Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London Burning / UK Riots - Where we came from and where now?

People are asking: What has gone wrong? Here are a few thoughts (actually, more for myself to make sense of the world)...

When children do not grow up guided by the knowledge of God within a healthy family unit, you inevitably end up by default, absorbing the values from the likes of:

1. Consumerism ("me, me, me", I do what as long as it is suits me, pleasurable and feels "right for me")

2. Liberalism (which says that it is morally ok to abort babies when it is inconvenient and euthanize in the name of mercy - what are we saying about the sanctity of human life?)

3. Video gaming culture (e.g. X-box, with depictions of destruction, violence and killing in stark reality without any real consequence)

The UK used to be a Christian country, but the foundational checks and balances in the country have been removed over the decades:
- Decline in loving and supporting family structures
- No male role models - fathers (and father figures) have been sidelined
- No appropriate discipline in schools
- No authority figures in schools
- Culture and legal framework where potentially harmful influences are permissible (e.g. recreational drugs, extended pub/drinking hours)

Where there are no checks and balances, young people grow up without being accountable to anyone in a meaningful way - and nothing to nurture their inner moral compass and to establish a proper respect for authority: What can we expect from our young people but to end up as human beings with a spirit of lawlessness and no vision of a future for themselves? They have nothing to lose.

Conventional wisdom may say that poverty can lead to desperation, and then eventually to crime. That is correct in one aspect. But human brings are poor in many ways, not merely financially impoverished (which for the latter, the UK is not).

This week has illustrated the high price the rest of society have to pay for the removal of the foundations that has made Great Britain great. Those foundations need to be put back in place.

As a Christian, I take in what the Bible says and warns us in this matter:

"Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind will make your heart glad. When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful." (Proverbs 29:17-18)

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Being a Friend of Worth

Traveling togetherI stumbled across an article about friendship which I kept from many years ago about the underpinnings of having deep friendships that are based on biblical principles. Back then, having meaningful friendships was something I desired greatly, and I guess that was why I kept the piece of paper.

Reflecting on this article, I am inquiring afresh: Are these chracteristics realistic to expect and pursue in friendships in this day and age? What model can we follow? Read on to see what you think...

Being a Friend of Worth

In today's highly mobile society, friendships tend to be superficial. God's word, however, gives us a model for life-giving and enduring friendships. The friendship between David and Jonathan recorded in 1 Samuel 23:15-18 portrays the vital characteristics of biblical friendship.
  • A friend meets the need of another
    Jonathan risked his father's wrath to help the very man who was a threat to his own position as heir apparent to the throne of Israel. Seeing a need in David's life, he reached out to meet that need. Authentic friendship involves having a concern not just to find "my kind of friend", but to meet the needs in other people's lives.
  • A friend encourages his friend in God
    Jonathan encouraged David to be directly dependent upon God when he was threatened by bitterness and discouragement. The yardstick to meansure the worth of our friendship is, "Is our friend stronger in God because of the time he or she spends with us, or is spiritual growth a side issue in our relationship?"
  • Friends share deep common interests
    David and Jonathan shared a common love for God and His people. What common interests do we and our friends share? Friendship is borne out of the linking of many threads, and the quality of those interests will reveal a great deal about the quality of our friendship.
  • A friend is committed to help his friend realise God's purpose and potential for his life
    Jonathan selflessly declared to David, "... you will be king over Israel, and I will be next to you..." A great Russian novelist said, "To love a person means to see him as God intended him to be." Jonathan not only saw the potential in his friend, but also acted to bring that potential into reality.
  • True friendship involves declared loyalty and commitment
    David and Jonathan did not simply drift in and out of their friendship. They made a covenant before the Lord. Verbally acknowledging to our friends that we value and are committed to them frees us to be more effective friends. Practising verbal commitment and encouragement is not one we all find easy. Yet, when we get past that threshold into having friendships that are based on a deep sense of commitment and loyalty, that's where the masks are removed and true comradeship can begin.
The Word of God says that we have a Friend who can lead us into true friendship. And there is a friend that is closer than a brother. Here, we have in the bible, models of what it is to be a friend: Firstly, through the foundations of our relationship with Christ -- this preeminant Friendship that should reign, direct and guard over our earthly friendships. Secondly, we have yardsticks from godly people in history that demonstrate to us the dynamics of loyalty, encouragement, declared commitment, shared purposes, and sacrifice.


In our lifetime, I realise that we would be extremely blessed to find two or three friends that exhibit the kind of characteristics stated above. In the process, some investments to develop friendships will pay off, others will not. That's one of life's realities. In the course of disappointments and unfulfilled expectations, many of us would have stopped short of not finding companions for the long journey because we have given up, and resigned to operate at a relatively superficial level; never getting to a point of being real.

Back to my orginal questions: Are these chracteristics realistic to expect and pursue in friendships in this day and age? What model can we follow?

We often talk about "finding friends". But the biblical model is less about searching for friends. Instead, it encourages us to look outwards to "be a friend" based on a strong foundational relationship with Christ: A man who has friends must himself be friendly; But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Ps 18:24, NKJV). I am reminded that it is more important to BE the kind of friend that we expect others to be to us. This is in contrast to us expecting others to meet our needs.

Since the many years I have kept this short article, I have come to see the truth that is inherent in some of the principles that have been brought forth here. I have gone a bit further in developing the kind of friendships which are life-giving and enduring. As usual, the Lord's wisdom in this matter rings true, if we stick to it.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Keeping the Fire: Essentials for the Journey

EssentialsAssume that you have been walking with God for many years.

If someone asks you, what's your secret in keeping your relationship with God strong? What would you say are the ‘ingredients’ that have brought you so far in your own journey with the Father?

During the process of compiling my own list, I found the exercise a soul-searching mirror to examine my own journey with the Lord, the past, the present, and a view towards the future.

Here's what I came up with...

  1. Reading God’s Word and making it real in our lives
    We often compartmentalize studying the Bible as a separate activity instead of making it part of who we are and what we do in our lives. To make our spiritual walk real, it needs to be in the ‘fibre’ of our beings. Reading the Word of God is not a 'to do', it is more of a 'to be'.

  2. Prayer and listening to God
    The Bible calls us to unceasing prayer. This may sound complicated and difficult to do. Instead of thinking about prayer as an activity for God, one can think of prayer as an awareness of God, where we can seek to live in an uninterrupted awareness of God presence everywhere we go.

  3. Single-mindedness and abandoning ‘other gods’
    There is something in every one of us that makes us prone to cling to things and people. The issue is not that we stray – we all do – what matters is that we have the awareness and mechanism to keep abandoning ‘other gods’ that have come to sit on the throne of our lives on a regular basis.

  4. Determined mindset to grow
    In our journey with God, our spiritual levels grow, then often stagnate and plateau (this is not uncommon). Hence, having a deliberate mindset to grow and ask the Lord, ‘what’s the next phase’ is a good habit to have.

  5. Staying free and avoiding places of bondage
    God calls us from darkness to light, into freedom. The Bible has countless stories of people who have been liberated from bondage, healed from illnesses and freed from things that have bound them from living a full life. Those who follow Christ have been freed, but we need to continue to stay free and not look back.

  6. Resiliency and overcoming hardships, disappointments and hurt
    It’s all too easy to say that God is good when situations are easy. But sooner or later, life is guaranteed to deal us a bad blow and we will face difficult circumstances or crises situations. The manner we respond to adverse circumstances by standing on the word of God and allowing it to shape us is important, rather than letting the circumstances define who we are.

  7. Sensitivity to the voice of the Shepherd and promptings of the Spirit
    This is about our dependence on the promptings of the Holy Spirit, understanding the way we best relate to God, and hear His voice. A ‘spiritual pathway’ has to do with the way we most naturally sense God’s presence and experience spiritual growth. Usually, we all have at least one pathway that comes most easy to us. We also have one or two that are most unnatural to us and require a lot of stretching for us to pursue. The following are various pathways: Intellectual, Relational, Worship, Service, Activist, Contemplative and Creation pathways. Understanding our pathways is crucial.

  8. Handling desert periods
    Spiritual deserts – where one feels bored, idle and God seems like He is absent – are not uncommon when one is a Christian. One has to expect it. Sometimes being in the can be due to sin in our lives, other times there can be no apparent reason. The real issue with spiritual deserts is not that every Christian goes through it, but what one learns from being ‘in the desert’.

  9. Becoming a blessing and revealing God’s light
    A river is alive only when it is flowing. When the water in a river stagnates, the river will slowly die. This is similar to our walk with God. If we withhold blessing towards others directly through our service for God, or do not share with others His goodness in our lives, then the fire inside may dim.

  10. Harnessing the force of relationships
    Being a community together with brothers and sisters in Christ can often be a blessing, yet there are ‘hassles’. Some people think that ‘flying solo’ in life is the way things should be. It avoids the trouble of conflicts and getting hurt from getting ‘too close’. However, the force of relationships and community to shape and build us cannot be underestimated. There is strength in having companions who are ‘nearby’ - fellow sojourners that know us, accept us and will not allow us to be stagnant in our spiritual walk.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Who Knows Whether...

I was reminded of the Lord's healing available for every child of God last week. That statement is somewhat controversial on its own, I know. But without going into the theological debate of the cause / effect of a healing process, whether we should always expect God to heal when we ask, or how much does faith plays a role in the process - in principle, God's healing is available to every believer if we ask.

The reason why I am reminded of the whole area of healing is because I had a tough sprain in my back during my recent trip to Zurich. And so, during the Sunday service past, as the pastor uttered a prayer for healing for people who needed it, I stood there wondering whether I really wanted it enough to step out to receive. It was a general prayer so I did not need to step out. However, I asked myself: If God really spoke through a prayer in a word of knowledge to ask for a person with a back problem to step out to be healed, would I? Because in every call, there needs to be a response; and in every response, there is a cost to pay:

We must abandon our pride, forgo the fear of what others think and allow others in. That's a cost.

We must put away the posture of the child-ish and adopt the child-like. For some of us, that's a cost.

It disrupts the cocoon of complacency that we are familiar with, into the unknown. That's a cost.

It may mean we have to face things we do not want to face. Facing our fears represents a huge cost for most of us.

Healing. I have seen people refuse help when they need it; push others away when what they need is to receive from them; remain passive when they should step up. This is in every one of us, some aspects more than others of course. Whether we like to think of ourselves this way, we lick our festering sores. We jealously guard the injuries that should be cleaned and bandaged. We learn to passively accept our wounds as 'the way things are'. Sound familiar?

In this instance, I have a physical injury. But many of us carry emotional baggage that we are not willing to give to the Lord to deal with; childhood wounds inflicted on us through our family upbringing, tragedies, sickness and death. It's too easy to stay 'safe' because there is no effort to remain that way. It's all too convenient to stay comfortable in the notion that life has dealt us a bad blow, so we have ready excuses towards being 'this way'.

In the final analysis, liberty isn't gained by being silent, passive or safe - it is bestowed when we actively embrace who God says we are. But that means stepping out into the light where God can work in us to clear the dross and move us forward. I don't have the formula of how it works. Nobody has, except God. But this I know: Our faith in the power and character of God, mixed with a single-minded determination to set a compass toward wholeness, freedom and growth - nothing will be impossible. Perfect love does cast out all fear.

I am reminded of the question Esther asked herself and the others around her: "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Dare we ask the 'who knows whether' questions? Dare we not remain completely silent? Dare we stand and fight? Dare we continue the climb?

For me, in the face of opposition and weariness, akin to the injury I am carrying in my back at present, I have been reminded that I need to answer these questions more decisively in His power. To respond when God calls me to respond. To stand my ground and not run. To infuse faith in the face of fear. Confront giants through the Spirit of the Almighty. To allow others to come scale seemingly impossible heights together. To conquer and subdue mountains that set itself up against the knowledge of God.

From our vantage point, it always seems like our mountains are so high and there is so much more of the mountain to climb. Yet, I am also reminded that I have a God whose ways are higher still. And so we need to ask those God-centered possibility questions:

Who knows whether if I take God at His word, what healing I'll find? Who knows whether if I step out how high I will scale? Who knows whether if I let godly people into my life what blessings I'll find? Who knows whether God has put me here for such a time as this?

Who knows? The Father does. His Word says that perfect love drives out fear. That I know.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's day letters to Dad

During this father's day weekend, I spend time reading this book, "Things We Wish We Had Said: Reflections of A Father and Son". This book is a collection of person letters between Tony Campolo and his adult son, Bart. The themes in this book are appropriate for Father's day. It raises the kind of questions that strikes at the core of who we are (Continue to read at your peril):

When I was growing up, did I feel of value?

Where and who gave me the sense of significance and security?

Why am I who I am?

Who are my greatest supporters and cheerleaders?

In one instance where Bart felt he had completely lost his bearings and lost at sea, he recalls a visit by his family, and a life-changing pep talk from his mum:

    "Bart," she said, "you don't have to just stay here and feel helpless and defeated. You are a smart young man and a loving young man. But right now you have stopped looking at the people around you as people to be creatively loved, and you have started to see them only as part of a situation that is hurting you. You've become selfish. That isn't like you. You can certainly come home if you need to, but before you do, I think you need to see what God has brought you here to learn, and who he has brought you here to love and care for. Maybe you won't be a big star to everybody else, after all. But Dad and I believe in you, and we think you can make it here if you remember who you are."

    Further on, Bart continues to write in a series of letters to his dad reminiscing as an adult what his dad meant to him and how his dad made a difference in his life:

    That visit changed everything for me. The situations did not resolve problems overnight, of course. When you left, I faced the same problems with the same deficiencies I have before (and still have). My attitude, though, was transformed because I knew that even though I might fail sometimes, I still was infinitely valuable. Even though I couldn't solve everything, I had the ability to make a difference wherever I happened to be. Together, you reminded me of my indestructible sense of personal significance.

    I know I am infinitely precious because as long as I can remember I have been infinitely precious to you. You see, Dad, the things that mattered most to me when I was a boy, and that still matter the most today, were those times when you let me know I was your highest priority in the world. Over and over again, you said things and did things that made me sure that I was more important to you than your work, your money, your possessions, your adult friends, and even yourself.

    Father and childThe times that I remember best, though, are the times I spent with you. I love those memories best of all, Dad, and they're a big part of who I am. That's the whole point of these letters for me. My childhood is gone, and I will never be able to be with you the way I was with you as a little boy. I will never be that small, and you will never seem that big again. But I have my stories, and they comfort me when I am overwhelmed by the world, when I am too old all of a sudden, when I lose my sense of wonder. They are all I have of my boyhood, and the reason I wish we had spend more time together is that I wish I had more of them now. It isn't that you didn't do enough, you see, for I would always want more. You were the king of the world back then, the imp of fun, the man with all the answers, the one who could always fix what was broken. You made life seem magical to me.

    When you die, Dad, I will surely go to pieces for a while, because I still count on you more than anyone knows, but in the end I will be all right. I will have my stories, and in them I will always have part of you, the part that tells me who I am and where I came from. I only wish there was more because what there is means the world to me.


It was strange — as I flipped the pages through the lens of someone else's experience with his dad, I felt warmed and heartened. At times, I recognized the closeness which the authors touched on between father and son in my own life. Other times, I yearned that my relationship with my own dad could be more like theirs. Maybe deep inside we all yearn for someone to believe in us, to cheer for us, to honor us, and in certain small way uncover the value that God sees in every single person He's fashioned. We don't always get that in the world we live in.

When you were growing up, did you feel valued? Where and who gave you the sense of significance and security? Why are you who you are? Who are your greatest supporters and cheerleaders?

These questions are ones many of us would rather avoid so that we can 'get on with life'. Because it hurts to ask these questions. It forces us to face wounds that are in every single one of us. I am reminded that yearnings in us raise questions of life - they are windows to our soul and must not be ignored. If we do not seek real answers to our yearnings, we would be playing it safe, but the wounds in us will never heal. For me, God has brought me a long way on this journey. Over the past few weeks, He is challenging me to go further. By His grace, I will have the courage to (I hope you too). Watch this space.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Shooting your dogs

Shooting your dogs!I am currently reading this book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev - a witty yet profound book about church leadership. In it, the author, Mark Driscoll asks and challenges church and fellowship leaders: Do you have the guts to shoot your dogs?

He explains: "Dogs are idiotic ideas, stinky styles, stupid systems, failed facilities, terrible technologies, loser leaders and pathetic people. Most churches and fellowships know who and what their dogs are, but simply lack the courage to pull the trigger and shoot their dogs. Therefore, it is vital to name with brutal candor the people, programs, structures and ministry philosophies that are dogs needing to be shot. Be sure to make it count and shoot them only once so that they don't come back and bite you."

Harsh words, but sensible truths. I was thinking about my own church and fellowship. What are the dogs do we need to shoot? Here are the ones I came up with...
  • Situations where the pews that we sit on week after week listening to solid, challenging sermons are warmer than our hearts
  • Individuals that do not look to be part of the solution, but never realise that they are part of the problem
  • People cliques that are warm towards the 'inner circle ', but cold and neglecting towards strangers and outliers
  • Circumstances where individuals burning out, whilst many observers and 'consumer-oriented' folks are sucking the church and fellowship dry
  • Passitivity in men who lack the spine and the balls to overcome barriers, take up the mantle, and seize what God has called them to do
  • Missing depth and realness in relationships, never getting pass the nicey-nicey chit chats
  • Visitors and newcomers walking in and out without properly engaged and without anyone even noticing

The book has certainly made me ponder. I am definitely not excluded from being part of guilty parties that feed one or more of these dogs, or even being that dog.

Shooting our dogs -- doesn't that sound harsh?

Well, I like the following reminder from the book:

Pastors and leaders of fellowships must fight like a soldier, train like an athelete, and work hard like a farmer (2 Tim 2:1-7). As leaders, we must exhibit God's grace, but we must also be tough. May the Father give us the wisdom to strike the right balance, and not err on being weighed down by either extreme.

I wonder if any of these dogs sound familiar to you, or if there are anymore?

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Expressing the Inexpressible

I made a trip last week to Snowdonia National Park - one of the most awesome places of natural beauty in the UK. But during this same weekend, there is a void inside my heart that is pulling stronger. You see, it's coming to a year since my gran's passing, and April 13 was her birthday. This weekend has been an dizzying infusion of experiences -- through the struggles of aching muscles, the elations of hilly ascents, and the harmonic pauses of vast mountain tranquility, I am reminded that expressions of beauty - akin to feelings of loss and notions of heartache -- are, more often than not, inexpressible. I'm struggling to unscramble what my heart feels to express -- to untangle and describe the part of my heart that feels a silhouetted void.

People say that when someone you love leaves, it takes a piece of you with them. I wonder if this is what they mean: this sense of heartache that I feel. Like a shadow that casts over the heart when I am reminded that I can no longer go over to gran's house to see her. Or that despairing thug that I feel whenever I am reminded that I cannot anymore hear her words of wisdom and encouragement that I so dearly miss. How can I describe the loss of someone who has most loved me? Here's what I have been struggling with...

It's weird you know - there is a fear within me that I will forget her, and what she has left behind in all of us. My gran has demonstrated without measure how so fiercely loyal the love of God is for those of us who call upon His name. The constancy of the Father's faithfulness overflowed in good measure even through through her fears and failings.

Hebrews says that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. The witness is in the way they lived their lives -- those who testified as a sinner, but forgiven as if a saint through the sacrifice of Christ. The witness is also in the way God has used them for His purposes - inspite of all the failings and frailty of their human weakness, the manifestation of God's power shines radiantly through.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

SnowdoniaAs I was bowled over by the majestic mountains, and as the far-reaching landscapes of Snowdon gradually pan by through the window panes of a mini-bus, God whispered, "She's in a place more beautiful than this".

I realise I miss her. The ache still surfaces at unexpected places through a picture, song, story or landscape. The views were spectacular, but the reminder was bittersweet. For me, it brought into rememberance the endurance race that we, as children of God, are in. I am reminded of how powerful, and necessary it is for us to have a sense of people from the present and the past cheering us on.

This cloud of witnesses, as the Bible puts it, are cheering. They are spurring us on: Will you finish? Will you run and make us proud?

For me, amongst this crowd of godly citizens, I can imagine my gran staring fondly at me, with a soft smile and a determined gaze, saying: "I have made my journey, now you make yours."

"Run on and make me proud."

Hearing those words made me sad to be reminded of my gran. But I sense a welling-up in my spirit, with renewed fuel for the journey.

Yes, I am reminded that it's all about a long-haul journey: Run well and run vehemently. Finish the race in the right place. Make sure I cross the right line. Finally, come bearing fruit.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Truth, Isa al-Masih and the Qu'ran

IslamI recently attended a seminar on 'Understanding Islam' and found it fascinating. Isa al-Masih (Jesus) is of course mentioned in the Qu'ran and I had a glimpse of what the Islamic texts had to say about Him.

What I discovered was somewhat surprising and I saw God's sovereign Hand at work in the Islamic world. Between Islam's call to acts of piousness, the September 11 incidents and global terrorism, one can lose sight that Christ is actually a very important figure in Islam.

The following was what I discovered about Jesus in the Qu'ran, which amazed me...

  • Jesus is referred to in the Qu'ran as a "Word from God" and Messiah

    "When the angels said: O Marium [Mary], surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him (of one) whose name is the '. Messiah, Isa [Jesus] son of Marium, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near (to Allah)". (Qu'ran - Al-Imran 3:44-45, SHAKIR)

    Contrast this to Jesus being called the "Word of God" in John 1:1-18

  • The Qu'ran refers to God killing Jesus

    "And when Allah said: O Isa, I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so I will decide between you concerning that in which you differed." (Al-Imran 3:54-55, SHAKIR)

    I find it interesting that the Qu'ran has a concept which is so biblically accurate!

  • God's sovereign plan in Christ is also for the Muslims

    Lastly, Christians may be tempted to view Muslims as the enemy, but in actual fact, they are as much the victims of deception, thrown off by lies from the evil one. Millions of Muslims, when they read and find out about the Jesus of the Bible, fall in love with Him. God loves a sincere Muslim seeking for the Truth -- all around the world, Muslims are finding Jesus -- or should we say that Jesus is finding them, appearing to them supernaturally in dreams and visions.

    A stat I heard quoted recently:

    Since 1991, annually, 2,750,000 people leave their religion to become Christians, and most of these people are Muslims. On the other hand, 750,000 a year leave Christianity -- so there is a net gain of 2million Christians annually (most of them Muslims). Does it make you wonder why there is a jihad against the "enemies of Islam"?

      God says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Is 55:9-12)
I had not realise the extent of God's hand is already working. I am reminded that we need to pray against the spirit behind the facade of this religious ideology, but at the same time, love the people that are caught under its grasp. Sometimes this is easier said than done -- we ourselves come with so much misconceptions. In all of this, I have come see the revelation of Christ that God is giving to Muslims through THEIR own book. That to me, is totally astonishing -- considering the barriers that their religious and political authorities have put in place to "retain the sheep in the fold".

In the Bible, Isaiah 66:18-20 provides us with prophetic hints as to what is to come. In the seminar, I was informed that almost all the nations mentioned in it (when mapped to current day countries/ regions) are Islamic nations - places like modern day Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Indonesia.

    "For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. (Is 66:18-20)
These are perhaps 'early days' yet to see the Lord's hand unfold, but I am reminded of how sovereign God's plans are. I am reminded of how much he loves even the Muslims, who in many instances are a people under bondage. In Christ, the captives will eventually be set free. And make no mistake, the Truth will set them free. Watch this space.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Finding the Heart to Encourage

I am presently on holiday spending time with family and friends. In the course of time together, a young person shared a burden of discouragement with me. Discouragement from harsh words with good intent to "improve" him. Discouragement from always being indirectly told that they are not good enough. Discouragement from the incessant silence of loving words that perhaps should be expressed more directly.

When was the last time you were encouraged? When was the last time you encouraged someone?

Encouragement can be a powerful thing. This may be obvious and much talked about, but in practice, there is not that much of it really going around.

I am reminded of a time when I've been a receipient of such a blessing. Gazing back, I realised that the few words this person said to me carried with it the power to change the course of my life, and it did. Ironically, the words spoken to me more than 20 years ago, so instrumental in defining who I am -- is now coming back full circle. Why?

Well, the person who bestowed the blessing 20 years ago is the same person who is the parent to the young teenager now confiding in me about his disappointments. It's weird - I feel strangely compelled 'repay the debt'. What I have received then, now I want to give back because I am in a position to - because of what was given.

What I am learning:

  • What goes around comes around. What you sow is what you reap.

  • Encouragement begets encouragement. When one "gets it", then you will recognise how powerful it is (and can be).

  • Sometimes we can be blind to giving it to the persons that need it most. People who are most "related to you" may be the ones that need it the most. But we can take it for granted that they do not yearn for it.
Encouragement is becoming a much needed commmodity that is becoming scarce. When was the last time you were encouraged? When was the last time you encouraged someone?

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Friday, January 19, 2007

One of Life's Riddles...

To come to the pleasure you have not
You must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge in which you have not
You must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not
You must go by a way which you possess not.
To come to what you are not
You must go by a way in which you are not.

Quite deep. I was slightly puzzled over the above "riddle".

What way? How? Definitely worth a ponder yourselves before proceeding.

It made me reflect and search. Here's what I found...

    To come to the pleasure you have not
    You must go by a way in which you enjoy not.

      "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt 7:13-14)

    To come to the knowledge in which you have not
    You must go by a way in which you know not.

      "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30)

    To come to the possession you have not
    You must go by a way which you possess not.

      "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matt 10:37-39)

      "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:23-25)

    To come to what you are not
    You must go by a way in which you are not.

      "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:5-6)


Now I understand. Hope you got it too.

"HE must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)

Note: The above poem is taken from "Ascent of Mount Carmel" by St John of the Cross

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