Thursday, July 31, 2014

God is Looking for the Weak and Little Men

When someone asked Francis of Assisi why and how he could accomplish so much, he replied: “This may be why. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the earth and said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, the littlest, the poorest man on the face of the earth?’ Then He saw me and said, ‘Now I’ve found him, and will work through him. He won’t be proud of it. He’ll see that I am only using him because of his littleness and insignificance.’

S. Craig Glickman explains, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself than you are. Nor is humility always talking about your faults and shortcomings as compared with everyone else’s superiority and achievements. Humility is simply a recognition of the truth about ourselves and then most often, a forgetfulness of self that allows genuine concern for others and a genuine worship of God.” Humility is not denying the power you have. It is realizing that the power comes through you, not from you; a feeling that the greatness is not in you but through you; that you could not do or be anything else than God made you for.

I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other; and that the taller we grew in Christian character, the easier we could reach them,” writes F.B. Meyer a Bible teacher. He then continues, “I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other; and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.” Yes, in the Kingdom of God, the lowest are the highest. Be humble.

Those who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted” said my Lord Jesus
(Matthew 23:12, NLT).

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Seeing the World Through Jesus' Eyes

[The writer]* found it is helpful exercise to ask himself, “How did Jesus go about His ministry as depicted in Scripture?” He has since made a conscious effort to adopt these values as his own in every area of his life, including evangelism. Here are some observations of a script according to Jesus, a man who was the same on outside as He was on the inside.

Jesus saw through the eyes of the Kingdom of God
Like the frontline troops of an army advancing to reclaim lost territory, we are bringing the kingdom of God to bear in this life. Jesus was committed to establishing beachheads in Satan’s territory. He was committed to raiding the camps of darkness and setting free the men and women being help captive. As we wait and look for Jesus to come and win the final battle, our primary call is to evangelism.

Jesus saw through the eyes of Scripture
Our desire is to do and teach simply what the Bible says. Its message holds power when it is read and believed just as it is, without imposing any presuppositions and preconceptions onto the text. We must also go beyond knowing the message of the Bible to obeying it.

Jesus saw through the eyes of mercy
Ours is either to make names for ourselves nor to build lasting institutions, but to meet the needs of broken people through a ministry of mercy. The church is the place where righteousness and mercy meet.

Jesus saw people through the eyes of simplicity
The Son of God did nothing for religious effect. Rather, He operated in a natural, low-key manner.

Jesus saw people through the eyes of integrity
It is vital that what we say is the same as what we do. We must always be careful to speak the truth, deal honestly, and live uprightly.

Jesus saw people through the eyes of culture
Jesus had the ability to speak the cultural language of His day so that people could understand His message of God’s love. We too need to help others to see the gospel can be relevant to their everyday lives.

Jesus saw people through the eyes of reality
Jesus walked in the Spirit and recognized the supernatural works of God. He functioned equally well on the rational plane in His teachings. He both brought and explained the power of the kingdom of God.

Jesus admits the secret of His success: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do” (John 5:19). If we are to succeed in bringing the good news to those around us, we must place our expectation for success in the right place.

[*Taken from Steve Sjogren, Conspiracy of Kindness: A Unique Approach to Sharing the Love of Jesus (California, USA: Regal Books, 1993, 2003) pg. 50-51]
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

9 Lessons I Learned from Transformer 4: The Age of Extinction [Spoiler Alert!]

I watched Transformer 4 two times already. First with my mother and brother (I told my mother, “It’s going to be more than 2 hours…” She arrogantly replied, “Even 10 hours, I don’t care.”). And secondly with my friends (sponsored ticket). For me the movie is very good, excited, entertaining, imaginative, fun, humorous – and undeniably too long. I kind of ‘addicted’ to Transformers film series since Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) and now Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). Seven years being faithful followers.

Do you know? On 2013, there are three possible titles for Transformers 4 which were Transformers: Last Stand, Transformers: Future Cast and Transformers: Apocalypse. But after that they revealed one last possible title, Transformers: Age of Extinction. You know the outcome already.

The movie start after the battle at Chicago five years ago when geologists discover a dinosaur corpse turned to or covered in strange unknown metal. Sixty-five million years ago, the flashback, there were beings known as the Creators “denoted many Seeds wiping out most of life on earth.” Then our new hero, Cade Yeager (acted by Mark Wahlberg), a struggling inventor and single father, come into the scene. One day he found an abandon old truck, bring it home and repair it with the hope that he may sell it. His concern is to send his daughter, Tessa (acted by Nicola Peltz) to college. He didn’t know that the old truck is none other than an injured Optimus Prime. At the same time, an elite CIA agents known as Cemetery Wind with the help of Transformer’s intergalactic bounty hunter, Lockdown, hunt down Transformers – Decepticons and Autobots – all together from the face of the earth. And so the adventures, secrets and avengers begin…

Apart from some negative receptions from my friends about this movie such as the overall directing, length and script writing, I personally find that this movie (again) must be praise for the action-packed scenes, great visual effects and Mark Wahlberg’s acting performance. I also think that this movie should be praised for its moral values. I learned:

1) To see that there is greatness and potential in everyone of us. When Cade Yeager found and bought the old truck home he didn’t know that it is the injured Optimus Prime. The rusty truck is actually the legendary leader of the Autobots! Some people that we meet or perhaps ourselves may look “rusty” from the outside but inside if we look deeper there is a great potential within us if only we let God change us from the inside out.

2) To (sometime) say “No” to good thing so that we can say “Yes” to something better. When Yeager found out that the truck was Optimus Prime, he changed his mind. He doesn’t want to report it to the government and get the reward money but instead he repairs it and work alongside Optimus because he know that there is something big is about to happen – he don’t want to miss it! How many time we missed a lots of opportunities that God have in store for us when we say “yes” too soon?

3) To be royal and faithful to our leaders. When the remaining Autobots (Bumblebee, Crosshairs, Drift and Hound) receive Prime’s command “Calling-all-Autobots!” message and then get to know that Prime is still alive – they rejoice! In their discipleship, they’re faithful to the end even that mean, to some of them, loosing their own souls (“sparks”). Ratchet, the Autobot’s medical officer, even willing to died than to reveal where Prime is to Lockdown. When Christ, our Leader, called us into the new life in Him, He wants us to be Christians that is royal (undivided heart) and faithful (obedience to His Word). We must be willing to abandon and sacrifice our lives for Him if that is required of us to serve Him. We are not just people (“Transformers”); we are Christians (“Autobots”)! 

4) To not underestimate others. After the incident at Cade Yeager’s house in Texas, the CIA hunts down both Prime and Yeager’s family. They are looking for them but they hardly find them. Attinger, the leader of the CIA said to his field leader, James Savoy, “You said he (Yeager) was a nobody!” Don’t underestimate others. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you. Throughout the Bible and even today, God is still using the nobodies (shepherds, tax collectors, fishermen, carpenters, young men and women, old people, mechanics, dancers, security guards, teachers, uneducated parents, etc.) to accomplish His purpose and plan. Are you a ‘nobody’? Good! God may use you if you trust Him.

5) To take actions even if we don’t know what lies ahead of us. Cade Yeager when he realized that he is dealing with something bigger than himself said this: “I’m doing things out of my league” – move ahead and doing his best to save humanity. He and his alien gun. When we don’t know what lies ahead of us, just move on, not by sight but by faith – take actions.

6) To realize that we can’t control our sinful nature. Joshua Joyce, the head of KSI, has perfected “transformium, a codeable, molecularly unstable metal that the Transformers are made of” and created human-made Transformers by using decoded dead Transformers’ brains. (Galvatron was created using data from Megatron’s brain). When they tested the prototypes, they soon realize that they can’t control all of them. Galvatron had manipulated and corrupts all the drones. In the same way, we sometime think that we are in control but actually we are being controlled. Maybe we are being control by our lusts, anger or whatever manifestations of sins (“Megatron’s mind and evil desire”) in our lives. Its time to let go of our sinful nature and let God through His Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

7) To ask for help and to offer help when there is a need. When Optimus Prime found out that the Autobots and humans are in danger, he releases and tames the Dinobots, the Transformers’ legendary heroes. With their help, they destroy Galvatron’s army in no time. We need to be humble (even if we’re the leader) and ask help from people. And when our help is needed, like Dinobots, we must ‘rush’ to help too.

8) To love our enemies. Autobots was once an ally to the human. But after the world is peaceful and the war end, they turned against them. The human betrayed the Autobots. But what the Autobots finally do? They protect the human beings from the real enemies. This is forgiveness. If the machines are willing to forgive the humans (humorously speaking), and if Christ the righteous One are willing to die for us the sinners (seriously speaking), aren’t we suppose to forgive and love our enemies?

9) To have hope in humanity. Since the incidence in Chicago (Transformers 3), Optimus Prime has lost his faith in humanity. He even considers leaving the planet earth until Cade Yeager manages to talk and restore his faith in humanity. “We are human,” said Yeager to Prime, “we make mistakes.” He reminds Prime that it is by ‘mistake’ that he found and saved him. Yeager continues, “Have faith Prime...” And then Optimus Prime changed him mind. Though we read and hear many news about what is happenings in Malaysia and the world today such as the missing of MH370, the crash down of MH17, the war in Gaza, the persecution due to racism and religious agendas, the corruptions and human slavery, etc. – as long as God is on the throne, we still have hope for humanity. God will never leave us. God will still use us – humans that makes mistake we are – to accomplish His will in this world. Have hope in humanity because no matter how much we failed and sinned, we still bear “the image of God” within us. We are redeemable, we are savable and we can be righteous in the sight of God by grace through faith in Christ. We can be useful and we can do many good things and can make the different in this world if God’s Holy Spirit works in us. Have hope people!

Cade Yeager asks Optimus Prime, “Will we ever see you again?”
Cade Yeager, I do not know,” he answers.
But whenever you look to the stars, think of one of them as my soul.”
Do you know what Christ would say to us now if we ask the same question to Him?
He would say: “Be sure, I will be with you. You will know that I’m always near you.
 And whenever you look at the Cross, you know that I love you.”
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Campus Students can Contribute towards the Life of the Church?

Picture taken from:
What are some areas where students can contribute towards the life of the church? Consider the following:

1) Teaching the Sunday school class or helping the Youth Fellowship (YF). The challenge here is especially great for men. In many Sunday schools or YF, there is a shortage of male teachers. It is probably because of this that churches often find it difficult to retain boys once they have finished their secondary school education.

2) Helping to counsel young people. In a way, this is related to the above. Having just undergone the struggles of adolescence themselves, students can better empathize with younger friends now going through theirs.

3) Literature work. Students can either write articles for the church newsletter, recommend books that they have found helpful or load their books for others. It may even be possible to run a book table by making appropriate arrangements with a bookshop. The reading of good books leaves a lasting impact on young lives.

4) In the course of campus life, students gain experience in doing the Lord’s work, for example, leading Bible study groups, learning to share one’s faith, planning a term’s programme, and so on. These experiences can be shared with others in the church.

5) Students’ secular studies can also be put to good practice. Those doing accountancy can help to streamline church accounts and specialists in education can help to upgrade Sunday school teaching.

6) Students can share items about campus life and witness during the church’s prayer meeting. In this way, others will be encouraged to see them as the church’s “missionaries” on campus. Those who study in campuses away from their home towns can keep their church leaders informed of their activities through occasional letters or better through – social networks.

Reminder: The above list is not exhaustive but time is an important constraint. Students will have to strike a balance among various commitments to church work, campus witness, studies and family life. Situation will vary. In churches where there is a lack of capable personnel, students obviously will find themselves tied down with church work. But those who want to take on leadership positions in student work must first carefully think through their priorities. For a period of time at least, students may not be able to do as much for their churches as they wish. Hopefully, their church leaders will be understanding and can be encouraged to see the exceptional possibilities that exist on the campus. The students are their churches’ missionary representatives there. As in FES Malaysia, we encouraged students to embrace their missionary identity in campus! Amen.

Think Big. Start Small. Go Deep.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Origin of True Worship

When God forgives us for Christ’s sake he accepts us as we are. So we don’t have to pretend anymore. We can now face ourselves and what we have done without being driven to despair. For God “declares the guilt to be innocent” (Romans 4:5) – declares us righteous in His sight on the basis of the once-for-all death of Christ for us. When we grasp this wonderful truth, the healing of all our hurts begins (a process, not overnight). I can accept myself because God has accepted me.

C.S. Lewis described the Christian life as “going in for the full treatment.” Jesus promised that, after He returned to heaven, God would send the Holy Spirit to live within every person who is reconciled to God. Turning from our sins and asking for Christ’s forgiveness gives us the privilege of receiving His Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a bit like an interpreter. He reveals Jesus to us, illuminating His teaching and applying the significance of His death on the cross to our lives. He helps us to know God intimately and gives us direction in life. But He is more than an interpreter. For He brings Jesus into our lives as the One who saves us – the Savior – and become our Lord and Friend. For if the Holy Spirit lives in us, so does Jesus.

We cannot fully understand the cross. It has depths to it that we cannot plumb – depths of love and mercy that we shall never exhaust. But this we can know: Jesus died for sinners, and these sinners – you and me – needs to respond to such amazing love. This is the origin of our true worship, a respond to God’s amazing grace.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Most Difficult is the Easiest

In his classic book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes,

“Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two boys, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it. The lazy boy will try to learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for an exam, the lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes. Laziness means more work in the long run.

Or look at it this way. In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing which it takes a lot of pluck to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you funk it, you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger. The cowardly thing is also the most dangerous thing.

It is like that here. The terrible thing, the most impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to (Jesus) Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good.’ We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way – centered on money or pleasure or ambition – and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper that the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.

Indeed, the most difficult (giving and surrender our life to Jesus) is the easiest.
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Don't Misled by False Teachers, Search the Scriptures

"Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves" (Matthew 7:18)

Every Christian leader who fails to point people primarily to the Lord Himself is to that extent a false teacher. Some, claiming the Word of God for their authority, point people to some substitute. Many lift isolated passages from their entire biblical context and give them inaccurate meanings. Others simply know nothing of the depths of Jesus Christ. Much of their teaching is a form of religious humanism.

Be careful however, certainly, don’t let your pride mislead you to set yourself up against your teachers. But in this day too many of the Lord’s people are being misled by shallow, carnal or heretical leaders. So what you should do so that you will not be misled by false teachers? The Lord reminds us to constantly search the Scriptures by giving us the example of the Bereans “for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). We must not blindly received and believed the message that people told us even when they claim to speak in the name of God, but we must examine everything by the Word of God to see if what they said is the truth or false. Submit everything to the Word. Heed the direction and correction found there – for the Lord have spoken.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Man You Thought You Knew

Jesus was born in an obscure village, the child of a pleasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family, or owned a house. He never went to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of those things one usually associated with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life on earth of mankind as powerfully as that one solitary life. His name is Jesus. (Author unknown)

You got to know this Man
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Plea to My Students: Translating Our Faith into Social Action

When I hear Christians, especially Christian students, a lot of them, deep down inside their hearts, want to be heroes, who long to change the world for Jesus. But many get burned out and discourage after a while because they don’t feel one person can make a difference. This is the truth that I want you who think the same to understand that: Jesus saved you and me so that He could work through us to accomplish things that He want to have done in this world. Jesus saved us in order that we might be agents of reconciliation, justice and mercy in the world. Jesus saved us to make a difference.

After someone knew that I work fulltime in student ministry he said to me, “I know that today’s young Christians could change the world.” “Yes,” I responded. Then added, “But they don’t know how to do it. Theology without methodology is ineffective. We must teach them what, why, and how.” Open our eyes! Whether you realize or not, today we actually have more opportunities than ever before to get involved in social action of some kind. There are lots of opportunities to show to the world that our faith in Christ is alive and God is living in and with us through social actions. “Love God” which is invisible to the unbelievers’ eyes must be translated by (or is the motivation to) “love our neighbors” which can be seen.

We can do this through local church or through Christian organization or perhaps side by side with non-Christians through secular charity or through your Christian fellowship in university and campus. Students know that university and college campuses are a focal point for young, idealistic people (like you) to organize and try to effect change. Organize awareness about deforestation in Sarawak, defend the right for every Malaysians to study in the local university and campus, be the voice for domestic violent against women and children, stand up for justice and against corruption in the country by distributing literatures or brochures or setting booth every week, initiate peaceful debates over religious and social issues in Malaysia. Or visit the orphanage and play with them, distribute food for the homeless, paint, repair and build houses for the poor, be volunteers, start a Bible Study group, etc. There are lots of opportunities for us to make a difference today.

Unfortunately, many Christian people feel too busy with college, work and church commitments to get involved in social action. Other than that, if you ask me, I would dare to also add that we are so preoccupied with ‘spiritual’ activities. For examples, young Christians always relate worship with heavy blast of music and no more. Older Christians on the other hand think that the Bible is mainly for study and meditation (just that). Confuse Christians assume that the ability to speaking in tongue is the most important and the highest experience of all. Average Christians assume that going to church every week is enough. And Good News is preached to Christians only (which doesn’t make sense). I know that I’m over generalizing people here, but the main point is that, if we only think that Christianity is only an inside job and faith is exercises within the circle of our comfort zones only, then we really can’t make the different in this world. No wonder young Christians feel discouraged, burn out – and almost hopeless.

I’m not reducing Christianity to some simplistic social gospel. What I’m trying to do is to plea all of us to translating our faith in Christ (if it’s real) into social action. People need to be saved from sin and people need to know that only through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior by God’s grace that they can be saved. This salvation is the ultimate reason (or Kingdom’s agenda) behind all our social actions. But how can they know if the faith that we are proclaiming is real or not? How can they be interested to hear let alone receive the Good News if it doesn’t effect change? Real faith will produce fruits of the Spirit. Real faith will translate into actions. Real faith will make a different in our lives and people’s lives around us.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus calls us to move beyond a desire for personal piety to a desire to serve others. To have our hearts broken by the things that breaks the heart of God. To be filled with righteousness, justice and merciful heart over people around us and the world. Jesus is with us, therefore we can effect change around us.  We need to be willing to stand up and make things happen for God. Jesus reminds us in the Scripture that if we cannot respond to those whom we can see, it is impossible to respond to a God whom we cannot see. Remember: Jesus saved us to make a difference. Yes, we can make a difference!

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