Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Say No to Abortion: Bring Back the Child


Below is an excerpted text from Mother Teresa’s speech at National Prayer Breakfast Speech, Washington, D.C. (5th February 1994). I find that it is both inspiring and challenging speech on abortion that we have to address to the world or at least in our community today:

“… I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us so, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

....By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

....Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India and with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today – abortion which brings people to such blindness.

....And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere – ‘Let us bring the child back’ the child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things – to love and to be loved.”

Do you love life?
Do you love God?

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Nasihat Si Pemikir kepada Orang Muda


Ini ialah nasihat Si Pemikir kepada orang muda: “Hai orang muda, nikmatilah masa muda kamu. Bergembiralah ketika kamu masih muda. Lakukanlah kehendak kamu, dan ikutilah keinginan hati kamu. Tetapi ingatlah bahawa Allah akan mengadili segala perbuatan kamu. Jangan biarkan apa-apa mengkhuatirkan kamu, ataupun menyakitkan kamu. Kamu tidak selamanya muda.

Oleh itu ingatlah Pencipta kamu semasa kamu masih muda, sebelum masa sengsara tiba dan kamu berkata, ‘Aku tidak menikmati hidup.’ Pada masa itu mata kamu tidak lagi terang sehingga cahaya matahari, bulan dan bintang menjadi pudar. Kesusahan bagaikan awan mendung akan membayangi kamu. Lengan yang telah melindungi kamu akan gementar; kaki kamu yang kuat akan menjadi lemah. Gigi kamu terlalu sedikit untuk mengunyah makanan dan mata kamu terlalu rabun untuk melihat dengan jelas. Telinga kamu akan menjadi pekak, sehingga kamu tidak dapat mendengar keriuhan di jalan raya. Kamu tidak akan dapat mendengar bunyi orang mengisar di kilang, atau bunyi muzik. Tidur kamu tidak nyenyak lagi; kamu terjaga setiap kali burung berkicau. Kamu akan takut mendaki tempat yang tinggi, dan kamu harus berjalan dengan hati-hati. Rambut kamu akan beruban, kaki kamu akan kamu seret waktu berjalan, dan segala hasrat dan keinginan hilang.

Kita menuju ke tempat tinggal kita yang terakhir (kubur), lalu orang menangis di sepanjang jalan. Rantai perak akan putus dan lampu emas jatuh dan pecah; tali timba di perigi putus dan kendi hancur berkecai. Tubuh kita akan kembali menjadi debu di bumi. Nafas kehidupan kita akan kembali kepada Allah yang memberikannya kepada kita. Memang semua itu sia-sia, kata Si Pemikir.” (Penghutbah 11:9-12:8, BM)

Janganlah kita mensia-siakan hidup ini dan hanya sedar bahawa “semua itu sia-sia” di akhir kehidupan kita. Hiduplah untuk Yesus Kristus semasa kita masih muda, semasa kita masih pertengahan umur, dan sehingga kita tua. Akhirnya, kita tidak akan menyesal seumur hidup tetapi akan mendengar suara Tuhan dan Penyelamat kita, Yesus Kristus berkata, “‘Bagus, kamu hamba yang baik dan setia” (Matius 25:21, BM) apabila Dia memanggil kita untuk datang kepada-Nya di akhir kehidupan kita. Jangan sia-siakan masa mudamu!

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jesus' Parable that Will Encourage 9.5% Christians in Malaysia (A Reflection on Mark 4:30-32)


What shall we say the Kingdom of God is like?” asked Jesus. “What parable shall we use to explain it? It is like this. A man takes a mustard seed, the smallest seed in the world, and plants it in the ground. After a while it grows up and becomes the biggest of all plants. It puts out such large branches that the birds come and make their nests in its shade” (Mark 4:30-32, GNB).

This is the last of Jesus’ series of parables in the Book of Mark. What is the Kingdom of God is like? In the previous parable Jesus was telling that the Kingdom growth caused by the Word (sharing and living) is illustrated as hidden from us, yet it growth gradually, and in the end it will produce fruit. This is sure. (To Read click HERE). In case we don’t get it – especially for people like me – Jesus now gave another parable to illustrate “the Kingdom of God.” But first, as urbanized-Malaysian citizen, I need to ask this question: What is this “mustard seed” that Jesus is talking about?

Thanks to Google and Wikipedia, I manage to find the answer that I need to know. The seed is generally considered to be a black mustard seed. When it grow it can reach up to 9 feet (or 2.7 meter) tall. It is, however, is not technically “the smallest seed in the world” but the smallest seeds sown in a garden and to the hearers of Jesus’ day, a mustard seed is the smallest seeds they have ever known. The potential in this small seed is enormous. “It grows up and become the biggest of all plants [in the garden].” Soon, its branches become rigid, and the plant often serves as a shelter for birds of many kinds. “The birds come and make their nests in its shade.” The tree now become a blessing. Very useful!

The meaning of this parable is quite clear: the Kingdom of God would have a small beginning and then increases mightily and usefully that it would be beneficial to the whole world. Imagine “the twelve disciples and others who were gathered around” Jesus would felt when they heard this (Mark 4:10). This small band would be a part of something that would grow bigger and bless the world immensely. It is happening today! Imagine this: there are only about 9.5% Christians in Malaysia today but if God’s Word is true, if this minority are faithful to God, God can (will!) do great things in Malaysia despite its small numbers. Wherever we are, the Kingdom of God is destined to be awesome regardless of its small beginnings. Trust in Jesus. Have faith in Jesus. Abide in Jesus, the King of kings. Let the Word of God spread among the nations!

The Kingdom of God is looking for…
People who have vision, faithful and passionate for Jesus
People who are willing to put the Kingdom of God first in their lives and bless others.
People who are willing to abide in Him forever.
Are you the one?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Yesus yang Mungkin Kamu pernah Dengar tetapi tidak Kenal secara Peribadi


Tiada siapa diantara kita yang suka diarah oleh orang lain. Ada sesuatu tentang diri manusia yang tidak senang apabila diberi arahan. Kita tidak kesah jika kita diberitahu untuk melakukan sesuatu, kita mungkin dengan sukarela ingin melakukannya. Tetapi apabila diarahkan untuk melakukannya? Kita mungkin tidak senang hati. Majikan, rakan sekerja dan termasuk ibubapa juga. Kadang-kadang kita mahu berkata kepada mereka untuk pergi jauh dari kita.

Yesus ialah seorang Individu yang suka mengarahkan kita tentang apa yang harus kita fikirkan, apa yang harus kita lakukan, dan bagaimana untuk kita menjalani kehidupan ini. Yesus mengajar dengan penuh yakin dan begitu pasti. Ada perkara yang Dia katakan sangat menakjubkan sehingga sesiapa yang mendengar-Nya menyangka bahawa Dia seperti seorang yang sangat berpelajaran dan berpengetahuan tinggi. Namun, pada masa yang sama orang ramai tahu bahawa Dia tidak pernah pergi ke sekolah teologi atau melanjutkan pelajaran ke universiti.  Ramai orang mengaku bahawa Dia memiliki kebijaksanaan dan mempunyai autoriti untuk berkata sesuatu. Kemana saja Dia pergi ramai orang akan ikut, dan apabila Dia berkhutbah mereka akan mendengar-Nya dengan sepenuh perhatian dan seringkali ingin mendengar lebih lagi. Mereka tidak semestinya percaya, tetapi mereka sangat tertarik kepada-Nya. Ada sesuatu yang unik tentang Guru ini.

Kata-kata yang datang dari mulut Yesus sangat berbeza daripada guru-guru yang pernah mereka dengar sebelum ini. Dia tidak membuang masa membaca atau mendengar kata-kata daripada orang lain. Dia tidak memetik ucapan atau merujuk kepada tulisan guru Taurat yang lain sekerap guru-guru pada masa itu. Malah, Dia berkongsi tentang pengetahuan peribadi-Nya bersama TUHAN dan menyatakan Firman-Nya dalam setiap isu kehidupan mereka. Dia kadang-kadang bertindak untuk memberi penjelasan dan menggunakan autoriti-Nya menyampaikan Firman yang lebih tinggi lagi dari para nabi dan guru-guru pada masa lalu. “Kamu sudah mendengar yang diajarkan kepada nenek moyang kita… tetapi sekarang Aku berkata kepada kamu…” (contoh, Matius 5:21). “Percayalah…”, “ Sungguh benar kata-kata-Ku ini…” (contoh, Yohanes 5:19,24).

Mereka tidak pernah mendengar orang berkata-kata seperti Yesus. Ini ialah suatu ajaran yang baru, kata mereka. Matius 7:28-29 menyimpulan reaksi mereka begini: “Setelah Yesus mengatakan perkara-perkara tersebut, orang ramai sangat hairan dengan cara Dia mengajar. Dia mengajar dengan wibawa, bukan seperti guru Taurat mereka” (BM). Guru Taurat mengajar mereka melalui ‘autoriti’; Yesus mengajar mereka dengan autoriti – dan mereka semua pasti dan mengaku bahawa Dia unik dan berbeza daripada orang lain.

Mungkin kamu pernah mendengar tentang Yesus. Mungkin juga kamu mendengar-Nya melalui orang lain di gereja, masjid, kuil, televisyen, radio atau internet (atau hanya melalui blog ini). Mungkin kamu pernah membaca buku-buku yang ditulis oleh ahli sejarawan atau ahli ulama agama. Mungkin juga kamu tidak didedahkan langsung tentang siapa diri Yesus yang sebenar. Mungkin kamu percaya bulat-bulat tentang tanggapan dan perkongsian orang lain tentang Yesus. Mungkin juga kamu tidak kesah. Saya tidak tahu. YESUS KRISTUS. Nama yang seringkali membuat orang tertanya-tanya. Nama yang menimbulkan rasa marah kepada orang yang tidak percaya kepada-Nya. Nama yang sangat ditakuti dan Nama yang menyebabkan umat-Nya dianiaya di seluruh dunia. Dan Nama yang menyebabkan Alkitab dirampas dan dibakar tanpa sebab. Bagi orang yang mengenal-Nya secara peribadi, Nama YESUS membawa kebebasan, harapan dan ketenangan. Bagi kamu, siapakah Yesus itu? Siapakah Dia sehingga Dia berkata seperti ini?

Mula dengan membaca kitab-kitab injil tentang Yesus dalam Alkitab Perjanjian Baru.
Berdoa semoga Tuhan memberikan petunjuk dan iman untuk kamu melihat kebenaran-Nya.
Inilah masanya untuk kamu mengenali YESUS secara peribadi.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Jesus on the Process of Spiritual Growth (Mark 4:26-29)


The parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20) is the parable of the parables. “Don’t you understand this parable?” Jesus asked his disciples and us today, “How, then, will you ever understand any parable?” (Mark 4:13). Thus, it is important for us to understand first or to read through again the parable of the Sower before we study the parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29) and the parable of the Mustard Seed (4:30-32). It will be must easier to understand other parables too (Click HERE to read my previous reflection).

Jesus went on the say, “The Kingdom of God is like this. A man scatters the seed in his field. He sleeps at night, is up and about during the day, and all the while the seeds are sprouting and growing. Yet he does not know how it happens. The soil itself makes the plants grow and bear fruit; first the tender stalk appears, then the head, and finally the head full of grain. When the grain is ripe, the man starts cutting it with his sickle, because harvest time has come” (Mark 4:26-29, GNB).

Whenever we read a parable like this, we must remember that: it is a parable. The truth is there but don’t try to over-spiritualize every details. For believers, the obvious is the core message. In essence this parable is about the mystery of how God’s Word grow in the hearts of men. It is about the process of spiritual growth in the Kingdom of God. I’m encourage by this parable because even if I don’t know how God’s Word grow in people’s lives, but as I “sows God’s message” (Mark 4:14), regardless of how much people “hear the message” (4:20), I know that sooner or later it will produce “the fruit.” Therefore, I’m very comfortable with this mystery.

[The sower] does not know how it happens.” The process of growth is hidden from us. Before I seriously studied this parable, I thought that there are ‘secrets’ formulas that we have to know to advance the Gospel and there are some persuasive evangelism techniques that we should mastered before we witness to people. I failed to realize the element of mystery in God’s Kingdom. This extra dimension is what missing from my personal witness and understanding of spiritual growth. I thank Jesus for this parable! Another truth I learned is that the growth is gradual. As the man in this parable sleep, “the seeds are sprouting”; as he get up, the seed are “growing.” The growth starts small, slowly but keep on growing.

The seeds sprout mysteriously, hidden, gradual and slowly but surely it will grow! The growth is sure. It will eventually be “full of grain.” I like to end this reflection with an encouragement: Share God’s Word as much as possible, as frequent as possible, as faithful as possible. Never give up, never get tired, never pull out. Speak the Word, live the Word, share the Word. You might never get to see how “the seeds” of God’s Word may grow in people’s lives but remember that it will grow hidden within their hearts, it will gradually grow day by day. And if “the soil” (4:28) is good, the growth is sure! Friend, the “harvest time [will and] has come.” Where is your “sickle”?

The Kingdom of God is like this.”
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Be a Reading Person or a Boring Person


A research says that ‘reading engages the mind. Reading materials, by exercising our memory and imagination, can contribute to happiness in ways similar to active positive thinking. Regular readers are about 8 percent more likely to express daily satisfaction’ (Scope, 1999). Even if we don’t read any research at all, we know that those who read books benefit from what they learn and entertainment or inspirations they receive. In addition to that, they get to exercise their brain, and when we do that, we feel satisfied that we are spending our time wisely.

Questions: Which would you choose to be, a person with an ever-decreasing attention span, or a person with an ever-increasing attention span? A person with access to the second- and third- work that would have been considered rubbish two decades ago, or a person with access to the work of the greatest minds we have ever known? A person with access to limited same basic story with the same basic characters, or a person with access to hundreds of choices that span nearly an infinite imagination? A person who likely won’t be able to remember a story in ten minutes later, or a person who might carry the Story for the rest of his or her life?

Last question: Which would you rather be, a person who usually spends his or her free time in front of the television, the internet and smartphone, or a person who usually spends his or her free time reading?

Reading is important for me because as Stephen King says
If you don't have time to read,
you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
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Jesus on the Law of Spiritual Growth (A Reflection on Mark 4:21-25)


After Jesus finished explaining the parable of the sower, Jesus continued, “Does anyone ever bring in a lamp and put it under a bowl or under the bed? Isn’t it put on the lampstand? Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open, and whatever is covered up will be uncovered. Listen, then, if you have ears!” (Mark 4:21-23, GNB).

Nobody as far as I know bought Samsung Galaxy S5 or Apple iPhone iOS 8 (probably outdated after 6 months from now) who doesn’t use any of it applications except for SMS texting only. Everyone know that smartphone is meant to be use for more. It is also doesn’t make sense to light up a lamp and then put it under a bowl or a bed when its purpose is to illuminate the room. A lamp is not meant to be covered up but to give light. When Jesus preached God’s Word in parables He was partly ‘hidden’ the truth from the people. But when the time came for His disciples to preach openly after His resurrection and after they received God’s Word in all its fullness, God’s truth must be reveal to all people like a shining lamp. The truth concealed in parables will be revealed. God’s truth “will be bought out into the open” and it “will be uncovered.” And it’s happening now!

“He also said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear! The same rules you use to judge others will be used by God to judge you – but with even greater severity. Those who have something will be given more, and those who have nothing will have taken away from them even the little they have’” (Mark 4:24-25).

If I read above verses out of context, I will surely be misunderstood and confuse by it. First Jesus talked about four kinds of people’s attitudes toward God and His Word (Mark 4:13-20). And then regardless of how people response to God’s truth, it is nevertheless should be revealed as widely as possible and not to be hidden away (Mark 4:21-23). Now (Mark 4:24-25) Jesus was saying that: the disciples are to share the “light” they have received and “hear” so that they may receive more “light” from God. The Law of Spiritual Atrophy says “if you don’t share, you will not grow and will not be effective anymore.” But the Law of Spiritual Growth says “to those who hear, and then share to others what they have heard, more will be given.”  That is why Jesus emphasized two times on listening – “Listen, then, if you have ears!” and “Pay attention to what you hear!

Shine God’s Light
Share God’s Truth
Listen and pay attention to God’s Word
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jesus Welcome "Dogs" (A Reflection on Mark 7:24-30)


No human rules can control Jesus. He lived by God’s commandments. After he had just declared the Jewish outward laws of uncleanness as not valid (read Mark 7:14-23), Jesus went into Gentile territory – which the Jews regarded as unclean areas – “to the territory near the city of Tyre. He went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not stay hidden” (Mark 7:24, GNB). I watched TV news today about superstar diva Mariah Carey was spotted shopping at Kuala Lumpur. I’m sure she understand what Jesus went through: tired and couldn’t stay hidden (with the exception that Mariah intentionally want everyone to know).

Let me tell you first about the Jews’ arrogant attitude of superiority toward other peoples of the earth. They were proud as God’s chosen people. They regarded other races and nationalities as inferior to them. They treated everyone else as less than human. And as such, typically they think others as “dog.” (Familiar with this kind of thinking and discrimination?).

But contrary to what the Jews thought, God of the Bible love all people, and anyone can come to Him through faith in Jesus regardless of race, colour, creed or national origin. There was a Gentile woman – a despised Gentile “dog” – dare to meet and speak to Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. “A woman, whose daughter had an evil spirit in her, heard about Jesus and came to him at once and fell at his feet… She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter” (Mark 7:25-26, GNB). Wow! Notice the attitude of this woman. Again let me reminds you, the Jews referred to Gentiles like her as “dogs,” but that didn’t bother her. She was determined. She boldly come to Jesus and asked for His help.

Jesus reply may sound rude if you don’t understand His thinking and teachings. Jesus answer is not His assertion of superiority (btw, He is superior over all!), but a reflection of typical Jewish thinking. “Jesus answered, ‘Let us first feed the children. It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs’” (Mark 7:27). Jesus was saying that His earthy ministry was restricted to “the children” of Israel first then after that His disciples will continue the mission to the whole world. I think Jesus’ answer was partly serious-reminding and partly humorous-testing.

Regardless, the woman responded: “Sir, even the dogs under the table ate the children’s leftovers!” (Mark 7:28). I like her persistence! Commenter R.A. Cole writes, “She had not only persisted when the Lord refused to answer, she now accepted this humble position gladly, and showed that, even on those terms, she still claimed healing for her daughter. God’s abundance for His children was so rich that even the rank outsider could share in it.” The woman would not be turned away. She persisted in her request until she was rewarded. She knew she was not inferior in God’s sight. To Jesus the Son of God, she was not a “dog”!So Jesus said to her, ‘Because of that answer, go back home, where you will find that the demon has gone out of your daughter!’” (Mark 7:29).

I know what it’s like to feel inferior. I once thought that I was God’s “secondhands.” I was mocked and make fun of when I was a kid. I was skinny, dark, pimply-faced, disfigured chest, poor, slow to catch up and unattractive. But as I grown up and knowing Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I came to realize that I was (and forever) of value to God in spite of my feeling of inferiority. I no longer a “dog” but now “children” of God. Faith in Christ makes all the difference! God is not respecter of persons. “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35, NIV). That means God is not looking for those of noble births or perfect figures, high ranks or elevate positions, superior races or special nationalities – but looking for people like the Gentiles woman, me and you who will look past their obvious weaknesses, who “do what is right,” and to press on with faith come to Jesus and “fall at his feet.”
I mean, “dogs” are welcome to Jesus!

She went home and found her child lying on the bed;
the demon had indeed gone out of her” (Mark 7:30)
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Peace Child

Dr. Don Richardson, author of Peace Child, speaking at the 2012 Global Ministries Conference.
In Don Richardson’s best-selling book, Peace Child, he tells of going, accompanied by his wife Carol and seventeen-month-old child, to the Sawi, a headhunting tribe in Netherlands’ New Guinea. There savagery was a way of life. The tribesmen considered headhunting, cannibalism, and treachery as virtues. As these savages heard the story of the Gospel, they considered Judas – not Jesus – the hero, and Don almost despaired of ever reaching them.

At last, the warfare and barbarism between the Sawi and their neighbour tribes grew into intense that the Richardsons decided to pack their bags and leave. But when the Sawi heard of it, they were deeply disturbed. They had come to love and trust the Richardsons. To prevent their leaving, the Sawi met in a special session and decided to make peace.

The next day as Don watched with mourning curiosity, the peace ritual began. Young children from the warring villages were to be exchanged, and as long as any of those children were alive, the peace would continue.
It was an anguishing ritual, for every mother feared her child would be taken. But after a period of emotional indecision, the chief himself grabbed his only son and rushed toward the enemy tribe, literally giving the tribe to his enemies. In return, he received a son from the other side. Peace descended across the mountains.

As Don pondered the significance of the ceremony, he realised there was a powerful Redemption Analogy. Shortly afterward, gathering the elders together, he told them how God the Heavenly Father sent Jesus to earth as His Peace Child to make peace between God and man*.

It was a lesson they understood and embraced at last.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

*Don Richardson, Peace Child, (Regal Publishers, 1975) 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Jesus “the Secret” (A Reflection on Mark 4:11-12)


As I studied the Gospel of Mark, I was puzzled with Mark 4:11-12. Jesus said this to His disciples when they asked to explain the parable of the sower: “You have been given the secret of the Kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11, GNB). The secret of the Kingdom of God? What secret?

The word “secret” is the same as “mystery” in other translations. In the New Testament, secret or mystery meant something previously hidden which God had now revealed. But what is the secret or mystery of the Kingdom? It is like the no. 1 best-selling book The Secret edited by Rhonda Byrne? Or is it like the secret of Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (ISA) operations?

As I read through the Gospel stories, some commentaries and Bible Study notes, I find that there are three main possibilities of meaning:

First, the secret is God’s kingly power and rule revealed in the life and teaching of Jesus that can only be recognized by those who had faith in Him. The secret was the secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and divine Sonship and yet it was partly hidden and partly seen. I remember how Jesus manifested His Sonship in His authoritative teaching, His miracles and casting out of demons; but on the other hand Jesus asked people to keep quiet about His miracles not to reveal His true identity. Believers would see the truth but unbelievers will “not see”, “not understand” (Mark 4:12) it.

Second, the secret could also refer to the humility and suffering of Jesus. This was a “mystery” because everyone expected the Kingdom of God to be full of power and glory. But, unfortunately Jesus’ life and His first coming was not full of power and glory in the way people of His time expected. On the contrary, it was full of humility and suffering.

Third, the secret could also refer to the fact that all the expectations concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God were not all fulfilled at once. The Jews expected that the coming of the Kingdom would mean judgment for God’s enemies (particularly, Rome) and deliverance and power for God’s people. They expected the Messiah to rule as a great King (read John 12) but this did not happen in the ministry of Jesus (However Jesus was saying that the Kingdom of God really had come in His life and ministry even though the expected signs could not be seen).

After that Jesus continued, “But the others, who are on the outside, hear all things by means of parables, so that, ‘They may look and look, yet not see; they may listen and listen, yet not understand. For if they did, they would turn to God, and he would forgive them” (Mark 4:12, GNB). Jesus was quoting Isaiah 6:9 when He said this because, I think, He wanted to compare His unresponsive listeners with the hard-hearted people in Isaiah’s day who rejected God’s message. Now I understand the ministry of Isaiah as told in Isaiah 6:9. Now I understand why there was many people want to become Jesus’ followers but not His disciples. The parable – all parables – are “the secret of the Kingdom of God” revealed to the believers and sincere seekers, but it is the “the secret” hidden to the unbelievers and hard-hearted listeners. Which one are you?

Do you know the Secret?
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Jesus talks about People’s Attitudes toward God and His Word (A Reflection on Mark 4:3-20)


To know the setting of this parable, we must know what is a parable (click HERE A Reflection on Mark4:1-2). A parable, in the simplest meaning, is a simple story drawn from ordinary nature or everyday life which conveyed spiritual truth. In this instance, Jesus talked about four kinds of soil to illustrate four kinds of attitudes toward God and His Word. I think Jesus probably told the parable as He and His followers were looking at the sight of an actual sower at work on the hills above the lake (4:1). Just my assumption.

Listen! Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up” (Mark 4:3-4, GNB). Actually, this parable is self-explain in Mark 4:13-20. The sower is the one who sows God’s Word. Some people are like the seeds that fall along the path or hard-packed roadside soil that represents someone with a hardened heart. The Word doesn’t even have a chance to take root – and as soon as they hear the message, Satan or “the birds” in the form of temptations, resistances and stubbornness comes and takes or “ate” it away.

Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn’t deep. Then, when the sun came up, it burned the young plants; and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up” (Mark 4:5-6). Some people are like the seeds that fall on rocky ground that represents someone with a shallow heart. They hear the Word of course and “receive it gladly.” They will follow the shout ‘Amen’, ‘Halleluiah’, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ and jump up during praise & worship and even take notes during Bible Study, probably pray speaking in tongue too and always attend church services and fellowship. I know people like that. But sadly, the Word doesn’t sink deep into their hearts – only on surface level – and therefore they are very fragile in faith. So when “the sun” in the form of trouble or persecution comes, they “dried up” give up at once.

Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up and choked the plants, and they didn’t bear grain” (Mark 4:7). Some people are like the seeds sown among the thorn bushes that represents someone with a crowded heart. They are no doubt are interested in the Word but the worries about this life, the love of riches, and all other kinds of desires crowd in and choke the Word. I know people who always make excuses such as ‘God will understand why I have to go to work but not to church’, ‘It doesn’t matter if I read the Word or not as long as I’m sincere. Beside I have many things to do’, ‘I want to be rich! If I get rich I will give more to God’, ‘I don’t want people to think that I’m too religious’ etc. All of these choke out love for God and His Word and so they “don’t bear fruit.”

But some seeds fell in good soil, and the plants sprouted, grew, and bore grain: some had thirty grains, others sixty, and others one hundred” (Mark 4:8). Some people, very glad to know, are like seeds sown in good soil that represents someone with a receptive heart, who cultivates an openness to God and His Word. The Word can grow and “bear fruit” because they not only hear the Word but also accept it wholeheartedly. They are receptive to God and His Word. I know that whenever I share the Word at campus fellowships most people will go back home empty handed (even some of the leaders too) but I trust and believe that someone in the group – two or three students – are receptive to the Word and really allow God to speaks and transform them through His Word. I can see that they will grow into maturity in faith much faster than everyone else.

As a closing, we must remember that a farmer “the sower” is NOT responsible for making the seeds grow into plants. “The sower” is only responsible for preparing and maintaining the soil. God has endowed “the seed” with the capacity to grow into a fruitful plant all by itself; “the sower” can only manage the conditions of the soil. Similarly, as God’s followers – you and me – are responsible to cultivate the soil in our own hearts. Are we hardened our hearts? or having a shallow heart? or are our hearts too crowded? or do we have a receptive heart to God and His Word? (Ask the Holy Spirit to cultivate your heart). We prepare the soil and God will produce unbelievable growth!

Listen, then, if you have ears! (Mark 4:9)
Don’t try to apply this parable to others without first of all applying it to ourselves.
Think it through, search our own hearts and respond accordingly. God be with you.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yesus berkata, "Beritahu betapa Besarnya Pertolongan dan Betapa Baiknya TUHAN kepadaMu" (Markus 5:1-20)


Yesus and pengikut-pengikut-Nya tiba di seberang Tasik Galilea, di daerah Gerasa. Sebaik sahaja Yesus turun dari perahu, Dia didatangi oleh seorang lelaki yang keluar dari gua kubur” (Markus 5:1-2, BM). Lelaki itu kerasukkan roh jahat dan bersikap seperti haiwan liar yang tinggal di kawasan perkuburan. Tetapi Yesus “Anak Allah Yang Maha Tinggi” (Markus 5:7) telah memecahkan belenggu dan mengusir roh-roh jahat keluar dari lelaki itu dan dengan mukjizat-Nya lelaki itu sembuh dan telah dibebaskan. Ketika Yesus dan pengikut-pengikut-Nya bersiap untuk pergi meninggalkan daerah itu, lelaki itu ingin mengikuti mereka. Tetapi Yesus berkata kepadanya, “Pulanglah kepada keluargamu dan beritahu mereka betapa besarnya pertolongan Tuhan dan betapa baiknya Dia kepadamu!” (Markus 5:19).

Pertama sekali Yesus berkata, “Pulanglah kepada keluargamu…” (klik di sini untuk membaca bahagian pertama ini). Selepas itu, Yesus berkata pula, “…dan beritahu mereka betapa besarnya pertolongan Tuhan dan betapa baiknya Dia kepadamu!” Yesus tidak berkata supaya lelaki itu harus menyediakan khutbah yang menarik atau pergi mengingati banyak ayat-ayat Firman Allah tentang keselamatan atau menggariskan setiap ayat di dalam Alkitab dengan menggunakan pen merah (walaupun semua ini sangat baik untuk kita lakukan). Sebaliknya, Yesus hanya berkata supaya dia balik ke tempat asalnya dan menceritakan pengalaman dia bertemu dengan TUHAN.

Ini ialah perkhabaran yang sangat asas bagi kita: Berita Baik tentang apa yang Yesus telah lakukan di dalam hidup kita! Khutbah yang hebat, mengingati atau menggariskan Firman Allah dan mempelajari langkah-langkah untuk bersaksi memang ada baiknya. Tetapi perkhabaran yang sangat berkesan sekali ialah tentang bagaimana Yesus telah menolong, melakukan segala yang baik kepada kita dan tentang betapa indahnya Yesus dalam kehidupan kita. Apabila semua perancangan untuk bersaksi gagal, saya tahu bahawa ada satu yang tidak pernah gagal iaitu, TUHAN telah melakukan sesuatu yang indah dalam kehidupan saya dan saya boleh bersaksi dengan autoriti – dan TUHAN akan membuatkannya berjaya!

Saya sangat bersyukur kepada mereka yang mempunyai kebolehan untuk bersaksi tentang Yesus dimana sahaja mereka berada… namun kebanyakkan kita tidak mempunyai kebolehan itu. Tetapi, kita boleh bersaksi kepada mereka yang dekat dengan kita. Mereka yang kita jumpa hampir setiap hari. Ibu saya jarang pergi ke gereja lagi atas sebab-sebab tertentu tetapi saya cuba bersaksi dengan dia tentang bagaimana TUHAN telah mengubah kehidupan saya. Saya akan berdoa dan mengasihi dia sehingga dia melihat bahawa TUHAN itu sentiasa peduli dan mengasihi dia. Saya akan menghormati dan menjaga dia sebagaimana TUHAN telah lakukan kepada saya. Perkhabaran yang dia akan dengar dan lihat ialah tentang pengalaman peribadi saya dengan Yesus. Siapa yang dekat dengan kamu sekarang? Bersaksilah. Khabarkan tentang kasih Yesus melalui perkataan dan perbuatan kamu.

"...beritahu mereka betapa besarnya pertolongan Tuhan 
dan betapa baiknya Dia kepadamu!"
Ini ialah berkhabaran yang terutama.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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The Central Nature of the Being of God


Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3, NIV)

As I read the Bible, I seem to find holiness to be His supreme attribute
(Billy Graham, in Till Armageddon)

It does not seem proper to speak of one attribute of God as being more central and fundamental than another; but if this were permissible, the scriptural emphasis on the holiness of God would seem to justify its selection” (Louis Berkhof, in Systematic Theology)

Holiness is the central nature of the being of God from which such attributes
as love, justice, and mercy emanate
(George Allen Turner)

As in Jim Killion’s Set Apart he writes about one man described his observations of the concept of holiness like this:
“There is a simple yet profound word which occurs nine hundred times in the Bible. You see it first in Genesis, as we are told how God created heaven and earth. You see it last in the closing chapter of Revelation where we are told about God’s creation of a new heaven and a new earth. But except for a few grand old hymns of the faith, you do not see this word much today… This word is ‘Holy.’ We get our words ‘saint,’ ‘sanctify,’ and ‘sanctification’ from the same root words. All these term carry the idea of being ‘set apart’…. Just as all the colour of the spectrum come together to form the pure white light which illuminates our world, so all the attributes of God come together into His holiness.”

God is holy,
Our God is holy.
My God is holy.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Look at Children, Adults don't Forget to Have Fun


Everyday leave yourself some time to enjoy, to be silly, to laugh. Today I watch and play with my cousin’s sons – Ryan and Rancic. The brothers are like small atomic bombs. Every energetic, care-free and dangerous. They are cute and very playful. I often observed children around me. I watch them running around in the playground or supermarket or in the park and thinking, “They’re having so much fun.” Why are they having so much fun? The better question is, why aren’t adults having more fun?

Children run around and play as if by instinct. They do not question whether they should have fun, they just go out and do it. Adults, however, have responsibilities – we are serious most of the time. Ask one of your friends to do something for fun with you, and 90% of them you might hear, “I don’t have time for that” or “I’m busy.” Imagine a child being asked if he wanted to go to Recreation Park and answering, “I’ll have to get back to you, I’m really busy right now.”

Sometimes children know better than we do. Having a little fun, a time for pure silliness and happiness, is an essential part of everyday live. Remember, Jesus loves to play with children and He like to go to wedding and dinner parties. Jesus was on a serious mission on earth but even He have time for fun and joyful activities. Why aren’t we? Friends, life is too serious, can we have some fun once in a while?

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yesus berkata, "Pulanglah kepada Keluargamu..." (Markus 5:1-20)


Yesus and pengikut-pengikut-Nya tiba di seberang Tasik Galilea, di daerah Gerasa. Sebaik sahaja Yesus turun dari perahu, Dia didatangi oleh seorang lelaki yang keluar dari gua kubur” (Markus 5:1-2, BM). Lelaki itu kerasukkan roh jahat dan bersikap seperti haiwan liar yang tinggal di kawasan perkuburan. Tetapi Yesus “Anak Allah Yang Maha Tinggi” (Markus 5:7) telah memecahkan belenggu dan mengusir roh-roh jahat keluar dari lelaki itu dan dengan mukjizat-Nya lelaki itu sembuh dan telah dibebaskan. Ketika Yesus dan pengikut-pengikut-Nya bersiap untuk pergi meninggalkan daerah itu, lelaki itu ingin mengikuti mereka. Tetapi Yesus berkata kepadanya, “Pulanglah kepada keluargamu dan beritahu mereka betapa besarnya pertolongan Tuhan dan betapa baiknya Dia kepadamu!” (Markus 5:19).

Pertama sekali Yesus berkata, “Pulanglah kepada keluargamu…” Ini termasuk sanak-saudara dan mereka yang tinggal berdekatan dengannya. Yesus berkata kepada lelaki ini – termasuk kita pengikut Yesus semua – panggilan pertama dan utama selepas kita percaya kepada-Nya ialah menjadi saksi Kristus di tempat kita sendiri dahulu: keluarga dan sanak-saudara, kawan-kawan dan jiran tetangga, di tempat kerja dan di tempat kita belajar. Yesus berkata kepada rasul-rasul-Nya dan kepada kita juga: “[Kamu] akan menerima kuasa, apabila Roh Allah datang kepada kamu. Lalu kamu akan menjadi saksi-saksi-Ku di Yerusalem (dimana mereka berada pada masa itu), di seluruh Yudea (kota dimana Yerusalem berada), dan Samaria (kawasan berdekatan dengan mereka), serta sampai ke hujung bumi” (Kisah Rasul-Rasul 1:8, BM). Penginjilan dan kesaksian harus bermula dari rumah dahulu dan kemudian ke luar.

Bersaksilah dengan kuasa dan pimpinan Roh Allah.
Yesus yang berkata “Pulanglah kepada keluargamu…” akan menyertai kamu.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Thinking and the Use of the Internet


Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding” (Proverbs 2:2, NLT)
My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel” (Proverbs 5:1).

God advises us to be careful thinkers who are attentive to wisdom and incline ourselves to understanding. Followers of Christ need to be clear, careful and intentional thinkers in order to better relate to God, invest in what He is doing and devote ourselves to the good of others. Many studies are now being conducted on how the use of the Internet affects our thinking skills. Research so far is inconclusive. But as you use the Internet and hear about these studies, ask yourself some penetrating questions.

Does my Internet use fill my mind with thoughts that help me love God and love others? Or am I using it for continual self-promotion and idle chatter?

Does my Internet use help me think well? How does it affect my reading ability? Can I still read books with depth? How is it affecting my need to reflect?

Does my Internet use promote shallowness of thinking in any way so that I mistake surface-level familiarity with deep understanding? Is it convincing me that because I have access to so many facts and figures that I’m smarter or wiser than I am?

These questions are useful to examine our Internet use in light of how it can – or can’t – help me become the person God want me to be. Internet is good. But just like many things that are good for us can be harmful if we use it excessively. This I’ve learned when I off my Internet for a day: “I realized that I’m not as important as I make myself out to be. The world goes on (Facebook world will goes on) even when I’m not connected to it.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
*Reference: Jan Johnson’s Abundant Simplicity.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

You Can Make a Difference: Called to Love even Those Living with HIV/AIDS


Myth #1: “I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV-positive”. No! The evidence shows that HIV is not spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva. You cannot catch HIV by breathing the same air as someone who is HIV-positive or thru hugging, kissing and shaking hands with someone who is HIV-positive or sharing eating utensils or using exercise equipment at a gym with an HIV-positive person. But you can get it from infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or mother's milk.

Myth #2: “I don't need to worry about becoming HIV positive – new drugs will keep me well”. There are drugs that can improve and extend the lives of many people who are HIV-positive but are expensive and have many serious side effects. None yet provides a cure. Also, drug-resistant strains of HIV make treatment an increasing challenge.

Myth #3: “I can get HIV from mosquitoes”. Yes, HIV is spread through blood but insects don’t inject the blood of animal they have last bitten when they bite us. Also, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect. So, this myth is nonsense!

These are only top 3 myths and misconceptions people think about AIDS and HIV. There are many more, of course. But these three is enough I guess to make us aware that we are actually ignorance of the truths about HIV. Our misconceptions proof that we don’t care enough. When I told my friends about my experiences with the Crisis Home’s residents, (a non-profit ministry caring for people living with HIV/AIDS), they asked me many questions, “Did you hug them?” “Can you eat with them?” “What are they look like?” “Can we shake their hands?” “Are you using mask when you talk to them?” and many more questions that are too shameful for me to write here. Mr. Isaac Tan, who is working full-time at Crisis Home shared a story about how a man didn't even touch a cup of tea when he came to the Home. That is how deep our misconceptions and stigma against people who is living with HIV/AIDS. There is only one way to breakdown this wall of prejudices – love.

Jesus told us that love for friends is not enough. Love for our own family members is not enough. Love for our neighbour is not enough. Love for those who are different from us in culture or belief is not enough. Love for those who are disagree with us is not enough. Even love for our enemies is not enough. Jesus told us to show love for “the least of these” (as in Matthew 25:31-46). The “least of these” refers to those in a variety of needy situations. They include the hungry, thirsty, impoverished, sick, imprisoned, anyone! – even those who is living with HIV/AIDS. Those are the people we are called to love also. To love is to know; to know is to care. That kind of loving-caring is the sign of God’s spirit at work in us.

How can we show love to people who is living with HIV/AIDS? May I suggests? Firstly, repent from our sin. To repent of our lack of care and rejection towards them. To repent of the way in which we as Christians have often stigmatized those with HIV. Secondly, create personal awareness. Do some research, get some reading, find articles, allocate HIV/AIDS homes nearby you (or in Malaysia) and if possible get to know those whom closed to you who might have HIV-positive. Thirdly, invest your time. Try spend time with the person living with HIV/AIDS. Eat, play, talk, walk or do activities with them. Most of them whom I know personally are rejected by the family members and friends and society. They are longing for companions and friends. Fourthly, invest your money. Support them financially (One way is to give to Crisis Home ministry. Click HERE). And finally, support them in prayer. Indeed we are not just to show deep, compassionate, caring love, but also to pray to God for His grace, mercy and blessing on such people. You can make a different!

If you judge people, you have no time to love them” (Mother Teresa)
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

Below are some pictures of Crisis Home’s residents. Share with permission:

Picture with leaders in the church



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Monday, October 13, 2014

Students Making a Difference: TCS CF Shows "Perfect Love: We Care, We Share"

If [faith] alone and includes no actions, then it is dead” (James 2:17, GNB)

What would happen if Christian Fellowship act seriously on what they have heard and learned from the Scripture? What would happen if they decides to do community service in their campus? This is what definitely will happen: they will make a different! One thing to learn, if you’re ministering to students in campus, is that they are passionate and energetic and willing (if we give them a change or show the way) to make a different in the community. This is exactly what Technology College Sarawak (TSC) Christian Fellowship (CF) was doing last Saturday morning, 11th October 2014.

Together with their advisor and college’s maintenance staffs, they organized a co-operate gotong-royong with CF members and staffs. Their main objectives is to experience first-hand the challenges of maintenance works and to create awareness in keeping the campus clean. That is why the theme was very suitable; “Perfect Love: We Care, We Share.” Indeed, as participant of this heart-touching event, I observed God’s love was really in each one of them. Some of the members were having class that day, so, they either come before or after class to help whatever possible and get involved with the activity. I bet students outside CF that saw their witnessing in campus and even staffs themselves were inspired by their willingness to sacrifice time (Saturday morning, remember?) and energy (without payment or award) to make a different in campus. Christian Fellowship (CF) is boring? Never!

Here are some pictures:


THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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