Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Passion for Continuous Learning

A house is build by wisdom
and becomes strong through good sense.
Through knowledge its rooms are filled
with all sorts of precious riches and valuables” (Proverbs 24:3-4, NLT)

Do you have a plan for continuous learning? Are you constantly educating yourself, broadening your mind, acquiring new knowledge, reenergizing your interests, and generating new passion and enthusiasm for life? Do you pursue new adventures with God in your work and personal life? Do you intentionally keep on discovering Christ in your everyday life? All of us need to continue learning (and apply what we have learned in a godly manner – that’s ‘wisdom’) so that our faith will be strengthen day by day. Therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to guide and to teach us and a personalized plan – on our side – for continuous learning.

Many weak Christian leaders that I know (unfortunately) have the thinking that once they are graduated from Bible school (or for nominal Christians; right after baptism class) they assume that Bible knowledge and education is over and that they no longer need to continue to learn. This is dangerous! In general, many people who live by a strict diet plans, maintain a regular physical exercise and high discipline in their businesses give very little attention to their plans for developing their minds. There is a saying: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Don’t waste it!

Christian who always want and eager to learn is a growing Christian. They know that their God-given mind is a great responsibility from the Lord and that they desire to use it for the glory of God. Here are my 3 ways (and suggestions for you) on how I continue my passion to learn something new about Christ, myself and others:

#1 Reading
Reading and meditating the Word of God is the foremost important for our spiritual life. We ought to read God’s Word with our heart and – our mind. Besides that, I also read the writings and biographies of great people because these kinds of books offer a lot of useful information, very inspirational and encouraging. I also read wide and diverse.

It is too easy and tempting for people to spend hours in front of a television watching programs mindlessly or to surf internet and spend too much time on social media. Great example of mature Christians that I know personally usually prefers to spend time with their Bible or books rather than to join the rest of the world seeking for mere entertainments and pleasures (Of course, there is a time for everything).

#2 Observing
Learn also by observation. I love to go to the malls and public parks just to observe people. John T. Noe writes, “Too many people are more concerned about other people’s observations of themselves than they are about observing others.” If you want to develop a learning spirit, become a keen observer of everything and everybody around you. Better still; observe your spiritual mentors (if you have any). Sought to learn everything you could by watching their every action. Learn from their successes and failures.

#3 Listening
We simply can’t learn if we always do the talking. I always ask students this question: ‘Which one is more important, praying or reading the Word of God?’ Normally I get the answer: ‘Both’. That is right. But if I were to choose only one for an answer, I will say, ‘Reading the Word’. Why? When I pray, I talk to God; when I read, God talk to me. Since God is God and I am not – God’s Word is the most important and the highest priority in the conversation. I must listen more and talk less. Learn to listen to others. You will meet many people – young and old – from whom you can learn… if only you take the time and trouble to listen.

Read. Observe. Listen. Learn and apply.
God’s Holy Spirit be with you – to guide and to teach you. Amen.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

I against Cheap Grace Teaching: Whatever Happen to the Law of God and Repentance?

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 2:8-9, NLT)

First, what is grace? It’s not that simple to explain but not complex either. Let me try. Grace is like the gift of life. We cannot take credit for it any more than my cousin’s baby can brag about being born! Grace is getting something from God that doesn’t belong to us. Grace is God’s special favor freely given to undeserving people. “Grace,” A.W. Tozer writes, “is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.” I don’t expect you to understand what grace is – no one does – grace is not meant to be understood intellectually (alone) but (also) to be understood experientially thru believing-faith in Christ.

Second, what grace is not? This one is quite simple to explain. Grace is not ‘do-whatever-you-want- to-do.’ It is not ‘God-love-everyone-no-matter-what.’ Grace is not against or ignoring the Law of God. But, some of you might ask, “Richard, isn’t Paul taught in Romans 6:14 that we ‘no longer live under the requirements of the Law’ instead ‘under the freedom of God’s grace’?” Yes, you are right. But have you not read chapter 5, 6, 7 and 8 to set the meaning of Romans 6 in context?

In the nutshell: living by the grace of God mean living in the life-giving Spirit. The Law doesn’t save us, God saved us. But the Law is not evil; it is in itself is holy, right and good. Without the Law, grace will not have it full meaning. The Law, even the preaching of the Law of God is not against the gospel of Christ, it is the best compliment for the teaching of the grace of God. Why? Because the more we realize how sinful and undeserving we are by God’s standard, His holy Law, the more we are thankful and forever in debt with God when He shows us His grace to us.

When someone tries to argue with me, ‘Richard, God saved us through faith by grace alone so we don’t need to know about the Law.’ I would ask, ‘True. But tell me, we are saved from what?’ Normally, I will get the standard answer: ‘Our sins.’(The more reformed Christians would add, ‘The wrath of God’) ‘True. But,’ I then respond, ‘how you can know that you’ve sinned or that you’re a sinner?’ ‘Well, because the Spirit convinced me of my sins.’ ‘True. But how the Spirit does that?’ ‘Well, thru His Word of course’Okay. Particularly, which parts of the Word that are clearly convince us that we’re sinners?’ I would enquire. Normally I get a silent treatment. The answer is: the Law of God.

Regarding this matter, I want to say what St. Anthanasius
said at the Council of Nicea in defense of himself
against false teaching of his day:
If all the world falls from the truth, I will stand!”
Cheap grace preachers always emphasis on the love of God and neglect or silent about the righteous side of God. These two must be preached together. Preaching about grace alone is not enough. It doesn’t produce the most essential element of being a born again Christian: repentance. How can I repent if I only know the love of God? I repent because I know that I’m a sinner in the presence of the most holy and righteous God. I repent because by God’s standard (God’s Law), I’m the most filthy and undeserving sinner. When I repented of my sins through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, God welcome me into His family. I’m sinless in His eyes because of Jesus’ blood covers over me. I’m God’s delight and His wrath is no more upon me. I’m saved. When I understand all these, I understand what grace really is. “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.” Only after (not before) I’m converted and became Christian that I know that God loves me.

In conclusion, I plea with you my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reject the teaching of cheap grace that tend to neglect the Law of God. They are not faithful to the whole counsel of God’s Word. We ought to teach the Old and the New Testament alike. The Law without Grace is too expensive and impossible; Grace without the Law is too cheap – and the Cross is not cheap at all! The Law proves to us that we’re undeserving sinners; but by His Grace we’re forgiven anyway and have eternal life.

We shouldn’t teach to the unbelievers that God loves us all unconditionally or that because of His grace we’re not to repent of our sins anymore – the Bible doesn’t teach that! The Bible teaches that God loves the righteous ones and those who continue to believe in Him day after day (not once saved always saved). Malaysia – even Sarawak – is full of cheap grace teaching. Let us be aware and watch out for these “wolves in a sheep’s clothing”. Regarding this matter, I want to say what St. Anthanasius said at the Council of Nicea in defense of himself against false teaching of his day: “If all the world falls from the truth, I will stand!” I hope you will join me in this war. Stand for the truth!

We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone
We are not to live under the Law anymore but under His Spirit’s guidance.
And yet we are not to neglect the important of the Law in our teachings.
The Law produces genuine repentance;
repentance opens the door for real forgiveness.
But only God can forgive our sins and saved us from His holy wrath
He is righteous and loving God!
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Love Your Enemies: One Prisoner's Story of Risky Obedience

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘’I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord’ Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Romans 12:19-21, NLT)

Just a picture
Roy Anthony Borges is a prison inmate who, becoming a Christian had some hard lessons to unlearn. All his life he had been taught to hate his enemies, particularly within prison walls. One of his most vexing enemies was Rodney, who stole his radio and headphones one day while Roy was playing volleyball in the prison yard. It was an expensive radio, a gift from his mother. The earphones had been a Christmas present from his sister. Roy was angry and wanted revenge, but as he prayed about it, it seemed to him that God was testing him.

Day after day, Roy wanted to respond violently, to knock the wisecrack grin off Rodney’s face, but Romans 12:20-21 kept coming to mind: Paul’s instruction to avoid vengeance, leaving it to God to settle the score. Roy began to look at Rodney through God’s eyes and have compassion on him. He began praying for him. He began trusting God to accomplish something in Rodney’s life.

By and by, Roy’s hatred for Rodney began fading, and he found himself helping his enemy and telling him about Jesus. Then one day, Roy later wrote, “I saw Rodney kneeling down next to his bunk reading his Bible, and I knew that good had overcome evil”*

To do evil for good is human corruption;
to do good for good is civil retribution;
but to do good for evil is Christian perfection” (Rev. William Secker)
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good

*Story above is taken from Roy Anthony Borges, “Love Your Enemies: One Prisoner’s Story of Risky Obedience,” Discipleship Journal, Issue 107, 42-43.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hidup Kita terlalu Singkat

Semakin aku berfikir, semakin susah hatiku;
lalu aku bertanya, “Ya TUHAN, beritahulah aku masa kematianku
supaya aku tahu betapa singkatnya hidupku.”
Betapa pendeknya umurku Engkau tentukan!
Bagi Engkau, seumur hidupku tidak bererti apa-apa.
Sesungguhnya hidup setiap orang seperti hembusan nafas,
hidup mereka berlalu seperti bayangan.
Segala perbuatan mereka sia-sia;
mereka mengumpulkan harta,
tetapi tidak tahu siapa akan mewarisinya.
Apakah yang boleh aku harapkan, ya Tuhan?
Aku berharap kepada-Mu.” (Mazmur 39:4-8, BM)

Masa ialah seperti tenaga di dalam bateri – kita tidak tahu berapa banyak tenaga yang ada sehinggalah sesuatu alat seperti jam dinding yang menggunakan bateri berhenti berfungsi. Apabila itu berlaku, barulah kita tahu bahawa tenaga di dalam bateri sudah habis (Itu yang berlaku kepada jam dinding di pejabat saya minggu lepas). Masa, bukan seperti bateri, tidak boleh dibeli atau ditukar atau dipinjam dari orang lain. Sebab itulah masa sangat berharga dan kita (walaupun kita tahu akan kenyataan ini) kadang-kadang tidak menghargai hidup yang kita ada seolah-olah ia adalah sesuatu yang tidak membawa maksud apa-apa.

Kamu mungkin merasakan bahawa kamu telah mensia-siakan masa yang ada dengan melakukan perkara-perkara yang tidak berfaedah atau yang tidak ada tujuan. Dan pada masa yang sama, kamu juga sedar sejak dulu lagi bahawa kamu patut menggunakan masa yang ada untuk melakukan sesuatu perkara yang mempunyai harapan, tujuan dan matlamat yang boleh membawa impak yang besar dalam hidup kamu. Mungkin, pada ketika ini, kamu tidak pasti bagaimana untuk hidup seperti itu.

Firman TUHAN sangat jelas tentang ini: Setiap apa yang kita lakukan di dunia ini – sepanjang hidup yang Tuhan telah berikan kepada kita – akan memberi kesan dan impak kepada kehidupan kita di akhirat kelak. Mungkin ada diantara kita mempunyai pemikiran seperti ini: ‘Terlalu banyak yang perlu dilakukan, tetapi masa terlalu sedikit’. Ingatlah bahawa Tuhan tidak meminta kita melakukan semua perkara di dunia ini tetapi hanya perkara “yang dikehendaki Tuhan bagi kamu” (Efesus 5:17).

Apa yang Tuhan hendak kamu lakukan di dunia ini? Saya tidak tahu... kamu sendiri perlu bertanya kepada-Nya. Apa yang saya tahu ialah: setiap perkara yang Tuhan ingin kamu lakukan di dunia ini, Dia akan menyediakan masa yang secukupnya untuk kamu melakukannya! Semakin kita berusaha untuk mengetahui apa yang dikehendaki Tuhan dalam hidup kita melalui doa dan Firman-Nya, semakin bermakna hidup yang kita ada di dunia ini. Kita akan ada tujuan dan matlamat dalam hidup yang boleh membawa impak kepada diri kita sendiri dan kepada orang lain. Biarlah Allah Bapa dipermuliakan di dalam hidup kita, demi nama Yesus Kritus Tuhan kita. Amen.

Roh Kudus, ajar kami untuk tidak mensia-siakan hidup kami
Sedarkanlah kami betapa pendeknya usia kami,
supaya kami menjadi bijak bestari.” (Mazmur 90:12, BM)
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What If Jesus Were Your Boss?

Pic taken from:
I have a question for you: Would your work attitudes change drastically if Jesus were your boss? If so, listen to Paul:
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24, NLT)

We work not merely as if Jesus were the boss. We work knowing that in the final analysis – Jesus is the boss, as Paul’s last sentence makes clear. “Master (or Boss) you are serving is Christ” is the hallmark of the believer’s practice, and that extends to our works.

With Jesus as our Master, there is only one way we can do our works: with all our heart. Tackle our works with joy, passion and enthusiasm. If it is boring (I know some works are indeed boring), try to devise creative ways of building a challenge into it. Let no-one, especially the not-yet-believers at our workplace, be able to say, as they watch us at work, “Richard’s heart isn’t in it.” The Scripture urges us to work “as slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Ephesians 6:7-6, NLT).

Work as if Jesus were the boss – Jesus is the Boss
Work with all our Heart – Work with Enthusiasm
Working with people – Working for the Lord
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Be a Playful Christian

Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once we grow up.” That can be applied as our attitude in Christian life.

I love to asked people questions. One of my favorite questions these days is: ‘Do you still have a “child” within you?’ When I asked children obviously their answer is a resounding yes. When I asked my teenage cousins, about half of them said yes and the other not sure. But when I asked my grown up friends, they either think that my question is nonsense or they would just smile and walk away (or change topic). Only one or two would dare to say yes, even that was said hesitantly. Where is our childhoodness?

Jesus loves children (just read Matthew 18 and Mark 10). Whenever I read the gospels, I realized that Jesus always took children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them. Children have a way of approaching life with delights. Children simply see the world as fresh, with wonders, carefree, full of adventure and have simple faith. Jesus loved this quality in children, and He urged His followers – the adults – to follow their example. Be grown up in our thinking but be like children in our faith and attitude. Be like Children in these things.

One particular attitude of children that I like to see in Christians today is: to be playful. A boring Christian – in my judgment – is sinning against our neighbors. A boring Christian doesn’t glorified God. We must know how to have fun and delight in everything we do. We must learn how to be playful. One day when my boss felt that she needs a break from her busyness, she would call some of the staffs in office, locked the door and play Monopoly games! She is most spiritual person I ever know, and yet, she is playful! What an example for me to follow.

Let’s learn to play again. The important thing is to do it for its own sake. If you play football or basketball or badminton, do it just to enjoy the game, not try to be professional like David Beckham or Michael Jordan or Dato Lee Chong Wei. Play card game; play hide and seek with children; buy a yo-yo; running with dog; dress up like superhero (mine is Superman!); play plasticine clay and make some figures; play snooker, go bowling with family and friends, etc.

Persecutions are sure for Christians but let’s not make life harder.
Let’s play sometime and enjoy life as it is. Be like Children again.
C.S. Lewis writes, “It is the duty of every Christian to be as happy as possible.”
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Name Above Every Name

How to express my experiences, my thoughts and my feelings for God this week? Too great and so abundant that I find it is inexpressible. My words are limited. Therefore I need help. And then I read this beautiful poet today and I want to share with you as my expression of Who God is to me:

The Name Above Every Name
By John H. Sammis

O What is Jehovah El Shaddai to me?
My Lord, God and Savior, Immanuel, He;
My Prophet, Priest, Sacrifice, Altar, and Lamb;
Judge, Advocate, Surety, and Witness, I AM;
My Peace and my Life, my Truth and my Way;
My Leader, My Teacher, my Hope, and my Stay;
Redeemer and Ransom, Atonement, and Friend;
He’s Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End.

Yea more is Jehovah El Shaddai Beside –
Avenger and Shepherd, and Keeper and Guide;
My horn of Salvation, my Captain in war;
My Dayspring, my Sun, and my Bright Morning Star;
My Wonderful Counselor, Wisdom, and Light;
My Shadow by day and my Beacon by night;
Pearl, Ornament, Diadem, Treasures untold;
My Strength and my Sun, in Him I behold.

All this is Jehovah Ropheka and more –
My Bread and my Water, my Dwelling, my Door;
My Branch and Vine, my Lily and Rose;
Rock, Hiding Place, Refuge, Shield, Covert, Repose;
My sure Resurrection, my Glory above;
My King in His beauty, my Bridegroom, my Love;
My All and in all in Christ Jesus I see,
For God hath made Him to be all things to me.
Now say to thy soul, “What is He to thee?”

Jesus is my Lord and Savior
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Berbahagialah Orang Yang Meminta Tolong dan Menolong Orang Lain

Serahkanlah hidupmu kepada TUHAN,
berharaplah kepada-Nya dan Dia akan menolong engkau
(Mazmur 37:5,

Setiap manusia ada batasnya. Kita ada kelemahan; kadang-kadang kita merasakan bahawa apa yang kita lakukan tidak cukup; kita kurang kemahiran dan pengetahuan tentang sesuatu; dan ada juga masanya kita memang tidak tahu apa yang harus dilakukan dan bagaimana untuk melakukannya. Kadang-kadang apabila masalah datang kita buntu. Kita memerlukan pertolongan.

Walaupun dunia sangat mengagumi orang yang pintar, kuat, berdikari dan mampu melakukan sesuatu yang hebat seorang diri – namun, kebenarannya ialah tiada sesiapapun yang boleh hidup seorang diri selama-lamanya. Oleh sebab itu, TUHAN telah menciptakan kita dan memanggil kita (melalui Kristus) untuk mempunyai hubungan dengan Dia dan dengan orang lain. Kita memerlukan TUHAN untuk hidup dan kita memerlukan orang lain untuk perhubungan.

Salah satu perkara yang mesti berlaku dalam setiap perhubungan ialah kita harus memberi dan menerima pertolongan. Kita memerlukan pertolongan untuk menyiapkan sesuatu pekerjaan. Kita memerlukan pertolongan untuk memulihkan perhubungan. Kita memerlukan pertolongan untuk kita belajar sesuatu yang baru dan pertolongan dari segi akal fikiran untuk menyelesaikan masalah. Kita juga memerlukan pertolongan secara rohani untuk menyatakan kepada orang yang kita telah sakiti “Maafkan saya”. Dalam kebanyakkan perkara, kita memerlukan pertolongan.

TUHAN ingin menolong kita. Firman TUHAN mengatakan: “Serahkanlah hidupmu kepada TUHAN, berharaplah kepada-Nya dan Dia akan menolong engkau” (Pemazmur ini menulis tentang bagaimana TUHAN akan menolong dia daripada musuh-musuhnya. Walaupun konteknya berbeza, namun begitu, kebenarannya tetap sama bahawa TUHAN akan sentiasa menolong umat-umat-Nya jika kita menyerahkan hidup kita dan berharap kepada-Nya).

TUHAN ingin dan sangat bersukacita untuk menolong kita. Dia ialah Penolong yang setia kerana Dia yang paling bijaksana, berkuasa dan penuh dengan kasih. Sumber pertolongan kita datang dari Dia, and Dia juga pasti akan memberkati orang yang sanggup menolong orang lain. Janganlah takut dan malu atau terlalu ego untuk meminta pertolongan daripada TUHAN dan daripada orang lain. Sebagai pengikut Kristus, kita harus meminta (berdoa) pertolongan daripada TUHAN Bapa melalui Roh Kudus dengan nama Yesus Kristus. Belajar juga untuk berbuat begini: meminta pertolongan daripada orang lain – dan menolong orang yang memerlukan pertolongan daripada kita. Amin.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

13 Things Your Dog can Teach You

I’m not a dog lover, not a dog hater either. I (sort of) like dog but never have the desire for having it as my pet. I believe that dog must be free to walk around without been chained and put in cage (well, there are some negative aspects of it too). I love to see dog running wild and free.

 One evening as I observed a dog and its master, I learned many things from both of them and the lists below said what I want to says about them. Thirteen things your dog can teach you:

1.     When loved ones come, always run to greet them.
2.     Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
3.     Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
4.     Take naps and stretch before rising.
5.     Run, romp, and play daily.
6.     On hot days drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
7.     When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
8.     No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout; run right back out and make friends.
9.     Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
10.            Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
11.            Be loyal.
12.            Never pretend to be something you’re not.
13.            If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

The Jewish proverb says “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!” (Proverbs 6:6, NLT) I say, my proverb for today is: “Take a lesson from dogs, you animal lovers. Learn from their behaviors and become wise!
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