Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lord's Day in Pasay

My Lord’s Day was spent with the EDSA-Pasay congregation. There were about 60 in attendance. This is the congregation that Rody Gumpad started just a few years ago and it is now doing very well. Sammy Paet is helping Rody as is Rody’s son, Jun, who is staying more frequently in Pasay when Rody goes home to Tuguegarao. Rody was very sick today and hardly able to speak at more than a whisper. Since my voice was better, I took both lessons for the morning. Jonathan Carino was also there this morning, but had committed to preach in an afternoon service. Jack Jaco and Jun Gumpad were not with us this morning since they had been asked to preach elsewhere in the city.

In the Bible Study hour, I preached a lesson called “Today, If You Hear His Voice” from Hebrews 3:7-15. It takes from the text the three imperatives for properly hearing God: (1) harden not your heart, (2) beware of unbelief and (3) exhort one another daily.” In the assembly hour, I preached on “Things the Love Loves.” It is taken from Proverbs 6:16-19, noting the things God hates and taking the opposite to notice what the Lord loves. At the end of the service, one lady who had been a visitor for several weeks decided to obey the gospel and was baptized into Christ.

Sammy and his brother James took me back to the hotel when services were over. With one last trip up and down the stairs to and from the fourth floor, my hip completed its work for this trip and was very appreciative of the elevator at the hotel! J

It was truly a joy to be with my Filipino brethren on this trip. I am built up and strengthened each time I am with them. My thanks to all of you who helped make this trip possible by your generosity! Without you, this work could not be done. Both churches and individuals have helped with funds – a good number doing so in previous trips as well. It is because of your help that so many have heard the gospel and the work of the Lord is thriving in many places across this nation! May God bless all of you! The Lord willing, I plan to return to the Philippines in April of 2017 with a new hip and increased strength!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Classes in Pasay End

The classes here in the Manila area ended on Friday. Since we had covered all of the Epistles of John except for 3 John, we took a little over an hour and finished that first. We discussed the difference in the character of Gaius and Diotrephes. After discussing those differences, we then dealt with what we can do, in practical terms, to deal with one like Diotrephes. It was an opportunity to put into practice some of the principles we had been discussing throughout the week concerning “Fellowship.”

We gave the rest of the morning time to the subject of “Fellowship.” We noted that seeking to broaden the boundaries of fellowship is not a new effort. In both the OT and NT, we can see examples of such efforts. We noticed that a consistent pattern is seen in cases involving a sinful practice and/or a doctrinal error being taught. They were always told to correct it, never tolerate it into their ongoing fellowship. We also discussed the fact that when one looks at the apostasies over the past two centuries among our brethren, the same basic components are present and one of those elements is a call for those who object to tolerate the digression or innovation into their fellowship. We had an excellent class overall, though some challenges arose that manifest a need for some further work.

As in all of these classes over the last two years, the participants are required to hand in a textual or exegetical outline from the section of Scripture covered the previous day. Through the week, the outlines improved tremendously. Several stated that they were looking forward to preaching those outlines when they returned home.

The cost of the classes significantly exceeded what I had allotted based on the previous classes. Transportation for the students was the main budget buster, but other expenses exceeded expectations as well. By the response of the students, they appreciated the opportunity and hoped there could be another one. However, I am not sure doing another one in the Manila area would be best given costs and other factors. Please accept the students and my own thanks for those who helped make this effort possible.

I am writing this update on Saturday night after spending the day resting and trying to get my voice back. The Lord willing, I will be with the brethren of the Pasay-Edsa congregation tomorrow for their services.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thursday in Pasay

We have been able to start our classes on time both yesterday and today. Sammy Paet has picked me up every morning since Tuesday. The first day, we learned that departing the hotel at 7am was not early enough to make it for a 7:30am starting time. We now are leaving at 6:45am and that gets us to the venue in time to set up and get started at 7:30. If there were no traffic at all, I would guess the whole trip would take about 5 minutes. Manila traffic, however, is horrible!

Going back to the hotel in the afternoon takes us an hour or more. Today, it was total gridlock. Sammy was taking me to the arrival area of the airport so I could exchange funds, but we could not get there. When I finished the exchange, I tried to take the shuttle to the hotel, but no traffic was moving. So, I walked from the airport to the hotel, stopping for supper at a restaurant that grills seafood, chicken and pork. I got back to the hotel a little after dark, but traffic was still at a standstill.

The morning class on the Epistles of John started with 1 John 5:1 and went through the end of 2 John. We are on schedule to end the classes tomorrow at noon since some of the men are far from their homes and need time to get back before Sunday. We Had dealt with much of 2 John yesterday in the “Fellowship” class, so we were able to get through that material rather quickly. We spent a great deal of our time discussion how love and obedience related together and how both are essential to please God.

The “Fellowship” class covered Romans 14, examining both what it does teach and what it does not teach. In the aftermath of error taught on marriage, divorce and remarriage, many abused Romans 14 in an attempt to bolster their case that we may rightly receive into our ongoing fellowship some who teach doctrinal error and/or practice sin. We noted that Romans 14 deals with matters involving no inherent sin. The practices discussed are ones of human liberty or practices that are indifferent to God.

Several things presented a challenge to our classes today. The water was not working in the morning, but came back on later in the day. During the afternoon class on “Fellowship,” we have a small earthquake. That felt very strange as I was on my feet and almost felt like I was surfing for a minute.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Classes Continue

Let me begin by apologizing for not sending reports out every day during this trip. My practice has always been to give every effort to send daily reports as I strongly believe those supporting these trips deserve to know what is happening in a timely way. However, it has been impossible to do that on this trip due to several factors. First, preparations for the classes that began Monday have been very time consuming. I have been working very late hours to prepare the charts needed, getting only 2.5 to 5 hours of sleep over the last five days. I have been literally exhausted for several days. Second, the problem has been compounded because my back and hip are in great pain with climbing and descending 4 flights of stairs to the venue each day as well as being on my feet to teach for over 6 hours of actual speaking time each day. My hip replacement surgery is scheduled for next Thursday and I knew this trip would be hard, but I had no idea it would be this painful. Third, the time planned in our classes have gone significantly past the time schedule due to much participation and questions to answer. That is a good thing for the work, but it has cut into time that I would have used to make reports. I have also had no time to take pictures, so I have asked others to give me copies of their pictures and I will go back to add them later. Please accept my apologies for not getting these updates out more frequently.

In the classes on the Epistles of John, we have completed our study through 1 John 4. On Tuesday, we examined 1 John 2:1 – 3:9. Today (Wednesday), we started with 1 John 3:10 – 4:21. We have repeatedly noted how John answered Gnostic doctrine in this book and then have made specific application to our lives and teaching as well. Today’s class also spent a great deal of time considering the repeated points on the necessity of brotherly love as commanded in this book.

In the “Fellowship” class, we are on target with the original schedule:

         Mon. – What Is Fellowship?
         Tues. – Fellowship in the Truth
         Wed. – Forbidden Fellowship: “Do Not Receive Him”
         Thur. – Commanded Fellowship: “Receive Him”
         Fri. – Fellowship Questions in Times of Controversy

Tuesday’s class included material intended to show that God has given His word by inspiration in a way that should give us confidence that we can understand and obey it. While some have questioned the “clarity” of the Scripture on some moral and doctrinal issues, we noted the contrasting claims of the Scripture. We also noted that when people say that the Scripture “lack clarity” on such issues, it always leads to an effort for a broader fellowship. In today’s class, we noticed the Bible teaching on who is a “false teacher” and what the Bible instructs about our responsibility to exclude from our fellowship those who continue in a sinful practice or the teaching of doctrinal error. We went more than an hour over our scheduled ending time due to the number of questions and the amount of discussion on the topic.

As most of you know, we had planned on an opportunity to preach at a Baptist church in Cebu, but the plan seemed to fall through just previous to my departure. After last Saturday’s studies in Cebu, we were asked whether we might be able to come on Sunday afternoon. Since we had tickets to fly to Manila, we said that we could not do so then, but offered to fly back and preach there next Sunday. It would have been very expensive to buy tickets on short notice and with the airline delays being so bad at this time, it would have been questionable as to whether the schedule would work under these circumstances, but we were willing to try. The Baptist group from Cebu got back with us today and said they wanted me to come on my next trip when we could have more time and they could invite others to come. I look forward to coming back and meeting that opportunity – especially on a new hip with significantly less pain, the Lord willing! Please keep this in your prayers.

Thank you again for your prayers and support of this effort! Without your help, this opportunity to spread the word to souls desiring to hear would not be possible. God bless!

Monday, November 7, 2016

From Cebu to Pasay

Sunday morning, I again met with the congregation that assembles in the center of the city. I have come to know this group of saints very well through the years and appreciate their work in the gospel. They gave me the time for the class and sermon combined and we used it to study a lesson from 2 Cor. 5:11-15 on how both the “terror of the Lord” and “the love of Christ” motivate us work in service of the Lord. We made application of those principles both in our individual lives and our work collectively as the church. It was great to be with them again!

After the services, I returned back to the hotel, fixed my protein shake, finished packing and took off for the airport. Since I had plenty of time after checking in, I went to sit at the gate to wait for the flight. Little did I know that my flight would be delayed by about four hours! Jonathan was supposed to take a flight later that evening, but my flight was still delayed when he came, so he switched to join me in the same flight. We finally arrived in Manila and I went to the hotel where I was able to get some supper about 10pm. After that, I needed to complete work on charts for the start of the classes on the Epistles of John and “Fellowship.” I finally was able to get to bed around 3am, but was awakened at 5:30 with questions about provisions for the classes. I was surprisingly rested and ready to go!

Our venue for the classes this week is the place Rody Gumpad secured for the Edsa-Pasay congregation to have their worship services. It is of the 4th floor of a main highway with the elevated rail cars passing by very near. The classes got started today at a little after 8am with the morning time spent in studying the Epistles of John. We covered introductory matters and then moved to a textual examination of 1 John 1. Rody Gumpad, who is hosting the classes, and Lordy Salunga answered questions in their dialect to get the principles across more clearly in their primary language.

The afternoon classes began the study of “Fellowship” by studying what the word means as used of our spiritual association and the spiritual associations it describes in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1, the meaning of the word can be clearly understood by the synonyms used in parallel – it is an agreement in principle leading to joint or common action in spiritual work. That is seen in application as we examined “Fellowship” in suffering, in benevolence, in preaching and in salvation. The next two days will focus on the difference between the fellowship we are to have and the fellowship that is condemned.