Let’s Go

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them. – Numbers 13:33

Moses sent one representatives out of each of the 12 tribes to explore the land of Canaan for forty days. They discovered a land filled with milk and honey and abundant in natural resources. They also found the land occupied by giants, descendants from Anak. Instead of remembering the promises that God and what God can do for them, they worried about the occupants of the land and ended up spreading fear about taking possession of what God has originally intended for them.

Our lives are constantly been bombarded by challenges and fear. We would rather having everything stay status quo, no sudden change in our course of life, be firmly rooted and enjoy our current position. We always believe that our current place is the best place to be. I have been working in my company for more than 15 years, and really, roots have grown and I would rather stay for as long as I can until I really feel uncomfortable. Why change, when it is so good to be here rather than having to face with possible emotional distress, hardship and unknown giants that we may face?

The Israelites were God’s chosen people. They were heirs of God’s great resources. Yet living as slaves under the Egyptians for 400 years has conditioned them to think that working under another master would give them all the security, food and comfort they needed. They have become too ‘comfortable’ to move, forfeited what God had originally planned and stored for them. They believed the ‘old days‘ were better, which were not that old actually. Their memories were short, if they had remembered farther back to Eden. 400 years of slavery is better than heirs and co-heirs to God’s vast resources. Leave the hardship to someone else. And poofs, there goes the opportunity.

Someone mentioned to me that, without God, we could not. But without us, He would not. Yes, things will stay status quo alright missed out the great Canaan.

There are definitely challenges, but often they are overblown. The Israelites saw a great land abundant in natural resources. They have a great leader Moses. And they have a God who led them through the desert. They have crossed the Red Sea, unscathed. Their pursuers perished while pursuing them. And the probable 2 million Israelites were given free manna to eat during the whole exodus. And rather than remembering what they have, they focused on what they will face. They overblown the whole situation, and created rumors instilling fear among themselves. They have made themselves to be grasshoppers to the Amalekites. Imagine, thousands of times the different when the Amalekites were just a tad taller and bigger.

I believe it is a natural response with all of us. My kids were scared of small flying insects thousands of times her size. Adults too. But, is it natural?

Perhaps they should not have surveyed the land, and just go in and conquered it. Yes, it is true and I believe many of us can attest to bypassing this psychological distress of knowing.  But that’s not how God work. He wants us to know everything and get ourselves prepared. Above all, He wants us to see how He conquer it. In other word, we are merely our own helpers to His work if we are sensitive enough to reflect all that we have gone through previously.

It is natural to be fearful. But God call us to be faithful. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11 has great accounts of what faith means to those who lived in the days of old. And they all passed their journeys. Shouldn’t we too?

It is easy to focus on the challenges and put on more fear. But it is better to focus on Jesus, put on more faith.

How then can we not think about ‘a land filled with giants‘? Personally, I don’t encourage thinking about ‘a land filled with milk and honey‘. It does help, but it won’t help to address the fear. I would rather think about a land filled by God’s promises. His promises are always good, never bad, no matter what circumstances we are in. The greatest promise that God has made to all of us is Jesus.

Jesus is a greater and a better version of Moses. He is our helper, our advocate and solicitor, our protector, the great teacher, a leader who would lead us back to the promised land. He is our ever present help in time of need. It might be a roller coaster ride. Getting in for the first time may be scary. But it’ll be fun. It will be trilling. When we disembark, we will be fully satisfied and eager for another ride.

Perhaps, just perhaps it’s time to buckle up, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Let’s go!

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Two

And hope does not disappoint us… – Romans 5:5a

Two events hit me really hard two weeks ago. Firstly, wickedness still looms on this land of ours. Secondly, emptiness has to be filled or else it’ll take a toll over our life. These two events, or so call lessons, would forever etched into my mind.

After a close encounter on one Tuesday evening, I think I might have been living in a completely sterile environment for the past 43 years not knowing that wickedness can be so real that it actually happened right before my eyes. I met people who have no remorse, no regret over what they did, living in lies and deceit and whatsoever they did are right before their own eyes. They take things not belonging to them, demanding access right where they have no right or even position at all, and confronting others’ beliefs for argument sake to their own advantage. They even swore by the name of their god that they are innocent and everyone else is in the wrong.

Secondly, emptiness kills. I can’t comprehend that human can be so empty on the inside but yet can be so camouflaged by their own doings, looking strong on the outside but suddenly could no longer bear it any longer and decided to give everything up. Tried as many ways to fill the losses, but yet after much trying become disappointed and gave up. Perhaps wickedness has a minor hand in this, but largely it was due to an unfulfilled lost that has no equal substitute. The stronger a man is, the harder the onslaught of emptiness on the inside. A horrible ending, and a sad one indeed.

I was deeply saddened by all these as if the world suddenly turned upside down, and things fell apart. I wonder why God allowed me to go through these events right before my eyes. I wonder whether there would ever be justice served for wickedness, or would there be hope that wickedness can be changed for the better. I wonder whether anything can be done to identify emptiness, to fill it or to reverse the effect before something bad happens. Could there be something we can do before all these things explode? Could God do something? I have no answer.

Though life goes on, and I went back to my usual routine, it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. Something change after those events. It seems so dark to me. I just hope that the change would not lead to something bad, but for something good.

I am glad that I have good companies who helped and kept me sane to move on. I have the basic instruction to place my hope in God Almighty before leaving earth. A God who taught me everything I know about life on earth as it is in heaven and the promises that He has made and He would keep them. I have a hope that no matter how hopeless life can be, there is still Him. We need to learn to rejoice, rejoice in the hope of the glory of God and know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. A hope that those who are lost in wickedness, lost in their emptiness, would find this hope in Christ Jesus… a hope that does not disappoint.

Simply, Live It!

Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD… So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. – Leviticus 19:37, Romans 7:12

Questions were posed from two of my good friends with regards to comments made by two contrasting Christian men. These Christian men had different thoughts about their identity living as believers of Christ. Sometimes I wonder why we think so much, reason so much and yet still confused. But I realized that I need to be open minded about it and get into these confusions. Only then would we grow closer to the truth.

One of them was questioning the validity of preaching the Ten Commandments today. Church has been marching through the Ten Commandments almost every week. But to him, he feels that the laws of Moses no longer apply in the era of the new covenant. He felt that the church is condemning him, whipping him with the laws which Jesus has set us all free from. The law should not hold him down anymore as he is living fully depending on His grace. He rejects the notion that he is bounded by the law to the extent that it is okay to lie, in the context that it is used for good purpose. It is okay to do wrong, because Jesus will forgive him. There is nothing wrong with him.

Meanwhile, this other guy, felt guilty for keep thinking of a missed deal that caused him to lose hundred thousands of ringgit. This thought keep coming back to him. As a believer, he felt all good things come from Him and blessings like this should not have been missed. He wants to make it in life, set target to achieve, visionary yet he can’t reconcile being contented from being successful in life. He felt he is a hypocrite, worldly and unable to meet the standard set by a Holy God and hence find it hard even to come to church. There is something wrong with him.

What is wrong?

Condemnation, for the wrong reason. But really, there is nothing to feel condemned about.

I believe this has to do with sin. The effect of sin is so great even though we have been set free. It still lingers as we live in a fallen world. We are constantly blinded by the work of sin that sometimes we forget whose we are, who redeemed us and what we have been set apart for. The evil one is a deceiver, ever ready to lie even with His truth. We got confused and we fall back into the old covenant, knowingly or unknowingly.

The Israelites were living in lawlessness just before the Ten Commandments were introduced. And being Christians, we can easily fall back into lawlessness like the Israelites if we are not careful. Without the laws, we would not have known our boundary, where we have crossed the line. Paul said in Roman 7:7 that he would not have known what sin was except through the law. So, without law we would not have know that we have sinned, even though we have been forgiven. 1 John 1:6 says that if we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. This is a fallen world, and a lying Christian is still, a sinner.

1 John 1:9 also says that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. As human and as Christians, sometimes we can be cruel to ourselves. Conviction can becomes condemnation. Probably we have taken His law too seriously without remembering His unmerited favor towards us. We found that we are not worthy to an extend of belittling ourselves, and belittling Him as well. And we disappear from His presence. He is faithful and just and will forgive our sin. As long as we know we have crossed the line, come back to this throne of grace and live again!

We are His, Jesus redeemed us and we have been set apart for good works. Hah! Good works!

I’d rather get out of confusion and get into a celebration. Life is just too short to get confused. Simply, live it!

Bald

When a man has lost his hair and is bald, he is clean. If he has lost his hair from the front of his scalp and has a bald forehead, he is clean. – Lev 13:40,41

Sometimes I find the bible amusing. It even talk about baldness. And I’m glad it’s not talking bad about being bald. I know what you are thinking. I am not bald. Self denial? No, not yet, but I admit I am getting there. I don’t want to, but I can’t help it. As much as I want a full scalp of hair, I can’t seems to be keeping them on. Strand after strand left me. I can only comb my hair in a certain style. Tried many options, nothing works. I have come to a position that I have to accept it. Though a cosmetic or probably a lifestyle problem as it seems, it also keep reminding me that age is catching up.

Glad to read Leviticus 13:40.41 this morning. Not a balm to my soul, but it’s good to start the day knowing that I am clean. And as an added consolation, I was reminded about the Chinese saying, 十个光头,九个富. Ten baldy, nine are rich. Hey, 90% of baldies are rich! And, I am not the tenth, yes?

Yep! I have one problem which I have never been able to solve. There are many problems that have passed successfully through me. But still, there are many which I never have a lit of light bulb above my head. Let alone growing more hair. Don’t laugh. And how true it is that in this world, we would have problem. Nobody have none. Jesus said in John 16:33 that in this world, we will have problem. But He claimed that He has overcome the world!

Everyone in this world is working on at least one problem now. A baby learning his first step, an adult trying to take his step further and an old man trying to keep his step. Many are moving on from one problem to another. Some small, some big. Some face theirs head on, some ignore them, while others, try to hide away. But we know, we can’t overcome every problem we are facing. Sometimes we just have to live with it, accept it and make the best out of it. Just as Jesus faced the momentous Cross and was destined to be nailed on it, rather than rejecting, He embraced, accepted it and overcome.

Jesus didn’t overcome the problem by trying to find a solution. He did not negotiate for alternatives, did not find an alternative. He never tried to out maneuver, ignore or hide away. He just accept it, and swallow it all up. If you have seen The Passion of the Christ, you would know that it was an impossible, a hard, enduring feat, doesn’t worth the hardship and suffering and for none to His benefit. You may think that He was mad, but no. He was very conscious, carried the Cross and faced it head on.

You see, the Cross was not His problem. It was ours. He took up our problems and put them on Himself. He was carrying all our sins and tried to solve it. He nailed them on the Cross. Rather than finding a solution, He’s the solution.

We have enough problem. But have any of you took up others’ problems and put them on ourselves? I think most of us did in certain part of our life. It may not be fair but it’s a noble things to do. Jesus said in Luke 14:27, anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. At least, we need to carry our own cross. We need to learn to face our own problem first, and then, take up others. Remember, in this world we will have problem. But take heart, He has overcome the world. We have a Helper that has overcome.

Well, back to the above topic, I am facing it alright! Isn’t Kojak is a great detective. Isn’t Professor Charles Xavier sleek? And Gandhi is a great man!

I am not looking that far. But someday, just someday, I can style and color my hair just like my brother in law.

Why Not I?

This is the portion of the offerings made to the LORD by fire that were allotted to Aaron and his sons on the day they were presented to serve the LORD as priests. On the day they were anointed, the LORD commanded that the Israelites give this to them as their regular share for the generations to come. – Leveticus 7:35,36

I was reminded about tithes and offerings this morning, and something else. In the days of old, offerings were made by the Israelites to redeem their sins, guilt and for purpose of thanksgiving. The Israelites were instructed to offer grains and livestock. Priests were ordained to perform the ritual in the tent of Meeting to help cleansed the Israelites’ sins and guilt. These offerings are burnt while some are kept by the priests being part of their allotment. And by doing so, the Israelites will be forgiven. Their sins and guilt are placed on these offerings and are burnt away to Heaven. As easy as that. It sounds surprisingly similar to how the Chinese Buddhist, Taoist or even the Hindus performing their rites and rituals.

There is a certain standard to follow behind each and every of our belief systems. I don’t know about you but I find that the main reason behind all these rites and ritual is that we want to be blessed. We do not want to lose out on blessing, especially when it comes from God. We wanted everything good in our lives. Who don’t? You may find this sounds a bit selfish, but I find that this is still the fact when we stand in front of the altar. Don’t we want something good to happen to us? Everyone is searching or expecting for something good for themselves, for their loved ones and perhaps for others, on the face of this earth.

Yet, in the context of the bible, selfishness or covetousness is already a sin, and when my tithes and offerings are placed on the altar of sacrifice with the intention of receiving more, I find that I am already coveting for something I do not have. So, round and round the sins & guilt, rites & rituals, forgiven and committing them again. When then can a person be completely forgiven? When we die and stand in front of the Judge. I can’t be right all the time, and all these just don’t seems right!

When I was a Buddhist, I burnt incense and paper offerings. I pray to few gods whom I only know as spiritual being, whom are meant for certain purpose if I need that specific god to bless me. For example, the god of mercy if I needed forgiveness, the god of war if I am into study or work, god of fortune if I needed money, or whatever. I followed the rites and ritual blindly, by word of mouth, and believed good things would happen. I wanted peace, protection from harm, aversion from bad omen, opportunity, get good exam results, good pay or even 4 digit numbers. And I believe that something good will someday happen. Oh yes, something good did happened, though not all the time. But, but the sad thing is that, nothing good ever happens IN me! I am still the same old person.

When I turn to Christianity, there was a divine exchange. They was nothing that I need to do, no sacrifices, no burnt offerings, no trade, nothing at all. It gave me the a whole new perspective of looking into my doing of trying to redeem what I have not done right. I find that I am unworthy, can never attain His perfect standard and will be destined for hell forever. I needed a helper in the form of Jesus. He knows that I can never pay for my sins with all my rites and rituals. He knows what I want, what I need. I will still be the same old man by doing all these by myself, and nothing good will ever change in me. So, God gave me my perfect tithes and offerings that would pay, once and for all, all of my sins and guilt. Jesus gave Himself for me on the Cross.

Today, I no longer need to perform all these rites and rituals, and have no need to pay for my tithes and offerings to redeem whatever that I have not done right in the pass, present or the future. Jesus’ work on the Cross has completed my redemptive works, and I am forgiven forever. There is no longer any sins, any guilt offerings that I need to do, except thanksgiving offerings. Tithes and offerings are no longer important, no longer a barrier to me. What else can I offer, and why not?

Because Jesus gave, why not I?

His Time

He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. – Psalm 112:9

We went to visit one of our friend’s father one Saturday afternoon. Her father was admitted into hospital because of blockage in his intestine. He was having bouts of serious vomiting. He is 85 years old and has been suffering from cancer around his abdomen for many years. The growth around his abdomen restricted his intestine from functioning properly. Surprisingly after a week in the hospital, he got better and managed to drink and eat again, though in small quantity. We attributed the sudden turn of event to God’s intervention.

Uncle was in a jovial mood. Although his physical body is wasting away, his mind is still fresh. He was the most talkative person among the crowd. The four of us were the ones who were tongue tight, not knowing how to strike a conversation. Firstly, because we hardly know him, and secondly we were not used to Mandarin and Cantonese. Uncle speaks in Mandarin and Cantonese, while most of us use English most of the time. I was fortunate to be able to converse with him in Cantonese, being my mother tongue. It was an enjoyable and enlightening evening.

Before we left the place, we prayed for him. I prayed in Cantonese, language which I seldom use for prayers. I only used it when I pray for my mom and my grandmother in law. A priviledge to hear me pray in Cantonese, you know. Well, it would be good that uncle hear what prayer truly means in his own language. Uncle was not English educated. And he is not a Christian. But his daughter desires him to be one.

I can’t deny that Christian is a Western belief in many a perspective. It started in Jerusalem and spread to Europe. We can’t run away from this fact. Being English educated, knowing Christianity is natural as it is the only religion that was actively spread in this medium. Though it may seems as such, Christianity is also the only religion that chose to reach out in every other language, whereas others remain in their original language. We need to ask why all the hard work, and what drives the passion to do all these works? It’s not brainwashing. It’s because we are touched by God.

Born as a Buddhist, and now a converted Christian, I can attest to the best of these two worlds. Buddhism has rich cultures, good moral values and imposes disciplines for the betterment of its believers. Christianity cut across cultures but brings a lot of meaning into how we should live, what we should do and where we would go. But above all, it aligns us back to who we belong to. I have found a God who is personal to me. And He always gives me a different perspective about life. So much so that He realigns me back to where I belong. I have many of my questions answered. I’ve decided. I made my choice.

Christianity is filled with deep meanings that are outreaching, rich in values, creates strong foundation and change our life for the better. If we are sensitive and have researched back far enough, we would have seen through history, what progress had been made to countries that had embraced Christianity. Though many of these countries have faltered due to degrading values that deviated from biblical teaching, nonetheless, the benefit of Christianity is evident and long lasting. Will we learn?

It is not easy to make a change, especially when it involves our belief system. Though our hearts yearns for our loved ones to come to know Jesus, the choice is still not ours. It is hard for others to understand and accept what we believe. And similarly, us, receiving others’. We have to respect each others choice. It is God’s decision to allow man to make their own choice. It is not to anyone’s benefit, and certainly not to God, to shove our choice down into others’ throat. No, that’s not our way. Certainly not God’s way. Retribution is not His way. He’s into reconciling business.

As we left the hospital, I can’t help but to be filled with hope that someday, very soon, uncle would understand why his daughter chose her own way. She is not being disrespectful, she honors him. She just found a better way and she yearns for her dad to know about it. Time seems to be short but time is in His hand. And we pray it will be timely. Uncle spoke of many things of the past, about China, the degradation of our moral values, about our country lacking of real leaders, the political corrupts and many more. He is wise with years of experience. But what we heard are bad news without solution. Her daughter wants him to hear the Good News with solutions. But what do we like to hear most of the time? Bad news sell. No wonder life is always beyond our control. And we do not know how or who is in control. But his daughter knows who is in control.

I can’t help but to be reminded about my mom. My mom made a last conscious decision before she left us. She has suffered much throughout her life. An adopted daughter, she was received into a huge family to serve and work for them. Unable to cope, she ran away and ended up working in a Christian family. This was where Christian foundation was laid upon her. I believe it made some impact in her life. Though she never accepted Christianity, and followed my Buddhist dad, she exhibited long lasting values that resembled much to what was written in the bible. She continued working hard to raise her children up, taught them similar biblical values and kept the family together as much as she can. Though she ended up with a fatal disease, she knew her life was not her own. In the end, she decided to have a loving Father in Heaven who would cuddle, embrace and love her, something which she never had during her childhood. She missed this a lot. She has cared for others all her life. It’s time for her to be cared for.

It is mentioned in John12:24,25 where Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Jesus scattered His life for the poor, for us, for our benefit. The righteous one endures forever, and He will be lifted high in honor. Only a God that reaches down and love His creations earns His creations’ love in return. How can we love a God whom does not love us, whom we don’t know personally? It takes time and most often than not, it is always at the end of the road. When we finally reach there and decided to give up, it’s time to give God. It is only when a seed falls into the ground and dies, will only it grows and produce more seeds. I pray the same for uncle, not his time but His time.

Waffle Ice-Cream

‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ – Luke 15:31

I was having lunch with my two kids yesterday after their swimming lesson. My wife was recuperating at home after a minor ops, so I have to attend to some of the kids’ activities. It was also a full Saturday for me, packed with other activities which I like to do for myself. But, it is always a joy spending time with my kids. We were enjoying sharing the waffle ice-cream together and was talking away about all sorts of things under the sun. They are great kids. And I wonder how I fared as a father.

I remembered about my own dad. He was a tough man, never speak much, tough and rough. Not that kind of roughness that destroy a family, but roughness in facing life itself keeping a good family. He is not perfect but good enough for me. Not perfect because he has many a moment when he too fell from grace. He almost ended up with drug addicts and gamblers. But he won that battle. Life molded him, and he seems to understand that sometimes there is nothing he can do but to leave it to fate. It’s very much like leaving our life in God’s hand. I treasured every moment with him, though he never speak much, stern looking and everything seems to mean business, but he is a good father to me. He took care of our physical and financial needs, a role model when it comes to providing for the family. Time was tough when we barely could make ends meet, and in a country that just barely started to embrace a more prosperous economy thirty years ago, I was lucky to have a father who managed to carved his own business from scratch in a small little town called Ipoh. Spade, cement, bricks and mortar, mosaic, tiles were my constant reminders about him being in the construction line. Everything I see, even a cement brick wall seems to has my father’s signature. He was a dropped out, worse off than Bill Gate, but he managed to build a small empire of his own. Throughout his life, words were scarce but rather, he let his actions to speak volume of his values, principle and love for his family. I am because of him.

Today I hold the same position as my dad, a father to my two kids. Times are different and so is the approach. But values, principles and love remain timeless. I could not demand anything from them but can only earn their respect by what I do for them and with them. Today, I am glad to have an age old believe system that has been proven and is under-girded by His Word. I am not sure whether I’ll do any better than my dad, but I believe like every dad would have done i.e., to do our best. Sacrifice is imminent, and I don’t mind. Just as how God our Father who sacrificed Himself for us, His children, how much more can we offer other than our life for our children.

Jesus said in the parable of the two sons in Luke 15:31, ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. God’s heart has always been His love for His children. Whatever kind of situation it may be, whatever we did, whatever happened to us, He still love us very much. This is the heart of the Father. And fathers, I believe all of us inherited the same gene from Him.

As I savored the waffle ice-cream, I realize that it’s not the ice-cream that I enjoyed most but the conversation, laughter, the company and closeness we have for each others. It’s the relationship that I treasured the most. I see how much my kids have grown and I see myself growing older as a father. Age is not the barrier. There was a divine exchange that happened that very moment, in fact every moment. So, it’s not the ice-cream. It’s our Father working hard to bring us closer together.

It’s Father’s Day weekend. I received something special from my kids. Their presence. Not that I am demanding anything from them, and I believe any father would not demand anything from their own kids just because it’s Father’s Day. All I want is the same as just as how my father on earth and in heaven wants me to have i.e., to be happy.

Happy Father’s Day, everydad!

From Buddha to Jesus

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Our labor in the Lord is not in vain. We will make it, thrive, succeed, prosper. We will win the race because we are highly favored. Whatever we do, it is not in vain. It is not we who do, but it is He who does. We just need to give ourselves fully to His work.

Another new day and what a wonderful morning to be reminded about the resurrected body of Christ. It is Good News to my ears. We were once like the first man created by God. But now, we are moving toward the last man. The first man, Adam became a living-being; the last man life-giving spirit. The first man was of dust of the earth, the last man, of heaven. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Sounds too good to be true? No, I did not say this. The bible did. I doubted it, but now I believe.

I was reading a book written by Steve Cioccolanti entitled From Buddhist to Jesus for the past few weeks. I am not against Buddhism. I was once a Buddhist myself, I think. The book says that Buddha is our friend. Yes! We are all friends. Buddha was an Indian prince, known by the title Sakyamuni, who searched for the way to escape karma. The book thought me about karma, reincarnation, Nirvana and many more. The main intention of a Buddhist is to escape the law of karma in order to reach Nirvana. Life is about suffering (tukka). The origin of suffering (samudaya) is sin, which agrees with the Bible. And, the way (moksa) to attain the end of suffering (nirodha) can be achieved. To achieve this, Buddha thought the very similar way that Moses had taught. He taught 227 commands, which the monks simplify it down to Five Commandments (benja seen) and the Ten Karmas, ten ways to cause a person to go to hell. This is similar to Bible’s Ten Commandments and the many laws including the teaching about sins.

We fully agree with the cause of sufferings and the need to have a way to overcome karma. And hence, commandments, laws, were introduced. The laws identify our karma, hence our sin. However, the only issue is that no one can teach us how to fulfil all the laws. Nobody can even fulfill all the laws. Even if we think about something unhealthy, we have already sin. So, can anyone reach Nirvana and escape the cycle of sufferings?

Buddha searched for enlightenment, and one of the very word of Buddha to an old Brahman was, and you got to read this!…

The Holy One who will rescue the world in the near future will have scars in his hands and scars in his feet like the shape of gongjak. In His side, there is a stab wound. His forehead is full of blemish and scars. The Holy Person will be like a golden vessel, a large one, that will carry you across the cycle of suffering until you pass over to Heaven Nippan.

Listen carefully to Buddha’s last words:-

Do not pursue the old way, you will certainly not escape. Turn your old ways, and you will have a new spirit that shines like a lightning bug come down from Heaven above and dwelling in your hearts. And you will be given victory over all your enemies, whether they come against you from four directions or eight directions. Nobody will by any means harm you and when you die, you will not come back to this world again.

If we can achieve liberation by keeping Buddha’s law, making merit, or meditation, what need would there be for a Holy Person mentioned here? But it does make sense theologically that in many teachings of Buddha, that as humble is Buddha himself, he did not see himself as the solution for mankind’s sin, but to look to the Holy One, just as John the Baptist did. The Holy One was known as the Metteya and expected to be the world teacher and world ruler who will end death. Didn’t this sound familiar to someone in the Bible?

I am glad that I have moved on, and understand that there is just no way I can be completely perfect, unless I have a perfect helper. The law is only for the sinners, because only sinners requires the law to control them. But, a helper will help us overcome our sin, and help us to stop coming back to this world of suffering again. Until of unless we accept this Holy One, we will stay as sinners. Which is easier? To follow the law or to accept a helper.

This is a wonderful day as if my whole burden was lifted. Our labour in the Lord is not in vain! The Holy One, the Metteya, Jesus Christ himself is working for us.

Season of Reconciliation

So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. – 1 Cor 3:21,2

Of late I have been encountering many people having relationship problems. Seasonal? Hope not. Some are minor issues, such as my daughter having peer conflict with her partner. I don’t know about girls relationship but some of the words uttered by these young girls can be lethal. Colleagues in office too are facing cold wars, sometimes good friends can just turn sour because of work issues. Though conflict in the workplace is not uncommon, two of the colleagues I know are having relationship problem and are no longer in talking term with their spouse. One of my dear relative couple is also going through tough time disagreeing with each others with regards to trust, freedom and staled relationship. While another friend I know is now at the brink of a divorce.

These relationship issues have been with humans for thousands of years. The early believers of Corinth too were having such problems, causing disunity within themselves. Many characters in the bible too have similar issues. After so many years of human history, human being is still trying to get along with each others. While many decided to give up pursuing to get along, some just grit their teeth and carry on. Is there a better way? What could be the problem? Is relationship becoming too complicated when different beings of different chemistry come together? What or rather who is the issue? Who is to be blamed? Or are we asking the wrong question? Are we seeking the right answer?

Human being changes through time. We won’t stay the same. However, the basic principles stay the same. Countless values have been passed down for generations from our loved ones, friends, books, magazines, newspaper columnist etc. Our experiences too, teach us how to relate, building up a resource pool in our mind about human behavior and its complexity. Starting a relationship is easy, a mystery, a curiosity, even perhaps out of circumstances. However maintaining it is not. The task of understanding each others, be considerate, give & take, forgive & forget, sacrifice etc, all these values if not kept in checked will eventually be watered down through time.

Uncleared issues, disagreements, pent-up anger, at the right moment will one day explode in the light. I believe we all know that problems are unavoidable. We do know that some of us are unwilling to face the problem. And we all know that we need to solve the problem, at the root or at least come to a compromised position or mitigating factors, or build a bridge to cross over. And we do agree that all these problems have detrimental effect to others if not dealt with. And we all know, solving them takes time. It’s complex. It’s necessary, but hard. Is it?

Chinese called human, 烦人, ‘fan ren’. It means boring or troubling human. The Chinese knows the problem lies in us human, but do we know who? Or, do we know why. Do we know the answer? Or, do we know the truth?

As I looked to this passage, I believe the main reason for all these relationship problem is not that we are ignoring the truth but we are unable to see the basic truth. The basic why, basic answer. Ignorance is because we can’t see the basic truth.

The believers of Corinth were arguing among themselves about whom they belong to. They grouped themselves as belonging of a certain teachers. This is akin to political parties, which we can see today, a bunch of quarreling generators. To one party, everything the other party do is always wrong. This too is the same with us churches today. I am from DUMC, he is from City Harvest and you Calvary etc, etc. I love that pastor, or that. The believers of Corinth hear the truth, but they ignored it. In the course of their daily life, the complexity of their thinking and teaching, they eventually can’t see just the basic truth. They needed another person, Paul, to help them see it.

Getting help is a good start, but there is a limit as to how we can do to help those facing relationship or whatever complex problems. Every help counts. But there are simpler way to get help to see the truth, the why, the answer to our problem.

Jesus.

The Corinthians were directed to Him.

If we want to solve the complexity of all these problems, we need to ask Jesus to help us see the simple truth to the problem. It is good for those who faced problem to seek wise counsel, more so, from the Person who knows the way, the truth and the life, to help us see the root cause to the problem.

You see, Paul has mentioned that, all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. The simple truth here is, we are all of Christ, and Christ is of God, and hence all things are ours. Even solutions to our problems. Help is just at our doorstep. The basic truth to solving our relationship problem is to ask Jesus to help us see the basic truth. He’s our Creator, and He is the Master of relationship. Who else is wiser but Him?

We all know the basic principles, but many a time we failed to do it. That’s why we need Jesus. Believe me, if not believe Him. He will shows us the way.

And so it seems that it’s the season of relationship problems. In fact, it’s the season of reconciliation too. Ask Jesus.

Responsibly Free

They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. – 2 Peter 2:19

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatian 5:1). This verse means that we are set free through the work of Christ and today we are totally free from all bondages, sicknesses, poverty, broken-relationships, rituals, traditions, anything that causes us to sin. Not only that, we have the freedom to do anything we want.

But, let us continue with the remaining  part of this verse. The remaining part says, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery“. Sounds like there are still rules to follow. We are to stand firm, not to allow ourselves to be subjected again by a yoke of slavery. How then can Jesus promised us freedom, yet we can still be subjected to slavery? What is the freedom that Paul is speaking about? As I reflect further,  I came into a simple conclusion that we are to allow ourselves to be totally immersed into the grace of God, to receive all the goodness that He wants to give us and not to be subjected to the power of the laws. We are to live by grace, not by laws. Subjecting ourselves to the laws means that we are back to be conscious of sin and starts to be watchful of every step we take. We are called to lose conscious of what all these laws, but to be totally conscious of Christ. If we know how great His love is for us, to what extend He wants to do for us, we would then naturally love Him back. Why then do we do things that would break the heart of our heavenly Father?

However, as I read 2 Peter 2, it speaks about teachers who spoke freedom, promised freedom, but yet they themselves were slaves of depravity, of corruption, perversion, bad moral or are debased. These were religious teachers who were highly revered, honored, but has since taken freedom for granted. They set freedom on their own standard, lived debauchery lives as if anything goes. If a religious teacher can fall, so can we. I believe, if we did cross this line, we will reached a stage where we are now enslaved to freedom. We have reached a state of lawlessness.

Like how many of us knows that money in itself is not evil. It is the love of money which is the root of all evil. Similarly, the love of freedom is also the root of all evil. Our love has deviated from God to only, freedom. Freedom to do anything we like. That is why free country such as the United State, Great Britain, and many Christian nations has taken the meaning of freedom beyond its original context based on the gospel. The word, In God We Trust on the coin or cash note no longer hold any value except for its value to make the purchase. Pornography, divorce, adultery, unnatural relationship, drugs, perversion, drunkenness, corruption, anything goes, as long as it is not against the law. As long as we think it is alright.

This is not the kind of freedom meant in the new covenant of grace. This is another form of slavery. 2 Peter 2:20 says that If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. The consequence of taking freedom beyond the understanding of grace will cause us to face worse off consequences than when we have not known freedom. We might as well not know the righteousness that God has always intended for us to have. We might as well stay under the laws.

Have we cross the line and betrayed God for all the goodness that He has given us? Have we taken the freedom for granted and have not been responsible in handling it? Are we true to our spouse? Have we need responsible to our loved ones, our children? Did we set a good example to our children or done things that could harm their future? Do we think that God will always forgive us no matter what we do? Do we think that freedom is what we are entitled to? Do we just love our freedom or do we love God first? No one can question our freedom? Yes, but God can. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. God gave us the freedom, and He has all the rights to ask us whether we have been responsible for the freedom that he has given us one day. He can playback to us the consequences of our action to ourselves, to our loved ones, to others, who are affected by our free doing. He can shows us the poverty of our depravity and see how poor we are for taking His freedom to infinity and beyond.

But then again, if you are reading this and realized that you have crossed the line, then all is not lost. I love my God! He is merciful indeed, and wants us to receive His freedom. No matter how bad we have been, how we far we have crossed that line, how badly depraved we are, when we acknowledge our depravity and how poor we are… when He sees us making an about turn, He will runs a thousand steps towards us and embraces us and set things right for us. The blood of Christ is more than sufficient to set us right and make us righteous before Him again. Again, God wants us to receive His unmerited favor. When He dispensed His grace once and for all, He meant it till the end. He wants to ensure that we get the best!

Real freedom is not just freedom. It is the freedom because we acknowledge the grace of God that we do not deserve. How good we are to Him. How good He is to us!

I like to be free, responsibly free. What about you?

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