Lorie Therese Locara’s Resume and Portfolio

The Spirit: Church Newsletter Articles

Preparing for Battle: The Victory Iloilo Annual Fast (2005)

When the Israelites of old prepared for a battle, they would fast and pray, and consecrate themselves to God. Daily life is a battle, struggling to keep our tempers in check, to keep ourselves sane in the midst of strength-sapping, mind-wrenching whirl of activities.

And prepare we did. Last January 7-13, 2005, the entire Victory Christian Fellowship, from VCF-Fort to VCF Zamboanga, observed a week of prayer and fasting. VCF-Iloilo was no exception to the week of consecration.

There were meetings held at Alpha Crest Christian Academy at noontime and at the CAP in the evenings. Petitions were made, breakthroughs sought for, and prayers lifted up to God.

The first night, the theme was Family. The prayer meeting was officiated by Pastor Dandy. Twenty-five people attended that Friday prayer meeting. The next night, Saturday, was officiated by Pastor Bong. It was mostly a worship and pray-over session, where the teachers, those with a heart for missions, Kids’ Church workers, and cell group leaders were called to the front and prayed for. The central theme was on the youth. Sixty-seven people attended the session.

On Sunday, the service reached its peak in attendance, gathering together 309 people. There was no prayer meeting, although the fasting continued.

Monday night was led by Irene Antonano, with Missions as the central theme. The people were called on to pray through scripture in the first half of the session. Later, they were allowed to group themselves and pray for the workers in the mission field. About forty-five were present.

Pastor Bong led the Tuesday night session, with Philippines as the central theme. People prayed for change and for the government, and a sense of nationalism pervaded the atmosphere of the prayer meeting. Twenty-one people attended.

And should we forget praying for our Church? Wednesday night was led by Pastor Richard and the focus was on praying for the Church and its needs. Passion for God and a spirit of unity was emphasized. Thirty-eight people were present.

The final night was a celebration, where people brought down strongholds, presented their petitions and prayed for breakthroughs with all the passion of an athlete running his last stretch. Thirty-seven communed for the last night, and Pastor Bong led the meeting.

The fast was the best way to start the year right. Not only is it important to consecrate ourselves before the battle begins, but it’s also right to start the year seeking God, presenting our plans and getting directions from Him. It was an oasis stopover before a journey.

And now, we shall face the year renewed and reinvigorated, with our relationship with God revitalized. Strongholds were torn down, prayers answered, breakthroughs experienced. It was a display of how God stretches His hand once His people humble themselves.

Are you looking forward to next year’s fast?

 

Son of Thunder: Cito Beltran Visits Victory Iloilo

“There is going to be a revival in Iloilo”.

A very optimistic forecast packaged as parting words (AM service) from the brutally frank Cito Beltran.

Brother Cito Beltran, of Straight Talk and VCF-Fort, breezed through Iloilo the first weekend of February and stayed until the afternoon of February 6, to deliver talks to business people, church people, and all who cared to hear.

Speaking from CPU’s University Church, to VCF-Iloilo, to a special afternoon meeting with various Christian churches, Bro. Cito chose not to mince words, despite pointing out that, being called “the Son of Thunder”, he never gets invited to speak in the same church twice. From frankly discussing the repercussions of habitual sin to seriously admonishing the audience to look good for their marriage partners and God, his talks were enlightening at best, and stinging at its worst.

But it’s a good kind of sting. The kind you learn from and remember.

The main text of his talks was Micah 7:14: “Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, (which lives by itself in a forest,) in fertile pasturelands”.

Negating the feng shui experts, he declared that this year was going to be a good year for each and everyone. Provided that each does his part in shepherding the flock. The flock could be one’s family, employees, barkada, classmates.

Having gotten that message across, he moved on to talk about other things. He pointed out that the Philippines’ greatest national sin was gossip, a transgression against the ninth commandment in the Ten Commandments: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”.

He admonished the audience about how they live their Christianity: “People have got to want what you have. It’s not just peace of mind! Even a Buddhist has peace of mind when he tranquilizes himself with enough meditation! Where is your fruit?”

He also talked about Activation: “You know the Word of God. You know what God wants for you. But the problem is you don’t want to do it. You’re scared to do it. You hesitate. You’re not sure. I’ve got news for you: you’ll NEVER be sure. That’s why they call it FAITH.”

To activate one’s faith, one has to “seek, ask, and knock”. Knocking “is not about entry: it’s about acting”. Activation is also about prayer. He advised to “confess sin, submit to authority, know your purpose and design, activate it by prayer, and go into action.”

And that’s just the morning service.

In the afternoon meeting, Bro. Cito opened with talking about sin. He gave the illustration of Gollum and the Ring of Power. The Ring represents sin, and Gollum represents the ordinary person, clinging so desperately to his sinful nature. He later encouraged the Gollums in the room to “let go and let God”, so that they can live their lives richly, unencumbered by sin.

As in the first service, Bro. Cito also talked about how, when one changes one’s purpose and “compromises his/her design”, the “product”/person gets destroyed. He gave the illustration of women who get pregnant early and fail to reach their destinies in life.

He also talked about “damaged men”, men who don’t know how to speak up, are dejected, etc., declaring: “God did not put Himself on the cross so you can call me hopeless,” and “God has paid a price for you. For you to allow anybody to belittle that price is sacrilege! It’s a dishonor to God.”

He summed up his afternoon speech as: “1) Are you Gollum (do you cling to sin)? Let go. 2) Recognize the design of God for your life. 3) The “Fallen” and the “Swollen”.

The Fallen are people who have stumbled in their walk with God, otherwise known as “backsliders”. He emphasized that fallen people are not bad people. That once you’ve fallen, you can help yourself up. Or you can ask for help. He admonished the body of believers to “help up, strengthen, be with, and walk with” the fallen. We are to support those who fall, not condemn them.

The Swollen are those people who are puffed up with the sin of pride, or who won’t acknowledge their sin. They are wounded, but they’re infected. The infection deadens them to the pain. To get to them, those who want to minister to them must wait for them to “subside”.

In either case, the medicine is repentance and confession. Cito points out that sin punishes everyone around the sinner. He asserted that with sin and issues, “There are no ifs and buts in treating sin. We either deal with it or we don’t,” and “I cannot give you an analgesic. You either face it or you die from it. No discussion.”

One must confess sin, receive the anointing of the Lord and claim his destiny in this battle we face. There are no wimps, no compromise. This is a fight we must face till our last day on earth.

“When I was not in the Lord, I was making trouble. Now I’m in the Lord, I’m still making trouble… But it’s godly trouble!”

Stir up trouble, he did. Bro. Cito verbally shook people out of the numbness of daily life, and pointed out the path to passion for God. Surely, the people (326 in the morning service, 201 in the afternoon service) came away from the talks smarting, but willing and eager to follow his admonitions. Come back anytime, Bro. Cito.

 

Fire, Miracles and Lots of Rain: The Hope Festival

I could tell in my bones that I was going to have lots of fun over those fateful four days. Fun, and miracles. I expected miracles to happen to me; coz I knew God would be there.

I rushed from school to get to Iloilo Sports Complex. Allowance barely enough to get me there and back home, I didn’t mind buying two pieces of bread for “dinner”. When I got to the Sports Complex, I immediately looked for a familiar face. I chatted a bit with some Victory people, and found friends who would sit with me.

Then there I was, smack dab in the middle of the grandstand, facing the far-off stage dead center, awaiting the start of the crusade.

To my delight and surprise, the program started on time. Wonderful. This showed that the Church was setting an example in promptness.

The opening number was amazing. M’JAH, I suppose, did not play to the crowd, but to God Himself, as the numbers, though they were of the rock music kind, sounded ethereal. Struggles in the Christian walk, the glory of God, and the wonder of His salvation streamed through the speakers and transported me somewhere among the clouds, yearning for God’s embrace.

A few other numbers were performed, and I won’t bore you with the details. Oh, there was this really powerful song that hit me right to my core, “Running”, belted out by Oliver Herrera and Love Joy Quimpo of CPU’s University Church Choir that really lifted me somewhere among the clouds too.

Now on to the Word as delivered by Reverend Jason Betler.

The Word was from Luke 7:11-15, about the widow with the dead son. Rev. Betler pointed out that there were two crowds of people: one following Jesus, and one following death (carrying the coffin of the dead son). He pointed out that either we’re following Jesus, or we’re following death.

He pointed out that sin makes us helpless. That we can’t change on our own. That we need Jesus.

He told of being disturbed of having a shadow while he was still a boy. He wanted to make it go away. He tried everything. But in the end, he learned to take the focus off his shadow by facing the sun.

He told of us being drivers of a car, going the wrong direction. We let Jesus hitchhike, but we still drive the car and go the wrong way. It’s a process of letting Jesus move from the back seat, to the front seat, to being the Driver of our lives.

Rev. Betler also shared his observation that people spend a lot of time trying to make Jesus fit their lives, making sure they’re perfect for Jesus, when the bottom line is, Jesus requires only ourselves and our trust in Him.

The second night, there were still bands and production numbers. The stand out was the acapella number by the Cubing sisters (granddaughters of Rev. Cubing) who really wowed the crowed and got such an enthusiastic applause with their girlish voices and sheer skill in singing.

This night, when VCF together with some Jesus Reigns and Emmanuel people (the lead worship leader was also from Jesus Reigns) led the worship, Rev. Betler talked about Mark 10:17-22 and Mark 12:41-44.

In the first part, he focused on the rich young man. Rev. Betler pointed out that the young man’s arms were full (of riches), but his heart was empty.

He also pointed out that when Jesus enumerated the Ten Commandments, He left out the rules pertaining to loving God. This showed that Jesus tried to point out to the young man that he only followed the Commandments to show how pious he was. He was serving God to make himself look good.

Jesus told the man to give up his riches because He saw that riches ruled his life. Jesus does not want poor disciples, He wants disciples whose hearts are fully surrendered to Him.

The second part was about the widow who put in only two copper coins, which Jesus said was worth more than all the gold the rich people put in the treasury.

Rev. Betler pointed out that the widow gave her whole self. When she did that, she “landed with both feet in heaven”.

He pointed out that when you give God your sadness, He’s going to give you His joy.

Third night was also opened with songs from different bands, and various dance numbers.

The Word was from Luke 8:26-37, about the demon-possessed man. Rev. Betler amplified the story by saying that the demons inside the man would almost daily jump into action and pull the poor man in all directions. He made clear for the audience how distraught and miserable the man was.

And he drove home the point that Jesus never forgot that man. That He probably went to the place specifically for this miserable creature. Jesus has a soft spot for each one of us and our miseries. Take heart that He will never forget how miserable we can be sometimes, and that He will always come to our aid.

One funny part was Rev. Betler’s pointing out that the pigs where Jesus sent the demons to in this story were “intelligent”. Why? Because they didn’t allow themselves to live with demons inside them: the porcine herd “rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned”.

Rev. Betler also told a story of a little girl who was saved from a poisonous snake by her loving father. The snake was inching its way to the little girl playing on the barn floor when her father, who was working on the rafters, spotted it and jump straight from the rafters onto the head of the snake. Ever since that day, the father walked with a limp.

On the fourth night, there were no bands, but Flight and Company, who have performed in DC Talk concerts, performed several dance numbers.

The Word was from Luke 19:1-10. Rev. Betler magnified Zacchaeus into a purple hat-wearing character. Having lots and lots of stolen money, Zacchaeus could buy anything. He wanted a big purple hat, he could get it. If he wanted a purple suit to go with it, he could go for it. A purple tie to accentuate it, sure. And purple underwear? Who’s stopping him?

Inside Zacchaeus’ hat, he could slip in stolen money. And he could walk around without people knowing he was loaded.

This lust for money stemmed from a childhood of being bullied, of being a nobody. The money he got now gave him importance and recognition.

Then he heard of Jesus. He wanted to be associated with Jesus, to clean up and freshen his reputation. Little did he know that this desire was for his own soul’s good.

Jesus, to Zacchaeus’ dread, knew everything he had ever done. But He loved Zacchaeus anyway.

Knowing Jesus brought drastic change to Zacchaeus: his giving out his riches to the poor and his move of repaying people four times the amount he has stolen showed how great the internal turnaround was.

Rev. Betler quipped that “Jesus is like soap: He gets between you and sin and pushes sin away”.

All four nights were exhilarating. Just to sit there and soak up the presence of God was awesome.

The first night, the praise and worship was led by Interfaith and Restoration. The second night, VCF, Emmanuel and Jesus Reigns, the third night Full Gospel Center Church and CPU’s University Church, and the last night by His Life Ministries and God is Good Church.

All four nights were punctuated with healings of all sorts. God’s move was so great that there were testimonies upon testimonies of people being healed from all sorts of illnesses.

The third night was different, though, as freedom from demonic oppression was declared. So with the fourth night, when Rev. Betler pronounced blessing upon the city of Iloilo.

So did the crusade meet my expectations? It didn’t. For God gave me reason to believe that the entire experience more than exceeded what I could expect with meetings such as those.

I came in the event morose, dejected and feeling alone. I came out of it full of joy and newfound reason to hope in God.

Through the buckets of rain that poured on those nights, God’ hand moved remarkably. He really does make it a point to be beyond excellent in everything He does. Shouldn’t we do the same?

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