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"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." - Titus 2:11

Penned by...

A December to remember

One of the most unforgettable experiences during our childhood is the Christmas season because it brought fun-filled memories. The sad thing about being an adult is that it seems that the "magic" and excitement about it has gone. But for those who celebrated a Christ - filled Christmas, it’s not just memorable and exciting but one that was especially meaningful.

A meaningful celebration this season was those moments I shared with the people I serve. To name a few were the Small Group Christmas Fellowship held last Dec.3. It was an early celebration but I was amazed of how God provided for the overflowing gifts and food that time. As was said, "walang umuwing gutom at luhaan" especially the people in the outreaches we are ministering. Even the extended program for our SGM leaders was fun. Thanks to the support of our sponsors and friends from GBC. But Christmas is not always fun. The death of Warlita Aquino on Dec.10 brought sorrow to us and the bereaved family but we praise God for the opportunity to extend comfort through the preaching of God's word and songs during the funeral and interment services. Then we had the Christmas Cantata held last Dec.17. With just few weeks of preparation, the choir managed to present a beautiful and meaningful message to bring us back to Bethlehem through their songs. As my long time friend Ptr. Mac Blanco who attended that night commented "wala paring kakupas-kupas ang choir nyo". Praise God!

Another meaningful event was the Christmas Fellowship I had with my co-workers last Dec. 22. Together with our families and some deacons, we spent that day with simple games, prizes and affirmations from each other during our exchange gifts. The evening was special when the choir caroled us, gave encouraging words and prayers. I also enjoyed the time I spent with them when we went to NTM in Bataan last Dec26. Our mini-concert brought encouragement to all of the missionaries who came to attend the conference including Emma and Clara, our old time missionaries. One choir member was so happy to see the place once more after 20 years. Of course my most meaningful was the Christmas I spent with my family and in-laws. Aside from requesting me always to say grace for the food (kasi Pastor), we won 2 major prizes during the game. If you happen to guess what were those prizes, (and the game) we will give them to you. Ask my wife Loida.

I must admit that Christmas is sometimes stressful. Many times I slept late at night because of varied things to attend to and it is not something I am accustomed to do. But it did not deprive me of a meaningful experience because I spent Christmas with my brothers and sisters in the Lord. They are not just connected with me but most of all related to me because of our common bond After all, the essence of Christmas was when Christ spent time with the people whom he loved.


Revealed: Faith that defines our lives, providence that comes from God and the management of it all

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added onto you.
Matthew 6:33

The Bible verse above is my life verse because in my heart, it sums up the way a Christian should live his life; whether in the full-time service to our King or as a lay Christian providing the necessary support to those who are in the ministry.

The verse is in fact the clincher for a whole chapter devoted on how we should manage our lives and become a steward with Christ as we sail through it. When the Apostle Paul used the word steward, the original text he used means 'under-rowers in a Roman galley (a Roman war and trade ship similar to a Spanish galleon).' Under-rowers during those times are slaves whose choices are very limited. Thus, as stewards with Christ, we ought to be like servants taking care or managing His resources here on Earth.

We are meant to take care of what is entrusted to us. We ought to have a mind-set that none of these is ours. None of our talents. None of our families and friends. None of our precious kids. None of our possessions. As such, we should always believe in our hearts that we are held responsible for how we manage the things that are given to us. It's almost the same as being held responsible for a job given to us by our superiors or a thesis assigned to us by our professors that need to be completed by a certain date. If we do good, we get good performance reviews/pay hike or we get good grades. If we don't, we can get fired or fail the subject. As stewards of Christ, the stakes are much higher. It is about our crown in heaven. There will always be debacles and times when we mismanage what is entrusted to us. That shouldn't dishearten us. For as long as we can center back to Christ, everything will work out well.

As the true and only captain of our soul, Christ gave these things to us in our care for a purpose. Of course, the ultimate goal is for the glory of His Kingdom and for the Gospel to be heard by everyone. Individually, I believe that God has a specific agenda in each of our lives for giving us whatever He has given us or intends to give us. Whatever it is, we do need to be sensitive to God’s purpose in our lives.

Whatever is entrusted to us, we should always believe that those are providence from God. Whilst some of those are as a result of our hard work, it still is not ours. It is always very difficult to fathom how God appropriates these things to each of us. Most of the times, we feel that what ever is given to us by God, those are not enough. We are always encouraged to count our blessings. Not always easy to do. There's not much to say except that whatever is given to us by God, we do have to make the best out of it. Never question God's providence nor understand His wisdom. It is His and His alone to appropriate.

Through out my Christian life, I always believe that God provides more than what we asked for; for as long as we make good use of those for the purposes those are given to us. There are a lot of things I was given in this life that I did not think I would have. But God has so graciously given those to me. In breaking the principle I’ve written above about not understanding His wisdom, I can only surmise that those have been provided to me because I’m doing something good with those that are entrusted to me initially. At least this line of thinking keeps me centered on God.

Another thing that we need to hold on to is that to whom much is given, much will be asked for. Thus, the more we receive from God, the better we ought to look after those that are given to us.

Lastly, it all starts with faith. The kind of faith that allows us to put our life in God’s hand and truly allow Him to move through us. This sounds daunting! There isn’t any one pattern or template or guidelines on how this is done. I believe each of us has a unique way of how we can have a faith define our lives. It’s up to us find out.

When I finished my bachelor's study, I immediately got a job. Three months into my first job, I resigned. What follows next is the move of faith that defined how I lived my life. Immediately after I resigned, I asked God if he’d wanted me to be in the full time ministry. Just so that I knew I was doing that properly, I volunteered my time to the Living Circle and other church ministries. At the same time, I committed myself into prayer. I visualized how my life would be if I am in the full-time ministry and in the same breath visualized how my life would be if I stay a lay Christian. At that time, I visualized my life for the next fifteen years or so. I committed those to God and made sure I got the correct answer. To this day, I know exactly what I prayed for and I know exactly why I am a lay Christian. I had lived it and them some. God gave me more than what I asked for.

I am again at another cross-road of my life. I know that I reached this with 'almost' the same amount of faith I had when I asked for the kind of life I asked God for when I came off college. I know that my faith these days is a tad short of what it was before. This was because of the successes and achievements in life that brings about pride and self-reliance. Also, because of the failures and debacles that brings about doubt in God's promises. There are two things to be had here. The first is that, there are several cross-roads ahead; it needs to be visualized earlier on and it needs to be brought in God’s presence even before we hit that crossroad. And the second is that, whatever happened in the past, it should be worked out that the faith is made stronger if not maintained for what lies ahead in life.

John John De Leon

Penned By...

Christmas B.C.

I once heard a preacher who gave a profound concept about Christmas. He said “Time can not wither Christmas because it belongs to eternity.” This statement is true to me in two ways. First is that Christmas can not be outdated. We all know that time and history were divided into B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini) meaning “in the year of our Lord.” This proven fact made Christ the center of the past, present, and future history of the world and we can’t deny the truth that everything about Christ including His birth is “His Story.” Second is that Christmas originated from our eternal God. Christ’s coming into this world was not man’s idea. God in His mind planned it even before the world begun. The prophecies of old pointed out that Christ existed from all eternity even before Christmas.

Did you know that if you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of Christmas in the Old Testament? Written over a 1,000 year period, the Old Testament contains several hundred references to the coming existed long before Bethlehem. Jesus the man came into being with His conception in Mary’s womb but Christ the Son of God existed from all eternity.

It is my prayer that our series this season will not only encourage us to look at several key Old Testaments passages that link the prophecy of Christ’s birth with the events of the Christmas, but will also help us understand who Jesus is and why His coming is so important.

Our theme this December does not only convey the truth that Christmas is B.C. (Before Christ) but also my way of greeting you in advance – Have a B.C., a Blessed Christmas!

Nearly two thousand years ago, there was a man whose name is Jesus Christ, who was born contrary to the natural laws of life. Despite Jesus’ obscure background, His life has changed the course of history. History is marked by His coming: B.C. – before Christ, and A.D. – anno domini (in the year of our Lord). Indeed, history is His Story.