18 March 2011

Soul Fatigue sermon video on Godtube

This audio sermon mentioned above served up a good reminder to know that God is mighty. He is not a god who cannot see or cannot feel, but a God who is still mighty, even though we cannot see.

When we failed to see God's hand in the things around us, we will be led into doubt and despair. Soon we may neglect and later on forsake the God who loved us and run on empty and became empty.

Jeremiah 2:13 is a good reminder, "My people have committed two sins:

They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."

The great need for us is to return to the fountain - the spring of living water and to drink deeply. May we know how to and be willing to return to the Father to drink.

16 March 2011

Nuclear leak fears. Markets crashes. More aftershocks.

These are indeed difficult times for us in Asia and especially the Japanese. Everyday, in fact every other hour, we are bombarded with more news of fire in the reactors and radiation leak fears from the news agencies and websites. Fear is everywhere, evident in the SMSes that were sent and floated around - I received one such SMS yesterday about the threat of radioactive plume floating towards Philippines.

In times like these we need faith. There are generally 2 kinds of faith. Charging-on faith and Hanging-on faith.

The first kind, talks about faith to charge ahead, to attempt new things for God. The best example is that of Jonathan and his armour bearer charging into the band of Philistines with only a sword between them, knowing that God is with them.

The second kind of faith is hanging-on faith. This requires us to hang on to the promises of God and trust that they will come to pass even when we don't know how it will ever be possible. A good example is that of Abram at old age where God re-name Him as Abraham and promised him to be a father of nations - when he was still childless.

For Christians living in these troubled days, I encourage us all to hang on in faith. Trust Him that He is good, and He will care for His people. Walk with Him eventhough you do not know why things are happening as they are. For we do not walk by sight but by faith (2 Cor.5:7).

Pray that God will grant us fresh eyes of faith to see and hearts of flesh to care for the hurting around us.

14 March 2011

Where is God in Japan's Tsunami?

For the last few days, we were bombarded by news and videos of the monster tsunami that hit Japan. Shock and jaw dropping horror emotions were roused as we watched the destructive power of the tsunami sweeping everything in its path.

Comments made by the viewers to the uploaded video were mixed. Some good-intentioned Christians called blatantly for all to repent and turn to God. This naturally led to some retaliation by unbelievers who mocked them and replied with sacarsm. Many left a cry to pray for the poor affected people in Japan. Many wondered where was God and how God can have allowed this to happen.

I see it as a time to remind all Christians that God is still in control. Circumstances may suggest havoc and meaningless loss of lives, but we need to trust in the revealed Word of God that He is in Sovereign control and will work things out for the greater good where people will come to know Him as the Lord. Right now we may not see or understand, but when things calm down, we will be able to see better in hindsight. For now, while we cannot see/understand, we need to hold onto the Word of God and trust His heart.

This was elaborated in yesterday's sermon in church in Eygpt's case. Some time ago, there was a bombing in the church in Cairo and lives were lost and many asked why this happened to Christians. But through this bombing, it led to the churches in Cairo coming together to pray, a hitherto impossible event because of differences. Things happened after that. Many took to the streets to protest against the ruling party of Eygpt, another unthinkable event, which finally led to the overthrow of Mubarak's rule. The good thing about the 'uprising' is that the church held its church service on the streets, taking opportunity of the many who were around, and many got to hear the gospel for the first time. We need to remember that His ways are higher than us and we need to trust Him to work out His plans.

Now, it is a time for prayer. Pray for the affected churches to arise and shine forth in a time of searching and loss. There is a EFCJ church right in Sendai that was untouched by the tsunami. Pray that Christians in Japan, numbering only about 1%, will share boldly about their faith and bring many into the Kingdom.

3 March 2011

Facing up to my own Kadesh Barneas Num14.

Heard another powerful sermon today. We are indeed blessed by so many good speakers in CEFC. I've jotted down their points as a record and also added my responses to it. We can listen to a sermon, but what is more important is that it touches us and spurs us to correct our lives and act for His glory. Let my sermon heard be a sermon applied.
2 Fundamental principles in overcoming fear:

A) Minimise the effect of Fear
Fear if not dealt with cripples us and the following are lost - Lost hope

Songs of victory in Ex15 have now been replaced by sobbing. Need to remember that the Lord reigns forever, and is more than capable to deal with my giants in the land.

Lost ground - this wilderness: is God's waiting room for the Israelites, not their destiny. Oft we forget this and failed to realised God's plan for us.

Lost faith - Ride on your leaders' faith (because God has spoken) and ride out the storm together

Lost perspective - they wanted to stone Moses! No fairy tale endings in the Bible, men are sinful.


B) Optimize the power of faith:
Learn from Moses to intercede for the people

Learn from Caleb to follow God fully

Learn from the people's mistakes not to be presumptuous in my faith

Concluding story about the small girl - she can still be calm in the turbulent sea because the captain of the ship is her Father. Similar ending last week - I'm not Moses, but God is still God.

What is(are) my Kadesh Barnea now? Long time future plans. Career changes/stay. Family: schooling decisions/house changes. They are not giant fears yet, but each has the potential to become one if I lose sight of God on the eternal throne.

More needful is perhaps my "this wilderness" experience that dragged me down and caused me to be reluctant to come forward. Have i forgotten my destiny? Have i lost sight that God has still a plan of victory for me? Fear when coupled with frustration is a very potent force. Help me break through that Lord.

What about the old promises in Isa.42:6,7 to me...
6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness."

In facing my KB now, help me to hold on to these promises and not let fear and insecurity take over. There is still work out there waiting for me to do. The people may have changed, but God is still God and He is the captain of my ship.

2 March 2011

Of dogs and God. And a distracted father.

The story of the Syrophoenician woman touched me afresh in Mk 7:24-30. While my pastor friends can easily pull off a 3 point sermon outline here: She came and fell at His feet - God hears us; We can answer back to Him - God understands us; We can go back in faith - God answers, what is more important to me is that the passage spoke directly to me.

Why would she wanted to keep trying? She heard about Jesus entry to their town. She immediately came. She fell at His feet. She went against all religious and cultural barriers. She fought for her say. She answered back to Jesus! She was not distracted by the dog comment and continued to seek God.

I too have a little daughter, who have since grown up a little. Do i come to God with the same intensity for her? Is it because I do not know that God can heal, save and help? Is it because I am distracted by my many other things to spend time praying for them?

This day I prayed again for my two daughters that I repent and wanted to be a more loving father. Forgive me Lord for being so caught up in my own little world of work and studies.

Ephphatha! Be opened!

Many questions touched me this morning as I read Mk7:31-37 on the deaf and mute man brought to Jesus for healing. Questions that are asked in an attitude of learning, not public inquisition.

Why did they bring him to Jesus? Was he a pitiful man? a kind man?

Who am I bringing to Jesus? How long did I last bring anyone to Jesus?

Who will bring me to Jesus?

Why did Jesus let out a deep sigh to this man?

Was Jesus happy when He healed this man?

Are my ears closed and tongue impeded too? What are they open to?

When Jesus looked at me, will He let out a deep sigh too?

If Jesus let out that deep sigh at me, how would I feel? what would I do?

Why were the people utterly astonished?

I like questions. Especially difficult questions that cut deep into us. Not to cut and destroy, but to cut and reveal. And in time to come, help us to turn around.

The most painful question for me this morning: When Jesus looked at me, will He let out a deep sigh too? Maybe not at my physical condition, but spiritual.

Ephphatha! Be opened!

Let me who have the mouth and ears, use them for the glory of God.

Feeling Compassion. Feeling Complacent. Feeling Inadequate

Familiar story. Jesus feeding the 4000 in Mark 8. But from this familiar story, God touched me in a deep way this morning.

Words of Jesus, "I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now 3 days and have nothing to eat... they will faint."

Jesus is compassionate. We all know that. He notices. He knows our needs and how frail we are. He knows too how long we have been with Him. He knows that those who are with Him needs food(simple and yet important human touch). He is, in our terms, people-centred.

Many questions came into mind for me as I read the passage.

Lessons from a 46 year old uneducated cleaner

My favourite Sunday Times column is written by Dr Lee Wei Ling. She writes about her life stories in a very personal and human way. And, yes, she is the daughter of LKY.

One story that stayed with me all these while was, the story on Moiri, a 46 year old divorcee, with 2 children to raise up, working in Singapore (Sunday Times, 31 May 2009). She has a very cheerful personality despite the fact that life dealt her a bad hand of cards. The author, in reflection, quotes from Epictetus, a Greek philosopher living in the 1st century:

I must die. But must i die groaning?
I must be imprisoned. But must I whine as well?
I must suffer exile. Can anyone hinder me from going with a smile and a good courage and at peace?
(sigh, how often I groaned, whined and caved in ... my thots)

She goes on to write..It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. Moiri is one who does not have former education, but she knows how to live her life. She is much happier than many who are richer and more educated.

I felt this article spoke to me about my life's position. Stop complaining and becoming a bitter person. Learn to give thanks and move on. Especially when we have Jesus with us.

Why Revival Tarries - No Christian is greater than his prayer life

Good quotes must be kept somewhere, remembered and lived. The church bulletin contained a great quote from Leonard Ravenhill on prayer which I typed out to keep here in this blog for the future. I want to remember to pray.


The church has many organizers,
But few agonizers.
Many who pay, but few who pray;
Many resters, but few wrestlers;
Many who are enterprising;
But few who are interceding.
people who are not praying are playing.

Heard an old Audio Sermon today by Ps Ed.

Following God - the FGO way. Text: Mt 4:18-22. Its good 'cutting-deep-into-you' preaching! His sermon certainly stands out from the rest of the typical western sermons in that webpage.Gained new understanding into 'left nets immediately and followed Him'.

Sermon Outline:
1) Follow God Fully
2) Follow God Gladly

- they left their nets immediately, not so much in terms of just speed, but they left they nets gladly, because it is such a joy to be with Jesus.
- call to a joyous abandoment as we follow Jesus.

3) Follow God Only
- call to abiding, because without God we can do nothing.
- Follow Me - "Me" here is an emphatic pronoun, i.e. me and me only. Not Jesus or, Not Jesus and something else.

Abiding: is knowing the truth and applying the truth. The Word is not just a book of messages, but a place of meeting, where we encounter God and our lives are changed.

When we obey, God will use us and teach us new truths - the call to dance, and then the woman in yellow story. "God knows that your husband has just left you but I will be a husband for you and take care of you".

Divine appointment happens when we obey God. Do i have a divine-appointment testimony to share? is it because I do not follow Jesus fully, gladly and only?

Audio sermons are powerful, because they are God's Word and its real for all time. It speaks to us even years later when we re-listen to it again. Yesterday afternoon, eventhough I heard the illustrations before, it still speak to me and bring a reassurance that He will care for me.

You can listen msg from Perimeter Church.

3 S of Leadership

There are 3 "S"s of Leadership, namely stature, status and substance.
 
Leadership Stature: (How he carries himself)
· leader’s credibility (how others view him: wow he’s a gifted speaker! ),
· leader’s confidence (how he view himself: wow I’m good!)

 
Many may see a leader as impressive and gifted, but these are not the sum of a leader.


Leadership Status: (How others see him)
· The leader’s title: e.g. Dr, Rev, ..
· The leader’s office: e.g. Senior Pastor, Chairman of X Committee
· The leader’s credentials: e.g. books written, ministries served in…
 
The world is impressed by the Leader’s status and stature. But not God, who looks at the heart. We ourselves, if not careful, can walk with false sense of superiority.

 
Leadership Substance: (How God sees him)
· Authenticity in the leader’s worship
· Broken-ness in the leader’s walk (true humility, understands God’s grace in his life)
· Courage in the leader’s work (stems from faith in God, not driven-ness, restedness)
· There is Depth. Outwardly, not very impressive, but deep below, like an ice-berg. Worldly leaders can be big & impressive on the outside, but weak inside.
 
 
Note:
  • You can be un-concerned about status & stature when your substance is more than status & stature.
  • The more authentic the leader is, the more broken he is.
  • Key to growing substance is growing in Spiritual Formation.
  • Key in Spiritual formation is being like Christ in the manner of character building.

 

20 Questions to Deepen Communications

Much conversation is startlingly mundane, especially those between husband and wives. The kids. The church. Work. Perhaps even gossip sometimes.

To deepen communications is to deepen relationships. With spouses. Friends. Church members. The following list offers some suggestions for deeper conversations and better understandings. They may be used between spouses or in your small groups.

1. Tell me about the most influential person in your life.

2. What book(s) influence you the most?

Nothing to Prove. Nothing to Hide. Nothing to Lose.

A personal testimony drafted on 21/3/08

Nothing to Prove.
• Middle child - worked very hard to prove to parents.
• St John Ambulance Corps (CCA), comparison by others affected me.
• Felt very insecure in my growing up years
• When I Prayed to Receive Christ in Pri 3 (9 years old), through my sister, I learnt of Jesus' unconditional acceptance and I learn to feel more secured, no need to strive to prove anything. It is done.
• Jer.31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love…" spoke deeply to me.

Nothing to Hide.
• I'm a private person, I don't share, have little friends, and am task oriented.  In my growing up years, many hrs were spent at the video shop watching what is played by the store owners. Felt very withdrawn most of the time.
• In church & BB ministry,I learnt to slowly open up. DISC - S personality.
• Through serving, I became more transparent, more open, more confident.
• God comforts us to comfort others - many hurting people in the world. "Freedom Writers" movie - many have a story to write, but no one listened to them.
• After knowing Jesus, He gave confidence and help me discover myself and to help comfort others.

Nothing to Lose.
• When I was young, I fear death - what will happen to me after death? I felt very lost and fearful.
• After knowing Christ, I know I have eternal life. I am certain of it that if I should die, I will meet my Saviour this very day.
• Jn 3.16 promises eternal life for all who believes. He invites you to that eternal life today.

This world has many people who worked very hard to prove themselves, I don't need to, because Christ has already accepted me. This world has many people who hides things for fear of what others may say/do if they know the truth about them - I don't need to because I know He loves me fully. This world has many who cling onto their degrees, their wealth, their positions - I don't need to, because these all not that important to me. I have found Him who matters more than these - the LORD Jesus.

Praise God.

Ryan Giggs - Lessons for me

I have always been a MUFC fan since my school days, i.e. some decades ago. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, along with Park Ji Sung were my favourites in MUFC. The first 2 for their skills and humility, while Park, for helping to raise the pride of Asians in a competitive league in Europe.



In the Daily Mail article, i read an article on Giggs entitled, "What makes the compelling and evergreen figure of Giggs want to keep running?" I too was impressed that Giggs can play at such a high level for 20 years. Certainly not many can do it. As recounted therein, you need a very strong drive to succeed and ability to keep your body in shape.

What does this hold for me and us? I'm reminded like what Steve Jobs in his famous commencment speech stressed that we need to have that hunger. Without this keen clear goal and drive to continually go for it, we will be lost and sidelined and end up chasing trivial pursuits unworthy of the King.

Interestingly, those who are well off can easily lose their hunger and competitive edge. So keep in a state of hunger and hunger on. Have good friends around you to remind of your goals will be helpful too.

1 March 2011

Legacy of Raja Segran

I do not know much about Raja, my ex-colleague,only some fleeting moments where we crossed paths and once when we happened to seat down in the same table for a drink, with others. But last Sunday's sermon concluding remarks by the speaker on him left a deep mark for me.

The speaker was sharing about Raja's memorial service where Raja's ex-boss talked about his unwillingness to compromise with ethics. The SIA boss suggested to Raja if he is only willing to bend a little, with his education and intellect, he would have gone much further in SIA rather than just some GM based in overseas station.

Stubborn Roots in our Lives

Last year, I was clearing my potted plants outside my home. Many of the rotting plants were thrown away while the earthen pots were savaged for my father-in-law.

In the process of clearing the rotted plants, I faced the unenviable task of de-rooting the thorny plants with old blunt scissors. The soil were dried and hardened. The thorns were every where and waiting to trap me and poke me, which it did.

But herein, in the midst of this back breaking task, I learnt an important lessons.

4 causes of weak inner lives:

1) Primal wounds of the HEART – inner woundedness

2) Cynicism of the MIND – critical & judgmental attitudes

3) Overcrowding of the SOUL – busyness and fatigue

4) Paralysis of the WILL – deep seated unwillingness

The above are taken from CEFC church in Singapore. Its crisp and powerful reminder of the things that will rob us from intimacy with God. If we harbour any of the above, we won't be able to love God.

Personally, I saw the potency of each of these working out its venom in my life and robbing me of a vibrant walk with God and sapping out the vitality in my life. To come back to God, we need to confess our sins and replace them with good habits.

It is as simple and as possible as being changed today. Yet it is also as difficult and will and can stall us for years to come, because it can be a stronghold in our lives.

Nonetheless, with God all things are possible. Today.

Spiritual Disciplines - A lost tradition in this busy modern world
Centuries ago, our lives were less complex, slower and more meaningful. There was more time to be at peace and to slow down to read or watch the sunrise. Now with increased technology at our disposal, we have less time on our hands - paradoxically. Is it then impossible to break away from all these modern break neck speeds and be able to center down with God?

I believe we can, by practicing spiritual disciplines.

Break up your fallow hardened ground

The worship leader in the Sunday Service said this yesterday, "My heart goes out to those who are once faithful but are not walking with the Lord now ..." Those words struck me as I am like that. My heart is a fallow and hardened ground, and un-tended garden overgrown with weeds, unable to receive the grace of God.

But what really struck me is the thought of the model that I'm leaving for my two daughters now. When I was at the height of my ministry service, my children were still young and ignorant. Now when they are aware of what's happening, they see a father struggling to walk with God, often in outbursts and unkind towards the family.

Am I going to leave that negative picture for them? I need to buck up and be the positive role model for them. Lord, lead me towards loving you again. Rain on me your grace and love. Let me walk faithfully with you once again.

It is possible. All things are possible with God. I must believe that and show forth the right example.

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