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Living faith
Photo 22-5-12 10 57 00 AM

"We believe a prayer has been answered not by any scientific criteria proving cause and effect, but because we have faith." C.S Lewis

Dear weary traveller, welcome to this blog. It is a blog detailing prayer requests and sharings to encourage and keep accountable one another. Do not underestimate the power of prayer, for "all prayers are heard, though not all are answered." 

Prayer instead of posting
Living faith

The following post was copied from http://technojesus.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/prayer-instead-of-posting-we-dont-need-to-defend-god/. I thought it's quite interesting. Like the author, scrolling down to the comments section for me is like walking into a minefield. I just see so much hatred, angst and poison in the words of man. I don't even know why the natural response of some people to something harmless is sarcastic cynicism and name-calling. Truly, the internet has exposed the dark side of human nature far more than any kind of personal, physical interaction. But the moment we get defensive and feel like we need to defend our faith from poisonous enemies, I feel that we have already lost the battle.. It is in our faith to love our enemies and pray for their salvation. It is not wrong however, I feel, to so called "defend our faith" when we share with our friends in a personal conversation.

Prayer Instead of Posting [We Don't Need to Defend God]

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One of most infuriating things about my personality is that I like to be right. I know for a fact that the way I think is the most logical and sound way to think. I know for a fact that my ideas are the best ideas. I know for a fact that I am amazing at doing a thorough job of deconstructing your argument to show you how your underlying presuppositions are wrong.

And while I am awesome at all of that, I’m not very awesome to be around when I want to be right. Just ask my wife.

Enter Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc. Here I am minding my own business. I am just checking the news, looking at hipster pictures of coffee and food, and realizing that you just invited me to play Farmville with you (please stop inviting me!). Then that post comes.

You know the kind of post I’m talking about. They all follow a simple mathematical equation.

A + B = C

Where “A” is a religious, political, cultural, or nonreligious group. “B” is the terrible things that they are doing, believing, voting, or supporting. “C” is the outcome which always equals outrage in the “we are right” sort of way.

For the most part I can by pass these land mine posts in my feed, except when they touch on God. Then I struggle. I feel the urge rising up within me to defend the glorious Name of Jesus. And it really is glorious! My brain swings in to high gear. I deconstruct. I counterpoint. I bring to bear the full breadth of my apologetic arsenal. Then I post believing that my comment in all of is awesomeness has just closed the case on this argument.

The truth is that when I post like that, I fail.

Let’s switch gears for a moment.

King Hezekiah reigned in Judah as the Assyrian army was quickly trying to conquer Mesopotamia. At the time, no nation could stand up the power of Sennacherib and his mighty armies. Quickly the nations to the north of Judah fell including Israel, and Hezekiah found himself surrounded in Jerusalem.

Fielding an army 185,000 strong, Sennacherib sent his Rabshekah (general) to taunt King Hezekiah and the people of Judah. The taunting is pretty awesome and includes the people of Judah eating their dung and drinking their urine. But most importantly, the Rabshekah focused on trashing the Lord. How can the Lord save Hezekiah if none of the other nation’s gods came to their rescue?

Isaiah 36:18-20

Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? ’”

Here is the kicker. How did Hezekiah respond? Did he yell back? Did he shake his fist at the general? Did he deconstruct his argument? No. Hezekiah responded with prayer.

Isaiah 37:1

As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.

Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord. To worship. To pray. To seek the will of God.

And when Hezekiah received the Rabshekah’s harsh words toward the Lord in writting what did he do?

Isaiah 37:14

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.

He literally gave it to the Lord. And God was faithful to defend his name. Overnight the angel of The Lord utterly destroyed Sennacherib’s army send the king back to Assyria. Not only that, but just as Isaiah prophesied, Sennacherib was killed in a coupe by his own sons while worshipping his false gods.

What’s the point? As Christians we are not called to defend the name of The Lord. That is not why he has saved us. It’s not our job. And it’s a good thing because we are terrible at doing it. God will defend his own name.

What has he called us to do? Pray. Have a broken heart for the lost. Love our enemies. Do good to those who persecute us… even on Facebook. If we spent the same amount of time in prayer that we do crafting the best comeback, maybe we would see something more amazing than winning the argument. Maybe we would see God move in the hearts of the broken and bring more people into his family.


Facing sin
Living faith
Watchman Nee once told the story about the time he was standing on a dock by the side of the lake. Next to him was a friend who happened to be an excellent swimmer. They were both watching a man who was swimming a rather long way from the shore. All of a sudden, the man in the water got into trouble. He began to scream for help and thrash the water. Nee turned to his friend and asked urgently,

"Aren't you going to help him? The man is in trouble!"

"Not yet," his friend calmly answered.

A few moments passed and the man in the lake went down and came up again, struggling and fighting for air.

"Save him! Save him!" Nee begged.

"Not yet," his friend calmly responded.

Finally, the man stopped thrashing the water and all was calm. Nee's friend jumped into the water and with expert strokes swam to the drowning man and began to pull him to shore. Arriving at the shore, Nee's friend administered aid and the drowning man, coughing and sputtering, was revived.

After the incident was over, Nee confronted his friend. "Why did you wait so long to save this man? He could have drowned!"

"I had no other choice," his friend responded. "If I would have gone to him immediately, he would have panicked and pulled me down with him. I had to wait until he stopped kicking. Then I could save him."

Are you willing to stop kicking? Are you willing to see all your little problems and unresolved conflicts, discouragements and disappointments, bad habits, negative attitudes, faults and failures as being means whereby God is at work bringing you to an end of yourself? Are you willing to be nailed to the Cross of Christ and buried in the waters of your baptism?

Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him,     and with him everything else thrown in." - C.S. Lewis.

- Don Matzat, Christ Esteem

God does not need to wait for us to stopped kicking; God will not be burdened by us. I think the end of "being saved" in this scenario was a true change of heart. And we can never experience a true change of heart until we stop kicking. It might seem startling, but most of the time we feel the need to change not because we want to repent. Sometimes, we want to change simply because of pride; it looks too bad on us. Sometimes we say we need to change because our previous behaviour just looked too unbecoming for a 'holy Christian', and we need to get some bad habits past us to attain a sort of external, image-based equilibrium. But true repentance seems a distance away. Often I find that people who are truly repentant are those that are really broken and so damaged that they have not a single modicum of pride to salvage. It is like a wreck and everyone's dead. There's no need to scavenge for any survivors. Until that self has died are we able to have an honest look at our state and then begin a full handling over of reins to God.

When dealing with sexual sin, it's always true that the people who are more successful with overcoming it are often the people that really want to overcome it. There's no end to the steps one might/would take to overcome it. You will only succeed as much as you want to succeed. Most people still leave a backalley, some leeway to resume practice. Worse, some of us just sweep it under the carpet and talk about it only because it's a shameful sin. And committing shameful sins just do not befit our image as Christians. What a thought. Are we truly dead yet?

My diatribe against the digital world
Living faith

I'm sure plenty of people have seen this video of how many remaining years we have to live after subtracting eating, sleeping, time spent in the toilet and so on. In fact, don't watch the video because you'll waste 3 minutes of your life. Life is really very short. And I get a feeling that it will be so much more interesting and fulfilling if there weren't social media and smartphones (then this blog shouldn't exist too). It seems like we are beginning to offload and outsource most of the things we were supposed to do onto technology itself. Whether it is making friends or communicating with people. That's a huge burden technology has to bear. And make no mistake, it will bear it well. Technology will only improve; it will keep taking on more things that we increasingly find cumbersome to do. Wall E was, in retrospect, a stroke of prophetic genius. I really wish there's a way to go back to what it once was: Examining the world in curiosity albeit suffering awkwardness; Having lesser but deeper connections; Keeping private what is meant to be kept private.. I see and know too many things I rather not know. Social media is a megaphone for one's opinions; preferences; pet peeves; meal choices; achievements; colour of poop and so on. Again, I believe not every opinion is worth hearing.

Stop wasting our lives looking inwards and start looking out to the world. The trees and the leaves seem to lose their lustre to this digital world. Or rather, we'd very much like to spend our precious moments instagraming a well edited scenery than absorb it in entirely. This digital man-made world is meant to glorify man and man alone. Be reminded again how many years we have left - this is the amount of time we have left to make any impact - and most people spent their times watching/posting videos that are far from edifying than they are time-wasting. They are nothing more.. than temporary chuckles. Why should we live for these?

Mankind's sad fate...?

Christians and rights
Living faith
Looking at the world in this time and age, things have been moving very quickly and so fast that most of what we know or have grown up to know vanishes at a rapid pace. In a matter of months, a place can be torn down and rebuilt to very different effect. I have come to realize that in the recent decades, there has been a lot of talk about rights, human rights, gay rights, rights to end our life and so many more things. I question these assumptions and claims today because the world didn't exactly use to be like this. Perhaps it has led us to a stage where we can't be wronged or suffer any kind of grievances that go against the assumed 'rights' that we are entitled to. This is a development today, and it can be somewhat confusing at times. According to my understanding, the conceptualisation of human rights really began in 1948 with the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Notice the word 'universal', that is the first known attempt to make human rights a universal issue. As we know, such an idea first began from the West, with America's great struggle for independence and their emancipation of the negroes being salient examples of America's history on this matter. We also hear from Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence where these rights are "inalienable and inherent". When we look at the issues that we read on the paper, it makes perfect sense: We should not endorse slavery, we should not have racial discrimination, we should not forbid gay marriage, we should not etc etc... The list is long, and it always speaks out for a group of minorities who have failed to enjoy the same kind of equal treatment from the majority. Some say that it is our needs that make these 'rights' inherent and intuitive.

What is a Christian to think of rights today? I'm not qualified to speak about this, but I just have a few thoughts on this. Most of the 'rights' that have been fought for seem to make a lot of sense. But the more we endorse these, it seems that more funny things come up the surface. Some of these issues don't seem to be a clear cut yes-no issue. For example, should polygamy be allowed? Should patients suffering from terminal illnesses be allowed to take their lives? There are ethical concerns at hand. But to say we should not jump on the rights bandwagon seems to be extreme either. How can someone like me deny the 'inherent' rights of mankind that are 'self-evident'? I can't, because it would be inhuman to do so. Some bigger questions fill my mind. Of course, there are always smaller incidences where people justify their behaviour based on the rights they are entitled to. "I have the right to have my opinion." (Does that mean we can be disrespectful and condescending?). "I have a right to choose what I do for my body." (Does that mean we can smoke cigarettes and harm our bodies?) More and more, whether in daily interactions or on the level of states, the "right to" something has been brought up far too much, where Christian counsel is so difficult because we conclude that every individual has all the rights to do anything he/she wants as long as it is not unlawful. On the international level, there has been a phenomena where rights have proliferated to the extent where they have been expanded to allow governments to legitimise their evil actions. Most of the "I have the right to.." that have been thrown around really means that people are asserting their entitlement to be foolish and languish in folly. That's what I think.

Did God give us these human rights? What are human rights founded upon? Human dignity? What kind of human dignity should we enjoy with respect to God? More importantly, what would it mean for a Christian in this era of 'rights'? If one were suffering persecution due to our religion, would we stand up and say, "stop, I have a right to this religion and you are violating my..." Or when we are undergoing a trial that makes us feel miserable, would we continue to endure with His grace or will we be indignant and say, "I have a right to a good life like my neighbours" and then cast it all aside? If for some reason or another, we have homosexual feelings, does that mean that we can say, "I have a right to get married to the one I love, even if he is male."? I think firstly, there are rights that are unbiblical, like homosexual activity and marriage, and rights that are really good to have but not necessary. In all honesty, do Christians have any rights we think we are entitled to? I think sensible Christians know that we are worthless and doomed to suffer eternal death if not for the unmerited grace of God. I feel that we should be comfortable even in a place where we are not given the rights to food or water - provided we understand that live and die for Christ.

In 1 Corinthians, there is a heading that is titled "Live as you are called". I find it very meaningful because God expects us to live the life that He has planned for us. We should not always struggle and fight to change the status quo because we want a better life. Paul says if you are a bondservant, do not be concerned about it (v21). But he also said that if you have the opportunity, do seize it. I think what I understand that would be that Paul wants us to learn to be satisfied in God alone, and not by the circumstances that we are in and the kind of benefits of enjoyment we have. That means we, like Paul, should learn to be content in whatever circumstances we are in, and count our lives to be worthless. In no way does he endorse slavery (I had a friend who confronted me on this). At the end of the day, human rights do benefit a lot of people (as long as they are biblical). But we should be careful not to view these rights as entitlement. If you are a Christian lawyer, I would say use these laws to save those whose lives are terrible so that you can give them better lives. God can be glorified when we champion human rights. But I also believe God can be glorified when human rights are violated. I am sure these words can be misconstrued to mean that when people die of chemical gas, God is being glorified. No, I don't mean that. I mean that Christians can gladly and contentedly allow their 'rights' to be violated in any circumstance because it is not the entitlement that satisfies us, it is in God that we find utmost satisfaction. Secondly, when we suffer for God, our testimony can be glorifying to His name.

Living faith
Dear readers, I'm finally in the mood to write a post! It is such a pity I almost all of the holidays getting myself busy and neglecting this blog. But I really wish to share again, dutifully and faithfully. It has been a whirlwind of a holiday for me and I have learnt so much. Anyway, just two items to share today. The first item is a video of John Piper interviewing Rick Warren over the contents of the Purpose Driven Life. It's such a long video that I thought I would just watch a little. But once I started watching I just couldn't stop it. The second item is the news that Samuel Lamb has died. Samuel Lamb is one of the most famous House church leaders of China, in Guangzhou. He spent 2 decades in dirty fields carrying buckets of manure. I read his story and his passion for sharing the word. In the article, he says, "More persecution, more growth". I wonder how much truth is to this. Of course I would say that all growth comes from God, in whatever forms. This however, is not the first time I have heard this over the past few weeks. As I write, I also recall Rick Warren saying in the video how we grow when God gives us harsh conditions that are opposites of what we would ask for. We grow to be patient only when we are forced to wait, we grow to understand joy when we are grieving, we grow to learn how to love when we are forced by hateful circumstances or people.

Not only so, I guess this is also biblically supported. In Matthew 5:10, the persecuted are blessed. The book of 1 Peter details the suffering of Christians, and how worthy that suffering for the cause of Christ is. As such, I really feel sad with the tension between those that enjoy comfort and those that are persecuted. Those that are persecuted long for the open worship, uninterrupted messages, free access to Bibles and so on that people like us enjoy. On the other hand, some of us wish we were persecuted more for the sake of our faith. Here, I believe there really isn't any sort of equilibrium, neither should we seek for this 'perfect balance', because I'm so sure it doesn't exist. Man really has to live by every word from the mouth of God, not by circumstances. Comfort or persecution alone will not make us grow if we don't first seek to love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds.

Samuel Lamb's article: http://www.charismanews.com/world/40507-chinese-underground-church-leader-samuel-lamb-dies
Rick Warren's interview: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/john-piper-interviews-rick-warren-on-doctrine

"Discipleship is the relationship I stand into Jesus Christ in order that I might take on his character. As his disciple, I am learning from him how to live my life in the kingdom as he would if he were I. The natural outcome is that my behaviour is transformed. Increasingly, I routinely and easily do things he said and did."

Dallas Willard.

Good to keep asking ourselves whether we are living the "kingdom life".

Fellowship and prayer
Living faith
The most amazing thing about Christians is that without a need for good social skills or high status, people from different lands who speak different tongues can come together and share their struggles and encourage one another in prayer. We speak in different tongues but the Bible shares the same content and we strive to live out the same truth. I have only spent a night with my half-roommates but I feel like I share my deepest thoughts with them and laugh the hardest along with their jokes. I'm not usually like that. Oh yes, I say half roommates because I don't actually stay there,I only use their couch for afternoon naps since I have their home key and they have kindly invited me to stay for the night. I think the most wonderful thing about the Chinese is their  fellowship and bondedness since many share apartments with another. This often translates to nightly bible readings and prayer sessions. Amazing fellowship really. A pastor said that real fellowship is that which enters into the personal realm of believers and not just that within the confines of the church building.

Living faith