Monday, August 29, 2011

My Reflection on 1 Corinthians

If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.(1 Corinthians 13:1)

Upon reading 1 Corinthians, I could not escape my thought on one of the most famous and the greatest passage Paul ever penned – Chapter 13 also called as ‘The Love Chapter’. Just like the church in ancient Corinth which facing many difficult issues; our church today especially and even many Christians generally facing the same core problem; the failure to love.

In our culture love is usually defined in romantic or sentimental terms. Love songs in our modern day topped the top 10 of billboard charts. Most music, poets, arts or any other means of media suggest that love is a mere feeling. But according to the Bible, love is indeed a feeling, but it is more than that. It is a commitment to someone. It is not dependent on warm ‘fuzzy’ feeling but on a consistent and sacrificial decision to extend oneself for the well-being of another.

I remember the life of Jesus throughout the Gospels; He perfectly demonstrated God’s unconditional love for us when He made the loving commitment to lay down His life to save us from our sins. Paul writes,
 How we thank God,
who gives us victory over sin and death
through Jesus Christ our Lord!

With this in mind, I’m free to love one another in the Body of Christ because God had demonstrated His unconditional love through His one and only Son on the cross. Thus, I’m able to express my gratitude toward Him through my work in the Church or everywhere else and to resolve any conflicts and problems with love. Paul continued, 

 So, my dear brothers and sisters,
be strong and steady,
always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work,
for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless
.” (15:58)

In summary, the many problems in our lives (not just in the Church settings) will be resolved as we submit properly to the lordship of Christ and learn to love one another genuinely. And that’s why Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit concluded The Love Chapter with this sentence,
 … and the greatest of these is love.” (13:13)

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 20: The Chief End of Prayer

I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:12-13KJV)

The chief end, the aim, the very soul and life of our prayer is so ‘that the Father may be glorified in the Son”; “… that the Father’s Glory will be shown through the Son” (TEV); “… so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”(NIV) It was Jesus’ goal when he prayed, “Father glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee. I have glorified Thee on earth: glorify me with Thyself.” (John 17:1, 4)

When we pray in Jesus’ name, He will do what we ask for, so that by answering our prayers, the Father will be glorified. Now wait, I’m not suggesting that whoever pray in His name, God will answer it. No, I got to be careful now. You see, it is obvious that this promise is for His disciples not just anyone. It was and is for those who knew Him. And to know Him is to receive Him as Lord and Savior. When His life is our life, the presence and rule of the Lord Jesus in our heart can cast out all our self-glorifying life and replacing it with His own God-glorifying life and Spirit.

By our own effort, we cannot attain a life that Glorified God. Have you heard someone says, ‘Nobody is perfect’ before? Well, it’s true! Rock group Simple Plan highlighted it really clear in their hits song, “I’m not perfect”. But the Bible on the other hand highlighted a Person that is perfect in all His way – Jesus Christ. It is only in the God-man Jesus Christ that such a life can be found. With His Spirit in us that longs to glorify the Father, will teach us to live and to pray to the glory of God…And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Dear students in the School of Prayer, is the Glory of God is your object of prayer? Are self-interest and self-will the highest priority that urging you to pray? Andrew Murray writes, “God cannot be glorified when that glory is not the object of our prayers.” As I examine my own prayer life, I had discovered that the Glory of God is not my chief end of prayer. I learned to confess my ignorance and by the grace of God, He teaches me to obey His Word. Readers, obedience will please the Father. As you obey Him, the Holy Spirit within us will assure us that we are living for God and His glory. By having a personal relationship with the Lord, you’ll discover about his character and purpose, thus, your prayer will never be the same and your focus would be nothing more nothing less but for the Glory of God!

In conclusion; when you pray makes your chief end is to Glorify God. Remember, Jesus promise that “whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

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Week 58: Celebration! Come, let's us Celebrate!

Modern man has been pressed so hard towards useful work and rational calculation he has all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration…” (Harvey Cox)

The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot!” (Augustine of Hippo)

[In search for materials and quotes for me to write today Weekly Motivation article, knowing that some of my readers are from multiple religion background, I couldn’t help but to express the subject of ‘Celebration’ in a Christian context. For celebration is the sheer evidence of Christ.]

God celebrates. After all, he invented delight, joy and celebration. J.P. Jacks once said, “Christianity is the most encouraging, the most joyous… while it has its sorrows and stern disciplines, the end of it is a resurrection, not burial – a festival, not a funeral.” Celebration can enlarge our capacity to enjoy and serve God. Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong. “And joy”, as Hannah Whitall Smith wrote in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, “comes through obedience to Christ and joy results from obedience to Christ. Without obedience joy is hallow and artificial”. Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian!

God celebrates. He even instructs his people in the Old Testament to gather together three times a year to celebrate the goodness of God. When the people had completed the task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, Nehemiah stood up and said, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gift of food with people who have nothing to prepare.” (Nehemiah 8:10NLT) The New Testament also filled with events of celebrations; the choir of angels sings praises to God on the day Jesus was born, Jesus and His disciples went to wedding party (John 2), and even Paul and Silas celebrates God’s goodness in prison! (Acts 16)

God celebrates. I’m sick of a long face, gloomy, unhappy, and joyless Christians! (I’m sick of it!) if anything that a Christian should be is to be as happy as possible. Richard Foster observed, “If we think we will have joy only by praying and singing psalms, we will be disillusioned. But if we fill our lives with simple good things and constantly thank God for them, we will be joyful, that is, full of joy.” Hey people, go and celebrate! Celebration saves us from taking ourselves too seriously. Celebration is an effective antidote for sadness and oppressed heart. Joy begets joy, laughter begets laughter and celebration begets more celebration!

Here are 5 practical practices of the Discipline of Celebration suggested by Richard Foster in his all-time classic book Celebration of Discipline (explanations mine):

1.     Celebration through singing, dancing, shouting.
We are free to express our gratefulness and joy in the goodness of God with everything we have. Sing at the top of your lung, dance till the floor get dirt and shout like a care-free child. There’s a time for everything – to mourn and to celebrate. And when it comes to celebrate why not celebrate wholeheartedly!

2.     Laughing
My friend Donna warned me once, “I can laugh very loud ya know” during our dinner together. I replied, “That’s great”. For what is the best way to celebrate if it not with laughter!

3.     Accent the creative gifts of fantasy and imagination
Creative fantasy and imagination can bring a great joy as we observe and enjoy on it. It could be in the forms of video games, paintings, playing music, plays etc. Let’s play, sing, laugh and have some fun together!

4.     Make family events into times of celebration and thanksgiving.
This is important. Family is the best place for us to practice the discipline of celebration. It is on the top of my lists to at least bring my family out for dinner together once per month to celebrate my monthly salary – to celebrate God’s provision.

5.     Take advantage of the festivals of our culture and really celebrate.
This is rather easy to explain. Our calendar is full with celebrations. And the good news is you don’t have to spend too much money and energy to celebrate one, all you have to have is a passionate pleasure in God and joyful heart to love one another.

God celebrates. Life is short, full of difficulties and challenges. When there are opportunities to celebrate celebrate. When it’s time to celebrate – celebrate. Hear ye Christians, celebrate for what the Lord have done. Celebrate in the spirit of worship, praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Celebrate for it is the sign that we are really living in God’s wonderful love, and that love satisfies us. Come, let’s us celebrate!


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Woman's Day: Greeting with Amazement in my Mind

Wanna try new fashion? Chest-up, chin-up, smile-up… walk-up to the crowd with confidence to dress up your womanhood… have a fabulous Woman’s Day.” (Greetings from Priscilla Andrew, Being a Woman)

I was sitting somewhere at the corner outside my uncle’s house trying to avoid tuak* and heavy smoke during our family gathering last years. I saw my mother and her cute old sisters from afar handling naughty children, hundreds of kitchen duties, taking care of demanding husband, and many more. Now, if you were asking me back then a question such as;
Richard, tell me, who in the world that can do job involves taste, fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, romance, cuisine, designing, literature, medicine, handicraft, community relations, entertainment, maintenance, purchasing, direct mail, law, accounting, religion, energy, and management?
I would look you in the eyes and say, “Only woman can!” Period.

Anyone who can handle all those super-multitask has to be somebody special. I mean, she is. She is a woman! Your mother or sisters or grandmothers could be our most held dear in our heart. They influence us. They lead us. They empowered us. Yes, to all of these crazy stuffs – only woman can do. Thank you, without you, woman; the world might fall apart much faster. We love you very much!

If you’re a girl, grow up (not just grow old) to be a woman that honors God. If you’re a woman, fall in love with the Lord over and over again. If you’re a boy, respects women around you. If you’re a man, well, love your woman. [P.s: guys, here is something extra points that you need to know about woman];

In her childhood, a woman wants love and protection.
In her teen years, a woman wants excitement.
In her 20s, a woman wants romance.
In her 30s, a woman wants appreciation.
In her 40s, a woman wants sympathy.
In her 50s, a woman wants cash! (Note it down!)

Happy Woman’s day to all Malaysian’s women especially and to all women around the world generally. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, you’re always be someone special in our lives. Thank you, may God bless you.

Happy Woman’s day!

*tuak is Iban’s traditional rice wine, capable to make you drunk and increases your English speaking skill!
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where is God when I need Him most?

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

It has been said that the Christian life is certainly not a bed of roses, but actually it is, because, when one lies on a bed of roses, there is not only the fragrance of the roses which arises but also there are the thorns. And that thorns my brothers and sisters, is probably where are you lying on right now.
You see… nobody really know what actually happened to you all this while, because you looked normal happy-go-lucky in the public but as you lying on your bed – you’re reloaded with troubles and problems that had been haunted you for so long or it might be just a recent events. You’re on the ‘deep waters’, ‘rivers of difficulty’ and at ‘the fire of oppression’. You’re struggling with an issue that is beyond your control… perhaps, mind you; you’re struggling with the death of your loved one or broken home or someone has broken your trust etc.
At this rate, things are going real bad, you wonder like every human being does at one point of their life asking, where is God when I need him most?

In the verse quoted above, God assured us that He is always be right beside you. He promises to every faithful believer that ‘I will be with you’, ‘you will not drown’, ‘you will not be burned out’ and ‘flame will not consume you’. God is there when you’re in trouble. He has the power and desire to help you. Where is God when you need him most? He is right beside you.

But you got to understand; He starts with ‘when you go through…’ not ‘If you go through…’ In this life God doesn’t promise to save you from trouble. In fact, the verse above assures you that ‘when you go through’ trouble, which it will come to you anyway as long as you are living in this fallen sinful world – He promises those who have faith in Him, “I will be with you.”

Ronald A. Beers wisely said, “God isn’t like the genie in a bottle, granting your every wish; if he were, you would follow him for the wrong reasons, and your faith will never grow. Instead of preventing or removing the hard times, God helps you through them. He promises to give you wisdom to cope, strength to endure, and discernment to deal with and overcome adversity.” Dear brothers and sisters, with all the strength that you have left… with ever breath that you have, be in one voice with the Psalmist saying,
I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more.” (Psalm 71:14)

THINK BIG Do not be ashamed of asking ‘where is God when I need him most?’ – That’s human! Do not be surprised if the Lord says ‘I will be with you’ – That’s God!
START SMALL Obey, surrender, and trust Him
GO DEEP If you only know that it is through God’s help today that you will learn to rely on Him in the future.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“You know how to undress yourself"

As I searched for stories on my notebook, I came across to one of the finest piece that has a great example on this truth; people need people. William C. Schutz told a story; 

Laurie was about three when she requested my aid in getting undressed. I was downstairs and she was upstairs. “You know how to undress yourself,” I reminded her.
Yes,” she explained, “but sometimes people need people anyway, even if they know how to do things for themselves.”
As I slowly lowered the newspaper, a strong feeling came over me, a mixture of delight, anger, and pride; delight in the realization that what I had just heard had crystallized many stray thoughts on interpersonal behavior; anger because Laurie stated so effortlessly what I had been struggling with for months; and pride because, after all, she is my daughter.

Have you experienced that kind of experience before? I had. My ex-girlfriend wanted me to choose a dress for her. I thought, ‘Can she choose it for herself! After all, she’s the one who’s using it!’ My mother asked me to pick up a bottle of tomato ketchup. I mumbled in my mind, ‘What? It just 3cm away from her hand… beyond her reached!’ But only later after I learned to be more sensitive with others, I realize that people (ex-girlfriend and mother) need people (me) even if they can and know how to do things for themselves.

Your parents wish you to be there during dinner time, even if they can proceed without your physical presence. Your little brother wants to play video games with you even though he can play single games alone (and win the game!). Your sister need you to be there for her birthday party even if she know that you don’t like to mix around with strangers and all… hey, people need people… and somewhere, someone need you. 

Is there anyone that you may want to help, to be there, to stay with, to have fun together, to share tears from night till morning (alright, that’s too much!), to keep warm, to do crazy things together, and to spend money and time with? If there is any of the above, maybe you might want to consider doing it… remember, people need people. If Jesus was physically here, I know exactly where He gonna be most of the time – with people.


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