Monthly Archives: November 2012

Cockroach or Firefly? 蟑螂或萤火虫?

Many of us are scared of cockroaches. We are especially scared when they run toward us when we switch on the light in the room. Why do cockroaches run toward us when we switch on the light? Are they not afraid of us? Sure they do. But they are looking for dark patches to hide and when we switch on the light, our shadow become the nearest dark patch. No wonder they run toward us rather than go into hiding. They are just hiding in our shadow.
Though we do not like cockroaches, we do behave like them at times. When exposed to the light of God, we like to hide in our darkness. We are unwilling to come out of the shadow and stay in the marvellous light of God. We are afraid of our sins being exposed.
Let us not live like cockroaches anymore. God wants us to live like fireflies. We need not live in the shadow of darkness. Jesus can shine into every dark corner of our lives and grant us a new beginning. He calls us to be the light of the world. We are like little fireflies that can emit light. We can even bring this little light of ours to light up the lives of others. This season, let us stop behaving like cockroaches and be little fireflies that shine in the world of darkness. Amen.

我们大多数人都怕蟑螂. 特别是当我们开房间的灯时, 它们跑向我们的时候. 为什么当我们开灯时 蟑螂会跑向我们呢? 它们不怕我们吗? 它们当然怕, 但是当我们开灯时, 它们就会寻找黑暗的地方躲藏, 而我们的影子就是那最黑暗的地方了. 难怪它们会跑向我们. 它们正躲藏在我们的影子里呢!

虽然我们不喜欢蟑螂, 但我们有时侯也会象它们. 当神的光照着我们的时候, 我们喜欢藏在黑暗中. 我们不愿意从影子中出来, 不愿在神那奇妙的光里呆着. 我们害怕我们的罪会被揭穿.

让我们不要象蟑螂一样地活着. 神要我们象萤火虫一般地活着. 我们不必活在黑暗的影子里. 耶稣可以照亮我们生命中每一个黑暗的角落, 更能够给予我们一个新的开始. 神叫我们成为世上的光. 我们就象小小的萤火虫一般, 能够发出亮光. 我们还能把这微小的亮光带给别人,照亮他们的生命. 在这个季节里, 让我们不要象蟑螂但让我们做小小萤火虫照亮这黑暗的世界. 阿们.

 

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Sand In Our Shoes 鞋里的沙粒

I once saw a shirt that says “Our journey is not painful because of the pebbles on the road but because of the sand in our shoes.” How true it is. Our current journey may have challenges, but it is the baggage that we carry that makes our path even more unbearing. The only way is to let go of our baggage. We can cast all our cares to Jesus because He cares for us. Jesus, the Healer, can heal all our inner wounds. But are we willing to take off our shoes? If we are willing to make a confession to God about our hurts and pain? If so God would surely clear the sand in our shoes. We would then be more prepared for the long journey ahead.

我曾经看到有人的衣服上这样写着,”我们疼痛不是因为路途上有太多的石子,而是我们的鞋子里有太多的沙粒。” 的确的,我们的路途虽然有许多挑战, 但是往往让我们现在的路走得更疼痛的是我们所背着的包袱。唯一的方法就是卸下包袱. 我们能够把我们一切的顾虑交托给主耶稣, 因为他卷顾我们. 耶稣是医治者, 他能医治我们内心里的忧伤. 但我们愿意拖掉我们的鞋子向神承认我们所有的忧伤和痛处吗? 如果愿意, 神必定会除去我们鞋里的沙子. 这样一来, 我们就能够走前头更长的路。

Farther or Nearer?

There will always be trials and temptations in our lives. God uses them and allows them to build, train and discipline our lives. But what is crucial when trials and temptations happen in our lives is our response to them. Do we draw nearer to God or do we run farther away from God? Like someone once said that in our life journey, there will be stones. But we can choose to trip over it, go round it, step on it or build on it. Paul said that we should consider it pure joy when we face trials. Obviously, he saw it as an opportunity to draw nearer to God rather than to hide from God. Our attitude is the key. The key is not how big the problem is as some have mistaken it to be. They feel that it is too hard to come near to God when they are feeling painful or sinful. But running farther away from God will only make the matter worse. It is only when we face the problem together with God can our load be lightened and experience joy. Let us not run away from God when we are faced with tribulations for there is no way we can hide from Him. In fact, He is our only best source of comfort and strength.

Are You An Utilitarian?

In this society, there are many people who are good at using things to advance themselves. They are good at making use of the environment, the timing of events and the people around them to achieve their goals. Sometimes we call these people shrewd, some even consider them smart. Some even consider them as professionals. It becomes a skill to acquire. While it may be good to have a certain sense of shrewdness so that we can read the times well, we should learn to allow the Holy Spirit to prompt us and guide us. If not, we can actually fall into the trap of manipulation easily. We can be so confident that we depend more on our knowledge, experiences and techniques. We can end up always asking what we get in return and how worthwhile is our investment. We can get so consumed by our goals that we manipulate the conditions. We can end up twisting God’s arm or even tying up His arms. We may just be waiting to get something back from God in return.
Are we a utilitarian trying to make use of those things around us so that we get what we want? Don’t think we are so smart lest we commit the sin of witchcraft when we manipulate things and people. Don’t be too goal-orientated, so much so that we think that everything we do must accomplish our purpose. There is room for enjoyment and relaxation too. Don’t always think that we must get something in return. Jesus is the best example. He died for us without any conditions. In fact, He emptied Himself and humbled Himself so as to be an Instrument of God. In the same manner, we can give of ourselves like how Jesus gave His life for us. We need to learn to let go rather than always trying to control and manipulate things to accomplish our goals. Are we only willing to invest in things that can give us a profitable return? How about lives? When we invest in the kingdom of God, do we know that we may not see immediate return? Are we willing to invest in an area that is hard to evangelise or we are only interested in areas with the fastest growth rate? Are we keen to spend time to disciple someone who is weak and seemingly with no leadership potential or are we only interested in people who are promising? The utilitarian always need to get something in return in order for him to invest time, money and energy. But those who know God see the return in heaven, and continue to plough faithfully because the Lord calls them to the work. If God calls us to a ministry that is tough, stick to it faithfully, even if we do not see the immediate result. Do not just merely measure the work of God as the world sees it. When God calls us to a work, there will be a purpose in it.

Build Character

We live in a world that value qualifications more than character. If we have the qualifications, people assume that we have the intelligence and therefore the competence to get the job done well. Perhaps it is because qualifications are more tangible and measurable. This causes many to overlook character as the main criteria. As a result, people are focusing more on getting qualifications rather than building character. Actually our academic pursuit should encompass character building too. The two should not be dichotomised. But due to the fact that our society values qualifications more than character, people are looking for ways to get their qualifications within the shortest time. In this way, they ignored or cut short the character building process.
This thinking has influenced the church in the same manner. Bible institutions can end up focusing more on teaching biblical knowledge rather than character formation. Churches can end up focusing too much on doing ministry rather than shaping the being of their believers. We, ourselves, become more concerned about our academic qualifications and social standing rather than transforming our lives. There is a need to integrate the two again. The purpose of biblical knowledge is to transform our lives so that we can pass on the teachings of God correctly and truthfully. The purpose of Christian ministry is to glorify God so that more would come to taste the goodness of God. The purpose of our lives is to conform to the image of God so that we can be effective witnesses for Him. If we are not careful, we would end up building this generation with big heads, big hands and often big mouths but with small hearts. This would put the Church into a crisis. Let us return to the call for character formation for this is the will of God. Let us never forget to translate our knowledge into shaping our character. What we do should be an outflow of our being. Let God grow our hearts big enough to contain the kingdom of God.

Feed Ourselves First

In our daily life, we seldom forget to take our meals regularly, especially for those who are health conscious. Not only do they take their meals on time, they also make sure that they have a balanced diet. Of course, there may be a few occasions when we miss our meals because of our busy schedules.
How are we taking our spiritual meals today? Do we take them regularly? Do we have a balance diet? Or do we just focus on those bible passages that we like? Are we so busy that we give our spiritual meals a miss? The Bible tells us that man shall not live by bread alone. This implies that spiritual meals are actually more important than physical meals. We can miss our meals through fasting, but we cannot miss our spiritual meals. This is also true for those who are teachers of the Bible. Ironically, Bible teachers often forget to feed themselves while preparing spiritual food for others. But the truth is that we must always feed ourselves first before we can feed others. Or else we faced the risk of running on empty tanks. We should always encounter the truths of God first so that they bring conviction to our hearts before we can teach others effectively. Don’t think that we are so noble because we sacrifice our time to prepare our teaching without feeding ourselves first. We may just be serving God with our knowledge and not with our hearts. This is perhaps the only thing that we should get selfish about. Always feed ourselves first before we feed others.

Love Is More Than Action

We all know that love must come with actions. But there are some people who do not know how to express their love. They just keep it within their hearts. Sometimes, this love can manifest itself as aggressive and abusive actions too. It is like a typical Asian father who tends to scold and beat his child without knowing how to express his love through encouragement and affirmation. Some even use their authority to manipulate their children’s decision without trying to understand them.
There are also those who act without love. They just do a lot of things to impress or get someone’s attention.  Their focus is very much on themselves than the other party. Imagine buying a present that we like for someone without trying to find out what the other party really likes. Or it is like a big company that donates a lot of money to help the poor but the real intention is to improve the company’s image.
Now, we also see more people expressing their love in the wrong manner. Love is a matter of the heart but we tend to reduce it to a matter of material needs. A good example would be replacing our time with our children by giving them various things they want. They might end up spending more time with their computer games than their parents. We also see domestic helpers having a better relationship with the children than their parents.
Love is an art. Not only must it come with actions, the intention must be right. But intention and action are still not sufficient. We need to have the right expression too. Right expression when coupled with understanding and sensitivity, would then be able to touch the hearts of others, not just at the cognitive level but the affective level too.

Gain More Than Lose

In our road of discipleship, we are often told that we should count our cost. It tells us the need to think seriously before making the commitment to follow Jesus rather than making any rash decision. However, after we have make this decision, we should not just count our cost of discipleship, but we should begin to see what we gain in Christ. Paul was definitely aware of this. What he considered as a profit had become a loss to him when compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ. There was obviously a change in mindset to cause Paul to see what he gained in Christ rather than what he had to give up. Many Christians after deciding to follow Christ just continue to ‘count the cost’, as such the road of discipleship becomes tougher and tougher. We need to adopt a different mindset. Following Christ is not just about losing; it is also about gaining. In fact, we gain more than we lose. If we see what we gain is much more and has a greater value than what we lose, obeying Christ would not be so difficult for us anymore. Remember, what we lose for Christ will never be more than our gain.

Miracles Not For Show

There is no doubt that God can still perform miracles today. However, the way miracles are performed has changed. In the Bible, Jesus performed miracles to help those who were sick or demon-possessed. His focus was on the person. It was usually carried out in a low-profiled manner so that it would not attract too much attention. It was never done to increase His popularity or to make Him more well-known. He never allowed the miracles to point to Himself but to God the Father.
Some churches today has departed from this truth. Miracles done today are  targeted at the audience. They are for show, more like a performance. They would publicise their churches or the healer to attract more people. Well, though it is said that they wanted to give God the glory, but the preacher seemed to get more honour than God. It is not that I do not believe in miracles, but the flaw of today’s healing ministry is that it reinforces the prevalent belief of the world about ‘what works’ more than ‘what’s true’. It is not that God’s name is not mentioned but the ministry caused people to put their faith on a few individuals more than on God. I am not against healing ministry but I am calling for a better balance so that when the churches do not perform those spectacular miracles, the people would still believe in God firmly. We do not just believe in God because of those miracles but because of the greatest Miracle of Jesus Christ. The incarnation, crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest Miracle. No other miracle can replace this. Even though we may know God through other miracles, but all believers should place their faith in the greatest Miracle eventually. Our faith is never solely built on what works but more importantly, what’s true too. Glory should be given to God and not cling on a few individuals who have the ‘power’. Healing is also just directed at our physical infirmities, but includes inner healing and transformation that bring our lives to be  right with God.

Start Small But Go Deep

Even the biggest vision starts with a small step. We must not be pressurized to do something big all the time. It is all right to take small steps. Our step can be small like a little mustard seed or a little yeast, yet the effect can be great. What is important is that we must go deep. A mustard seed can grow into a big tree because it has deep roots. A little yeast can lift up the whole dough because it works in every portion of the flour. As such, we need to build strong and good foundation for our faith and life. There is no point we seemingly make a giant leap but we have no foundation. In the end, everything would just collapse. We can take a small step at a time, but let us make sure it is making a lasting impact in our lives. With these little steps, they would accomplish great vision from God.