Category Archives: Spiritual

Child of God

I know I haven’t been here a while, life is happening and this was just not a priority… but it is 4:20 am right now… and today, this morning, this suddenly became a priority: I had to post something.

I had another layered dream/vision, maybe its from all the food I ate at the wedding? Anyways, here goes:

The layered dream/vision:
There was 5 colours, each corresponded to a worship song, each was a presentation of God and the gospel. Somehow I was uncomfortable going through the worship, and i was made aware that it was actually 5 ways of misrepresentation of God
Then I woke up from this layer & details are already starting to get fuzzy. I prayed in this layer for clarity and just something to remember… and something that actually represents true worship. Then I ‘fell asleep’ again and returned to the vision.
True worship was represented by a great & glorious light of a golden hue, and the worship I heard was “I am a child of God, yes, I am a child of God” on repeat.     I woke up from this layer, trying to recall the details of the first 5 & was trying to describe all this to a peer, the details are fading but “I am a child of God” is taking over

This is when I woke up into the real world & and to write this down (and i guess posting it by retyping it as well…). I still do not have the details of the first 5 colours/worship song, but generally it was something along the lines of how something as awesome and supposedly God honouring as worship is not necessarily actually worship nor God honouring & can be misconstrued by Satanic forces or our human flesh.
The true, God-centered worship focuses on who God is, and who we are to God in what He has done:

“Yes, I am a child of God”

What I think of this dream/vision currently:

  1. God answered a prayer immediately, even as I was not fully awake for the prayer (seriously, what just happened???)
  2. I needed to hear that I am a child of God. Right now. Currently going through struggles that I am not sure if I am ever going to win & is it even worth the fight, or should I just give up and revert back to the old way…

    “I am a child of God”

  3. It is by mercy that I do not remember the first 5, so that I do not misconstrue these songs when I/my church are worshipping with it.
  4. ways to misrepresent God in worship may include: (I am backfilling as I no longer have the details)
    – lyrics that does not represent God’s heart nor the scripture
    – artist or worship leader who became more about the artistic talent as opposed to glorifying God
    – singing praises/giving worship that we do not mean as a church (our hearts are not ready)
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Freedom

I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. ~ Robert A. Heinlein

We like to define freedom as the ability to make our own choices without constaint, as reflected by the quote above. In fact, the chinese phrase for freedom is made up of 2 characters, first to mean ‘self’, second to mean ‘reason’ or ‘origin’. This is a freedom for us to do things, for us to pursue our dreams.

I would like to argue that this may not be the best definition of freedom that we truly desire, nor is it the one we enjoy in the North American culture today.

Consider traffic laws. We are not free to drive anywhere on the road as we please, we are not free to travel at any speed we’d like, and we are not free to ignore the traffic lights and stop signs and so on. These things constrains us, and makes us less ‘free’. However, such constraints on our freedom opens up possibilities for other kinds of freedom. With traffic laws in place, we are now free to travel to our destination (relatively) safely. And such is true for law in general. We are not free to cause bodily harm on others, but this offers the freedom to not be in danger every time you walk out of your house.

Or have you ever mused of wanting to be a child again, without the responsibilities of your current situation so that you may be more ‘free’? If freedom is such a desirable thing… why is it that we can all agree that the child is more ‘free’ to do w/e he wants?

Let us also consider God.
God is not free to sin, for He is altogether holy and He cannot bring Himself to sin.

But we can.

Does that mean we have more freedom than God since we can sin, and He cannot? This makes no sense!

We can all agree that freedom is good, and God actually also promises freedom (2 Cor 3:17, John 8:36, Psalm 118:5 and so on).

How can sinful men have more ‘good’ (in terms of freedom), than an infinitely good God?

I would like to offer a way to talk about freedom: Freedom TO, and Freedom FROM.

Freedom TO would be the freedom that we’ve been talking about earlier, the freedom to do as we pleases. BUT I feel this is not the correct definition of freedom.

Freedom FROM would be the kind of freedom that God possesses and offers to us. A freedom to be free from the boundage of sin (Gal 5:1, 13-14). This kind of freedom is the goodness of God.

As we can see earlier that some constraints, such as laws, may limit our ‘freedom TO’ but it also enables more of ‘freedom FROM’.

Yes, we are still free to pursue our heart’s desires, I’m not saying we should take away all the ‘freedom TO’, but I am saying it is time to think about freedom in a new way:

freedom is being so in love with Christ that you do exactly what you want to do and it accords with Christ. ~John Piper

Are you so in love with Christ that you will use all your freedom to be in accords with Him? Am I?

None are more hoplessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

So be free, and not just believing that you are.

~John

To Judge

We live in a day when it’s easy, popular, and even preferred for people to sit back and say, “Well, what other people do is between them and God. Their sin is their life, their decision, and their responsibility.” But aren’t you glad this isn’t how God responds to us? Aren’t you glad that God pursues us despite our sins and pulls us away from that which destroys us? And don’t we want people in our lives who will love us enough to look out for us when we begin to walk down a road of sinful destruction? ~ David Platt

This had been a topic that is dear to my heart, but it had been a difficult topic to address. First thing to note is when i talk about convicting judgment, it is reserved for our brothers and sisters who are already in Christ in accordance to 1 Cor 5:12:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

There are really 2 kinds of ‘judgment’, and we tend to take the more negative meaning of condemnation when we talk about this. But there is also the positive side of conviction and that is what i want to focus on. An example would be the story of: Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “neither will i [condemn you], go and sin no more.” It shows conviction.

Even then, when we start talking about judgement, automatic defenses will go up and conversations shut down, often referring to Matthew 7:1.

As we are all different, having different strength and weakness, it is our responsibility to be in a community to take on each other’s burdens – as soon as we deal with our own sins first and allowing our brothers to speak into our lives. We must subject ourselves under the same standard we want to use to speak into our brothers’ lives, for it is God’s promise that we will be judged the same way we judge others (Matt 7:2). But it does not stop there, God also wants us to deal with the pillar in our eyes, THEN to speak into the lives of those around us as in verse 5 “… and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

This is a very good example of us Christians being partial to Jesus teachings: Don’t just read verse 1 and 2, KEEP reading! We like to say, ‘its really not my place to judge’ in hope of not offending anyone. While it is true that God is the ultimate judge, but He also gave us the responsibility for our brothers.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers ~ 1 Tim 4:16

So if you truly Love your brothers, speak up and stand for God’s standard.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good ~ Rom 12:9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is nobel, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things ~ Philippians 4:8

“Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

~John

The wisdom of the Ancient Chinese: Busyness

The Chinese word for being busy is . It is the combination of the word for heart, and the word for death.  This suggests that busyness can kill the heart (Original idea from Ken Shigematsu, in God in my Everything).

Combining this idea with what I said last time about love (that the heart is essential in love), we see that being busy would reduce our capacity for love. Being overly busy would kill the heart in love, and you would only have ‘receive’ left. We become a needy person who can only receive, but never give love.

This is not news; we see it play out around us all the time. From the student that would have no patience toward the parent, to the parents that blame the condition of their children on the society, the teachers, or anything but their own inability to give proper example of love to their children; From the worker that cannot grace even a little stress, to the customer whose goal in life was to make his/her server as miserable as he/she is.

This is why God invites us to stop and rest, and not only invites us, but commands us to do so (see the 4th commandment).

“We stop because it is time to stop. Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished, we will never stop – because our work is never completely done.” ~Wayne Muller

Being able to slow down, to stop and rest is also an opportunity to exercise our trust in the Lord… That He would provide for us.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” ~Exodus 14:14

So be Still;
Be still and know that He is God

~John

The Christian Atheist

A few weeks ago, our pastor asked us ‘Which book (other than the bible) had been the most influential in your life?’
I went with a copout answer of ‘the current book I’m reading, as I read to learn, and there are always things to learn’.

Now with more reflection, I feel that the book that had the most impact, the book that I took to heart the most (other than the bible) was The Christian Atheist, by Craig Groeschel

The book was about Christians living as if though Christ does not exist, practically atheists. As the book explores different areas in our lives, I feel it was really leading all up to the epilogue (which is my favorite chapter in that book).

So I shall share about the vision that the author outlined in the epilogue, and then some of my reflections to go with that…

The Vision:

He saw 3 lines in sand, and instinctively he knew exactly what those lines represent.

The first line was I believe in God and the gospel enough to benefit from it, the under lying tone was if there is a God, I want to be on His good side. This is characterized by wanting God’s benefits without changing how we live. We want His best, without our sacrifices. We do not fear the Lord nor share our faith, we still love this world and pursue happiness and any cost. We get what we can from God, without giving much, if anything, back. This is a cultural Christianity, a nominal Christian, although we claim to be Christians, our actions speaks otherwise. Is this still on the wide road that Jesus warned us against? Remember the verses such as, “even the demons believe…”

The second line was I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to contribute comfortably, the underlying tone was as long as it doesn’t cost too much. Many first line Christians eventually cross over the second line: If I don’t have to change too much, I’ll do some of what God asks; if it doesn’t hurt too much, I’ll get more serious about God. But everyone have their limits, right? This is a humanistic Christianity, a involved Christian. Only God is the judge, but this looks a lot like ‘the middle road’ that Francis Chan was talking about. We don’t want to be on the wide road, no, because that leads to hell, but we don’t want to be on the narrow road either, because that takes too much work, too much sacrifice.

The third line was I believe in God and Christ’s gospel enough to give my life to it, and the anything less than line three didn’t seem like real Christianity to me (the author). And I agree. Is this a God that I can give my whole life to, not only in words but in living as well? The thing is, it had always been like this, to follow is to deny myself. This is true Christianity, a committed Christian. This is a Faith that states Christ or nothing, nothing to add, and nothing to subtract… do not be deceived by the lukewarm! There is no such thing as the middle road, it is the narrow gate and the narrow road… or nothing.

“A moderated religion is as good as no religion at all!” ~C.S. Lewis

The Reflection:

To understand that being involved is not the same as being committed.

I’ve always believed in God, just not enough to trust Him with my whole life in his wheelbarrow. I knew God COULD fulfill His promises, but I was never sure he’d do it FOR ME.

God created me in His image. I returned the favour and created Him in mine. Comparing myself to others is much easier than measuring my life against Christ’s, but God does not grade on a curve.

But ultimately, there is no excuse to NOT living this life for Him in view of what He has already done for us.

So…
Where are you?

Where do you want to go? Do you even want to move?
How badly do you want to get there? Whatever it takes?

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. ~Titus 1:16
The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him. ~ 1 John 2:4

Are you denying Him?

Love awakens Love, and you are loved! Obedience is an outflow of love

so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive ~Titus2:10b

Love is not just emotions, it is also actions, a call to commit, and God exemplified that commitment first:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us ~Romans 5:8

So live!

~John

Let my words be few – Phillips, Craig, and Dean

You are God in heaven
And here am I on earth,
So I’ll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You.

And I’ll stand in awe of You,
Yes I’ll stand in awe of You,
And I’ll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You.

The simplest of all love songs
I want to bring to You,
So I’ll let my words be few-
Jesus I am so in love with You.

 

Wisdom of the Ancient Chinese: Love

The Chinese word for love is , it is comprised of 2 parts: the word (heart) is located in the middle of the word (to receive).

Love is only possible when your heart is in it! And we know that we are loved when we receive the other party’s heart in the process.

Not only that, but an authentic love is only possible when you have received a new heart first.

We love because He first loved us. ~1 John 4: 19

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. ~1 John 3:16

But God demonstrates his low love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

There is much more to be said about love, but I feel like I have said enough in a previous post (see The meaning of life is… love?)

Yay for shameless self promotions!

~John

Wisdom of the Ancient Chinese: Trust

the Chinese word for trust is ,it is comprised of 2 parts: , meaning person/people/individual, and , meaning words/speech.

So to trust is to take someone at their word.

Pretty straightforward, isn’t it?

Think about our lives, we actually function on trust a whole lot more than we would think.

For example, we breath because we trust that the next breathe is not going to kill us. If we trust that the next breathe could kill us, like when we are underwater, we will try our best NOT to breath!

Simply because we cannot and are not physically possible to test everything, we trust someone else has, and the results are being shared correctly. This is actually the idea of infinite regress, but that’s a lot more philosophical and it will be for another time.

Let us just say that at the root of any and every piece knowledge is trust: we must trust the source of that specific knowledge, whether it is from your own senses or from other people’s.

That being said… whose words do you trust? On whose words are you forming your knowledge about this world? About life? About your own life?

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. ~ Psalm 118:8

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Furthermore, this is also a reminder for us to watch our words carefully. To be trustworthy is

“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (Matt 5:37)

~John