Sunday, November 2, 2014

Entitlement vs Servant-heart Mindset

A trend had sprouted within society that more and more people are lured into an entitlement mindset.With each generation, we begin to see a growing entitlement mindset and it is also creeping into our churches. Dr. Carol Show in her article "An Entitlement Mentality in Church" describe entitlement mindset as following:

"An entitlement mentality says, “You owe me!” It encourages me to demand that you do something for me, give me something, or treat me in a uniquely special way – just because. And I have no particular responsibility in return." The entitlement mentality can show up in church when we feel “It’s all about me!”. 

The widespread entitlement mindset we have in our churches is truly heartbreaking.  It is such an inversion of God’s Kingdom principles that encourages us to have a servant-heart mindset. Servant-heart stands opposed to the entitlement mentality we see today where the focus is more on our own personal happiness and comfort - "It is all about me" culture.

What is a Servant-Heart? The Bible teaches that greatness in the Kingdom is defined by serving others. Having the heart of a servant is an important component in our spiritual walk with the Lord. In our quest for the marks of servant-heart, we must not bypass that quality which so completely characterized in the life of Jesus Christ, unselfish desire to serve. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Lord Jesus came as a servant with a commitment to serve. Just think, if He had come to be served, our redemption could and would never have taken place. Likewise, our failure to live as servants throws up a huge barrier to effective ministry as representatives of the Lord Jesus.

We must learn to become a servants if we want to experience true fulfillment. We need to become lowly, meek and humble. As God's servants we should have no other agenda, except to do His will. When we become faithful to do His will, then He will fulfill the aspirations He desires for us in our lives and even those things we desire! As God's faithful servant — we share in His success, we have direct access to His power and wealth and are able to walk in His authority! Let’s get our hearts in servant mode and watch how God brings about all the things we need and want.

Teach us o Lord today to have a Servant Heart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finish the race well

Gleaning from the account of King Amaziah: 
2 Chronicles 25:2 - "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly."

When Amaziah became king, he continued in his father's pattern. He executed those who had assassinated his father. He kept alive an appearance of attentiveness to God, but his heart wasn't in it. His early successes, which could have inspired humility, instead gave rise to arrogance. He received but rejected God's warnings. He challenged a reluctant Israel to a military confrontation. God ensured a humiliating defeat for Amaziah and Judah. The remainder of Amaziah's reign was a road to destruction. Amaziah's own people plotted and killed their king.

Despite an impressive start, King Amaziah’s end was not so wonderful. In arrogance, he challenged Israel to battle, lost miserably, and saw the temple depleted of its riches. Eventually he was forced from Jerusalem and killed by conspirators. The king had a godly start that ended in misery and defeat.

Noting this king's life, we should be compelled to examine our own lives. Are we offering our service to God with imperfect hearts? The downfall of Amaziah should encourage all of us to examine our service constantly for signs of an “imperfect heart.” Remember that Amaziah did some right things and yet his end was destruction.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Itching ears syndrome

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

Paul has spent a long time reminding Timothy of the value, the necessity and the power of the Word.  In 2 Timothy Chapter 4, Paul is about to close this letter and gives Timothy one more set of reminders regarding the Word. Timothy was seriously told to preach the Word, just as the church today is being told that, because as time passes, more and more people who are in church don't want to hear the whole counsel of God. They take offense when critical biblical truth are being shared from the pulpit. More than ever before, they want to be entertained that leads to a spectator mentality in the church. I am not discounting the fact of deploying creativity in preaching. They are good but not at the expense of not preaching the whole counsel of God.

Many want church to be more like the Grammy Award show, in order to keep their interest. They want to hear messages that make them feel good, that tell them they're okay right where they're at. Lots of people don't want to be challenged to grow or convicted in their hearts. Thus, many will no longer stand for Biblical teaching. This has led to the corruption of the church and the desecration of the true gospel message. So many "Christians" flock to churches and run after the preachers, evangelists and teachers who will preach to them what they want to hear —riches, power, success, and the list goes on. In essence, they have turned away from the absolute truth and have become comfortable with relative truth.

It's interesting that these words of Paul were written thousands of years ago, yet seem applicable today. As a society, we are more interested in entertainment than truth. Apparently, Timothy's day wasn't much different. We are living in a day and time where we see the meaning of these verses more clearly than ever before. Mankind is searching for answers—spiritual answers. But many are eager for the blessings that come with a life dedicated to the Lord but not the self-discipline, not the self-denial, not the self-abasement, not the humility, not the holy or righteous lifestyle. Many want all the benefits without a life submitted to the Lord.

Where do we stand? Do we submit to the preaching of the Word of God regardless how uneasy we feel when confronted with truth? Or, do we search for a more palatable sermon?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Can Leopard change its spot?

Jeremiah 13:23 - "Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil."

The prophet Jeremiah uses the Ethiopian and the leopard to explain the habit of sin. Man is creature of habit. Man sins by habit, having had a lifetime of practice to ensure that they are good at it! Just as we can easily tie your shoe while thinking of ten other things that we need to do, while never once thinking about the process of tying that shoe, we can sin just as easily. The reason for this is that we have spent a lifetime failing in one way or the other until it is consistent enough to be considered habit.

Only God alone is able to bring for the change in our lives.God has made a way for a person to change. As we surrender to Him in complete obedience, He will begin the transformation in our lives. Change is two - factored. It is not breaking habits alone, but also replacing them. Change is a focus on both putting off and putting on. An examples of put off and put on is found in Ephesians 4:25. The apostle Paul exhorts the Ephesians to put off lying and put on speaking the truth. Also, in 1 Peter 3:9 Christians are exhorted to put off returning evil and put on returning good.

Be Blessed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Does God speaks to us today?

In a recent conversation with a friend, some questions were posted to me: “Is God there? Does He listen to us? Does He speaks to us? Why has He not intervene in my situation?” I guess this are some the questions that many are seeking for an answer. Today I want share my thoughts on one of the question -“Does God speaks to us today?”

First of all, being a Christian, my thought process and answer will be from the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible is my guiding principle. As the Psalmist says “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

The Bible records God speaking audibly to people many times on many occasions. He conversed with Adam in the Garden of Eden. He told Noah to build an ark. He spoke to Moses in a burning bush. He promised Abraham a son. Paul heard His voice on the way to Damascus. So, God can speak to people, even audibly, if He desires. There is no biblical reason why God could not speak to a person audibly today.

There are many ways that God can speak to us. Firstly, He speaks to us through His written Word, the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 notes, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Scripture comes from God and is therefore one clear way in which God speaks to people today. Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” His Word sometimes gives us a warning, a word of encouragement, or a lesson for life. It’s “His-story”–written with love as God’s guide for life, “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In the New Testament, God speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is recorded in the gospel: the good news of Jesus Christ. The New Testament was the fulfillment of God’s special plan.  Hebrews 1:1-2 says “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe”.

Secondly, God speaks to us through nature. God has revealed Himself through the created world. Psalm 19:1-3 says "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard". Through the intricate details and magnificent beauty of all that God has made, we can “hear” His voice. How? By observing the ant’s strength to store up food all summer long, we learn about wisdom and industriousness. By studying the heavens, we understand more of God’s greatness. And through planting and growing a garden, we “hear” about miracles of death and rebirth. God designed–and spoke them all into existence. Romans 1:20 says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse ”.

Thirdly, God speaks through other Christian too. God may use a friend, a teacher, a parent, or a preacher to convey His message of truth to us. Their words may come as a warning, a blessing, or as a prophetic truth about our lives. Whether we choose to hear it or ignore it, depends on us. James 3:17 says “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere”. The Bible records many instances in which God used one individual to deliver His message to another individual. (1 Samuel 13:13–14, 15:23; 2 Samuel 12:7–15;  Acts 9:10–18, 10:1–33.)

Our creative God is not limited to one form of communication. He is all-powerful; He is omnipresent; He is sovereign. God made this promise to His people in Jeremiah 29:13: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” God keeps His promises. Seek Him with all of your heart, and you will hear His voice. If God were to speak today, His words would be in full agreement with what He has said in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16–17). God does not contradict Himself.

Be Blessed.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

National Day of Mourning

22nd August 2014 - A day of National Mourning for the victims of MH17. We stand together as Malaysian in sharing our grief on the loss of our compatriot regardless of background.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Partial Obedience is Disobedience

In 1 Samuel 15, we read about King Saul was given a clear instruction through Prophet Samuel to destroy the Amalekites and everything that belong to them. God was not vague in His command. God called Saul, very specifically, to destroy the Amalekite nation. Saul does most of what God instructs him to do through Samuel, but he does not obey completely. Samuel sees this incomplete obedience as sin.

Saul only obeyed God’s command to the point that it made sense to him. Probably King Saul figured out it was unreasonable to destroy the fine livestock. He probably thought that was just an oversight on God’s part. Perhaps King Saul assumed that God wouldn’t mind if he spared Agag, the king, as a trophy of his great victory. Whatever the reason, King Saul deliberately put his own agendas ahead of God's plan.

When Prophet Samuel confronted King Saul on this, King Saul tried to cover up his action. First, Saul doesn’t even see what he did as wrong.  In verse 13, he says “I have carried out the Lord’s instructions…”  Has he? Second, in verse 15, he shifts the blame onto the soldiers.  Then he reaffirms that he totally destroyed the rest.  How could he have “totally destroyed” some, but not all?  He’s admitting that he didn’t completely carry out the task, while at the same time saying he did carry it out. Thirdly, Saul again says he obeyed and refuses to repent.  After Samuel calls him out in verses 17-19, in verse 20, he says, “But I did obey the Lord.”  He’s still not willing to admit he’s done anything wrong.

King Saul even offered "godly" reason for his actions. He hadn't done what God told him, and yet he tries to portray himself so wonderfully. When Samuel asked about the presence of the spoils, Saul blamed the disobedience on his soldiers, rationalizing that they were preserved for sacrifice to the “LORD your God. The Road of Disobedience is littered with Excuses. Saul had lots of excuses. Some of it seems to be so religious.

Can we make the same mistake? Can we offend God yet convince ourselves that we have honored him with our obedience? It’s a sobering question. Was God pleased with the good "fruits" that Saul spared? After all, Saul "spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God". John Woodhouse wrote the following in his book titled “1 Samuel” - "Has it ever crossed your mind that you might compensate for some disobedience to God's word with regular churchgoing or generous giving or even disciplined praying and Bible reading?"

Samuel had continued to listen to Saul’s litany of rationalizations as he attempted to justify his disobedience to the LORD. Finally, Samuel simply interrupted Saul with one of the most notable and well-known statements of his prophetic career (Verse 22) in a four-line Hebrew-styled poem:

o    Does the LORD Delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?

o    To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

o    For rebellion is like the sin of divination (witchcraft) and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

o    Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.

Saul’s partial obedience not only brought grieve to the Lord and Samuel but it also lead to Saul’s downfall.  Partial obedience is also classified as rejecting the Word of God (verse 26). To know what God commands us to do (or not to do), and then to disobey, is to willfully rebel against God. No ritualistic worship, no ceremonial activity, overrides the evil of such sin.

May we obey God with all our heart.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Blessed Man or a Rich Man?

Jeremiah 17:7-8: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

I choose the path of being a blessed man rather than chasing after the riches of the world. Because a blessed man put his hope in the living God knowing that God alone is His source of providence.
Don’t place your faith in nouns. Sooner or later every person will disappoint, every place will lose its luster, and every thing will wear out, become outdated, or lost. But there is One who will never disappoint. That’s why the person who puts his trust in God will be blessed. When I place my trust in the Lord, I can enjoy constant nourishment to my soul, constant protection and yield constant fruit.

Mark 8:36 says "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" A hundred years from now very few of us will be remembered by anybody living at that time. So if we focus all our attention on the successes of this world what will it have gained for us. When we die our money, fame, and honors will be meaningless. We own nothing in this world. Everything we think we own is in reality only being loaned to us until we die. And on our deathbed at the moment of death, no one but God can save our souls.

That does not discount the fact of giving your very best at your work place. Colossians 3:23-25 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Life is fragile, live the moment for His glory. The book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contain some wise sayings regarding work. Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 6:6-11 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” A strong work ethic is confirmed, with warnings concerning slackness.

What is your choice today? In whom or what do you trust? In whom or what do you place your confidence? The MH17 incident taught us that Life is fragile, live the moment for God's glory.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Anger Management - Learning from #CDM25

A Malaysian young woman made headlines recently when a video of her bashing a helpless senior citizen’s car was caught on camera and released to the social media. The video went viral with lots of comments made in the internet. The two-and-half minute video showing the woman, enraged that her Peugeot 208 had been hit by a car driven by an elderly man, alighting from her vehicle, armed with a car steering lock. Despite the old man repeatedly pleading that he hadn’t intended to hit her car on purpose, the woman continued to yell at him, and even “deployed” her steering wheel lock at his car.

The woman’s temper and behavior leads to series of “discussion” in cyberspace, with almost unanimous agreement that the woman was bad-mannered. The #CDM25 hashtag trended on Twitter and Facebook both locally and internationally since the video was published. Overnight, the woman has turn into Malaysia’s latest “public enemy #1″, for obvious reasons.

What can we learn from this whole incident? I think anger management is a key lesson point here. When we fail to control our anger, then obvious reaction takes place such as being disrespectful, uttering racist statement and violent. In our moment of uncontrolled anger, we flares up like a match-stick when a friction is applied.  It is always important to remember a good old quote that says a match-stick has a head but it does not have a brain. Let us learn from this analogy between match-stick and a human brain. All of us has head and a brain as well. Let us resolve to use our brain and not to react on impulse. The great management guru, Steven Covey address this issue with a brilliant statement, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” We can’t control all of the stimuli that comes on our way on a daily basis, but to a large degree we can choose what our response is going to be. We need to be responsible on how we respond in a given situation.

To the young woman in this latest fiasco, here is one advice for you quoting from Saint Ambrose: “A good youth ought to have a fear of God, to be subject to her parents, to give honor to her elders, to preserve her purity; she ought not to despise humility, but should love forbearance and modesty. All these are an ornament to youthful years.”

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Peace in the midst of the Storm

Psalm 91:1-2 - Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 

Psalm 91 is probably one of the most favorite chapters in the book of Psalm. We are not sure who wrote the Psalm, but we can assuredly say it was written by someone who truly knew God and had experienced His faithfulness in the good and bad times of life – in sunshine and in storm.
It is a guarantee that storms will come in our life but surely they will pass. It is what we do in the middle of the storm that makes us victorious. If fear tries to take over, we can just look unto our Heavenly Father and we will gain the peace we need to go through any storm.

Psalm 91 speaks of God as the Protector of those who trust in Him. The promise is for those who has trusted in God, who has fled to Him for safety, will be delivered.

Be Blessed.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Random Act of Kindness

Life is a journey and at times it’s hard, frustrating and lonely. Sometimes when everything seems to be a smooth sailing, something may strike us and bring us through a roller coaster experience. In moments like this, a random act kindness would encourage us and elevate our spirit. Random acts of kindness don't have to be huge, well-thought-out events or actions. They can be as simple as smiling at a passerby. But the one thing that an act of kindness does require is for it to be given from the heart without expecting anything in return except the possibility that you've made someone's day better.

I experience the value of random act of kindness today. A colleague came back to work after 7 months of break. She walks to my office and gave me a hug and say thank you for supporting her during the difficult period of life. Both of us shed some tears during that moment. The only thing I did was sending her encouragement through Whatsapp and SMS. Today I realized the impact of simple encouraging words using simple medium. An American politician by the name of Bob Kerrey says “Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Who knows how a simple act of kindness on our part may change the lives of others.

Sometimes we get caught up with wanting to do big things for the people we love, to show them how much we care.  Buying them big gifts, giving them money; we need something tangible to give to them.  I think it's so easy for all of us to get caught up with showing our love through objects.  Sometimes all it takes is to check up on someone and ask "How are you doing?  I miss you".  And what about showing love to people we don't know? What if all it takes is a smile?  A concerned glanced? I think in order to truly be present and live in the moment; we have to be aware of our surroundings and the people in it. A small and random act of kindness will indeed go a long way.