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.

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!

April 2020…questions

Day 3

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 10:4

What are you doing these days? It’s April 3, 2020. Not much? Watching Netflix, YouTube, Hulu…staying busy on Facebook, Instagram, whatever, posting your home based activity during this time of “quarantine?”

Isn’t it interesting, the use of those Social Media platforms has been driving the world the last 30 years, and these are dependent on people being outdoors, at the Mall, in a restaurant, at a gathering for a party (birthday, wedding, debut, etc…), a wake, and whatever reason we may come up with to gather, and then “post” it in social media. But now, our movement is limited and confined. Nothing to post (announce about ourselves). In less than a month, we have all had to exercise social distancing (an answered prayer for some), all for our good and of others.

In a way, we’ve been “forced” to examine ourselves and how we relate to one another. Whether it is with a person you’re at home with (wife, husband, children, father, mother, etc…) and even with those people we have not seen in the last three weeks.

Like the rest of the world, because of the Novel Corona virus, Covid-19, Wuhan virus, CCP virus and so on, we find ourselves on the precipice of examining our mortality and that of others. Even with that, we are adding to our vocabulary using the latest buzzword phrases like social distancing, self-quarantine, PPE or personal protective equipment, pandemic, flu-like, influenza, WHO, CDC, and many more. Our usage of these tells everyone that “I am still relevant.”

We all are affected by this virus (directly and indirectly), “All means all and that’s all that all means”. The dictionary gives us 4 definitions for virus:

1. an ultramicroscopic metabolically inert, infectious agent that replicates…
2. a viral disease
3. a corrupting influence on morals or the intellect
4. a segment of self-replicating code planted illegally in a computer program, often to damage or shut down a system or network.

Do any of these look familiar? Are you like me asking the question, “What’s all the excitement about? How is this different from H1N1, SARS, MERS and other viruses in the past?” In the Bible, we are warned that in the last days, perilous times will come? We have been in the last days for two millennia, we are in part, experiencing those perilous times.

What is it people are asking? What are you asking? Are these some of them:

What is this virus, this Covid-19?
Where is the vaccine or cure?
How are the people infected by this virus going to be healed? And we don’t want to wait, we want it now;
Who is responsible and whom shall we blame? The World Health Organization? Communist China? Science? The bat, the pangolin? For some, they will dare blame God; the government;
Why should I follow what they say?; why is this happening?
When did they develop the virus and when will this end?

Yes many questions. In time, the answers will be revealed…Hold fast, keep the faith.

In the meantime, allow me to share these observations we can be thankful for since Covid-19 reached the world:

– Less noise, silence in the streets, in our neighborhood
– The skies are blue all the time.
– Less dust.
– Less smog, less cars driving around.
– More clean air.
– Families are staying home, just like 50+ years ago.
– Books on the shelves are being read.
– The wind feels fresh and clean
– earth is given time to heal from man-made pollutants
– There are no crowds.

The bible tells us, “All we like sheep have gone astray…every one to his own way…As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…the thing is…There is none righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of GodFor God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting lifethat the world through Him might be savedthat Christ died for our sins according to Scriptures…He was buried…rose again the third day according to Scriptures…For scriptures say, Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame…For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Exekiel 33:11a; Isaiah 53; John 3:16; Romans 3:10, 10:11,13; 1Corinthians 15:3,4

Actually, it all began when man was asked a question, “Did God actually say?” which was followed by, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower…and let us make name for ourselves…” Ever since those days, we have been questioning God and building and making a name for ourselves. We have this need to glorify ourselves, it is what one teacher refers to as the “resident evil.” It has been and is always there. This was the first virus (definition 3)!

When man answered the question, Did God…the consequences have become part of the human psyche (definition 4). But God already put in place the antidote for this virus, the reality of the Gospel!