Genesis 50:20 (NASB) - As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
Monday, May 06, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
So people disappointing us is no excuse. So what if your pastor is a hypocrite? So what? So what if your church people don’t love you as God commanded them to? So what? I mean, if love was so easy, God wouldn’t need to admonish us to love one another, right? Obviously, divine love is not nature to us in our fallen nature. Did God ever promise us that the rest of the believers will love us properly, as he desires? I don’t think so. So why let yourself be stumbled just because people in church let you down?
My Faith Crash
I had a massive faith crash years ago.
It was so painful. I was experiencing the presence of God in worship and the Word. I had answered prayers and many significant signs that hinted that I was on the right track. I was returning back to serving God in ministry, and re-discovering the joy of setting my hand to the plough for the Kingdom of God and being fruitful in ministry.
And then the crash came. What I prayed to God earnestly for, I did not get. Even worse, I got the opposite of what I really believed God would give me. He brought me so far, why would he not complete it, right? I clung on in prayer, stayed faithful in ministry and in my own personal time of seeking God, and continued to experience his presence and even answered prayers.
Yes, God continued give me what I asked for. Except for what I wanted the most, desired the most and had reasons to expect the most. For this part of my life I still have no answers, no resolution, no completion. I cannot come up with some spiritual-sounding lesson and say that I now understand why God did things that way during that season. I still don’t.
So what do I have? I still have God with me. Nudging me forward when I totally doubt that he was going to lead me where I am supposed to go. Answering prayers still. Meeting with me in my own personal prayer and worship time still. There is just only one matter, over which I wanted nothing but his will, worked out his way. And when I had finally come to believe I knew what it was, and that I was going to receive it, I didn’t get it. And the shame still remains. Did I ask God for the wrong thing? If so, how could I have missed it so badly?
Isaiah 54:4 (ESV) - Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
What kept me going? It was the eternal life of God. It was continuing to experience God, even when in one matter I was disappointed. I did get one lesson I can share from that season though: You don’t need trust when someone does what you understand. You need trust when that someone is doing a whole lot of things you don’t understand. That is when you have to decide if you will trust that the person knows what he or she is doing, and has your best interests at heart.
And when it comes to people, your trust can be misplaced. But not with God. He has shown his faithfulness to me many times before and many times ever since. Will I stumble and be offended with God over one matter, or will I look at his past faithfulness and trust, even when I don’t understand?
I know this is really long, and I have shared some personal stuff. But I hope that some of what I shared here will be useful to you or to those around you, who are struggling with God offending them. Be blessed!
Sunday, March 03, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
Not quite the kind of stuff that gets me up in the morning all excited and raring to go, right?
But the interesting thing is that I get to see how differently people behave when it comes buying their homes, often the biggest purchase of their lives. And it IS very interesting, because those who have more money to spend on this and those who have less behave very differently.
For the benefit of the non-Singaporeans reading this, Singapore has a forced savings system called the CPF. Deductions are made from the working Singaporean’s salary and put into his or her CPF account, and that sum of money is set aside for either retirement or paying for housing.
The typical Singaporean couple, when purchasing a flat to live in, will have to take a bank mortgage, make an initial payment from the CPF towards that loan and then continue to service that loan with the regular deductions from their CPF account (maybe with payments from their salary). Since the prices of the flats are so high, buying a flat involves using large sums of money from CPF and coordinating it with one’s salary in order to pay for a very heavy mortgage.
So when they came in the lawyers to work out all the legal details of the purchasing, I got see the difference between those who have more money and those who have less!
Most people would buy the flat as joint-tenants, which meant that the ownership of the flat would automatically pass to the spouse if they die before they finish paying for the flat. The richer, however, were more willing to go as tenants-in-common – each spouse had a pre-decided percentage ownership of the flat. That allowed them to will away their share of the flat to their heirs (and might make it easier to divide the property in the event of a divorce?).
I haven’t had the time or energy to research into which was a better option. I’d suspect it depends largely on the couple’s specific situation. But what I am certain of is this: the richer went to the lawyer’s table having already thought through and discussed such issues. I sensed no uncertainty whatsoever on this from either the husband or the wife.
It also shows a willingness to think through and plan estate matters, how their possessions will be divided should either person die an untimely death. Morbid topic, but the richer face up to it more willingly.
Proverbs 13:22 (ESV) - A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children…
Another thing also: the richer tended to have their insurance agents on call, and they would call their agents in the middle of meeting with the lawyers. They knew how much they were covered for and expected their insurance agents to be able to give them good advice on how to coordinate their insurance coverage with the mandatory insurance required by CPF.
Here’s a good tip for insurance agents – if you want to have wealthier clients, you had best be prepared to advise them well on such important matters. Why should they get insurance from you if you can’t give them better advice, specific to their situation, than the next agent waiting in line for their business?
When I noticed all this, I first thought, “Of course the wealthier can afford to be fussy and meticulous about insurance and estate planning, they have enough money for it!”
Luke 16:10 (ESV) - One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much…
And that is the point, right? If I am not serious about such things now, even if I have more money I won’t be serious with them either. I’ll just be lazy and try to hire someone to settle all these matters for me. The richer consulted the professionals, discussed the pros and cons with their spouses, then made up their own minds and took the final responsibility for their own decisions.
They didn’t just hand the money over to some stranger and put it out of mind!
Proverbs 27:23-24 (ESV) - Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?
Finally, the clincher: husband and wife were in agreement. They already came to the meeting prepared to service the mortgage as partners. Both of them knew they had to work together in paying off their home.
This was the case even if the wife wasn’t working (rare, in Singapore, but it happens). As long as she has worked before, she would have money in her CPF account, and the wives in the more affluent marriages wanted to make their contribution also. That is even if she did not have the earning power or as much savings as her husband.
I don’t see wives trying to get away with doing less just because their husbands can do more!
As a side note, I will strongly discourage men from marrying any woman who has no working experience, who goes from school or college straight into marriage and wants to be a home-maker. If that happens she will have no idea of the working world, as well as no inkling of what it really takes to make a living in the real world. She may end up as someone who knows the price of something, but not its value.
Proverbs 31:10, 16 (ESV) - An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels… She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
Proverbs 31 paints a picture of the biblical super-woman, an excellent wife. Notice how she gets involved with property and real estate investments? That is what I got to see in person so far.
All the above came from me observing the upper-middle class people. I know that there are the really rich, who in Singapore will buy landed property or condominiums. Do they have different rules or different practices, so that they will preserve and even grow their wealth? Maybe. But I suspect God just wants me to learn from the upper-middle class for now. And if I am faithful with learning and practicing those lessons, maybe then God will entrust me with the wisdom of the really wealthy?
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Right now I am feeling angry, resentful and frustrated. And though it is really tempting to just use all of that as a justification to do some wrong stuff (as Kent Henry once said, "God, just give me 5 minutes in the flesh, just 5 minutes, I'll...") I am working really hard to not let that happen.
Some things that help keep me from flying off the handle more often:
Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV) - Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
We have to set our hearts and minds on things above in order to live in the reality of the new birth, the new life that is ours in Christ Jesus. Don't expect God to just zap you into the new life, and hope that you will just wake up the next morning with a renewed mind and a pure heart.
Doesn't happen that way!
We have to deliberately set your mind on heavenly matters. One simple and practical way to do that: take time out to read the Scriptures aloud. If you read silently your mind might drift, but when you read the Bible aloud, and take a few times through the same passage, you will end up giving the Word of God some attention. Our fleshly nature rebels against the discipline, but since when did living by the flesh give us spiritual results?
How about the heart? When we set our hearts on things above, that means we surrender the right for our emotions to run rampant. People tend to go into extremes. They either let their emotions run amok and cause them to say and do stupid things, or they are so afraid of their own emotions that they are not able to acknowledge them or face up to them. When we set our hearts on things above, we choose to value heavenly things. And also we find that the things of the earth will lose their hold over our minds and emotions.
Psalm 73: 25-26 (NIV) - Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
How do we get to that point? By entering the sanctuary of God, spending time in his presence (Psalm 73:17).
Colossians 3:5-10 (NIV) - Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Many people want to put to death what belongs to the carnal nature. Sin loses its appeal to the child of God over time. But few of them understand that God does not intend for us to start at this. We cannot put to death what belongs to the carnal nature until we first set our hearts and minds on things above. God has a pattern, a divine template for holiness for us to follow. We cannot expect God's kind of results if we do not submit ourselves to doing things his way, right? And even Paul cannot let go of the topic. When he tells us not to lie to each other, it is based on our status as born-again children of God. He cannot drop the topic.
Obviously it must be very important!
Colossians 3:11-14 (NIV) - Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
We are God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved. If you have difficulty walking right in the Kingdom of God, that is because you have forgotten this: We are God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Take a few minutes right now and really speak it to your soul. Say "God has chosen me, I am holy and dearly loved!" Say it until you actually start to believe it...
Many of us feel a strong resistance to saying that, because of our lives. We know we aren't the sort of people we ought to be, as children of God. We know God is compassionate, but we often aren't. We know God is kind, but we often aren't. We know God is patient, but we often aren't.
But it is okay!
Take those virtues and put them on as clothes. When we begin, they are NOT a part of us. Come on, no one expects you to be your shirt, right? Likewise we need not expect ourselves to be compassionate and kind. We just need to put them on as clothes, something we wear for the sake of spiritual decency and to cover our flesh
Important: all this comes AFTER verse 1-4. We can do all this only AFTER we have set our hearts and minds on things above. Respect the divine order God has set. If we don't do what comes first, we can NOT do what comes after. We may be able to keep it up through sheer will-power, but after months of not getting enough sleep, or yet another crisis or disappointment, your will-power will run out.
That's when the flesh shows!
So if you want to be able to live right even when you can't think straight (like me right now), make the time and effort to set your heart and mind right. Don't wait till crisis hits, usually by then it is too late. Nobody starts building the foundations in the midst of the storm, not wise!
And if you want some accountablity in your Scripture time, do consider joining me at my Faceboook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/approved.workmen/ which I also call 2 Tim 2:15. You will see where I am in my Bible-reading plan for this year, as well as any immediate thoughts that are too big for Twitter and too small for a proper blogpost. Commit yourself to posting up what you have read from the Bible, and you will find that you do better at keeping up with it.
OK, that's it for now. I have typed more than usual (because I am too tired to edit properly) but I just want to get it all off my chest. Hope my ranting is of some help to you in some way.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
make straight your way before me.
in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies—
make straight your way before me.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Friday, December 21, 2012
So look out for people who need your help. Even if you are poor, there will ALWAYS be something you can do, even if it is just simply turn up for a Christmas service and join in the worship. Sit near the front and encourage the worship leaders by letting them see that you, for one, are appreciating their efforts to lead people into praising God this Christmas. A smile, a phone call to a lonely relative or friend or a random act of kindness will go a long way in reminding your soul that God has made you to be a blessing, regardless of how much or how little you have in your bank account or wallet.
And of course, you can bless your pastor by helping him or her with the Christmas activities around church, or even an encouraging word. Don’t forget your church leaders!
I know this is not the usual email you get from me, about worship ministry matters or spiritual stuff. I guess sometimes we need to remember that we are always in a position to give, and to keep our hearts poised to do so.