Friday, May 27, 2011

Alternative School

He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. (Isaiah 40:29 MSG)

DropoutOn May 5, 2011, The New York Times published a story about a girl who has dropped out from a traditional high school and is now attending a charter school instead. Kimberly Smith left McCallum High School in Austin during the first semester of her freshman year. She said she was experiencing anxiety attacks and depression.

“I felt trapped inside,” Smith said, adding, “I was pretty much in bed just sleeping all day long, just basically crying.”

Now a sophomore at Austin Can! Academy, a charter high school which focuses on dropouts and those at high risk for dropping out, Smith, 17, says the flexible schedule allows her to take fewer class hours so she can attend psychotherapy sessions.

Sadly, however, because of the way the state calculates high school completion and dropout rates, charter schools like the Austin Can! Academy could face closure. Supporters say such schools are unintentionally penalized for serving a challenging student population. A bill in the State Legislature aims to fix the formula for assessing completion and dropout rates, but some academics question whether that will just make it easier for school districts to jettison their problem children.

“I have no idea where I would be without this school,” Smith said. “It’s been a very big help to me.”

Smith wakes up at 4:45 every morning to take the train from her Georgetown home to classes at Austin Can! Academy, which she said was the only school that would enroll her.

Like the story of Kimberly Smith, the Bible also mentioned about a people who were moral dropouts or misguided God-dropouts. Moral dropouts won’t listen to their elders; welcoming correction, on the other hand, is a mark of good sense (Proverbs 15:5). The lives of God-loyal people flourish; a misspent life however is soon bankrupt (Proverbs 15:6). Misguided God-dropouts staggers under their guilt-baggage, for they have walked out on God and turned their backs on Him (Isaiah 1:4).

As children of God, we ought not to become moral dropouts or misguided God-dropouts. We may fail or face setbacks at times, but we must never walk out on God or turn our backs on Him because of our guilt or for whatever other reason. We should instead accept what comes our way and be ready to take on any role required of us to serve God according to His will. We need not always be the one at the top of everything we do, for as a part of the body of Christ, each of us has our own role to play. No part is important on its own, and no one role is less honorable than or not dependent on another (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Why should we then complain or whine, thinking that God has lost track of us or do not care what happens to us? Do we not know anything? Have we not been listening? (Isaiah 40:27-28). God is not a man that He should penalize dropouts. Neither does He have to write a bill to fix the formula for assessing us. God is not like school districts that are ready to jettison 'problem children' such as us who constantly fail to live up to His standard.

Let us therefore welcome corrections and pay attention to advices, for that makes good sense. Let us not misspend our lives on empty pursuits that we may flourish (Proverbs 15:5-6). Our God does not come and go. He lasts. He energizes those who get tired, and gives fresh strength to dropouts. If we wait upon God, we shall receive fresh strength. We shall spread our wings and soar like eagles, run and not get tired, walk and not lag behind (Isaiah 40:28-31).

Thank You dear Lord for accepting us the way we are, even though imperfect. We know that even if we are a ‘problem children,’ You will never abandon us. Help us Lord to accept what comes our way that we may be ready to take on a different role to fulfill Your will. Without You Lord, we have no idea where we would be today. You O Lord are a big help to us and You alone knows what’s best for us.

NOTE: All Scriptural references in this article are from The Message (MSG) Bible

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jewels of Fulfillment

At the outgoing of his word, the ice is turned to water; when he sends out his wind, there is a flowing of waters. (Psalm 147:18 BBE)

Precious JewelsBefore a precious stone becomes a beautiful jewelry, it is usually seen in the eyes of the untrained as something worthless and possibly unsightly in appearance. What is rejected by many people, however, often turns out to be worth much more after it has been designed and crafted skillfully into an object of desire. This is how witnessing for Christ is like.

Many a time when we share the gospel to someone, we do not see the effects the message may have on that person immediately. Sometimes, we may become discouraged because of this, but we ought not to, because the Bible says we may plant the seed, another may water, but God is the One who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

So it is with the word of God when preached; it will not return without accomplishing what God desires and succeeding in the matter He sends us to do (Isaiah 55:11). Just as ice is turned into water at the outgoing of God’s word and waters flow when God sends out His wind (Psalm 147:18), so shall the tide against the devil be turned. Our role as children of God therefore is to do our part and let God do His.

For when God speaks a word, He never fails to fulfill it (Numbers 23:19; 2 Peter 3:9), and here is a lesson we can learn. Do we, like Jesus our Lord, hold fast in fulfilling the words outgoing from our mouths or do we merely comfort people with empty words (James 2:15-16)? As His followers, do our words return to us void or do they accomplish what we have promised?

In the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-31), Jesus relates the story of a man who spoke to his first son and said, “Son, go work today in the vineyard,” and the son answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted and went. The man then went to the second son and said the same thing, and he answered, “I will, sir”; but he did not go. Jesus then asked, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” The answer is obvious.

This parable teaches us what it means to keep a promise. If we fail to fulfill what we say we will do, we break a promise, and the words outgoing from us are mere empty words, worthless to men. Unless we keep our promises, we cannot expect the people around us to trust us or desire the Christ we preach.

Let us learn to keep our words and fulfill our promises so others may count us trustworthy, just as our God is trustworthy and never fails to keep His promises. When we share God’s word to the yet unsaved, let us not be discouraged to think our efforts are unfruitful, instead remember it is not us but God who causes the growth. Like precious stones that turn into beautiful jewelry through honing, let us not underestimate the little things we do in fulfilling the will of God.

Dear Lord, we know that at the outgoing of Your word, things happen and never return to You empty without accomplishing Your will, and succeeding in the matter You have sent us to do. We seek therefore Lord for the ability to keep our promises in fulfilling the words outgoing from our mouths. Hone us Lord and turn us into precious jewels that we may in Your design and skillful crafting become the people You want us to be.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Testimony of an Actor

Actor Li NanxingActor Li Nanxing shared recently how God has amazingly opened up doors and enlarged his coast for ministry. A year ago, he first broke his silence regarding seven years of his life of darkness, debt and desperation. He also shared how he was miraculously delivered by God from plunging down three stories and how he was led to believe in Jesus Christ. Indeed God brought him out of a horrible pit into His marvelous light!

After his salvation, Nanxing’s life journey was not all smooth in the beginning. Although he was able to pay off much of his debt, he struggled with his gambling habit for a while. He was often tempted to bet on lottery with a set of numbers that he was familiar with. In spite of a still small voice in his heart telling him not to gamble, he found the temptation difficult to resist at first. But by the grace of God, he eventually overcame the gambling habit. He also struggled with his drinking temptation. As a result of years of alcohol consumption, Nanxing even developed an ability to tell the type of liquor just by the smell of it from a distance. So after his conversion, he was still tempted to drink but over time he was totally delivered from it too.

Since he received Jesus as Lord and Savior, many miracles took place in his life and career. It took a few years before his life stabilized and was transformed by God. Now all his debts were settled. By the power of God, he was delivered from the addictions of smoking, drinking and gambling. Moreover, he was also set free from the spirit of anger and rage. Truly, we are more than conquerors through Christ Who loved us.

Subsequently, he went for a medical checkup and was apprehensive of the result because of his past lifestyle. His excessive drinking and smoking in the past could easily lead to permanent damage to his liver and kidneys. To Nanxing’s pleasant surprise, his doctor gave him a clean bill of health. He is indeed thankful to God for preserving his vital organs.

Nanxing considers the opportunities in his career as blessings from God too. He was offered plenty of endorsements despite his past questionable lifestyle. Recently, he received an offer to star in a Hollywood movie that would have catapulted him to international fame. However, he discovered that the script contained intimate scenes where he had to be nude with two naked women. Wanting to please Christ, Nanxing turned down the offer. It was a rare opportunity to fame and money, but he decided not to compromise but walk according to God’s will.

God is faithful and did not short-change him. Nanxing was offered recently by television station, MediaCorp, to act in a meaningful sequel to a drama serial which he acted 20 years ago. His character then was a rash young man who went to jail because of crime and gambling. The sequel’s theme is about how a person can change for the better with the support of loved ones. Nanxing would portray the same person but after 20 years in jail, and how he turns over a new leaf.

In 2010, Nanxing had an opportunity to be the director and actor of a new movie called 'The Ultimate Winner.' The message of the movie is to highlight the danger of gambling and also the redemption of a gambler’s life. It took him nine months to direct and film the movie. Throughout its filming, he again experienced the supernatural hand of God. Rain and other factors threatened to disrupt its progress but with prayers, every obstacle was resolved.

As much as Nanxing does not want to recall his heartbreaking past in life, he sincerely believes that had he not gone through it all, he would not have known how real God is! Looking back, Nanxing was certain that the devil wanted to destroy his life but Jesus intervened to turn it around and radically changed him. The Ultimate Winner is the Lord Jesus Christ. Great is the LORD and all glory belongs to Him!

Source: Miracle Service from Lighthouse Evangelism

Friday, May 13, 2011

Compulsion Blowout

what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15 NAS)

Obsessive Compulsion DisorderWhen the pregnant mother in the story of Rapunzel notices some radishes (or rampions) in the enchantress' garden, she craves to have them or she feels she will die. Such compulsive behavior exists in the real world and is called obsessive compulsive neurosis. According to, obsessive compulsion is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, persistent obsessions or compulsions. Many of such compulsions can be trivial and do not interfere with a person's life and energy, like the perceived need to straighten a crooked picture or pick fluff off someone's clothes. Other harmless compulsions may include avoiding cracks in sidewalks or ensuring the iron is off before leaving the house.

Repetitive and habitual behavior is not necessarily bad and can sometimes be useful. Habits such as brushing teeth before we go to bed and washing the dishes after dinner help make things go smoothly. Some habits however can turn into an intense compulsive behavior if blown out of proportion, especially if the one suffering from it feels without a choice for the behavior and his or her survival depends on doing it.

One of the recommended ways to help a person suffering from compulsive behavior is to use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), such as the compulsion blowout technique. This technique is called a 'blowout' because that is what it does to submodalities. Submodalities are the fine distinctions a person make within a representational system that help remember what has been seen, heard, felt, smelt and tasted, both externally and imagined. Compulsion blowout technique alters submodalities so much that a person can no longer represent the object in the same way. This technique breaks the connection between how a person represents a thing and the kinesthetic response.

Sin is very much like compulsive behavior. We sometimes do the things we know we ought not to do (Romans 7:15), and we blame it on inborn inclination or something beyond our control. We may confess our sins, but still habitually continue to do the very thing we hate. We may even think of some recurring habits as harmless or trivial and not necessary wrong, such as gossiping, telling lies or half-truths, and having conversations with non-believing friends about worldly and unholy things. At times, we may even unknowingly do certain things out of habit, which may not reflect well the behavior expected of Christians, such as living in sensuality, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and abominable idolatries (1 Peter 4:3).

Not all repetitive behavior is bad however. Habits such as spending time daily to talk to God and study His word are good practices. Only sinful habits and behaviors stained by our old ways before we know the Lord need altering using techniques such as spiritual NLP. Spiritual NLP is about a total change of mindset and behavior through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It is a complete blowout from our old ways to redefine new ways of seeing things represented in this world, afresh through the eyes of God in hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. This renewal will alter our way of thinking and change us so much that we can no longer respond in the same way as before, but break connection with the old totally. By this, we can then prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Let us therefore be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and lay aside our old selves from the former manner of life (Ephesians 4:22-23). Let us put on our new selves, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). Just as God has poured out richly upon us the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5-6), let us from now on see all things afresh through the eyes and heart of God.

Help us dear Lord to be completely free from habitual sins. Blow out from us all unholy compulsive behavior Lord and change us. Renew our minds and hearts that we may from now on do all things and see all things differently from the former manner of our lives. In whatever we do, Lord, may we reflect Christ in us and glorify You.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Things to Do

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24 NAS)

Things to DoWhen we have lots of things to work on, we often jot down in a To Do list the tasks that are to be accomplished. This is a good practice because it helps reduce the anxiety of trying to remember what needs to be done next and ensures no task is left outstanding. At times, however, we may know of certain things that need to be done, yet we choose not to do or remember them.

Take health screening for example. We know it is a good practice to have routine checkups at least once a year to ensure we are in good health, but we often choose not to go for the checkups until we fall ill. It may be because of inconvenience or the price, but for whatever the reason, the consequence can cost us much more should we discover too late a cure for our illness.

Consider now another scenario of a relative who is ill. We know we should be visiting the relative, but we sometimes choose to forget or ignore the fact because it is inconvenient, costly and time-consuming. Maybe it is because the relative is staying far away and to travel to his or her place costs much and takes up too much of our precious time. In such a situation, what would we do? Would we neglect to do what is right and bear the consequence of a possible lost soul?

In the days of Haggai the prophet, a similar situation was mentioned in the Bible of how a people neglected what ought to be done, resulting in the withholding of complete blessings. Haggai delivered the word of God to the children of Israel in exile and questioned as to whether it was right for them to dwell in paneled houses while the Temple of God was left in ruins (Haggai 1:3-4). He warned the children of Israel to consider their ways (Haggai 1:5, 7), and told them why they have sown much, but harvest little, ate, but not enough to be satisfied—because the house of God was left desolate (Haggai 1:4-7, 9-11).

When we knowingly neglect to do the things that are outstanding and go on with our lives as if these things do not matter, we seldom can be at our best. We may do many things to make up for the negligence, but will eventually realize whatever we do is not worth the effort. We may work hard in the hope to prosper, but will receive little returns (Haggai 1:6, 9). The reason we seldom have enough is because we fail to remember what is more important—to do all things by first honoring God in our lives.

When we come before the Lord and remember something that needs to be attended to, what should we do? If that something is important or critical, such as to right a wrong or be reconciled with someone, we should first settle the matter, and then come and present ourselves to God (Matthew 5:23-24). Only when we are at peace with God and men can we be at our best and completely blessed.

Let us therefore not neglect or fail to do what is right and necessary because of inconvenience, cost or time constraint. Instead, let us weigh the cost through the eyes of God to understand the value of each and everything we do or fail to do. If the thing we ought to do outweighs all the efforts we put in to make up for the negligence, then let us consider our ways, for the consequence can cost much more!

Forgive us dear Lord for neglecting to do the things we ought to do. Remind us Lord to always put You first in all our plans and in all we do. Regardless the reasons for not doing what we ought to do, Lord, help us overcome our mindsets and hearts to change and set everything right according to Your will. Bless us abundantly Lord in the things we do right, that with Your blessings we may bless others too.