31 October 2007

QT thots on Lk1:1-4

Others may compile the narrative, but Luke’s Gospel is different, in that it: (1) is backed up by close observation and facts; (2) is an orderly account for a specific person; (3) has the purpose of giving us certainty concerning what we have been taught. We can have assurance that it is accurate, orderly and authoritative.

Others have compiled a copy of what was accomplished. Have we written down what has happened on our journey with God? Specifically, did we give praise and glory to God where it is due? Did we record down lessons learnt on the way? Action point: start journaling again. Am I reaping the rewards of journaling? Is there another way to do it better?

What have I been taught? Am I certain of those things? On the gospel message, am I certain that Jesus came to die for our sins and that He is the only way to the Father? Are my fundamentals sound? Is my assurance of salvation certain? Last time after reading the Calvinistic and Armenian views, I used to be more confused and became doubtful about the certainty of my salvation. Now, in reality, I don’t really think much about this issue. I know and believed that I’m once saved always saved and that no one can take away my salvation. I do not go and read controversial topics and viewpoints. I have no time and “itch-iness” to stir up the hornets; nest unlike in seminary where I have to do the assignment.

What doctrines and truths have been “less certain” now? After my last job loss, my view of God’s love and personal plans for me has been shaken. But thankfully it has regained strength and I have slowly renewed a sense of passion for life. Has God forsaken me? Or have I been deluded by my emotions and forsake God? On balance, it might have more been the latter.

Jeremiah 29:11 (English Standard Version)
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I need to believe again His promises for my life. Promises like this one above.

Prayer:Thank you Lord for your Word, and the certainty that comes in it. Help me to rest upon the truths therein and order my life accordingly. Heal me thoroughly and make me whole again to follow you. In Jesus name, Amen.

28 October 2007

Sunday Worship

Today's Sermon was on Tithing Renewed and it dealt with three significant questions:
- The Historical Question (What?)
- The Theological question (Why?)
- The Personal Question (How?)

I was reminded from the Word that I have not been faithful in tithing and giving. As a good guide, the 1st 10% of our income (don't quibble over gross or nett!) is to be given to God under tithing. From the 90% of the rest of our income, we give the freewill gifts and offerings. Tithing was instituted by God to teach us about God. He wants us to trust Him to provide for us and know that He is a giver. Giving in that sense detoxifies the soul and strengthens our trust in Him. Those who struggle to tithe will also struggle to trust in God to provide.

In this regard, I quiver in my seat. I am far from it though I can teach it and encourage others to do so in many times. When it comes to the crunch, I failed. Why? Humanly, I weigh what I have to spend with what I have on hand. Rationally, I knew it cannot balance and I hold back. Humanly and rationally but not spiritually. I knew it is wrong, yet I continued to walk by sight and not in faith. Sigh. From where does my help come? It can be indeed a heavy burden.

Yet in all these, today I was encouraged by the worship song, "You Shine" and in these 2 sentences, "why should I give up, when your plans are full of love..." Yes, I should press on and hope in Him.

There is always hope with God.

Life Mission Statement Revisited

I pick up my Life Mission Statement written in 1 Nov 1997, ten years ago recently. How fast ten years have passed. When I read what I have written then, it both inspired and shamed me. I also learnt some interesting lessons on Personal Mission Statements.

What did I wrote then? It was first written on 6 Nov 1996 and then revised one year later. Here goes...

"My life must be lived deliberately. Abundantly. Progressively. It must be Bibilically directed and not self-driven. Faith based and not circumstances dependent. I must seize the day, each day to the last day of my life, as night is coming where no man can work (Jn.9:4)

As God's Son, I want to know Him deeply and inspire others, all over the world, to know Him deeper throughout my sojourn on earth. I want to make my heart completely His (2 Chr.16:9) - in personal holiness and in serving out His purposes on earth.

As a Family person, I want to keep family relationships as key in my life. To love and provide for my wife, my children, my parents, family members and relatives. People are always important, especially those of my kin.

As a Church member, I want to train up leaders for the church, local and worldwide, To share with them the joy and value in serving, not for the short term but life-long. To support my leaders and missionaries unwaveringly. To give consistently and sacrificially.

- my vital contributions is in the area of training. Training leaders for CGs, ministries and leaders.
- My secondary passion is to win communities for Christ (West - Bt Panjang/Hong Kah). To move into schools, institutions, community work groups, etc, to exploit situations for the gospel.

As a Full Time Worker in the area of ministry coordination, I want to excel in the area of Church governance and administration. To constantly identify and learn from the best in the field. To implement desired policies and plans with unflinching stubbornness (Eze.3:8,9a)

As a Citizen of the Earth, I want to contribute by lovingly and humbly serve the disabled, destitute and elderly of all nations, race or religions.

I want to live a life with no regrets."

In a way, I was inspired by what I wrote then. But now, 10 years older, I knew that a lot of what I have written then is indeed a tall order. I can have a nice sounding goal/vision, but what I really lacked is the will power and ability to bring it to fruition. I am not any where near what I have envisioned.

So was it an academic exercise of time and effort wasting? I think it is suitable for some people but perhaps for the vast majority of ordinary people, they need to be tempered by many reality checks and mentoring.

What made it difficult for me now to still do the above written aspirations is that I have been emotionally (and spiritually?) damaged. The heart is only a bit willing and the flesh is too worn out by now.

Will I write or re-write another life mission statement now? Maybe. Perhaps a more down to earth one, aiming for lesser things and letting God me into other unknowns. We all mellow wuth age and tiredness.

I will choose to let it evolve round 3 key questions.

1) What am I doing now? Am I happy with it? What is right and what is not right now?

2) What are some key areas that I want to live for (contribute in)?

3) How do I get there? What does it take to get there?

Let's see what happens in the next 5-10 years.

24 October 2007

Flu-ed for 4 days

Oh it was miserable to be down by sickness, and in this case a strong bout of flu. It started last Wednesday after some screaming at the students. In the evening the throat worsened and I knew that it is about time to visit the doctor and to take my 1st MC after 1 and a half year.

Saw the doctor on Thursday, and it cost me S$43 for 10 mins of consultation, 3 kinds of tablets, and a wonderful sheet of paper declaring me unfit for duty for 2 days! I was a bit kia-su, called up my colleague, then my EA, then another colleague, just to make sure that all the bases are covered.

Did I have a good rest? Well for the 1st day, I carried out my fatherly and husbandly chores. Rest only came in the late afternoon, and then only for a short 2 hours. By the 2nd day, the flu was full blown and I felt really horrible. The weekend was wasted - resting at home.

This flu reminded me of one thing. My body does has limitations and it is about time I have some rest.

Well it does have a good outcome. I started to meditate on Bible verses on Monday, and has since memorised and meditated on Ps 39: 4,9; Ps 73:25,26, 27,28. Not too bad!

14 October 2007

Hope for our Messed-up lives

Is there still hope for us? Some of us have reach the point that we seriously doubt whether there would still be a happy tomorrow for us because of our hopelessly messed-up lives. We hang down our shoulders and our countenance and drag ourselves to work each day. No joy. No strength. No life in our steps.

The speaker today gave me a new sense of hope. In the Old Testament, the Moabites and the Ammonites have sinned against the Israelites in Numbers 22-24, and were judged by God to be excluded from the assembly later on in Nehemiah 13. But today we are reminded that though one is a Moabite, there is still hope for them to be reconciled with God, even though the tribe as a whole is excluded. Ruth, serves for us the prime example. Ruth who is a Moabite was included in the assembly through her expression of faith to God and her obedience. She went on to become the great grandmother of David, and one of the 4 women to be mentioned in the line of ancestors to Christ. God is not so unforgiving after all.

Today in my own situations, I received hope from the example of Ruth. Though my circumstances seem dark and impossible, it is not impossible with God. He will make a way for me. However i will need to walk in it in obedience.

My sermon applications for today is 2 fold. Re-start scripture memory. Do not be complacent and satisfied with 70+ marks for check ups when I can do better. Second, start serving again. For a start, work on Befrienders Ministry and minister to whoever is there. I have an inkling to start a little "Listening Booth" for whoever is in need of a listening ear. This is something that i can do well. Maybe i can do that from next Sunday onwards. Serve. It is more for my good then for the person I'm 'ministering' to.

13 October 2007

No arms.No legs.No worries.

Nick Vujicic, a man born without limbs. Yet one without angst and a living miracle of how to triumph over life's adversities. Check out his website at http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/

My pastor brought to our attention this amazing man yesterday night at IDT. What impresses me most is his ability to cross over the bridge of hurts and limitations, and to discover life and God's purposes for him. It is really incredible!

Our DG was just commenting, we who have 2 arms and legs, have much more worries than him without them. What is important here is the bridge crossing. You can have limbs or no limbs, but if you have not crossed over your bridges, you cannot fly in life. You will still be hampered by that sin, that event, that person and it stalls your life in gear one. I am sure Nick has many questions when he was young - why am I born like that? But he came to terms with that and moved on. And it made all the difference.

Cross the bridge today. Act upon it in faith. And fly.

Books Read

Yet another book read this month. This is entitled, "Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism" by Patricia Aburdene, 2005, published by Hampton Roads.

This 179 page hardback has one simple message, Capitalism (for profits only) is dying, and being transformed spiritually by conscious choices. It records the rise of spiritually in the business place, the advent of the values-driven consumer, and the transformational of the marketplace towards green and spirituality.

It is simple to read and packed with many of the same examples of the turning tide. Ok we are aware..

Take home for myself - the world is changing and back to a search for God. While some do it through meditation and yoga, others allow gradual introduction of prayers, sharing sessions, and meditations. In the midst of a fast paced world, they are recognising that they need God again - though they may not openly admit it, and call it by other terms.

While walking through Harris Book shop at Orchard MRT, I spotted some books that I want to look up at the library. They are:

I'll hunt them down on my next library visit..Viva reading!

10 October 2007

2 Harlots.2 Stirrings.2 Responses.

What do we do when we come to familiar Bible passages? Do we read over them quickly? Do we bear with them indifferently? Or, can we ask ourself, "What questions have I not ask before about this passage?"

My QT today is on 1Kings 3:16-28. A very familiar passage on Solomon judging the 2 women and the dead baby. What questions have I not ask before about this passage? Many. Why were these 2 women in the same house? What were their relationship? What other ways could Solomon use to discover whose child he was? Why does he need to use the knife? Why can't he do a recognition test? Any significance in that they are both harlots? Why did the author chose this incident to illustrate Solomon's wisdom? etc.. Suddenly my hitherto boring QT becomes more interesting!

2 harlots in the passage. 2 stirrings. The passage records for us one of them was "deeply stirred over her son" (3:26). The 1st woman's (the one who accidentally smothered her son) stirring - "If i don't have - you also won't have!" It was a selfish self-focus stirring. The 2nd woman, this one who was deeply stirred over her son, focus was for the good of the baby. It's alright if she don't have him at the end, but do not kill him. Life is precious. Here she demonstrated true love, a love that loves so much that she would rather give him away to preserve life than to lose a life.

I read another stirring in this 2nd woman. Other than the "this is my son, how can i bear to let you be cut up?", there is possibly another stirring, "Why is God allowing this to happen to me? I have done no wrong!"

This 2nd woman was caught in God's unfolding plan to authenticate Solomon as His wise earthly ruler. She does not see the whole picture yet, and honestly thinks that the King is going to cut the baby into 2. And thus the deep stirring and anguish in heart.

As we know later, God vindicated her and she came forth justified and reunited with her child in her arms. When times are dark and we do not know why God has allowed certain things to happen in our lives - hang on! Trust in Him. The light will come on soon. It is all part of God's plan. When we do not see His hand in it, trust His heart. It is for us.

2 responses. The 2nd woman in her deep stirrings, love and give. Today in my domestic affairs, I too faced stormy weathers which are too painful to describe here. Can I love some more? Earlier in my relationship, it has been like the 1st woman, "if i don't have - you won't have also". I am wrong. This is not the way to go forward. My response should be: Love. Give.

God's purposes in my family will be unfolded and cleared in due time. Now, though it is stormy and dark, i must hang on and trust Him.

p.s. In the afternoon, I was praying over these stormy issues at work. At night, when I did my QT, God's answer came through this passage. Praise God! Now, I just need to trust.

9 October 2007

Prayer Power

What would you ask for if God asks you, "Ask what you wish Me to give you"? I can think of a thousand and one things to ask for. Primarily for myself and those around me perhaps. Or, maybe it is the area of money, sex and power? Here in 1 Kings 3:9, Solomon asked for an understanding heart so that he will be able to judge the people and to discern between good and evil.

I learnt 3 other things from this passage. First, God is one who gives. He gives what we ask for. And also, what we have not asked for (if we walked in His ways). He does not only demand things from us, but He gives. I can ask God for things in prayer. If I don't - am I missing out on a lot of things?

Second, He can be pleased when we walk uprightly. He is not always a God in wrath and comes to judge. But He can be pleased with us and blesses us - when we walk with Him in His ways.

Thirdly, He is actively involved in our lives. He speaks to us. Yes, He still does, in our dreams, or through circumstances or people.

When was the last time that God intervened in my life to speak to me? As far as I can remember, it was last year through SP calling me into his room after Sunday service to speak of God's plans to bless me. Lord, do speak to me again. Let it not be a "few and far in between" intervention, but a daily and regular happening where i can hear you and commune with you! Cleanse me and speak to me Lord.

If God were to speak to me and ask the same question that He asked Solomon now, what would I ask for? I think I have 3 things now. Financial freedom. Healing of family ties. And renewed fervency in family spirituality - serving together in ministry.

Let it be so Lord. Amen.

4 October 2007

Books Read

My vacation time is being profitably spent on reading nowadays (1 more week to go). After the excellent book, "First, break all the rules", I have finished "How Countries compete: strategies, structure, and government in the global economy" by Richard Vietor, 2007, Harvard Business School Press.

It is an interesting and informative book. It lays down 4 key fundamentals that countries must have to compete effectively: strategy, organisational structure, developing resources, and the efficient usage of resources.It also points to the role of government as pivotal in helping the country compete.

It picks out a sample of 10 countries and list out the above 4 aspects and states his position as to where they are in the past, present and future. The 10 countries are Japan, Singapore, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Europe-Italy, and US.

Overall, it is a good read for information on what's happening in these countries. I would recommend it for beginner level reading on global competition.

One good quote from this book, Historian R.H.Tawney observed about China, "they ploughed with iron when Europe used wood, and continued to plough with it when Europe used steel." page 59.

One lesson learnt - role of government is very important, and for government to have continuity and hence country have stability to reap the benefits. Praise God for good governance in Singapore.

2 October 2007

Once a "Mighty Men"

Reading today's passage in 2 Sam.23:8-39, reminded me about myself - i was once a mighty men. Maybe, not MIGHTY men, but at least in a small way. But how this mighty man has fallen!

The writer of 2Samuel, used the phrase "the three" mighty men about 5x in the passage. What made these 3 mighty? I felt that they were singled out because they:
- defied the Philistines,
- slained 800 enemies at one time,
- while others withdrew & fled, they stood and fought and won
- they took their stand, defended it, and struck their enemies
- they were fiercely loyal and brave
Abishai was brave and great. He killed 300 at one go, but he did not make it to the three. It seems to suggest here that you need to slain more than 300 at one go to make it to "the three". That's the three's minimum standards.

The deeper lesson, I feel, is not so much about their exploits and killings. But it is about when they held on in the battle, when others fled, God knew and was with them, and He gave them the victory. The phrase, "and the Lord brought about a great victory" was repeated twice, in Eleazar and Shammah's exploits. Don't miss that. It's not about us, but all about Him.

Why did they fight on while others fled and withdrew? I felt, these three believed in their cause, they had something to fight for. And they knew that God will be with them and not abandoned them. They had faith - charging on faith and hanging on faith.

The question for myself as I read this passage is: do i have a cause to fight for? Now? And, do i still believe that God will be here to bring about that great victory?

I used to be mighty in that sense. I served well in the BB ministry. Hang on and did great exploits for God, touched lives, etc. But all those were in the past now. It has been 1.5 years since.

And it is time to have another cause to fight for.

1 October 2007

"Don't say that ok, don't you know I'm hurt by it?"

"Hey, don't say that ok, don't you know I'm hurt by it?" my younger girl replied when we scolded her for over-relying on us for the Maths answers and not thinking through them herself. I was in the bathroom about to bathe when it happened. I came out, and for the 1st time (I think), put my arms around her and said, "It's alright girl, don't cry. You try to do it first, if you don't know, I'll help you after my bath." She nodded and continue sobbing, with one hand wiping her tears and the other, holding onto my shoulder. Here you need to know that my this daughter do not cry easily.

It was a precious few moments that we held onto each other - and understood each other for once. Father and daughter. For once, I did not scream at her. Nor did I find fault with her ways. I hugged her and understood her hurts and pain.

For too long, perhaps we were the guilty ones, creating these coping mechanisms in her 7 year old mind. She responded with similar harsh words and bully actions, aimed towards her older sister (unfortunate gal). When she responded rudely (in self-defence), we got angry and scolded harsher words. She in turn defended herself and the vicious cycle continued.

Tonight, when I responded in love and concern, she reciprocated in obedience to the things that I asked her to do. Praise God! There was love instead of retaliatory words and actions.

In the bathroom while bathing, as I thought about her sobs and hurts, tears roll down my own cheeks. I felt guilty. Sorry. And bad. For too long, I was nasty to a little girl who was just trying to learn and gain approval from her parents. I was a poor role model father for her. For all fathers, I should have known better, especially with my MA in Pastoral Counseling. Yet sometimes when it comes to your own family members, titles and degrees count for nothing.

Tonight, I spent sometime in their room before they sleep. I spoke kindly to them and made milk for her, and waited till she finished drinking and took out the bottle. These are the things that I have not done for a long time. Tonight I did again. Hopefully for many more nights to come!

As a human father, these are the little bright spark moments that I connected with my child and shown love. I know that my heavenly Father knows my hurts too. His hand is always around me though i do not see it. I pray that there will be more times of breakthrough for me to know experientially that God loves me deeply.

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