Friday, October 30, 2009

What Do You See?


Look at the above picture. What do you see? victoRY or DeFeat?

What do you see in your Christian walk? Victory or Defeat?

What do you see in the bible? Victory or Defeat?

What is your pastor preaching to you? Victory or Defeat?

What do you want? Victory or Defeat?

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Little Bit Of Faith

I just came home from Jeffrey's brother's home where we watched the Liverpool vs Manchester United match together. Jeffrey is a ManU fan while I have supported Liverpool since the days of Kevin Keegan but both of us had a great time (mine was greater though, more about that later) eating chips and drinking coke; we even had "jiu he eng chye" ie. cuttlefish with kangkong specially prepared by Jeff's brother during half-time.

Prior to the match, the media and football fans alike have written off Liverpool's chances of winning this game as they have been playing poorly lately and lost their last four matches; moreover, Liverpool's inspirational captain, Steven Gerrard won't be playing due to an injury. This was a must-win game for Liverpool as a loss would put them 10 points behind ManU with 1/4 of the season gone while a win would close the gap to only 4 points.

Like a lot of Liverpool fans lately, I have been slowly losing faith in this team, and losing hope that they will finally win the league title after 20 looooooong years even though there's still 3/4 of the season left. However, contrary to popular opinion, I somehow had this sneaky feeling that Liverpool would prove everybody wrong because they have this annoying habit of losing when everybody expects them to win but winning when everybody expects them to lose.

Anyway, I decided to place whatever little bit of faith I had left in them with Singapore Pools - a $5 minimum bet on Liverpool beating ManU 2-0. Singapore Pools also had very little faith in Liverpool - they offered a 18x return (ie. $90) on my $5. I also decided to wear a special T-shirt to watch the match ;-) (see pics below).




For the record, Liverpool beat ManU 2-0, scoring in the 65th minute and the very last minute of the match. Liverpool's goalkeeper ran the full length of the pitch to celebrate Liverpool's second goal while I too was jumping up and down celebrating because that meant that ManU had no time to draw the match, let alone win it (and also because my bet paid off lah ;-)).




You must be wondering: "what does this match have to do with Christianity?" Nothing, actually. I just wanted to post this to share my joy of seeing my favourite team beat our arch-rivals and rekindle hopes of winning the league title.

Well, if you must insist on a moral to this story, it is "Don't lose hope. You only need faith the size of a mustard seed to see your miracle."; and of course, "You'll Never Walk Alone" :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Much More

A facebook friend, Garey posted on his home page the following video of a man completing the Ironman Triathlon with his disabled son and I cried while watching it ...



Were you crying while you watched the video? No??? Then, don't bother to continue reading my post because if you were not moved by the video, you would probably not be able to understand what I am going to say.

Do you know that the Ironman Triathlon is the toughest triathlon in the world? You have to swim 4km in the open sea, cycle 180km, and run a 42km marathon CONSECUTIVELY! The father swam 4km towing his disabled son in a raft, cycled 180km with his son on a special bike and then ran 42km pushing his son along on a stroller! He did all this for the sake of his son! Did you see the joy splashed all over the face of the son? Can you feel the intense love of the father for his son?

Many Christians know in their head that the Heavenly Father loves them but they do not understand or experience in their hearts that God SO loves them (John 3:16). If a human father can demonstrate such great love for his son, HOW MUCH MORE our Heavenly Father?

There are many Christians today who believe that God sends them sufferings to teach them a lesson. They do not understand the heart of the Father. Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" and "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." This is the Father's heart ... that we have an abundant life here on earth, not a life of abundant suffering.

Matt 6:30
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Matt 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Luke 12:24
Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?

Romans 5:15
But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.


Romans 5:17
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:13-14
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


(Thanks to Timothy P, the father and son have been identified: Dick and Rick Hoyt or Team Hoyt as they are better known)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can We Separate Lord From Saviour?

Last night, I had an interesting little "debate" with a facebook friend, C over a quotation which he posted:

We have suffered from the preaching of cheap grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. People will take anything that is free, but they are not interested in discipleship. They will take Christ as Savior but not as Lord.
(Vance Havner)

I have written a few posts discussing why there is no such thing as "Cheap Grace" before (see here, here and here), so this time I was focusing my attention on whether it is indeed possible for a Christian to "take Christ as Savior but not as Lord".

How does one become a Christian? Is there anything we have to do in order to be saved? Romans 10:9 (Amplified Bible) says "if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

From the verse, we can see that there are two requirements:

1. Confess with your lips: Jesus is Lord.
2. Believe in your heart: God raised Jesus from the dead.

Can you see it now? The bible is very precise. Romans 10:9 says we have to confess that Jesus is Lord, NOT confess that Jesus is Saviour BUT when you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED ie. Jesus then becomes your Saviour.

You have to take Jesus as Lord first and then He becomes your Saviour; therefore Christ can only be your Lord AND Saviour, never just Saviour alone.

Interestingly, before Jesus died and was resurrected, there were two people recorded in the gospels who had their sins forgiven even though they did not confess their sins to Him.

John 8: 2-11, while Jesus was teaching in the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery in front of Him to trap him - they challenged Jesus: "“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”"

Of course, those familiar with this story would know that Jesus challenged anyone without sin to cast the first stone and they all eventually left the woman alone. Jesus then asked the woman, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" The woman answered, "No one, Lord." Then Jesus told the woman,"Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

Did the woman confess her sins to Jesus? No, but Jesus did not condemn her. Why? Take note of what she said; the bible is very precise. She said, "No one, Lord." She confessed that Jesus is Lord while in contrast, the scribes and Pharisees acknowledged Jesus as merely a "teacher."

Luke 23:42-43 records the conversation between Jesus and one of the thieves hanging on a cross beside Him. The thief said, "Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory!" This thief had great revelation! These were the most important words he ever spoke in his life:

Lord, remember me - The thief confessed that Jesus is Lord!

when You come in Your kingly glory - The thief believed that Jesus is going to be resurrected and come back in glory!

What happened to the thief? Jesus told him,"Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." The thief was saved, hallelujah!

This concept or "theology" of a Christian accepting Jesus as Saviour but not Lord is an impossibility because Jesus can only be your Saviour when you accept Him as your Lord.

The word "Lord" in the verses quoted above are one and the same in Greek:
κύριος
kurios
Thayer Definition:
1) he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord
1a) the possessor and disposer of a thing
1a1) the owner; one who has control of the person, the master
1a2) in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor
1b) is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master
1c) this title is given to: God, the Messiah

From the definition, we can see that when we acknowledge that Jesus is the master, the one who has control of our lives ie. confess that Jesus is Lord, then can he be our Saviour AND when Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, we enter into sonship, NOT discipleship:

Romans 8:15-16 (Amplified Bible)
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Flying Below The Radar

I am presently watching a very long Korean "historical" drama (edited into 120 episodes) entitled "Jumong" which is the story of how the titular character, Jumong founded the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo.

In the drama, Jumong is the third son of King Geumwa of Buyeo. He is actually not the real son of King Geumwa but the son of King Geumwa's bosom buddy and fellow rebel warrior against the Han Dynasty. King Geumwa raised Jumong like his own son and highly favoured him and his mother. Consequently, Jumong's two older brothers (born of the Queen) hated Jumong, whom they thought was just the son of the King's concubine.

Jumong grew up with a reputation of being a coward with no martial arts skills and a playboy, or in the older brothers' words, "a useless bum". It turned out that Jumong deliberately adopted this lifestyle as a defence against his brothers, hoping that they would dismiss him as a threat to the eldest brother, Daeso succeeding the throne and hence would not bother to kill him.

However, because King Geumwa delayed naming his successor ie. the Crown Prince which is traditionally the eldest son despite repeated appeals from his officials, Daeso and his younger brother Youngpo feared that King Geumwa intended to pass the throne to Jumong and they tried to assassinate Jumong.

This reminded me of how I tried to live my Christian life for many years. I used to think that the devil likes to attack church leaders because the bible says "smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" (Zech 13:7) and thus I did not want to be an "outstanding" Christian and "attract" the devil's attention. I have already booked my my place in heaven and I just wanted to attend church faithfully, stay low profile and lead a peaceful, non-eventful life.

I thought that by flying below the radar, I can escape the devil's attention and hence will not need to face any major trials and tribulations. How wrong I was ... Jumong was by all appearances not a capable or responsible person but he was still attacked. Why? Because Jumong is a prince and therefore an heir to the throne despite his inadequacies, and a threat to the eldest brother.

1 Peter 5:8 says "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." The lion will naturally try to attack the weak ones first as they make for easy prey. Whether we are "strong" or "weak" Christians, the devil will still attack us, simply because we are his enemy.

James 4:7 says "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." We are to resist the devil, not hide from the devil. How do we resist the devil if we do not build ourselves up with the Word of God and stand on the Word?

Jumong, after escaping from his brothers, managed to learn martial arts from an expert (whom he later discovers to be his biological father, but that's another story ;-) ) and became strong and resisted his brothers later.

You and I also need to be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.

In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

(Ephesians 6:10-18, NLT)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fair Warning - A Reply To godwordistruth

In his comment to my post "Fair Warning", godwordistruth tried to show up Andrew Wommack's "wrong" teaching through a scripture passage:

Just comparing one tiny portion of Andrew Wommack's teachings and test it to what the Word of God actually teaches:

Andrew Wommack said:
"On the contrary, it is very comforting to know that God only has good things in store for me. Any problems in my life are from the devil, of my own making, or just the results of life on a fallen planet. My heavenly Father has never done me any harm and never will. I KNOW that."

"Likewise, I don't believe it blesses our heavenly Father for us to blame Him for all the problems that come into our lives. Sure, He will comfort us when we turn to Him in the midst of our problems, but He doesn't create the negative circumstances that hurt our lives."

Source: http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/sovereignty_god

The Word of God said:
1 Peter 4:11-19
"in order that in everything GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

But rejoice insofar as YOU SHARE CHRIST's SUFFERINGS, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

If you are INSULTED FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST, YOU ARE BLESSED, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

YET IF ANYONE SUFFERS AS A CHRISTIAN, let him not be ashamed, but LET him GLORIFY GOD IN THAT NAME. .... ....
...
Therefore let THOSE WHO SUFFER ACCORDING TO GOD's WILL entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

The theology that Andrew Wommack is teaching (as seen here) is clearly not what the scriptures actually say.

Does one need to be careful about Andrew Wommack's teachings ?

Shalom



godwordistruth did not really state which part of AW's teachings is wrong in relation to the scripture passage quoted but I am guessing that godwordistruth is trying to say that he disagrees with AW's belief that "Any problems in my life are from the devil, of my own making, or just the results of life on a fallen planet. My heavenly Father has never done me any harm and never will. He doesn't create the negative circumstances that hurt our lives.", and that 1 Peter 4:11-19 proves that God does create problems or negative circumstances for us.

Let us take a good look, line by line, at the verses quoted and see if God does create problems for us:

"in order that in everything GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I don't see any reference to God causing problems, do you?


Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

The verse says fiery trial will come upon you BUT does it specifically say that GOD causes the fiery trial? NO!


But rejoice insofar as YOU SHARE CHRIST's SUFFERINGS, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
The verse says rejoice as we share Christ's sufferings. Let me ask you: WHO caused Christ's sufferings? WHO slapped Jesus? WHO beat up Jesus? WHO whipped Jesus? WHO tried to push Jesus off a cliff? WHO crucified Jesus?


If you are INSULTED FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST, YOU ARE BLESSED, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

The verse says if you are INSULTED FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST. Let me ask: WHO insulted you? Can and will God INSULT you FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST?


YET IF ANYONE SUFFERS AS A CHRISTIAN, let him not be ashamed, but LET him GLORIFY GOD IN THAT NAME. .... ....

The verse says "if anyone suffers as a Christian" but it does NOT say God causes you to suffer as a Christian.


Therefore let THOSE WHO SUFFER ACCORDING TO GOD's WILL entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.


The verse says "those who suffer" but it does NOT say God causes you to suffer. You ask, "but what about the part 'according to God's will?" According to God's will just means that your suffering is for the glory of God; it does NOT mean that God caused it. This is to differentiate from sufferings that don't bring glory to God which is contrasted in the earlier verse - "But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler."


Clearly, the scripture quoted by godwordistruth does not prove that AW's teaching is wrong.

Let me quote some scripture too:
John 16:33 - "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”"

Take note that Jesus says you will have tribulation but Jesus does not say "God (or I) will give you tribulation".

The bible is very precise - take a look at John 10:10 - "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

Jesus specifically says the thief (ie. the devil) comes to steal, kill and destroy, and Jesus also specifically says that HE has come to give us ABUNDANT LIFE, NOT abundant suffering.

So, let me ask: what is wrong with that "one tiny portion of Andrew Wommack's teachings"?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fair Warning

Have you ever been warned by an acquaintance or a friend or a family member against associating with someone who is supposedly unsavoury or detrimental to your well-being? Isn't it natural for you to ask,"Why? What is wrong with that person?"? Would you be satisfied if the reply to you was "Don't ask. There's just something very wrong with that person." or "You should find out for yourself."?

Yesterday, I was reading an article by a friend (let's call him S) on Facebook, and in one of the comments, S was warned by another friend (let's call him, T) to be careful of Andrew Wommack Ministries because "when you really delve into his teachings..they are off" and T added that this is "just a warning that is all in love".

I have read Andrew Wommack's book "A Better Way To Pray" and listened to a few sermon series downloaded from his website, and so far I find his teachings biblically sound and consistent. Hence, I asked T which of and in what way Andrew Wommack's teachings are "off" but all I got was this non-reply: "That is the beauty of having God's Spirit as our teacher...He teaches us truth from error...go check out his home page and that should help you find all the answers you need my friend..."

Did T answer my question? I asked him for the basis of his claim that Andrew Wommack's teachings are "off" and he asked me to check it out myself. Let me say that I am really angry at this type of people who make accusations without backing them up with relevant evidence and arguments.

Many times, I have heard Christians who are not from NCC make claims that Pastor Prince's teachings are wrong but they do not or cannot pinpoint which portion of Pastor Prince's teachings are wrong and back up their claims with scripture and arguments. Often, they just make motherhood statements like "Be careful of NCC, their pastor preach a prosperity gospel" or "Pastor Prince encourages sin because he preach that we do not need the 10 commandments".

The irony is that many of these people have NOT heard Pastor Prince preach before or read his books. They based their impression on what they heard other people say about what Pastor Prince preached, and those other people also did not listen to Pastor Prince's sermons but heard from others.

It is perfectly fine for people to disagree with what preachers are preaching BUT it is only fair that they listen to their sermons for themselves and then decide for themselves instead of jumping to conclusions based on hearsay. If anyone wishes to publicly say that a certain preacher is wrong, then to be fair to that preacher, he should also publicly state his basis for that conclusion. It is not enough to say that it is "just a warning that is all in love" to a friend.

In John 9, we see that Jesus healed a man who was born blind and the Pharisees investigating this healing refused to accept the previously blind man's testimony that Jesus healed him. They even told the healed man that Jesus was not the one who healed him: "Give glory to God. We know this man is a sinner. We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from." (John 9:24, 29)

All the Pharisees did was to hurl accusations at Jesus without backing up with any proof. Their statements were so shallow that even an unlearned person like the healed man can rebut them: "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." (John 9: 30-33)

It seems that the likes of these Pharisees are still around today.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mega-God

In one of my previous posts, "Church Building Project - A Different Approach", I concluded with the following words: "When a church truly believes in a mega-God, it does not have to be "looking to be a mega-church"; it can't help but become one."

It seems that some have mistakenly thought that I used the term "mega-God" (actually I was just quoting from Senior Pastor William Lee of Bartley Church - "Bartley Church is not looking to be a mega-church… Bartley Church is going to be a church that believes in a mega-God.") to mean that we make God bigger or more powerful than who He already is. This is of course not correct; like what brother Timothy Ng said in one of his comments - "God is God."

However, I would like to clarify that the way I used the term "mega-God" is with respect to our consciousness of how great or "mega" our God is. Yes, God is God but sometimes, especially in our times of need, the way we see God is not so great or "mega"- we can't bring ourselves to believe that God can help us out of our situation and resort to our own methods to resolve it.

One "good" example of this is Abraham. Abraham, not once but twice, lied to two heathen kings respectively that Sarah was his sister and hence "allowed" her to become one of the women in the kings' harem. Abraham justified his action by saying that "I said to myself,'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, 'This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother." '" (Gen 20:11-13)

This betrays a lack of trust in God by Abraham, don't you think? In Abraham's consciousness, God is not big enough to protect him and his family and therefore he has to rely on himself and do it through deceit and betrayal. Betrayal? Yes, betrayal because this is exactly what he did to his wife Sarah. By asking Sarah to go along with his lie, Abraham had effectively offered her as a "sacrifice" on the king's bed.

Was it true that "there is no fear of God in this place"? No, this was just an excuse that Abraham used to soothe his own conscience and cover up his total loss of faith in God because Gen 20: 3-8 tells us that God appeared to the king in a dream and warned him against touching Sarah and the king was greatly afraid.

God is God, the same God who promised Abraham in Gen 18:10 that "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." and yet, Abraham offered up his wife Sarah to sleep with a heathen king two chapters later. This is the same Abraham whom God cut a covenant with in Gen 15, the same man who "believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness" (v6).

God is God, and He never changes but obviously Abraham's level of consciousness of God changed from Gen 15 to Gen 20. Take a look at the video below and see what I mean: the tractor does look MEGA, doesn't it? ;-)