Thursday, August 29, 2013

With Christ, there should be no bull

Sanctification. Holiness. Pure. These are words, if you read the Bible often enough it keeps coming up. Being Asian, I find that my upbringing and even the Chinese culture as a whole, there are practices that goes against these words.

So what does it mean to be Sanctified? Made holy? Remain pure? There are many visualisations I can think of in my head on how God does this. A nice elegant one is like a pearl, constantly polished by sand and grit in the Oyster. Or crudely, like a stainless still pot. Sin entering is like burning food on the pot. Once there, each time you cook it'll just keep charing... The only way to keep my pot "pure" is to scour it. To scrub it to keep it clean. Like the pearl and like the pot, even after all that, under the microscope, there'll still be impurities...

Anyway, why am I saying all that? Well all based on this versed that lingered in my head for the last few weeks... "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Heb 4:12

In 1 Thessalonians we are told to "admonish" one another. Over the last month, I myself have been rebuked by my wife, put straight in my place at work and even admonished at my bible study group to keep my priorities right. So what am I saying?

Well, I'm saying that I appreciate it! I appreciate my wife, friends and work mates being so straight with me. To not beat around the bush, to not sweep under the carpet, to tell me straight up that I am wrong. I want to be sanctified by God, and the only way to get there is for people and circumstances around me to be my "sand". Get it? I am not asking you to go out and look for trouble or cause trouble for me and others all the time. However, if it is righteous, justified and edifying, a fellow Christian should not feel afraid to speak up. To Admonish!

I had to learn humility and stifle my pride to accept the rebuke. Honour and appreciate the admonishment.

Friends, if you are a Christian and are part of a church family that smiles at you each week and talks behind your back without coming to you with the hard conversations, something is wrong. We are not heeding Hebrews 4:12 and obeying 1 Thessalonians.

Do you feel the constant Sanctifcation/scrubbing by God?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Son, My Only Son

My Son, My Only Son by Mervin Chiang
My Son, My Only Son, a photo by Mervin Chiang on Flickr.

He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” - Gen 12:22

Despite whatever critics might say about the new dramatised documentary "The Bible, the TV mini series" (Christians or non-Christians). I implore you to watch it as it is... switch your minds off judgemental-ism. Non-Christian friends, watch it for its cinematography and dramatic almost Hollywood-style action (think 300 or The Gladiators). For Christians, "Zoom" out, not asking you to overlook details, but just take in how certain stories we might know for so long but have never really "seen" and just busk in the wonder and awe of our God's plan laid out in the Bible.

Digressing further... Perhaps it's just me not being able to remember all verses in the Bible and cannot remember all the details. So I can't judge on how accurate or inaccurate things are. It's kind of like me watching DC or Marvel movies. I don't know the stories well in the comic. So I loved Man of Steel for what it is. Again, let me disclaim that I do not endorse any inaccuracies as fact or anything like that. But I guess its just my long-winded way of saying that if you are not too busy judging the show and watch it God might tell you something. Like how He did me...

Now zoom back into episode 2... I was tearing at the scene when Abraham almost took Isaac's life. "Why? We all know the story. Abraham would surely past the test...", you might ask. It's not that. Its how the scene penetrated right into my heart tonight. As early as I can remember, I had known this story. I had always assumed that Abraham so blindly just followed God's command. And Isaac just so obediently lie there to let Abraham do God's command. In reality, there would be aching. there would be anguish. The actors portrayed very human reactions, hesitation and sadness. It kind of reflected a mirror directly at me. "Will I be able to do it?" was the question I asked. Then tears started rolling down my cheeks because I realised my sin and how may I can't! The simple answer lied with "Do I fear God more than my son's life?"...

Let me explain this word "fear". It is not the "afraid" kind of fear. "It is a reverential awe of God; a reverence for His power and glory. However, it is also a proper respect for His wrath and anger. In other words, the fear of the Lord is a total acknowledgement of all that God is, which comes through knowing Him and His attributes." (borrowing from

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" Proverbs 9:10a

A simple relaxed Saturday watching of the show has prompted a very simple yet challenging question in my mind and life. Do I fear God? If I do, it means I have faith in Him. This means I can trust Him in all things. ALL things... Even with the life of my son. My career, my life directions, my hard decisions, my future... ALL things... It's all good theory. But when my faith is really tested like Abraham, can I do it? It's easier when we're taking from God... It's harder when we are expected to be obedient. To give, to sacrifice and to NOT be self-centred. What would I do when God asks of me?

Monday, August 12, 2013

God is Sovereign - So quit complainin'!

God is Sovereign by Mervin Chiang
God is Sovereign, a photo by Mervin Chiang on Flickr.

I know the title seems to take an extremist view on the matter. But it's not... It's just my human fleshly voice getting this dull irritation that has built up to a point where I really need to vent somewhere! So, please read this with a filter on 'cos it's me being human complaining as well :P

So what ticked me off? Small trivial things I guess, but like death-by-a-thousand-cuts, it amounts to some level of irritation. Let me explain... I check Facebook a lot, I guess many knows that. I see lots of posts about people complaining about things. But hey, I'm Singaporean! It's in my blood to complain... Complain about politics, about how politicians don't keep their word, about how the recent "The Bible" documentary is a lousy depiction and theologically off, about the weather, about life... You get the picture?

Recently, I've been struggling with this a little. You see it's a strange cycle I get into... I am sinning because I am judging you when you are judging others when you complain. Get it?

To borrow words from Job, "“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2, ESV)... So let me walk you through my thinking process... You might complain about the Bible documentary, ask about the age and credibility of a speaker on the pulpit or complain about a politician going back on his words... [insert any ranting complains you did here...].. For me I'm goin' how do you know that God is not using this very situation, event, show, person, circumstance for His plans? If you don't get what I mean, go watch Final Destination or Butterfly Effect for more "confusion" :) Anyway, I digress.. So I judge you for judging the situation, event, person, thing. I think to myself "who are you to complain?" Don't you know that God even uses non-believers for his purposes? (See Jer 21:7, and all through the book of Judges and many more examples)

These verses rightly sums up my feelings... "So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?" (Rom 9:18-21, ESV)

Ok ranting over... Friends, I struggle with this myself. I have to diligently catch myself from judging and complaining about things. But please don't fall into this subtle trap of being quick to judge all things. Facebook and twitter has given us easy access to simply take pot-shots at ranting. Please don't do it too often. God's will and sovereignty IMHO is meant for us to do inward reflections... to ask "why has this happened to me or others? Why is it this way? What can I learn from this? What is God trying to do here?" instead of an outward all-guns-blazing-all-finger-pointing words, comments and posting on social media or face-to-face.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yup! That's me...

Yup! That's me... by Mervin Chiang
Yup! That's me..., a photo by Mervin Chiang on Flickr.

Every few years I have a new surge of resolve, a new passion, a new direction, a new meaning in life. And each time, hopefully, I mature and have grown more in wisdom than the last... What I mean is... I want to start blogging again..

My last stint was on photography. That still exists.. My current on-the-simmer passion is coffee. However, my latest craze I want to focus on and hopefully with as much zeal and passion as my other previous crazy passions and also to keep it as my ONLY focus is... GOD!

Yup the gospel is what I want to sink my teeth and whole being in next. Not to say that I haven't been doing that before. Don't get me wrong, I'm not recently born again as a Christian. I've been in, near and around Christianity almost all my life. But when God starts showing you things and starts revealing His magnificence to you time and time again without fail and with that much consistency. You'll stop, look back, then look at yourself and then look forward and go... "Woah..."

A good friend I recently caught up with after having lost contact for almost 20 years said something that struck me. I started telling him enthusiastically about what has happened in 20 years. I wasn't sure how much he believed in God, I kinda didn't care. I wanted to just tell him how my life journey was and how God had so many things to do with my life events and how I became this person I am now... he listened and he wowed and he ahhed and he oooed... Eventually he said, "You should write this down! It's a great testimony. A memoir of some sort... " This statement stuck with me for all this time. And the months after that meeting lead to many fast and almost God-zapping sequence of events that lead me to... well.. this post... The start of "writing things down"...

You see, like Neo in the Matrix, I sometimes like to and can almost see life in those green characters running down everything like in the movie. I like to somehow reach out touch and appreciate the beauty of how awesome God's sovereign guidance is. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING happens in accordance to His design. We can't see it until it happens. Narrating my life for 20 years in a 1 hour sitting certainly exposed God's guidance in all its glory when I was with Justin. It's there when you choose to see it. It won't be if we don't or won't...

This was the verse I scribbled down to look up on and to memorise..."And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Rom 8:28

Get ready for a series of my life :) (if I get the discipline to keep blogging...)