Archive for July, 2012

SALIGIA

Monday, July 30th, 2012

In what sociologist James Cote calls the new “psychological adulthood,” the individual’s “needs and wants” expand and his or her “obligations and attachments” contract. The seven deadly sins have been redefined: “pride has become self esteem … lust has become sexuality … envy is now channeled into initiative and incentive … sloth has become leisure.”
Thomas E. Bergler – The Juvenilization of American Christianity, ChristianityToday

Back in the day, seven deadly sins were acknowledged by the Romans Catholic Church. These seven weren’t seen as more dire (mortal) or less dire (venial) sins. They were identified as the source/origin of other sins (capital sin). But James Cote is right. The seven deadly sins have been given a new spin, blurring the lines between sin and virtue. Have a look at the list and think of what it has become now:

  • superbia (pride)
  • avaritia (avarice/greed)
  • luxuria (lechery/lust)
  • ira (wrath)
  • gula (gluttony)
  • invidia (envy)
  • acedia (acedia/discouragement/sloth)

The Bible is clear when it comes to defining sin (Romans 3:23) and the source of sin (James 1:13-15; Mark 7:21-23). The source of sin isn’t a wrong attitude or desire, it is the anti-God glorifying human heart. We’re quick to define sin to be narrower or broader than it should, or in these days, to give it a positive spin. I am guilty of this as well. But when I think of the gravity of sin and what I am putting a spin on, my heart sinks and I repent quickly.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Hard fall

Monday, July 30th, 2012

The harder you fall, the higher you bounce.
Douglas Horton

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.
Luke 7:47

Never think that you’ve gone so low that you’ve got nowhere to go. The fact is, if you’re rock bottom and stuck in a pit, there’s only one direction you can go.

The woman who anointed Jesus was an incredible person. She was the lowest life form in Jewish society – a prostitute. Everyone knew her because they all shunned her. Mothers told their daughters to work hard at home and find a good husband so that they won’t end up like her. But out of the lowest place came the highest act of anointing Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil. She bounced. Since she experienced His grace, she no longer existed in the same lowly state – she had been lifted up!

The point that Jesus makes is this: Her act of anointing Jesus was proportionate to the love that she had for Him and that was proportionate to the complete forgiveness that she had been given.

In other words: the harder you fall, the higher you bounce.

Watchmen

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.
Ezekiel 3:17

The watchmen of the ancient world were people responsible for sounding the alarm to warn a town/city of impending danger or announce good news. They shouted, rang bells and blew trumpets to catch the attention of the people (1 Corinthians 14:8). The watchmen had an enormous task to stay alert and awake. They would be guilty of the bloodshed (Isaiah 33:1-6) if they failed to provide warning of danger.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Mark 13:32-37

Everyday the trumpet sounds. Watchmen all around the world sound the trumpet with every breath they take, waiting for the final trumpet to be heard (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The same warning that resounds in the ears of the watchmen is the same warning that the fellow citizens hear. Be on guard! Be alert! Watch! Because the Creator and Owner of the world is coming. He promised to come back, and so He will (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12).

I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
Jeremiah 6:17

But that is all we can do. It pains my heart to know that while we try our best, the warning will not be heeded by all (Matthew 24:36-42). Still we go on, for it is our responsibility.

Family

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothersare standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Luke 8:19-21

Everyone wants to be someone famous. And if they can’t, they want to be related to someone famous. By marriage, birth or otherwise, it’s a great social status booster. Nothing like a little related celebrity name dropping during a party to wow your friends. Here’s a stereotypical related celebrity name drop situation:

Friend 1: “You won’t guess who I saw in the shops the other day.”
Friend 2: “Your ex?”
Friend 3: “Your boss’ wife?”
Friend 1: “No, it was <insert famous celebrity here>.”
Friend 2: “No way! Did you get a picture? Did you get his/her signature?”
Friend 3: “Oh! I see him/her all the time! He/she’s my <insert relation>. We have <insert social meeting> every <insert regularity of social meeting>.”
Friend 2: “I didn’t know that! Can I come with you to your next <insert social meeting>.”
Friend 1: “Why didn’t you tell us earlier? This is so exciting!”

Everyone likes to have a celebrity second cousin that they can benefit from or at least generate conversation about. It makes us feel connected, important and perhaps a little bit like a celebrity ourselves. Imagine what it would be like to be the mother of a famous multi-platinum selling singer or the brother of a well loved hollywood actor?

I am pleased to tell you, that you’ve done even better. You are related to someone even more famous. Even more well loved, talented and unfluential than any hollywood star. You are related to Jesus Christ. So am I, in fact. Listen to Jesus’ own words, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” So if you hear the Word of God (John 1:1) and act on it, you’re related. Simple as that. The bible tells us that we are Jesus’ “mother and brothers” and God’s “children” (John 1:12). The relations don’t get any closer than that.

Don’t be afraid to name drop every now and then in any conversation. Jesus is afterall, family.

Second chance

Friday, July 20th, 2012

In 1990 Jon started gaining weight for no apparent reason. He tried every diet and program he could to lose weight but in the end, he just kept gaining. The more he dieted, the more he gained.

The situation became critical in mid 2001 when he became morbidly obese and reached a weight of over 186 kilos. On September 11, 2001 he was scheduled to fly from Newark to San Francisco and it was only by a fluke of fate that he was not on the United Airlines flight 93 that was hijacked by terrorists.

This event, as well as some equally life changing events that occurred in the weeks following 9/11 affected him deeply. It was this wakeup call that made him realize life was a precious opportunity not to be wasted.
Jon Gabriel (http://www.thegabrielmethod.com/about-jon-gabriel)

I was listening to the radio today and came across the story of Jon Gabriel, a man who lost 103kg without dieting and exercise. At his heaviest, he was 186kg, and now he weighs 86kg. What caught my interest was that there was a turning point when he considered his life too valuable to waste. This was a man who understood that he was given a new life to live.

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice- alive, holy, and pleasing to God- which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:1

How do we understand our second chance at life? First, we must consider ourselves already dead (Romans 6:8; Colossians 2:20). Yes, the same breath you took while you were an unbeliever is seemingly the same breath you are taking after you have become a Christian, but it is now a second chance life. We’re not the same as when we were before – we are now living sacrifices.  

A living sacrifice involves not ritualistic death to appease a deity, but sacred living in response to God being pleased with us. As recipients of God’s unreasonable mercy (Romans 11:30-32), our reasonable service unto God is to present ourselves as sacrifices to Him. Sacrifices that are living, holy and pleasing. And that is where Paul starts off Romans 12 and begins talking about how we can make our new second chance at life count.

This is our second chance at life. God says, “have another go, and this time: make it count”.

The Lost Thing

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:3-10

Taken together, the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin and the prodigal’s son paint a vivid picture of God’s actions and desire in repentance. Focusing on the lost sheep and coin, we see the picture that Jesus paints before going into the prodigal’s son, giving us an even greater view of the context from which he launches perhaps his most famous parable.

These parables were told in response to the Pharisees’ criticisms (Luke 15:1-2). It is the beginning of the build up of criticism against the Pharisees that would eventually lead to a direct comeback (Luke 16:14-18). From the writer’s perspective, Luke was bringing out the themes of repentance (Luke 16:30) and Jesus’ mission to the lost (Luke 19:10).

  • God’s priority is for sinners (Luke 15:4)
    Comparatively, the value of the sheep and the coin was greater when it is lost. God’s priority is with sinners, not the righteous. This is again reflected in verse 7 that says “there is more rejoicing in heaven” over the one sinner saved, compared to the already ninety nine already righteous. Notice that Jesus wasn’t speaking about the self-righteous, but the already righteous. This parable shows God’s comparative concern and priority between sinners and the righteous. This is not to say that God’s is limited in anyway shape or form to provide for or care for either group. It simply shows His priorities.
  • God goes hard after the lost (Luke 15:8)
    Look at the amount of labour the woman goes through to recover that one coin, that gives us an idea of how much God puts in to retrieve one lost sinner. It didn’t matter that it was dark or at night, the woman lit a lamp. It didn’t matter that her house was cluttered and dirty, she swept through the whole house. It didn’t matter that the coin was small either, she searched extremely carefully.
  • There is great rejoicing on earth that includes friends and neighbours (Luke 15:6, 9)
    The rejoicing extends beyond the household to the people around – the community. It was a declaration that what was once lost is now found. Whatever the value of the item was, whether it was the sheep or the coin, it was priceless once it was found. Jesus’ mission fulfilled gives joy to all those around the saved person.
  • There is great rejoicing in heaven along with the angels (Luke 15:7, 10)
    There is a giant party going on in heaven when just one soul is found. The joy is shared with all the angels of heaven. Jesus’ mission is for the joy of God.

Repentance is the work of God – it is God who prioritizes the lost and searches for them.

Repentance brings joy to the community, to God and the whole of heaven.

Chains of love

Friday, July 13th, 2012

If there was one word that is used over and over again for sexual freedom, it is love. The sexual revolution in the 1960s had slogans like: “All you need is love” (courtesy of John Lennon) and “make love, not war”. The term “free love” was established together with the idea that love is free and mutually consensual sexual (love) relationships should not be regulated by law. Love is many things, but above all, love is freeing. Love and freedom are two things that seem forever glued together.

I want to point out an idea that are often neglected when it comes to talking about love, and certainly lacking when talking about free love. The idea of love that restraints (and we’re not talking Shades of Grey here).

For if your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy by your food someone for whom Christ died.
Romans 14:15

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast,but do not have love, I receive no benefit.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the Lord brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 7:8

Love is restraining. Let me illustrate: my love for my wife causes me to restrain myself from things that will/might cause her grief. In the same way, God’s love restrains Him from utterly wiping the Israelites off the face of the earth after they have been unfaithful time and time again. Our love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ restrains us from enjoying our freedom so that we do not stumble a weaker brother or sister. It also restrains our practice of our gifts, talents and abilities. This is not to say that we cannot enjoy our freedom in Christ or practice any spiritual gift/ability but love is more important that any of that. Without love, no amount of freedom or gifting or ability is of any benefit or value.

Love is restraining, and it restrains us.*Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Three points of application:

  1. How have I restrained my own freedom/gifts/abilities in love for my brothers and sisters?
  2. How did restraining myself feel? How does it make God feel? How does it make others feel? Read: Romans 14:17-18
  3. How is Christ’s love restraining for Himself? Read: John 3:16-17; Ezekiel 18:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9

* What it doesn’t restrain us from is correcting a brother or sister in sin (James 5:19-20), that is our duty of love toward them.

Our appearance and our prize

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The Pharisees (who loved money) heard all this and ridiculed him. But Jesus said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in men’s eyes, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly prized among men is utterly detestable in God’s sight.
Luke 16:14-15

It’s not hard to deceive ourselves into thinking that God adores what we enjoy.

God want me to be rich right? Look at His blessing to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 26:2-4, 12), look at how he blessed Job (Job 1:3), look at the principle of tithing and giving (Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:8) and look at His promises for me (Jeremiah 29:11). Also, God wants me to be successful right? The bible does tell me to go after my dreams and not be timid or fearful (i 4:13; Mark 5:36; 2 Timothy 1:7). In fact, God says that whatever I ask will be granted (Matthew 7:7-8). Look at the prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10)!

These were exactly the deception that the Pharisees fell into. They were a religious and political party who followed God’s laws strictly, with highly developed and detailed instructions on how to apply those laws into everyday life (Matthew 23:23). They were extreme in their religiosity, attaining a status of holiness that the common man simply could not follow. They were the upper strata of society, separate from the common Jewish man in financial, religious and social status. They were respected as people with authority and riches. On the outside, they looked almost perfect.

But on the inside, they were rotten to the core (Matthew 23:25-28). What they prized as righteousness was no more than man made rules that voided God’s laws (Mark 7:9). They prized their religiosity for the authoritative status that came with it and not to please God’s heart. Their social status and respect was earned by pretension before men (Matthew 23:5-9). Their riches were hoarded for themselves and not for the poor and needy (Matthew 23:23).

They were a sham, but the people didn’t see it. Afterall, those were the things that the people adored as well – authority, riches and holiness. Aren’t those prizes that God promises to the righteous? Aren’t those blessings from God? Surely, if we desire those things, God wants them for us. He wants the best for us doesn’t he?

But what the people didn’t see, God does. What they prized, God detested. God knows our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7).

Two things to think about:

  • Do we justify ourselves in man’s eyes? Is there a discrepancy between our appearance before others and our inward reality? Are we authentic?
  • What do we prize? Are there things we value more than Christ Himself? Are there things we prize that we have justified using the bible?

Christ-likeness: a picture of sovereignty and responsibility

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. But concerning the one who lacks such things – he is blind. That is to say, he is nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.
2 Peter 1:5-10

“Attitude determines aptitude”, my Dad used to say. He was a big believer in character building. Everything was about character building. There was no secret to a good life, it was all in good character. In the same way, there isn’t any secret or mystery spirituality to our discipleship journey. It is about developing Christ-like character.

Unfortunately, Christ-likeness isn’t something that is mysteriously “bestowed on us”. Peter makes it clear that effort is required (2 Peter 1:5, “make every effort”). What has already been bestowed on us is the reason and all the necessary ingredients and skills. This is where God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility collide. God is sovereign in His provision, man is responsible to use that provision.

Our character and attitudes cannot be divorced from our pursuit of Christ. If this Christ-likeness is authentic and growing in us, then our pursuit of Christ is effective and productive (2 Peter 1:8). A Christ-like character is the surety of our calling and election. A truly called and elected person will have an authentic pursuit of Christ. The pursuit of Christ will produce that character (2 Peter 1:2-3, “through our knowledge of him”). That grows in an endless cycle!

Peter shows us the fork in the road when it comes to the discipleship journey: the one who doesn’t grow a Christ-like character is blind and has forgotten about what Christ has done but the one who does is sure of his salvation and will not stumble into sin. So he repeats again “make every effort” because it is worth the effort to be sure of our salvation. Choose the correct turn in the fork.

Virtue and holiness

Monday, July 9th, 2012

May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!

I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire.
2 Peter 1:2-4 (NET)

My Dad used to tell me, “Son, nothing in life is free. Everything comes at a cost.” Boy is he right. Everything comes with such a big price tag. Thirty year loan for a house, half a year’s wages for a car, eight hours a day (or more) for work, time and effort invested into hobbies. Then there are the taxes and bills to pay, groceries to buy, the overgrown weed infested backyard to mow. All so that we can live life. Sounds like we’re giving more than we’re getting.

If you think this applies just to tangible things, think again. It is is even more applicable to intangible things – generosity cost us time and money, patience cost us immediate gratification, self-control costs us our freedom. The more virtue we want, the more we pay. The more we desire Christ-likeness, the more it cost us. Discipleship is not a simple or cheap endeavour (Luke 14:25-33).

So when a letter starts with “grace and peace be lavished on you”, that really gets my attention. Simon Peter’s then says things like “bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness” and “bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises”. Now, that gets me excited! Free stuff, that I like.

Look at what Christ has already accomplished for us, we’re not starting our discipleship journey with nothing. We’re starting off with the foundation that Christ has already laid. This deal is rigged! When we abide in Christ (John 15:5-8), we will have “everything necessary for life and godliness”. We don’t just get salvation (justification), we get the tools, ability and supernatural power for daily Christ-likeness and virtue for our daily living (sanctification)!

We get all that, just by growing in the “rich knowledge” of experiencing Christ (Greek: epignosis). Not because we’ve earned the right to abide in Him, but because he has “bestowed on us”. In fact, we can’t even boast that we choose to be with Christ in the first place because it was He who “called us by his own glory and excellence”. We didn’t choose Him, He called us. And because we were called by Him, we receive God’s “precious and most magnificent promises” – Christ himself. We get to join in His “divine nature” – to fellowship intimately with God, to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and to be Christ-like. All this is already complete in our salvation; our escape from our sinful nature.

Man, that is an insanely good deal. Just remember that it wasn’t free, the cost was paid on the cross.