Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Naked Gospel

A friend's friend on Facebook recommended this ebook "The Naked Gospel" by Andrew Farley which I have downloaded here (authorization code is farley).

About The Book
Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives.It's the truth you may never hear in church. The Naked Gospel is a chapter-by-chapter assault on the churchy jargon and double talk of our day. It puts forth a message that is simple but life-changing. With a fresh take on Scripture and unapologetic style, The Naked Gospel will challenge you to re-examine everything you thought you already knew.

Some quotes which I liked in the book:

"Many Christians still walk in Old Covenant bondage.
Regarding the law as Divine ordinance for our direction,
they consider themselves prepared and fitted by conversion to
take up the fulfillment of the law as a natural duty."
Andrew Murray (1828 -1917)

"The Cross is the central event in time and eternity,
and the answer to all the problems of both."
Oswald Chambers (1874 -1917)

"Do not let us consider ourselves as far off when
God has made us one with him."
Hudson Taylor (1832 - 1905)

"Let us remember that [God] is holy and he is righteous,
and that a holy and righteous God has the right to say that
the blood is acceptable in his eyes and has fully satisfied him."
Watchman Nee (1903 - 1972)

"If you will but trust Christ,
not only for the death he died in order to redeem you,
but also for the life that he lives
and waits to live through you,
the very next step you take will be
a step taken in the very energy and power of God himself."
Major W. Ian Thomas (1914 - 2007)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Is Victory Achieved Or Received? (2)

In my previous post, I shared with you my personal experience of receiving victory but we must base our belief on the truth found in the bible, and not personal experience though our experience confirms the truth.

In 2 Chronicles chapters 14 to 16, we see two contrasting victories experienced in the life of King Asa of Judah; one victory was received while the other was achieved.

In 2 Chron 14:8, we read that King Asa had a well-equipped army of 300,000 brave fighting men but when Zerah the Cushite led his army to attack Judah (v9), King Asa did not rely on his military strength; instead, we see in v11 that King Asa prayed to God, relying on God for deliverance and most importantly, King Asa saw that the Cushites were coming not just against his people but in reality also against God Himself - "Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, "LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.""

After King Asa handed the battle over to God, he received his victory - "12 The LORD struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the LORD and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder. 14 They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terror of the LORD had fallen upon them. They plundered all these villages, since there was much booty there. 15 They also attacked the camps of the herdsmen and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem." (2 Chron 14:12-15)

However, King Asa did not just receive victory for this one battle, in fact he received much more than that: 2 Chron 15:1-2 -"1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. "

King Asa, encouraged by God's promise, destroyed all the idols in his land and repaired the altar of the LORD. He led his people to enter "into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side." (2 Chron 15:12,15)

God gave King Asa and his people rest for twenty years for "there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign." (2 Chron 15:19) What happened after the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign?

In the thirty-sixth year of King Asa's reign, Baasha King of Israel laid siege on Judah; he "fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah. " (2 Chron 16:1)

This time, instead of relying on God for victory, King Asa tried to achieve his own victory by entering into a treaty with a heathen king. King Asa gave silver and gold from the treasuries of the LORD's temple to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, asking him to break his treaty with Baasha king of Israel. Ben-Hadad agreed and sent commanders to attack all the store cities of Naphtali, so Baasha had no choice but to abandon Ramah and return to Israel. "Then King Asa brought all the men of Judah, and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using. With them he built up Geba and Mizpah." (2 Chron 16:6)

It seems that King Asa won, doesn't it? He was even able to build up two cities with the stones and timber that Baasha left behind at Ramah. However, this was not a true victory as King Asa had to pay a heavy price for it: 2 Chron 16:7-9 - "At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: "Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.""

King Asa received his victory over the Cushites from the LORD and he had peace for twenty years but he achieved his "victory" over Baasha using his own means and lost the peace he had enjoyed for twenty years. In fact, three years later, in the thirty-ninth of his reign he was afflicted with a severe disease in his feet but "even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians" and he died in the forty-first year of his reign. (2 Chron 16:12-13)

Is it easy to receive victory? Yes and No.

Yes, because victory is sure and complete since it is God who gives you the victory and hence He does ALL the work.

No, because we have to rest to receive victory and our default mode is we want to work. Like what King Asa did against Baasha, we naturally want to be doing something, and sometimes in our desperation to get out of a sticky situation, even anything, just to see a slight change in our circumstances.

Many of us tend to look to God as a last resort; we seek His help only after we have tried to do something about our situation and later realized that there is nothing more we can do. Let us change our mindset and look to God as a FIRST resort from now on.

Let us receive victory. Amen?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is Victory Achieved Or Received? (1)

Those of you who have read my earlier posts "Musings of the Ice Kacang Man" would already know about the dessert stall opened by my ex-landlord's relative just 2 doors away from my present location. On Monday 27 July, my ex-landlord took advantage of the fact that the first dessert stall is usually closed on Mondays and changed the locks on the shutter gate of his stall. I heard from various sources that my ex-landlord is taking back his stall because he is owed at least 2 months of rentals and utilities bills and he is not likely to get paid anytime soon. Anyway, that stall has not opened since then.

I have been looking forward to the day of that stall's demise but that stall seemed to be prospering and I was not hopeful of seeing it closed down anytime soon. Two months ago, I read Andrew Wommack's book "A Better Way To Pray" and he taught that we have to speak to our mountain based on Mark 11:23 (and also Matt 21:21) and tell it to move. I applied that teaching and as I walked past that stall, I spoke to it and told it to move and be gone.

After that stall closed down, I heard from someone that actually my ex-landlord wanted to take back his stall two months ago but his relative managed to stump up some money to pay him and he delayed his action. Is it a coincidence that it was then that I spoke to that mountain? I don't think so. I believe that the Holy Spirit is teaching me to receive the victory that God has already given me by following the spiritual principles that He has set up and speak to that mountain.

Am I writing all this to gloat over the closure of the first dessert stall? NO, I just want you to know that God is faithful even though the answer seems a long time coming (in my case, it's 22 months), and that victory is received, not achieved.

Based on my observation and also from feedback of one of my suppliers (who also supply to that first stall), that stall's business turnover is rather good, at least about the same as mine, if not better but why is it that they do not have the money to pay my ex-landlord? I don't know the reason but it shows that their demise is NOT because of my stall snatching business away from them.

When the first stall opened, well-meaning friends have suggested to me various ways and means to counter their presence. One suggested displaying a banner at the staircase leading up to the food centre, one suggested printing and distributing flyers or offer discounts (the first stall waived extra charges for take-away containers for those who bought 3 or more desserts) while some have suggested selling unique desserts that they saw at some famous dessert stalls.

I did none of these but merely added some menu items that the first stall was offering and a few more hot desserts so that customers can have more dessert choices. You see, the first stall installed a "Thai prosperity god" inside the stall, and immediately I saw this as a challenge to Daddy God and I believe Daddy God has already won. I do not need to fight for my victory for the battle is the Lord's (1 Sam 17:47). Of course, during these past 22 months, my faith wavered according to what my eyes saw (up when the first stall got poor business and down when they have long queues). We are supposed to walk by faith and not by sight but this is easier said than done because our eyes do see and we naturally react according to what we see.

When I saw long queues at that stall, sometimes I would get so frustrated and wondered why the wicked can profit at the expense of the righteous. As you can see, I am not at that level yet where I can see and not be affected, so I did the next best thing ... I refused to see. I would retreat into my stall and listen to Pastor Prince's sermons, and listen and listen and listen until faith rises up again. Now, I understand why Romans 10:17 says "faith comes by hearing (not seeing), and hearing by the word of Christ" (words in brackets mine).

Anyway, this also shows that I am not the one who defeated the first stall since they enjoyed good business. I don't know how and why they closed down despite good business but I thank you, Daddy God because "no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse" (Psalm 25:3). So far, I have been telling you from my personal experience that victory is received and not achieved but I shall share with you from the bible, the basis for this in my next post.

By the way, I have heard from another source that my ex-landlord wants to rent out his stall again for dessert business so as not to waste the equipment already installed inside. After I heard that, like what Jesus did to that fig tree, I walked over to that stall and spoke to it: "No dessert stall shall spring forth from you ever again, in Jesus' name."

I am ready to receive victory once again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Catching Attention

I adjusted my blog's layout on Tuesday after feedback from Sarah during Monday's Grace United fellowship. She said that the layout was a bit messy making it difficult for her to find what she wanted. She said that she reads my blog because she knows me but would have otherwise skipped it because she would not have bothered to navigate through the layout.

I explained to her that I calibrated my layout to fit my 19inch LCD screen nicely so that all the most important items/links are displayed on the screen when my web page is opened. She replied that she accesses my page from her notebook/laptop which has a smaller screen and that many people use laptops/notebooks/netbooks nowadays. I knew this but it did not cross my mind to design my blog to suit smaller screens because I am looking at it everyday on my bigger screen.

I spent 2 hours adjusting the sizes of pictures and columns and rearranging the positions of widgets hoping that the web page will be suitable for smaller screens and still look good on a bigger screen. The contents of my blog remain the same but the presentation has been adjusted to try to reach a bigger audience.

I realized that it is the same with the gospel. Many people think that preachers like Andrew Wommack, Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince (just to name a few) are changing the gospel to reach more people but it is not true. The gospel message remains the same but they are merely adjusting the style of presentation to catch the attention of the generation which is very different from the previous one ... the generation which is constantly online and has access to all sorts of information and misinformation instantly ... the generation which has such a short attention span that it is vital for the gospel to be packaged in a way that can catch and hold their attention.

One of the ways to catch their attention is through music. Hillsong United is a good example of "preaching" the gospel in a manner that this new generation can relate to. Last month, New Creation Church organized a concert by Hillsong United which 5,000 youths attended and many went forward to receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour at the concert (Mal blogged about it here).

Pastor Prince said sometime ago that he decided to dress a little bit more casually (eg. no more ties) to appear more relevant to the youths ... no, he did not change the gospel message ... he only changed his wardrobe. Some people have used his dress style as a point of criticism against him (some mockingly label him "Korean-fashioned"), implying that this showed that he is not preaching the true gospel. They have mistaken the wrapping paper and the box for the gift.

If you have managed to read up to this point, I thank you for paying attention to what I have said. I know it is not easy to catch your attention ;-)