Living Faith

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24

To debate on the head knowledge is easy, but to obey and live it out is self-challenging. The victorious future in God is sure, but we’re also left in the “meantime”. Jesus knew that the victory over death/sin was sure, but He’d to obey the Father and walked up to the Cross during the “meantime”. If we are called to imitate Christ while following him, we must also obey what He has told us to do.

For the present suffering and being uncomfortable are only a growing pain in the light of seeing souls joining in into the love, freedom, glory, and life flowing unendingly in God. This world will never cease to feed individual complacency and self-sufficiency in itself. The moral values are promoted, but always apart from God. In the name of religion, peace is felt generally, but not the surpassing flow of joy that gushes forth from within the conscience that at once recognizes that it is God himself through Jesus Christ.

Whatever accomplishments and possessions are but, external to the person. Abraham had great possessions, cattle, servants, riches, reputation and so on, but in his heart he understood that he owned nothing. He understood in obedience as he was about to lay his hand on his son. Yet, he also worked on what has been entrusted to him, blessings and not curse as by mismanagement. In the “meantime”, he was faithful to multiplying what God has entrusted to him, while knowing that they are also temporary in this passing world. Only what God sustains is eternal.

There is nothing beyond God’s knowledge. No matter what mistakes, detours, frustrations, and struggles. What is God’s, God will take care, given that the entire universe was created within His unlimited capacity. Such is a great God we serve, and by His Holy Spirit living within us shall we live. It is still in the “meantime” where we live. So, let all that we do be done as unto the glory of God. Make everyday count as for the day of visitation, the Glorious Day which the saints of old and generations to generations have proclaimed. Let’s start praying without cease and be led by the Spirit to engage the world.

Keywords: Radiator, filter, peacemaker, connector, fellow neighbor/worker, priest, disciple

Sustenance

A lamp drops dangling from the ceiling, and lights the room with its light energy. As the lamp hangs downward from the ceiling, gravity is doing its job pulling the lamp towards the core of the earth.

What then, sustains the earth in its solar system, and let it hanging there in the bigger universe? As a matter of fact, there is no coincidence, nor natural law itself that provides the sustenance. Everything that has power in this universe is a derivative from God. God speaks forth, and His word accomplishes His will. When He spoke in Genesis‘ creation, the world came into existence. He is still the same God, and His word sustains the universe.

Created beings like us might think that we can do what we desire, because we can. In fact, we are only operating under the power entrusted to us, for a definite time and within a designated domain, by our free will. Such is a humbling aspect, for any abuse and misuse of the power brings harm. Yet, that is still within the permissive will of God. It is humbling because the greater the knowledge of God and His majestic work in His creation, the more we question our use of power. Is it just? Is it fair?

Two passages struck me in humility:

For in Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him.Colossians 1:16

Jesus Christ who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross. — Philippians 2:6-8

God (Jesus Christ), who is all powerful, who created the heavens and the earth, and everything that is within, had humbled himself to come down from heaven, in order to sacrifice himself at the Cross for the redemption of man from the price of sin, which is death. He even obeyed his own law as if he were a mere creature, and in the attitude of a servant during his lifetime on earth (Keathley, III, 2004). 

The answer to such a display of power, is the power of love.

Featured Passage – The Way of Love:
1 Corinthians 13


References:

  1. Keathley, III, J. H. 2004. Satanology.
    Retrieved from: https://bible.org/article/satanology
  2. Keathley, III, J. H. 2004. Angelology: The doctrine of angels.
    Retrieved from: https://bible.org/article/angelology-doctrine-angels

Disappointment says I’m in Charge Today! (Smiley face)

It was a long hard-pressed season, and a lead was pursued given the remaining time, energy, and cornered situations. There is no best or worst decision, after all the contemplation and perspectives available around. You just have to live with it. But as upbeat as you stood by, and as unfavorable as the reality is, the outcome is just as the same as the season was. The only difference at the moment is, your heart is smashed. Ironically, it was a double or triple shots of disappointments. All sorts of commotions check in & out, burst of retaliation, self-reassuring, reflection, recovery, repeats, underpinning, distraction, repeats, confusion, disturbance, and helplessness over some time. You picked up yesterday with a standing spirit, and today you woke up with a discouraged heart and memories still. The situation has to be dealt with for a resolution at some point of time. 

Matter of the Heart

You remember that what, whom, how, …all the w’s you commit your heart to will determine your walk in life. And to maintain your heart from getting stranded in an emotional turmoil and hence interferes sanity, you have to keep your heart deposited with God. Because He would take care of you and restore you from your heartache. That’s the saying.

So, now is the moment. You resorted to question your worth and qualifications. You have come to a current resolution that you are worth and qualified as where you are right now. The people suggested so. The feedbacks, replies and signals delivered through the electronics and systems suggested so. Your papers and assets and records suggested so. Maybe, that’s why you doubt yourself so?

Yet, an equal and standing truth that sustains you is you are not defined by those bars. God saw your form even before you existed. He molded you in your mother’s womb, and had never lost sight of you up until this day. He even knows the number of your hairs. (Ps. 139:13-18; Matt 10:30) Consider this:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?

And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

— Matt 6:25-30

After all the bars the world has set up in front of you today, God says you are already loved and accepted, before you have done anything in order to meet the bars. The very disappointments brought to your attention were only classroom assignments, that are yet to be worked through for the missing puzzle piece. When you take a look at the picture coming together, you will find that you have actually accumulated some skills and backgrounds that are particularly useful for some point of time. Along the road, growth continues with learning and giving.

At some point, you might just realize, that it’s not about who you are, but for what God had done in your life and, not about what you have done, but for who God is in your life.

Featured Post:
(Playlist) Matter of the Heart

You become who you Look Up to

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… — Hebrews 12:2

In a world passing with digital data collected and utilized, calendar running with schedules arranged, and decisions made to the best of knowledge, no one is fully aware and in control of all the happenings in the world. This fact remains despite one rises to be the most powerful or wealthiest man in the face of the earth. Not to mention bearing this ambition as a life goal.

Nevertheless, there is an even more challenging quest that some will encounter. The difference is, this quest rewards security amid worrisome uncertainties, and the pursuer does not need to be controlling in order to gain it.

Walked on Water (Literally!)

In Matthew 14:28-31, Peter asked Jesus to allow him to “walk on water” (WOW! What an absurd request!). There he was, asking God to allow him to get out of his comfort zone — the boat, to do the impossible or the unconventional. Why did he ask, in the first place? (suspense for the moment) Continuing on, the passage says, that God was right there. So, when he came to encounter God, he knew he could ask for the impossible, and do it himself (well of course, by God’s power).

Now, he got out of the boat while looking to Jesus. In the next second, he was looking to the left and looking to the right. Guess what? Natural laws decided to work on him, and so he started sinking. (I wonder what was the sinking rate. Whether immediately, or sinking slowly — eg. first the ankles, then the limbs, knees, waist, …….) Anyway, as a matter of fact, walking on water was itself challenging and uncommon. But, it’s also natural for any human being to look to the left and to the right, to test the waters and see if there is a slightest support or affirmation or backup positions. In reality, from the time Peter entered the water zone, and acted against natural laws, it was God’s power that made the exception to the miracle. If Peter had acted before asking God, it would have been a foolish act. What more during a windy night.

Fix your Eyes on Jesus

However, God had indeed allowed Peter to do the impossible, and had taken care of him throughout the miraculous event. Peter was sinking, but Jesus held him out of the water and walked with him into the boat where the other disciples were.

Hence, there is one practice that needs to be honed in when doing God’s assignment, that is to focus on Jesus, and act by His power and providence. Relationships with people are vital to a healthy life, but they are not life sources. Looking to the left, and looking to the right, would not provide any useful support during stage time. Only God is the source of life, and He will certainly provide the nourishment and necessities to enrich those relationships with people.

The next time when doubt strikes, be still and know that God is in the midst!

Reference:
Psalm 139

When the Spirit of God is at Work in your Life

When the Spirit of God initiates a work in a person’s heart, that work could be so personal to the person initially. The prompting or inspiration is not immediately or directly shared by another.

At a glimpse on an insight formed from a multicultural experience (some relate to third-culture), or two back-to-back dreams received only by Joseph (Genesis 37:1-11), such a divine work is hardly agreeable by common understanding. It is also disputable if such unseen vision or inspiration originates from a person’s pride or selfish intention, or is truly from an invisible God.

No one can tell, except He who causes the inspiration originally. If He did, time and events will orchestrate His will and work.

And, these three ways will confirm it:

Wait and Seek

Sometimes, the people to be engaged with the inspired event are not there yet. It would be premature to have them engaged. For instance, a surprise birthday party is supposedly prepared outside the knowledge of the birthday bee. Or else, the party would lose its surprise element. Similar account can be traced to Abraham (Genesis 17) about God’s long-dated yet timely promise of a son, since when Abraham was initially 75 years old until he was 100 years old. And, he sought after God again to be aligned with God’s timeline and promise.

Ask for Confirmation

If the inspiration is from God, and not a request from our side, God will give the confirmation in His time. When we dial a number on a mobile phone, the screen will show up the number inserted, or it would give the dial tone for every number inserted. Similarly, when Gideon (Judges 6:36-40) asked for two back-to-back confirmations about God’s prompting of him on a rescue plan, which is to deliver his people from an enemy’s plundering and killing, God gave him both of the confirmations.

His Ways Prevail, Nevertheless

No matter what we do, or how we mess it up naively, what He has determined will come to pass perfectly in His timing and by His appointment. When a tax return filing is due, the due is still effective despite we filed it or not, or what “reasons” we submit for non-compliance. Similarly, Jesus’ crucifixion was determined since his birth into this world, for the good of mankind, despite what opposing events could have prevented that. (And no, time machine/traveling is not practically possible, and so on & so forth to undo the event)

God is Holy, and so are His Ways

In Genesis 50:20, it highlights the climax of Joseph’s story (we mentioned him at the beginning) about his decades-long expat journey caused by a betrayal of 10 of his brothers into slavery in Egypt (a foreign country). Decades later, Joseph rose to power in Egypt and finally reunited with his brothers and parents. This very statement by Joseph to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” highlights the very act of God that demonstrates His just nature. Amid the messy events due to man’s sinful nature, God’s intervention injected and manifested the beauty and blessings from His side, for the good of mankind.

The next time when your integrity is in question, or when being subjected to judgmental or skeptical eyes, stay calm and know that God is at work, and hearts are being transformed. Enjoy the co-op with God!

A Personal Experience from Global Movings & Life Transitions

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words….Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other….

In Genesis 11:1-9, the world began to have different languages. To see how that translates into a time in today’s world, see Global Lenses.

A 175˚(~180˚) Flip

Entering adulthood is a thrilling experience, much more is living through this new phase. At once, I thought I had it figured out what I plan for the rest of my life, but at another instance, events unfold in ways I do not expect.

I spent the past month ‘coming back’ to a place I grew up. I was adjusting through a period of reverse culture shock, as I moved across ~9350 miles between the two locations. A month later, to my excitement, I got the opportunity to return to where I originally flew back from. This is a place where I had some of my formative years taken place, but not where I grew up. Formative years and growth seem to have extended or become more complicated whenever I move across distances.

Certainly, expectations do not always meet experiences. When that happens, it takes time to get pass the stress of readjustment, physically and mentally. Unexpectedly, I am reliving another reverse culture shock. This time, with the intensity of uncertain career path and sudden relocation. My body is so confused with the sleep-wake cycle and prolonged fatigue from a 40-hour traveling. My mind is looking for a reference point to bridge the expectation-reality gap.

Families and friends move on at different places, and the relationship is not the same as having them around. The smells and sounds in the air, and even the warmth or coolness around have changed. The food I was so used to a month or two ago is not the same now, so are my daily routines of doing activities and taking a rest. The social rules and cultural way of thinking were once familiar but not so meanwhile. It is not a completely individual process but a unique experience internally. There are memories and thoughts that I cannot share freely as they are understood. At work, there is so-called professionalism as a standard code of conduct, but it does not translate well into personal life.

Above all, God has never been distant, and is even actively involved in every single event of my life.

Orchestrated Coincidences, Who’s the Director?

Very easily, I could have focused the spotlight on my conflicts and personal experiences, and lose sight of God Himself in my life. Perhaps, I have transitioned into adulthood after college. Thereon, I would not have learned the ropes to becoming a grown-up apart from the events and people along the way. Not a single incident if displaced from its time and place would have the best influence in my life.

It would not have been possible to have a place to stay right after graduation due to the leasing conditions and the absence of ‘home’ in a distant country. What more, the moving was so smooth that I did not have to worry about transporting my house items. My roommate was a perfect match without any prior contact. The long period of job searching was very bumpy but it helped me to learn about myself better, and it built in me a finer character. The brief trip across the oceans helped me to connect the dots of families and friends.

Despite not knowing how things work together to this present time, and what are the unknowns in the future, God had never been absent or indifferent. There is always this peace whenever we’re walking together. On my end, I could be tired or slacking, but He is ever faithful to walking me through whatever unknowns ahead.

I could only say, when I’m left with only disarrayed thoughts in my worn out mind and body, I can feel His presence so real and refreshing inside of me. What reminds me next, is the recall that He is again directing me the way. I know, I am regaining my balance and returning to my normal self. I believe the same worth of experiences can be experienced by whoever who would give it a try. And it is always a beautiful chapter that concludes, one after another.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28

Featured Video: True Beauty 2: Deny Yourself

Related Article:
Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism (1)


Reference:
1. Adler, P. (2002). Beyond cultural identity: Reflections on multiculturalism. Retrieved from http://www.mediate.com/articles/adler3.cfm

White as Dove, Prudent as Serpent

Retaining a heart of gratitude is easy, when things are in abundance.

Charting a new course feels light, when burdens are less.
Maintaining integrity is manageable, when surrounded with people likewise.

However, such privileges are not universal, especially when ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ becomes mainstream. Hence, some go tactical by avoiding toxic people just to stay ahead. Yet, there are always times that demand contact with disruptive behaviors. So, the question now becomes, “How would you carry yourself in such situations?”

Situation A: On the Road

In some places, rule observance is honored (generally) to prevent confusing expectations and unnecessary risks. In other places, rules serve as an ‘authoritative’ guide for individual discretion, except when risks turn into harms. When exceptions happen, it is the fault of the ones causing them, because they are not street-smart enough.

At Place A, passing on the slow lane is illegal; At Place B, passing on both lanes is more than about legality but a norm. Not surprisingly, such behaviors go beyond the roads, but everyday life. Get ahead because it is a need, because such is a norm, and because I was not caught. One could make a joke that “Arriving at your destination ahead of the car in front of you is the most important rule. All other rules are subservient to this sacrosanct rule.”

Speed limit? Play it safe or pay safe. One-way lane? When there is no cars. Traffic light in yellow? Better speed up. (……etc.)

Melody in a City Hustle

Among the noise and rush of a crowded place, there is a gentle whisper. The whispering melody is tender, but enigmatically ethereal (mystically perfect & delicate for this world). It did not stop the busyness of the streets, but it instantly awakes the soul that has been dreaded by one matter after another, from a Whack-A-Mole game where one just keeps on hitting the mole that emerges at one hole after the other at an unceasingly faster rate.

At a place where problems seem to abound, role models are hardly within reach. What is less-than-normal becomes the normal, perceived and accepted as a ‘humane’ compromise. At one spot, the blame game gets fury; At another spot, helplessness is a true state.

However, what is right is never lost. What is honorable is not buried. A little step back in sync with the melody recalls what is proper and virtuous. It brings back a sense of integrity, like the heart and mind were never separate as two.

Salt & Light, Ambassadors of Christ

It was, maybe, easier to keep a heart of gratitude when life was at its peak. Generosity, was out of the excess. Defining one’s course was perhaps, less burdensome with lesser weights on the shoulders. If recognitions and affirmation come from the people around, the path would be much broader than it needs to be.

Yet, one thing is for sure. Without a clear mind, innocence and wisdom are sound qualities but practiced poorly. We, can never truly stand alone, unless we abide by His word. For He says,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” — John 15:5

And so does the church which you and I constitute:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” — 1 Peter 2:9

When life gets the better of you again, steer calmly and get in check with His word. Godspeed!

Faith in Trying Times

Life is tough, days are bad, but faith is needed. (?)

See, pal… Don’t tell me about faith. It is not solving the problems.
Just, don’t throw in the faith word. It isn’t helping at all.

Tough Times

For the past 6 months, I have been working on what I loved so much, a project that I could pour my talents, time, and interests so tirelessly. Now, due to the lack of funding, the project is canceled, and I’m out of work all of a sudden.

… // …

Things were not well for the past 2 years, but I was able to make the ends meet, just merely… AND this morning, out of nowhere, I was told that I have a little growing tumor in my brain. Great. 2 years of struggles day by day, and now my brain is abnormal.

… // …

See, it isn’t that I’m not hopeful or optimistic. It is just not happening. Every single day, every single moment, the constant grip of fear is just paralyzing. It is not a fright that will go away once it scares you, but it is a fainting fear that lingers. I know, faith moves mountains, and miracles occur. A powerful faith will see through the end… However, I’m tired of this battle… I don’t care anymore.

What’s Faith

Faith is not an it, but a response towards God as His word speaks so. We are led by blind faith when it is out of sync with His word.

An Entrusted Deposit

Perhaps, Satan wants to distract you with little problems bubbling here and there, in different forms and sizes. There is only one goal at hand, to put you in doubt, in despair, and be ineffective in life. For now, none of us knows how the circumstances come together, whether Satan seeds the event, the person contributes to it, or God allows the happening. But it is for sure that God tempts no one with sickness or a job loss to drive a person into doubts and despair. Simultaneously, it is also certain that Satan’s goal remains despite the circumstances, that is to lead man away from God.

Lifestyle

Life is tough, while days were bad. It doesn’t matter. You have the choice to not succumb to the circumstances. Along the way, it is tempting to look at the premade choices that are discouraging, but the reality is that those alternatives are not helpful. Still, you have the liberty to see the light in every trial. You have the Word of God to discern the way that leads to life. It is more than a matter of choice, but a lifestyle. A lifestyle that acknowledges one’s inadequacies, and thus aligns oneself with the spoken reality that God had established since the beginning of the world. When heaven meets the world, you are bridging the gap and living that reality.

“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” — 1 Peter 5:9

The Language of Love?

“Like, butterflies in the stomach.”

“It’s a gucci feeling.”

“I loooove cheese.”

“I love swimming!!!”

“I so loved you.”

Is love an action? Or something I like? Really liked?

In a scene, a stranger is given a gift. No strings attached.  A young toddler is looking into your eyes, finding signs of affection. Face recognition, mapped  (ticked). An elderly steps into the bus. “Please. Have your seat, sir.” “Loves me. Loves me not. Loves me……” the flower was dressed moments ago. (Loves me (not) Video)

Is love about loving others? Affection in a date? Am I happy? With guesses sometimes?


Let’s take a look at this note:

“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8


If it is for friendship …

Do I love my friend? or friends?
I’m not close to everyone.
Manyyy?
Hmm… a few, perhaps.
Do I like them? Yup. Maybe.
Fights? We do, sometimes.
But, it’s no big deal.

What about love for others? Parents? Co-workers? Spoiler? The annoying dude? Stranger? Neighbor? …

It is hard to draw the line. Often, it takes some time.
Everyone speaks the language of love. Perhaps, in different ways. (BuzzFeed post)
To define love simply, 1 Corinthians 13 outlines it.