Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grow Up in Christ

When I speak of a person growing in grace, I mean simply this – that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, and his spiritual mindedness more marked.” (Bishop J. C. Ryle)

Spiritual growth is like physical growth. Just like baby soon grow up; you start small and grow one day at a time. As you grow, however, you need nourishments. Physically you need breastmilk or infant formula then eventually move up to solid food etc. Spiritually you need ‘nourishment’ by challenging your mind to study God’s Word, ask questions about it, and seek answers through prayer, the counsel of other believers, and life’s experiences. Look at each day as a building block. Embrace each day as the opportunity to learn and grow. When you commit to building a life of godly character one day at a time, you will find yourself growing more and more spiritually mature. Not to perfection, but toward maturity in Christ.

I think it’s appropriate for me to quote this verse, “…let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.” (Hebrews 6:1NLT). Eugene H. Peterson paraphrased it like this: “So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.”(The Message) Yes, start small and grow one day at a time. Yes, become more mature in Christ. Yes, grow up in Christ.

THINK BIG Don’t just grow up physically, grow up also (especially) spiritually.
Read, study and teach God’s Word.
START SMALL You start small and grow one day at a time.
GO DEEP. Become mature in your understanding – Grow up in Christ.
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book for Pilgrimage

He (the Jailer) then brought them out and asked,
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
They (
Peter and Silas) replied,
Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household
(Acts 16:30-31NIV, in brackets mine)

It all starts with John Bunyan’s dream…
“As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.
I looked and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying,
What shall I do?”  (The Pilgrim’s Progress, page 1)

And that’s the beginning of this incredible journey of a lifetime. The Pilgrim’s Progress is an addictive book to read. I asked myself these questions (based on the introductions of this book) as I read this book: Who was this man? Why was he in rags? Why was his back turned to his home? What burden did he carry? What book was in his hands? What in it made him weep and tremble? And why did he cry? I wonder… you might wonder…

The Pilgrim’s Progress is not a devotional classic, it a tale about a man name Christian which we can easily identify with his challenges and difficulties in facing the real world of walking with God and facing temptations that hinders you on your way to this “Celestial City”. It’s a journey. It’s a walk. It’s a pilgrim, of course. And it’s a progress… one step at the time. A process that lighten your ‘great burden’ upon your back; story that leads you to the question of ‘What shall I do?
The Book is his guidance,
The Evangelist is his signboard,
The Lord is his strength.

Maybe you may have a ‘great burden upon’ your back and you ask ‘What shall I do?’ Maybe this book is for you… a manual book for your important journey in life. Probably, the most important journey in your lifetime! Rosalie de Rosset writes this about John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim Progress,
The struggle to live out one’s life in a world unwelcoming to the Christian faith is becoming more and more of a reality. We need the help of a Christian who has been there before us, a Christian who never avoided theology, who loved and knew the word of God, who presented suffering in all its rawness and joy in all its exuberance, who in the midst of failure knew who he was and who he belonged to. “This book,” Bunyan said, “will make a traveler of thee.” And . . . there is wonder in this journey.” 
I say, a journey from death to life.
Come, and sell your iPad if you have to! Skip your dinner or movie's day if you have to!
Search for this book at your local bookstore.
Come and read this book!
Since 3 years ago, and still now: I fully recommend it! 

April 2012 FREE Book
I’m giving away ONLY 3 copies of The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. If you never receive any book from Motivates4Life before, you are welcome to get a copy for yourself. Do these 2 things:
  1. Comment below “Rich, give me one copy___(Your name). I have a great burden upon my back, What should I do?"
  2. E-mail me at or send message to my Facebook your real name, phone no. and your postal address.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Conquer by Continuing

Energy and persistence conquer all things.” (Benjamin Franklin)

The English writer Samuel Crowther once wrote an article in which he examined the traits of many successful people.
The only common trait that can be discovered among them,” he wrote, “has to do with the capacity for sustained work in an emergency. Someone has said that chief difference between a big man and a little man is that the little man quits when he is tired and sleepy, while that is the very time the big man presses on harder than ever.”
Along the same lines, another author wrote, “The longer I live the more deeply I am convinced that the difference between one person and another, between the weak and the powerful, the great and the significant, is energy – invincible determination. This quality will do anything that has to be done in the world; and no talents, no circumstances, no opportunities, will make one a successful person without it.”*

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up, quit too soon (second to this, in my opinion is laziness!). But blessed are those who start from scratch and keep on scratching, who stick to his/her job until it is through, and who always try one more time. The big person presses on harder than ever, don’t give up! They always have the invincible determination; the energy to persevere… just don’t give up! – try, one more time…


*The Speaker's Quote Book: Over 5,000 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions by Roy B. Zuck. Published by Kregel Academic, 2009
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

God can be Trusted

God can be trusted to keep his promise.” (Hebrews 10:23NLT)

Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love,
and the future to His providence
.” (St. Augustine)

A father, seeing 3 small children playing atop a high fence, feared that they would fall; and so he cried,
Come, jump into my arm!”
Two of them promptly did so. The other hesitated. Why did the third react more slowly? The father explained,
The first two obeyed immediately because they were my own children. They knew me and therefore trusted me.”
So, too, those who truly know and love the Lord never resist His good leading.*

God can be trusted because He simply cannot lie or renege on a promise He’s made – it’s impossible. Jesus can be counted on to do what He promise because He is ‘the same yesterday, today and forever.’ (Hebrews 13:8) When he say ‘Come, jump into my arm!’ those who trust in Him should never hesitate – jump! But wait… you got to know Him first. You got to be familiar with His voice (in the midst of many voices), His word (in the midst of many distractions) and His will (in the midst of many empty promises). How? By reading and meditating on the Scripture – obey all that is written in it. Have a personal relationship with Him. Don’t copycat your faith, make it firsthand. Know your Father… know in Whom you trust.

Trust in yourself and you are doomed to disappointment.
Trust in your friends and they will die and leave you.
Trust in your money and you may have it taken from you.
Trust in reputation and some slanderous tongue may blast it.
Trust in God and you will never be confounded in time or eternity.

How can you trust if you don’t know Him? THINK BIG
How can you know Him if you don’t seek Him? START SMALL
Seek Him through the Scripture and call Him in your prayer.
Soon you’ll realize that He’s the One who seek and call you First. GO DEEP

*Story above is taken from The Speaker’s Quote Book ©1997, 2009 by Roy B. Zuck. Published by Kregel Publications.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Friendship behind the Albrecht Durer's 'Praying Hands'

There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother
.” (Proverbs 18:24NLT)

Late in the 15th century, two young woodcarving apprentices in France confided to each other their desire to study painting. But this plan would take money, and both Hans and Albrecht were poor.
'Praying Hands' by
Albrecht Duerer
Finally though, they had a solution. One would work and earn money while other studied. Then, when the lucky one becomes rich and famous, he in turn could help the other. They tossed a coin and Albrecht won.
So while Albrecht went to Venice, Hans worked as a blacksmith. As quickly as he received his wages, he forwarded money to his friend.
The months stretched into years – and at last Albrecht returned to his native land, an independent master. Now it was his turn to help Hans. The two met in joyous reunion, but when Albrecht looked at his friend, tears welled in his eyes. Only then did he discover the extent of Hans’s sacrifice. The many years of heavy labor in the blacksmith shop had calloused and bruised Hans’s sensitive hands. His fingers could never handle a painter’s brush.

In humble gratitude to Hans for his years of sacrifice, the artist, the great Albrecht Durer, painted a portrait of the work worn hands that had labored so faithfully so that he might develop his talent. He presented this painting of praying hands to his devoted friend.
Today this masterpiece, a symbol of friendship and sacrifice, is familiar to millions of people throughout the world. [There are many version of this story, however.] 

This is a story of friendship and sacrifice. It reminds me of a quote, “It costs to be a friend or to have a friend. It not only costs time, affection, patience, love, but sometimes a man must even lay down his life for his friends. There is no true friendship without self-abnegation, self-sacrifice.” (Anonymous) THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Latest Controversy Article: Is the Gift of Tongues for Today?

[This is a personal initiative blog, not under any organization or for gaining profits.]

My Lengthy Introduction                                          
One day I heard a minister said to his hearers, “Today is the day God wants to gives you all the gift of tongues, all of you.” At the hearing to his claimed, my mind race to 1 Corinthians 12 where Apostle Paul writes that not everyone will have the same spiritual gifts but the Spirit, God’s Spirit ‘alone decides which gift each person should have’ (verse 11).

Another time he also said that, “In order to receive the gift of tongue, one should just open their mouth and say something out… let it flow naturally… but just say something… the Holy Spirit will come and filled you” Oh, I couldn’t sit still, I felt something was wrong – I heard this familiar line before. One, when I was still a college student, my senior invites us to pray; “Just says ‘Ra-ba-ba-ba-ba-tu-tu-tu-tu… shi-ki-ra-ba-ba-ba…’…. come repeat after me… oh, I feel the presence of the Lord is here… [bla… bla…]” Again I remember what I have read from Acts 2:4 where the Holy Spirit comes to many believers during the day of Pentecost. First ‘everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit’ then, only then, they ‘begin speaking in other languages (or in other tongues)’, not the other way round. That shocked me up!

Some common lines that had been bordering me regarding of the gift of tongues these day are; “When you pray with your spirit, you do not think of the sounds of the language. Just trust God, but make the sounds when I tell you to.” Or “You don’t even have to think in order to pray in the Spirit.” etc. What makes these statements (including above) are desirable and sound very attractive to some of our curious hearers is that they are using words such as ‘God wants…’, ‘I see the Holy Spirit comes...’, ‘God said to me…’, ‘the Bible says…’ and many more to spread their lies and to promote their godly-appeared-to-be-performances. It scared me sometime, but often than not it arouses my anger when I heard God’s name being misused (Exodus 20:7)!
[P.s: love means hate sin, rebuke error.]

Now, am I against the gift of tongues? No. So, I encourage it? No, not really. Then what am I trying to communicate here? I want you to test the spirit if ‘they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world’ (John 4:1). Don’t just swallow the gum, chew it. Don’t just believe every spirit, test it. John F. MacArthur, Jr. had written a very controversy yet very eye-opening book entitled Charismatic Chaos. I encourage you to read it; especially on the chapter 10: Is the Gift of Tongues for Today? Below are my summaries of this chapter (together with my own personal opinions) regarding on this hot-issue:

The Biblical Gift of Tongues
Tongues are mentioned in 3 books of the Bible: Mark (16:17); Acts (2, 10, 19); and 1 Corinthians (12-14). Let me only focus on 1 Corinthians for this article. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul discussed spiritual gifts in general, how they are received, and how God has ordered the gifts in the church. In 1 Corinthian 14 Paul demonstrated the inferiority of tongues to prophesy. In 1 Corinthians 13 however, Paul affirms the preeminence of love. Verse 13:1 plainly states that miraculous languages without love are nothing. Paul was rebuking the Corinthians for using gift of the Spirit selfishly and without love. They were more interested in inflating their egos or in enjoying a euphoric (or ecstatic) experience than they were in serving one another with the self-sacrificing concern that characterizes agape love. In short, Paul was not condemning the practice itself; he was saying that if the gift of tongues is used in any other way that God intended, without love, it is only noise (‘noisy gong or clanging cymbal’).

Are Tongues a Heavenly Language?
Many believe (misinterpret, as I understand it) that Paul was suggesting that the gift of tongues involves some kind of angelic or heavenly language. [Paul writes, ‘If I could speak…’ (1 Cor. 13:1) not that he could speak in a heavenly language] Most believe that the gift of tongues is a private prayer language, a heavenly language known only to God, celestial speech, or some other kind of unearthly idiom. John MacArthur says that there is no warrant in the Scripture for such a view, and I agree with him. He observed that Paul was speaking theoretically, suggesting that even if those things were true, without love they would be meaningless. Besides, there is no evidence in Scripture that angels use a heavenly language. Whenever angels appear in Scripture, they communicate in normal human language (E.g. Luke 1:11-20, 26-37. In the movies angels may speak strangely, not in the Scripture!).

Then, what kind of language do they speak in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Acts 2? Venture for me to say that they speak in a human language. The Greek word in both places is glossa. In the book of Acts it is clear that the disciples were speaking in real human languages. Acts 2:6 “When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.” ‘Their own languages’ indicates that it is an understandable, real human language. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul writes that the gift of tongues must accompany with the gift of interpretation (verse 4). The gift of interpretation was a supernatural ability to translate a language one had never learned so that other might be edified by the message (verse 5). You cannot translate ecstatic speech or gibberish. Thus, my conclusion would be this: the gift of tongues speaks real, valid human languages, not some kind of angelic speech!

Counterfeit Tongues
This is easy. Clearly, true biblical tongues are not gibberish (or ‘shi-ki-ra-ba-ba-ba’), but languages. What we are hearing today (what I heard in my introduction above); if it is not language, then it is not the biblical gift of tongues. John MacArthur conclude, “If they used tongues that way (he mean ecstatic experience), they would do harm and not good for the cause of Christ.”

The Abuse of Tongues at Corinth
John MacArthur explained that in 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul was criticizing the Corinthians for using their ‘gift of tongues’ to speak to God and not to men: “One who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.” (NASB) Paul’s comment is not suggesting that tongues should be used as a ‘prayer language’; he was using irony, pointing out the futility of speaking in tongues without an interpreter, because only God would know if anything was said. Spiritual gifts were never intended to be used for God’s benefit, or for the benefit of the gifted individual. Peter made that clear in 1 Peter 4:10: “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”
The Corinthians were using tongues to build themselves up in a selfish sense, egocentric and desire to exercise the most spectacular, showy gifts in front of other believers [For more biblical arguments on this topic, please refer to Charismatic Chaos, page 279, 280).  Sadly, the very problem same problems are threatening the church today.

Tongues will Cease
In 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul made an interesting, almost startling, statement: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” (NASB, highlighted mine) “Love never fails” the Greek word translated ‘fails’ means ‘to decay’ or ‘to be abolished’ – thus, Paul was saying that love is eternal, that it will be applicable forever and will never end. Tongues, however, ‘will cease’. The Greek verb used in 1 Corinthians 13:8 (pauo) means ‘to cease permanently’. It implies that when tongues ceased, they would never start up again. “I am convinced by history, theology, and the Bible that,” writes John MacArthur, “tongues ceased in the apostolic age. And when it happened, they terminated altogether.” Here, I have to admit that, in my opinion, tongues is already ceased [I’m ready to be confronted].

A final Outpouring?
Many tongues-teachers nowadays often quote Joel 2:28 to strengthen their claim on the gift of tongues: “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.But if you read the Book of Joel in context, you’ll find that Joel was talking about the event before the final Day of the Lord. God’s Spirit will be poured out in such a way that there will be wonders in the sky, and on the earth – blood, fire, and columns of smoke: “The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.” (2:31) Joel 2 is a kingdom prophecy, which was not completely fulfilled at Pentecost (Act 2) as many people claimed it was, or on any occasion since. It must refer to an era that is still future. [Pentecost was only a partial fulfillment, or better; a preview of the prophecy’s ultimate culmination, not fully realized yet.] Plus, Joel 2:28 don’t mention anything about the gift of tongues!

What kind of Tongues are being Spoken Today?
John MacArthur writes, “Without question, many people who speak in tongues say they find the practice beneficial to one degree or another. But normally – as in the testimonies cited above (page 290) – they are speaking of how it makes them feel or look, not how it helps them be better Christians. Yet improved looks and feelings were never results of the New Testament gift.” I couldn’t agree more!

Then, how can the phenomenon of speaking in tongues (ecstatic experience) be explained today? Among many possibilities, I choose to discuss only 2 of it in this short summary. First possibility is that tongues may be satanic or demonic. [Note the words ‘may be’] Throughout the Bible, Satan often the force behind phenomena that pass as gifts of the spirit. After all, he is behind every false religion (1 Cor. 10:20), and he specializes in counterfeiting truth (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Many in the church these days are susceptible to this lies: “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.” (I Timothy 4:1) Second possibility is that tongues is a learned behavior. Most tongues-teachers I know personally encourage people to getting them to shout prayers and praise emotionally. They also suggest some sample syllables (e.g.‘shi-ki-ra-ba-ba-ba’) to prime the pump; and they encourage people to repeat ‘funny little sounds’. That’s clearly not how a spontaneous gift operates; it is something almost anyone can learn to do. It is striking that many of the many tongues-teachers use the same terms and sounds. They all speak essentially the same way.

But Why are Tongues so Popular?
Very boldly, John MacArthur said that the tongues being spoken today are not biblical and those who speak in tongues are not practicing the gift described in Scripture. He further explained,
Then why do so many pursue this practice with such fervor? Then why do they (tongues teachers and writes) seek to convince and intimidate others to start doing the same thing? A basic reason is spiritual hunger. People hear that tongues is a way to have a wonderful spiritual experience… they fear… missing something… they want ‘something more’. Also, many people are hungry to express themselves spiritually… They have not been recognized as particularly spiritual or holy; and because they hear that tongues-speakers are thought to be holy and spiritual, they try it. Another basic reason… the need for acceptance and security. People need to be ‘in the group’.

My Sort-of-Short Ending
Many more to say, and many more to writes, but let me conclude this lengthy article this way: the gift of tongues (if there is) is not a valid indicator that you’re close to God. Your love toward God and others is the most valid indicator of your personal relationship with God. God’s love, God’s spirit will transform your life wholly not onetime experiences. Obedience, joyful obedience to the authority of God’s Word is much more beneficial than to utter tongues of an unknown language. Experiencing God inwardly express outwardly through your relationship with others is better than (if any) experiencing ecstatic spirituality that is egocentric (‘me, me, me,’) and showy. Tongues will cease, and even now already ceased. But love (‘God is love’, 1 John 4:8) will never cease, it is eternal. Our search for His gifts is not to be the top priority in our lives; God is our top priority in our lives. (Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't ask for His gifts - you should) The Giver is much valuable, much desirable, to be treasure more than His gifts. The Giver is the Treasure – God Himself.

If you ask me, have I ever spoke in tongues. No, I have not for a very long time (Yes, I had when I was a ‘baby’, immature Christians) No, not since then. Jesus and I have been communicating in English, Bahasa Malaysia (BM) and bahasa Iban (BI). I speak to Him in a known languages and He hears and understands me completely. He speaks to me in English, BM and BI through His Word; the Bible, and I understand Him.


  1. Unless noted. All the Scripture quotations is from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. 
  2. Scripture marked NASB is New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. 
  3. Most of my material for this writing is from Charismatic Chaos, copyright © 1992 by John F. MacArthur, Jr. published by Zondervan Publishing House.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Hug to my Sweet Ones

It’s wondrous what a hug can do.
A hug can cheer you when you’re blue.
A hug can say, “I love you so
Or “I hate to see you go.”
A hug is “Welcome back again,”
And “Great to see you! Where’ve you been?”
A hug can soothe a small child’s pain,
And bring a rainbow after rain.
A hug, there’s just no doubt about it–
We scarcely could survive without it!
A hug delights and warms and charms,
It must be why God gave us arms.
Hugs a great for fathers and mothers,
Sweet for sisters, swell for brothers.
And chances are your favorite aunts
Love them more than potted plants.
Kittens crave them, puppies love them,
Head of states are not above them.
A hug can break the language barrier,
And make travel so much merrier.
No need to fret about your store of’em,
The more you give, the more there’s more of’em.
So stretch those arms without delay.

THINK BIG… Think of a hug,
START SMALL… Give a hug,
GO DEEP… Go and just give'em a hug.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 78: Music - Created to Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord! How good to sing praises to our God!
How delightful and how fitting
!” (Psalm 147:1NLT)

The sole purpose of all music is to bring praise to God.” (Johann Sebastian Bach)

An old Jewish legend says that after God had created the world He called the angels to Himself and asked them what they thought of it. One of them said, “The only thing lacking is the sound of praise to the Creator.” So God created music, and it was heard in the whisper of the wind and in the song of the birds. He also gave man the gift of song.

The sole purpose of all music is to bring praise to God. The beauty, the grandeur and the harmony of music that I heard whenever I tuned to listen to orchestra concerts (or Christian old hymns) either in my car or on my DVD players testified that God is a musical God and He is filled with glory and majesty! Music gives glimpse into the awesome creative beauty of God Himself.  Last week when I was at Matang Wildlife centre, I silenced my mind and my soul just to hear bamboo making music, the birds singings, and insects whistle praises – it awaken my souls to cherish God in all of His glory and majesty by the sound of heavenly music in nature.

Music is an essential role in expressing worship to God. Just go to The Book of Psalms (translated as ‘The Book of Praises’) in the Bible, you’ll see that the psalmists are using song to express their feelings and prayers. They prayed their worship songs and sang their prayers. They relate their relation to God is a form of music. “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1); “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2) etc.

As for today, in the midst of many distorted usage of music – I valued music that’s honoring to God; music that breathe Scriptures truths.  Its lyrics point to God, the beauty of the notes and sounds touches our heart in a way that mere words and readings cannot do. Music connects our heart into God’s presence in a unique way. Music, its origin, is for the purpose of bringing praise to God.

Martin Luther* writes, "I wish to see all arts, principally music, in the service of Him who gave and created them. I would not for the world forego my humble share of music. Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry, and smile through their troubles in song. Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid and reasonable. I am strongly persuaded that after theology there is no art that can be placed on a level with music; for besides theology music is the only art capable of affording peace and joy of the heart… the Devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God." Again he writes, “Next to the Word of God music deserves the highest [mean of] praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.”

Here is my thesis: The sole purpose of all music is to bring praise to God. Music is one of the mean to praise God, one of the greatest I guess, but God and God alone is the end of our praises.


Let the godly sing for joy to the LORD;
it is fitting for the pure to praise him.
Praise the LORD with melodies on the lyre;
make music for him on the ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy
Psalm 33:1-3NLT)

1) Old Jewish legend above is quoted from The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy B. Zuck
2) *Quoted from Martin Luther’s Music: a Fair & Glorious Gift.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shine Out for All to See

“…let your good deeds shine out for all to see,
so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father
(Jesus in Matthew 5:16NLT)

Our lives should preach good sermons. According to the book Life of Francis d’Assisi, Fancis once invited a young monk to join him on a trip to town to preach. Honored to be given the invitation, the monk readily accepted.
All day long he and Francis walked through the streets, byways, and alleys, and even into the suburbs. They rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. At the day’s end, the two headed back home. Not even once had Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel. Greatly disappointed, his young companion said,
I thought we were going to town to preach.”
Francis responded,
My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere we walk!”

My words helps my neighbor to hear the Gospel,
but “My life helps to paint my neighbor’s picture of God.” (Peter Holmes)
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lay Down your iPhone, and Give Up that Money

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command
(Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:12-14NLT)

There is no greater love,” Jesus said, “than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It’s easy to read this passage and say “Amen!” but lo and behold, it’s much harder than what we thought… but not possible yeah?
Perhaps some of you might think, “Absolutely, I would die for my friends. I love them very very much. I’d give up everything for them, even my own life.” Some of you, I bet are serious: you really willing to die for your friend. You would, I know. Dying for a friend – it sound so noble… and come to think about it: it is. But there are other ways to give your life for your friends – not so grandeur or noble or famous in the world-term – something that you can do in small ways, everyday ways, practical ways; something that you can START SMALL daily.

[Take note: John 15:12-14 does suggest that you should literally ‘lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. But it also suggests that you can ‘lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ without literally die for a friend (in Malaysia context, it’s rarely happen) because when Jesus said, ‘love each other’, it’s a continuous actions rather than a onetime event. Also I want to be careful on using the word ‘friends’ here where it refer to our fellow believers, fellow brethrens in Christ – though my examples below are applicable for friends in general term.]

Other ways that you can give your life for your friends – perhaps when your friend need money and you happen to have some saved up. Sure, you’ve been saving that money for your new iPhone, but now your friend’s in trouble. You could lay down you life and give up that money OR perhaps when your friend desperately needs you to take care of his or her grandma in the hospital on Friday night because he or she couldn’t be there until next week. You have plan – TGIF’s night party – but you could change them (not that you’ll die on the spot!). So you lay down you life and give up your Friday night.

Laying down you life doesn’t always seem grandeur or noble or famous in the world-term… or for life’s sake, fun. But it’s what a committed friendship is all about.Lay down one’s life for one’s friends” is an everyday sacrifice. In whatever you do, notice your friend’s need, and put it above your own. Sacrifice something. Give up something. ‘Lay down’ something. Help your friend. That’s what it mean to “love each other” – feeling and action; word and work. Lord’s command and men’s obedience.


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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Enigma to the World

Prepare yourself – the more you become like Christ, the less the world will understand you. Grandpa apostle John writes,

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children,
and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize
that we are God’s children because they don’t know him
.” (1 John 3:1NLT)

A righteous life will stand out in this world. In fact, my friends, the genuine believer will be an enigma, mystery to a lost and dying world. Those who are of the world will no more understand him or her than they understood Christ Himself.
The Christian life, true Christian life, is so supernaturally empowered that it cannot be explained by a watching world. The world cannot comprehend that it is God at work within us, radically transforming our lives. Although the world will reject us, surely will reject us, we, however –are loved by the Father and find in Him the strength and comfort we need to live victoriously during our short stay on this earth. Take heart!

The more we swim in the ocean of the Father’s love, the more the world will not know us. Before our conversion, the world knew us quite well because we were on the world’s trend, thinking and behavior, operating like those in the world. But after our new birth, we display a new lifestyle that is difference than the world’s standards. That’s why the world cannot understand us. Tell you the truth; they also don’t understand what I’m writing about here!

Here are words of assurance: if the world doesn’t understand you, be assured that you are known by God. He “calls us his children”, therefore, “we are God’s children” and “that is what we are!” So we should stop trying to be popular with the world. Acceptance by the world means we are in love with this world but not the Father’s. God forbid that we should ever desire to become like the world. Steven J. Lawson writes, “May we never seek to embrace its value system, follow its choices, or adopt its wisdom. Every true child of God will be different and distinct from the world and therefore, misunderstood by it.” Take heart!

See how very much our Father loves us,
for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!
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