Fasting and desiring
Living faith
livingfaith2013
I actually only bought a single book this year! This is a great achievement considering I bought at least 20 books last year. I guess that's because I began to learn that spiritual growth is really not about the books we read or the intellectual stimulation that we get. Spiritual growth is really about submitting to God, trusting in God and letting the Spirit change us within. As amateur blogger of a blog talking about the world and some elements of daily Christianity, it seems like I or we dole out a lot of big spiritual talk about Christian living. I can assure you that I'm really an amateur at that and continue to struggle on a daily basis. In fact, many times I don't do what I hope I do, or say we should do. It takes more than human effort to change. But I only hope that the blog gives both the bloggers and the readers good reminders to push us off our cozy couches and together, be encouraged to seek God's help in areas of weaknesses.

While I have temporarily weaned myself off books, I have been particularly attracted by this book called A Hunger for God by John Piper. I believe it talks about the purpose and usefulness of fasting. Actually I wonder if I'll ever try fasting. Perhaps it will be good to learn more about Biblical fasting and to discuss this more with other brothers and sisters. I say I wonder because I have a huge appetite and I can lose weight easily if I don't eat enough. And since I have been labelled underweight for most of my life, I'm pretty conscious about what fasting might do to me (serious image problem here). But also importantly, is fasting healthy? Will it create gastric problems? I really don't know, but I do hope to know.

In the synopsis, it is written: If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great." If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul's appetite for God.

Wonderful description by John piper, of how we have "nibbled so long at the table of the world." This sentence expresses two things: firstly, that the world does not satisfy (I guess if it did we would be chomping), secondly, we have a long, unhealthy habit of looking to the world for satisfaction. Much of this pastor's message has been helping readers to love God and rediscover that "homesickness for God", which is probably why his site is named desiring God. It is both profound and awesome.
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The ugly side of party politics
Hexun
livingfaith2013
This blog is supposed to updated much more frequently than it has been. While we may not know if anyone reads it, I offer my apologies still, because the exams have kept me real busy. But so many things have happened recently! And it's a real shame I could not cover it whilst it was still hot news. But I guess what most people have been hearing about (even if you don't read the news) is the recent release of results for the 2013 Malaysian General Election. There has been a lot of cynicism over the integrity of the ruling coalition - Barisan Nasional - and how they allegedly manipulated votes in what is now notoriously known as the 大马停电 or simply, the blackout of Malaysia. Personally, cynicism is a great opportunity for us to express sarcasm and to revel in diatribes and criticisms of others. Although I'm a great fan of sarcastic jokes, I wonder if it is important really for Christians to remain objective and even be reserved in expressing opinion about this matter. While remaining objective in this case may factually mean that the BN did in fact cheat, I think it is still important to be reserved in criticism and cynicism. I really admired my Malaysian Christian friend in the example he gave us, when he commented that whilst the BN has chosen to cheat, he prays for the future of Malaysia. And I think that's a really good response to these matters: to pray for our leaders, because they really need praying for. At prayer meetings over China updates, a frequent request has been to pray for the leaders of China, whether at the national level or at the provincial and even lower village levels. Many do not care for the people. And I used to wonder why we should pray in this weird way that seems so generic and ineffectual. But really, God is bigger than what we can see, and the miracles we can possibly imagine.
 
The BN are really a harmful bunch who have played on Malay nationalism since its conception. In 1969, the year that the leading party in the BN, UMNO first failed to secure a convincing majority, racial riots broke out because of mutual taunting between Malays and Chinese. The Malays then felt UMNO did not look after Malay interests enough and they have since used this event to justify greater discrimination and politics along racial lines. That's a little of background info about BN's dominance in Malaysian society. Of course, any educated person would ask who can do this forever. That's probably why people like Anwar Ibrahim have risen to lead a campaign for Malaysian supremacy instead of Malay supremacy. In any case, there's always a need to be wary. A change of government is not the answer to problems. Look for example, at Egypt, which is facing a crisis in society because nobody can be satisfied with whoever's leading. Contrast that to the exuberance and ecstasy when their dictator fell about 3 years ago. Some observers also say that Singapore's next general elections will closely model that of the recent Malaysian one, that if the BN fell, people here would be incited to push for an overhaul in Singapore. No matter, my stand is always that whether under dictatorial rule or in a full-fledged democracy, whatever that may mean, there will always be huge problems to be solved. Sometimes a good government can lessen these problems, but it also depends on how much time we allow them to effect change. More importantly, we should not allow ourselves to indulge in damaging remarks and crowd-pleasing criticism. I believe God wants to effect change through us more than anything. There are many unsaved people out there that simply do not care if it's blue or white in power. Some people just need a kind gesture, or a break from this messy world.

Growing up I never got to use to strong political comments from people. I don't know why. Even if things may be really obvious or proven, I just feel that there's always more than meets the eye, and things are always simplified. But I really won't deny that these rants are really ugly and leave a terrible aftertaste. But it doesn't mean being neutral or ignorant about things. We still need to be concerned about politics because it inevitably concerns people. Pastor Randy Alcorn is a well known activist against abortion and there are many others that have spoken out on unbiblical policies. I think there is a need to know, like they do. But I think there's also a need to be careful about how we react to it. Politics can be divisive and ugly.

The ubiquity of social media means there's just so much information rushing around and so many voices and opinions screaming to be heard. It really does help if we can see beneath the furor and simply care for the right matters. The world needs more gentleness and silence.

"I choose gentleness... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself." Max lucado

To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:2

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
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彰显上帝的荣耀
Righteousness
livingfaith2013

一直以来,我认为“荣耀”是个很抽象的概念。
甚至,“荣耀”在基督徒的圈子中,竟可以成为动词来运用,如“荣耀上帝”,
“荣耀”变成为了一个抽象的行为。
而“彰显上帝的荣耀”就更加模糊,毕竟“荣耀”这个词很难定义,也不是三言两语就能够让人明白。

当牧师、传道人、导师、领袖在讲台上说:“我们要彰显上帝的荣耀。”
到底是什么意思?
我当了近10年的基督徒,对于这个概念,一直以来抱持着“大概明白,不甚了解”的想法、
我以为只要做好自己的见证就算是“彰显上帝的荣耀”。
因此感觉上,当基督徒就是“这个能做”或“这个不能做”等等,诸如此类的牵制。
一直到在近年,有位非常有名的美国牧者,对荣耀上帝提出了这样的解释:

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." -- John Piper

他这句名言,不知点醒的多个跟我一样迷茫的人。
人类其实就像一个无底洞,有无止尽的欲望、无止尽的要求、无止尽的担忧,快乐总是非常短暂,生命中不愉快的事似乎更加多……
因此若我们说“在主里,我们别无所求”,上帝应该会成为大家追求美满人生的对象。
但我们的生命是否让他人觉得我们已经得到最大的满足?


Bible-story telling
Hexun
livingfaith2013
Interested in Children's ministry? Here's a course on Bible-story telling, limited slots reserved!

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14


Biblestorytelling-eflyer

An opportunity
Hexun
livingfaith2013
For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:13-15

To those that are interested in missions in China, I have been approached by a missionary from the English congregation to organize a short English camp for their teens. But I definitely cannot do this on my own. The dates are 29th July to 2nd August for the full camp (first three days would be children's camp) and the last 2 will be the one for teens. It should involve planning and just doing things we are quite accustomed to doing in Cyyam that will give these kids a fun and enjoyable time of bonding, some English learning, and also to share the Good News. Please pray about it and let me know..

Quiet, restful contentment
Righteousness
livingfaith2013
Jesus-Good-Shepherd-06-774x1024

"As the children of God, the sheep in the Divine Shepherd's care,
we should be known as the most contented people on earth.
A quiet, restful contentment should be the hallmark of those who call Christ their Master."
                                                                                             ——Philip Keller

The divide
Hexun
livingfaith2013
The senate has rejected a proposed agreement to increase gun sale background checks. If you are as confused as I am as to how the system works, the senate is simply a exclusive body filled with senators that try to pass bills that if passed, will become law. Since senate is divided rather evenly into Republicans and Democrats, it is not an easy matter as party loyalties often take precedence over personal conviction. Of course, Republicans and Democrats do have their own set of principles that they fight for. Recently, the bill that aimed to reduce gun violence through stricter background checks failed to pass - mostly because Republicans did not agree with it. The democrats are very angry because they feel that these measures are "commonsense" and that the Republicans acted against their conscience. Republicans are known to be more pro-gun and are backed by the National Rifle Association. Also, there are several states that are traditionally more gun-free than others. Hence, to gain a re-election into the senate (a person political ambition), you would not expect senators to toe the party-line on this issue.

In such an event, it seems to be a good time to be a Democrat, for it appears that the cause they fight for is a moral one. Read Democrat politician Gabrielle Gliffords' impassioned piece here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/opinion/a-senate-in-the-gun-lobbys-grip.html?_r=0 (Gliffords, was shot in the head by a gunman in 2011) On the other hand, if you were a Republican supporter, and concerned about the dying innocents at the same time, you might find your conscience giving you a hard time. Or, you may seek alternative arguments that prove howthese new laws will not help our society at all.

Let me then ask a question: How can a group of people believe in a set of values that appears so 'commonsense' and yet meet a group of people that firmly believe in the opposite?
The answer probably lies in the way we wish to identify ourselves and how identification with a certain organisation easily forces us to compromise on some personal values. This is because the issues being debated are not ideological and radical. Secondly, issues discussed are probably not concerned with our own religious or personal values, but what would benefit the greater society. Although, this changes with time. It is not always a straight yes or no. Let's face it, there can never be a party that wholly represents our beliefs and principles. Sometimes, or even oftentimes, we compromise on our personal or even Biblical principles so we can continue to identify with a particular political party.

Let me give another example. Republicans are known to be more opposed to gay marriage than Democrats are. However, these issues are often not clearly defined or put forth when we identify ourselves with a party. Democrats do not say, "you have to be pro-gay, anti-gun etc etc before you can join." Politics change with time. Obama has found that his position has shifted from his earlier days. A professed Christian, Obama was actually firmly against same-sex marriage in the past. However, as this issue gained more prominence, it slowly became one of the make or break kinda issues in politics because it could potentially alienate tens of thousands of gays and also, tens of thousands of people who support same-sex marriage. Furthermore, he would require the support of his party, which is more liberal, on this issue.

Such divides however, are not obvious in Singapore, simply because these debates are not as contentious here. The divide however, exists in arguments over who can manage Singapore better. In the same way, let us be extra sensitive to the beliefs and principles of these parties, and not be swayed by public rhetoric.

Can a Christian be a good politician in this day and age? More broadly, have we been intellectually/morally dishonest when we throw our support behind certain political factions? Don't let our obsession with identity link us with a particular organisation/church/school/party that forces us to compromise on certain important matters just so we can fit in. Identification with these organisations potentially distracts us from what God wants us to see, and potentially socializes us to accept values or behaviour that is ungodly or unbiblical. I hope we will continue to speak out, and be concerned with things God is concerned about, no matter what organisations or parties we are nominally attached to.


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Navigating through rough terrain
Hexun
livingfaith2013
Dear readers,

If you have difficulty reading Chinese characters because they are either too small or too complicated, but still remain interested in understanding Chinese posts, let me recommend Google Chrome's extension called Zhongwen: An Chinese-English popup dictionary. Simply head to the Google Chrome website and search for this extension. Once installed, you can click on it to activate it and it will provide a character by character translation whenever you hover your cursor over Chinese characters. Very useful for learning Chinese!

为何畏惧人生风雨?
Righteousness
livingfaith2013

人生有风波的时候,你会做何反应?

曾有一个人,非常聪明能干,且富有爱心。
他有个伟大的志愿,就是要进入政坛,认为这样才能更好地帮助国家人民。
但现实与理想往往形成冲突,他受人谗言,不仅被降职,甚至差点丢了性命。
他人生就此转变,被人背叛、理想破灭、怀才不遇……
但,他却写下这么一句流传千古的话:“一蓑烟雨任平生”。
他任凭风雨拍打他的人生,甚至享受整个过程。
这样的人生观是不是非常让人敬佩呢?

但是,他其实是个可怜之人。

马太福音8:23-27说道:
“耶稣上了船,门徒跟着他。 忽然海上起了狂风,甚至船都被波涛掩盖,但耶稣却睡着了。 他们走来把他叫醒,说:“主啊!救命啊!我们没命了!” 耶稣却对他们说:“小信的人哪!为甚么害怕呢?”他就起来斥责风和海,风浪就完全平静了。 众人都惊奇,说:“这是甚么人,连风和海也听从他?”

人生有风波,是必然的,是无处可逃的。
一个非信徒无法控制风雨,只能任凭风雨摧残人生。
但我们所信的那位既然有能力平定风浪,那人生的风浪我们何须害怕、惊慌?

“我虽然行过死荫的山谷,也不怕遭受伤害, 因为你与我同在; 你的杖你的竿都安慰我。 ”
诗篇 23:4

不必害怕,以马内利。

献给所有正在风雨中颤抖的兄弟姐妹


言语,大有能力
Righteousness
livingfaith2013
“ 你们要以各样的祷告和祈求,藉着圣灵时刻祈祷;
而且为此警醒,以极大的忍耐,为所有圣徒祈求 ”

                                                              ——以弗所书 6 : 18      


上帝以言语创造了这美丽的世界。
身为上帝的儿女,我们是否也能够透过言语,让世界变得更美好?

祷告。
你今天为这兵荒马乱的世界祈求了吗?



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