Tuesday, July 31, 2012

As Our Parents Age

As life moves on, you grow up (and probably by now some of you might already have children), don’t forget – our parents are aging. At one time they took care of us, remember? Now we may have to take care of them. At the center of God’s Ten Commandments in the Old Testament Scripture which is still fresh today is: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). This is a lifelong commandment.

And one way we are to obey this commandment is by helping them as they grow older. It may not be easy (I know, like kids; old folks are also troublesome sometime) or it may involve difficult decisions that require great sensitivity and wisdom and patience. I remember a difficult decision that my uncles and aunties have to face when my late grandma aging. Either to send her to old folk’s home or to take care of her personally – but then a solid decision was made: my uncle decided to take care of her with the help of his brothers and sisters. My grandma (I think) wouldn’t know if the decision is likewise and it would be easier for the family too, but as the Lord says, “Honor your father and mother”; they obeyed and it was very rewarding to do so – she died happy in the present of hers’ own children (and not strangers).

If God gives you responsibility for aging parents, seek what is best for them, not what is most convenient for you. Keep them in contact. Again I say this to you – keep contact with them! Had you ever visit any nursing home? If you had, you would not be surprise when the staffs ask you to greet the residents, saying, “Just saying hello means so much to them.” (Sometime they would utter this heartbroken remark: “Their families never visit them again”). Very sad…

My ‘Rose Books of Charts, Maps, and Time Lines’ (Rose Publishing, Inc. 2005. Pg. 57) reference book gives a modern example on how to obey the 5th commandment: “Treat your parents with respect no matter what. Your parents have made many sacrifices to raise you. They have changed diapers, lost sleep, brought food, toys and clothes, paid doctor bills and changed their schedules to help you. Even if you don’t get along with your parents, they deserve your gratitude…” and one way we obey this commandment and to show our gratitude to them is by helping them as they grow older. Billy Graham added, “If ever we needed to put the Golden Rule into action, it’s with our aging parents.” Right!

THINK BIG: God command, what He says?
START SMALL: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12)
GO DEEP: Soon, it’s your turn. Therefore, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12) Specifically here: "Do to your parents whatever you would like your children to do to you" (My commentary)

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

An article for Unity in Malaysia: “Christian, You are Not Alone”

One of my greatest privileges over the years has been the opportunity to meet Christians in many different parts of campuses and places; not only in Malaysia but throughout Asian countries. For example, last year July 2011, FES* Malaysia have sent me and 3 others to Japan for relief work after the deadly disaster of tsunami. I met many Christians in Japan and other believers all over the world that comes to help, encourage one another, to give comfort and to be united in times of trouble. We all stayed together under one church.
What a valuable scene it was!

In Malaysia, we might have been of different races or denominations or even cultures – but we all have something in common that overcome every human barrier, that is: We belonged to Christ. God, our God, has people almost everywhere, even in the most unlikely places… We may be far away from each other but we are spiritually united because of our faith in Jesus Christ.

The fact is: we come to God as individuals – we must each make our own personal commitment to Christ. We cannot depend on our parents’ faith or on other testimonies or on our church membership (but no doubt, this is important though). We must each decide personally whether or not we will trust and follow Christ as our Lord and Savior. That’s personal. Another fact: In God’s eyes we are also part of a group; we aren’t only individual believers. This group is the Body of Christ. “His body, the church” (Colossians 1:24GNB)

You are not alone; you belong to a group of Christ’s people. Therefore, solitary Christian is a contradiction because we each are part of a larger whole. There is no individualistic in Christianity – we are one body – His body. It is not healthy when Christians refuse to have anything to do with their fellow Christians. It is not healthy if we always quarrel with each other or to hate one another and thus try to solitude ourselves from the body. We are to remain united. Yes, for our testimony for Christ, for our witness to others and for the image that we project for the world to see, especially to our lovely country Malaysia. We are not alone; we are one body – we belonged to Christ. Remember that!

Be united as One to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37GNB) so that it will overflow to others around us as we also practise to ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’ (.39). You are not alone, remember that readers.
*one of students Christian organization in Malaysia
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Jesus: The Only Way to God – Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved?

“If the church was ever too controversial in its evangelism, those days are gone. In our shrinking, pluralistic world, the belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation is increasingly called arrogant and even hateful. In the face of criticism, many shrink back from the affirming the global necessity of knowing and believing in Jesus.
In Jesus: The Only Way to God – Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved? John Piper offers a timely plea for the evangelical church to consider what is at stake in surrendering the unique, universal place of Jesus in salvation. If you’re concerned about the current state of evangelism (Me added: ‘as I do’) – and the church – this book is a must-read.”
[Quoted from paperback of this book]

Pic taken from: http://www.dbc.org
With zero regret and with the realization that ‘my neck might lose its connection with my head’, I boldly confess that: the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. The gospel recorded Jesus said, His self-authoritative claimed about His exclusivity: ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6ESV) For this, I believe.

Mind you, I might not agree with some (minor problems) of John Piper’s arguments in this book. In fact, none of us can agree with one another 100% - and that might also include our unavoidable theological insights and opinions. We are human, imperfect and fall short from the true knowledge of God.
But if you read the Gospel carefully the very reason Jesus was killed was because He claimed to be God… and that’s left us with 4 options about who He was (based on C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, only that I add another option in advance); either he is a liar, a lunatic, a legend or the Lord. In my own personal journey to discover who Jesus was in my life, I have to conclude and confess that: Jesus is Lord. Thus, He is God the Son and the only way to God. This is the core of my faith in Him. Period. 

Would you try to consider prayerfully, examine carefully and study honestly about Jesus' claimed in the Gospel that He is the only way to God? For once in your life time - I plea for you to take a look at this Man. This could be your most significant and important journey of a life time! 

 August 2012 FREE Book
I’m giving away ONLY 3 copies of Jesus: the Only Way to God - Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved?. 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 want to read, consider and make decision about who is this Jesus, whom called Himself 'The Way"."
  2. E-mail me at Motivates4life@hotmail.com or send message to my Facebook your real name, phone no. and your postal address. Thank you.
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Power of God’s Word

Why is the Bible so crucial to our spiritual development? For one reason: There is power in the Word of God – the power to change our lives. “Every part of the Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another–showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.” (2 Timothy 3:16 The Message)

God spoke – and the heavens were formed. God spoke – and the Red Sea parted so the Israelites could escape from slavery. God spoke – and Jesus Christ rose from the dead. God spoke – and Saul, the hate-filled persecutor, was converted and became Paul the apostle. Yes, there is power in the Word of God. “When I quote the words of the Bible in my preaching,” writes Billy Graham (The Journey, published by Thomas Nelson, 2006), “I know that the Holy Spirit will take those words and supernaturally use them to bring conviction and new life to others.” I know too that when I study the Bible or prepared myself for sharing in campuses, on my own – God will use it to change me.

As it affects my life, I am able to witness His Word to others effectively through His divine guidance.
Hey, He can do the same for you!

THINK BIG. God spoke – and it was written: The Bible
START SMALL. Go read and study His Word.
GO DEEP. The Word of God has the power to change our life.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Prayer on Your Birthday

“Is my growing old making me any closer to Christ?
Am I only getting older or am I getting more godly?”
(Henri Nouwen)

Birthday boys and gals pray with me ya. This month is ours:

Lord, you know that I am growing older. Keep me from the idea that I must express myself on every subject. Release me from the craving to meddle in everyone’s affairs, oh, not too busybody and forbid me from being gossiper.
Keep my tongue from the recital of endless details of the past which most of the time do not interest others. Seal my lips when I am inclined to tell of my own aches and pains first as if I am the only one who went through it alone. Instead, help me to listen to others first.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong. Teach me to be humble. Make me thoughtful but not interfering, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom and experience it does seem a pity not to use it all, but you know Lord, that I want a few friends left at the end. So help me to pray more, say less.
And beyond all this, let me continue to flourish spiritually and bring forth fruit to Thy glory even as my age increases. Amen!

Remember: Age is a matter of mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Once Upon a Time... I was Lost

As I drove my way home yesterday, after almost 1 month away from Kuching, I suddenly realized that I was going the wrong way on a one-way street! It was dark, newly constructed and lonely road. Have you ever experienced that? [Okay, maybe not in Kuching, somewhere else?] What would you do?

Hear ye, what you (and I) do to correct your error is a good illustration of biblical idea of repentance. You’ll looking for signposts, and make a U-turn and change your direction as fast as you can. U-turn is brought about when you realize that you are going the wrong way on the road as you drive. So it is with repentance, it is brought about when you realize that you are going the wrong way in life.

Repent, then, and turn to God,” said repented-saint Peter, “so that he will forgive your sins” (Acts 3:19GNB). Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Return, all of you who have turned away from the LORD; he will heal you and make you faithful” (3:22GNB).

The Bible calls this wrong way – SIN. Repentance, here, is admitting your sin against God, sin of rejecting Jesus, and makes a commitment to change the direction (metanoia [Greek]; 'to change one's mind') of your life with God’s help and by His grace. I know. I know. Words like ‘sin’ and ‘repentance’ are not popular and favorite vocabulary for our millennial generations today [P.s: have you heard preaching about ‘sin’ and ‘repentance’ nowadays? Or read a book about it lately? Not popular~] But you see, it is essential because it is the only way to arrive at your Destination in life – to be with God in His Kingdom. Repent! Make a U-turn away from sin, 360 degree to God, in your life. Go! He’ll make you faithful.
Let me close with a wonderful poet by J. Addison Alexander;

There is a time, we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men,
To glory or despair.
There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God’s patience and his wrath.
How far may we go on in sin?
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end, and where begin
The confines of despair?
An answer from the skies is sent;
Ye that from God depart,
While it is called today, repent,
And harden not your heart.”

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why Jesus Did Healing (& What it Means for us Today)

Large crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and many other sick people, whom they placed at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them.” (Matthew 15:30GNB)

One book I read say that Jesus healed 35 people throughout the four Gospel. These are the 35 men, women, and children whose story sometimes told very briefly, some just a few sentences. But more than that, Jesus probably healed thousands of others whose stories aren’t recorded at all. Example, he healed all the sick people, all, in the village of Capernaum. “…he placed his hands on every one of them and healed them all.” (Luke 4:40GNB)
FACT: He can heal,
even all the incurable diseases at that time.
All diseases!

Why Jesus did healing?
Compassion’, you may say. ‘Yes,’ I’ll reply, ‘but that’s not the big reason.’ The main reason Jesus did miracles (as I went through the Scriptures over and over again) for healing people was to convince the Jews that he was the Messiah that they were (and is) waiting for.

Do you remember reading about John the Baptist, when he was in jail, sending messengers to Jesus to ask him whether Jesus was really the Messiah? (Read Matthew 11:4-5). Jesus told John’s messengers: “Go back and tell John what you are hearing and seeing: the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor.”

Now, why would Jesus told him that? Why don’t he just say, ‘I am the Messiah’ plainly? He could, but he didn’t because – Jesus knew that John, a prophet himself (and also the Jews in general), would understand that all these, the things that he does and says, was fulfilling what the Old Testament prophesies said that all these would happen when the Messiah came.
Yes, the Messiah has come!
Prophet Isaiah, way hundreds years ago wrote, “…God is coming to your rescue… The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear. The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy.

The main point of healing miracles is to show that Jesus is the Messiah; meaning, ‘the anointed one’ in Hebrew, ‘the Christ’ in Greek and ‘the promised Savior’ in my language. Jesus died and rose again – It take his resurrection from the grave to convince them (and us) that he was divine – the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

What it means for us today?
After Jesus ascended to heaven, the church began to grow. Healing miracles diminished and no longer remained a primary focus of Christian ministry (though healing, I believe, is still going to be part of Christian ministry); it’s not the important thing! It was crucial for Jesus’ ministry at that time because it proved who he was, but not very crucial for our ministry today. Healing conferences, healing concerts, healing seminars, healing classes, etc. – are not primary focus! Get down with it!

Our focus, the core of Christian ministry, the reason we believe the healing miracles of Jesus, the main reason we have faith in Jesus, is so that we (and I pray for others too) in our own voice and heart declared that;
You (Jesus) are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16GNB)

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A Ring for Offering

On most Sunday morning, whenever the collection plate was passed by for offering, I MUST remind myself that: what’s mine is not mine, really, all that I have belongs to God. I learned that when we place our contribution in the collection plate, we are not giving to God; we are just taking our hands off what truly belongs to Him, namely, everything.

Roy B. Zuck records a story in his book The Speaker’s Quote Book (Kregel Publications, pg. 212):
One night a preacher was making an appeal for funds and he invited the congregation to bring their gifts and lay them on the altar. The response was large, and soon the aisles were filled with people, bringing up their offerings.
Soon a little girl came slowly toward the front. She was lame and walked with a crutch. At the altar she pulled a little ring from her finger and laid it with the other gifts. Adjusting her crutch, she went back to her seat. After the meeting, the preacher said to her,
My dear, I saw the thing you did tonight. It was beautiful but, you know, the response of the people tonight has been large, and we find we have some money left over, so we don’t need your ring and I have brought it back to you.”
The little girl looked up with rebuke in her eyes, and said,
I didn’t give that ring to you.”
Too often we forget that the offerings of the Lord’s people are not made to man but to God.

Question: If everything in the world belongs to God, why we need to give to Him? I have 5 pages of Calibri font size 12, A4 paper article on reasons why we need to do so, but here what I think the main reason is – it is a practice of spiritual discipline to change your heart from stinginess to selflessness. Both your eyes and heart, instead of focusing on self, now are focusing on the Giver of Life, the Treasure that is worthy of all things, Jesus Christ. When you give ‘cheerfully’ (2 Corinthians 9:7), you, are saying to the world that your treasure is not here on earth, but on heaven above.
The Master said, “Whenever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21NLT)

THINK BIG What’s yours is not yours; really, all belongs to God.
START SMALL Learn to give cheerfully, not reluctantly or in respond to pressure,
GO DEEP You’ll soon discover that as your give freely,
your heart change from stinginess to selflessness… and that pleases the Lord.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Your Obedience Life Influences Others

Fiction story: small boy once had a cage full of sparrows. Hoping to teach them to sing he put a canary in the cage with them. A few days later he came running to his mother crying,
Mom, the canary is chirping like the sparrows!”

Non-fiction story: I once stayed in a home with my Sabahan friends for a week, and you know what happened? Yes, I spoke like Sabahan! And my Sarawakian friends thought I was ‘backsliding’. Funny.

What I mean by both stories: On this side of mortality, you and I may not be able to see how our life influences others. But lo and behold, you may be planting seeds of faith in the lives of people around you (mine maybe already started as you read this blog), seeds that God will continue to nourish and care for until they grow into a faith-saving relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians;

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.”
(1 Corinthians 3:5-8NLT)

You see, it’s not important who does what; what’s important is that, by the end of the day – it is God who ‘makes the seed grow’. Try this, instead of anxiously-busy trying too hard to influence people around you, why don’t you just live daily, moment by moment, in obedience to God. Just keep on ‘planting’, keep on ‘watering’, slowly but steady… live in obedience to what’s God calling you daily. Soon or later, either you know it or not – your growth in Christ, your living obedience to God will draws others to Jesus.

Salt give others a taste of Christ; light attract other to Christ.
Your obedience life influences others for Christ.
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They Click it A lot. [Top 7 last 7 Days]