Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Struggling With Excessive Self-Awareness

TO EDWARD LOFSTROM: A letter of great encouragement for someone who had been struggling with excessive self-awareness.

10 June 1962

You are of course perfectly right in defining your problem (which is also mine and everyone’s) as ‘excessive selfness’. But per- haps you don’t fully realise how far you have got by so defining it. All have this disease; fortunate are the minority who know they have it. To know that one is dreaming is to be already nearly awake, even if, for the present, one can’t wake up fully. And you have actually got further than that. You have got beyond the illusion (very common) that to recognise a chasm is the same thing as building a bridge over it.

Your danger now is that of being hypnotised by the mere sight of the chasm, of constantly looking at this excessive selfness. The important thing now is to go steadily on acting, so far as you can—and you certainly can to some extent, however small—as if it wasn’t there. You can, and I expect you daily do—behave with some degree of unselfishness. You can and do make some attempt at prayer. The continual voice which tells you that your best actions are secretly filled with subtle self-regards, and your best prayers still wholly egocentric—must for the most part be simply disregarded—as one disregards the impulse to keep on looking under the bandage to see whether the cut is healing. If you are always fidgeting with the bandage, it never will.

A text you should keep much is mind is I John iii, 20: ‘If our heart condemns us God is greater than our heart.’ I sometimes pray ‘Lord give me no more and no less self-knowledge than I can at this moment make a good use of.’ Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted—i.e., keep on fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk—don’t keep on looking at it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

That I May Love Him

Missionary Jim Elliot

I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God—what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him.

Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes—ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.

“O Jesus, Master and Center and End of all, how long before that Glory is Thine which has so long waited Thee? Now there is no thought of Thee among men; then there shall be thought for nothing else. Now other men are praised; then none shall care for any other’s merits. Hasten, hasten, Glory of Heaven, take Thy crown, subdue Thy Kingdom, enthrall Thy creatures.””


Friday, February 7, 2014

Overwhelmed By Giants? Blocked By Mountains?

Are you going through a very tough time? Are you having a relationship problem? Is your health going through a beating? Is the medical report really bad? Are you out of a job? Are you having a financial crisis? Are you having lots of stress in your job? Is your spiritual life stagnant? Are you being overwhelmed by too many giants? Is your path of progress blocked by countless mountains?

Many cannot kill their giants or move their mountains because they have so little faith. The giants or mountains may seem to grow larger when their faith is shrinking. Their situation seems impossible and fear grows out of proportion. What can be done when faith exits your life? How to turn situation around when fear rules supreme?

Recognise that giants will not remain forever. Realize that the mountains cannot grow any larger.They are only there for a season. And God will use this opportunity to strengthen your faith as you engage them. 

Giants can be killed and mountains can be moved! Who were those ordinary people in the Bible who proved that the promises of God were more powerful then all their problems, obstacles and barriers?

Moses proved that the promises of God were more powerful when he rescued thousands of slaves from under the nose of the hostile Pharaoh. Joshua proved it with his conquest of Jericho and the most parts of Canaan. Gideon proved it by routing the large Midianite army with a handful of men. David proved it with his sling and stone against Goliath.

Gideon and his 300 valiant warriors

Every one of these people had worst situation than you would ever faced. They had believed and overcome their adversaries. This is now the the season for you to trust and believe that God's promises are far greater than all the giants and mountains combined.You simply have to accept this truth! 

Every fear situation is subjugated by the "Faith Promises" of God. The life of faith begins when you refuse to give yourself any excuse to fear and fail. God has given you more than enough "Faith Promises" to exercise your faith to conquer and overcome all giants and mountains! Every one of these promises is found in the Bible. Read your Bible carefully!

Begin today by laying all the thoughts of defeat and fear at God's feet. Ask God for a vision of victory. His vision will give you a schedule of success. Then ask Him for wisdom and strength to overcome all doubts. Remember that nothing happens outside of you until a spark of belief happens inside.

Request that He sends you people and situations of favor. Pray with faith! Pray with belief! Then command all these hindrances and fears to go... in the mighty name of Jesus! You will see your Red Sea open and your Jericho walls crumbling down. One act of favor from the Lord is worth more than tons of worries and fear!

When you trust in His promises and activate your faith, miracles are standing at your front door, waiting for you to invite them in. Do open and let them in!

"All things are possible to those who believe." 
(Mark 9:23).

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." 
(Philippians 4:13).

Albert Kang

Monday, February 3, 2014

10 Ways to Determine God's Calling in Your Life

By John Piper

God's calling to missions is not authoritative the way the Scriptures are. Your calling is never beyond question. You can't claim it to others the way you quote Scripture to them.

Nevertheless our calling can be profoundly and durably sure in our own heart. It is the work of God to bring our heart to a point of conviction that, all things considered-including Scripture-this path is the path of obedience. The conviction is not infallible. But when it is of God, it brings peace.

How does God waken such a calling? I will suggest ten means that he uses. Only one of these is infallible-the Bible. All the others are relative. They are not absolutely decisive in your leading. They are important. But any of them can be overridden by the others. Various combinations of these are the fuel God uses to drive the engine of his calling in your life.

1. Above all, know your Bible and saturate your mind with it.

The Bible shapes our minds for mission durability (Psalm 1:1-3), and makes us burn for Christ (Luke 24:32).

2. Know your gifts and know yourself.

Every Christian has gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11). Knowing them shapes your convictions about your calling. And knowing yourself (as Paul exemplifies in Romans 7:15-24) deepens your sense of fitness for various ministries. (Keep in mind that this can be overridden by other facts!)

3. Ponder the need of the world.

The Christian heart of love is drawn by perceived needs, whether near or far. Therefore God uses what we know to awaken the measure of our desire that pushes us over the edge of commitment (Matthew 9:36-38).

4. Read missionary biography and missionary frontline stories.

Clearly the Bible treats heroes of the faith as divinely appointed inspirations for the awakening of vision and ministry (Hebrews 13:7). "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

5. Inquire of your soul, "Where are you burdened for others?"

God sends and seeks the burden for lost people. Jesus carried such a burden: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! . . . How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings" (Luke 13:33-34). This burden was essential to his calling. What is your burden?

6. Know your circumstances.

Parents, health, houses, lands, children, age, etc. All of them matter in our calling, but none of them is decisive. They can all be overridden. "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30).

7. Pray for God to throw you where you can be best used for his glory.

I say "throw" because in Matthew 9:38 that is the literal meaning: "Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to throw out laborers into his harvest." The point is pray! Ask God to use you to the fullest for his glory. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5).

8. Do not neglect passionate, Christ-exalting, corporate worship.

The most important missionary calling that ever happened took place in corporate worship: "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'" (Acts 13:2).

9. Listen humbly to the spiritual people in your life.

They not only confirm your gifts. They are the instruments of God to awaken in you possibilities and joys of missionary service that you never dreamed (2 Timothy 1:5-7).

10. Cultivate absolute surrender of all you are and have to Christ.

This is the person that God leads to the greatest fruitfulness of life. Woe to the person who tries to be a half-Christian and never says from the heart: "I renounce everything for you, Lord Jesus. I am willing to go anywhere and do anything at any cost, if you will go with me be my everlasting joy."

This is why Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . . Therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-27, 33).

John Piper has been the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 1980. He has authored numerous best-selling books, including The Passion of Jesus Christ, Don't Waste Your Life and Desiring God. You will find 25 years of online sermons, articles, and other God-centered resources from the ministry of John Piper at www.desiringGod.orgHe also has a daily radio program, called "Desiring God," which can be accessed online at www.desiringGod.org/radio.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ocean in the Submarine

A new friend tells me that he is against money because the Bible says that money is evil. Once again, the verse found in 1 Timothy 6:10 is misinterpreted. The verse indicates that it is "the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil." 

It's clear that money is amoral. It is a tool to be used in our daily transactions and also for the glory of God. The three orphanages that I launched have to have money to operate. The 16 churches that I initiated also need money to operate. Money in the hands of responsible believers can help people and save lives.

However, when we start to LOVE MONEY then the problem is not the money but with with our greed. Greed is the root to all kinds of evil. God knows that greed has to be dealt with and so He gives us this scripture through the hands of Paul. 

Common sense tells us that it is alright if the submarine is in the ocean. However, it is not alright if the ocean is in the submarine. All the crew will drown and the submarine will be rendered useless. It will soon be a piece of rusting junk at the bottom of the ocean.

God knows that when greed gets into our systems, it will corrupt us. Paul the Apostle continues in 1 Timothy 6:10 - "Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." What Paul is saying here is about believers becoming apostate and "rusting" at the bottom of the dark spiritual ocean.

God knows where you stand in your spiritual growth and maturity. If you are not a good steward of money or wealth, God will not  bless you with a lot of it. The reason is obvious, He loves you too much to allow wealth to drown and kill you spiritually! 

Rev Albert Kang

From New Testament Synagogue to Home Assembly

It can be confusing. After the birth of the assembly of Christ; seemingly, Christians just start meeting without any planning or protocol. They just start “doing church.” Unfortunately, the fact that the New Testament assembly was essentially Jewish for a number of years was a shocking revelation to me. Folks can say all they want about Baptists correcting Reformation anti-Semitism—it just isn’t so. Baptists have done nothing to preserve the Jewish roots of the church, and more than likely, the overall ignorance concerning our Jewish roots is foundational to most of the problems we see today within the Evangelical church. A proper understanding of the New Testament assembly model is critical to our philosophy of ministry.

Acts 10 and 11will give you a good perspective on how Jewish the church was—the Gentiles were recognized as part of the same body with much controversy and ado. Once you understand this, it is assumed that New Testament believers simply followed the form of worship that they were already accustomed to. Let’s not forget; for many Jews, the birth of Christ’s assembly was a major event, but not a conversion for them. Many were already born again before the cross (see John 3). So, what you see in New Testament assemblies was pretty much what was going on in the Jewish synagogues prior to Pentecost.

Therefore, it is no surprise to see the apostolic church ministering at the temple, in synagogues, and in homes. It was a natural transition, and a reflection of what had been happening at Jewish synagogues.

The synagogue is a concept that began sometime prior to the exodus. An Old Testament word search of “elder” makes it abundantly clear that elders led groups of people within Israel. During the exodus, the tabernacle was the primary focus for ritual, and God’s people were divided into small groups of learning overseen by elders. Again, a simple word search and observance of how the word is used in the Old Testament makes this abundantly clear. Though these small groups served many critical functions, the primary focus was that of learning. Traditionally, the synagogue is known as Bet Midrash (house of study), Bet Tefillah (house of prayer), and Bet Knesset (house of assembly).* Today, many synagogues have floor plans that accommodate these major ideas; a room for assembly, a room for prayer, and a room for study.

This is a longstanding tradition, and consequently, we see the same pattern in the book of Acts. Certainly, the concept of synagogue was institutionalized, and the first century was no exception. The first century synagogue, numbering around 400 in Jerusalem alone, was a combination of politically well-connected and highly structured centers and less formal home assemblies that were strictly that of the laity.** Along with being well connected with state politics, many of the institutionalized synagogues integrated Greek and Roman paganism into Judaism. † Due to the traditional Jewish mentality in regard to synagogues; i.e., the term “small sanctuary” was used interchangeably between the assembly and the family, ** the assemblies were unaffected by these unfortunate integrations if they chose to be, and many were.

Note: Christ’s assembly grows from 120 to 3000 in one day according to Acts 2:41, and in the following verse we read, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Where to put all of these people and what to do with them was of no issue, they merely returned to their existing assemblies, primarily in homes, and continued in the synagogue tradition. Acts 2:46 makes it clear that they met at the temple and had fellowship meals in their homes which would have also included teaching, prayer, the remembrance, and a departure with the singing of a hymn. The so-called last supper would have been very indicative of what went on during these assembly/synagogue meetings.

But also remember, the Jews that made up the apostolic assembly were VERY aware that the temple was temporary. In fact, after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD,

Following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E., the rabbis decided the home would be the mikdash m’at—"small sanctuary"—a holy place responsible for fostering the family's spiritual life.††

In addition, Christ’s ministry probably produced many solid synagogues prior to Pentecost.

This model continued predominately for the next 200 years, and there is no reason to think that Christ prescribed any alternatives.


*George Robinson: Essential Judaism; Pocket Books 2000, p. 46.
**Louis H. Feldman and Meyer Reinhold: Jewish Life and Thought Among Greeks and Romans; Augsburg Fortress 1996, p. 68.
†Louis H. Feldman and Meyer Reinhold: Jewish Life and Thought Among Greeks and Romans; Augsburg Fortress 1996, p. 73.
†† Jewish Home & CommunityMy Jewish Learning.com; Online source | http://goo.gl/N6Udu6
paulspassingthoughts | January 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Tags: ChristianityChurchJudaism | URL: http://wp.me/pmd7S-2Ln

Friday, November 29, 2013

Moving Away From The Cross

The idea of Christians moving away from the Cross of Jesus Christ may sound preposterous at first but on closer examination, you will discover that it is perfectly logical and biblical. However, before you light the bonfire over my body, let me emphasize that we are NOT MOVING AWAY FROM THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS but as believers, we, ourselves, have to move away from the milk and move forward to discipleship and spiritual growth. 

Paul the Apostle said, "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." Yes, some are not ready for the meats and they still need to learn the basic elements of salvation.

After we have been justified and saved by our Lord, we should move on and not remain lingering at the Cross. We only stay there when we are still under the Law and need justification. When we say that we are not under the Law then why are we behaving like we are still under its yoke.
We have been saved once and that's it! We are now under Grace. This means that we are totally free from the power of sins. For the first time, we can fight temptation with the power of His grace. We can obey God and do the right things because we have been empowered.

To claim that we have no need to obey God just because Christ is obeying God on our behalf is a belief known as Progressive Justification. This means that we have not been fully justified and that we need Christ's obedience from His death at the Cross till now so as to keep us continually justified. This can only be so if the Law still have power over us. Thus instead of fully enjoying a life of freedom under Grace, we are continuing a life under Law. 

The idea that the brimstones and fire of the Law are still pouring upon us and Christ is our umbrella or covering is an inaccurate one. There is no more onslaught of the Law upon us now. The Law has no more hold upon our lives. Absolutely zero. We have been justified. Period! Why do we still need the continual obedience of Christ to shield us? From what? 

Do we need to cling to the Cross as though we are still depraved and full of sins? We are no longer sinners but children of the Most High God. Should a drowning man still cling to the float after he is already safe onshore?

We have to move on to the process of sanctification. Sanctification has nothing to do with the Gospel but everything to do with the Living Savior and His Holy Spirit. The Gospel is meant for unbelievers but we are already believers. The Gospel shows Christ was crucified for our sins and whomsoever receives His sacrifice will be justified. We have already done that. Then why do we need to go back to the Cross again? 

We preach the Cross to sinners but we preach the living resurrected Savior to believers.We preach justification to those unsaved but sanctification to those who are disciples.

It time for us to move away from the empty Cross to the empty tomb. From the empty tomb to the Upper Room. From the Upper Room to the Public Square. From the Public Square to millions of streets around this world. What message do we carry then? The message of the Cross of course!