Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Tree of Life

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"—in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)

Christmas Tree According to the University of Illinois Extension, "Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850. Until fairly recently, all Christmas trees came from the forest. In 2002, Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, and Virginia were the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon was the leading producer of Christmas trees—6.5 million in 2002."1

Christmas trees have long been associated with Christianity. One of the earliest writings about Christmas tree dates back to the year 722 in Germany, which tells of a Saint Boniface who has met some pagans who were about to sacrifice a child in worship to a huge oak tree. In wanting to prevent the sacrifice, Saint Boniface cut down the tree and was surprised to find a fir tree sprung up from its roots. On seeing the evergreen tree pointing up to the heaven and the child saved from pagan sacrifice, Saint Boniface took it as a sign of the Christian faith, a symbol of Christ's great sacrifice and His promise of eternal life.2

Today, many households celebrate Christmas with decorated Christmas trees. What these trees symbolize to different people will bear different meanings. Some may see the Christmas tree as a symbol representing the gifts of joy and gladness. Others may think of it as a preparation for the coming of Santa and his reindeers. Few however will understand or comprehend the price that was paid by One who sacrificed His all to be hung on a tree, the Cross, to save us all.

Let us all therefore know and understand the true meaning of the tree of the One who sacrificed His life to bring us Christmas joy, blessings and glad tidings. It is this tree, the Cross, that the curse of the Law was removed that everyone who receives Jesus as Lord and believes in Him, will not perish but have eternal life.

O how much it pains the One to see sinners lost, to love us so much as to give us His all, in coming down from heaven to save the earth and to redeem us all. Jesus alone is the One, and without Him, there is no Christmas, no blessing or salvation for the world, nor the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14). He is the One who had come down from heaven to earth, the Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is Almighty God.

To him who overcomes, I [Jesus] will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7b)

Thank you Lord for redeeming us from the curse of the Law and for taking upon Yourself to be hung on a tree, the Cross, for our sakes, in order that we may receive Your salvation by grace, and the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit in us. Grant us Lord to see the Christmas tree as a symbol of Your love and of Your great sacrifice for us that we may understand and comprehend the price You have paid to give us eternal life.

All Scriptural references in this article are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

1 University of Illinois Extension,
Christmas Trees & More (Accessed December 20, 2008).
2 Christmas Tree Farm Network,
Traditions: Christmas Trees and Ornaments (Accessed December 20, 2008) &, Origin of the Christmas Tree (Accessed December 20, 2008).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Demystifying the Claus of Christmas

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NAS)

Demystifying the Claus of Christmas
"Tis the season to be jolly," so says the Christmas song, Deck the Halls. But what is in this season for us to be jolly? Is it the receiving of gifts, the festivities of Santa Claus coming to town, or is it the gathering of a mass of people together to celebrate the birth of Christ? Here's taking a look at the origins of Santa Claus to understand the reason for this Christmas season.

Santa Claus is known by many names, including Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or just Santa. He is the figure in most of Western cultures described as the one bringing gifts on the eve of Christmas Day. Saint Nicholas is believed to be the youngest bishop in the history of the church who was well known for his benevolence in the 4th century as the one who cared for needy children and poor maidens. He was persecuted and imprisoned with many other Christians during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian and was released and honored when Constantine the Great established the Christian Church as the official religion.

Two hundred years after his death, Saint Nicholas became a great figure in Christian Legend, and Justinian, the last Roman emperor in the East, built a church in honor of Nicholas in Constantinople. A day was set aside to celebrate the feast of Nicholas in honor of his benevolence on December 6, naming it as Saint Nicholas Day. In certain countries, this festival has been assimilated to Christmas, partly because Saint Nicholas Day is very near to Christmas and partly because of some Protestant hostility toward the worship of the saints in some parts of the world. After the feast of Saint Nicholas had been moved forward and identified with Christmas, some of these countries felt the real patron of the day and Giver of gifts should be Christ Himself, hence the birth of Kris Kringle in popular German, meaning Christ Child. Among some of the German people in America, however, the legend of Santa Claus continued to survive, and Kris Kringle evolved into a combination of Santa Claus and the Christ Child.

In the 19th century, political cartoonist Thomas Nast of the United States popularized Santa Claus as the fat jolly man in red coat and trousers with white cuffs and collar, and a black leather belt with boots. This portrayal of Santa was reinforced through song, radio, television, and films. In the American version, Santa was said to be living in the far north or the North Pole. In the United Kingdom of Europe, however, Father Christmas was said to live in Lapland. Blending local folklore from Nordic countries, Saint Nicholas was also said to be bringing gifts with the Yule Goat, which gradually became the elves, the ones said to be responsible for making the toys of Santa.

This combination provides a summarized idea of how Saint Nicholas became Santa Claus from the earliest times, and the birth of the elves. The mystification of Santa flying through the sky with reindeers on a sleigh is therefore a concept not of Christian origins, but of stories belonging to countless fairy tales about elves, gnomes, spirits, and hobgoblins.

In understanding Christmas, we must return to the origins of Christmas celebration. The Bible states it clearly, that the reason for this season of Christmas is the birth of God the Word, Who became flesh and dwelt among us, the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Christmas is therefore about Christ-mass, the gathering of a mass of people to celebrate Christ's birth.

Teach us therefore O Lord not to celebrate Christmas as just a season to be jolly. Help us Lord to put our perspectives right in understanding the origins of Santa Claus and the true reason for the Christmas season. Stir our hearts Lord to be forever grateful to You for coming down to earth as a child to be born of a woman to save us all from sin and death, and to grow up as a Man that we may understand You better. Draw us near O God our Creator for we acknowledge You as our Lord and Savior. Thank You Lord for Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Home Coming

not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25 NAS)

Christmas Home Coming If we are expecting someone we love coming home for Christmas, we will be filled with joy as we looked forward to the day drawing near. What a joy it will be when we meet our love ones face to face once again!

Home coming for Christmas is a great joy to many, yet to some, it may be a chore, a yearly routine of time wasted in meaningless discussion, or a gathering of memories of things past, of good and bad, happy and sad, pleasant and unpleasant all mingled together.

A family get together during Christmas is like a big family reunion where all of us who have been too busy with our lives and our own conjugal families come together to spend time with each other. Gathering together to meet each other during occasions such as this, however, is not what is most important, for physical presence alone, with minds absent or miles away is as good as being far away. Coming home for Christmas is therefore about giving attention to one another to encourage and to catch up with each other.

The Bible in Hebrews 10:25 teaches us not to forsake our own assembling together, but to encourage one another, all the more as we see the day drawing near. This scriptural verse has been used many times to encourage Christians to attend church services regularly. While there is no doubt about the importance of meeting together in church regularly to worship God as a congregation and to fellowship, the question remains however whether our minds are set on honoring Him when we are physically present in such services. Are we giving our heart, mind and soul to the Lord in worshipping Him, or are we miles away even while in the presence of the Lord?

As we return home for Christmas this year, may we remember what the word ‘Christmas’ truly means. Christmas is 'Christ mass', the gathering together of brothers, sisters, parents and children in Christ, much like a spiritual family reunion. Many of us have heard the inspirational words, "Christ is the Head of this house; the Unseen Guest at every meal; the Silent Listener to every conversation" by an unknown author. In a sense, this is true. Christ is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23), so Christ ought to be the Head of the house as well. He is the unseen Guest and God whom we worship, not just during meals at home, but also in our lives while we are awake or asleep, every moment and wherever we may be. God is the Listener to every of our conversation, at home, in church and everywhere else. He is always present to listen to us, but are we talking the right things when we gather together? Are our conversations what God wants to hear?

Let us all therefore not complain about the chores or the difficulty of travel when we go home this Christmas. Home is where our hearts should be, whether it is our own homes or the homes of our parents or siblings. We should therefore above all remember what is most important in such gatherings is our attention, our presence beyond the physical, just as God is always present with us beyond the physical. We should also encourage one another to express our love one for another.

Dear Lord, help us not to have our minds wandering away while we gather together for Christmas at home and in church. Help us understand how You feel when we come together to meet up with You and with members of our family with minds far away. Teach us to love You and to love one another, just as You love us so much that You died on the Cross for us even while we were far away from You. Forgive us Lord for neglecting our assembling together while we busy ourselves with our own lives. Bring us closer to You Lord as we purpose once again to be faithful in returning home for Christ mass to worship You every Lord’s Day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Gifts of Blessings

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 NAS)

Christmas Gifts It all began with the Magi who brought gifts of gold, incense and myrrh to the Child in worship to the newborn King of the Jews. Since then, giving Christmas gifts has become a common practice to people who celebrate the season. In the 4th century, Saint Nicholas who was said to be a wealthy and generous man, rekindled the spirit of giving during Christmas when he gave heartily to children, especially those who were deprived and in need. This act of generosity by Saint Nicholas consequently became a tradition of exchanging gifts, leading to the myth of Santa Claus.

Many of us look forward to receiving gifts during Christmas every year. This is because gifts are such a blessing, and they are always free. We need not pay a cent for it, and we know when we receive a gift, it means someone cares for us. We give gifts to express our care for others too, to show them our love and friendship. The difference, however, between a giver and a receiver of Christmas gifts is the price. Giving Christmas gifts is not free. Christmas gifts are paid with a price.

When our Lord came down from heaven to earth as a Child, He presented Himself as a gift, paid for with His all to be with us and to lead us to the way of salvation. Jesus gave up His glory to be born into a humble home, and on the day He was born, He was destined to die a cruel death. He came to earth only for one reason—to pay the price for our sins and to give us the free gift of eternal life and salvation. Such is the price of the true Christmas gift, where "greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). By grace we have been saved through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christ is the ultimate Christmas gift sent by God to reconcile our relationship with Him, to set us free from the bonds of slavery.

This Christmas, as we look forward to receiving gifts, let us not forget to give good gifts generously, especially to the poor and needy. Let us in giving, not expect anything in return as in exchanging gifts, but rather give willingly and cheerfully, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:17). Let us with grateful hearts thank God for His ultimate Christmas gift of eternal life in Christ.

Remind us O Lord the price You paid to save us all in giving of Yourself and everything else to be born a Child on earth and to die on the Cross for us. Teach us Lord to give good gifts of love to help the poor and the needy. Help us be willing Lord to give without expectation of return, for we know You desire a cheerful giver.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Lights Shining Bright


Christmas Lights According to, back in about 30 or 40 years ago, people used to decorate their houses and trees with lights using small 120-volt incandescent bulbs. Each of these bulbs was a 5- or 10-watt bulb like the bulb we find in a night light today. If half of all traditional Christmas bulbs were replaced with LED bulbs, it could yield savings of $17 billion a year in energy bills. Incandescent bulbs are therefore no longer common these days because they consume too much power and generate too much heat. With global warming now an area of great concern, it is no wonder alternatives such as LED bulbs are becoming very popular, as they consume less energy and emit less heat.

Long before the electric bulbs were invented and before lightings became a part of the decoration for the festivities during Christmas, there was another light that shone high above the sky to welcome Christmas and to guide the shepherds and wise men to Christ our Lord, the Emmanuel. It was the light of the star—the Christmas star. In the song 'Christmas Star' by John Williams, a stanza from the lyrics states:

Star light, shine bright
See me through the dark night
Light mine, half way;
Guide me home for Christmas Day

Star light shining bright, what a sight it must have been to see the star of ancient times that guided the way to the Child who is Christ our King! The people who were sitting in darkness certainly saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned (Matthew 4:16). Jesus is the Light of the world, and if we walk in the Light as He Himself is the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (John 1:7). We are therefore not of night, nor of darkness, but the sons of lights and sons of day (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Christmas lights, in this sense, are all about the Light that shines through us. Jesus is the Light, our Lord and our God who dwells in us. He alone is above all lights and the reason for Christmas. He brightens every heart and enables every soul to see us through the dark. He is the One who drowns the darkness of all hallows evening and guides us home for Christmas Day.

O what a joy to celebrate the birth of our King with power not of lights from electric bulbs, but from the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. This Christmas, let us as lights of the world be the shining star of today that guides mankind to our Lord the King (Matthew 5:14). With our whole body full of light, let us dispel all the dark areas in our lives that we may like the lamp which illumines with its rays also be illumined, not only within ourselves but also to the world (Luke 11:36). Just as the light from the star guides the shepherds and the wise men, let us as lights also be God's chosen saints to guide and shine in the darkness to bring forth dawn to the land and shadow of death (Matthew 4:16).

Dear Lord, help us remember that as lights of the world, we are to shine and guide people to You. Use us therefore Lord, especially during this Christmas season, to lead people to the full understanding of the reason for Your birth on earth. Empower us Lord with lights that shine brightly even in the darkest night, to illuminate not only our surroundings, but also to the people around us. Enable us Lord to bring forth light like a lamp with its rays to reach out to all who are lost, that they may see the Light and be guided home for Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas: Who is Carol?

Christmas Carol A team of missionaries visited an unreached people group in a foreign land. After singing several Christmas carols to the native people in their language, a conversation arose between one of the missionaries and a native.

"Who is Carol? What did she do that we should celebrate this holiday?" asked the puzzled unreached person in native language.

"Carol is not a person. Carol is the song of joy and praise we sing during Christmas," answered the missionary.

"O, I see, I thought you're referring to someone who has done something great that we are celebrating this special holiday."

"You are right! We are singing carols because Someone did something great, and He is continuing to do something great every day."

"Huh? You mean you are singing carols because someone did something? What great thing did he do?"

"Well, He came from heaven to earth to show the way, mildly for a short time laid His glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth."

"Second birth? How can these things be? How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born again, can he?"

"Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, except and unless he believes in the Son," said the missionary. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

"Who is this Son you are talking about?"

"He is Christ, by highest heaven adored. Christ, the everlasting Lord; Late in time behold Him come, offspring of a virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the Incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell; Jesus, our Emmanuel."

"I see, you are talking about Christ the Incarnate Deity! But what did He do that man is celebrating this holiday?"

"He came from heaven to earth to show the way and from the earth to the cross, our debts He paid. From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky, the Lord's name deserves to be lifted high, for whoever believes in Him, shall never die, but have eternal life!"

"O, I see, why didn't you tell me earlier? Now I know Christmas is about Christ and not about Carol! Help me then to receive Christ, 'coz I wanna receive eternal life!"

Hark! The herald angels sing. Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled. Joyful all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies, with the angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem. Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail, the Son of Righteousness, light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings.

NOTE: This article contains words from the Christmas carol 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' by Charles Wesley, the song 'Lord I live Your Name on High' by Donnie McClurkin, and the Gospel of John chapter 3 (NAS).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gospel Winter Wonderland

Gospel Winter Wonderland
Is Christmas all about a winter wonderland where peace and calm is celebrated? Watch this slideshow to find out more.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Cooking and Feasting

Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. (Zechariah 14:21a NAS)

Christmas Cooking and Feasting Some of us have just celebrated Thanksgiving with feasting, and it's that time of the year once again when all of us will soon come together to enjoy Christmas feasting as well. Not everyone in the world however has this same privilege. While some of us may complain about the preparation—the cooking and the baking—many who know next to nothing about such things often just sit around in expectancy to a grand feast in celebration of our Lord's birthday.

The Bible mentioned a great deal about feasting, but very little about cooking, except maybe for what is implied of Martha's distraction with her preparation when the Lord visited her home and of another occasion when she prepared a supper for the Lord (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:2). In the Old Testament, the Bible mentioned many feasts, such as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of the Harvest, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), and Feast of the Passover. Some of these feasts are still being celebrated today by Jews and by Christians in various parts of the world.

The Feast of Booths, for example, according to an article at the web site of Wikipedia, is being observed by some 50,000 Christians. This Feast, in some places in the world, is even declared a Christian holiday, much like the Lord's birthday. The Book of Zechariah mentioned about this Feast as part of a prophecy of our Lord's return (Zechariah 14). Biblical feasts, such as this, are usually observed in honor of God to remember what He has done for His people. Likewise, when we celebrate Christmas with feasting, we should also remember the reason for our celebration—the birth of Christ, born to die for our sins and to set us free from spiritual death.

When we participate in the feasting, therefore, let us appreciate and be grateful to the ones who prepare the Christmas feast for us out of love, in suffering and hardship to cook and to bake. Above all else, however, we must always remember the purpose of our celebration. Christmas is an occasion deserving of a great celebration with feasting, cooking, and baking. Whoever prepares or feast on the food, therefore, should always do so out of love and appreciation to show gratitude to one another and especially to the Lord who is the reason we are celebrating the occasion. Let us when we eat of the food—the turkey and ginger bread, the delights of the stomach and appetites—remember that it is because of Jesus we are cooking and feasting on this joyous occasion.

Remind us dear Lord as we celebrate Your birthday with joy and feasting, to remember You and the reason for our celebration. Touch our hearts Lord that we may appreciate, love, and cherish the ones who, out of love and charity, work so hard that we may feast with joy and gaiety. We thank You Lord for Your birth to set us free and for this joyous occasion we can celebrate in honor of Your great love for us.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

HappY ThanKsgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Thanksgiving is the time to feel gratitude to God for all the good

things in life. It is a time to acknowledge the good deeds
of fellowmen and be thankful." --

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beyond Christmas Greeting Cards

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. (2 Thessalonians 3:17 NAS)

Christmas Greeting Cards The custom of sending Christmas cards began in Britain around 1840 when the 'Uniform Penny Post' was first introduced to public postal deliveries. According to information1 from the Web, the Uniform Penny Post was a postal system used as a uniform rate of one penny to deliver standard letters of weight not exceeding half an ounce for any local post. Helped by the new railway system which enabled the public postal service in the 19th century, the Uniform Penny Post was how the prepaid postage stamp came to be established. Today, prepaid postage is still being used by many postal systems around the world.

Following the introduction of the Penny Post postal system, Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman and prominent innovator of the 1800s, in the summer of 1843 commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley, a London respected illustrator, to design a card for that year's Christmas. Sir Henry, who was also the person who modernized the British postal system, wanted an impressive card that he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a merry Christmas. At that time, the word 'merry' was used as a spiritual word for 'blessed' as in ‘merry old England’ and that was how the first Christmas card was born.

Thirty years later, the idea of Christmas cards caught on with the Americans when Boston lithographer Louis Prang, a native of Germany, began publishing the cards in 1875 and earned the title 'father of the American Christmas card.' Today more than two billion Christmas cards are exchanged annually just within the United States, and Christmas is the number one card-selling holiday of the year.

Long before the idea of a Christmas card was even conceived, people were already exchanging handwritten holiday greetings, first in person, then via post, much like the way the Apostle Paul sent his greetings in his epistles (Philippians 4:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17). Paul wrote the greetings with his own hand as a distinguishing mark in his letters, and such greetings had been a source of encouragement to many in building ties and relationships beyond the boundaries of different churches, cultures and geographical separators in and off festive seasons. Given such richness of blessings deriving from written words of greetings, we should therefore continue this tradition and not neglect reaching out to people through this mode of communication. Whether it is by snail mail greeting cards or online e-cards, let us not forget to greet each other, especially the ones whom we may not be able to meet up due to distance constraints, or who are faraway, overseas, or in another town.

This Christmas, let us rethink how we should rekindle our interest in sending out Christmas cards to greet and bless people. Do we know of a missionary who needs encouragement, or someone who needs cheering up, or a friend who needs the Lord? Remember, we can do our part in making this a special Christmas for them, and we can touch some hearts by simply adding a few words of our own to spice up the card with sincerity and truth to show we care. May God bless the sender and recipient of Christmas cards!

Dear Lord, help us in our haste not to forget the people You love, the missionaries, the pre-believers, our friends, colleagues and relatives. Teach us Lord to pen down meaningfully words of encouragement and care in adding these words to our Christmas cards. Do not let us take for granted what we can do through greeting cards in blessing each and everyone who receives the card, to let them know the special Someone who cares enough to come from heaven to earth to save us all.

1SOON Online Magazine; The Great Idea Finder; Wikipedia (Accessed on November 22, 2008).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NAS)

Countdown to ChristmasEvery year, about a month before Christmas, many active Christians around the world would begin to prepare for the season of joy and celebration of the Lord's birth. This nearly month long preparation for Christmas is called the Advent, and often includes church activities, choir rehearsals, prayer meetings, carol practices, and more.

Advent, according to, "is the period beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve, historically seen as the preparation of the arrival of Christ. During the 19th century in particular, this waiting period before Christmas was viewed as a way of teaching children patience before a reward—hence the development of the Advent Calendar, a calendar with 24 little flaps opening onto windows with images within a Christmas scene." Each day, a date in the calendar will be opened to count the remainder days before Christmas, and this is often done with joy and excitement, looking forward with anticipation, yet patiently waiting for the day to celebrate the birth of our Lord.

Much like the way the Advent calendar works, all of us as Christians should also live our lives with joy and excitement, looking forward with anticipation, yet patiently waiting for the day of our Lord's return.

Traditionally, some families countdown the 24 days of Advent by marking each day with a new candle or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day. In this modern age, however, Advent calendars are available digitally on the Internet and all we need to do is simply search for Advent calendars to find a site that provides a 24 day calendar with the dates covered that can be opened by the visitor progressively day by day to countdown to Christmas Day.

Long before this tradition, however, many Jews were already counting down to the day our Lord was to be born. Isaiah and many other prophets in the Old Testament foretold of the Lord's coming long before He was born on earth of a Son who was to be given to us, and whose name is the Mighty God and Eternal Father (Isaiah 9:6). Many had waited for His arrival, yet when He finally arrived and came to His own, His own failed to recognize Him for who He was and did not received Him, the Promised One of God (John 1:11).

This season, therefore, as we busy ourselves preparing for Christmas, let us ask ourselves, are we too busy counting down to the day we will celebrate the Lord's birth that we fail to receive Him when He visits us (John 1:11)? Are we like Martha who was too busy with her preparation to recognize what was truly important (Luke 10:38-42)? If we fail to recognize the Lord while busying ourselves with the preparation, then we are not much different from the non-believers. Even those who do not know the real reason for the celebration, busy themselves to prepare for Christmas each year with the buying of gifts, decorating of homes, offices, shopping malls and Christmas trees, cooking and baking special delicacies for grand feasts to welcome the winter festivities.

Teach us, therefore, O Lord, to stay focus on You when preparing for this joyous occasion to celebrate Your birth on earth. Help us Lord go through the Advent with understanding of the true purpose and meaning of this season. Do not let us, O Lord, be caught up with the activities and festivities to fail to recognize what is truly important. Still our hearts Lord to be patient as we look forward in anticipation for Your return and bless us O Lord in all we do for the Christmas season.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Communicating Naturally in Witnessing

This is the last of a six part Bible Study on 'Connecting Hearts: Sharing Christ Winsomely', a witnessing program by Eagles Communications. This week's study focuses on the practice of communicating naturally in witnessing.

Scriptural references: John 4:1-42 - Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman The following is a summary of all topics for the six training sessions.

Seven Deadly Mistakes in Witnessing

  • Aggressive: Confrontation and criticising people, their culture, beliefs, etc
  • Academic: Use of Christian jargons and technical terms, such as born again, washed by the blood of Jesus, etc
  • Attack: Attacking person's dignity or religion
  • Annoy: Irritable over focusing on do's and don'ts of Christianity
  • Antagonize: Pushy, wanting to get them converted, similar to closing a business deal
  • Avoidance: Not answering life's questions and being insensitive to their needs
  • Ambush: Manipulative and insincere in approach

BRIDGE Approach to Witnessing

    B - Be genuine
    R - Reach across our prejudices
    I - Invest Time
    D - Dialogue Relevantly
    G - Go beyond the surface
    E - Expect to be surprised by God

Key Points

  • Be spontaneous and genuine, unconstrained by fixed program or pre-arranged plans or campaigns
  • Be ready to cross different barriers, including social, religious, and racial
  • Spend time with the person without rushing, genuinely interested, and engaging in unhurried conversation
  • Use simple language without over-promising or becoming out of sync with ordinary life
  • See beyond the surface to the person's need in different situations, for example, the emptiness, the hurt and the loneliness and offer hope
  • Overcome prejudices to reach out to even the worst of sinners
  • Beyond just reaching out and sharing, understand that witnessing is about sustaining our own lives to serve and do God's will
  • Remember sowing and reaping are equally important and we need to sow before we can reap
  • Prepare the ground and sow the seed by starting with small acts of kindness, such as praying, caring, sharing, and listening
  • Don't underestimate the power of one soul

The biggest hurdle in witnessing today is the lack of time. We must set aside time to touch other people's lives, for this is sacred. Spending time shows a person how important he or she is to us, and that is a very important step to how the person will response to God.

Woman at the Well - To Be Known Is To Be Loved

Eagles Rendezvous

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Understanding the Holy Spirit in Witnessing

This week's Bible Study seminar by Eagles Communications focuses on power in witnessing, the need to understand the role of the Holy Spirit and the biblical perspectives of healing and miracles.

Scriptural references: Luke 5:1-26 - Miracle of the Great Catch (v1-11); The Man With Leprosy (v12-15); Jesus Heals a Paralytic (v16-26).

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Witnessing

The Holy Spirt:

  • Empowers us to witness
  • Gives us words to speak when witnessing
  • Gives us boldnessHelp us in our prayer
  • Gives us the desire to be His witness
  • Convicts, regenerate and sanctify

Understanding Biblical Perspectives of Healing and Miracles

  • God wants to touch our mind, body, soul and heart
  • God works in natural and supernatural dimensions of life
  • God wants to use our various spiritual gifts to touch people
  • God uses our cultural and religious backgrounds as contexts for witnessing
  • God is sovereign over all healings and miracles
  • God wants us to follow Him wholly and develop a personal relationship with Him
  • God uses our infirmities and sufferings to strengthen us and help others in similar situations for His glory

Key Points

  • Engage in challenging the minds
  • Express concern and be interested in all areas of life, mentally, physically, spiritually and touch the heart
  • Don't be sitters or watchers in church, nor be cold without love
  • Help the pre-believer socially integrate, not just physically healed
  • Use whatever gifts we have to touch people
  • Be friends who care enough to make them worthy of our love
  • Go the extra mile and go out of your way to help
  • See pre-believers beyond physical need
  • Understand God does not heal everybody and requests should be according to His will and cannot be demanded
  • Be willing to submit ourselves to His will
  • Live gratefully for a greater mission with willingness to relinquish and abandon our prized catch to follow Jesus

Faith in Adversity
Follow God without conditions and be willing to serve even if you have to drink the cup of suffering to trust Him completely.

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." —Job

The following video clip provides an example of faith in adversity, of how God uses our infirmities and sufferings to strengthen us and help others in similar situations for His glory.

Life Without Limbs - Nick Vujicic

Eagles Rendezvous

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Connecting Relationally in Witnessing

This week's Bible Study seminar by Eagles Communications focuses on the process of witnessing and the development of a personal evangelism strategy.

The following video clip provides an example of what it means to testify Christ. Someone cared ... someone shared.

Process & Strategy
  • Start with prayer
  • Build meaningful relationships
  • Understand the person in witnessing
  • Gauge the person's level of knowledge, attitude, and behavior
  • Extend the person's lattitude of acceptance

Lesson & Application

One method cannot fit all. Witnessing is not about using a specific method of approach to preach to people about Christ, such as the Four Spiritual Laws. It is about caring, influencing, and connecting relationally. Do not attempt to bring an old man or lady to a Christian 'rock' concert and expect him or her to get converted. It may bursts the old person's ear drum and he or she may never be able to hear the Gospel again!

Connecting Relationally
  • Enhance relationship by meeting felt need
  • Expose and explain Chrstianity to them
  • Clarify misconceptions
  • Express spiritual concepts meaningfully
  • Share the Gospel sensitively
  • Share testimonies or experiences of God
  • Don't force a win or get into a win-lose situation
  • Remain a friend

Eagles Rendezvous

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cultivating Enthusiasm in Witnessing

Share Jesus Why is passion important in witnessing? This week's Bible Study seminar by Eagles Communications focuses on the need for passion to sustain enthusiasm in a witnessing.

Scriptural references: Acts 10:23-48 Peter's Conversion to Witnessing - A Biblical Model.

Witnessing is meant to be an exciting and joyful experience for every Christian, but the task of sharing the Gospel has become rather burdensome to some nowadays. Why is this so? The primary reasons are fear and lack of passion.

We are afraid to share our faith because we have no guts. We are afraid because we do not know what to say and how to start. We are afraid to offend people, face rejection, and lose face. We are afraid people will ridicule and persecute us if we witness to them. We are afraid of answering sensitive questions about Christianity. We are afraid we have no time to share Christ with our friends. We are afraid to admit we are Christians. We are afraid of being a hypocrite because we do not live out our faith. We are cowards when it comes to witnessing.

There are many reasons for our fears and prejudices. Fears are real and the way to overcome fear is passion and obedience. How do we then learn to cultivate passion in witnessing?

  • Conviction of the Message
  • Compassion for People
  • Concern for the Situation
  • Commitment to the Relationship
  • Communicate Christ
  • Connection to God

Peter's transformation and boldness was the result of deep conviction of the Gospel.

Peter traveled and taught, and always include his itinerary with witnessing. Passion must accompany compassion because passion without compassion can lead to misdirected action. Compassion helps us refocus away from our self-interests.

Peter was cognizant and he responded spontaneously to touch people at their point of need.

Peter's commitment to the centurion was unprecedented. He overcame cultural, religious, and political prejudice to witness Christ.

Peter communicated Jesus' earthly life to non-Jews to those who may not be familiar about Jesus, simply and unequivocally, before speaking about His death and resurrection, seizing on the situation and unashamedly share Christ spontaneously.

Peter bore witness with deep sensitivity to God by being willing to travel, willing to go, ready to share, and ready to baptize.

Eagles Rendezvous

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thinking Rightly about Witnessing

Lesson for this week's Bible Study on witnessing by Eagles Rendezvous focuses on setting the right perspective about witnessing.

Scriptural reference is based on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. According to the speaker Dr John Ng, "witnessing" in modern day's term, may be referred to as "sharing Christ winsomely, faithfully, sincerely in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the result to God."

The essence of evangelism is therefore to bear witness about God, and witnessing is about God, what He has done in Christ to effect salvation. It is not human-effort alone, but is Spirit-prompted.

A common misconception of witnessing is to package our message using 'superior wisdom' to present Christ to the world, such as the product box attraction shown in the video clip below.

How we see Jesus and our perspective of Christ will determine how we show Him in our lives. Being weak does not disqualify one from being a witness. It validates and manifests God's power and not ours. It is through weakness that God's power is manifested (1 Corinthians 12:10). It is not with wise and persuasive words, so that our faith may not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

The message of the Cross which is foolishness to the wise is the saving power to those who respond in faith.

Eagles Rendezvous

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Experiencing God as a Witness

Eagles RendezvousI have just attended a Bible Study seminar organized by Eagles Communications on 'Connecting Hearts: Sharing Christ Winsomely' which aims to equip Christians to become effective witnesses for the Lord.

The following is a summary of what I have learnt from the first training session on 'Person: Experiencing God As A Witness'.

The Bible study text is based on 1 Peter 3:8-17, which verses are set in the context of four worlds:

  • Blinded World
  • Boring World
  • Brief World
  • Broken World

Blinded World (1 Peter 1:14)
A story is told of a rich financial trader about how after he has bought his Ferrari, met a car accident which destroyed the Ferrari. In his unhappy state, he complained to the police about how his car has been wrecked, only to receive a reply from the police that he is too materialistic not to see the greater lost - the lost of his arm. On realizing the lost of his arm, the rich financial trader instead of expressing concern for his arm, was more concerned about his missing Rolex watch with the missing arm.

Boring World (1 Peter 1:18)

An illustration of how this world sees life as being boring is shown on the following video clip.

Brief World - Empire Come & Go (1 Peter 1:24)
The rise and fall of empires: Persian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine.

Broken World - Terror of Bitterness (1 Peter 1:22; 2:13ff)
A world of broken ruler-ruled relationship, broken social and familial relationship.

How should we live among pre-Christians?
Above all, live Christ as Lord in our hearts (1 Peter 1:15) to make Him the center of our lives because Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves.

Better Than I Know Myself (by Cliff Richard)
You were there - at the moment I began
When the child became a man
Saw my future in the making - saw
the path my life was taking
You saw a million things I'll never understand

You know me better than I know myself
Better than I know myself
Time after time you've shown it to be true
That no one loves me like you

You are here so let it rain or let it shine
You are with me all the time
When I'm waking - When I'm sleeping
In the secret thoughts I'm keeping
You know everything about this heart of mine

You know me better than I know myself
Better than I know myself
Time after time you've shown it to be true
That no one loves me like you

You'll be there - when the end of time has come
And I know you'll take me home
So I thank you for tomorrow
All my joys and all my sorrows
And I thank you for the greatest thing I've known

You know me better than I know myself
Better than I know myself
Time after time you've shown it to be true
That no one loves me like you

Eagles Rendezvous

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Song Lyrics: I Will Lift My Eyes

I Will Lift My Eyes - Bebo Norman
Written by Bebo Norman and Jason Ingram
From the album Between the Dreaming and the Coming True

God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near, calm my fear
And take my doubt

Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

God, my God, let Mercy sing
Her melody over me
God, right here all I bring
Is all of me

‘Cause You are and You were and You will be forever
The Lover I need to save me
‘Cause You fashioned the earth and You hold it together, God
So hold me now

© 2006 Appstreet Music (ASCAP) / New Spring (ASCAP). All rights for the world on behalf of Appstreet Music (ASCAP) administered by New Spring (ASCAP). / Peertunes, Ltd./GrangeHill Music/J Ingram (SESAC)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Life is Not a Game

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

Game Some people think of life as a game, a stage play where a person fights his or her way through different stages in life to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming rich and successful. Some, however, see life as a meaningless journey beginning from infancy and ending with death, where nearing the end of the road is a status of non-entity and the dependency on others for support before dying. Yet there are others who believe life is all about having fun while one is alive, to eat, drink, and be merry.

As Christians, our perspective of life should be completely different from the world, because we have been set free and redeemed at a price. Our lives are not our own, and we have been called by God to live our lives for His purpose.

For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. (Romans 14:7­8)

Jesus, in the Gospel of John, said He has come that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). What do we understand by living an abundant life? Is it living a life of riches and abundance, or is it living life abandoned of riches?

In Matthew 19 and Luke 18, Jesus seemed to suggest the abandonment of riches in order to live the abundant life when he told the rich young ruler to sell all his possession and give to the poor before following Him (Matthew 19:21-22; Luke 18:22-23). Some Christians, however, believe that Jesus, in abandoning His riches to become poor for our sake, has through His poverty granted all believers to become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9), and they believe this is what John was referring to when he used the word ‘prosper’ in his epistle.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)

Not withstanding these arguments, there are some Old Testament verses that advocate abundance of wealth and prosperity with obedience.

Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, (Deuteronomy 30:9a)

Then you will prosper, if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the LORD commanded Moses concerning Israel. (1 Chronicles 22:13a)

It is therefore reasonable to expect blessings to accompany obedience to God, and many Christians see this as an underlining truth. Some, however, go a step further to advocate that living the abundant life means living lives with riches and prosperity.

I myself have lived a relatively good life before, with more than enough material abundance to satisfy my wants and occasional indulgence on luxuries. God, however, has a higher calling for me to live a different kind of abundant life, not of the riches of the world, but of riches built on the foundation of solid rock (Luke 6:48).

After going through different stages in life, I have learnt that abundant life does not mean to live in riches, neither does it mean to live in deprivation, but rather it is to live for the Lord in all circumstances—for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health—to stay faithful and be a good steward of God's providence and resources. This, I believe, is the true meaning of living an abundant life, a life dedicated for the purpose of God, where only by serving Him can we truly be satisfied, not according to the measurement of riches in this world, but according to the providence of God in living a life of contentment and sufficiency.

Teach us, therefore, O Lord, to understand the true meaning of abundant life, not as the world sees it, but as divine providence for us to live our lives according to Your will. Help us, in all circumstances, put You first above all else, in riches or in poverty, to be a good steward of Your bountiful blessings, resources, and wealth. Grant us the ability to serve You faithfully in all we do, knowing that only in You can we truly live our lives abundantly.

NOTE: All scripture references in this article are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life's Entanglements

Life's Entanglements Life's struggles are a part of God's way of molding us for His purpose, therefore, we must not despair. God wants us to live our lives abundantly, not as the world measures abundance, but according to God's grace for our lives, to live for the Lord in all circumstances and to stay faithful always. Only by living in Him can we be truly satisfied (Hebrews 12:1).

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 NAS)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Memories Past

"I just can't seem to snap it out of my mind. It's been so long time ago, yet it still hurt at times. I don't know why God has allowed it to happen."

Memories Past If that's what we are saying within our hearts, it means we've still some work to do before we can move on with our lives. Memories of unpleasant past tend to linger on in our minds long after the event has taken place, and if we fail to snap out such bitter memories, they can affect how we live our daily lives. Whether it be the lost of someone we love, the prolong caring for someone disabled, a broken trust, or a failed relationship, all these memories of painful times can haunt us if we do not handle them properly.

Let us take a few moments to examine ourselves. When we reflect upon our past, do we harbor bitterness or unhappiness within us? Do we still question God as to why it had happened? If the answer is yes, then it means we need help, because harboring unhappiness in our minds and hearts is not good, and the way we handle unhappy memories will determine how our lives become in the future, of joy or sorrow, of victory or defeat.

A good example of how we should handle unhappy memories is to follow Joseph, the son of Jacob. Instead of blaming God for all the unhappy things that happened in his life, Joseph chose to see circumstances as God's way of leading him to the right path in fulfilling God's plan for his life. This may be seen from the way Joseph revealed himself to his brothers while in Egypt.

Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:5 NAS)

Joseph, in forgiving his brothers for selling him into slavery, did not blame them for what they had done, because he knew it was part of God's plan to lead him to where he was to preserve the lives of many.

If we, like Joseph, can see our lives the way he sees his, we will be able to understand that circumstances in life are one of God's ways in molding His chosen people for His purpose. Understanding this, is the first step to realizing God’s guiding hands on our lives, and this should help us learn to let go memories of our painful past, to let it be just memories, without the pain. We will not question God as to why certain things happen the way it happened, but we will be assured that whatever had happened or will happen is part of God's plan for our lives. Once we understand this and follow how Joseph handled unpleasant memories in his life, we will then be able to put in perspective how we should view our unhappy past, and move forward to live our lives abundantly, according to the will of God.

In seeing God as playing a part in the circumstances of our lives, therefore, we should, like Joseph, view events in our lives as God's way of preparing us for His work, in leading us to the paths He wants us to go, to fulfill His purpose for our lives. Knowing this will help us see circumstances from the correct perspective, and begin the process of healing within our hearts and minds in snapping out bitterness from our memories.

Forgive us, O Lord, for harboring bitter memories of our past and for continuing to question You as to why unhappy events happened in our lives. Teach us Lord to see those events as part of our training for your service, and direct us in the right path to fulfill Your will for our lives, to learn to be like Joseph, to see circumstances as a way of Your leading, and snap out all bitterness from the memories of our unpleasant past.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dare to Speak the Truth

And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:18-20 NAS)

Truth Do we dare to speak the truth if we see our fellow colleague being accused of something he or she did not do by a supervisor trying to cover up for his mistake, or do we leave our colleague to be accused by the management? Do we let that supervisor go scot free, or do we defend the righteous? What if by speaking the truth, we risk losing our jobs? Do we still dare to speak the truth when under threat, or do we stand accused of letting down our faith?

As Christians, we are constantly faced with the dilemma whether to speak the truth and risk finding troubles for ourselves, or remain silent in the face of injustice. Speaking the truth is never easy, and daring to do so is difficult, but as a people called by God to be His witnesses, we should always stand up to speak the truth, because only by speaking the truth can we and the unsaved be set free (John 8:32). When in situations such as the false accusation of a colleague, therefore, we must always be prepared to speak the truth, to stand courageous for what is right, and defend the wrongly accused, to confront the accuser, and not close an eye to cover up for the accuser's mistake in order to keep our jobs. How we response to injustice in situations such as this will determine what others think of the Christian faith, and this can lead people to Christ or turn them away from Him.

Our first step, therefore, in desiring to lead people to Christ, should be to live exemplary lives, and this can only be achieved if we are willing to come clean before God in all areas of our lives, to present ourselves holy and acceptable to Him in living holy lives (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 1:15-16). We should also desire to practice the truth, so that our deeds may manifest our lives as having been wrought in God (John 3:21), and this will require us to live our lives for Christ in showing more of our Lord, and less of ourselves (John 3:30), not as the world shows in staging a scene for others to see, but from the innermost depths of our hearts, truthfully, genuinely, and naturally (Matthew 6:1, 5; Luke 6:45).

Like Peter and John who did not give in when commanded to stop speaking in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18-20), we should also heed God's command and not fret to risk our all in speaking the truth, even if the consequence may put us in an unfavorable position (1 Peter 3:14). Our attitudes should express no fear when we know we are following God's order, because God is with us to see us through. Therefore, in daring to speak the truth in obeying Christ, we must be prepared to pay the price, and be ready to face the accuser in standing up for the truth, and in stemming out lies, to live out Christ in our lives (1 Peter 3:16-17).

Help us therefore, O Lord, never to close an eye to help the righteous. Grant us courage to stand firm against the accuser, and as Your witnesses draw strength from You in living victorious lives, to manifest Your likeness in all we do, that man through us may glorify You.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Price of Impatience

Simeon with child Jesus Not everything in life can wait, and sometimes we grow impatient when we have tasks outstanding nearing deadlines. We get frustrated when we fail to meet our targets, and we take short cuts to make ends meet, which often fall short of required expectation. This behavior is not something new. It has happened before, a long time ago, in the history of Israel.

Now he [Saul] waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, "Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings." And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; (1 Samuel 13:8-10a NAS)

Saul, in his impatience, disobeyed God and took upon himself the task of offering sacrifices to God without Samuel, which cost him his position as king of Israel (1 Samuel 13:13-14a). Although it was disobedience that cost Saul his kingdom, it was impatience that caused Saul to disobey.

Impatience is expensive and the consequence may be more than we can imagine. Frequently, impatience forces us to do things without considering the outcome, and as a result we fail to fulfill the intended purpose.

The Bible mentioned another man, who unlike Saul, waited patiently for the Lord.

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, (Luke 2:25-30 NAS)

Although the Bible does not record how long Simeon waited before he saw the consolation of Israel which was the birth of Christ, we can assume it must have been for a period of time. This account of Simeon is a good example of what it means to wait patiently for the fulfillment of God's purpose in our lives. It does not mean, however, that we are to simply wait without doing anything. Rather, it means we should prepare and pave the way towards fulfilling the purpose of God patiently, just as the disciples waited to be "clothed with power from on high" before Pentecost (Luke 24:49 NAS).

Patience and impatience are all about setting our priorities right. Too often, we live our lives in constant rush because we are too conscious of lost time. We live our lives in frustration when things do not get done on time or when someone or something delays our time. Every minute counts in our lives, but what matters most is really what counts in our lives. Paul understands this when he said:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, (Philippians 5:7-8 NAS)

Impatience has always been a snare to human lives and sometimes even faithful servants of God fall prey. In the real world, impatience does nothing to help get things done, but does a lot in causing harm. We must therefore learn to take account of time in meeting our targets and deadlines to set our priorities right, and not grow impatient, which can harm our lives.

Keep us calm O Lord
And still our hearts to know
Your presence here with us
Wherever we may go

Help us be patient Lord
Help us keep our cool
Help us in everything
Remember to honor You

Lead us Lord in all we do
Help us completely put our trust in You
For You alone are righteous and faithful
Abounding in lovingkindness unchanging and true

Friday, August 29, 2008

Charades of Life

And He said, "See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, `I am He,' and, `The time is near.' Do not go after them. (Luke 21:8)

Charades Many of us know about the game of charades where someone acts out a scene, skit, word, or phrase to help others or members of a team to guess what it means. Few, however, know charade also means "an act or event that is obviously false, although represented as true," according to Cambridge Dictionary of American English.

All of us know how scripts, writings, and even news can be tweaked, omitted, and modified to represent the truth, and how public relations can spin stories. Media bias is a good example of truth represented from the view of an eye witness or a writer's perspective—an act or event recreated to represent the truth.

According to Baker of Media Research Center1, media bias can be identified by commission, omission, story selection, placement, source selection, spin, labeling, policy endorsement or condemnation, editorials or opinion columns, stories or statements that make the conservative side look bad but are accurate, and non-policy stories on a specific event that don't have to be balanced. All these negligence can lead audiences into believing what may be untrue or viewing certain events from an incorrect perspective.

As Christians, we have been warned in the Word of God not to be misled and to watch out for false prophets, false teachers, anti-Christ, and events that are obviously false, although represented as true.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; (2 Peter 2:1-3a)

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. (Revelation 13:11-14)

Let us all therefore learn to discern falsehood and not be deceived by the smoothsayers and those who claim to be the Lord or a prophet of Christ. We must study the Word of God to know what must take place before our Lord returns.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-16)

Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many ... But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:11-13)

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, `Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, `Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:24-27)

Dear Lord, teach us to perceive what is real and what is not. Grant us Your wisdom to discern between the truth and untruth. Help us not to be deceived into believing false teachings or listen to things we wish to hear but is not according to Your word. Keep us safe in Your guiding hands and lead us by Your Holy Spirit to walk in Your ways.

NOTE: All scripture references in this article are from New American Standard Bible (NASB).

1Baker, B (2008), MRC in 'How to Identify, Expose, and Correct Liberal Media Bias', FairPress: How to Identify Media Bias (Accessed 18 August 2008).