PRAYER ALERT: New Category-5 Super Typhoon Approaches the Philippines

MONSTER STORM. On December 4, 2014, at 02:10 UTC, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite took this visible image of Super Typhoon Hagupit approaching the Philippines. Image Credit: NASA Goddard's MODIS Rapid Response Team
MONSTER STORM. On December 4, 2014, at 02:10 UTC, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite took this visible image of Super Typhoon Hagupit approaching the Philippines. Image Credit: NASA Goddard’s MODIS Rapid Response Team

By Pastor Glem Melo

hagupit 4
32 million are in the path of Super Typhoon ‘Hagupit.’

A new Category-5 Super Typhoon ‘Hagupit’ (local name: Ruby) is expected to make a landfall in the same areas that were devastated by Super Tyhoon Haiyan 13 months ago. CNN reports:

The strongest storm system so far this year bears down on the Philippines, terrifying residents still shaken by the devastating impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan last year.

Out over the ocean, the storm was displaying its formidable force, generating maximum sustained winds of around 287 kilometers per hour (178 mph), the equivalent of a strong Category 5 hurricane, according to the U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

With Hagupit’s precise path still uncertain, Philippine authorities issued storm warnings for 56 of the country’s 81 provinces, covering around 70% of the country’s population of 100 million…

(http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/04/world/asia/philippines-super-typhoon-hagupit/)

From The Philippine Star:

Storm surges up to four meters high are likely to hit coastal communities in Northern Samar and Leyte, including the capital Tacloban City, and possibly the Bicol Region and Surigao provinces, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

(http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/12/05/1399241/super-typhoon-ruby-storm-surge-alert)

Tacloban residents wait for a government vehicle to bring them to the evacuation center in Tacloban City on Thursday in anticipation of typhoon Ruby's impact. Ruby, packing winds of up to 195 kph with gusts of up to 230 kph, was expected to make landfall on Saturday. (ABS-CBN News)

Tacloban residents wait for a government vehicle to bring them to the evacuation center in Tacloban City on Thursday in anticipation of typhoon Ruby’s impact. Ruby, packing winds of up to 195 kph with gusts of up to 230 kph, was expected to make landfall on Saturday. (ABS-CBN News)

And regarding the evacuation of Haiyan victims-survivors, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports:

At least 15,761 families in Tacloban and 3,000 in Eastern Samar started to evacuate on Thursday, two days before the expected landfall of [the super typhoon].

(http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/654848/yolanda-survivors-rush-to-evac-centers)

Please pray:

  1. That the Lord will spare the lives of many.
  2. For grace, wisdom and strength for our mission team.
  3. For the finances needed to serve those who will be affected by the super typhoon.

Promise and Warning

Jerusalem, Destruction of - Nuremberg_chronicles - Copy
Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle of the destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian rule

By Pastor Glem Melo

Isaiah 1:19-20 may be paraphrased this way:

“If you are willing and consequently will obey, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and consequently will rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The Flight of the Prisoners, by James Tissot
The Flight of the Prisoners, by James Tissot

They point back to God’s call for genuine repentance in verses 16-17, and His offer of free cleansing in verse 18. If His people are repentant and would trust in Him alone for cleansing and salvation, then the Lord would protect them from all their enemies and cause them to enjoy peace and blessings in the land that He has given them. But if they remain unrepentant and refuse His gospel call and offer, then God’s covenant judgment and wrath will fall upon them.

Sadly, the Israelites refused God’s offer, and continued to rebel against Him.  “[L]ike Adam they transgressed the covenant… [T]hey dealt faithlessly with” the Lord (Hosea 6:7). Therefore, like Adam, the Lord judged and punished them. They were “eaten by the sword,” and their remnant were taken captive to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:15-21).

The Crucifixion, seen from the Cross, by James Tissot
The Crucifixion, seen from the Cross, by James Tissot

But 2,000 years ago, Christ the new Adam and the new Israel perfectly obeyed God’s word and never rebelled against Him. Through His sinless perfection and obedience He earned all covenant blessings.

Moreover, on the cross, Christ was “eaten by [God’s] sword” and suffered His covenant wrath and curse. Through His death and sacrifice, He paid for our sins of disobedience and rebellion, and purchased for us forgiveness of sins and salvation from God’s judgment and condemnation.

Without Christ, we will all be “eaten by the sword,” doomed to eternal wrath and condemnation. But because of His perfect life, death and resurrection, all true Christian believers are saved from God’s covenant judgment and curse. United to Him by faith, we have become “heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). In Him we have been granted all the covenant blessings that both Adam and Israel failed to achieve. Because of Jesus, we “shall eat the good of the land.”

Meanwhile, as we wait for Christ’s second coming, the Holy Spirit keeps us from refusing and rebelling against God. He makes us “willing” to heed His call to genuine repentance and accept His offer of free cleansing in Jesus. He causes and enables us to grow in Christlike obedience.

Friends, God’s warning is as real as His promise. Refusing and rebellion are to be persistently avoided at all cost. Willingness to heed God’s gospel call and offer is a must.

Repent. Believe. And by faith, obey.

“… for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Cleansing: A Gift from God

The Seraph cleanses Isaiah’s lips with a coal (Isaiah 6:6). “The Prophet Isaiah” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1696-1700, Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine, Italy.
The Seraph cleanses Isaiah’s lips with a coal (Isaiah 6:6). “The Prophet Isaiah” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1696-1700, Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine, Italy.

By Pastor Glem Melo

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:16-18)

“[T]he Lord calls his people to the bar of his justice where of course, they can only be found guilty. But it is there that they hear words of free pardon based on the substitutionary death of a divinely appointed sacrifice.” – Alec Motyer

To be saved from His covenant wrath and to enjoy His covenant blessings, we are required by God to “wash” and make ourselves “clean” (verses 16-17). But that is humanly impossible because our sinfulness is total and absolute, and the cleansing that the Lord requires is a perfect and radical change of nature ̶ from “scarlet” and “red like crimson” to “white as snow” and “wool” (18). Therefore, in His amazing grace and mercy, He, the covenant King and Father whom His people has wickedly wronged and forsaken, offers forgiveness and renewal as free gift to all who come to Him in faith and repentance (19-20).

The Crucifixion, seen from the Cross, by James Tissot, 19th century

The Crucifixion, seen from the Cross, by James Tissot, 19th century

This was fulfilled in Christ when He died on the cross to pay for sins and accomplish salvation for all who believe in Him:

God put him forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:25)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

Confess to the Lord that you are

  • sinful,
  • unable to cleanse yourself, and
  • in need of God’s free gift of cleansing.

Believe and accept God’s offer of total, perfect and eternal cleansing in Christ.

By the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, live as a cleansed person in Christ.

Elder Ordination

Open Eyes Mission:

“Last month, in conjunction with our 9-day Church Government Course, Rev. Jan DeGelder (Minister Emeritus at Flamborough Canadian Reformed Church) and I interviewed Bro. Ernnel Tacandong for eldership. Last Sunday, it was my joy, honor and privilege to ordain him as an elder of Kagay-an Reformed Church. Please remember to pray for him, our local congregation and church planting missions.” – Pastor Glem Melo

Originally posted on KAGAY-AN REFORMED CHURCH:

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We thank the Lord for the ordination of Bro. Ernnel Tacandong as an elder of Kagay-an Reformed Church.

When I first met him, Ernnel was studying in a local seminary program, and was being groomed to become a pastor. Desirous to learn more about God and His word, he started attending our weekly Bible Training classes in Cagayan de Oro in February of 2012. Eventually, he served as a contractual disaster response worker for Open Eyes Mission. By God’s grace, he and his wife Divine were received as member of Kagay-an Reformed Church last February. Last month, Rev. Jan DeGelder (Minister Emeritus at Flamborough Canadian Reformed Church) and I interviewed him for eldership. Last Sunday, it was my joy, honor and privilege to ordain him as an elder. He also serves as the chairman of our local church’s Administration Committee.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.24.30 PMFollowing are his…

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Repentance in Action

The Return of the Prodigal Son (Le retour de l'enfant prodigue) by James Tissot, between 1886 and 1894. Kept at Brooklyn Museum.

The Return of the Prodigal Son (Le retour de l’enfant prodigue) by James Tissot, between 1886 and 1894. Kept at Brooklyn Museum.

By Pastor Glem Melo

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:16-17)

“Such is the manner in which we ought always to deal with men who are estranged from God. We must not confine our attention to one or a few sores of a diseased body but if we aim at a true and thorough cure, we must call on them to begin anew, and must thoroughly remove the contagion, that they who were formerly hateful and abominable in the sight of God may begin to please God.” – John Calvin

There are two things about repentance that we must keep in mind:

  • It is a gift.
  • It is a command.

I wrote about the first point in a previous blog. In this post, let us focus on the second point.

Isaiah 1:16-17 is a two-step call to action:

  • turn away from sin and evil, and
  • turn towards what is right and good.

Yes, repentance is practical. Always has been. Always will be. And we must do it. For the sake of our own souls (verses 19-20; see also Luke 13:1-5).

1. STOP

The Lord commands us in Isaiah 1:16 to turn away from our sinful and evil ways. We cannot do this with our own strength or ability (Romans 7:18-19). Therefore, let this difficult word lead us to Christ in humility and prayer (Luke 18:13). Let us ask Him to forgive us of our sins and to change our hearts and lives.

From "Zacchaeus" by Niels Larsen Stevns.

From “Zacchaeus” by Niels Larsen Stevns.

Then we can claim God’s promise of washing and cleansing through Jesus:

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14)

Then we can claim the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to cause and enable us to “remove the evil of [our] deeds” and “cease to do evil”:

“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27)

But fellow believers in Christ, let us be careful to always remember these parallel truths:

a. The Holy Spirit gives us the grace and power to repent.

b. We must do the repenting. In deed. In action. Practically.

2. START

Through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, we must live in accordance with God’s goodness and righteousness (Isaiah 1:17).

Now, we cannot do this without the church. First, the Lord commands us to “learn to do good”, to be discipled in His good way for living.  This means that, above all, we must be busy learning and studying God’s word through church services, Bible studies, catechism classes, personal and family devotions, seminars, etc. Then trusting in His enabling grace alone, we can apply the Scripture’s teachings in our everyday lives.

keysSecondly, the Lord commands us to “seek justice”, to make His will (i.e. what is right) our new objective. We are to do so in two ways:

a. by “correct[ing] oppression”, and

b. by helping orphans and widows;

and in two levels:

a. corporately in the context of the local church, and

b. individually by all professing believers of Christ.

Corporately, this is a call for pastors and elders of local churches to faithfully exercise biblical discipline (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5, 13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14; Titus 3:10), ensuring “that evil men are disciplined in a spiritual way and are restrained” (Belgic Confession, Article 30); and for deacons to fulfill their God-given duties (Acts 6:1-4), “that the poor and all the afflicted are helped and comforted according to their need” (ibid.).

Individually, as light and salt (Matthew 5:13-16), we must be faithful in championing what is just and right in society. And we must all do our best to demonstrate Christ’s love in word and in deed to the poor and needy, specially Christians (Galatians 6:10).

In conclusion, let me share with you a two-pronged application of the two-pronged “pillar” points that I shared in the introduction:

  • Repentance is a gift. Admit your sinfulness and hopelessness without God, and ask Him to change your heart and life.
  • Repentance is a command. Do it. Turn away from sin and evil, and turn towards what is right and good. Change.

Pray for Hong Kong

What started as a protest by pro-democracy students escalated into a paralyzing demonstration after riot police tried to clear the streets using tear gas, batons and pepper spray over the weekend. (Photo: Vincent Yu/AP)

CNN: What started as a protest by pro-democracy students escalated into a paralyzing demonstration after riot police tried to clear the streets using tear gas, batons and pepper spray over the weekend. (Photo: Vincent Yu/AP)

By Pastor Glem Melo

Demonstrators' use of umbrellas to protect themselves from choking tear gas and stinging pepper spray has caused the demonstration to be dubbed the "umbrella revolution." Hong Kong authorities say that more than 40 people have been injured. (Photos: Vincent Yu/AP and Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

CNN: Demonstrators’ use of umbrellas to protect themselves from choking tear gas and stinging pepper spray has caused the demonstration to be dubbed the “umbrella revolution.” Hong Kong authorities say that more than 40 people have been injured. (Photos: Vincent Yu/AP and Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

Protesters in Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” have expressed determination to remain on the streets until Beijing agrees to their demand for free elections. With the Chinese government’s notorious reputation for “killer” suppression of pro-democracy protests, another Tiananmen Square Massacre is feared.

Newsweek’s Bill Powell reports,

“The Federation of students vowed ‘not to give up,’ and they have been in the vanguard of the current protests. But the likelihood of achieving what they desire seems bleak. The NPC [National People’s Congress of mainland China] statement made it clear that Beijing at the highest levels is in no mood to compromise.”

Hongkong protests 2014 e

Philippine Daily Inquirer: A pro-democracy demonstrator gestures in front of a police line near the Hong Kong government headquarters. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill on Sunday in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days. AFP

From the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute, Mike Chinoy, a senior fellow, who covered Tiananmen in 1989, tweeted,

“I see no way the Chinese government can tolerate what is happening in HK. Greatly fear this will end badly.”

Regarding the uncertainties of the present situation, Roderic White, an associate fellow at London-based Chatham House, comments,

“Everybody is in completely unknown territory. … How these things end, we just don’t know. A lot will depend on the attitude of the authorities, and whether at some time there will be room for somebody to talk to somebody.”

Hongkong protests 2014 c

CNN: Demonstrations began in response to China’s decision to allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to stand in the city’s 2017 election for the top civil position of chief executive. Protesters say Beijing has gone back on its pledge to allow universal suffrage in Hong Kong, which was promised “a high degree of autonomy” when it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997. Watson said the use of tear gas was unexpected: “People here have never been hit by tear gas before, and it comes as quite a shock to them — even the use of pepper spray. … This is a big shock for a city that is famed for its law and order.” (Photo: Wally Santana/AP)

Pray for the people of Hong Kong. Ask the Lord to intervene on behalf of His children there and for the sake of the work of the gospel both in Hong Kong and in mainland China.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4, NIV)

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. He directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1, NLT).

First Catechism Class in Cagayan de Oro City

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By Pastor Glem Melo

IMG_2233Finally, our local congregation in Cagayan de Oro City (Mindanao, Philippines) has weekly catechism classes for children and youth. The session last Saturday was orientation. Next week, Question and Answer # 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism will be taught in a joint session followed by discussions in 2 small groups – one for grade schoolers and another for high schoolers. In the afternoon, catechism classes will be conducted for college students and young professionals.

IMG_2265Thank you, Balulang Christian Alliance Fellowship, for providing the venue.

Please continue to pray for the work of the gospel at Kagay-an Reformed Church.

View more pictures here.

RCP web

Praise the Lord!