Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ironman Daddy

In my May 27 post, I mentioned that I have taken over ironing duties from my wife, so nowadays every morning, the first thing I do is iron the family's clothes so that I can hang them on the window grille to catch as much morning sunlight as possible.

Ironing clothes is a chore to most people but someone in the family still needs to do it so that the whole family can look good when they go to school or work or just hang out with friends. I tell my sons that if they see a schoolmate whose uniform is always crumpled, it is a sign that he's facing some family problems.

I admit that sometimes I don't feel like ironing but strangely, once I start ironing, I do feel a certain satisfaction when I see the creases flatten out and disappear as the hot iron glides over the fabric.

A few days ago, as I was doing the ironing, the thought hit me that Daddy God enjoys ironing too. He also feels great satisfaction in ironing away the creases in the fabric of our lives, making it flat and smooth. I was reminded of this verse:

Isaiah 42:16
16And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness into light before them and make uneven places into a plain. These things I have determined to do [for them]; and I will not leave them forsaken.

I'm glad that I have a heavenly father who enjoys ironing ... Ironman Daddy, that's my God ;-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Logical Christian - 3 Years On

When I published my first blog post on 15 Nov 2008, I wondered how long I could keep the blog going but in a blink of an eye, it seems, three years have flown by.

What got me started on my own blog was the frustration of being shouted down when I commented on other Christian blogs, sharing my views from the perspective of the grace gospel which I have been listening to in New Creation Church since October 2003.

I decided to start my own blog so that I could share the gospel without interference and hopefully what I share will benefit and touch others, just as I have benefited from and am touched by the sermons I heard in NCC.

Now three years on, I have realized that the one who benefited most from my blog is... me! I discovered that as the knowledge I learned in NCC flowed from my brain to my fingers, my mind gets clearer and clearer regarding the grace gospel with each tap of the keyboard. As the words flow from the keyboard to the computer screen, so too the revelations trickle down from my brain to my heart. The more I wrote about the Gospel, the more rooted in it I became.

My regular readers would have noticed that I have written very few posts this year. Well, this year I am not in sowing mode, rather, this year is the season of harvest for me. If you've read my earlier post, you should know by now that my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in February.

Naturally, when we first received the news, we were devastated and fearful. Thoughts of my wife's passing flashed through her and my mind and tears flowed from our eyes but after a few days, Selah... My wife and I turned from looking within ourselves and looked towards God. The goodness of Daddy God which I had written much of about for the past two years was brought to my remembrance. My heart was filled with hope because deep within, it remembered the faithfulness of Daddy God which I had shared through my blog.

Thank Daddy God that His Word which I have sown in my blog sustained my wife and me through this crisis. I pray that this blog sustains you too in your time of need.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Prime Time

Borrowed this pic from Malcolm Loh
For the past few years, Pastor Prince's sermons have been broadcast on US television screens on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) under the program name of "Destined To Reign".

TBN is the largest Christian broadcasting network in the world and, as Pastor Prince himself admitted, it is only by God's grace that he was able to get a broadcast slot on the network.

The regular broadcast schedule of "Destined To Reign" is daily from Monday to Friday at 4am ... 4am! Not exactly prime time, is it? In fact, most people would call it an unearthly hour ;-)

However, by the grace of God, 4am is exactly prime time for Pastor Prince's ministry! We have heard in church quite a number of testimonies from appreciative Christians in the US of how they were touched and transformed by Pastor Prince's TV program, and one common thread of these testimonies is that these people happened to catch "Destined To Reign" because for some reason or other (some were too burdened by worries, suffering from depression, etc), they were unable to sleep and switched on the TV to help pass the time. These troubled people are the very ones God wants to reach, and God knows exactly when the prime time is to reach them.

Yesterday, I watched Pastor Prince preach live three times in the US via webcast. Pastor Prince was the guest speaker at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church (see pic) which is the largest church in the US. Pastor Prince preached to 16,000 people in Lakewood Church's auditorium and thousands more via webcast on a Saturday night and Sunday morning in the US.  Now, that is truly prime time by normal standards, isn't it?

However, whether it's 4am on a weekday or 8.30am on a Sunday, it's always prime time when it's God's anointed time. Whenever we flow with God, and listen to his prompting to do his bidding at a particular time, that is Prime Time.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

New Living Translation (NLT)

 11 I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Naked Phone

There are so many iPhone owners in Singapore; I step into the MRT train or bus, I will see at least one person playing with his/her iPhone.

I am not a fan of the iPhone but one thing I do envy iPhone owners for is the massive choices of accessories that they have to personalize and protect their precious iPhones.

For the past year, I must have seen hundreds of iPhones being used but I can't remember ever seeing a naked iPhone i.e. an iPhone without a cover and screen protector. 

The iPhone4(S), at 9.3mm thin, is one of the slimmest mobile phone in the market today. However, when you attach a cover to the iPhone, it will bump up the thickness by 10 to 20 percent depending on the brand/model of phone cover. 

Most people don't mind the extra thickness for the sake of protecting their precious iPhones from scratches but do you know that the designers of the iPhone4 took this concern into consideration and covered the front and rear of the iPhone4 with scratch-resistant glass?

Thus, as most iPhone4 owners attach the covers and screen protectors to their phones, the iPhone4 is seldom used in the pure form created by the iPhone4 designers. The owners have wasted the sleek, minimalist, super slim and scratch-resistant design of the designers.

Similarly, when I think about the the redemption plan designed by the grace of God, it is seldom preached today in its pure form. Many preachers have wasted the perfect design of God's grace by attaching their own "protective" covers in their misguided efforts to protect God's grace from abuse.

For example, The Christian Post (Singapore Edition) reported on a lecture by Professor Roland Chia of Trinity Theological College in which he claimed that salvation is contingent on an ongoing relationship with God, and thus Christians can lose or forfeit their salvation.

Preachers like Professor Chia cannot trust the divine grace of God to save us once and for all, through no effort or sacrifice of our own but, through only the once and for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and after that the same divine grace will transform us from glory to glory. 

These preachers cannot believe that the unconditional grace of God will work in the way which God Himself personally designed it, and tag on their own terms and conditions to "protect" this grace, thus lowering this divine grace to a human grace ... nay, it is not grace at all, in fact it is a DISGRACE.

Salvation is NOT contingent on an ongoing relationship with God. Salvation gives us the privilege and blessing of an ongoing relationship with God, and that is the naked truth.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Don't Wait While You Are Waiting

Last month, I switched from a Nokia 5800XM to a Samsung Galaxy SL, and man, do I love this phone ... it's got a 4-inch Super LCD, runs the android OS and I was able to install useful stuff like the bible,  document reader/editor, etc; fun stuff like the "angry birds" games and also my favourite videos.

Anyway, why am I gushing about my phone here? Because it is very handy and a really great tool to keep me occupied while I am waiting -  I can read the bible or an ebook, or play a game or watch a video.

A few weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, I went to Burger King to buy breakfast for my family (5 of us). There was already a bit of a queue there because BK had given out discount coupons in my neighbourhood and obviously there were many others like me who also wanted to make use of the coupons.

I joined the queue, and then whipped out my SGSL and started watching a video (DongYi, a korean drama about a slave girl whose son would later become the 21st king of the Joseon Dynasty). My turn eventually came and I placed my order and stepped aside to the next counter to wait for my order to be filled. It took quite a while as my order was for 5 persons but I just carried on watching my video which I had paused earlier when I had to place my order.

I was getting anxious for the slave girl as she was hit by a flying dagger thrown by an assassin when I heard this voice: "Your order is ready, sir." I was a tad disappointed as the plot was getting more exciting but I paused the video and walked home with my BK breakfasts.

As I was walking home, it suddenly dawned on me that I had not been flustered or frustrated by all the waiting around just now as I usually do because I was enjoying myself watching an exciting drama on my phone.  Then I realized that I should also do the same when I am waiting for the answers to my prayer requests to manifest. Since I have "placed my order" with Daddy God and He is sure to deliver, then I shouldn't waste my time and energy being flustered and frustrated when I don't see any results yet. I should just enjoy myself while waiting for the manifestation.

In Daniel Chapter 10, Daniel asked God for an answer but the angel did not appear to Daniel until three weeks later with the answer, and Daniel mourned during these three weeks - "I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." (v3).

However, the angel told Daniel that from "the first day" when Daniel made his request, God had already sent him to deliver the answer (v12) but he was delayed for twenty-one days because of resistance from the devil. Some people think that the angel finally overcame the devil because of Daniel's mourning but the passage doesn't say that! Daniel's mourning had no effect whatsoever; it was the arrival of arch-angel Michael who helped to defeat the "kings of Persia". Did Daniel send Michael? Of course not! Daniel did not even know what was going on!

Daniel had wasted his time and energy mourning because he did not believe. He did not believe that God had already sent him the answer. Instead of waiting and moping around, he should have rejoiced for those twenty-one days and done something useful.

Many of us are like Daniel. We think that we have to move God with our "sincerity" - some of us "fast and pray", or some of us will make an effort to read the bible more or give up watching tv or movies, etc.  We think God will be pleased with our efforts but how can He? All these just reflect our lack of faith in Him, in His goodness and faithfulness. How can God be pleased in our efforts to move Him when He has already moved ... on "the first day"?

Therefore, my friends, don't wait while you are waiting. Rejoice, do something enjoyable, relax, knowing that your answer has been given on "the first day" and will manifest soon. That's why Isaiah 54:1 says,
Sing, O barren,You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate Than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.   

Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't Feel Guilty About Not Doing Anything

Yesterday, my wife just had her very last radiotherapy session. I thank God that through it all, my wife suffered only minor discomfort. For those who are not in the know, they would not even realize that my wife is recovering from breast cancer when they see her. She looks strong and healthy, so healthy that she has even put on a little extra weight since her operation.

To relieve her of some housework, I have become the "Ironman" of the household; I have been ironing the family's clothes everyday for the last two months and will continue to do so. While doing the ironing in the kitchen every morning, I would be listening to NCC's sermons at the same time, at least initially, but for the past month, I have not been doing that. Then one day, about two weeks ago, as I was ironing, I suddenly caught myself and thought, "Am I being ungrateful by not listening to the sermons anymore now that my wife is recovering very well from breast cancer?" I suddenly felt guilty, as if I am neglecting God after I have made use of Him.

However, God is very kind and reassured me that it is exactly what He wants from me - to rest, to trust that He has completed His healing in my wife, to not do "spiritual" things like listening to sermons or praying as rituals to "please" Him in order to ensure that He continues to heal my wife.

A few days after I had that guilty thought, my wife and I attended Sunday service and Pastor Lawrence was the one preaching as Pastor Prince was enjoying his birthday that day. Pastor Lawrence shared his personal testimony on his wife's first two miscarriages, how he stopped watching TV, prayed every two hours and confessed God's Word constantly, all in an effort to move God to save his unborn child but alas, in vain. However, he later had the revelation that he need not have done all that to move God because God has already moved, at the Cross, and he just needs to rest.

Then last Sunday, Pastor Prince preached on what is earnest prayer from the passage in James 5 and 1 Kings 18 regarding Elijah's respective prayers for drought and rain. Contrary to ordinary thinking, Elijah's prayer for rain where he knelt down with his face between his knees and prayed seven times is not earnest prayer. Instead, Elijah's prayer of faith, a simple declaration that there would be no rain in Israel is called earnest prayer in James 5.

It seems that it is our natural inclination to want to earn our blessings instead of receiving them in grace. So for us Christians, in times of distress, we like to do a lot of "spiritual" things like listening to sermons, praying, declaring God's Word, taking Holy Communion, etc to move God to move for us.

Actually, there's really nothing wrong in doing all those things, if they are done with the right perspective. We do all those things not to move God's heart but rather to move our own hearts, to the place where we know that we know that we know that God's heart is always for us and that He has already moved His hand on our behalf.

Once we are at that place, we can stop doing all those "spiritual" things and just rest. Pastor Lawrence mentioned in his sermon that he counselled two families facing challenges to take a break and watch a movie together as a family, to just rest since they have already prayed and trusted God for deliverance. Thank God, He is faithful and He did deliver them out of their challenges.

So my friend, after you have prayed the prayer of faith, don't feel guilty about not doing anything. You are "doing" the right thing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Whom Can I Cast My Burdens On?

Two days before Chinese New Year, my wife and I learnt from the doctor that she had breast cancer. She was devastated and so was I. My heart ached so much that I just had to share this piece of bad news with someone (other than my family) but whom can I cast this burden on?

I don't have many friends. A few friends whom I had valued highly had unfriended me, and not communicated with me for months (I still don't really know the reason why it happened), so I couldn't tell them. Thank God I still have a few other friends whom I still value highly but I couldn't bring myself to call them up because Chinese New Year was just two days away and I didn't want to spoil their celebratory mood.

In the end, I did sms one dear sister-in-grace, whom I know is a great encourager, to tell her about my wife's situation, and I'm really thankful for her as well as her husband's words of encouragement which I desperately needed to hear at that moment. However, after that sms, I did not update the dear sister-in-grace again because she was heavily pregnant at that time and due to give birth very soon. I expected her to be full of happy thoughts about her coming baby boy and I did not want to intrude with my less than happy news.

While your friends may stand in faith with you, it is only for a while because they have their own universe to take care of. A few "friends" somehow eventually heard about my wife's situation and sent me an sms but not a single person checked with me again to ask about her progress.

If you have read through my previous few posts, you will realize, as I eventually did, that the only friend you can really cast your burden on is Jesus. Because only He will not be burdened by your burdens, and only He can take away your burdens, for He is able to and truly does care.

I talked to Jesus and He responded through Pastor Prince's sermons which I had been listening and listening. A verse here, a prayer there, a testimony here, a snippet there, Jesus talked to my wife and me, encouraging us and reassuring us that Daddy God's hand is on the situation and He will carry us through this.

Thank Daddy God that my wife had a very successful lumpectomy, and she is recovering well. She still has to go through a radiotherapy treatment cycle consisting of 33 sessions over 6.5 weeks but we trust that Daddy God will protect her from all the side-effects which the therapist warned us about.

I am still talking to Jesus, casting my burdens on Him, trusting that He will continue to carry us, my wife especially, on His shoulders, even as I am writing this post, in the middle of the night, alone at the funeral wake of my wife's mother who passed away last Friday and will be cremated in a few hours' time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Would Have Despaired Unless

Are you feeling stressed out by a difficult situation you are facing? Are you feeling despair because it seems that there is nothing you can do about it? I was, for a little while.

I could do nothing except listen and listen to Pastor Prince's sermons again and again. What's the use of that? In the natural, it seems like a futile thing to do; just listening to an anointed pastor's preaching ... how is that going to change the situation? However, that is the way God works for you - "He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions." (Psalm 107:20) - God speaks and it is.

Yesterday, I was listening to a sermon which Pastor Prince preached in 2003 (The Key To A Victorious Life – Being Established In Righteousness) but how it spoke to me for my current situation right here right now. In his first sermon of 2011, Pastor Prince said that the theme for this year is Psalm 65:11 - "You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance." - which is also the exact same verse Pastor Prince quoted in this 2003 sermon! For me, this is God's now word to me that this is still a year crowned with His goodness despite the bad situation I'm facing. I don't know how God is going to do it but He will turn this evil day into good days for me somehow.

God also showed me how not to despair in the midst of my bad situation when Pastor Prince later quoted Psalm 27:13 - "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living." This is the key.

Let me quote Pastor Prince:

"In the midst of our challenge, we got to believe in the goodness of God. When you encounter challenges this year, remember Psalms 27:13 ... you don't see it, you don't touch it, you don't experience it yet with your five senses but you believe in the goodness of the Lord ... God says in the midst of your trouble, you believe in His goodness, He will make you see His goodness in the land of the living, while you are still alive on Planet Earth, not in heaven ... in the here and now, we will see God's goodness ... Trust Him, when things go wrong, trust Him ... "
"Turn to Psalm 27:13 one more time ... did he say see to believe or believe to see? I have believed first, to see ... God wants us to believe to see, not see then believe, anyone can do that. The faith that pleases Him is God wants you to believe in His goodness, to see that goodness."

How is God going to make your bad situation good? I don't know but that is His job, not yours. Your job is to just believe; believe in the goodness of the Lord, believe that you would see the goodness of the Lord in the here and now ... then, you would not despair.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Listen Listen To The Good News When You Receive Bad News

What do you do when the first words out of the mouth of the doctor going over your medical report are:  "I'm afraid I don't have great news for you."

Would you cry? I would. I did. But what do you do after that? Do you go about your day and days to come dazed and depressed? Don't do that! You are not without hope! You need to listen listen to the Good News! You have Daddy God on your side! If God is for you, who can be against you?

It seems that right from the first sermon of the year God has been prepping those of us who are going to receive bad news in some form or other this year on how to deal with the bad news. Can you see it? All the sermons Pastor Prince has been preaching so far this year, and even Pastor Mark last Sunday, are that we have to listen listen to the Word of Christ for "faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ" (Rom 10:17, NLT).  

It seems ridiculous, doesn't it? All we have to do is just listen? No, it's not just listen, but listen and listen and listen and listen and listen with a hearing heart ... to the Good News about Christ ... and after that, speak it out for "It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,"(2 Cor 4:13).

Faith is believing and speaking. Do you believe that Christ has borne all your diseases on his broken body and therefore you are healed? You do? Speak it out!

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4–5

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:11

Do you believe that God is going to lift you up from your pit of debts? You do? Speak it out!

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 28:8

Don't keep replaying the bad news which the doctor had just told you in your head. Don't keep looking at your bank statement and worrying about where to get the money. Keep listening and listening about the Good News about Christ and then speak it out. Let God move the mountain for you; you just listen, listen, believe and speak.

You know, as you listen listen to a sermon again and again, sometimes you hear something which you did not hear the previous times you listened to it and it is exactly what you need to hear at that moment in time. Sometimes, it is not even the sermon proper which blesses you but something off-topic mentioned by the preacher during the sermon or even a prayer.

I was listening to Pastor Prince's first sermon of 2011 (God has crowned you with glory and honour) quite a number of times, and at the moment when I needed to hear it most, God sent His now Word to me through Pastor Prince's closing prayer:
" ... and we thank you Father that even when what seems like bad things happen to us, because you have crowned this year with Your goodness, all things work together for good ... for good ... we will end up stronger, better, higher ... thank you Father ..."   

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Is This Good News That You Want To Share?

Are you a Christian? Yes? Then do you want your parents and good friends to become Christians too? Yes? Why? What's so good about being a Christian?

Well, for starters, we get to go to heaven after we die. Yeah, great, then what? When you share the Good News with your parents/good friends, is "heaven" all that you can offer them? Heaven is great but we get to enjoy heaven only after we die. Is there anything in this Good News that is good for us before we die?

When I was in my previous church (for about 30 years), I was not motivated to share the gospel/Good News with friends because basically, the Good News I heard wasn't that good; yes, I can go to heaven after I die but before that, I have to tread very carefully in all that I say and do because God will be very angry with me when I don't meet His standards. Hey, my friends seemed to be living rather happy and care-free lives, I wouldn't want to ruin all that with the burden of this "Good News".

That was then. Now, I can't help but want to share the Good News whenever an appropriate opportunity presents itself. Why? Has the Good News changed? No, the Good News has not changed, it has always been the same; it's just that my understanding of the Good News has changed because of fresh insights shown to me in my present church, New Creation Church.

In New Creation Church, I learnt that God is no longer and will never ever be angry with me for anything I do, because this Good News is not about what I did/will do but what Christ has done. In New Creation Church, I learnt that the Good News is not just about the life after but also the life here and now. I learnt that God heals, God protects, God provides. I learnt that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

The Good News which I now gladly share with people is that "heaven" does not come after death; "heaven" begins right here right now.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.
 1 The Lord is my shepherd;
      I have all that I need.
 2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
      he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    3 He renews my strength.
   He guides me along right paths,
      bringing honor to his name.
 4 Even when I walk
      through the darkest valley,
   I will not be afraid,
      for you are close beside me.
   Your rod and your staff
      protect and comfort me.
 5 You prepare a feast for me
      in the presence of my enemies.
   You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
      My cup overflows with blessings.
 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
      all the days of my life,
   and I will live in the house of the Lord


Monday, January 3, 2011

Shema Shema (Listen Listen)

I have not been working since 16 Dec 2010; I went on a 6-day trip to Bangkok with my family, mum, brother-in-law, sisters and nieces (11 of us in total). We had a great time shopping, eating, shopping (typical Singaporeans, eh?) and best of all, I even met my Liverpool hero, Steven Gerrard there!
StevieG and Me ;-)

After we came back to Singapore, I just lazed at home, watching cable TV all day long while my kids played their computer games. I should be feeling rested since I was basically doing nothing but somehow I felt tired instead, so tired that I even skipped NCC's Christmas service, which meant that I did not attend church services for the whole month of December.

Yesterday, my family and I made sure we attended NCC's first service of 2011 even though the timing of the first service has now changed from 9am to 8am, which meant waking up an hour earlier than usual on Sunday. After listening to Pastor Prince's sermon (check out Terence's sermon notes here), I felt energized! I felt more rested after two hours in church than two weeks lazing at home!

Pastor Prince actually preached about this yesterday ...
Terence's sermon notes:

Shema Shema = ‘hearken diligently’. Listen with inside and outside ears. Be fully ‘there’ when in God’s house. There might be a word in season waiting for you. Be fully present in God’s house and eat what is good and let your soul delight in abundance.
Isa 55:3 expounds the same point again. Incline your ear- humble your ear. Know when God is speaking through his mouthpiece to you.
Eat what is good – tov
Let your soul delight itself in abundance – deshen
How ? Isa 55:2 Just keep listening carefully – Shema Shema – hearken – hear diligently
Isa 55:3 – also incline your hear in humility when God’s speaks and come to him
Hear And your soul will live.
Sometimes, our soul is feeling blase and down. But when you hear the living Word from the pulpit, it becomes alive !

Yes, I realize now why I had been feeling so tired despite "resting" at home - I have not been listening to God's Word. Yes, Pastor Prince's sermon cds were playing in the background at my stall on and off for the last few months but I was just hearing background noise because I did not shema shema, I did not hear diligently. Yesterday, I did and I became alive.

Yesterday, I heard Good News. Yesterday, I heard God reassuring me that He is with me in the new year, protecting me and blessing me. Yesterday, I heard His Word for me for 2011. Shema Shema, Listen Listen:

You crown the year with Your bounty and goodness, and the tracks of Your [chariot wheels] drip with fatness.
Psalm 65:11

Have A Blessed New Year!