows where I’d be today. Thank You God for those two women in my life.
The second event had nothing to do with me, or did it? On May 9, the Filipino people went to the polls to go through a national “bypass” of its own.
They were to elect the next man, or woman, who would lead a people of more than 110 million over the next six years. Five people vying for the top spot of President of the Philippines. Over the last 30 years, the country has been overworked with pronouncements of all sorts of promises, all in the name of “justice,”but the truth is, the nation was, has been, hemmorhaging morally, politically, socially, and spiritually. Was I like that? Will the people, like I did, wise up after years of unhealthy living? Needless to say, the operation/election was a success. Now that God has given me another chance to honor Him, will I? As for the Philippines, will the people take stock, not just of the leaders, but of themselves.
Cause you see, just because the doctor says “we’ve repaired you…take these medicines…etc…” What they also tell you is the required rehab, re-conditioning towards a healthier lifestyle so that I get to maximize the use of my new heart. It will take at least 3 years for me to feel the effects of the heart operation I went through on May 28. What does the nation and me have in common? The repair has been done, but rehab continues. By definition, rehab means “a course of treatment designed to reverse the debilitating effects of an injury; to restore or rehabilitate.” I am going through rehab. The nation needs to go through rehab, morally, socially, politically and most import, spiritually.
I’m realizing for myself, that rehab isn’t accomplished with simply doing x number of sessions, then you see results right away. No! The old bodybuilding axiom, no pain no gain, holds true in every aspect of life, it holds true in the matter of my heart and the Philippine nation. I had to get repaired where I was produced, just like other products; but in my case, my warranty repair was covered by God.
As for the Philippine nation,God is willing, are you? He says to you, to us, “Come!” He also says, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14
Will you? Think about it, see you next time as we talk more about the”two cities” in my life. You may have more than one city as well, selah…lets…
As September comes to a close with limited fanfare it is with joy we get to report God’s work continuing in the lives of the saints here in Tagaytay and the Calabarzon region. The “ber” months have begun which is a signal for preparation for the arrival of Christmas here in this part of the world. All will soon be festive and “trafficky”.
After the blessed interruption the Lord allowed in late May, which is my heart surgery, it seemed like all would come to a halt when it came to ministry “activity.” It did not…
The Philippines at this point is the focus of attention from the rest of the world with President Duterte’s fight against illegal drugs. He may not have the sophistication of a high profile politician familiar with “p.c. speak,” however, he is a man of great conviction. He is after all, I believe, God’s appointed leader for the Philippines for such a time as this. Borrowing a statement from Pastor Chuck Smith, “All we get to do is sit back, pray, and watch God work.” That is what we have been doing.
Segue to the work the Lord began at BJMP in Biñan more than a year ago. When my condition dictated my limited activity for the remainder of the year, including that at the prison ministry, unbeknownst to me, the Lord had prepared men who would take up the mantle for the rest of the season beginning in July. Praise the Lord, as I was informed that the men and women at the prison were in prayer for me. As of this writing, they number nearly 500 in their small holding cell.
As the Lord revealed to Gideon (Judges 7:1-8), the men to be involved with the Bible study at the prison went through a similar screening process. What seemed like the ideal team at the start in my mind in July, was soon righted by the Holy Spirit by August.
Good thing it’s HIS team. They are currently going through the book of John, with the inmates participating in the reading of His Word.
Praise the Lord! Jesus Christ is watching over His flock in the jail cells of Biñan. “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6, He never ceases. Tracts, Christian based reading, and Bibles have been distributed not just in the jail but in the town proper as well.
The next narrative involves the on-going work of the Lord to the women through Nenita. Before my confinement, the women began their study on the book of Ruth. Meeting at the center once a month, it seemed to proceed at a snails pace because of my surgery. As of late, they have been meeting twice a month and are due to wrap up by October.
I am blessed to have a godly wife who is faithful to her calling, to me and the people of God…“the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5 NKJV
Not only at the center, dear ones! During an out of town visit to a church family in Quezon City, Nenita was treated to a pedicure and a massage. The spitfire that she is, that in no time did the women working there find themselves drawn to this woman of God. Nenita was teaching the Word. They all were listening…“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 Amen!
Pray for these whom you’ve just met, some you know from the past, others just now. Keep praying for the work of God here in the Philippines. As Isaiah had written, “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.”
Let us keep in and partake of the ministry of intercession by the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our intercession.
Less than a month away before we all get to be with family and friends in the West Coast. See you then!
On July 20, the 2012 Ford Fiesta a.k.a. our vehicle had to be towed to the repair shop. Two days before the tow, the car would not “start.” Like a “smarty pantsy” fool, I positted all possibilities why it would not start. These included hypothesizing the following: it was too hot, affected the computer, lets wait for it to cool down; it won’t start when its sunny, lets wait for early afternoon; and there were other thoughts that crossed my mind as to why the car would not start. Like I said, foolish.
Roy, the service advisor, did the intake at which point I tried to sound “technologically adept,” he listened intently to my narrative on the history of the “non-starting episodes” of the car. Looking back, I think he might have thought me a silly rather than smart, maybe a “smart-fool?” Over the next two weeks, none of my theories ever panned out. It was like waiting for a diagnosis in which the doctor is unable to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong without going through a battery of tests. For two weeks we were without a “reliable” car, but thanks be to God for my brother in law Ricky, he lent us his car.
Interestingly, 108 days have passed since “my service advisors” were equally confounded with my condition. My wife later pointed out the parallel between my experience and that of the car.
The Fiesta had been installed with an after market GPS system which turns out is not compatible with the original specs of the manufacturer. In other words, the GPS was not properly wired because it was an “add-on” that Fords computer system rejected. What’s the parallel?
In Ecclesiastes 12:13, I am reminded of my whole purpose, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.” Ecclesiastes 12:13 NKJV; in the ESV translation, we are given of the same verse, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” How do I connect this verse to the car? Bear with me…The Bible tells me, tells you, that I am made in the image of God…you are made in His image and as we read in the preceding verse…I am to “Fear God and keep His commandments…this is the whole duty of man (what I get to do). That is my purpose. Consder these words, When “… God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good...” As far as God’s creation is concerned, it was all good.
But sin entered the picture, like that misplaced GPS, it was never part of the original equipment and ever since, there has been an incompatibility problem, a shorting of the car. Some days it will start, some days it won’t. Kinda like the flesh and the Spirit, Romans 7:15-20 and 8:6. As for me, I want to do what I want, did so before the operation, still do. Friends, the “heart of the matter, is the matter of the heart.” Instead of that infernal GPS, I should have been running on the “eternal GPS” (God’s Positioning Spirit) as evidenced in John 14:26 & 16:13.
I had to go through a quadruple by-pass because my internal wiring was in disarray that it shorted out from all my “past feastings”, and boy did I love to eat; the Fiesta? its wiring shorted because of a “foreign” gadget, it too, had to be re-wired and put in order. My part in caring for the car is to properly “maintain” it, as I must with myself.
Does this mean my heart can be continually abused again and again, by me? As in, I can eat what I want when I want to? God forbid!!! Of course I must needs to be mindful that my body is no longer my own, it never has been, it belongs to God (1Corinthians 6:19-20).
My corrective, next step, began in an emergency room (I had to be towed to it) in May, only to end up on an operating table several days later n May 28; since then, I have begun to go through cardiac rehab, which serves as a reminder to know my limits. Rather than exercising my “rights”, these days, I get to learn to exercise my “limitations” and let God be God in my life, and this leads to a “healthy life” in Jesus Christ, for Him, by Him, through Him!
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2Corinthians 4:16
There is always the proverbial “good news, bad news scenario” in our everyday walk as a Christian. But as the Word of God tells us, “…do not lose heart…” Ever since my life-threatening procedure , I’ve encountered, not nightmares or dreams, but visions of the “what if…maybe…is it possible?” myriad of passing thoughts.
Examples? Well, for one, here’s a thought that has crossed my mind once or twice in the last few weeks: “if they worked on my heart while the rest of my parts was placed on a machine, what happened to my conciousness while my heart was being worked on?” It’s like, were they (my heart and mind) ever disconnected? Answers? anyone?
Then there’s this other nagging question…I’ve got a saddle that helps regulate the mitral valve on my heart, a foreign object if you will, inside of me. Lately, I’ve been having this phantom itch across my chest…or is it? You see, these are some of the things that go on in my mind. Is it unique to me? Or does every person who goes through a Quad by pass go through these same experiences that I still do?
The wholeness journey of the repaired heart begins with the Physician in charge. An local illustration that comes to mind is the Filipino word bayanihan “taken from the word bayan, referring to a nation, town or community. The whole term bayanihan refers to a spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective.” As well as the references we are looking at, there is a revelatory component in all these things I have experienced.
Bayanihan, as defined above is in Scripture…1Corinthians 12, which speaks of the unity of the body of Christ, different parts, make up the whole, always in tune with the other parts. One limb hurts, the other parts, though separated by distance, are affected. Therefore, the answer to my question as to whether the rest of me was ever disconnected while I was out of it, is no. I was connected, always have been, always will be connected in Christ.
Now, how does that relate to me? Parts of my whole was diseased. A scary word to use but thats what the cardiologist said to my wife after the angiogram was concluded. God, who promised me, “… He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6. This is one of the good news items I spoke of earlier, everything God does is always good. And He isn’t done with me yet. Still residing at this temporary address we call our physical body, waiting for the Lord to call me to our permanent address…”But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20-21
What does my quadruple by pass have anything to do with all this? I don’t know, but God does. That is my prayer for each one of you, family (wife, children, grand children), friends (close, acquaintances), and strangers (at least to me), grab hold of each day to bring glory and honor and praise to the One Who redeemed you, Who Redeemed the world. More of Him and less of yourself as my wife would say.
Once we’ve surrendered ourselves, the clouds of doubt and anxiety float away. Even after major surgery! Then, we can say in confidence, not in ourselves but to Him who does it all for us…”Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” You see, thats it, day by day with Jesus Christ. Moment by moment, all 86,400 seconds of every single day. Every second that my heart beats is a gift of God.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
June 15, 2016, two days after being discharged from the Philippine Heart Center (finally) here I am back home in Tagaytay. Altogether I had spent forty days and nights under the watchful of care of God. He used people who were more than willing to be used by His Spirit.
Those people begin with my wife, Nenita, our children, from our eldest son along with his wife, to our youngest. Friends and family from near and from across the Pacific. On May 1, my wife, along with our daughter- in-law insisted I be taken to the ER “just to make sure it was nothing serious.” This was all because I had looked ashen and had shortness of breath that evening. Lo and behold, it was serious enough that I found myself in an ICU for the first time ever. And so the journey of my heart began.
Reflecting back, it wasn’t really something I was pleased with. I mean, who wants to be confined in a hospital, its only for sick people, right? It was only later the truth spoken of in Jeremiah 17:9, about the condition of the human heart had meat and meaning to my condition then, before the operation, and even now.Dude, mine was sick to “da max.” I needed a major heart “overhaul.”
It took more than a surgeon to rectify this ole heart of mine, I was under the care of One who had the steadiest hand of all when it comes to affairs of the heart.
Fortify – to make (a place) defensible, as by building walls, digging trenches, etc
châzaq – khaw-zak’
to fasten upon; to seize, be strong, obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer: – aid, amend, catch, cleave, confirm, be constant, constrain, continue, be of good courage, encourage, be established, fasten, force, fortify, make hard, harden, help, hold fast, lean, maintain, play the man, mend, become mighty, prevail, be recovered, repair, retain, seize, strengthen (self), be stout, be strong, be sure, take hold, be urgent, behave self valiantly, withstand.
– from Strongs