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!

Imperfect, Perfect, Perfecting, to be Perfected

2014-09-26 Imperfect, Perfect, Perfecting, To be Perfected

By Pastor Glem Melo

I am glad to learn that my blog post on Isaiah 1:10-15 titled God Hates Hypocrisy (read here) created quite a stir among our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Rhyse Furio posted,

I agree, Pastor Glem. It is so difficult to make our worship pure. In fact, a sister of mine said during a meeting, “We’re fooling ourselves if we say we’re not sinful. In fact, at this very moment, I’m sinning [in thoughts and emotions].” Truly, if not for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to cover our imperfect worship, it would never be accepted. Could our worship ever become completely hypocrisy-free this side of heaven?

“No”, I replied. “Our worship will never become completely hypocrisy-free this side of heaven.” But that doesn’t mean that we are hopeless.

'The Penitent Apostle Peter' by Anthony van Dyck, 1618
‘The Penitent Apostle Peter’ by Anthony van Dyck, 1618

We must think about our moral failings (in this case, worship that can never become hypocrisy-free this side of heaven) in terms of the order of salvation. For this discussion, let us focus on four:

1. Regeneration

By the grace of the Holy Spirit we have been born-again. Unlike non-believers, we now have a new Christlike nature (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26) that desires to worship the Lord “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). But like non-believers, our sinful nature remains, therefore our worship can never become hypocrisy-free this side of heaven (Romans 7:15; Galatians 5:17). As regenerated believers, we never claim perfection. As expressed in the Belgic Confession, “Although great weakness remains in them [us], they [we] fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their [our] life” (Article 29).

2. Justification

By faith, our sins have been forgiven (Isaiah 53:5-6; Colossians 2:13-14) and Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed/credited to our record in God’s heavenly court (1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9). Therefore, even if our worship is never hypocrisy-free this side of heaven, sins of the heart, mind and eyes that we committed during worship are covered by Christ’s blood, and God accepts our worship as though it is perfect and pure, even if it is not. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, if only I accept this gift with a believing heart” (Lord’s Day 23, Question and Answer 60). This is the heart and core of the gospel.

Rembrandt, 'Jacob Wrestling with the Angel', circa 1659
Rembrandt, ‘Jacob Wrestling with the Angel’, circa 1659

3. Sanctification

The Holy Spirit causes and enables believers to grow in Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ezekiel 36:27). More and more, we are being set free from sin and hypocrisy. More and more, our worship is becoming Christlike in purity and sincerity. Because our sinful nature remains, we will never be perfect and our worship will never be hypocrisy-free this side of heaven. But because of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we are constantly and consistently growing in Christlikeness in all areas, which most especially includes worship.

4. Glorification

On the second coming we will be made perfect like the Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21). Then, we will never sin again and our worship will be perfectly hypocrisy-free and Christlike.

In short, we, believers in Christ, are (a) imperfect though regenerated, (b) perfect in justification, (c) perfecting through sanctification, and (4) to be perfected on the day of glorification, the second coming of our perfect King and complete Savior.

Personal Application

Therefore, we must regularly do the following:

  1. Confess the heart, mind and eye sins that we commit during worship and ask the Lord for forgiveness.
  2. Believe and thank Him that (a) Christ paid for all our sins (including heart, mind and eye sins that we commit during worship) on the cross and that (b) through faith in Him we have forgiveness of sins.
  3. Ask the Lord to continue to sanctify us and make our worship more and more Christlike and hypocrisy-free through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s easy to remember because the acronym is ABC inverted. C-onfess, B-elieve and A-sk.

Science and Christianity Seminar in Cagayan de Oro

???????????????????????????????By Pastor Glem Melo

3Here are some pictures of the Science and Christianity Seminar that we conducted in Cagayan de Oro (CDO), Mindanao, Philippines, on August 20-22, 2014.

The seminar is part of the Theological Training Program (TTP) of Open Eyes Mission, our church planting ministry, in partnership with Kagay-an Reformed Church (KRC).

IMG_1198The TTP aims to raise up and equip future pastors and office-bearers of KRC and its mission congregations in CDO and Antique, towards the formation of our dream federation, the Reformed Churches in the Philippines (Dortian Federation).

Dr. John Byl, our guest teacher, is “a creation scientist with specializations and interests in Galactic Astronomy, Theoretical Physics, Applied Math, Science & Technology, and Christian Worldview” (see creationwiki.org/John_Byl). He is also an elder at Willoughby Heights Canadian Reformed Church (whcanrc.com).

RCP webMorning Devotions were served by yours truly.

The venue was at Balulang Christian Alliance Fellowship.

Pray for 130,000 new Syrian refugees in Turkey

Turkey refugees 1f9850a8519f6325600f6a7067004026 - CopyIS _77494621_areas_under_is_control_624_untitledBy Pastor Glem Melo

The United States and its Allies carried out air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, but not in Syria. There the self-proclaimed caliphate stormed through Kurdish villages, sending waves of at least 130,000 refugees into Turkey over the past two days. Carol Batchelor, the Turkey representative for the United Nations’ refugee agency, said in an interview with Reuters,

“I don’t think in the last three and a half years we have seen 100,000 cross in two days. So this is a bit of a measure of how this situation is unfolding and the very deep fear people have about the circumstances inside Syria and, for that matter, Iraq.”

Syria war 1Regarding the severity of the situation, Numan Kurtulmus, Turkey’s deputy prime minister laments,

“This is not a natural disaster… What we are faced with is a man-made disaster. An uncontrollable force at the other side of the border is attacking civilians. The extent of the disaster is worse than a natural disaster.”

Regarding the refugee situation in Turkey, BBC reports,

Before the latest influx, there were already more than one million Syrian refugees in Turkey. They have fled since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad three years ago. Some of the new arrivals are being sheltered in overcrowded schools, as Turkey struggles to cope with the influx.

Turkey refugees 1At Open Eyes Mission, we continue to monitor the war in Syria and Iraq, and the refugee crisis in Lebanon, Turkey and neighboring countries, praying and seeking the Lord for direction and guidance as we consult with partner agencies and firm-up our plans for both short-term and long-term outreach.

  • Pray for the 130,000 new Kurdish refugees in Turkey.
  • Pray for me and our team as we plan and pursue the expansion of our mission’s reach for the sake of our suffering fellowmen in the Middle East.

Repentance

Prodigal Son, Return of the -- Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn - Copy

Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1662–1669 (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)

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. 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

In the covenant, God demands from us (His children) true faith and it’s fruit of covenant-keeping righteousness. He calls us to turn away from our sinful and evil ways (verse 16). He commands us to live in accordance with His goodness and righteousness. (v. 17)

However, the human heart can never produce genuine repentance. Our “sins are like scarlet” and “red like crimson”; without God’s grace and saving intervention, they can never be “white as snow” or “become like wool” (18). Without the Holy Spirit’s repentance-producing work in our hearts, we are forever doomed.

"The Pharisee and the Publican" by James Tissot, 1894

“The Pharisee and the Publican” by James Tissot, 1894

Yes, in His word we can say that God commands what we can never do without His saving intervention. Indeed, the Bible teaches that “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin” (Romans 3:20).

But the good news is that God did intervene 2,000 years ago in order to save us.

  1. ATONEMENT – On the cross, the Lord Jesus paid for all our sins. (Romans 3:25)
  2. REGENERATION AND CONVERSION – In answer to our risen Savior’s prayer, God sent the Holy Spirit to give the grace of the new birth, faith and repentance to His people. (Ezekiel 36:26)
  3. JUSTIFICATION – By faith, our sins are forgiven and Christ’s perfect righteousness is counted as ours. (Romans 3:21; 4:5-8)
  4. SANCTIFICATION – The Holy Spirit causes and enables us to grow in Christlike righteousness. (Ezekiel 36:26)
  5. GLORIFICATION – On the second coming, we will be made perfectly righteous like the Lord Jesus. (Philippians 3:20-21)

Yes, in Christ we have been washed and made “clean.” “The evil of [our] deeds” have been removed “from before [God's] eyes” (Isaiah 1:16). By His Holy Spirit whom He has given us, we have been set free from our slavery to sin and “evil.” By His enabling power, we are learning more and more “to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (verse 17).

Yes, because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection… “though [our] sins are like scarlet, they [have become] as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they [have] become like wool” (v. 18).

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)

Praise the Lord!

Church Planting Work Advances in the Philippines

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By Pastor Glem Melo

“… I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

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I look back with gratitude to  4 weeks of multiple seminars, ministry and ecclesiastical meetings in 5 localities:

  1. Cagayan de Oro
  2. Manila
  3. Bulacan
  4. Pampanga
  5. Antique

???????????????????????????????Overall, through 8 seminars and 4 milestone ecclesiastical meetings, our Open Eyes Mission team served 3 reforming churches, 2 new church plants and 1 potential new church planter.

Cagayan de Oro Seminars and Meetings

In Cagayan de Oro City alone, we conducted 4 seminars:

  1. How Christ Builds His Church: An Exposition of Matthew 16:21-28 on August 18-19 by yours truly
  2. Science and Christianity on August 20-22 with Dr. John Byl (Canada)
  3. The Christian Family on August 22 with Rev. Carl Vermeulen (Australia)
  4. The Christian Church by on August 23 with Rev. Carl Vermeulen (Australia)

3Best of all, in the evening of August 21, we conducted a milestone ecclesiastical meeting, on which the Consistory (Board of Elders) of Kagay-an Reformed Church unanimously agreed to grant provisional care and oversight to the leaders and members of 2 mission congregations:

  1. Ptr. Bryan Angao Ranalan and the mission congregation in Puerto, Cagayan de Oro; and
  2. Bros. Bryan Petinglay, Mel Navidad, Jimmy Arevalo and the mission congregation in the province of Antique.

Praise the LORD!

Baby Andrew 2Finally, on the Lord’s Day of August 24, Rev. Vermeulen preached at KRC as well as in the mission congregation in Puerto. Aside from providing the translation in both services, it was also my great joy and privilege to have administered the sacrament of holy baptism to Andrew Adamson, son of Open Eyes Mission trainee and church planter Ernnel Tacandong and his wife Divine Love. It was the very first covenant child baptism at KRC, and we all stood in awe of the Lord’s goodness and grace upon our church family.

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Manila Seminar

On August 27-28, we conducted a Science and Christianity Seminar at Shekinah Christian Church in Manila’s University Belt. More than 100 persons attended the event. Dr. Byl conducted the lectures. I gave the devotional messages, lecture summaries and concluding exhortations.

Counseling and Guidance for a Reforming Pastor in Manila

In Manila, it was also a blessing for me to have met with and provided counsel and guidance to a reforming pastor. Having embraced the Reformed Faith, this man of God is now in the hot seat in their Church Council, and feels forced to resign. I encouraged him to press on by faith, advised him to plant a new reformed congregation in the Metro Manila area or surrounding localities, and offered to request the Consistory of KRC to grant provisional pastoral care and oversight for him and his family, if he is indeed forced to resign in the future, whether near or far.

???????????????????????????????Bulacan Seminar, Lecture and Meeting

On August 29-30, we conducted another Science and Christianity Seminar at ‘God is Faithful’ Grace Community Church in Malolos, Bulacan. More than 40 persons attended the event. As before, Dr. Byl conducted the lectures. Once again, I gave the devotional messages, lecture summaries and concluding exhortations.

1415781_10205223292446966_345203500_nAlso, in the evening of August 29, I conducted a 2-hour lecture on The History of Redemption and the Doctrine of Election based on the Canons of Dort. In this session, the pastors and members of GIF Church were warned against the errors of both Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism, and encouraged to continue living a life of faith and service to Christ and His gospel.

Finally, in the evening of August 31, a meeting with the pastors of the church was conducted. I shared to them practical encouragement, counsel and guidance on the Reformation of Doctrine, Life, Worship and Church Government According to God’s Word. Relying on God’s grace, work and help alone, I reiterated to them Open Eyes Mission’s long-term commitment to provide teaching, training, counsel and guidance as they continue in the path of all-of-life discipleship and reformation.

CoSF 2Preaching in Pampanga

On August 31, our team commuted to the City of San Fernando, province of Pampanga, my dad’s (deceased) hometown. There, I was honored and pleased to preach an expository message on Matthew 4:14 to the office-bearers and members of ‘Great I AM’ Church. The title of my sermon was Christ Defeated Satan by Totally Submitting to God’s Will and Ways (Jesus the New Adam and New Israel Defeated Satan for Us – Part 2). I preached Part 1 (overview message of the Lord’s temptation and triumph in the wilderness) there last year. Lord willing and working, I will preach Part 3 (Christ Defeated Satan by Refusing to Test God) to our beloved Kapampangan brothers and sisters next month.

10695061_10205223292606970_583160318_nAntique Services, Seminars and Meetings

On September 7, it was my great joy and distinct privilege to have preached the Gospel in 2 mission services in the province of Antique.

  1. In San Jose, I preached an expository message on Genesis 1: The Ways of Our God in Creation and New Creation (Salvation). Following are the main points: (a) God alone is our Creator and New-Creator (Savior); (b) the Holy Spirit is the Life-Giver of both Creation and the New Creation; and (c) the Word of God is the instrument of the Holy Spirit in both Creation and New Creation.
  2. In Anini-y, I preached an expository message on Matthew 3:1-2: The Coming of God’s Kingdom in Christ Calls Us to Repentance.

Anini-yThen from September 8-11, I conducted day-and-night seminars in the same localities.

  1. In San Jose, I taught a 20-hour Foundations of Biblical Theology and Ministry course to Open Eyes Mission trainees Bryan Petinglay, Mel Navidad and Jimmy Arevalo.
  2. In Anini-y, I taught a 15-hour Foundational Christian Doctrines course to the leaders and core members of the mission congregation there.

???????????????????????????????Finally, after our concluding course session in the evening of September 11, we conducted another milestone meeting, on which the mission congregation’s Provisional Consistory was formed. Much-needed counsel, guidance and instruction was also provided for them to faithfully and effectively move forward in the task of teaching and discipling their members.

P???????????????????????????????rayer Request

Please continue to pray our church and mission work:

  1. For me, Rev. Glem Melo, as I continue to serve as the minister, teacher of theology, and chairman of the Consistory of KRC
  2. Bro. Ernnel Tacandong, clerk of the Consistory, KRC
  3. Ptr. Bryan Ranalan, Puerto Reformed Church (mission)
  4. Bro. Bryan Petinglay, Antique Reformed Church or ARC (mission)
  5. Bro. Mel Navidad, ARC (mission)
  6. Bro. Jimmy Arevalo, ARC (mission)

RCP webMay the Lord continue to bless and keep us all in Christ Jesus, our only Lord and complete Savior.