A Milestone Meeting Indeed

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milestone d1Our 2-day meeting with the leaders of our two (2) applicant mission congregations turned out to be a new major milestone for our church and mission. Henceforth, our consistory (board of elders) at Kagay-an Reformed Church will provide provisional care and oversight to Ptr. Bryan Angao Ranalan and the mission congregation in Puerto, Cagayan de Oro, and Bros. Mel, Jimmy and Bryan Petinglay and the mission congregation in the province of Antique.

RCP webPraise the LORD! And thank you, dear friends and prayer partners. Let us now pray for commitment to “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

“As it pleases You that we should pray for all mankind, we implore You, bless the spreading of Your holy gospel, that it may be proclaimed and received universally so that the whole world may know You. Enlighten the ignorant, strengthen the weak. May everyone by word and deed magnify Your holy Name. To this end send faithful servants into Your harvest and equip them to discharge the duties of their office diligently. Destroy, we pray, all false teachers, fierce wolves and hirelings who seek their own honor and profit rather than the honor of Your holy Name and the salvation of men.” – A Prayer for all the needs of Christendom

Milestone Ecclesiastical Meeting in Cagayan de Oro

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RCP webI will be leading, facilitating and presiding over a death-or-life ecclesiastical meeting with these brothers today and tomorrow. Our core, “uncompromiseable” objective is to plant churches that bear the 3 marks of the true church as we confess in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession of Faith:

The true church is to be recognized by the following marks:

It practices the pure preaching of the gospel. It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them. It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head. Hereby the true church can certainly be known and no one has the right to separate from it.

Philippines MapThis will definitely be another major milestone for the Lord’s church planting and upbuilding work here in the Philippines. I plead for serious prayer support from all who love Christ and His gospel.

Graciously preserve and govern Your Christian churches throughout the world in the unity of the true faith and in godliness of life, that Your kingdom may come day by day. Destroy the kingdom of Satan until the perfection of Your kingdom arrive when You shall be all in all. – Prayer for All the Needs of Christendom

Gospel: For the Lost and For the Church

"The Four Evangelists" by Jakob Jordaens, circa 1620
“The Four Evangelists” by Jakob Jordaens, circa 1620

The gospel is for the salvation of the lost. This is commanded and clearly taught to us by the Lord Jesus Himself:

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

An 1880 Baxter process colour plate illustrating Revelation 22:17 by Joseph Martin Kronheim
An 1880 Baxter process colour plate illustrating Revelation 22:17 by Joseph Martin Kronheim

The gospel is also for the nourishment, sanctification and edification of the church. Whole books of the Bible, i.e. Romans, Ephesians, etc., are Gospel-proclaiming epistles plus application, written and sent to local congregations “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Think about it, the book of Revelation is pure gospel communication from the Lord Jesus Himself, unveiled, written and sent to comfort and strengthen the persecuted church of the 1st century.

And so, Christians ought to never graduate from the gospel. Instead, we are to sink our roots deeper and deeper in the gospel, constantly growing in our understanding and faith in Christ’s finished work for us on the cross, and thereby flourish and grow in Christ-likeness, and so become more and more consistent, persevering and effective in our witness to the world.

And so we, pastors, ought to dedicate and expend ourselves to the “Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day” serving of solid, sumptuous “law and gospel” feasts for God’s covenant children under our care. It’s the key to church growth, Jesus style.

Gospel Preaching and Contentment

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Tim Challies posted this image on Facebook. It got me thinking.

If

“Satan loves to fish in the troubled waters of a discontented heart”

And

  • Gospel-fed churches = Christ-filled, Christ-contented Christians

And

  • Gospel-malnourished churches = discontented Christians

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter... "Feed my lambs... Tend my sheep...Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17). Image from Peter Paul Rubens, "Christ's Charge to Peter", c. 1616
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter… “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep…Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). Image from Peter Paul Rubens, “Christ’s Charge to Peter”, c. 1616

Then

  • Satan loves to fish in the troubled waters of Gospel-malnourished churches.

Therefore

  • Pastors (myself included), serve “Law and Gospel” feasts to God’s children Lord’s day after Lord’s day after Lord’s day. Make them fat, strong, happy and satisfied with the infinite goodness of God in Christ.

Because Christians ought to be the most contented people on earth.

Because of Christ crucified and raised from the dead for the eternal salvation, security and well-being of all who belong to Him by faith.

Light in the Dark… in Iraq and Syria

An Iraqi family who fled fighting near the city of Mosul prepares to sleep on the ground as they try to enter a temporary displacement camp, July 3, 2014 in Khazair, Iraq.
An Iraqi family who fled fighting near the city of Mosul prepares to sleep on the ground as they try to enter a temporary displacement camp, July 3, 2014 in Khazair, Iraq.

In the midst of the great, horrifying darkness that is engulfing Iraq and Syria, the light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ shines forth.

iraq persecution 5
Mothers and children, all displaced from Mosul, are seen fetching water from a truck near the Garmava transit camp. UNHCR / S. Baldwin

This is attested to by a report that I just received from our partner, Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF). It says,

Since the invasion of Iraq, about 73% of Iraqi Christian families lost their security and livelihood, as did other religious minorities. Most fled to predominately Christian areas of Iraq or neighbouring countries. (about 300,000 Iraqi Christians are in Syria). The brutal advance of fanatic Islamists is forcing tens of thousands to flee again. Please pray for God’s people facing much hardship to be strengthened in their faith. Their testimony to Christ’s saving grace could touch the many Muslims disenchanted with Islam.

An eight-year-old girl holds her brother, aged three, at the school in Alqosh village, where they and their extended family have found shelter after fleeing from Mosul. About 150 people from 20 families are staying in the school. UNHCR / S. Baldwin
An eight-year-old girl holds her brother, aged three, at the school in Alqosh village, where they and their extended family have found shelter after fleeing from Mosul. About 150 people from 20 families are staying in the school. UNHCR / S. Baldwin

And,

Praise God that the behaviour of fanatics is turning many Muslims away from Islam to consider Christ.

It is true that the situation continues to be horrendously grim for our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria. On and on, we read chilling reports of both adults and children being beheaded, some tortured and crucified, women raped and violated. But we can rejoice in the rock-solid truth that the Lord our God never fails to care for His own with the infinite and eternal love that comes only from Him.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

A girl, who fled from the violence in Mosul, carries a case of water at a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 12, 2014. Stringer/Iraq / Reuters
A girl, who fled from the violence in Mosul, carries a case of water at a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, June 12, 2014. Stringer/Iraq / Reuters

Let us pray that the Lord would continue to comfort and strengthen His persecuted children in Iraq and Syria, and that in the midst of great darkness He will cause the light of Christ’s gospel to shine forth and spread out in word and in deed for the salvation of souls.

In doing so, let us keep in mind the following key prayer request from MERF. It’s at the heart of what our Father in heaven wants to accomplish in and through all His cross-bearing children.

Pray that they [our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria] may
be uplifted by Christ’s provision
for their bodies and
souls and bear a shining
witness in Him to forgive
those who hate them.

Pray for Persecuted Christians in Iraq

The Islamic State (IS, also know as ISIL and ISIS) continues its systematic genocide of Christians, Kurds and non-Sunni Muslims in Iraq. The United Nation reports,

Over the last 48 hours 200,000 civilians have fled the advance of ISIL, with at least 180,000 crossed into Dohuk district of the Kurdistan Region.  This  in addition to large numbers of civilians displaced as a result of the ISIL advance into Sinjar and Tal Afar districts of Ninewa Governorate that took place on 2-3 August, which resulted in up to 200,000 predominantly Yezidi civilians becoming trapped on Jabal Sinjar in territory now controlled by ISIL.  With the conflict ongoing, many more civilians are expected to flee the fighting.

Many of those displaced or directly affected by the violence belong to Iraq’s minority religious and ethnic communities – including Yezidi, Christians, Shabak, Turkomen and others.

iraq persecution 1Moreover, Gyorgy Busztin, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq,  said,

The UN continues to receive reports that members of minority communities are being subjected to serious human rights violations by ISIL including murder, kidnappings, forced conversions, physical and sexual assault, and the looting and destruction of property and places of religious and cultural significance, in what appears to be a widespread and systematic policy aimed at cleansing non-Sunni ethnic and religious communities from areas under its control.

iraq persecution 2In an interview with CNN, Chaldean-American businessman Mark Arabo said,

There is a park in Mosul, where they [ISIS] actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick and have them in the park.

More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.

Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee to Erbil after the latest wave of Isis advancesPlease pray for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq.

 “We pray for all Your children who suffer persecution for the sake of Your Name and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Comfort them with Your Holy Spirit and deliver them from the hands of their enemies. Do not permit the memory of Your Name to be removed from the earth. Do not let the enemies of Your truth have occasion to dishonor and blaspheme Your Name. But if it is Your will that persecuted Christians by their death bear witness to the truth and glorify Your Name, comfort them in their sufferings. May they accept their trials as from Your fatherly hand and remain faithful in life and death to the honor of Your Name, to the edification of the church…” – A Prayer for All the Needs of Christendom

 

Pray for Mosul’s Christians Fleeing in Terror

People who fled from the violence in Mosul walk inside the Khazer refugee camp on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Arbil. Hundreds of Christian families abandoned homes in Mosul to jihadist gunmen as they fled an ultimatum threatening their community’s centuries-old presence in the northern Iraqi city. Reuters
People who fled from the violence in Mosul walk inside the Khazer refugee camp on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Arbil. Hundreds of Christian families abandoned homes in Mosul to jihadist gunmen as they fled an ultimatum threatening their community’s centuries-old presence in the northern Iraqi city. Reuters

“Terrified Christians flee Iraq after having their doors marked by ISIS.”

Bushra (centre right) rests with her husband and family members in the shadow of a building in Iraq's Kurdistan region. They walked from their farm near Mosul to a checkpoint near the Kurdistan region's Erbil city. The family fled with almost no belongings. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
Bushra (centre right) rests with her husband and family members in the shadow of a building in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. They walked from their farm near Mosul to a checkpoint near the Kurdistan region’s Erbil city. The family fled with almost no belongings. UNCHR

So Australia’s ABC News Online announces the desperate plight of our Christian brothers and sisters in Mosul. The brief report reads,

ISIS militants have imposed Sharia law on the city of Mosul, where Christians have lived since not long after the death of Christ. Last week the fundamentalists gave people 24 hours to leave Mosul or convert to Islam and pay a tax. ISIS militants have been going around Mosul marking the doors of Christian homes red. Some reports suggest that, with the alternative being death, the last Christians have now left the city. But that’s impossible to confirm.

Refugees of the Islamic State’s self-imposed sharia rest at a local shelter. Haidar Hamdani. AFP
Refugees of the Islamic State’s self-imposed sharia rest at a local shelter. AFP/Haidar Hamdani

Most Mosul Christians fled to the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports,

The exodus from Mosul, which began earlier this week, follows massive displacement this year in the western Iraqi governorate of Anbar, where fighting since January has forced some half-a-million people to flee the province or seek shelter in safer areas. Local authorities say that as a result of the new outflows from Mosul a further 300,000 additional people have arrived in the past days.

Iraq refugees were seen fleeing Mosul on Thursday en route to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region, as they walk past an area in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad. AP
Iraq refugees were seen fleeing Mosul on Thursday en route to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region, as they walk past an area in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad. AP

One of the refugees, Amira, told a foreign reporter,

Food, clothes, medicines, important papers – everything we left behind. I don’t know how we’ll get by. Someone donated those blankets and pillows and that’s all we have.

Such is the condition of all the refugees. World compassion reports,

Today there is a list of “emergency items” that these refugees need. These people need cots to get them off the ground and away from the snakes and scorpions. They need bottled water to drink, as well as food, basic cooking supplies, and a water cooler to take the edge off the oppressive 110 degree desert heat.

Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters from Mosul. Ask the Lord to move His people worldwide to provide for their needs, especially that of the children.

Pray. Help. Give.

16 years of holistic ministry to the poorest of the poor from Mindanao to the Middle East
16 years of holistic ministry to the poorest of the poor from Mindanao to the Middle East

www.openeyesmission.org/give

Christian. Husband. Dad. Pastor.

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