Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Pondering Vocation as Service to Christ
The freedom to choose your vocation is a historical novelty. Until recent times, if you were a son and your father was a farmer or a blacksmith or shoemaker or a baker, it was almost certain you would be too. If you were a daughter, you would almost certainly be a hardworking homemaker and partner in the home-based family business. Choices were few. And a reading like this one would have been almost unintelligible.
But today, very few sons assume that they will follow in their father's vocation. And daughters have a wide scope of career paths they can follow instead of, or alongside, a more traditional homemaking career. Not only that, mid-career changes are not unusual. Which means that the crisis of choosing a vocation happens not just once, but several times for many people.
One of the things I love to do as a pastor is sow seeds of kingdom restlessness. I picture my preaching as taking trees by the trunk and working them back and forth to loosen the roots. My idea is that this will result in the roots of people's lives going down deeper into God's will where they are, or it will result in the roots being plucked up and planted in a different calling for even greater kingdom fruitfulness. Whatever else, I don't want my people to simply drift into a job or coast along in it with little sense of calling or significance for the supremacy of God in what they do.
So I prepared some questions for them in the hopes that they would be stirred to find jobs and do their jobs, as Paul said, "not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Ephesians 6:6, RSV).
Can I earnestly do all the parts of this job "to the glory of God," that is, in a way that highlights his superior value over all other things? "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Is taking this job part of a strategy to grow in personal holiness? "For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Will this job help or hinder my progress in esteeming the value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord? "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8).
Will this job result in inappropriate pressures to think or feel or act against my King, Jesus? "You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men" (1 Corinthians 7:23).
Will this job help establish an overall life pattern that will yield a significant involvement in fulfilling God's great purpose of exalting Christ among all the unreached peoples of the world? "Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to My in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Will this job be worthy of my best energies? "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Will the activities and environment of this job tend to shape me, or will I be able to shape it for the Christ-magnifying purposes of God? "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
Will this job provide an occasion for me to be radically Christian so as to let my light shine for my Father's sake, or will my participation in the vision of the firm tend to snuff out my wick? "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
Does the aim of this job cohere with a growing intensity in my life to be radically, publicly, fruitfully devoted to Christ at any cost? "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mark 8:34).
Will the job feel like a good investment of my life when this vapor's breath of preparation for eternity is over? "You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:14).
Does this job fit with why I believe I was created and purchased by Christ? "Everyone who is called by My name... I have created for My glory" (Isaiah 43:7). "You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Does this job fit together with the ultimate truth that all things exist for Christ? "For by Him all... have been created through [Christ] and for Him" (Colossians 1:16).
but feeling of winds on our skin.
One moment they comfort,
and in another, they're gone.
as climbers of this 'glorious' mountain,
as though conquerers of a great quest,
only to find ourselves confused at the peak.
from joy to sorrow.
Everything seems too late,
Yet our journey is so slow.
with emotional hearts as our compasses.
But our hearts are like wind,
taking us further from our destinations.
there's always a treasure, always a goal.
And only when we ask where to go,
will we find our way back home.
nothing more comforting, nothing more satisfying.
Sweat as we may, and toil we shall,
but let us not stop till we're back home.
nothing less, nothing more.
To stop walking would be stupidity,
and yet to die trying is the only way.
to the cry that seem so distant.
The call of heaven to go home,
ah, home sweet home.
from the east to the west.
Let's join the cry of our pilgrimage,
the cry of our hearts.
and heaven is my home.
Jesus is my lover,
and I'm his, forever.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Taken from The Star Paper Wednesday August 17, 2005
Land for Methodist churches
SHAH ALAM: The Selangor government has approved two sites – one here and another in Pandamaran, Klang – for two Methodist churches in recognition of their good community service.
“The state government recognises the importance of faith organisations in promoting a morally-strong and caring society. Both churches have contributed well to the community,” said state executive councillor Datuk Tang See Hang, a member of the state's non-Muslim religious bodies committee.
Tang said the state recognised religious bodies as a crucial pillar in helping to maintain a strong and healthy society. However, he said, these religious bodies, numbering thousands, must understand there was not enough land to accommodate all the requests.
WISH COME TRUE: Tang (centre) handing over the letters of approval to Rev Ooi (right) and Bishop Hwa, the representatives of the two churches Tuesday.Bishop Dr Hwa Yung, from the Methodist Church, thanked the state government for allocating the 0.48ha site in Kota Kemuning, Section 31 here.
“We will support your call to fulfil the human development aspect of the Selangor Developed State 2005 agenda, where the face of faith, kindness, compassion and generosity is not lost in
the rapid physical development,” he said.
The Methodist Church’s struggle to have its own premises started over a decade ago. It had initially been granted a piece of land in Section 24 here in 1992, but the land was withdrawn by the state government three years later.
Since then, the church had been appealing for a replacement site. Tang said the Pandamaran Chinese Methodist Church was granted a 1,216 sq m piece of reserve land in Pandamaran, adding that Klang MP Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yee Kew had brought the church's appeal to his attention.
Rev Ooi Liang Hung, who accepted the approval letter yesterday, thanked the state for its generosity.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Louie pointed out that the Christian walk is not hard, nor difficult but rather impossible. We make promises after promises to God to "get it right" with our life. We tell God: "This will be my last time God", only to commit the very same sin we vowed to repent from. That's why many Christians lead defeated lives. We continue to walk in shame. And Louie made it clear that no sermon, gathering, conference, book, self-discipline can get us out of our bondages. No matter how sincere we were when we made that promise to God, it still doesn't cut it, because here's the point: It's not about our efforts. It never was, and never will be.
That's why this "mystery" that Paul is talking about, which even patriachs such as Abraham, Moses and David not know about it, will set us free. This mystery? Christ in us. When we start to realize that the day when we invite Christ into our hearts, we are literally inviting Him to come in to our body, this temple of the Holy Spirit, to dwell, and ultimately, to take full control of it. Louie pointed out that it is not inviting Christ into our hearts, and they try to live the Christian life. If we could that in the first place, that Christ dying on the cross would be pointless.
Anyway, instead of spilling the whole sermon out, how it affected me is that I now walk with a new confidence, that is, I put my trust not in the knowledge of Christ, nor in the identity of Christ, nor in the fact that I'm his friend but rather, I put my trust in Christ that is living in me. With this, when I walk in the world, I have Christ with me all the time, and as long as He is in me, I am a saint. Oh yes, I can still sin. No doubt about it. But sinning won't make me a sinner because I'm a saint. Just as doing good won't make a sinner a saint. However, it's Christ in me that's gonna sustain my faith, not my will power, not my discipline, and definitely not my efforts.
These 2 days has been incredible as I confessed this truth in my heart. I got stuck in a traffic jam for 1.5 hours today. Imagine after an hour and a half, and you're just 1 kilometer away from where you started. And yet, there was an incredible sense of peace in me. I didn't get agitated. I used to get annoyed pretty fast with jams, but having my music turned on and having this truth in my heart, I just took the time to praise God. I've tried doing that before, but it felt like I was "forcing" myself, but this time, it came naturally. I wonder how long this will last...
Anyhow, if you're reading this, I hope that in your own issues, trials, bondage, and sins, that you will find this truth liberating. Read and meditate the first 2 chapters of Colossians, and try to understand it. This is definitely not the "ultimate fix" for all your spiritual problems, but it's a start. I pray that in your struggles, you will ultimately find Christ as your savior.
"Jesus, I thank You that You're the Lord of all. Above my trials and fears, above my hopes and dreams, You triumph gloriously by destroying the works of the enemy with Your truth. Lord, I know that many of my brothers and sisters are going thru some difficult times right now in their spiritual walk. Many of them find themselves alone, even when you're right there with them. I pray that You will open their spiritual eyes so that they can see You in all Your glory, and have their faith and hope renewed in Your presence. Father, shower them with Your mercy. Let them know how much You love them, even in their brokenness and weaknesses. Break whatever sin that's in their lives and give them the victory that they so desperately desire. In this I pray, that Your kingdom will continue to be established in their hearts just as Your will be manisfested in their lives. In Jesus' name I ask and pray, amen."
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Orkid: A minute
Jason: It took me less than that to fall in love with you...
"...You don't have to understand people to love them..."
"Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken"
-Tina Turner (What's Love Got To Do With It)
What is love but a word, or when it involves 2 people, many words. From the timeless portrayal of love from classics such as Romeo and Juliet or maybe even Jerry MacGuire ("..you, you complete me...") I see how at many times, love is but an expression of words. And of many words.
But love, as I believe it, has to be "more than words". Anyone can say "I love you". However, it takes more to live out that love. Poetry and songs are not sufficient to sustain love. Oh yes, it may enhance it, give is some "flava"... but to sustain it, it takes more than that. As I see it, a single act of selflessness can make up for a thousand words. But the cost for that one selfless act.. ah.. it may cost us our lives...
Even as I type right now, I know that in some corner of the world, there are thousands, if not millions of people who are going thru some trying times of figuring out what love is. In the course of wanting to be understood, many at times, we forget what it means to understand. And yet, love endures. I figured if something can be so hurting, humanity in her right mind who have at least be smart enough to stop and move on to something that's more sane. With heart brokens every minute, why is it, in spite of the tremendous emotional turmoil and grief that one has to go thru, we continue to put hope in love?
And so, love endures. As I blogged earlier, I believe love endures because this is part of "eternity". It's an essential part of eternity. Without, eternity would be meaningless. What's the point of having eternal life, alone?
Thus, humanity continues to persevere. We continue to believe in one way or another that "it is better to love and lost, than to never to have loved at all". We perpetuate in taking risks with our most precious parts of our lives, and even when the stakes are high, some of us still believe that it is worthwhile.
I believe, that loves never fail. When two people decides to break-up, that's not love failing. That's two people failing love. And I say this because God is love. Even when he saw that giving us this chance to love was like giving a 5 year old child a 20 tonne truck to drive, he took that risk, so that in all the possiblility of foul-ups and hurts, we can experience the greatest thing in this universe. And love was never meant to be understood. Just like God. We can't possibly understand God and His ways. Its not that God doesn't want us to, but we are unable in our limited and carnal mind. But He has given us enough. Enough to believe, and enough to trust that He is good, and His love is good. And more than that, that He loves us.
I believe also, that until we can experience God's love, without so much the need to "understand it", but so as much to believe it with all our hearts that God loves us, we can never truly love. We can never in our lifetime understand why God would send Christ to die for wretched people such as us. And I guess we were never meant to understand it. However, it is thru that sacrifice, that God hopes that we will believe and trust in Him, even when our eyes and understanding fails us. That to me, is true love. God knew how many would reject His precious gift, which is Christ. And yet, out of some cosmic insanity, He still saw it was worthwhile for Christ to be mocked, beaten, humiliated, broken, spat on, whipped, and finally, crucified. For us. But oh wait, I believe, that it not us that He finds worthy, for who are we. I believe however, that God found that for His love to be shown, and for the chance that it is received, the cross was still worthwhile this risk. And so, we love not because we understand, but love because we believe.
Even with books such as "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" (I've never read it though)... it may enhance our understanding, but it's not sufficient to sustain true love. Like I said, we don't love because we understand a person, but because we believe. And believe in what? Believe in hope. Believe in eternal love. Believe in the cost of eternal love. And ultimately, believe that no one is worthy of true love, but God alone, and God has commanded us even in spite of this, to love. To love like we love ourselves.
"Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all"
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3:11
Here's a thought. God has set eternity in our hearts. To me, I guess what this means is that's our standard. So by right, we should not lose sleep (or worry) bout anything that has an expiry date, which, pretty much covers everything here on earth, but rather, pay more attention on eternal things.
"Lord, give me heavenly eyes to be able to see what you see, that I might not squander my time and resources on things that don't last. Help me to understand the important things in life, such as people, people and people. May my heart be gripped as much as your heart is gripped, knowing that some of them are walking on to perishing destinies, and give me courage and boldness to obey You in bringing light to them. Your kingdom come, your will be done. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Today I thank You for another wonderful day. Thank you that I could rejoice in it, because this is the day that You've made. No matter what happens, I could still rejoice. Thank you Lord.
Lord, I ask today that You give me strength to persevere. Only You know what the hurts and wounds are in my heart. And even though I know I deserve them, yet in Your infinite mercy, I ask for Your healing. I ask for Your Spirit to come and restore my heart. Lord, forgive me. I need the blood of Jesus to come and wash me clean again. Oh Lord, please come. Come and lift me up from this miry clay. Take me and set me upon the solid ground, which is Your word. Father, in my unrighteousness and unfaithfulness, I ask for Your love that surpasses my understanding, and that peace that only you can give, to fill my life. Create in me again Oh Lord, a clean heart. Renew a right spirit within me. Jesus, cast me not away from Your presence, and Lord I cry out, please do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me. But instead, I ask of You to restore the joy of my salvation, and again Lord, renew a right Spirit within me.
Father, I ask You to right now lift my face. Cause Your countenance to shine upon me. I thank you Father that Your word is ever true. In Your faithfulness, Lord I can come to You and have my hope renewed and my faith restored. Thank you Jesus for making this possible by giving Yourself on the cross.
Lord, I pray now that my Spirit be set free, and cause me to not just look at myself, but instead Oh Lord, let me intercede for brothers and sisters around me and around the world. The persecution and worldly troubles that they have to face, Lord, I ask that may You continue to strengthen them! Let Your Spirit reign victoriously in their lives Lord. Cause them to look to You no matter what their situation may be. I thank you Jesus that I count on You on times like this! Thank you Jesus!
Above all Lord, I ask for Your kingdom to come and You will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you Lord! Thank you for all You've done!
Lord, You said that if I've asked, You would give me the nations as an inheritance to me. I ask now Oh Lord for the nations. I ask for more souls to be added to Your kingdom. I ask that Lord you will cause Your army to rise up and crush the work of the enemy. Thank you Jesus!
In Your will O Lord, I pray for more love in my life. May I seek to love more in this life, as how Jesus've loved all those around Him. Thank you Father for promises that I can count on!
In Jesus most precious name I pray, AMEN...