God Stoops to Turn Our Resignation to Restfulness

[Life must be imbued with meaning if it is to be worth living. But how can meaning be sustained when the end of life seems pointless? Even if one diligently gathers wisdom for three score and ten years, life must still go the way of the grasshopper. It is hard to keep faith in a good God who orders providence when misfortune strikes and one loses everything that has been regarded as blessings of God. Faith clings precariously to a thread worn thin as one suffers unbearable pain caused by terminal illness…

The defiance of the hard core skeptic or Stoic in the face of pointless and overwhelming suffering seems heroic when he counsels that the best way to find peace is to renounce any hope of finding meaning in life and to submit to fate. But is not the resignation of oneself to everything without complaint nothing more than a capitulation to inscrutable fate? Is life not reduced to groping in the dark where all things are colorless and grey? Without beauty and meaning, one loses the desire to act and sinks into paralyzing resignation.

The Christian believer may seem to share the same kindred spirit with the Stoic when he prays through his suffering, the immortal words of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, β€œThy will be done.” But his prayer is a reposeful confession of faith rather than an utterance of despair or resignation. For he knows something that a person without Christ cannot know. He knows that he is entrusting his life into the hands of the heavenly Father rather than capitulating to impersonal and capricious fate.]
Continue reading “God Stoops to Turn Our Resignation to Restfulness”

Knowing God With the Heart of Love

π•Ύπ–”π–’π–Š π–™π–π–Šπ–”π–—π–Žπ–Šπ–˜ π–†π–—π–Š π–˜π–•π–‘π–Šπ–“π–‰π–Žπ–‰ 𝖆𝖓𝖉 π–˜π–”π–•π–π–Žπ–˜π–™π–Žπ–ˆπ–†π–™π–Šπ–‰ π–‡π–šπ–™ π–˜π–” π–”π–‡π–›π–Žπ–”π–šπ–˜π–‘π–ž π–”π–šπ–™ 𝖔𝖋 π–™π–”π–šπ–ˆπ– π–œπ–Žπ–™π– π–—π–Šπ–†π–‘π–Žπ–™π–ž 𝖙𝖍𝖆𝖙 π–”π–“π–‘π–ž π–ˆπ–‘π–Šπ–›π–Šπ–— π–•π–Šπ–”π–•π–‘π–Š π–ˆπ–†π–“ π–‡π–Šπ–‘π–Žπ–Šπ–›π–Š π–Žπ–“ π–™π–π–Šπ–’. β€œπ•Ώπ–π–Š π–Šπ–žπ–Š 𝖔𝖋 π–™π–π–Š π–œπ–Žπ–˜π–Š 𝖒𝖆𝖓 π–˜π–Šπ–Šπ–˜ π–œπ–π–†π–™ π–Žπ–˜ π–™π–π–Šπ–—π–Š, π–‡π–šπ–™ π–™π–π–Š π–’π–Žπ–“π–‰ 𝖔𝖋 π–™π–π–Š π–ˆπ–”π–“π–ˆπ–Šπ–Žπ–™π–Šπ–‰ π–ˆπ–”π–’π–•π–”π–˜π–Šπ–˜ π–π–žπ–•π–”π–™π–π–Šπ–˜π–Šπ–˜.” 𝕡𝖔𝖍𝖆𝖓𝖓 π•Ώπ–”π–‡π–Žπ–†π–˜ π•­π–Šπ–ˆπ– (πŸπŸ–πŸŽπŸ’-πŸπŸ–πŸ•πŸ–)

β€œLove must first open the door of the heart so that it may be persuaded of the truth of God’s grace and glory.”

Mine is just a feeble echo of a much wiser, spirited & courageous man – β€œIt is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ― Antoine de Saint-ExupΓ©ry, 𝑻𝒉𝒆 π‘³π’Šπ’•π’•π’π’† π‘·π’“π’Šπ’π’„π’† Continue reading “Knowing God With the Heart of Love”

Prosperity Prophets and Presidential Politics

Some Christians experience perplexity as they watched video recordings of Paula White, the faith adviser of President Trump prophesying over the pulpit. Their perplexity turns into consternation when they come across the following video in the social media. The accompanying message from a Muslim appears to be taunting Christians.

Hello everyone. My name is Ahmad and i have watch the video, my question is ” Is what Senior Pastor Paula White spoke is it from the bible?” If it is, show me where in your scripture? For example, she claimed that everywhere she stands the ground is holy, sounds like what God said to Moses. Is she equal to God? From my little knowledge but I know that when God is present the ground is holy and anyone not sanctified will be struck dead standing on the ground. How come President Trump who stood beside her is not struck dead? She said that if you are not voting for Trump you are going against God. It reminds me of PAS saying to Muslims that “if you do not vote for them, you will go to hell”. Did she received instruction from God to say this? on issue of offering, she said that there is a bank or treasury in heaven and if I give more I will get more in return. Is this true.? I am really interested in this as I have invested in the stock market and I lost quite a large sum. There are many more questions? But let’s deal with these questions first before you share with me about Jesus because she uses the name of Jesus. Continue reading “Prosperity Prophets and Presidential Politics”

Silence and Discernment in Midst of Political Cacophony

We are overwhelmed daily by information overload from the Internet. Brett McCracken explains,

The speed of information today is simply too fast. Too fast for sufficient vetting, fact-checking, prudence (should I really retweet this?) and commonsense critical thinking. This creates a variety of new problems that erode our collective trust in information: fake news, viral misinformation, conspiracy theories, and too-hasty reporting from otherwise reputable news sources.

The irony of the information age is that the more access we have to an unfathomable amount of information and accumulated knowledge, the less wise we seem to become. One problem with information glut is that it taxes our brains, forcing them into constant triage mode and sapping them of energy (and time) for the deeper, evaluative thinking necessary for wisdom. [ 2020 Proves We Don’t Need More Information. (We Need Something Else.)]

It is a strange sight to see some Malaysian Christians getting at each other in their heated debates about American politics twelve thousand miles away. Continue reading “Silence and Discernment in Midst of Political Cacophony”

Trusting God in Times of (Covid) Crisis

It seems that my blog post, β€œGod Has Answered our Coronavirus Lament. Contra. N.T. Wright” has caused offence among some ardent admirers of N.T. Wright. It has been suggested in the social media that I was small-minded and most uncharitable in trying to discredit someone just because of theological disagreement. It was alleged that my response betrayed vanity and presumptuousness as I tried in vain to discredit a world class scholar who is unquestionably way far more accomplished than I am. One critic concluded that I have been so caught up with abstract theologizing that I have lost the ability to empathize andΒ  offer pertinent pastoral counsel to people who are struggling with their faith in times of crisis.

I re-read my response to NTW to see if indeed I have been guilty of the charges levelled at me. To be honest, I am still puzzled in trying to identify the grounds on which these defenders of NTW drew these awful conclusions about me when other readers responded positively to the same post. Continue reading “Trusting God in Times of (Covid) Crisis”

Holy Saturday and the Spirituality of Waiting

In general, the tradition of Holy Saturday (the day between Good Friday and Easter) is not observed among the independent churches. Yes, Good Friday ends in tragedy. But thank God, there is great rejoicing on Easter Sunday. But how is Good Friday connected to Easter Sunday if we have no idea about what is happening on the day between them? The unexplained hiatus creates a sense of awkwardness.

I strongly recommend Alan Lewis’ profound book, Between the Cros and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday (Eerdmans, 2001) which I found stimulating and helpful when I preached on Holy Saturday in a series of Easter sermons in 2014. Continue reading “Holy Saturday and the Spirituality of Waiting”

Finding God’s Peace in Times of Afflictive Providence (Covid-19 Crisis)

The doctrine of the providence of God assures believers that the Lord is sovereign over the circumstances of their lives. Indeed, β€œThe Church is His special care and charge. He rules the world for its good, as a head consulting the welfare of the body.” (John Flavel)

Meditation on God’s providence will foster both gratitude and fortitude in believers. Flavel in his classic book, The Mystery of Providence demonstrates how the Reformed doctrine of providence provides practical advice on how believers may grow in sanctification and enjoy the peace of God through times of affliction (excerpts given below).

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APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF PROVIDENCE

How may a Christian discover the will of God and his own duty under dark and doubtful providences?
In order to answer this question we must consider what is meant by the will of God and what by those doubtful providences that make the discovery of His will difficult and what rules are to be observed for ascertaining God’s will for us under such difficult and puzzling providences.

How may a Christian be supported in waiting upon God, while Providence delays the performance of the mercies to him for which he has long prayed and waited?
It is supposed in this case that Providence may linger and delay the performance of those mercies to us that we have long waited and prayed for, and that during that delay and suspense our hearts and hopes may be very low and ready to fail. Continue reading “Finding God’s Peace in Times of Afflictive Providence (Covid-19 Crisis)”

“Old Wine” Spirituality Remains the Best

Protestant devotional literature was once well-served by popular writers like E. Stanley Jones, Eugene Peterson, Philip Yancey, Gordon MacDonald & J Oswald SandersΒ  but today they are fading from the scene. The writers who are taking their place are eclectic in their approach to β€œspirituality.” Some are inspired by writers likeΒ  Thomas Merton, Henri NouwenΒ  and Jean Vanier who wrote from the tradition of Roman Catholic spiritual theology while others betray traces of New Age spirituality. Not surprisingly, the word β€œspirituality” has also proven to be an amorphous catch-all word.Β  Nowadays, a lot of what goes as Christian spirituality is actually some form of syncretism mixed with disturbing and unorthodox theology (e.g. Richard Rohr). But to be fair we need to judge modern spirituality writers on a case by case basis. For example, the rediscovery of β€œspiritual disciplines” (c.f. Roger Forster & Dallas Willard) has been helpful to Protestants looking for β€œhandles” as well as a map of spiritual progress in their devotional exercises & spiritual formation. Continue reading ““Old Wine” Spirituality Remains the Best”

What is Biblical Celebration-Worship?

Celebration in Contemporary WorshipThese days it is not uncommon to come across worship meetings where song leaders vigorously urge the congregation to freely give praise to God in the name of celebration. The songs chosen in these meetings seem to engender a euphoric, if not jubilant mood. Emotional spontaneity becomes palpable with lines of bodies … Continue reading “What is Biblical Celebration-Worship?”

Celebration in Contemporary Worship
These days it is not uncommon to come across worship meetings where song leaders vigorously urge the congregation to freely give praise to God in the name of celebration. The songs chosen in these meetings seem to engender a euphoric, if not jubilant mood. Emotional spontaneity becomes palpable with lines of bodies swaying along to the loud beat of the drum. The high point of celebration-worship comes when members are urged to β€˜sing in the spirit’ as they follow cues from the musical team giving notes of β€˜chords progression’. The crescendo is rounded off with a flourish of β€˜clap offering’.

It would be churlish to doubt the appropriateness of celebration-worship today. Christians who have been battered throughout the week need to be emotionally and spiritually recharged, and what better way to recharge them than through celebration in church worship? Indeed, many visitors to church testify that they come because they are attracted by the celebrative spirit of our services. Who can resist the contagion of joy?

Celebration is evidence of the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading “What is Biblical Celebration-Worship?”

I Like Autumn: The Golden Years with Calm and Contentment

Nowadays, churches seem to focus most of their energy and resources to cater to the needs of the younger generation. The constant search is for new leaders who display youthful enthusiasm, energy and organizational skills. Meanwhile, the older Christians are expected to fade gracefully into the background. Presumably, they should feel contented now that they … Continue reading “I Like Autumn: The Golden Years with Calm and Contentment”

Nowadays, churches seem to focus most of their energy and resources to cater to the needs of the younger generation. The constant search is for new leaders who display youthful enthusiasm, energy and organizational skills. Meanwhile, the older Christians are expected to fade gracefully into the background. Presumably, they should feel contented now that they are free to graze peacefully at green pastures beside still waters.

The reality is that many of the older Christians feel lost and displaced, especially when they find it hard to adjust to church services where the steady and reverential flow of liturgical worship is displaced by overpowering loud and repetitive music, and where the reflective homily is supplanted by motivational talks – all in the quest for relevance to contemporary culture. Continue reading “I Like Autumn: The Golden Years with Calm and Contentment”