Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tested by Fire but still Alive

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me;
it has hands, it lays hold of me
.” (Martin Luther)

Suppose there was a man who had lived on earth for 1,900 years, that this man had often been thrown into the sea and yet could not be drowned; that he had frequently been cast before wild beasts who were unable to devour him; that he had many times been made to drink deadly poisons which never did him any harm; that he had often been bound with iron chains and locked in prison dungeons, yet he had always been able to throw off the chains and escape from his captivity; that he had repeatedly been hanged until his enemies thought him dead, yet when his body was cut down he sprang to his feet and walked away as though nothing had happened; that hundreds of times he had been burned at stake until there seemed to be nothing left of him, yet as soon as the fires were out he leaped up from the ashes as well and vigorous as ever – but we need not expand this idea any further; such a man would be superhuman, a miracle of miracles. Yet this is the story of the Bible. And all because God declared that His Word should abide forever.
[Quote from: Roy B. Zuck’s The Speaker’s Quote Book.]

The Bible is the mind of God. To read the Book is to read God. But you see the Book is not primary, God is. The Book is about the Author – His mind, His Doing, His plans, His promises. Just like when I write these words, my thoughts first ‘speaking’ while my hand typing letters. It was so with God. He speaks, then He ‘writes’. Thus, when you speak the Word He 'writes', the Word speaks to you. He was spoken before, He is still speaking today. Yes, today…

Know it in your mind
Store it in your heart.
Show it in your life,
Share it to the world.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Again I say, Read His Word!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17NIV)

I read an interesting story from Our Daily Bread devotional booklet one evening: an elderly man who had never gone to school decided he wanted to learn how to read. His greatest desire was to read the Bible so that God could speak to him through His Word. But learning to read wasn’t easy. Just becoming familiar with the alphabet was hard work. For several years this dedicated Christian kept at it. Finally, he was able to read – a little at first and eventually the entire New Testament. A few days after he had finished the last book of the Bible, he stopped by to talk with a friend. With tears in his eyes, he said,
It was worth all that effort just to be able to read John 3:16.”

Do you want to know what does John 3:16 read? It says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” You might never know about this verse if it’s not because of someone or you yourself had dig through the Bible and read it. Would you pick up a Bible today and read it? Read and study it? Read and practice it? Read and believe it?

Oh what a joy for those who can read and read His Word! Oh may you not treat His Word like a birthday cake for special occasions of need only, but may the Bible be your Bread for Daily use. Read His Word – today. Again I say it to you: Read His Word!

THINK BIG God has written the Bible for everyone to read.
START SMALL Make a journey of reading as a discovery
to see what God is saying to you right now.
GO DEEP The Bible is Living, because the author is the Living God. Read His Word.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week 75: Church - Why Bother?

In the Beginning…
Pic: Not my Church~
I grew up in a small village where everyone know who’s who and where’s where. During those days, there are only two landmarks to define our place; Balai Raya Kampung Stampin Iban (Community hall) and St. Margaret chapel. When I was a kid, attended services every Sunday was not an option, but rather it’s a must. There were distractions here and there such as Dragon Ball TV series showing on Sunday morning, football matches between villages just about 10 meters from church, friend’s invitation to explored new places in the jungle for fishing etc. so sometime I didn’t show up at least once per month, but most of the time – I’m a ‘faithful’ churchgoer.


Lukewarm
As I grew a little bit older, I soon realized that going to church is more than praying together, tithing some money, getting baptize, memorize the Lord’s Prayer, singing hymns, shaking people’s hands, checking on girls, bragging new clothes, making sacrifices (reluctantly skipped watching Dragon Ball, Football match, fishing etc.), same old weekly routine and being a good person on Sunday – it’s about being faithful with others to worship God in one building. Well, almost correct, still shallow but that was what I believed.
Since then, my church-relationship was having its ups and downs. But overall, I still considered myself as ‘faithful’ to the church until…

Unchurch
There were period of time when I honestly examined my love-hate relationship with the Church that I simply felt that I’m get nothing out of it. Wasting my time, burn out my soul, and disappointed me a lots. First and foremost barrier that I encounter was hypocrisy! People dressed up holily, masked with smiling face, holding (not reading) the Bible ticker than my mathematics text book, sing songs loudly proudly only, gossip-free for the first few hours… you know what I mean, don’t you? Like every serious believers who for the first time expect a perfect church, with a perfect congregations and shepherded by perfect ministers – will soon drifted away from church and thought that ‘I can’t get nothing out of it’, therefore, decided not to come to church anymore. Perhaps you were like me. Perhaps you are like I was. Perhaps you’re just disappointed with church.
Come, let’s be honest. Come, let’s be open. Come, read some more…

Rechurch
As time goes by, my understanding on the important of church have increases (not complete). I was giving up but the Lord standing up. I disappointed with church’s ways but the Lord point me to just one way – Jesus Christ, God’s Son. I learned to not be faithful with the church, but rather, the right thing do is to be faithful with the God of the church. I re-realized that even though God lives in the heart of every believer, he also lives within the community of the church – even stronger, ever present among us (see Matthew 18:20). Just as being present at a live concert makes it much more exciting, participating with other believers in worshipping God makes it much more meaningful.

When I recalled back my ‘prejudice’ against church, I finds that I was so judgmental toward others and in the imperfections of it I tend to forget that I myself is not perfect, a forgiven sinner, and my love for God was shallow - close to superficial. I was failed to delight in the present of the Perfect God who choose the imperfect church govern by men; sinners saved like me by God’s grace through faith in Him alone. Today however, I can’t find anywhere else as close to satisfy as in the church in my communion fellowship with God and others. The psalmist writes, “The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” (27:4NLT)

Learn to Love
One particular book that I would recommend to you (if you ask) to rekindle your passion for God by experience Him in the church is by Philip Yancey, Church: Why Bother? My Personal Pilgrimage (this is where I got my title). In this Growing Deeper series, he shares his honest, unashamed personal experiences. He has learned 4 helpful perspectives for him to stop merely tolerating the church and instead learn to love it (summaries mine);

·        Looking Up
“I used to approach church with the spirit of a discriminating consumer. I viewed the worship service as a performance. Give me something I like. Entertain me… Church, though, should be the opposite of the theater. In church God is the audience for our worship… We should leave a worship service asking ourselves not “What did I get out of it?” but rather “Was God pleased with what happened?” Now I try to look up in a worship service, to direct my gaze beyond the platform, toward God.”

·        Looking Around
“… I made the mistake of intentionally seeking out churches composed of the people like me. I was looking for a congregation of my educational level, with my biblical background and my taste in hymns and liturgy… Now, I resigned myself to church as a necessary spiritual discipline… give me taste of wide diversity… I deliberately seek a congregation composed of people not like me.”

·        Looking Outward
“…I learned that the mission of the church extends to the needs of its own neighborhood. One of the reasons the congregation of such diversity worked well was that we banded together to reach out to the community around us. Actively serving others causes you to think less about serving yourself.”

·        Looking Inward
“I came to believe, truly believe, that God love me not because I deserve it but because he is God of grace. God’s love comes free of charge, with no strings attached. There is nothing I can do to make God love me more – or less… Now, when I attend church, I look inward and ask God to purge from me the poisons of rivalry and criticism and to fill me with grace. And I seek out churches characterized by a state of grace.”

The Body needs You
With few exceptions of those who misused the authority of the church and perhaps had twisted the Biblical teachings of the Scriptures – most churches or Christian Fellowships as a whole I see it as a place for honest sharing, for encouragement to stay strong in time of temptation and when face with persecution, and for godly counsel to deal with problems in life. Come back to church, will you? Worship God together. Be part of God’s Kingdom on earth. Romans 12: 4-5 says, “Just as one bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body, and we all belong to each other.”
We need Christ, we need each other, and the church needs you because the body of Christ is not complete without you!

THINK BIG. START SMALL.
GO DEEP: LOOKING UP, LOOKING AROUND, LOOKING OUTWARD and LOOKING INWARD.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Ugly Truth about Racism behind the Peaceful Malaysia (and what We Gonna do About it)

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Ugly Truth

I saw a T-shirt that read Racism is so yesterday – I want to believe that, but the truth is; it’s not so yesterday. It’s still very much ‘alive’, ‘breathing’ and grows ‘stronger’ today as it ever was. Racism is a global issue. When I write global, first come to mind is Malaysia. In fact, as a Malaysian myself, I experienced racism firsthand. The ugly truth of racism behind our ‘peaceful’ nation is like the unseen termites behind a wonderful majestic wooden door. Behind the government-promoted façade of unity and peace, racism runs deep in our multi-ethnics nation – some might not agree with me, but you know it’s real.

You know because you and me are racist once in a while, if not – most of the time. Why do dare I say that? Well, try to answer these questions: When is the last time you hang around with someone from a different race intentionally? Which shop would you normally go for lunch or dinner if you want to eat outside? If you want to help a poor family, to whom will you give first? Lastly, when someone ask you who you are, what is your answer; Malaysian or proudly verbalize your ethnicity?

Ugly Facts
Merdeka Center for Opinion Research had asked 1013  randomly selected peninsular Malaysian voters aged 21+ via telephone for their independent survey had revealed staggering facts about racial issue;
·    Only 39% identified themselves as Malaysian, 41% as follower of a religion and 15% as member of ethnic group. (pg 6)
·    A plurality felt that ethnic unity (perpaduan kaum) was superficial. Only about 1/3 felt that ethnic unity in Malaysia was sincere & friendly. 44% thought it was just superficial unity. (pg 10)
·    In 2011, the survey find that 57% of Malays, 58% of Chinese and 39% of Indians agreed that “in general, most of the Malays are lazy”(pg 35)
·    68% of Malays, 50% of Chinese and 59% of Indians agreed that “in general, most of the Chinese are greedy”.
·    63% of Malays, 49% of Chinese and 36% of Indians agreed that “in general, most of the Indians cannot be trusted”.
·    Positively in 2011, 84% have friends from other races but sadly 16% who do not are those who lived in neighborhood with one dominant ethnic group (pg 50).
·    55% says ‘Racial and Religious issues are very sensitive, therefore we cannot discuss it’ (pg 58)

Live Peacefully but Separately
A. Sivanesan, a senior leader of the opposition Democratic Action Party said, “The survey’s findings might be a bitter pill to swallow, but it tells us who we really are behind the façade we show the world.” You who are not Malay or Chinese or Indian – do not laugh! You who thought that there is no such thing as racism in Sabah & Sarawak (East Malaysia) – do not be too confident! We who are the ‘others’ are very much racist within our own communities. If there is such survey ever taken, we, the ‘others’, would be utterly ashamed to our grave! We live peacefully but separately.

After independence, our history in general shows that we are further away from knowing each other than we were started. Now we begin to have separate schools, separate friends and separate lives. Until we see the seriousness of racism in our society, we soon realized that racism is the poison behind the silky snake. By writing this, I don’t seek for agreement but I just want to simply lay the ugly fact of our internal, unseen condition of racism in our country: we live peacefully but separately – slowly.

Time to Build Bridges is - NOW!
Thus, when is the best time for us to build bridges of reconciliation in the midst of our invisible walls of prejudice and racism if it’s not now? Yes, we start now! Be an agents of transformation and reconciliation in the community God had place you. Identity your prejudices, that invincible walls such as thinking your own race is superior than other, making racial jokes and not sensitive toward others etc. then break down these ‘walls’ starting now. In term of your relationship with others; encourage those who make racist comments around you to stop and don't be friends with people that disrespect other races. In term of your communications; try not to refer another race with pronouns like: "them," "they," or "it” and avoid using funny slang terms to disgracing other races.

Hey! Lay down ‘bricks’ of forgiveness, kindness, caring, healing, friendship, brotherhood, love etc. one by one. Take initiative to encourage yourself, your family and friends to respect, understand and learning about other races or cultures. If you have any arguments or problems with others (which you probably will at this part of the world) treat that someone as a person rather than as someone from different race. Yes, lay these 'bricks' one by one. Cement it with time and patience.
Hear this my fellow Malaysians… we should be building bridges, not walls. Oh, “let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation (Malaysia) with all their scintillating beauty.”

Breakdown the walls and start build bridges!
THINK BIG.START SMALL.GO DEEP.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Every Moment, Thank God

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name
.” (Psalms 100:4KJV)

Get on your knees and thank God you’re on your feet.” (Irish proverb)

There is a legend of a man who found the barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart, and on finding the seeds of discouragement more numerous than others, learned that those seeds could be made to grow almost anywhere. When Satan was questioned he reluctantly admitted that there was one place in which he could never get them to thrive.
And where is that?” asked the man.
Satan replied sadly, “In the heart of a grateful man.”

This is a legend, but Satan is not – he’s real! And he works overtime 24-7 to get us discourage throughout our lives. [On the other hand: Be careful of quick-easy-scheme of instant promises of happiness that begin with superficial encouragements without deep examine of the heart.] This story probably never happened but its gem of truth is real: that the seed of discouragement couldn’t grow in the heart of a grateful man.Gratitude,” writes Melody Beattie “unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Here is our object of gratefulness: God. Here is why we should be grateful: God. Here is our enjoyment with which our soul can be satisfied: God. Don’t be grateful for something, but be grateful to someone, mainly God, for the blessings you are given. Yes, even for the blessings to come! Gratefulness for something doesn’t satisfy the heart – no! Car will rust, food will rotten, house will collapse, youthfulness not forever – be grateful, express your gratitude instead to some-One whom can makes your heart full, satisfied, and contented. Be grateful!

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
Happy moments, praise God
Difficult moments, seek God
Quiet moments, worship God
Painful moments, trust God
Every moment, thank God


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Monday, January 23, 2012

"Enoch walked with God" (Genesis 5:24)

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more,
because God took him away
.” (Genesis 5:24)

Yawn No More
I believe, by my own experience of course, that most want-to-read-Bible readers will find that the long lists of names of genealogies wills somewhat makes they want to yawn at every letters. Reading through Genesis 5 was like that for me… well, not until my sight landed on Genesis 5:21-24. My black coffee almost finished and my yawn stopped as I read;
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah; Enoch walked with God 300 years and had another sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”

What in the world happened?
What in the world happened? What is this? Enoch born at verse 18, Enoch became a father at verse 21, Enoch lived for 365 years in between of verse 22 and 23, and Enoch was ‘no more’ or ‘disappeared’ (NLT) or “was not” (KJV) or “simply gone” (MSG) – what in the world happened? So my eyes scanning around the chapter, but all I can find is another story, “When Methuselah had lived…”(v.25). No sequel. No follow up. No more. Just that, ‘he was no more’… what happened?

Why? How?
Many centuries later, the unknown writer of the Book of Hebrews explained Enoch’s mystery of ‘disappearance’; “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5) No from outer space alien adoption, no deep magic involved, it was plain – it was God who ‘took him away’ (Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5) God didn’t use conventional means – death – to take him. He was simply gone: God took him. Why? Because God was pleased with him. And how Enoch pleased God? By faith in God; Enoch believe that God exists and he earnestly seeks Him. (Hebrews 11:6) God must be very please with Enoch, his faith in Him, that He just ‘took him away’ without him endure illness or death.  

From Genesis to Today
Enoch was very difference from us yet he was somewhat very similar to us. Basically, he had sons and daughters. He was a family man. He had wife and home. He works for living, perhaps he might be a farmer or a carpenter… Okays my point is he had some kind of occupation like most of us have. He lived a life not much different from us; children bad behavior, wife complaints, pressure from work, struggle with his relationship with others etc. yet… YET he still when through it all while walking in close fellowship with God. [Oh I (we) have no excuses!] There is a difference between walking with God and merely living. The key word here is walking. In the book Saints & Scoundrels of the Bible, the authors write,
Walking is a step-by-step process toward a destination. Each step matters. Each step moves us forward. Each step is intentional. Each step is a choice. If we want to have close fellowship with God, we must take each ‘step’ in our lives – each action, each choice, each decision, each thought – with the constant desire to please God.”

Continue Our Walks with God
Enoch did it for 365 years. Now we not gonna lives that long, right? But since Enoch was a mere human being, expose to temptations, weak and helpless as we are, but put right with God, pleasing to Him simply because of his genuine faith in God and continue walks with Him – do you thing that pleasing God through our faith in Christ today is unachievable? It is achievable, not by works but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that is God made visible for us today. The scripture says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The word ‘believe’ is not a onetime event but a continuous one. It means ‘to have faith’, ‘to entrust’, ‘put entrust with’. It means to continue to believe, trust in God. And to continue to believe you must continue your walk with Jesus.

What would it take for us to walk with God today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reflection on 1 Samuel 3:9 - "Speak, Lord..."

Speak, Lord.  I am your servant and I am listening.” (I Samuel 3:9)

At verse above, Samuel was young and didn’t know who the Lord was. God called him 3 times before Eli, his father, the priest, perceived that it was the Lord who was speaking to Samuel. Samuel just couldn’t recognize whose the voice was, but his father told him that it was the Lord. So he listened… he listened.

Samuel had a sensitive spirit and was willing to listen and obey. We, too, need to have sensitive spirits, willing to listen and obey. We need to remain in-tune with God. He speaks through His Word, the Bible, do you hear it? He speaks through His servants, can you heed it? He even speaks through events of your life, can you notice it? Max Lucado writes, “We expect God to speak through peace, but sometimes he speaks through pain… We think we hear him in the sunrise, but he is also heard in the darkness. We listen for him in triumph, but he speaks even more distinctly through tragedy.

If you are still unsure of what God wants to tell you - 'Ask'. He will show you. Don't think God hasn't got anything to say for you; to listen and obey. Pray that God will direct you and show you his plan for your life. He will begin to open doors. Watch and see what the Lord will do - when we heed His call. Come, and say it together with young Samuel;
Speak, Lord. I am your servant and I am listening.” 

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
............................................
Happy Chinese New Year, my friends! In the midst of firecrackers, family’s chatters and dragon’s roaring… may you listen to the Lord, the High Supreme God (true ‘Shang Ti’) as He speaks to you today. So listen and obey.

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God’s Answers are Wiser than Our Prayers

Keep praying, and be thankful that God’s answers are wiser
than your prayers
!” (William Culbertson)

Much that perplexes us in our Christian experience is but the answer to our own prayers. We pray for patience and God sends us tribulation, for tribulation works patience (Romans 5:3-5). We pray for submission and God sends suffering, for we learn obedience by the things we suffer (Hebrews 5:8) We pray for selfishness and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice ourselves by thinking of the need of others (Philippians 2:4) . We pray for victory and the things of the world swoop down on us in a storm of temptation, for this is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). We pray for strength and humility and some messenger of Satan torments us until we cry for its removal (2 Corinthians 12:7). We pray for love and God sends suffering and puts us with unlovely people and lets them say things that fray the nerves, for love suffers long and is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

A test of faith is whether you are surprised when your prayers are answered – maybe not according to your ways… not instant or might be difference. Well, God knows best and God’s way is always the best way!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

[Reference: The Vance Havner Quote Book by Dennis J. Hester]
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Friday, January 20, 2012

A Concern Letter to ‘Children of God’ (to Believe and Live)

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God
.” (John 1:12NIV)

Dear children of God,

Introduction
There are times when I feel uneasy whenever I heard people claiming themselves as children of God. Not because I doubt that God won’t accept ‘those who believe’ but I wonder do the claimers know what it means ‘to become children of God’ and to live as one. There is this fire of concern-holy anger-love whenever I heard or read someone proclaimed proudly without ashamed of their present conscious acts of sinful lifestyle that he or she is ‘children of God’ and live contrast to what God required from His children. [P.s: I’m aware that by saying this, I might not get much invitation to speak in the nearest future.]
Therefore, I’m prompted to write this letter…

Become children of God
As a child of God, you receive God’s gift of everlasting life. God is with you now and forever. The words ‘he [God] gave the right’ mean that God is the Giver and the Initiator in our relationship with Him. We ‘who received him [Jesus, God Only Son, who paid the price of our sins on the cross], to those who believed in his name [that by the name of Jesus, God looks upon you as if you never sinned]’ are welcome in God’s family by His grace alone – meaning to say that: We ‘become children of God’ because of the grace of God, the gift of God through His Son, Jesus Christ by faith – if you believe.
 If you believe this, you are now a child of God. God has forgiven all your sin. You are a Christian and that what makes you a member of His family. Welcome, oh you, true children of God.

Live as God’s Child
Now that you are a member of God’s family; you can called Him – ‘Abba Father’. And to identify Him as ‘our Father in heaven’ is to breathe Christ, to imitate Christ and to live as His child. There are 4 essentials on How to Live as God’s Child that I want to share with you in this brief article;

1) Talk to God
Because God is now your heavenly Father, He wants you to talk to Him in prayer. You can tell God how you feel, thank Him, ask Him to help you in your daily life, to give you strength, to guide you and to give Him praise. You can also talk to God when you are sin. [“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” - 1 John 1:9] Pray that God will help you do what He says. God’s child ought to live in prayer.

2) Read God’s Word
God also want to communicate with us through His Word. He wants His children to know about Him and to read about His great love. Reading God’s Word is to listen to God’s spoken. Read the bitter-sweet of God’s Word as a whole (not just 1 Corinthians 13 or John 3:16) and learn who is God daily (I tell you, God is more than ‘Allah itu baik’, ‘dahsyat’, ‘berkuasa’, etc.). Children of God ought to hidden God’s Word in their heart (Psalm 119:11a).

3) Obey God
Your Father wants you to obey Him. He already tells you in His Word how you should live as His children. Jesus summed up God’s law with two commandments; 1) Love God with all that you are, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. Children of God live in obedience not rebellion. God helps us.

4) Tell others about Jesus
Children of God have Good News to share! We are not supposed to ‘hide’ it in the four-walls of our ‘exclusive’ religious club. We are not to be proud as if we become the children of God because of our self-righteousness, but in fact it is because of His grace, God Righteousness – it’s free! We don’t deserve it, yet receive it anyway, so why we ‘hold’ this amazing grace to ourselves or to our own ‘family members’?
Jesus want us, His children to be his witnesses (see Acts 1:8) in the world. Tell others about Jesus and how His love has helped you. God call, but you spread it. God gift, but you share it. Ask God to give you opportunities each day to tell about – and to show – God’s love.

Closing
To call or to proclaim ourselves as God’s Children, we should examine our relationship toward God. Am I right with God? Am I living a prayer life? Do I love to read His Word? Am I an obedience child? Am I eager to share the Good News to others who don’t know Christ? Oh, if you say yes to all of the above… please call yourselves God’s Child – for indeed, the spirit of God is with you because it is He who “gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12NIV)

Peace to you,
Richard AngelusTHINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

God Saved you by His Grace when you Believed


God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9NLT)
I was imagining, while writing this article, suppose one day I sat next to an unbeliever on a train and we begin talking about Christianity, about Jesus Christ and all – about spiritual things. Along the way I had difficulty convincing the unbeliever that character (being good) and human efforts (good works) could not save a man, but justification by grace through faith alone, only through faith in Jesus Christ. I was stuck. He was blurred. Both of our talks went no way. Suddenly in the back of my imagination, the train conductor came along with his puncher and blue cap requesting,
Ticket please!”
As the man that I was talking with presented his ticket, the conductor looked at it, holds it closer to his sleepy-tired-some eyes, checked the date, punched it hard, and passed on to the next seat. ‘This is my opportunity!’ I said to myself.
5 seconds later, I said,
Mister, listen to this; all the conductor looked at was your ticket. He didn’t care much about what your wear or any of your achievements. He didn’t inquire about your character or how many donations you had done. He didn’t care who you were – whether you were a good or moral man or a criminal or a KL gangster. So, it is with salvation. You need only God’s ‘ticket to eternal life’ stamped by the blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross.”
End of my imagination… I’m sure I read the story somewhere…

THINK BIG We are not saved because of our character (being good) and by human efforts (good works) but only by the Grace of God; Grace which God’s special favor is freely given to undeserving people like you and me.
START SMALL After all, we can’t ever be good all the time and did not sin. We can’t measure how much is enough of our good works to save ourselves.[P.s: Genuine faith will always produce growing character in Christ-likeness and external fruit of good works.]
GO DEEP Thus, only Christ is sinless; only Christ is enough; only by His Blood we can be saved. If you believe that we can only be justified by grace (of God) through faith (in Christ) alone, you'll be saved.

God saved you by his grace when you believed.”
Do you believe? Do you want to believe this? May you believe this – take it to heart.
....................
You also might want to read: 
Grace - It's so Amazing

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Week 74: Contribution - Everyone wants to Make a Difference

Each comes to a point of choice in life – a time when each was forced to decide whether he or she was to act upon life by stepping forward and making a contribution, or simply sit back and be acted upon.”
(Stephen R. Covey, Everyday Greatness)

Wants to make a Difference
There are times when you sit down quietly after reflecting certain articles or after reading inspired books or perhaps after you when back from a conference or maybe after you went through certain situations; you stand up, fire up and decided to do something about what you had heard, read, and experienced – you wants to make a difference – a contribution. After I heard about the seriousness of logging activities in our country from my colleague, I decided to practice recycling items and ‘go green’. After I finished reading the Book of James, my heart race for actions and since then with God’s Grace I want to make my faith invincible to others. After I experienced hardship during my college time, I resolve by all means to assist and help students in need.
How about you? What you had heard, read and experienced that ignite your passion for contribution? Have you come to a point when you strive to clarify what you will stand for and what purposes you will choose to pursue? What contributions will you make?

Make Life Worth Living
Everyone wants to make a difference. Everyone wants to contribute. Call it a cause or call it a mission, we want to be part of something meaningful. For the serious one who search for meaning in their life earnestly formed the thoughts and actions around a purpose that makes their life of most worth. You, I’m suppose besides your human limitations and incapability make the most of what you can do best to contribute to the society – if not even to few people around you. Nothing is more meaningful in life than to fight for a cause larger than yourself. Life is worth live, in my opinion, when we choose to slowly shifted our eyes on self (me-me, I-I) onto others. It means, you have to leave your comfort zone and to give up something in order make your life worth living. One of ways (not THE way) is through contribution. Hey, be a contributor rather than a spectator.

What One Person can Do?
We may feel we have nothing to contribute. No money to give, no talents to share, no skills to help, no patience to care, no… bla… bla… bla… are but our excuses. Some are true but it doesn’t have to be final. Hendry Wadsworth Longfellow affirmed, “No man is so poor as to have nothing worth giving: as well might the mountain streamlets say they have nothing to give the sea because they are not rivers. Give what you have. To someone it may be better you dare to think.” Your contribution might be as small as collecting rubbish in your neighborhood’s area etc. but even so, it is worth much more than being in the ‘spectator’ seat. One individual that START SMALL in her contribution to others, especially to the poor that inspired me is Mother Teresa. She once said, “We ourselves feel that what we (referring to Missionaries of Charity) are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” If one individual can make such an impact and slowly draws thousands of people to follow her footsteps since the past decades, what can be more joyful if each one of us contributes to our family, church and society even in the small way?

Use your Uniqueness
What unique about you that you can contribute? You’re good at making music? Crafting arts? Organizing? Writing? Cooking? Speaking? Hey, use your uniqueness to contribute to others. Find one – harness your skills and talents. Sharpen it often and go ‘chopping the trees’. Jacob M. Braude in Braude’s Source Book for Speakers and Writers writes, “Whoever you are, there is some younger person who thinks you are perfect. There is some work that will never be done if you don’t do it. There is someone who would miss you if you were gone. There is a place that you alone can fill.”
What unique about you that you can contribute?

Making your Personal Missions
Contribution is an on-going event, not a one-time event. Thus, you might be so fire up like a hot Starbuck coffee one moment and the next day cold as Nescafe ice blended because you didn’t hold on to something that keeps you going. What I mean is; you have to resolve, to decide, to make it a commitment – for contribution – 'personal constitution' that sustain your desire for contribution to others and society. For closing, I would like to quote St. Francis of Asisi’s prayer in length below as an example of ‘personal constitution’ that may drive your desire to contribute. In the end, contribution is just an act of nothingness if God wasn’t the Master behind our actions and deeds and our divine motivations (I would like to write a separate article on this) Come, let us pray;

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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