Monday, April 30, 2012

Is Real Unity Possible?

The body has many different parts, not just one part.”
(Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 12NLT)

One of the keys to unity is to celebrate one another’s differences. Unity is not about everyone agreeing or having the same opinion. It’s about learning how to take different opinions and direct them all toward a common purpose and goal. God creates everyone differently, so we should expect differences of opinion. But God also tells us to be united, which means that our differences must serve some important goal: “bringing about the most thoughtful, well-developed plans”, writes Ronald A. Beers. [P.s: I and my colleagues are coming from very difference background. Very difference age and generation. Very difference Christian denominations. Very difference temperaments. And yet, under a banner of Christian organization, we are able to work in unity with one another because we have common purposes and goals in the ministry. Real unity is possible!]

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit,
binding yourselves together with peace
.” (Ephesians 4:3)

Unity usually becomes difficult to achieve when we’re already convinced that our opinion is the best and therefore someone else’s opinion is not well thought through. This mind-set keeps us from listening to new ideas that might actually make our own opinion better. Then we are in danger of ‘tuning out’ a potential divine moment in which God helps us to see how different colors create a richer painting. Try celebrating and truly anticipating one another’s differences and fitting them together to accomplish the objective. Then you will experience the true harmony and unity that God designed humans to share and enjoy.

THINK BIG. Unity is Possible.
START SMALL. Start by celebrating one another’s differences.
GO DEEP We are all ONE in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Christ Alone

Christ alone” is our goal in life. It should be the language of our tongue, a shining badge on the t-shirt of our life, a banner for our vocations and a daily inward motivation expressed in our outward zeal for the Lord. As the sun is to a flower, so is Jesus Christ to you and me. Reflecting on this in many pages of the Scriptures, one human attempt outside the Bible best summaries how my (our) faith should evolve from ‘Just-Me’ to ‘Christ-Alone’;


Christ Alone

by Unknown

The world, I thought, belonged to me,
Goods, gold, and people, land, and sea.
Where’er I walked beneath God’s sky,
In those old days, my word was “I.”
Years passed: there flashed my pathway near,
The fragment of a vision dear;
My former word no more sufficed,
And what I said was “I and Christ.”
But, O, the more I looked on Him,
His glory grew, while mine grew dim;
I shrank so small, He towered so high,
All I dare say was, “Christ and I.”
Years more the vision held its place
And looked me steadily in the face;
I speak now in a humbler tone,
And what I say is “Christ Alone!”

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP. CHRIST ALONE.
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Let's Talk about Politics!

In my teenage, I used to listened to heavy metal rock bands (no k-pop please!) such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Dream Theather, System of a Down, Rage against the Machine etc. One song in particular that echoed in my mind these few days is by Korn, “Politics’ (Album: See You on the Other Side, 2005). The chorus goes like this:

“Don't want to talk about politics
Don't preach or talk about politics
Don't make me talk about politics
Don't give a sh*t about politics”

So far I’m okay when people are not really excited about what is happening in the world of politics (and politicians) today – there’s still hope. But it concerns me when people harden their hearts by not to bother at-all about it and says casually like Korn's Jonathan Davis, ‘Don’t want to talk about politics!’ Close door and leave – there’s almost no hope. This kind of people won’t even bother to vote, don’t really care about what politicians have to say and not so much respect for what they do.

Yet both kinds of people don’t realize that what happens in the political world today makes a fundamental difference to every aspect of our lives, especially in health, education, taxation, welfare and as in Sarawakians’ (East-Malaysia) context – it involves our land! Therefore, whether you care or not, we all are affected by the way our politicians govern our nation. David Cook writes, “How we are to bring critical, moral reflection on political and economic issues is not just a Christian concern but part and parcel of what it means to be a citizen of our own particular nation and also of the world.”

Thus, for Christians especially, I want to invites you to see this matter in a Christian perspective. Come…

First of all, we should understand that God is concerned with every aspect of human life. That includes – politics. In the Old Testament, initially there was no need for a king, God Himself is a King. His ultimate concern was that justice should be done and all people were protected and able to flourish, the marginalized people should be remembered and taking care of, etc. To cut the story short (read 2 Samuel 8-12 if you’re interested about the story of the beginning of Kingship in ancient Israel), God finally allowed the people of Israel to have a king with a warning that the human kings will be takers, not a giver like Him. He also warned them of the dangers of politic power abuse and over time He appointed prophets to remind kings of God’s laws and will. As long as the kings follow His guidance, they will prosper and the nation will be prospering too. In a sense, if they don’t, the nation will also pay the price of their king’s disobedience.

In the New Testament, some Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking ‘politicquestions, ‘Now tell us – is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or shouldn’t we?’ Jesus answered them by asking them a counterfeit question, he was holding a Roman coin, ‘Whose picture and title are stamped on it?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. ‘Well, then,’ Jesus said, ‘give to Caesar what belong to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God (Mark 12:13-17NLT). With this, Jesus was (is) telling us that we all have obligations to the human government and to God. After all, God want us to ‘respect all human authority – whether the king as the head of state, or the officials he has appointed’ (1 Peter 2:13NLT). In short, we ought to respect and submit to governing authorities as long as (in my opinion) they didn’t impose laws or commands that are against God’s Word on us.

In both the Old and the New Testament and at all time, God is very much involves in politics of the nations. In the same way, we should be concern for those in authority. It is our responsibilities to be involve in national building because the politicians that we support (or vote for) will affect every aspect of our lives. We got to ensure even with our limited human power to elect men and women of good character to take the lead in our nation. Add to that; we should pray for them.

I’m fully aware and with all my heart – believe that God is Sovereign and in control, BUT it doesn’t mean that we ought to neglect our responsibilities as citizen of the earth. We cannot afford to be ignorance and say “I don’t want to talk about politic!”... It is like saying, ‘Whatever happen to the nation I don't care as long as I’m okay.’ That’s selfish! How can we still be comfortable to say that we’re a Christian but didn’t follow the command of Jesus to ‘give to Caesar what belong to Caesar’? As long as you live on this planet called EARTH – you ought to care about politic!
Let me close, David Cook explained it well on what it means to be salt and light to the world in the context of politics today, ‘is to ensure that the political processes do fulfill God’s intention of retraining evil and reinforcing what is good.’

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Heart Transplant needed

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life
.” (Proverbs 4:32NLT)

You actions reveal the condition of your heart because that’s where actions begin. Wrong thoughts eventually result in wrong actions if they are left unchecked. For example, if you think about having sex with someone who is not your spouse, your heart will begin to convince you that it’s okay. You think its okay without realizing that ‘anybody who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart’ (Matthew 5:28). It happens because ‘the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.’ (Jeremiah 17:9).

Therefore, don’t trust your emotions to tell you what is right or good. Emotions are not a reliable guide because they are so easily influenced (Emotions is good. Here I’m referring to emotions that are controlled by our human flesh rather than by God’s Holy Spirit). Instead, trust God’s Word – it comes from God’s heart, which is good, pure and perfect. God’s Word reveals God’s Heart. God's Word says,

Pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7NLT, bolded mine)

God’s Heart is good, pure and perfect.
Ask Jesus to transplant His Heart into your heart.
Hurt, yes, but peace is sure.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.




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Monday, April 23, 2012

How Big is Your God?

Our world is filled with people who possess little or no sense of God’s transcendence (The Free Dictionary define transcendence as ‘surpassing others’; ‘preeminent’ or ‘supreme’). Much of creation does not know or care to know or doesn’t realize that – its Creator is unequaled, unraveled and supreme – above all. Transcendence when in reference to God means that He exists, not only in, but beyond our realm of reality. In other words, He’s not like us – far from it. None can compare.

God is exalted far above His created universe, so far that even the brightest human minds in the whole world combined cannot begin to comprehend it. One of the best books about God that I treasure the most (beside the Bible, of course) is J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. It’s a very helpful recourse for me; but mind you – even good as it is, faithful to the Word of God as it is or wonderfully describing God as it is – in my opinion, it only tell 0.000009% about God as He really is. God is supreme. God is glorious. God is beyond descriptions. What we know today, no matter how much we know at this side of the world is very little compare to His Magnificence-Self.

A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy explains;
The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, are nevertheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that-which-is-not-God and are separated from God by infinitude itself.”

When I read the Old Testament books, I observed that whenever God appeared to men, an overwhelming sense of terror and dread was the result. They see how small, mini, tinny, sinner, dirty they are in the presence of God Almighty. When God spoke to Abram, he fell on his face (Genesis 17:3). When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (Exodus 3:2-6). Daniel in his vision saw an angel (note: Daniel only saw a lower-ranked angel), was left speechless and breathless, and all his strength was drained from him (Daniel 10). Now try to imagine if he saw Michael, the archangel or even the Lord Himself?!!! Dead man!

In contrast, many in our day are so blind by this ultimate reality. There is no awe in reverence toward the Lord. Little fear or no fear of God at all – people are unaware of God’s awesome superiority and supremacy that transcend this universe and everything in it. People loves to tell jokes about God, blasphemed the name of Jesus in our local and international medias etc. Jesus, they see as only a moral good teacher, a soft spoken prophet and that’s all – nothing more, but everything less than God in the human flesh.
I heard a Christian leader once said, ‘I imagine Jesus using jeans, with long blond hair, wearing black leather shoes and playing guitar.’ Funny! No reverence toward the Lord of the Universe! Even in the minds of most people who believe there is a God, have less understanding of the greatness of God. Lord’, yes they say, ‘but not to be taken too seriously.’

Question: Why does our society (I have Malaysian Christians in mind) have such a limited and shallow view of God? The answer is simple, but very bitter to swallow: - the church has not proclaimed it! (that include us, who active in the church) At the risk of being attack physically and emotionally (God forbid), I have to say that the church’s concept of God, in general, is too small (Yes, individuals are also very much responsible, no doubt about it). Wake up! Proclaimed the Biggest of God!

In conclusion, when we start to consider the greatness of God, our worship will be ignited with passion and holy reverence; no more with slumberness of the soul. When we begin to comprehend the excellency of God’s perfect holiness; no more we hold on to the doctrine of self-worth, self-esteem and self-glorification (as if human being is the center of the universe - God is.). You’ll puke when you hear anyone teach you about the gospel of prosperity etc. because when you see the Awesomeness of God in His living Word, you’ll desire no more but God. He is the Treasure.

Isaiah was probably the most righteous man in all Israel in his day. He was a good man there was. Now notice his response after seeing a vision of the Lord sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6:1-5NIV):

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Until we realize how sinful and ugly we are in the presence of the Lord, we will never treasure God wholeheartedly. Only those who are bankrupt in their souls will desperately thirst for Him. I thank God for Jesus, His Son, our only hope, who died for our sin. The Scriptures says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Glory be to God. Amen.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.


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Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Little Attempt to Promote C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity


C.S. Lewis, my hero

Reading C.S Lewis’s Mere Christianity is like drinking a hot coffee during the rainy day. His words are very persuasive and every line has invincible strings that turn your heart into a joyful soul, singing ‘Amen. Amen. Amen’. I find myself always says: “Ah ha! I understand it clearly now!” He brings sparks into old truths and polished it until you almost can’t identify is this a new one or an old ideas. He doesn’t add to it nor reduce its power; but faithfully he maintains its standards up to the limits. I almost tempted to underline every gems of wisdom in this book, but I restraint myself from doing it. If I did, my book might turn into a drawing book – I’m not sure I want to treat it that way.

 Indeed, if you’re a C.S. Lewis’ kind of thinker who appreciate logic, mystery and imaginations all together, you might as well want to read his other non-fiction book such as this one (and ‘The Screwtape Letters’, ‘The Great Divorce’, ‘The problem of Pain’, ‘Miracles’, ‘The Grief Observed’ etc.; beside fiction books such as ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ etc.)

Let me quote some of his wits from his book Mere Christianity, a taste and see either you're interested to read him or not;

If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary; and after one’s original conversion, every time one thinks one has made an advance, that is the test to apply. Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in ‘religion’ mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better; just as in an illness ‘feeling better’ is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up, in that sense the outer world is quite right to judge Christianity by its results.

Christ told us to judge by results. A tree is known by its fruit; or, as we say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world. The war-time posters told us that Careless Talk costs Lives. It is equally true that careless Lives cost Talk. Our careless lives set the outer world talking; and we giving them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself.
(Mere Christianity. Copyright (c) 1952, C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Published by HarperCollins. Page 207-208) 

Wow! Though it was written in the year of 1952, C.S. Lewis’s word is much relevant today as it was before. He writes like he was writing it to you personally. He writes for every seasons, every situations (though his setting was during the World War I) and for every person under the planet earth.

 In conclusion, I want you, readers; okay I hope (perhaps ‘I want’ sounds demanding) to consider reading classic books such as by C.S. Lewis’. Classic books make you think, and that’s what books suppose to be. Christopher Morley says, “The only real use of books is to make a person think for himself. If a book will not set one to thinking, it is not worth shelf room.”
I agree, Mere Christianity worth shelf book. Buy it!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.





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Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Letter to Students

Urgent: Read and Study God’s Word

Today, the newspaper and television channels are full of political, moral, social and community crises. The stories about governments, communities, families and individuals range from good to bad and every shade in between. Officials, politicians, activist groups, newspaper columnists, and commentators all give their latest assessments, open-minded opinions, and hip philosophies.
We are inundated with news and information. Have you noticed it?
We are flooded with much insignificant news and little on those matters. Have you noticed it?

As a staffworker, nothing is more obvious than the reading and studying (or the lack of it) of the Bible. It is generally poor among today’s young generations of Christians. For many, the newspaper is our morning devotions, television and the internet are our evening mass, and the Bible is nothing but an ordinary book. It seems like God’s Word is insignificant and irrelevant for daily living. God’s Word has become secondary to public worship. God’s Word has become a book that only informs rather than transforms us. Have you noticed it?

Pic from: the-panpiper.deviantart.com
Above are my challenges to bring God’s Word back to campuses. It may seem like a pessimistic observation.  But I think it is necessary because without such an attitude there may not be a sense of urgency to bring back God’s Word to our students. I believe that we should urgently call our students ‘to be WORDessential Christians’ because God’s Word will give us new life, much pleasure and joy more than the other words (newspaper, television, the Internet, etc.).

Jesus exemplifies the love of God’s Word in every area of his life. He uses Scripture to answer those who test him, resist temptation, find guidance, encourage his own heart, comfort others, explain his actions and ultimately to face death. How much more we ought to read and study God’s word!

This is what I’m trying to bring to our students today: to personally read God’s Word, obey it, apply it and then to teach others. In the midst of many distractions and temptations out there, students need to encounter God in His Word. We study God’s Word for God is still speaking and guiding us personally and intimately through the Word. Then, only then, can we engage our society and make the difference in our community and be more Christ-like.  

Have you noticed it? I hope and pray that you do.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

.............................
*This writing is published in Nadi FES: d'pulse of the Journey, May 2012. For more information on the FES Malaysia Student Ministry, click on the web address: www.fes.org.my

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Question is: “What do you wish most of your children?”

O Lord, make me as holy as a forgiven sinner can be.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)

A recent survey* of Japanese and American parents revealed much about the values that people in various cultures hold dear. The question was submitted to these parents,
“What do you wish most of your children?”
The leading response among Japanese parents was that they wanted their children to be successful – a reflection of the high value the Japanese place on marketplace success. Well, it’s not far from what our Malaysian parents expecting from their children today. Asian parents after all. On the other hand, the most frequent wish of American parents for their children was happiness – a reflection of their ‘feel good’ culture.

Note this: God’s greatest desire for His children is neither success nor happiness, but instead that we be like Him, holy in all we do. Apostle Peter wrote in his first letter, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1:15-16NIV).

What God demands He provides. When God calls us to be holy, He imparts to us the power to obey. When God calls us to be holy it does not mean He is telling us to be holy but rather He is inviting us into His holiness. It is impossible for us to be holy – but thru Christ, it is possible. Therefore, holiness is achievable. ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ is achievable.

How?’ the unbelievers (or even you, the believers) may ask. I’ll let the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews explain it to them: “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (10:10NIV).

Be holy, because God is holy.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

…………
*Survey report above is taken from Roy B. Zuck’s The Speaker’s Quote Book @1997, 2009. Published by Kregel Publications. Thank you.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fruit of Gentleness

As I studied the Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (5:22-23aNIV) – I realized that those traits are the very things the way the Father relates to us as His children. One of the greatest [often missed, but I believe] characteristics of God is His gentleness. He is the real gentleman. How often He had dealt with me gently and tenderly as my Father… God knows how often too He had dealt with you up to this moment; especially in the training of our spiritual life… Oh, God is gentleman.

But note this: Gentleness doesn’t mean weakness; it’s actually requires more strength to be gentle and kind than to be mean. It’s not softness as what we think of today as being ‘gentle’. It’s like what St. Francis De Sales said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing is so gentle as real strength.”

I want to share with you; recently I had been a little mean with someone. I’d forgotten to feast on the fruit of gentleness, a fruit that help us to be angry and yet not sin. I repeat – to be angry and yet not sin. I knew I had to repent, so I went to that someone and asked for forgiveness. I told that someone I was very sorry for losing my cool, uncontrolled my temper and allow the situation to boss it over me. Deep in my heart I knew that God had a better way for us to interact with one another… more gently.

Every time I blown up, I’ve found that asking for forgiveness is the best remedy for anger and troubled heart. It may take a while for the healing process, but our Father promises to help us and guide us. And His gentleness and grace toward us makes all the difference. He helps us by giving us the fruit of the Spirit – including, the fruit of gentleness.

Question: How do I know this?
When that someone forgave me that day, I felt the strength of our relationship grow and the distance between us fade away. When you gather your strength to be more gentle and kind, and when Father gives you the spirit of gentleness, people will praise the Lord because they have ‘see that you are gentle and kind’ (Philippians 4:5). 
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP. 


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Monday, April 16, 2012

The True Friend is the one who is Coming in the Door while Everyone else is Going Out


A student asked me, “How to know who my real friends are?” She has too many friends on her FB’s friends list. She wants to know. She seeks advice and honest talk. Here, I delivered her my respond:

Straight talk – if you want to know who your friends are, your real friends are; 1) make mistake. 2) Visit them when you’re broke. 3) Tell them some honest truths about yourself (especially bad stuffs). 4) See if they still like you just the same when they know all about you. 5) See either they not just give good advice but have all the attention to help you when you need one (whenever they are able to do so). 6) Observe, are they attack you in the front and not behind your back.

I think Phil McGraw said it best, “The true friend is the one who is coming in the door while everyone else is going out. Friends are the ones who love you when you’re not lovable, stand by you when it’s not the popular thing to do, and are there for you when you need it, even if it doesn’t have a big payoff for them.”

Recently, I heard my good friends talked behind my back. I’m so glad and rejoice when I heard the news. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insane! – Yes, they went around saying nice things about me behind my back. What an honor for me to have such friends. Nor that I want to boast about my goodness (as far as I know - none! In fact, I have to admit that I sometime secretly insert many personal agendas behind every deed that I make. Not 100% genuinely good, I mean); but I want to boast about my friends. Good friends. Why? They are like what William Arthur Ward described, “A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.”

"How to know who are your real friends?" Reread all of the above. Here are my piece of advice (for those who are younger than me) or suggestion (for those who are older than me) or reminder (for those who are my age): Instead of focusing on ‘who my real friends are’, focus on being a real friend to your friends now. Ralph Waldo Emerson once writes, “The only way to have a friend is to be sure you are one.”

Oh ya, I didn’t answered her so lengthy like the above writing because I’m sure she’s reading this NOW. Like 'NOW'.
I'm sure...
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

A short Story about Trust

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler
.” (Psalm 91:4KJV)

A story…
A distressed believer once said to a Christian counselor,
It’s hard for me to trust God when everything looks dark.”
The man replied, “Well, brother, if you can’t trust someone when he’s out of your sight, he isn’t worth much. So, too, if you can’t trust God in the dark, you really don’t consider Him trustworthy.”
Then pointing to a baby chick that had just taken refuge beneath a large hen, he added, “See that little chick hiding under the wing of its mother? As long as it’s there, it can’t see anything, but it’s still protected and secure.”
Opening his Bible to Psalm 91, the counselor continued,
Notice it doesn’t say ‘under His wings shalt thou see, but ‘under His wings shalt thou trust.’”

A Story that remind me of…
A poet by unknown;
Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him, for His will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
is the only place or rest.

A Story summary…
THINK BIG Think the promise of God. START SMALL Start put things in God’s hands; place your trust under His wings. GO DEEP Go to the place of rest – the only place, the heart of Jesus.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Think Deeply and Clearly

"Think over what I say, for the Lord
will grant you understanding in everything
."
(2 Timothy 2:7)
Friday morning reading...

Timothy: Wait a minute, Paul. You tell me to think, but isn’t the organ of our thinking fallen and unreliable? 

Paul: Yes, your mind is fallen and fallible. Yes, it is prone to self-justifying errors. But Christ is in the business of “renewing the mind” (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23). Do you think there is some unfallen part of you that you could substitute for your mind? We are fallen and depraved in every part. You can’t retreat from thinking into some other safe, untainted faculty of knowing. Take note, Timothy: even in raising the objection against thinking you are thinking! You can’t escape the necessity of thinking. God’s call is to do it well. 

Timothy: But, Paul, I don’t want to become a cold, impersonal intellectual. 

Paul: There is danger on both sides, Timothy. There is cold knowledge, and there is a red hot zeal that “is not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). But thinking does not have to cool your zeal. In fact, in my life the vigorous exercise of my mind in spiritual things causes me to boil inside, not to freeze. You are right not to want to become “impersonal.” That happens when thinking is emphasized to the exclusion of feeling about people; and reason is exalted above love. But note this, Timothy: the abandonment of thinking is the destruction of persons. Yes, there is more to personal relationships than thinking, but they are less human without it. God honored his image in us when he said, “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). Should we do less? 

Timothy: But, Paul, shouldn’t I just take you at your word, and not ask so many questions? You’re an apostle, and speak for God. 

Paul: Take what, Timothy? 
Timothy: Your words, what you say in your letters. 
Paul: Do you mean the black marks on the parchment?
Timothy: No. What they stand for. You know. What they mean.
Paul: How do you know what I mean, Timothy?
Timothy: I read what you write.
Paul: You mean you pass your eyes over the black marks on the parchment?
Timothy: No, I . . . I think about it. I ask how the words and sentences fit together. I look for what it means. 

Paul: That’s right, Timothy. Thinking and asking questions is the only way you will ever understand what I want to communicate in my letters. And either you do it poorly, or you do it well. So “do not be a child in your thinking: be a babe in evil, but in thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). As the Master said, “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). 

Timothy: But, Paul, won’t I become arrogant and boastful if by using my mind I discover things on my own? 

Paul: Timothy, you never have and never will discover anything “on your own.” And you would know this if you had thought more deeply about what I said. What I said was: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.” The Lord, Timothy, the Lord! “From him, through him, and to him are all things. To him be the glory!” (Romans 11:36) He is the ground and goal of all thought. So think, Timothy. Gird up your mind and think! 

Praying Psalm 119:66 with you,
 By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
Bold mine, click title for link: Think Deeply and Clearly
.............................
 "Teach me good judgment and knowledge,    for I believe in your commandments." (Psalm 119:66ESV)
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus, what a Great Salvation!

“…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21-22 ESV)

Christ lived a perfect, sinless life and died a horrific, sinners’ death, in order to ‘save his people from their sins. He paid the penalty we deserved to pay for our sin. He bore the wrath of we deserved to bear. He overcomes the separation that our sin caused between God and us. And he freed us from the bondage caused by sin. Because Christ’s work on our behalf, God can ‘deliver us from the domain of darkness’ and transfer us ‘to the kingdom of his beloved Son’ (Colossians 1:13).

What a great salvation!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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