Eat This Book: Basta Lovelife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions by Kuya Kevin Sanders

12 06 2010

Admit it. If you find this book at PCBS or National you’ll raise your eyebrows. The title is very catchy and very Pinoy. But the author is an American guy. So you might ask” How can this American guy give relationship advice that will cater with me a Pinoy?” Well after reading this book you’ll change your mind.

Basta Lovelife is a jam pack of essential advice from Kevin Sanders. Kuya Kevin (as he is popularly called) assembled biblical advices (with common sense) on love, sex and relationship from the Bible, his experience as campus minister, his blog and podcast show. Kuya Kevin really knows who his audiences are and I think these are the most asked issues and topics to him. He is right on target. It’s great that all of it relates to Pilipino love and courtship culture and I’m thankful that he address those things. Words like bolero, basted, live in, rebound etc. makes you easy to know the topic he is discussing (and makes it very Pinoy). You wont be lost with this book is tackling. Pinoy youth especially students shouldn’t look further to find a book that deals with homosexuality, virginity, masturbation, romantic vultures and romantic martyr; break up, soulmate, physical attraction and more.

As you know the media is having frenzy over romance. They make money about it especially on secular love advice. Tons of people are willing to give their shots on your problems. It’s a good thing there are Christian authors like Kuya Kevin who gives good and godly advice. Advice not from towering Christian leaders, but to a down to earth and honest person. We can all relate to someone who has the same struggles and problem we have but willing to be a “kuya” (older brother) to give an advice. So grab a copy of Basta Lovelife and let Kevin Sanders be your kuya. Check out Kuya Kevins blog here and his Facebook Fan Page

Fully Booked! Enjoying Christian Books: an Interview with Church Strengthening Ministry Publishing

21 05 2010

Aside from the Bible, we ought to read Christian books. Reading makes us grow and mature as Christians. We learn a lot and discover things about being a Christian .So we asked Ms. Joy C. Solina, Editorial Manager of Church Strengthening Ministry Publishing, about Christian books, what to read and more…

ROCK Ministry: What’s the importance of reading Christian books?

Joy C. Solina: Christian books are literature or reading material that are written from a Christian or biblical perspective. They help hone the reader’s mind to see things from a biblical point of view and learn to think that way. Otherwise, he is vulnerable to all sorts of ideas that do not necessarily reflect spiritual values or have anything to do with God. Good Christian books, next to the Bible, satisfy one’s spiritual hunger for knowledge and guidance in dealing with life’s struggles and questions. They have often inspired gifted Christian writers to fulfill their calling of changing people’s lives through the printed word. What would this world be like without the works of C.S. Lewis, John Stott, A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, Rick Warren and Billy Graham?

ROCK Ministry: How do we cultivate reading as part of our Christian life?

Joy C. Solina: It pays to start early. If you grew up in a family that loved books, you already have an advantage. You have developed the interest and the habit, and all you have to do is choose the books you read. If you didn’t grow up reading books for pleasure, you can still develop the interest and habit. First of all, you have to believe in its overall spiritual benefit because if you’re not fully convinced that it will make you a better person and Christian, you’ve lost the battle before you’ve even started. Second, ask godly people you admire and respect what books they can recommend to you. They would most likely lend or even give you some books that have blessed them tremendously in their spiritual growth. It also goes without saying that reading the Bible everyday helps instill the discipline if not the passion for reading Christian books.

ROCK Ministry: Many Christians read but are not readers. How do you encourage them to pick up a book?

Joy C. Solina: If you’ve personally enjoyed a book, you won’t keep that to yourself. You would gladly recommend it to your family, your friends or people you’re discipling. Aside from a highly respected author’s name on a book, a friend’s recommendation is a good enough motivation to read that book. Like a coach, ask feedback after a couple of days or weeks. If your Christian friend stopped reading it, ask why. Point out which sections you enjoyed the most or have proven helpful in your life and encourage him to read some more. When he has finished the book, suggest another one and help him get a hold of a copy. Nothing is as effective as a friend’s encouragement and example.

ROCK Ministry: For first-timers, what advice or book do they need to read?

Joy C. Solina: If you mean first-timers in reading Christian books, I would encourage them to find out who’s the best Christian author in the genre that interests them the most. If a person is fond of historical novels, go look for one that was written by a Christian. If a person is fond of biographies, find one that’s about a well-known Christian. If a person is fond of deep, philosophical discussions, find one that’s written by a Christian philosopher or apologist. You may also look for books that can help meet a pressing or current need. If a person is new in the faith, offer books that explain what salvation means and how to grow as a Christian. If a person is having trouble with finances or people at work, look for Christian books that deal with this.

ROCK Ministry: How do Christians choose the right Christian book?

Joy C. Solina: The “right” Christian book will depend on your interest, your need, and your budget. Whichever of these three takes priority, ask your pastor, your friend who loves books, your discipler, and Christians you look up to for their recommendations. Check the blurbs of books for endorsements. Classical authors on the Christian faith such as C. S. Lewis, John Stott and A.W. Tozer are always a good choice. The latest best-selling title by a Christian author may not necessarily appeal to you unless someone you know personally benefitted from reading it. If you have learned a lot from a Bible study guide or curriculum, you may take note of books mentioned in the lessons or in a reading list given by the author(s).

RM: Is there a right time to read a particular type of book? Let’s say, a new Christian should read Christian living first then if he is mature enough, he can read about apologetics.

JCS: New Christians instinctively know that they need to study the basics of the faith for them to grow spiritually but I would not limit them to one kind of books. It will also depend on their level of reading “maturity” and the genre they’re interested in. Those who love to read can read “unexplored territory” to find out if they’re prepared for it or not. If a new Christian wants to know what apologetics is all about, he can go ahead and read it, then decide for himself if he can already handle it or not.

But to maximize one’s time (hardly anyone has all the time in the world to read anything), I would recommend a mix of serious study and light reading. Choose a tested and proven study material on growing spiritually, such as Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God or Beth Moore’s A Heart Like His, alongside an easy-to-read but insightfully loaded book, such as Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison’s Cat & Dog Theology or Rene Resurreccion’s Called to Excel.

RM: Church Strengthening Ministry has lots of titles to offer. Tell us what books you highly recommend to people.

JCS: We have a lot. I’ll try to be brief (if I could). This year we have local editions of best-selling Christian authors in the US, such as Gary Chapman (Five Love Languages, Five Love Languages for Singles, Five Love Languages for Teenagers), Nancy Leigh de Moss (Surrender, Brokenness, Lies Women Believe, Lies Young Women Believe), and Richard Blackaby (Unlimiting God).

For church lay leaders and pastors, James Garlow’s Partners in Ministry will enlighten and equip pastoral and ministry teams. Pastors can add variety to their exhortation when officiating the Lord’s Supper by using Jim Townsend’s Two-Minute Messages for Communion.

The Lord has blessed us with more local authors who have equally powerful messages to share to Filipino believers and Filipinos in general. Rene Resurreccion’s The Power to Create Righteous Wealth and The Heart of the Economic Crisis are positive reads for facing these financially challenging times. Bing Pajaron’s Parenting Teens gives much-needed advice and biblical principles to parents struggling to understand and raise their teenaged kids the right way. Campus minister Kevin Sanders’ second book with CSM, Learning the Hard Way, uses true-to-life stories sent by readers of his blog. Former mayor Marides Fernando’s Urbanidad explains how urban dwellers can live harmoniously under the law based on biblical insights shared by DZAS station manager and pastor Eric C. Maliwat who also has his first book with us, Maging Ubas Huwag Pasas.

A growing number of readers now prefer conversational Tagalog and need not feel limited in choosing books to read. For people in the workplace, Maloi Salumbides’ ProTips, Standing Tall through Tough Times and Shining Attitudes for Women at Work are ideal reads while traveling to and from the office or during break times. For young mothers, Bessie Rios’ Memo ni Mommy serves as daily doses of advice and encouragement. For couples wanting to communicate with each other better, Gary Chapman’s Now You’re Speaking My Language in conversational Tagalog offers practical tips on developing intimacy in your marriage. For anyone else who wants to relate to God more deeply, Joey Umali’s Mahal Ka ng Diyos contains selected messages from his well-loved early morning radio program, Hardin ng Panalangin.

For readers who also listen to MP3s and audio CDs, we have compiled Ed Lapiz’s messages into 15 audio CDs, each containing eight (8) messages, and have also produced three (3) audio books of his best-selling titles, I Will Survive, Pera o Puri and Sa Tao ang Ngawa.

RM: How does CSM choose a book to release? Do you choose it because this will be a best seller; it’s the fad or what?

JCS: A publisher always wishes each title it releases becomes a bestseller. But realistically, that will not happen. So what’s our basis for choosing which books to publish? Those that align with our company’s mission of strengthening the church, equipping the saints and reaching mankind for the Lord—what our name stands for. When we translate this mission into products, they fall into the following categories: evangelism, discipleship, worker training, family enrichment, Christian living, missions, and leadership.

Our core products have always been church-based curriculum (Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, discipleship and pastoral resources) which we consider our special niche in local Christian publishing. Therefore, we are on the constant lookout for curriculum writers, editorial board members, reviewers, translators and songwriters/arrangers.

When it comes to books, we follow the same basic guideline. For imported titles, we choose the titles from publishers’ catalogs, request review copies from the publishers, have them read and reviewed, then seek republishing rights. For local titles, we choose the authors and/or manuscripts based on certain criteria, such as writers’ credentials, writing style, unique approach, timeliness of message, theological stance, etc.

RM: Just an observation, why do most Pinoy Christian readers prefer foreign titles than home grown titles?

JCS: We haven’t gotten over the colonial mentality or the Pinoy’s propensity to be mesmerized by anything foreign. But that is significantly changing. Our line-up of local authors and conversational Tagalog titles is increasing. More and more Pinoys are buying locally written books, but the preference for foreign authors (especially the famous ones) is still strong.

For one thing, foreign titles have the uncontested advantage of “marketing” or media mileage. They’re more exposed to the international market because of the much promoted success or wide following of the authors’ ministries in their home countries. We can already learn something from that picture. We do have gifted Pinoy Christian leaders who have a lot to say that will benefit a much wider audience. The challenge lies in putting those messages into well-written, attractive, affordable print form and getting it into the hands of readers who will appreciate it the most.

RM: I’ve checked your website and you carry Ed Lapiz titles. Tell us more about him and his books.

JCS: Ed Lapiz’s books have enjoyed huge sales in mainstream bookstores for years. His success as an author is the exception to what you previously said about Pinoys preferring foreign titles to local ones. I can only explain the secret to his publishing success as his ability to communicate flawlessly and to teach deep, biblical truths simply to any Pinoy who reads his book. When I asked a friend why she likes reading Ed Lapiz, she said in Tagalog, “I don’t have to analyze further or ask someone to explain to me what he means. I get it right away.” His radio program, Day by Day, raises the ratings of any radio station that airs it. We are, therefore, so privileged to enter into an agreement with him to exclusively distribute his titles and will soon publish two new book titles from him.

RM: Please tell us more about CSM, what you do and how they can contact you. What can we look forward to in the coming year from you?

JCS: In keeping with our name, we also publish curriculum for churches and Christian schools, conduct training seminars and workshops for church workers and pastors, and produce audio books and videos for equipping and outreach. We strive to keep up with the changing times by studying how technology affects the way people communicate and learn. Thus, we have added audio (MP3 format) and video CDs to our list of products.

We have just produced our first one-year children’s Sunday school curriculum pack called Faith Grower containing free CDs for the music and reproducible teaching pictures. We plan to release another one-year Sunday school curriculum pack for all ages with a separate CD of new songs by the end of this year. We also released our first children’s music video entitled Songs for Jesus that was quickly sold out. Another children’s music video entitled God of Creation will be released soon.

In our last training season (November to April), we organized over 30 training workshops for Vacation Bible School and children’s Sunday school for local church workers and volunteers in partnership with PCBS bookstores as well as Thompson Chain Bible Institute seminars for pastors and preachers all over the country. We will expand our training program to include youth and adult Sunday school teacher workshops, parenting seminars, and trainings for school teachers.

This year we started offering music clinics for worship teams. Some of our clinic instructors are our video “authors” (Bernie Duran for Learning to Play Bass Guitar, Dehann Ballesteros for Guitar for Beginners, Relly Villanueva for Drums for Beginners). Other instructional videos in our Music Station line-up are Worship Leading by Roy Fabella and Voice Lessons by Lyn Fabella, the husband and wife team of Windsong. We are exploring possibilities for training accredited facilitators of these instructional videos.

We’re the first Christian publisher to offer audio books. We have released 22 titles by local authors: Leah Darwin’s Yes! I’m a Pastor’s Wife, Eric Maliwat’s Maging Ubas Huwag Pasas, Maloi Salumbides’ ProTips in 3 volumes, Standing Tall and Shining Attitudes, and Ed Lapiz’s messages in 15 volume CDs. We have just released three (3) audio books by Ed Lapiz and three (3) new Ed Lapiz videos soon. Our latest MP3 audio CD title is John Maxwell’s Leadership 101 containing nine of his books.

CSM also offers design, typesetting and printing services for your church and school. Our building has facilities that churches and other groups can use for seminars and corporate events, and guest units for travelers at affordable rates. We are located very near the international airport or NAIA 1 and can be contacted by phone (8527301 to 02) or email ( You may also visit our website ( for a complete listing of products, updates and upcoming events.

RM: Thank you granting us an interview and God bless your publishing ministry. God bless also those Christians who read and support your books.

Eat this Book: Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints by John Piper and Justin Taylor

15 05 2010

This is the by far the best in the Desiring God Conference turned into print form. Best because 3 of the leading Christian authors (my favorites) John Piper, Jerry Bridges and John MacArthur Jr. are here. It’s like the best of three worlds in one great book. Rarely would you find such book. You will get some teasers on what their ministry offers here also. And oh don’t forget Randy Alcorn and Helen Roseveare. You may think these two not so famous speakers won’t make such great contribution on this book. But in fact their part is important.

As the title suggest it’s about enduring and standing firm to what God calls every Christian. As the world tells us to embrace change and go for greener pastures, God tells us to hold on and stand firm no matter what. The authors are perfectly picked to be included to this book. Not only does it give biblical response to endurance but also personal experience from the authors. So the interview part in the last part is exciting. At first an interview part is odd for me but it adds more personal and up close profile on the lives of these men (and a woman) of God. Each one is gave different talk about godly endurance but when blend together its one power pack book.

The book opens with Jerry Bridges (author of Pursuit of Holiness) with his usual bible teaching combined with his enduring to the end journey titled “Four Essentials for Finishing Well”. He is good in discipleship teachings and I think you’ll appreciate this. Then John Piper (author of Don’t Waste Your Life and Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ) exhorts “Getting Old for the Glory of God” on which he discusses and tell us to make Christ our treasure till the end of our lives. You can sense some Don’t Waste Your Life sprinkled over his piece. John MacArthur (Grace to You, author of Ashamed of the Gospel) relates his 40 years as a pastor of Grace Community Church. Randy Alcorn (author of Heaven and Treasure Principle) wave his Christian flag for the fight of the unborn. Lastly Helen Roseveare with her experience in a war torn mission field. Truly this is a book you won’t ignore.

The best part for me is the one from Helen Roseveare. She gave something that no other contributors can give: the woman side of godly endurance. Her talk was filled with fascinating stories about her mission in Africa. Teenage and young adult girls read her piece first specially the latter part. You will be inspired and be blessed for sure.

Recommended to mature Christians and leaders this book not only inspires but makes you think and evaluate your life in Christ if it counts. Go beyond fascination with the lives of the contributors. Make your Christian call count. Stand firm to the end and finish it well.

You can buy this book at PCBS for P195 only or you can download the entire book on PDF format from the Desiring God website FREE by clicking here. R.O.C.K. Ministry also gives hard copies of it for FREE to all supporters, leaders and committee members of the student organization.

R.O.C.K. List 10 Tips to Pass the Board Exam

6 02 2010

There are something to cheer about in the beginning of February. Lyceum of the Philippines University is on number 2 ranking in the recent Nursing Board Exam. Also R.O.C.K has members who are board exam the passers. One of them is Ruel De Castro a Christian and original member of the pre-ROCK campus ministry. Congratulations Ruel! May God bless you as a registered nurse. After giving us his testimony at our Soul Fuel, asked him to jot down this list to provide you insight and advice on how to pass the exam:

  1. Prayer- very powerful tool. Tutulungan ka nito na maging calm and relax during the exam at maiiwasan yung pagiging ngarag o kabado.
  2. Be positive-it will attract positive energy.
  3. Believe to the power of God- Dapat we will always put in our mind that God has a good plan for us. Just have faith.
  4. Review your past lesson- Manganda kung everyday nagbabasa ka ng pakonti-konti ng mga past lesson to refresh your mind at para hindi mo sila makalimutan.
  5. Gumawa ng sariling abbreviation o acronym about sa topic kung saan mas madali mo silang maalala, it can be a jingle, ABC, poem o kung saan ka mas comfortable.
  6. Bawasan ang puyat o kung may bisyo wag muna magbisyo habang papalapit na ang exam. (Better yet drop the vises—editor:-))
  7. The night before the exam, matulog ng maaga at gumising ng maaga para pag nagstart ang exam gising na ang diwa mo at mas madali ng gumana ang utak.
  8. Pag magrereview,, konti lang ang ilas na gamit o yung materials na aaralin kasi once na madami nakatambak tatamdin ka lang mag-aral.
  9. It is best to study sa umaga para fresh pa at hindi overloaded ang utak. Huwag din isabay ang pagaaral sa panonood ng TV.

10.  Pumasok sa review center para maupdate sa mga bago, at types ng paexam ng mga BoN.

Discipleship: A Deeper Love for Christ–an interview with Life Changing Discipleship (LCD)

24 01 2010

Like a newly born baby, a new believer needs help for him to grow. A new Christian should desire to mature and be useful for God’s purpose. He needs discipleship. Its a big word for many. But we need it to have deeper love for Christ. So we asked Ptr Elmer Quilas of Life Changing Discipleship (LCD) about Discipleship.

ROCK Ministry: Hi Ptr Elmer . So tell us what is Discipleship?

Elmer Quilas: Discipleship is the unveiling of God’s heart in the Word into the hearts of God’s children.

ROCK Ministry: Wow. Its what God’s want for his children. How important is discipleship especially to the new believers?

Elmer Quilas : It is very important because the Bible needs to be read and heard, it needs to be grasped or understood, also it needs to be acted upon and lived out in obedience and another thing which accomplishes the great commission is that the Bible needs to shared with others.

ROCK Ministry: Does it take a lot of time? Does it have to be one on one? Does it have to be a pastor member approach?
Elmer Quilas : 30 minutes or so each week will work. Discipleship is a process of growing a new believer to maturity. Consistency will play a great deal in the entire process. As a common saying says, “one apple a day takes the doctor away.” 30 minutes of sharing one’s life to another when accumulates in time matures a believer.
We cannot be effective to all but we can always be to someone. Since human personality is so complex, I believe that the Spirit of God uses people according to how a person can be best effective in sharing. God is using our experiences, culture, education and other things so the one discipling can clearly relate to his disciple.

RM: How can busy student and professionals benefit with discipleship?

EQ: Discipleship is a personal relationship developed. Flexibility can be applied. It doesn’t require permanent place only common place, doesn’t require permanent time only common interest, and it doesn’t require all of my time only common commitment.

RM: I read somewhere that discipleship can be easy if we establish first a relationship. whats your comment on that?

EQ: I strongly believe that relationship comes first in many cases of effective discipleship. It it true that I have to sell myself first before my product it is also true in effective discipleship.

RM: OK. How do you start discipleship?What are the necessary tools for it?

EQ: I always approach discipleship in the light of the Lord’s life how He first chooses people. In Matthew 4:18-22 account, Jesus saw the people, He called them and they followed Him. In John 12:32 account, Jesus draws people. You disciple people you attract.

RM: Do you recommend self discipleship or a person can just pick up his Bible or buy a Christian book?

EQ: I believe that every child of God is accountable for every action he makes. I cannot discount the benefits that Christians get through personal reading and devotions. The Bible is strongly expressing the benefits you get when you become like Joshua who was a disciple of Moses, Elisha who received the double portion of Elijah’s power, and in the New Testament Timothy whom Paul claimed to be his son in the faith. Nonetheless, before the apostle Paul’s execution, he told Timothy to “Take Mark” which implies a son and father relationship. I would say that great men of the Bible are the product of great mentoring and nurturing.

RM: Any message for those students who wants to be discipled?

EQ: A musician will learn under another musician because he wants to emulate him. There is something about his playing that the student desires. We become followers of Jesus because we love Him and desires to become like Him. This is the all-encompassing goal of a disciples’ faith.

RM: Please tell us about LCD, you and your church.

EQ: LCD is a ministry that hold retreats, seminars, trainings and Bible Studies that helps the youth, family and individuals discover their potentials and develop it. Through our series of meetings, we encourage them to use their God given potentials not only for their personal benefit but also to others.
I am Dr. Elmer C. Quilas, Senior Pastor of Gateway Christian Baptist and Ministries Inc. Our purpose is to love God and to love people. Our vision is to evangelize and make disciples. And our goal is to make every believer a leader

RM: Thank you Pastor for your time and God bless!

If you want to reach Pastor Elmer Castillo Quilas, Life Changing Discipleship Network (LCD) check his blog: or search his ministry and name at Facebook.

Indebted to Catholics: an Interview with Joe Mizzi

10 09 2009

Joe Mizzi  (JM) of ‘Just for Catholics’ talks with R.O.C.K. (Reaching Out for Christ’s Kingdom) Ministry (RM) about his country, his life and the Roman Catholic Church.

ROCK Ministry: Just to clarify, are we doing this interview to spew out some anti-Catholic, judgmental and unloving rants? Are we going to misrepresent and misunderstood the Catholic Church here?

Joe Mizzi: I have no such intentions. I honestly love Roman Catholics – most of my dearest friends, relatives and colleagues are Catholics. I simply desire to share the Gospel with them. It is with an attitude of sincere love that I speak or write – even when I criticize certain aspects of the Catholic religion.

ROCK Ministry: I never heard of Malta. I know it is mentioned somewhere in the New Testament. Very recently I saw a video about it being a great and peace loving country — low crime rates, peaceful people and low illiteracy rate! Can you tell about your country? Is it a Catholic country like the Philippines? How is the spiritual state of Malta?

Joe Mizzi: You make it sound like Malta is another name for Paradise. We have out problems too, believe me! Malta is mentioned in the Book of Acts; the apostle Paul and Dr Luke were shipwrecked on our shores. Most Maltese (>95%) are Roman Catholics, at least in name. When I was young, over 90% of the entire population attended Mass on Sundays; now it has dropped to about 50%. The onslaught of secular humanism is taking its toll. Sadly many Maltese people live as if God does not exist, but there are others who are truly religious and devout.

ROCK Ministry: Tell me about your upbringing in a Catholic family. Are there things from your Catholic past that still help you now that you have become a Bible-believing Christian?

Joe Mizzi: We were six children in our family; my parents insisted that all of us learned Catholic doctrine, attend Mass on Sunday and on most days of the week, and that we said the Rosary together every evening. I thank God for my parents’ discipline. They taught me by example to be hard-working and faithful in marriage. Moreover they taught me the fear of God. I was taught that I always lived in the Presence of God, even when I was alone, and that I am responsible to him for what I do and say. The Gospel message of salvation, which I learned in its purity from the reading of the Bible, made sense to me because I was aware of my accountability to God.

RM: I was myself a former Catholic and I had no sense of peace that when I die I will go to heaven. How about you, Joe, what did you do to overcome the fear of death?

JM: I went through childhood thinking that I was not too bad to go to hell; and yet not good enough to go to heaven either. The prospect of spending time in the fires of purgatory was something that I tried to get out of my mind. Each time I went to confession, I committed myself to a new start, but of course, it was a futile exercise. I failed and failed again. I attended Mass regularly, did the penance prescribed (usually saying a few prayers), and said the Rosary with the hope that purgatory would be as short and bearable as possible. But I could never find peace as long as I looked to myself, my achievements and failures, rather than looking to the Lord Jesus Christ.

RM: Then your brother became a Christian, saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross. What was your reaction? How about your family?

JM: I thought my brother, Paul, had done the worst mistake that he could possibly do by leaving the Roman Catholic Church, the one true church of Christ. My parents were also worried about the situation, especially when you consider that Malta is an intensely Roman Catholic country. Leaving Catholicism is like committing social and cultural suicide; you isolate yourself from the rest of the community.

RM: In your testimony you said that he shared the gospel with you; he was trying to convert you to his religion. How did you react? Was your attitude like, ‘I was born Catholic and I will die Catholic!’?

JM: No, not really, I was genuinely interested in the message of the Gospel. At that time I was entirely convinced that the teaching of the Catholic Church is true and perfectly consistent with the Bible. The thought of leaving the Catholic Church did not even cross my mind. My brother’s intention may have been to convert me, but mine were equally clear – I wanted to convert him back to Mother Church!

RM: You went to the Bible for two years to study it. This became your task to help him get back to the fold of the ‘one true church’. Can you tell me about the process you went through? What did you found out?

JM: I read the New Testament, and especially the Gospel of John, and Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Romans and Ephesians. I often consulted my Religion teacher, a priest, asking him the same questions that my brother used to ask me. I discussed and debated with my brother on several occasions. But eventually I came to realize that the Roman Catholic distinctives have little or no support in the Bible, and in some instances, some doctrines seem to contradict the Scripture.

But eventually my interest shifted from the Catholic/Protestant debate, and away from my brother, to my personal relationship with God and the salvation of my soul. One day, after finishing the Gospel of John I realized that God wanted me to believe on his Son to have eternal life. In a way I had already ‘believed’ in Jesus, but mere intellectual consent was not enough. By God’s grace, I entrusted my soul, my salvation, my eternal destiny in Jesus’ hands. No longer would I do religious works to merit eternal life, or call on the name of Mary to help me obtain salvation. From then on I trusted in Jesus Christ, wholly and completely, relying solely on him for the salvation of my soul.

I lost the argument with my brother, but thank God, I was then won over by my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

RM: But isn’t the Catholic Church founded on Peter? Catholics can trace their church back to the time of Christ. They are rich in history. As for us, Protestants, we just ‘protested’ or got tired of the Roman Catholic Church because we wanted our own thing and interpreted the Bible our own way …

JM: The church is built upon Peter and the other apostles if and when the church is obedient to their teaching in the New Testament. The history of the Roman Catholic Church goes back to the time of the apostles – that’s almost two thousand years; and that’s a very long time for the leaven of false doctrines to infiltrate the system and cause the havoc that it did. The Protestant reformers did not want to start something new, but simply to go back to the teaching and practice of the early apostolic church, free from the burden of human tradition and superstition. Our desire today is much the same, even if we do not conform to the popular religion of our day.

RM: But aren’t Catholics good people? How could one billion Catholics be wrong?

JM:There are ‘good’ Muslims and ‘good’ Hindi and ‘good’ atheists and so on – but that does not make Islam, Hinduism or atheism true. Moreover, one must come to realize that he or she is not ‘good’ – God alone is good. It is only after admitting that I was not good, indeed that I am a sinner, that I begun to feel the need to come to Christ for salvation. Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners; he will not save ‘good’ people.

Moreover, truth is not determined by numbers or the majority vote. A million Muslims could be, and indeed are wrong in their denial of the blessed Trinity. The great majority of the people in Jesus’ days thought that he deserved to be crucified. He alone was right; all the rest were miserably wrong. A million Catholics believe that they ought to merit the graces to obtain eternal life, as they have been taught; but that does not change the biblical truth that eternal life is a free gift and that salvation is received by faith and not obtained by our works.

RM: Was it difficult for you to leave the Catholic Church? How did your family react? How about your brother?

JM: It was not easy to leave the church I had grown in, and even now, I still cherish the good things I received from the church, not least the Bible, the creeds, the knowledge of God and Christian ethics.

For me Catholicism was more than a religion, it was a way of life. So leaving Catholicism was like stepping out of a cultural and social nest into the unknown. Yet I was constrained by my conscience to take the painful decision. Soon after my conversion, I was listening to the sermon during Sunday Mass. The priest was speaking about the importance of good works to merit salvation. I did not know much of the Scripture at that time, but I knew Ephesians 2:8, 9. I turned to my friend and said, ‘Have you heard what he just said about meriting salvation by our works? The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith, and not of our works!’ When I left Mass that day, I had left the Catholic Church for good.

My parents tried to force me to go back to Mass, but I was resolute, and I respectfully refused to act against my conscience. Eventually they too trusted in Christ for salvation! My brother, well, I guess he was happy to see me turn to Christ for salvation. His prayers, and the prayers of many others, were answered.

RM: Will a Catholic still find salvation in the Catholic system?

JM: No, salvation is not found in any system, Catholic or otherwise, but in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. My hope and prayer is that despite the many errors of Catholicism, some, or perhaps many Roman Catholics, are given the gift of faith by God to entrust their soul in Jesus’ care, even though they remain entrapped in the system.

RM: There is a sort of revival, the charismatic movement, in the Catholic Church. What can you say about this group? Some claims that they are born again and saved by faith. Do they need to separate themselves to Roman Catholic Church?

JM: Again I sincerely hope that there are many true believers in the Catholic renewal, and in other Catholic groups, that have come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Whether they should come of the Roman Catholic Church is an entirely different issue. If they claim to be saved by grace through faith apart from the merits of their works, as the Bible teaches, it is inconsistent for them to remain faithful members of an institution that denies this blessed truth.

RM: What’s the difference with Joe the Catholic and Joe saved biblically?

Both are undeserving sinners; the first tried to make up for his sins by doing penance and to merit eternal life by his works; the other despaired of himself and trusted himself wholly in the loving hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first worked to be loved by God, the second works even harder and cheerfully because his heart is full of gratitude for the infinite love of God.

RM: Thanks Joe, now please tell us about your family, your profession and your Internet ministry.

JM: I am married to a wonderful woman, Joanne … she’s God’s special gift to me; I don’t know what I would do without her. We have a precious son, John, and he’s quite a character! A few weeks ago we were sitting at table with the grandparents, and as we bowed our head in prayer before dinner, John also eagerly bowed his head … right down into the spaghetti. When we said ‘Amen’ his nose and face were covered with tomato sauce. We laughed, and I think that Jesus also smiled in heaven.

As a pediatrician, I simply love working with children. There are moments of joy and moments of profound sadness, especially when a baby or a child dies.

As for my website, ‘Just for Catholics’, it is my gift to the people I am indebted so much. My purpose is certainly not take away their faith, but that they may purify it from the dross of human tradition, that they may entrust themselves wholly in the hands of Christ the Lord and enjoy the abundant life that he freely gives. I invite your readers to take a look at the website for themselves.