Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jesus among Religious Leaders and Philosophers


Great teachers always point beyond themselves in their teaching. Books written about Buddha, Confucius, Moses, Mohammad, Plato, Marx, even Einstein (one of my favourite) regard their teachings and philosophies as the key. They would say, ‘Don’t look at me, look at my teaching. I am not important, my teaching is.’ They don’t dare to say, ‘I’m the way to God.’

But with Jesus it is very different. Whereas many teachers past and present have said, ‘I’m not too sure, but I think this…’ or ‘everything and everyway leads to the infinite truth’ or someone said to me once, ‘Richard, Jesus is not the only way! Christianity and other religious are the same,’ Jesus, however, made the most amazing claim: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus also said this about Himself: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35); “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5); “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:14); “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9); “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12); “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26); and lastly but not the least, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13).

Oh ya, He also said, “Follow me” (Mark 1:17, 2:14). He did not bring us a philosophy or idea to discuss or to debate. He brought us Himself as the way (back) to God. True Christianity is different – it is accepting the friendship of Jesus and following Him. Our obedience to His teaching follows our acceptance of His friendship. “The vital issue,” writes J. John, “is not just what we think or believe about Jesus’ teaching, but what we do about Jesus.”


THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Be Yourself


The Son of Man …a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19, NIV)

I’m not that popular. But I have known a few people who have tried hard to be my friend. But the more they tried, the more I’ve run away. Why? Because authentic friendships are based on freedom rather than ‘forcing.’ I’m sure you have met people like this. Their over-eager and over-do always suffocated us before the friendship even begin. You and I, too, have the tendency to try hard to ‘force’ ourselves when we try to make friend with others.

If you are in need of friends – be yourself. I mean, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. It is worthy to ask why Jesus was a good friend. What is clear when I read the Gospels story is that Jesus was always Himself. It is impossible to think of a meeting where Jesus puts on some sort of pretentious act to impress people. Jesus didn’t find His value in other people; He didn’t need people’s approval or appreciation. His security was always rooted in the fact that His Father loved Him. He didn’t get this from friends, but from time alone with God. Therefore, He being friend with others not to get something from them but because He being Himself always (Note: By being Himself, Jesus was not only winning many friends but also make enemies because hypocrites hate authentic friendships).

To be ourselves is the stepping-stone to all friendships. People generally will try to avoid those who a lack in security, too talkative and too withdrawn. Now that we’re Christians, we must remember that God’s favour is with us and nothing else can stand against us – not even people’s reactions to us. Just be yourself in Christ. Everyone needs friends. Everyone needs good friends. Everyone appreciate when you being yourself.


THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reasons Why We Mad at Muhammad Firdaus Dullah’s Mother


On last Saturday (20th June 2014), Malaysia Immigration Department officers, by God’s grace, on a scheduled operation to crackdown against illegal immigrants at the flats block in Taman Semarak, Nilai, Seremban, were taken by surprised to found Muhammad Firdaus Dullah (see picture) “who is physically and mentally challenged, living in extremely unhygienic conditions in a room at the unit,” writes The Sun Daily newspaper last Sunday.

The boy was her mother’s second son from her first husband. Her current husband, she said, was not living with them. This 15 year old boy was found neglected and malnourished – literally, skin and bones – at the flat because the mother, a food catering company staff, said that she was so busy working and have no time to take care of Firdaus. At this writing she was remanded by the police under Section 31 of the Child Act. And Firdaus, thankfully, is being treated at the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital in Seremban. He is responding well to the treatment and is expected to recover soon. God have mercy!

Because of this abuse, this insanity, people all over Malaysia that heard the news – whatever religious, races and background they are from (as long as they are called human beings) – are mad like hell! On mother’s day, we read something like this “Mother’s love is the most pure of all” but now we read all over social medias that Firdaus’s mother is somewhat “the most evil of all!” Why are we so mad? What does it tells about us? What make us mad?

I’m not trying to insult Firdaus and his mother, but I’m trying to make us think of why we’re so mad whenever we read or heard news like this. I think there are 3 main reasons why (and what does it tell about us):

1) We are Mad because of the Injustice and Lack of Mercy
Handicapped, deformed limbs, weak and small Firdaus is basically dependence on others in order to survive. There are many Firdauses around us today. We can see people like him almost everywhere if we care to look. There are also many people like his mother if we care to know. We are mad because somehow we ourselves are the victims of the injustice. Government supposed to take care of the citizen not exploiting people. Universities supposed to educate students not manipulate them. Religious officers supposed to free people not imprisoned society. Parents should take care of their children. Mother should love her son. Endless injustice. We are mad because there is no mercy.

2) We are Mad because we have the Sense of Right and Wrong
The moment we read the news, we’re mad. As we heard the story repeated over and over again, we’re mad. The last time we saw Firdaus’ picture, we’re mad even until now. Why? Because within us there is a sense of right and wrong which we can know immediately that the act of abuse against Firdaus is a – sin. We are made in the “image of God”, therefore, we know deep in our souls that God hate sins and we are aware of it even when we try to deny it. But like our forefather, we are mad because of other’s sins – always someone else except ourselves – and in this case, Firdaus’s mother’s sin makes us mad.

3) We are mad because We Think that God is Not Fair!
How can a good God let this happened? Why God doesn’t do anything about this? Is God dead? This kind of questions is normally come from those who are mad. Naturally, we are rebellious against God. We mad at God – expressively or secretly – because of every bad thing happened to us and around us. So we say, “God must be fair. Firdaus have the right to live like every other kid.” But never come across our minds that if God is fair then the statement also have to be fair: “God must be fair, we should be handicapped like Firdaus.” We don’t like that kind of fair, we like our own version of fairness. (We are not fair ourselves, then why we expect God to be fair?) In reality we are mad because we can’t figure it out, we can’t figure God out. We are mad because we don’t have the solution to this universal problem. We are mad because we think that God must be fair to His creations… even to Firdaus.

In conclusion, we are mad people. There is Firdaus in every one of us. Though not necessary physical, we are for sure spiritually handicapped, weak and dependence beings. We depend on God. There is also Firdaus’s mother in us. We are selfish, sometime heartless and for sure sinful like her. We are unable to have relationship with the holy God because we are not pure and utterly sinful. There is no such thing as God is fair. The God of the Bible, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, God in Christ, is not a fair God but – a righteous God. This is how righteous God deals with us: Because He is holy, we are His enemies; because God is just, we should be punish for our sins; because of His mercy, He provide the way for us to be save from His wrath. The Scripture point out the way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, see also Acts 16:31).

Only through Jesus we can be right with God, only through Jesus we know the Father and only in Him we can be saved by grace through faith. Why we dwell in mad-ness when Jesus can turn it into gladness? I tell you, there is more pitiful for those who are “neglected” by God and “malnourished” from the Word of God than Firdaus. There is much more to just being mad about the news. The news is just a parable to point out to our humanity greatest need – we need Jesus. Amen.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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God is No Fool

God in the Old and New Testament are the same - Only make clearer in Christ, my Lord.
The Old Testament teaches that obedience to the Ten Commandments will give us favor with God, but Jesus taught (not contrary) it isn't so much what we do that makes us acceptable to God. It is rather what we believe, for in the end, what we believe determines what we do. Good morality will not necessarily lead us to faith, but faith will always lead us to good morality. What we believes matter! Poet below is a good summary of this truth:

God is No Fool
By Lois A. Cheney

They say that God has infinite patience,
And that is a great comfort.

They say God is always there,
And that is a deep satisfaction.

They say that God will always take you back,
And I get lazy in that certitude.

They say that God never gives up,
And I count on that.

They say you can go away for years and years,
And he’ll be there, waiting, when you come back.

They say you can make mistake after mistake,
And God will always forgive and forget.

They say lots of things,
These people who never read the Old Testament.

There comes a time,
A definite, for sure time,
When God turns around.

I don’t believe God shed his skin,
When Christ brought in the New Testament,
Christ showed us a new side of God,
And it is truly wonderful.

But he didn't change God.
God remain forever and ever
And that God
Is
No
Fool.


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Monday, June 23, 2014

I Love Rock Music!


In his book Art and the Bible, Francis Schaeffer (I found it in our office library today) describes four categories of art: bad art with a true message, good art with a true message, bad art with a bad message, and good art with a good message. These four categories of arts reminds me of the modern rock music which I hear almost every day of my life. I love rock music!

Rock music is very exciting and yet very dangerous at the same time. Upbeat rock can increase our mood, make our mind alert and give the sense of freedom to our souls (especially when we sing along). Rock also has the invincible power to unite rock lovers from very part of the world. Just come to the live concerts and you will see how easily strangers can become friends.

The dangerous part is when good music combined with a false message, we can get confused. I don’t believe that Satan creates music. He has no power to create. God is the One who create music for His own glory and for us to enjoy. But Satan (as he always does) can misuse and manipulate music as an instrument of sins. Catchy music and clever lyrics give false messages a credibility they would not ordinarily have (This reminds me of how our generations today draw their many foreign ideas about God and world views from their favourite artists instead of the Scripture). By naturally responding to the song’s quality, we may suspend judgment and accept its false message, too. More over rock music primarily fall short in the areas of materialism, sex (‘love’ usually mean sex) and hedonism (pursuing pleasure and the ‘good life’). This is dangerous!

But why I still listen to rock music? Because the problem is not the music, it is our ability to discern good and acceptable songs from bad and manipulative songs. In reality we can’t get away from listening to rock music and the likes. Television, internet, radio and technology gadgets are full of many kind of music – good and bad and somewhere in between – that bombarded our ears with many confusing messages. To try to get away from this is not just unrealistic but also unchristian. The Scriptures says we are not “of the world” but (yet) “in the world.” Therefore, I still listen to rock but with cautious and discernment. This applies to any songs I hear every day. Just because there are words like “Jesus” and “God” in the lyrics, it doesn’t mean that the message is biblical. Thus, be careful!

But a word of warning: if we want the freedom to listen (or not to listen) to certain songs, then we must reserve judgment and allow others to make their own choices, too. We shouldn’t impose on others to “listen to this” and “don’t listen to that.” Let others have the freedom to choose. I think, rather than condemning rock, God’s people should be in the position of encouraging whatever is good, worthy and true to popular music. And rather than blacklisting, condemning or otherwise writing off rock bands and even Christian rock bands that don’t fit our stereotypes of what Christian musicians should be (unless it is obviously contain false messages), we must encourage them to higher achievement. The Christian community and the world at large desperately need the creativity, enthusiasm, courage and vision Christian artists can bring. Peace!


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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why the Poor are Blessed?



Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
(Matthew 5:3,
ESV)

Matthew chapter 5:1-12 is called the Beatitudes. If I’m not mistaken the word derives from ‘beauty’ and ‘attitude’ which mean ‘beautiful attitude’ as described by Lord Jesus Himself. As we read the Beatitudes, we must understand that it was addressed basically to Jesus’ disciples (therefore, this part of the Bible verses is not suitable for the nonbelievers. Not that they can’t understand, but that it doesn’t make sense to them). The Beatitudes describe the attitudes and characteristics of a true disciple, not a code or set of rules to be followed legalistically. This is how Jesus’ followers ought to live.

Blessed” is a happy word. It describes someone who is to be congratulated because his or her place in life is a fortunate and happy one. But then we read the recipients: “are the poor in spirit” – not so happy words. Why “the poor” are “blessed”? Go to the city of Kuala Lumpur, can we say that the poor are blessed? Walk around any Sarawak marketplaces, do we say that ‘Wow, look at the poor, they are so blessed!’? Surely, there were many poor people during Jesus’ time. I bet they will roll their eyes if this is what Jesus meant by “the poor.

The poor” that Lord Jesus referring here is to the poor “in spirit” not to the poor in pocket! There are two words for “poor” in Jesus’ contemporary language: first, one who has nothing superfluous; second, one who has nothing at all – totally bankrupt and has no resources. Lord Jesus used the second meaning here. Therefore, to be “poor in spirit” is not to be poor-spirited in the sense of timid or cowardly or materially poor but to acknowledge (very important word, acknowledge) one’s spiritual bankruptcy before God.

Do you “poor in spirit” by recognize and confess your unworthiness and unrighteousness in the sight of God? Do you “poor in spirit” by not being proud and self-sufficient? Do you “poor in spirit” that you call out to God for mercy because in reality you’re bankrupt and have nothing except Him? In summary: “Blessed” are those who acknowledge that in the presence of God, they are nothing, bankrupt spiritually because to them belongs “the kingdom of heaven.” Not a reward for good works, but the “poor in spirit” depend on God.  Not to be earned, but a gift of grace. Happy! Happy! Blessed!

Jesus painted the picture of blessedness in reverse of what the men of the world
considered fortunate and happy. He is different; we’re different, my friends.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Teach with Your Life

 
The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They’ll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.

You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the [followers of Jesus], and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.

Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.

Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
[Quote from 1 Timothy 4, The Message (MSG) in bracket mine. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson]
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Leadership in the Church


 
If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap.

The same goes for those who want to be servants in the church: serious, not deceitful, not too free with the bottle, not in it for what they can get out of it. They must be reverent before the mystery of the faith, not using their position to try to run things. Let them prove themselves first. If they show they can do it, take them on. No exceptions are to be made for women—same qualifications: serious, dependable, not sharp-tongued, not overfond of wine. Servants in the church are to be committed to their spouses, attentive to their own children, and diligent in looking after their own affairs. Those who do this servant work will come to be highly respected, a real credit to this Jesus-faith.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
[Quote from 1 Timothy 3:1-13, The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson]
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Friday, June 13, 2014

John MacArthur on Discipleship (not Spectatorship)



Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets,
 the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is
 to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ
.”
(Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT)

What are the marks of an effective church? Here are few essential marks of an effective church by John MacArthur which consists of godly leadership, biblical goals, discipleship, outreach, concern for one another, a commitment to the family, biblical teaching & preaching, a willingness to change and worship. Under discipleship, John writes,

The church is not an arena where a professional preacher/minister is cheered on by laypeople who are nothing more than spectators. The church should be discipling and training Christians for ministry. Church members, not just staff, are supposed to be ministering. That is the point of Ephesians 4:11-12. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers are given to equip the saints to do the work of ministry.

All of this results from discipleship. Discipleship is the ministry of developing deeply spiritual friendships focusing on the teaching biblical truth, applying Scripture to life, and thus learning to solve problems biblically. It must be reinforced by a godly example, not just delivered as a set of academic precepts. Therefore, discipleship involves time and personal involvement with people. Jesus’ earthly ministry to His own disciples is the biblical model. The church must provide an environment that encourages that kind of discipleship at every level, from the pastor to the newest convert.”
[Quote from John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church becomes like the World (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2010), pg. 193]

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kenapa Kebanyakkan Orang Tidak Tahu Perkara Sebenar: "Awak dari Sarawak ker Malaysia?"


Banyak cerita saya dengar dari rakan-rakan dan pelajar-pelajar dari Sarawak yang bekerja atau melawat atau belajar di Semenanjung Malaysia (malah melalui pengalaman saya sendiri) mengenai hal tentang dimana kami berasal. Ada yang secara sengaja bertanya, “Kamu tinggal di atas pokok ka?” Ada yang menyindir, “Kamu makan apa disana?” Ada yang langsung tidak sedar akan kebodohan mereka dengan memberi ucapan: “Selamat datang ke Malaysia.” Kadang-kadang saya marah dengan kenyataan ‘bodoh’ sebegitu, kadang-kadang sedih juga dengan betapa ceteknya ilmu pengetahuan sesetengah orang Malaysia. Namun begitu, golongan ini hanya terdiri daripada segelintir  rakyat sahaja (saya berharap).

Kebenaran: Malaysia ialah negara dan Sarawak ialah negeri – Sarawak dan Semenanjung Malaysia membentuk Malaysia. Sarawak dalam Malaysia (bukan Sarawak dan Malaysia). Katolik dan Anglican ialah makzab atau denominasi dan Kristian ialah agama. Muslim ialah gelaran bagi penganut Islam, Islam ialah agama, Melayu ialah kaum. Bukan semua orang Melayu ialah Muslim, dan Muslim bukan hanya terdiri daripada orang Melayu sahaja. Orang Cina dan India yang mempunyai kad pengenalan asal ialah warganegara Malaysia dan mereka tidak boleh diusir ke China atau India kerana ini ialah tempat lahir mereka. Iban, Melanau, Orang Asli, Kadazan, Bidayuh dan sebagainya ialah kaum; Malaysia ialah kewarganegaraan. Bangsa kita ialah bangsa Malaysia!

Banyak lagi hal yang saya ingin kongsikan disini. Contohnya, tentang isu ‘Holy Water’ baru-baru ini. Air biasa yang digunakan sebagai simbol upacara agama dituduh mengandungi minyak babi dan sebagainya. Walaupun ia berasal daripada tradisi gereja dan bukannya ajaran Alkitab, ianya tetap bukan air jampi untuk menjadikan penganut Islam sebagai Kristian. Ini merupakan tuduhan yang tidak berasas dan berakal! (Fikir juga tentang isu ‘Cadbury’ baru-baru ini dan isu 'Allah', ‘Valentine’ dan ‘Starbuck’ dahulu).

Semua ini membuat saya bertanya: Kenapa kebanyakkan orang tidak tahu tentang perkara asas seperti ini? Saya berpendapat ada tiga sebab utama yang saya ingin kaitkan juga dengan penerimaan ajaran Kristian di Malaysia: 1) Kebanyakkan orang tidak tahu kerana mereka tidak diberi ajaran yang benar atau pendidikkan yang secukupnya. Kurangnya pengetahuan tentang sesuatu perkara menyebabkan ramai orang suka membuat tanggapan dan mudah percaya kepada apa sahaja maklumat yang diberikan kepada mereka. Jika ada ustaz mengatakan bahawa agama Kristian ialah agama yang berasal dari negara barat (padahal ianya tidak benar) ramai orang akan percaya tanpa usul periksa kerana mereka tidak diberikan maklumat yang sahih dan secukupnya (Kadang-kadang kebenaran sengaja tidak diberitahu supaya orang percaya tanpa berfikir).

2) Kebanyakkan orang tidak tahu kerana mereka tidak memeriksa maklumat dengan fakta dan mengambil inisiatif untuk mengkaji sesuatu perkara itu. Kejadian seperti penyebaran maklumat melalui laman sosial contohnya, telah mengakibatkan kita marah atau membuat tuduhan dengan membuta tuli. Pernahkah kamu membaca dan percaya atau marah dan menyebarkan maklumat tentang sesuatu perkara tanpa usul periksa dahulu yang akhirnya (selepas beberapa hari atau minggu kemudian) mendapati bahawa ianya tidak benar? Kejadian seperti isu ‘Cadbury’ dan ‘Holy Water’ merupakan contoh jelas yang baru-baru ini berlaku. Apabila orang Kristian yang benar berkata bahawa “Yesus lahir ke dunia, menjalani hidup tanpa berbuat dosa, telah mati di kayu salib bagi dosa manusia, bangkit semula selepas tiga hari dan barangsiapa yang percaya bahawa Dia ialah Tuhan dan menerima Dia sebagai Juruselamat, mereka akan diselamatkan daripada hukum dosa dan Roh Kudus akan tinggal di dalam mereka” pernahkah Berita Baik ini diselidiki dengan mendalam lagi?

Akhirnya, 3) Kebanyakkan orang tidak tahu kerana mereka memang tidak mahu tahu perkara yang sebenar. Ini kes yang paling berat! Mereka tidak mahu tahu samada Sarawak dalam Malaysia, samada Katolik itu makzab atau agama, samada khutbah yang didengarkan itu betul atau salah, samada ajaran Alkitab itu benar atau tidak. Mereka tidak mahu tahu kerana mereka sudah selesa dengan keadaan mereka sekarang. Ego dan harga diri lebih penting daripada kebenaran. Mereka tidak mahu tahu langsung samada dosa mereka benar-benar telah diampuni. Mereka tidak mahu tahu apa yang akan berlaku kepada mereka apabila sudah mati kelak – syurga atau neraka. Mereka bergantung kepada pekerjaan baik dan menilai kemuliaan mereka berdasarkan pemikiran diri sendiri dan bukannya dengan bersandarkan kepada kasih kurnia dan menerima dengan iman jalan menyelamatan yang diberikan oleh Tuhan melalui Yesus Kristus. Mereka tidak mahu tahu kerana mata rohani mereka telah ditutup oleh si Iblis. Mereka tidak mahu tahu kerana mereka tidak sanggup mengambil risiko apabila mengetahui kebenaran yang sebenar. Mereka tidak mahu tahu kerana... mereka tidak mahu tahu. Ini kes yang paling berat!

“Mereka” yang saya maksudkan disini ialah – kamu dan saya.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

Hymn to a Good Wife

Pic taken from: confessionsofacollegestu.blogspot.com
A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
    all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
    reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
    when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
    her husband joins in with words of praise:
Many women have done wonderful things,
    but you’ve outclassed them all!
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises!

(Proverbs 31:10-31, The Message
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
 
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Master of Divinity (M.Div) in Tongue Ministry (Enrol Now!)



A prayer stuck up on my friend’s office table: “Lord, help me to keep my big mouth shut until I know what I am saying!” What a wise advice to follow. I think James, the half-brother of Jesus, was probably writing from the same kind of experience when he writes, “Beasts, birds, reptiles and all kinds of sea-creatures can be, and in fact are, tamed by man, but no one can tame the human tongue. It is an evil always liable to break out, and the poison it spreads is deadly” (James 3:7-8, J.B. Phillips).

If you think James’s reaction is a little extreme, ask Christian leaders how much harm is being done in their congregations, churches or fellowships by negative gossip, criticism, lies or part-truths being spread about, and how much time is being wasted by Christians in idle, useless chatter. Ask me. Ask yourself. In fact, ask anyone and they will testify that it is true.

The tongue is one of God’s most precious gifts to us. You can use your words – both spoken and written – to help, encourage, motivate and build up other Christians, and to bring the not-yet-Christians to a fuller understanding of the Kingdom of God and the relationship that God wants to have with them through Jesus Christ. We all should enroll to God’s school in Master of Divinity (M.Div) in Tongue Ministry, if you know what I mean, to learn how to control and use it for God's glory!

Do not let your words be a hindrance to God’s work rather than instrument for it. Let it be use “to bless our Father, God” and not “to curse our fellow-men, who are all created in God’s likeness” (James 3:9). Therefore, do not just be alert before you speak (or write post update on your Facebook and Twitter), think and be wise, and if possible, pray as well!

I think: It is better to ask God to control your tongue than to speak in tongue
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kudus, Kudus, Kudus



Kudus, kudus, kuduslah TUHAN semesta alam,
Seluruh bumi penuh kemuliaan-Nya!” (Yesaya 6:3, TB)

Alkitab menyatakan bahawa Allah itu kudus, tanpa cela, suci dan sempurna. Dari Kitab Kejadian hingga Kitab Wahyu, Allah menyatakan Diri-Nya sebagai TUHAN yang Kudus. Allah kudus sehinggakan Dia tidak dapat menahan dosa dan tidak mampu melihat dosa.

Oleh kerana kekudusan Allah, Dia berpaling dan membelakangkan Tuhan Yesus Kristus apabila Kristus mengambil kepada diri-Nya dosa seluruh dunia di kayu salib. Itulah satu-satunya (hanya sekali) masa dalam kesatuaan Allah Triniti dimana hubungan Allah Bapa dan Allah Anak mengalami keretakkan.

Kristus berseru di kayu salib, “Ya Allah-Ku, ya Allah-Ku, mengapa Engkau meninggalkan Aku?” (Markus 15:34, BM). Betapa dahsyatnya kesedihan dan kesakitan (secara fisikal dan rohani) Kristus ketika itu apabila kegelapan dosa yang ditanggung oleh-Nya telah menyebabkan Allah Bapa berpaling meninggalkan-Nya. Namun betapa indahnya ketika itu (sekarang dan selamanya) apabila Kristus mengorbankan diri-Nya yang kudus dan suci untuk mati bagi setiap dosa yang sepatutnya ditanggung oleh kita.

Sekarang, Allah berfirman agar kita menjadi kudus seperti Dia (1 Petrus 1:16). Tetapi bagaimana ini boleh terjadi? Bagaimana kita yang berdosa ini boleh menjadi kudus? Apabila kita menerima dan mengaku bahawa Yesus Kristus ialah Tuhan dan Juruselamat kita, Dia akan hadir dalam kehidupan kita, menyucikan kita daripada dosa, dan tinggal di dalam kita melalui Roh Kudus-Nya. Pada masa itu, kita akan mula bertumbuh menjadi seperti Dia, dan akan terus bertumbuh dalam iman sehingga kita bersama dengan Kristus suatu hari nanti dan memiliki tubuh yang baru dalam hadirat-Nya.

Oh betapa indah-Nya Allah itu.
Melalui Kristus apa yang kita anggap sebagai mustahil –
pendosa menjadi kudus – boleh terjadi.
Puji, syukur dan hormat kepada Allah Tuhan kita! Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Practice Authentic Facebooking




I quote this from Jesse Rice’s The Church on Facebook,

“Because Facebook is an environment that typically rewards the most clever or the most willing to risk self-revelation, we can sometimes exaggerate or downplay certain things about ourselves to get a response. Likewise, we can be tempted to ‘overshare’ ourselves with others in order to get and/or keep their attention. Obviously, most of this is good fun. We can certainly take ourselves too seriously, even in such a playful environment, and that would not help any of us.

But many of our relationships are starving for a lack of authentic interaction. One quick way we can practice ‘authentic Facebooking’: Take a look at your profile – the picture you’ve posted, the information you’ve shared. Does the content reflect your God-given nature? Is it ‘true’ to who you really are? If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re artistic, be artistic. If you’re neither, just be you. This can be applied to your interaction with others, too, whether in a wall-post, a message, or a status update. Are you being ‘you’ in the way you interact with your Facebook friends?”
[Jesse Rice, The Church of Facebook (Colorado Spring: David C. Cook, 2009) pg. 213-214]

The Question is:
Are you being ‘you’ in the way you interact with your Facebook friends?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

Free Book!
To read more, request for a copy of this book The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community by Jesse Rice (limit to 5 requesters) by simply do these 2 things:

  1. First, comment below “Rich, give me one copy (Your name). I hope that through this book I can… [Not less than 10 words]”
  2. Then, send message to my inbox Facebook account your real name, phone no. and your postal address. [For book distribution purposes only] Thank you.
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

We Need a New God!




When we declare this wonderful reality – that God Himself is all we need – we may be accused as trite and simplistic, at least, I was. That accusation may prove to be correct unless we show how He actually becomes our life and all in daily practice, and unless those of who proclaim Him alone begin showing Him in our daily walk to be genuinely all we need.

For this to happen require that we have a new God! Now, relax, please forgive me for this overstatement. But there’s a sense in which it really is so. We need to see our God as He is, not as we’re been seeing Him (or make-to-believe who He is). When our view of Him has been corrected, we’ll have quite a different God than we had before.

So many people view Him like the law really is, a hard taskmaster, a universe policeman, an angry grandfather. Some people however view Him from another extreme, an eternal smiling master, always forgiving judge, a never-get-angry father. But we seldom get the balance idea – who He really is – that He is our loving and righteous heavenly Father, God of justice and mercy, always near and yet far from us, to soothe the hurts and wound the enemies, to encourage and warning, to uplift the humble and downlift the proud, He is to transform the believers and condemned the unbelievers. He is known-able and understandable, and yet His ways and His wills are mysteries. He is wonderful and horrible. God of order and unpredictable. Meek and yet powerful. Humble and yet worship-seeker. Sovereign and yet freedom-giver.

To know God as He is, we need to go to the basic – the Scriptures. Sometime our view and idea of God is not from the Scriptures but from other secondary or secondhand source such as devotional books, out-of-context sermons or quotes, movies, etc. Yes, we may also know something about God from those and from nature, art, conscious, reason, experience or collective experience and prayer. But the final, complete, reliable source, of course, is the Scripture. And as we can see, the Scripture is not the end; Christ is the ultimate mean to know God. Jesus said, “You study the Scriptures, because you think that in them you will find eternal life. And these very Scriptures speak about me!” (John 5:39). If you go the Scripture, you’ll know Jesus, and if you know Jesus you’ll know God.

When we have a new God, see God as He is, know God from the Scriptures that “speak about Christ” we’ll have this assurance of our salvation in Him, a genuine daily life with Him and the confidence of declaring this wonderful reality – that God Himself is all we need. Why? Because we know Him. For this to happen we require to have a new God by discovering or rediscovering the Scripture firsthand. For this to REALLY happen, God must move first. To this, Lord helps us. Amen.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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