Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Top 20 Recommended Biographies/Autobiographies: Read for Inspiration, Not Imitation

For more Books recommendations, click here: My Top Book Lists

He that walketh with the wise men shall be wise
(Proverbs 13:20)

Philip Brooks, preacher and author, said, “A biography is, indeed, a book; but far more than a book, it is a man… Never lay the biography down until the man is a living, breathing, acting person to you.” We who are in the ministry – of all people – ought to read biography. We minister to real people, and the better we understand great men and their times, the better we can minister to our people in our times. A truly good biography of a great person “has a universal quality about it that makes it touch life at many points” writes Warren W. Wiersbe.

But I have to warn us (and to remind myself) that after reading a biography of a great man we must never try to merely imitate him. To be honest, today there are many pastors and preachers who are carbon copies of great men, who try to be someone else but themselves. I’m convince that God wants each one of us to be ourselves. There is no need for us to imitate others – yes, to imitate their faith and passion for Christ; but no, to imitate their ministries and gifts – when God has a work for each of us to do in His own special way. Again, Brooks’ advices, “The object of reading biography… is not imitation but inspiration.” Oh yes, for inspiration!

Here are my 20 top biographies and autobiographies at this writing. The possibilities of Christian biography/autography are limitless, and obviously I only read as much as I can from the vast library of great biographies out there. My purpose of sharing my ‘top’ list of books are to get you, the reader, to start discovering Christian biography for yourself by giving you suggestions of what books to read, in other word, to inspire you to read book. And to cultivate your passion for great literatures. By the way, here are my lists:

1)    Walking with the Giants: A Minster’s Guide to Good Reading and Great Preaching (1976) by Warren W. Wiersbe. This book covers 18 great preacher-authors such as Samuel Rutherford, F.W. Robertson, Alexander Maclaren, R.W. Dale, Joseph Parker, J. Hudson Taylor, Charles H. Spurgeon, Phillips Brooks, Alexander Whyte, W. Robertson Nicoll, Charles E. Jefferson, A.C. Gaebelein, B.H. Carroll, G. Champbell Morgan, J.D. Jones, George H. Morrison, Frank W. Boreham, A.W. Tozer, and W.E. Sangster. I read this long time ago, need to read it again.

2)    More than Conquerors: Portraits of Believers from All Walks of Life (1992) edited by John Woodbridge. This book covers about 69 great men and women of God. I like reading particularly about George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Hudson Tailor, Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Ken Taylor, D.L. Moody, Sadhu Sundar Singh, Billy Sunday, John Sung, Billy Graham, C.H. Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, etc.

3)    Spurgeon, A New Biography (1988) by Arnold Dallimore. What can I say, this is very inspiring book about Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834 – 1892), a great Baptist preacher and writer. My favourite!

4)    Charles Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers (1997) by Dan Harmon, under Barbour Publishing Heroes of the Faith series.

5)    John Calvin: Father of Reformed Theology (2001) by Sam Wellman. Heroes of the Faith Series.

6)    John Wycliffe: Herald of the Reformation (?) by Ellen Caughey. Heroes of the Faith Series

7)    Jonathan Edwards: The Great Awakener (?) by Helen K. Hosier. Heroes of the Faith Series

8)    Martin Luther: The Great Reformer (1995) by Edwin P. Booth. Heroes of the Faith Series

9)    William Tyndale: Bible Translator and Martyr (?) by Bruce Fish. Heroes of the Faith Series

10) God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (1998) by John Piper. The first part of this book tells the story of Jonathan Edward’s life.

11) A Could of Witnesses: The Great Christian Thinkers (1990) by Alister McGrath. He covers the life and theology of Athanasius, Augustine of Hippo, Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Karl Barth, and C.S. Lewis. Wonderful!

12) Five Leading Reformers: Live at a Watershed of History (2000) by Christopher Caterwood. This book covers five most influencial reformers who shape the theology and thinking of the Reformed. They are Martin Luther, Thomas Cranmer, John Calvin, John Knox and Ulrich Zwingli.

13) Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (2007) by Brian Kolodiejchuk. This work reveals the inner spiritual life of Mother Teresa and her private writings.

14) The Confessions (actually written in Latin between AD 397 and 400) by Saint Augustine. This is his autobiography in a form of prayer to God to tell about the conflict of good and evil in his life and of how he found spiritual growth and unshakeable faith in Christ alone.

15) Tortured for Christ (1969) by Richard Wurmbrand. This is an autobiography about a Romanian pastor who physically torture for his faith, who constantly suffer from hunger and cold, and who went through anguish brainwashing and mental cruelty and yet survived to tell the story. Very touching and inspiring!

16) The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun (2002) by Paul Hattaway and Brother Yun. A dramatic autobiography of one of China's dedicated, courageous, and intensely persecuted house church leaders.

17) Sadhu Sundar Singh: A Biography of the Remarkable Indian Disciple of Jesus Christ (1992) by Phyllis Thompson. He is one of the most influence Indian preacher.

18) Revolution in World Missions: One Man's Journey to Change a Generation (2009) by K. P. Yohannan. I fully recommend this book. Period.

19) 50 People Every Christian Should Know (2009) by Warren W. Wiersbe. This book combined stories of fifty faithful men and women in Christian history. Very simple, short and compact.

20) Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (1950) by Ronald H. Bainton. You’re not really Luther’s follower if you haven’t read this book. As it was said that this book is “a vivid portrait of Martin Luther, the man of unshakeable faith in God who helped bring about the Protestant Reformation.” I will read it a second time this year.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Jesus is Not "My Buddy" but My Righteous Friend and Loving Judge (Mark 11:12-21)

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it
(Mark 11:12-14, NIV).

There are a lot we can learn from Mark 11:12-26 but I just want to focus on our Lord Jesus Christ. Here Mark sketches two quick portraits of Jesus in a role we sometimes fail to see when we read the Bible. These verses do not show the ‘meek and mild’ Jesus of our childhood stories and our adult imaginations. Rather we see here Jesus the Judge – standing firm against the unrighteousness and executing judgment on offenders of God’s law.

The first incident shows Jesus coming to a fig tree with the intention of picking and eating some fruit from it. In His humanity, He was hungry. However, the tree had leaves only but no fruit. Seeing this, Jesus uttered a statement of judgment as His disciples listened: “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” When Jesus and the disciples passed by the fig tree the next day it was completely withered (Mark 11:20-21). Most scholars see the fig tree cursing as an object lesson parable. The fig tree represents Israel, barren because her devotion to God had grown cold by Jesus’ day (in connection with “the temple courts” incident on Mark 11:15-18). The curse in verse 14 meant that Israel the nation through which God intended to bless the world, was about to be set aside because she had rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

The second incident shows Jesus in the Temple area expelling those who were desecrating the “house of prayer” (v.17). If we were to imagine ourselves inside the Temple areas, what could we see? Geoff Treasure writes: “Far from a place of prayer, there very buildings had taken on the character of a den of thieves. You were aware of them as soon as you entered the part of the temple reserved for Gentiles. The money changers confronted you… They exacted a high fee for exchange and an even higher one if you wanted change as well as exchange… Their profit was enormous… Others had set up in business with one eye on the profits and the other on their pockets. These were the animal sellers… These merchants had a man-made monopoly, for no animal could be offered to God unless it had been passed as acceptable by the priests. The regulation was an open sesame for self-aggrandizement.”
In short, the atmosphere was anything but worshipful! Jesus the Judge saw the sacrilege and injustice with which the people had polluted the Temple, and He executed judgment on them. In what must have been an impressive display of authority, Jesus turned these “den of robbers” (v.17) upside down as he cleared the courtyard of the Temple of the distractions to prayer.

This is a facet of Jesus that we don’t look at very closely (your preachers might skipped this sermon). Youthful Christians particularly like to call Jesus as “my buddy” or “my pal.” He laughs at our jokes and overlooks our pranks. Sure, Jesus is the most emotional person I ever knew: He smiled, He laughed, He cried, He loved, He angered and serious. Sure too, Jesus is our Friend. But He is also a righteous and loving Judge. Jesus is not looking for buddies to pal around with, but men and women who will live lives of righteousness. As apostle Peter expressed it, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35).

Friend and Judge? Yes, Jesus is both. He is the perfect blend of love and justice. His love forgives our sins but His justice confronts us with the task of clearing sin out of our lives and replacing it with righteousness. Friend and judge; love and justice. You can’t have one without the other. Amen.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Jesus' Game Plan of Redemption is still Continue, Are You In? (Mark 11:1-10)

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’’ They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go
(Mark 11:1-6, NIV).

God the Father and the Son planned the Saviour’s visit to planet earth before the world was created. The Plan is foretold and recorded in the Old Testament centuries before the Saviour was born. Over 300 specific prophesies about the Saviour-Messiah are found in the prophetic writings of the Old Testament – prophecies concerning the place of His birth (Micah 5:2), the virginity of His mother (Isaiah 7:14), the place of His ministry (Isaiah 9:1-2), His rejection (Isaiah 53:3), death (Isaiah 53:12) and resurrection (Psalm 16:10). This is God’s game plan (God’s will).

Mark 11:1-11 describes the beginning of the most agonizing week of Jesus’ game plan. As you read on until Mark 15, it was the week of rejection, suffering and death (that Jesus had told His disciples about so openly). Ironically, the week began with an event that looked anything like the beginning of a week of suffering: Jesus’ triumphant ride to Jerusalem! Jesus’ entrance on a donkey was another event in the game plan that God previewed in the Old Testament Scriptures. The prophet Zechariah wrote: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah (9:9). The fact that Jesus called for a colt on “which no one has ever ridden” was very significant to God’s plan as in Jewish tradition, an unbroken animal was often associated with sacred use.

The people, however, misunderstood Him as a political saviour who would cast out the Roman government from their holy city. They cried out, “Hosanna!” (Mark 11:9) which mean “Save us now, we pray!” It was a plea for political liberation. The people also shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (v.9-10). The people imagined that Jesus would use His miracle-working power to fulfil their prayer for political salvation. They wanted a liberator, a freedom fighter but God’s game plan called for a King on a lowly donkey. They were deaf to prophesies of the Old Testament and blind to Jesus’ game plan. The suffering and the death of Saviour was not on their lists of God’s plan. When it became obvious that Jesus was not going to fulfil their hopes and expectations, many turn against Him.

Dear readers, the focus of God’s game plan is redemption. Total redemption, yes; but first – the most important of all – our spiritual redemption. Jesus the Saviour paid the death penalty for our sin in order to redeem us back to God.

Now, even though God’s game plan was completed with the death and resurrection of Jesus (see John 17:4, 19:30), the play continues. For the redemption that Jesus secured for all people must be offered individually by each person. The Lord is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  So as long as there are those who have not heard the redemption of Christ, God’s plan continues. Just as Jesus used two disciples (and a donkey!) to carry out His game plan, so He uses people today to carry out the game plan of redemption. He still looks for willing followers who will obey His Word trustfully like the two disciples. Most people like to follow their own expectations of how God’s plan work, but as for us, we must follow His plan as written in the Scriptures and through the leading of the Holy Spirit in us. As Christians, we are already in the Game. The question is: Are you actively participating in God’s game plan or just sitting being an audience only?

All the Scripture will be fulfilled.
God’s game plan will continue with or without you.
Are you participating in the Game?
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ezekiel saw Dried-Up Bones comes to Life (Ezekiel 3:1-6)

The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones… He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘Sovereign LORD, you alone know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD’
(Ezekiel 37:1, 3-6,

This is one of the creepiest stories in the Bible (according to my imagination when I read it). The prophet Ezekiel found himself in a valley of dry bones. It was a vision, of course, but the effect is still chilling. It’s a picture of just how far gone the people of Israel were. They weren’t spiritually slow or sick or sleepy – they were spiritually dead! Without God, it’s true of all of us.

But the dead can live.

Ezekiel preached to the bones and there “was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.” Then he “looked, and tendons and flesh appeared to them and skin covered them, but there was not breath in them.” So God asked him to preach again. Then breath entered them “they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army” (37:7-10). They were once only dried-up bones but now they became living beings.

The dead can live.

It happens all the time. Someone speaks the Truth, and a spirit as dead as a pile of dried-up bones comes to life. Life out of death. Beauty out of ashes. Abundance out of emptiness. That’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And it has the power to transform every aspect of our lives. Amen.

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God the Good Shepherd (Bad News for Corrupt Religious Leaders) Ezekiel 34:11-16

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather then from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land… I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice
(Ezekiel 34:11-13, 15-16, NIV).

It’s always hurtful when religious leaders let us down. It happens all the time – it’s nothing new. The Bible is full of religious leaders who didn’t take care of their flocks (the people), from Eli and his sons to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. Above, the prophet Ezekiel offered up a special message to religious pretenders – and to the people who have been hurt by them.

Israel’s shepherd had failed them. The priests had not only didn’t kept them from troubles, they had spurred them toward it. Some corrupted their worship with idolatry. Others served only for money, and looked for opportunities to cheat the people.

Only in the text quoted above, God already said “I will” ten times. There are more. God promised to destroy “the fat and the strong” (34:16, NKJV) – to feed them with justice. But the other side of that promise was a promise to the sheep who had been left to fend for themselves. God promised to be the Good Shepherd: He would seek out those who had been scattered for want of a shepherd’s care.

Ultimately, God is our Shepherd, not our human leaders. Our hope is that our leaders will serve us well, but whether they do or they don’t, God is our Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. Remember what the Lord Jesus said when He declared: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 14-15). He is indeed the Good Shepherd. Amen!


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Jesus, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful (Mark 10:46-52)

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him’
(Mark 10:46-49,

What caused our Lord Jesus to turn His attention away from the large crowd to Bartimaeus, the rudely persistent, blind and outcast beggar? I think, when Jesus heard the magic word: Mercy. “Jesus… have mercy on me!” Mercy is compassion or pity that leads a person to provide relief for someone in misery (not simple say “God bless you…” then walk away). A merciful person is one who feels deeply the hurts of others and acts to comfort and relieve those hurts. You see, mercy is a primary nature of God. God said of Himself, “The LORD God, merciful and gracious” (Exodus 34:6); and Moses said, “The LORD your God is a merciful God” (Deuteronomy 4:31). For Jesus, the Son of God, mercy was one of the essential characteristics of His earthly ministry.

Let’s turn to Bartimaeus now. This physically blind beggar actually could spiritually “see” much more than most people. First, he had heard enough about Jesus to correctly identify Him as “Son of David” a title that designated Jesus as the promised Messiah – God come to earth (notice, Jesus doesn’t deny him). Second, he knew enough about the God of his ancestors to know that He is merciful (heart knowledge, not merely head knowledge). And third, he had faith to believe that Jesus was personally interested in him and would heal him.

When Jesus heard Bartimaeus cry for mercy, He asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51). He was merciful and willing to act compassionately to the faithful Bartimaeus. The same quality of mercy that God evidenced in the Old Testament and Jesus demonstrated in the New Testament is available to anyone who sees Jesus through the eyes of faith as Bartimaeus did. Jesus knows where we’re hurting and when we turn to Him with our hurts, He is ready to say, “What do you want me to do for you?Jesus’ mercy turned into miracle because of faith. “Rabbi, I want to see,” Bartimaeus replied. “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road (Mark 10:51-52).

There is no pain, disappointment, confusion, fear or loneliness that Jesus cannot understand. When you come to Him with faith crying, “Jesus, have mercy on me!” He will responds either with a supernatural healing or through the caring of a concerned friend or simply by His presence with you or however – He will respond. Like Bartimaeus, you may feel that you are not very important in God’s sight. But when you come to Jesus with faith and brokenness, you’ll discover that you are of the supreme important to God. You may feel that your hurts are not important to God. You may feel that you don’t have a special place in God’s heart. You may believe that God doesn’t have time to bother with you. But if God’s mercy can reach poor Bartimaeus, think what He has waiting for you when you call on Him!

Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” twice (10:36, 51)
James and John answered: We want authority and power (10:37); they were ask to serve first.
But when Bartimaeus answered: I want to see (10:52); he received his sight immediately!
Jesus is indeed, the most gracious, the most merciful Saviour. Amen.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jesus: Master of God's Domain

God hasn’t kept the ending a secret. He wants us to see the big picture. He wants us to know that He wins. And He also wants us to know that the evil we witness on the stage of life is not as mighty as we might think.

Many passages teach these truths, but my favourite is a couple of verses recorded by Luke. Jesus speaks the words on the night before His death. He is in the upper room with His followers. They are shocked to hear His prophecy that one of them will betray the Master. Their defensiveness leads to an argument, and the argument leads to Jesus to exhort them to servanthood.

Then in an abrupt shift, Jesus turns to Simon Peter and makes this intriguing statement: “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32, NKJV).

This passage gives us a glimpse into an unseen world. It raises many questions, but it also affords many assurances, the chief of which is the chain of command. God is clearly in control, and the devil is on a short leash. Did you notice the verb that followed Satan’s name? Ask. “Satan has asked…

The devil didn’t demand, resolve, or decide. He asked. Just as he requested permission to tempt Job, he requested permission to tempt Simon Peter. Sort of recasts our image of the old snake, doesn’t it? Instead of the mighty Darth Vader of Gloom, a better caricature is a skinny, back-alley punk who acts tough, but ducks fast when God flexes. “Uh, uh… I’d… uh… like to do a number on Peter – that is, if you don’t mind.The chain of command is clear. Satan does nothing outside of God’s domain, and God uses Satan to advance the cause of His kingdom.
[Taken from When Christ Comes by Max Lucado]

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Jesus wants Us to Live the Life of a Servant, Not a King (Mark 10:35-45)

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus]. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’ ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’We can,’ they answered
(Mark 10:35-39,

As Jesus was leading His disciples toward Jerusalem, two of the disciples – James and John, the sons of Zebedee – let their imaginations run wild. Jesus clearly stated (for the third time!) the destiny awaiting Him at Jerusalem: “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise” (Mark 10:33-34). But James and John doesn’t bothered with what Jesus had just said to them. They were imagining an entirely different conclusion: Jesus would overthrow the Roman military establishment in Jerusalem with supernatural power. In their minds, Jesus and His followers would soon rule Jerusalem.

The Zebedee brothers were so confident in their imagination that they decided to apply early for two top parliament seats. “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” They were completely blind to Jesus’ prediction of His coming suffering. Jesus as if saying, “Are you ready to go through everything I go through?” He was thinking of the pain and humiliation of the trial, His flogging and crucifixion. “Oh yes,” they replied confidently. They were thinking of the excitement and glory of being in the positions of importance. Then Jesus looked ahead through the coming years and said, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with” (Mark 10:39). They may thought that Jesus was granting their request but He was referring to the fact that in the future James would be rejected and killed (see Acts 12:2) and John would be rejected and exiled (see Revelations 1:9).

Sad to say, there are many Christians today who think like James and John (including me). They have a distorted picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. “What am I going to gain from being a Christian?” they ask. Many of us, like Jesus’ first disciples, have a hard time getting the message: the Christian life is not a smooth-sailing, hassle-free, magic-carpet ride to heaven. We don’t get to live the life of a king (at least not here on earth), we live the life of a servant! Jesus Himself said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Therefore, don’t ask what you can gain from being a Christian [although the Bible assures us that there will be endless rewards and blessings await us], rather, ask, “What I can give as a servant of God?

The pattern of greatness among God’s children is still the same: Service

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

20 Pesan kepada Pelajar Saya: #5 Ketawa akan Menceriakan Harimu

Cuba kamu bertanya kepada diri sendiri: Sudah berapa lamakah kamu tidak ketawa sehingga menitiskan air mata? Atau sehingga senak perut? Ataupun sehingga sesak nafas?

Ketawa adalah sangat penting dalam kehidupan kita. Ketawa dapat menghasilkan hormon-hormon yang boleh melegakan kesakitan dan memperkukuhkan sistem daya tahan badan kita. Ketawa juga dapat merehatkan otot-otot dan memperbaiki sistem tubuh badan. Ia dapat membuat kita menjadi lebih bertenaga, kreatif dan gembira.

Pernahkah kamu ketawakan diri sendiri? Katakan kamu telah melakukan sesuatu yang sangat melucukan, rakan-rakan disekeliling kamu semuanya mentertawakan kamu J Adakah kamu akan berasa marah, geram, benci dan sakit hari kepada mereka ataupun kamu juga turut ketawa bersama mereka? Sukar bagi seseorang (khususnya mereka yang selalu tegang) untuk mentertawakan dirinya sendiri. Namun begitu, mengikut kajian, mereka yang mempunyai tabiat selalu mentertawakan diri sendiri ketika melakukan kesilapan dikatakan lebih bahagia dan cepat belajar daripada kesilapan. Mereka rata-rata ialah orang yang berfikiran positif.

Sebuah keluarga, contohnya, yang serius boleh menimbulkan suasana yang tegang. Ibubapa yang boleh bergurau senda dengan anak-anak mereka boleh membangkitkan lagi perasaan kasih sayang di dalam keluarga. Seorang suami dan isteri yang sering berjenaka dan bergurau senda akan menambahkan lagi kebahagian dan keharmonian rumahtangga. Begitu juga dengan pelajar yang seringkali ketawa bersama dengan rakan-rakannya akan mengeratkan lagi hubungan sesama mereka (Tetapi ingat: Bergurau senda juga ada batasannya). Bak nyanyian Dato’ M. Daud Kilau, “Senyumlah senyumlah ahai cik mek molek” atau ketawalah!

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Jesus: Many Have Looked, Few Have Seen Him

One of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament occurred in a city known as Caesarea Philippi… It was indeed a dramatic picture. In the midst of this carnival of marble columns and golden idols, a penniless, homeless, nameless Nazarene asks His band of followers, “Who do you say that I am?

The immensity of the question is staggering. I would imagine that Peter’s answer did not come without some hesitation. Shuffling of feet. Anxious silence. How absurd that this man should be the Son of God. No trumpets. No purple robes. No armies. Yet there was that glint of determination in His eye and that edge of certainty in His message. Peter’s response sliced the silence. “I believe that you are… the Son of God.”

Many have looked at Jesus; but few have seen Him. Many have seen His shadow, His people, His story. But only a handful have seen Jesus. Only a few have looked through the fog of religiosity and found Him. Only a few have dared to stand eye to eye and heart to heart with Jesus and say, “I believe that you are the Son of God.”
[Taken from On the Anvil by Max Lucado]

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jesus taught about the Problem of Material Wealth (Mark 10:17-27)

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’’ ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy’
(Mark 10:17-20,

In Mark 10:17-27, Lord Jesus used a conversation with a rich man to emphasize to His disciples – and to us – the disappointments and dangers of making wealth a primary goal in life. The rich man seemed to have a serious interest in living a God-pleasing life (“ran up to Jesus… fell on his knees before Jesus…” he asked questions and proudly said that he followed all God’s commandments). But Jesus was aware of the one area in which the man had placed something else ahead of God. Jesus looked at him and loved him, “One thing you lack,” He said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).

Wow! Jesus’ words aimed directly to the young man’s wealth! Jesus’ command uncovered the “one thing” that standing in the way of the man’s relationship to God: his worship to his wealth. “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (10:22). He was so attached to his possessions that he was unwilling to accept Jesus’ offer of heavenly treasure and membership among His followers. As the rich man walked sadly away, Jesus taught His disciples about the problems of wealth. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!... It is easier for a camel to go through the eyes of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (10:23, 25). That’s simply mean, it’s humanly impossible.

Why is material wealth such an obstacle to spiritual wealth? Because material wealth is the most sinister counterfeit for God that man has ever devised. Let’s face it, wealth can solve many problems: bring happiness and fulfil our material wants and needs. Someone can become so reliant on wealth that he begins to wonder, “Who need God, anyway?” No wonder Jesus said elsewhere: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despite the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24, “money” also translated as “mammon” and “riches”). Understand this: Jesus didn’t say it’s a sin to be rich; He said it is difficult to be Christian and rich at the same time because of the temptation to rely on wealth rather than God. Jesus didn’t said it is wrong to want and own nice things; He said it is wrong to make things your major goal in life because first place in your heart is reserved for God alone.

Friends, first place in our lives is not big enough to handle both God and the desire for riches. One of them must go! But we have the assurance from Jesus that when we make the commitment to give God the highest place and priority in our lives more than our paychecks, allowances and saving accounts, He will actively meet our needs and throw in the bonus of “treasure in heaven” (Mark 10:21) for us. Is this sound impossible for you? Yes and No. Yes because “with man this is impossible” (rich or poor); and No because “with God, all things are possible with God” (10:27). Amen.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

20 Pesan Kepada Pelajar Saya: #4 Pelbagaikan Aktiviti Seharian

Tanpa kita sedari, kita menjadi mangsa tabiat. Setiap hari kita secara tidak langsung mengikut satu norma atau corak yang tertentu. Sukar untuk kita mengubah norma tersebut kerana takut akan implikasi-implikasi yang mungkin akan terjadi. Ketidakpastian itulah yang kita tidak suka.

Walau bagaimanapun, kita harus mencuba sesuatu yang baru. Kita ubah sedikit corak hidup seharian kita (jangan pula diubah secara mendadak). Ubah sedikit demi sedikit. Jika kita mengikut satu corak hidup setiap hari untuk jangka masa yang panjang dan bertahun-tahun lamanya, ia akan mengakibatkan ketegangan dan kebosanan dalam hidup kita. Kajian ada menunjukkan bahawa seseorang pekerja yang melakukan sesuatu tugas berulang kali setiap hari selama beberapa tahun akan mengalami ketegangan dan kebosanan dalam menjalankan tugas mereka berbanding dengan mereka yang telah melakukan pelbagai tugas dalam jangka masa yang sama.

Bagaimana untuk mengubah norma atau corak hidup kita? Dengan melakukan kepelbagaian aktiviti. Cuba ubah sedikit corak hidup kita setiap hari. Contohnya; Kalau setiap petang kamu berjogging di Taman Sahabat, apa kata sekali sekala kamu berjogging di Taman Rimba? Kalau setiap hari kamu berjalan ke kelas mengikut laluan A, apa kata esok kamu melalui laluan B pula? dan sebagainya. Perubahan yang sedikit demi sedikit secara berterusan akan menambahkan kreativiti dan sukacita kita. Hidup akan menjadi lebih bermakna.


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Saturday, April 9, 2016

20 Pesan Kepada Pelajar Saya: #3 Ambil Masa untuk Berehat

Kesibukan sentiasa berlaku kepada sesiapa sahaja, terutamanya pelajar. Setiap hari kita sering mendengar seseorang (atau kita sendiri) merungut kerana tidak cukup masa disebabkan terlalu sibuk. Tidak kira sama ada kita tinggal di bandar ataupun di kampung, kesibukan sering dirasai.

Di dalam kehidupan dunia yang bergerak serba pantas ini, kita pasti tidak mahu ketinggalan. Ramai di kalangan kita yang mengikut rentak kelajuan dunia. Kita sering mengisi masa kita yang terhad dengan aktiviti yang padat. Lebih padat jadual harian kita, maka kita beranggapan bahawa kita mendapat lebih banyak daripada hidup ini. Kesibukan yang berterusan akan menyebabkan jasmani, jiwa dan perasaan kita tertekan.

Ramai diantara kita tidak memberi ruang bagi diri kita sendiri. Kita tidak mengambil masa untuk berehat, malah berusaha menggunakan setiap detik dan tenaga yang ada untuk melakukan sesuatu. Seorang pelajar misalnya, yang terus-menerus belajar dari pukul 8.00 pagi hingga 6.00 petang dan sambung belajar sehingga larut malam akan menghadap pelbagai masalah. Seorang pelajar yang bijak akan meluangkan masa untuk bersukan, bersosial, beristirehat dan beribadat. Pelajar yang bijak membahagikan masa akan menjadi seorang pelajar yang cemerlang.

Kesibukan boleh mengakibatkan ketegangan, timbul pelbagai penyakit dan jiwa yang mudah cemas. Inilah antara tanda-tanda yang kita mesti ambil perhatian dan berwaspada. Oleh itu, kita harus berhenti sejenak dan menganilisi diri sendiri – perlahankan diri dan relaks. Mungkin pada peringkat awal ianya agak sukar dilakukan (apatah lagi apabila kita melihat disekeliling kita semuanya sedang bergerak pantas). Kita juga mungkin akan berasa bersalah kerana tidak mengikut peredaran zaman yang semuanya mengingini supaya kita cepat-cepat. Tetapi – perlahankan diri dan relaks – adalah cara yang baik untuk meningkatkan prestasi dan produktiviti kita dalam kehidupan seharian.

Cuba kamu luangkan masa sekurang-kurangnya 10 minit setiap hari untuk duduk dan berehat serta melapangkan fikiran dengan tidak melakukan apa-apa. Ataupun kamu luangkan masa setengah jam setiap hari untuk menikmati keindahan alam semula jadi di taman bunga atau mendongak ke langit pada waktu malam. Ataupun kamu cuba duduk di dalam bilik yang gelap dan mendengar musik sentimental. Lakukan apa sahaja yang boleh membuat kamu berehat daripada kesibukan supaya kamu akan berasa lebih segar, minda menjadi lebih sihat dan mampu untuk melaksanakan tugas seterusnya dengan lebih baik, efektif, berjaya dan cemerlang!


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Friday, April 8, 2016

20 Pesan Kepada Pelajar Saya: #2 Jangan Mensia-siakan Masa Menunggu

Pernahkah kamu teringinkan sesuatu? Kamu mahukan sesuatu tetapi kamu tidak boleh mendapatkannya dengan serta-merta. Kamu perlu menunggu dan menunggu. Kadangkala kita merasa kecewa kerana apa yang kita impikan sukar untuk diperolehi. Menunggu dan menanti untuk mencapai sesuatu yang diidamkan adalah suatu hal yang sukar dilakukan. Ia membuatkan jiwa kita tertekan.

Di dalam dunia yang serba moden ini, hampir segala-galanya boleh diperolehi dengan serta-merta. Kita ada makanan segera, kopi segera, kredit segera, komunikasi segera, dan sebagainya. Oleh itu, menunggu kita anggap sebagai melambatkan pergerakan kita. Ianya seperti membuang masa. Kadangkala kita rasa marah, kecewa dan fikiran menjadi tegang bila sesuatu itu tidak mengikut apa yang kita inginkan. Jika seseorang itu terlambat misalnya, dan kita sedang duduk menunggu, kita rasa seolah-oleh membuang masa sahaja. Kita menjadi marah, resah dan gelisah.

Kita perlu sedar bahawa kerisauan tidak dapat menyelesaikan apa-apa masalah. Di sekeliling kita ada banyak perkara yang boleh kita nikmati. Bila kita membebaskan diri kita daripada prasangka mengenai bila dan bagaimana perkara itu terjadi, kita boleh menjalani hidup ini dengan lebih tenang dan bahagia. Bagi saya, semasa saya menunggu saya lebih suka membaca. Membaca di dalam bas, semasa menantikan makanan sampai dan di dalam kapal terbang. Kadangkala apabila kita membaca sambil menunggu, kita tidak akan berasa bahawa penantian kita itu sia-sia. Masa tidak terbuang, malahan, kita mendapat faedah daripada menunggu. Ingat, masa itu emas, dan janganlah mensia-siakan masa itu.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

20 Pesan Kepada Pelajar Saya: #1 Belajar Menerima Perubahan

Meninggalkan rumah atau tempat tinggal buat pertama kalinya dalam kehidupan seseorang boleh menimbulkan ketegangan dalam diri seseorang. Saya teringat pertama kali saya meninggalkan rumah untuk melanjutkan pelajaran ke UiTM Samarahan. Saya berasa tidak selesa dan sangat merindui kampung halaman. Pada hari pertama saya menghadiri kelas, saya agak terkejut kerana semuanya muka baru yang belum pernah saya lihat sebelum ini. Saya merasakan bahawa saya seorang asing di sana. Saya mengharapkan sesuatu yang boleh meyakinkan diri saya untuk meneruskan kehidupan saya sebagai seorang pelajar di kampus.

Saya sangat diberkati kerana muka yang asing pada hari pertama kuliah lambat laun telah menjadi kenalan, sahabat dan rakan setia dalam suka dan duka. Begitulah saya menghabiskan waktu 3 tahun pengajian saya di UiTM. Selain itu, rakan sama melayani di Persekutuan Pelajar Kristian (PPK) di kampus juga menjadi lebih daripada rakan rapat, malah, sebagai saudara dan saudari seiman sehingga sekarang.

Sama ada kita suka atau tidak, hidup kita akan tetap melalui perubahan. Ada perubahan yang merupakan pilihan kita sendiri; ada juga perubahan yang datang secara mendadak. Bila kita mengambil keputusan untuk melanjutkan pelajaran, menukar kerja, atau membeli kereta baru, kita telah membuat keputusan untuk membawa sesuatu yang baru ke dalam hidup kita. Oleh itu, adalah menjadi kebiasaan jika kita mempunyai perasaan seronok dengan yang baru dan perasaan yang kurang senang meninggalkan keselesaan dan kebiasaan dulu. Ada juga perubahan yang sukar diterima seperti kehilangan seseorang yang sangat dikasihi, kegagalan dalam pelajaran, atau menderita akibat penyakit yang tidak dapat disembuhkan sepenuhnya.

Kita tidak boleh lari dari perubahan. Oleh itu, kita perlu belajar berhadapan dengan perubahan. Kita perlu mengenalpasti kekuatan diri untuk mengatasi ketegangan dan tekanan akibat perubahan itu dan kita juga perlu mengenalpasti orang yang boleh membantu kita memberi sokongan, dorongan, nasihat dan juga galakan. Selepas itu kita perlukan satu rancangan tindakan. Contohnya, bagaimana cara kita boleh menyesuaikan diri untuk menghadapi perubahan tersebut? Kita harus mengubah diri untuk mengimbangi perubahan yang telah atau akan berlaku di sekeliling kita.

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