Thursday, July 26, 2007

Law vs Grace

My wife told me I was wasting my time and money going back to this 'doctor'.

"Why are you so stubborn?" she said curtly. "He cannot help or alleviate your sickness. Go see someone else who can."

"But I want to know what's wrong with me," I replied indignantly.

"You already know what's wrong with you. He gave you a report, didn't he?"

"Yeap!" I showed her the report. "And...?" she asked.

"And what?"

"Where is the prescription to help you?"

Duh.
---
But this is precisely what is happening to us as Christians. We try to keep the Law and return to it even though we know the Law cannot help us (see my previous article).

It points us to our weaknesses and our shortcomings that we may never be as perfect and holy as God is. The truth: we are not even close. It's like jumping on this earth, hoping one day we'll jump high enough to reach the moon.

What's worse is that the Law does absolutely nothing to lift a finger to help you! Nor does it tell us how to reach God. Nor does it have the power to save us.

Rather it condemns us all. It tells us we are going to die, sheep waiting to be slaughtered! The more we read the Law, the more we are aware of our sins and the more we draw God's wrath to ourselves.

The Law brings death. It makes us Christians weak. So why do many Chrisitans keep going back to the 'doctor' who cannot heal them? Why do we want to preach and uphold the Law? Surely there is something else?

Remember the parable of the new wine in new wineskin? See Luke 5:36-39.

36He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' "

Most interpretations agree that this parable refered to Jesus' new teaching which will not fit within the Jewish religion, or within the religious structures of the time. Many Christians have also interpreted it as the start of a new religion separate from Judaism, and from that of John the Baptist.

Let me suggest this interpretation:
The old wine in old wineskin represents the Law and the Law-bidders. The new wine in new wineskin represents Grace and Grace-followers.

Jesus said nobody is foolish enough to mix both (old patch in new garment and old wine in new wineskin will ruin both).

Isn't it true you cannot mix Law and Grace? Think about it.

The Law
The Law demands everyone to follow it to the 'T'. You cannot miss a step nor can you break one without breaking all. And how God blesses you is based on your efforts in fulfilling the Law - "Thou shalt...".

You shall. You shall not. You.

It focuses on YOU - your efforts and your faithfulness to observe all of it to be right with God. It is called self-righteousness - reaching God with your own efforts. And that's what Jesus calls the Pharisees.

Failure to comply means curses, poor harvests (results, outcomes), distance from God, etc and many times early death.

The only way out is someone must die and blood must be shed in order for the sins committed to be covered. That's why the animal sacrifices in the Old Testaments. Someone must pay for the sins committed and usually it is the innocent lamb or dove.

Grace
In grace, however, Jesus said He fulfilled the Law. He was the spotless, sinless Lamb who paid the sacrifice for our sins. When he was on the cross, he cried out, "It is finished!"

Jesus has done it all! When he was flogged and whipped, every lash on His back was the stroke of the Law demanding blood. When he hung on the cross, he was a cursed man and He carried all our sins according to the Law. That's why He cried asking God why He had turned his back on him. Jesus was so disfigured and marred by all the world's sins that God had to look away.

And God's anger burned upon Jesus. That's why Jesus, for once in his life, felt the separation from God. He had always called God his Father but for once, he cried Eloi, Eloi (my God, my God) instead!

And Jesus was the Lamb that was slain. There was a divine exchange (more of it later). He took all our ugliness, impurities and in exchange, gave us his beauty and perfection.

So that we might have forgiveness when he was judged; we might have long life when his was short. So that we might have wholeness in mind and body, wheareas he was anguished and stricken, carrying all our diseases and sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus died alone and apart from God so that most importantly, we now have acceptance before a holy God as required by the Law.

Did we ever deserve such love and kindness from God who is not only holy yet loving, righteous yet merciful?

Absolutely no! But we got it freely. That's amazing grace! That's unfailing love! Because God so loved us that He gave... His only begotten Son that whomsoever believed in Him shall have eternal life. Well, this is another topic by itself.

Justice and mercy kissed for the first time. The demands of the Law were exacted, God's justice was met and His anger was exhausted. The perfect Lamb was sacrificed. The sinners are freed.

The curtain before the Holy of Holies was torn apart so that Man for the first time may enter freely into God's presence through His Son. Grace gives life wheareas the Law condemns.

Life Through the Spirit (Romans 8)
"1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. "

What powerful verses and statement that draws us to Christ!

Back to the old wine in old wineskin and new wine in new wineskin. We cannot mix Law and Grace.

Either we try to reach God through our efforts in observing the Law and pay the consequences when we fail to meet to the requirements, or we wholly and freely rest in the finished work of Christ - that He has done everything required of the Law.

Which life do we want to live in? A life of worry when you may 'fall out' of God's favour based on your observing the Law, or a life where you know your standing in God is always secure because of the finished work on the cross?

Your efforts vs Christ's finished work.

As Jesus says, no one is foolish to mix the two. No one can follow the Law and yet say he is in grace. You cannot do both at the same time.

I say to you, choose the new wine. That is the power of grace. That is the gospel.

---
Hope this has bring a new light in where you want to go in your walk with God. Coming up next (hopefully) is 'Christ's death - what does it give me?'

God bless.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Ten Commandments: the before and after

I've realized that many people still think that God is angry with them. Especially when we foul it up or 'sinned'. Or when we had done something that we shouldn't do and the bible clearly states that it's wrong, we deserve what we get.

And we should expect bad things to happened to us. Should we?

Yes, this is the kind of mentality I'm talking about. I'm sure many Christians (and non-Christians) can identify with these few thoughts:
  • "Er, perhaps I've done something that God is displeased with."
  • "I deserve it."
  • "There must be some sins I've accidentally done and have yet to confess and be forgiven."
  • "If I had more faith in God, then this wouldn't have happened."
  • "This is my fault because I was angry with <someone> or I had bad thoughts about so-and-so."
  • "Karma, what you had done comes back to you."
  • "You reap what you had sown."
  • ...etc

The basis is that:

  1. I've sinned
  2. Bad consequences should result. I deserve them.
  3. God (or whomever or circle of life or karma) is right in allowing it to happen

Perhaps in the next few posts I hope, I can banish some of our misconceptions and what the bible says about 'our sins'.

---
Let's start with the Law (or the Ten Commandments) first. This was in response to Mr Wang's blog but I disgress.

A lot of Christians hold the Law in the highest regards. Even non-Chrisitians and boy, can they quote it better than we Christians do! It is like the pinnacle, the epitome of the bible - THE LAW. Don't play-play.

It is what God demands of a person to be right with Him, to be holy and pure. Failure means bad consequences. And it is righteous and just for God to zap anyone as a result of that sin.

If one didn't die but had misfortunes, it's called mercy. In doing so, God is righteous and merciful.

And that was what happened in the Old Testaments. God's anger and justice were shown through fatal deaths by the thousands, sicknesses, curses, calamities, failures, etc.

Before the Law (or 10 commandments) was given, God gave grace and mercy. It doesn't mean God allowed sin to reign over the land. But there wasn't any 'guide' to let man know what was expected of him to be holy and righteous. There was no 'yardstick' to measure how much 'sin' the people had committed.

People lived with different standards, or had different kinds of moral values. Man has a conscience (or in-built moral values). However this conscience can be seared and numbed through repeated doings and habits till the act becomes 'right'.

Yet God is slow to anger and abounding in love, wanting all to repent and turn back to him. On the other side, His holiness and righteousness demands a punishment.

It's like God was in a fix. He loved the sinner but hated the sin. How could He destroy one without destroying the other? (This is another topic I hope to cover in later posts.)

But what about Sodom and Gormorah? Didn't they live before the Law? God wiped them out, didn't He? So your argument that before the Law, God gave grace to the offenders is moot, right?

God's destruction on Sodom and Gormorah was because the people in those cities were so hardened in their hearts that they no longer hear God anymore. If you read carefully, God didn't want them wiped out.

In fact He waited for them to repent. He allowed Abraham to intercede for them. He was even ready to withhold His hand if there were only 10 righteous men in the whole city (against maybe a ten thousand population?).

Wow, that's a lot of grace and mercy for a city where the word 'sodomy' comes from!

And if only Abraham had counted down to 1 man, God would have spared the 2 cities. That's because Lot, his nephew, was amongst them. But Abraham didn't. Maybe he knew there wasn't much to hope for these 2 cities.

The point is before the Law was given, people didn't drop like flies or die because of God's wrath. He was slow in meting out the justice though His anger burned. Yet He was abounding in love and mercy to give the people to turn back to Him.

There were many instances when God could have zapped people but He didn't. Cain didn't drop dead for the first murder recorded in the bible. He murdered Abel in cold blood (that's why Abel's blood called for vengence, justice).

Well, Adam and Eve didn't die too! Abraham lived in spite of lying twice (mind you). Jacob lied too!

You see, people started to die in great numbers after the Law was given. Such was the power of the Law to give death.

3,000 died (remember this number) when Moses carried the Ten Commandments down Mount Sinai and saw the Israelites worshipping the golden calf. These very same people had previously boasted in their effort that they were able to do whatever God told them.

Wasn't it interesting that before the Law was given, they murmured in front of the Red Sea and didn't die? And even after they complained while in the desert, God still provided for them?

Yet immediately after the Law was given, the very first command - to worship the Lord God and Him only, was broken. It was an end to man's effort in trying to reach God's holiness and righteousness.

And the first murmurings had people dying again. And again thereafter...

This is what Paul wrote in the Romans. Before the Law was given, man lived by God's grace and mercy. However, when the Law was given, it pointed that man was imperfect. The Law itself is perfect and holy according to God's standard. It demands perfection and the keeping of it to be blessed.

Failure to keep it usually results in death, curses, diseases, etc. And these were rightly so as mentioned in the many deaths and misfortunes in the Old Testaments.

The breaking of 1 law = the breaking of 10 laws, ie if one lies, he is also guilty of commiting adultery.

That is God's standard for us! There is no big or small sin in God's eyes.

Alas! Tell me then, who can be righteous and stand before this holy God? Indeed the Word said we all are like sheep gone astray, waiting to be slaughtered.

The Law exposes that no man can boast of his works and efforts to enter the Kingdom. Yet it does not tell man how they can reach God's standard of holiness which is perfect.

It cannot save man but can only point to his weaknesses through Adam's sin.

That's why we need a Saviour. We need someone who identifies with us (must be a man), and must also perfect and sinless to fulfill the Law (divine like God). This someone will stand in the gap for us and also fulfil God's demand of perfection and holiness.

We all know his name - Jesus.

And when He died, His blood called out for grace and mercy (not justice and vengence as Abel's blood cried out). When the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples and Peter preached, 3,000 people were saved! Remember that 3,000 died when the Law was given.

Grace gives life, the Law gives death.

Those who think they can (by their own efforts), He cannot save them. Just like the Pharisees. Only those who say "Lord, I cannot but You can" will be saved. These are evident with those 'sinners', outcasts and tax collectors whom the Pharisess scorned. Those people who know they cannot help themselves.

That's why Jesus says I've come for the sick and lost, not the well and self-righteous.

This is the New Covenent.

...more coming up in the next few days.
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Monday, July 23, 2007

Mr Wang's blog on Christianity and TAR (part 2)

… continuing from below:

The truth is what you believe actually influences how you perceive things and how well you believe things will work for your favour.

So in a personal capacity in regards to self-belief, Mr Wang is right in saying so. But when it starts to link to Christianity, this good God who loves me works outside my self-belief.

He works in spite of myself and what I think Him to be.

PS. Will love to hear comments about what you think and your belief.

---
This is the part where I respond to ~[z][x]~ a Christian.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Very strangely, I am very much more inclined to Mr Wang's understanding than kaffein's, albeit being Christian myself. I apologize to Mr Wang and the other readers, but I would like to have a go, (yet again) at the Prosperity Gospel:

> Kaffein:
Prosperity gospel? Hmmm never heard of it. I have only heard of THE GOSPEL, which means GOOD NEWS. Whether one thinks prosperity is good or not, it's up to each individual.

For me I choose to believe my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. That includes material things.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: "I must disagree. Perhaps writing on God, when you don't know Him, seems a bit sweeping."

I don't quite get it, kaffein. What is it about Mr Wang's highlighting of the story of Jonah as an example of the common belief - "God's thoughts might be different from ours, our desires might be different from his" that you are disagreeing with, exactly?

> Kaffein:
Erm, I never remarked about Mr Wang's comments on Jonah. I was saying Mr Wang's perception of how one receives from God is based on how he believed it to be given to him. I just disagreed when he used the Christian faith link to it.

As for Jonah, you know what, God can pick another person to preach to the Ninevites. It wasn't God 'mis-using' his force, power& will to make Jonah follow his plans and purposes. Jonah was a prophet of God. He had made his life to be the God’s mouthpiece or whatever God told him to say. But he chose otherwise.

You know I’d zap Jonah for disobeying me if I’m God and I'll get another prophet to do his job. That’s why we make lousy gods. The God I know gives everyone a free choice to listen to or follow Him. Jonah's case was an example of how God loves even the wicked person and not just the Jews.

You see, God had a distinct plan when He did what He had to do to Jonah. Yet Jonah still had a choice throughout! But there was a deeper meaning why God ‘moved’ to get Jonah to preach to the Ninevites.

Jonah, being a Jew, didn't like the Gentiles. Even worse, he was hoping the message didn’t reach them so they wouldn’t repent and God would have to zap the Ninevites!. God's hand moved and ‘forced’ Jonah was to show Jonah that He loved the Gentiles as much as the Jews.

So did Jonah learn finally? Was he a better prophet after that? Don’t you think Jonah now understands God’s love better?

So to entirely say God distinctly had other plans/ideas for Jonah is true. Yet God gives everyone his free choice. God, who is not limited by space and time, knows Jonah will finally realize and go to the Ninevites to preach. And the Ninevites will repent.

That is the story of Jonah.

In the past, God's thoughts and ways were unknown and a mystery. But Jesus has said, the fullness of God has been revealed through Him. Who God is, Jesus is. So I think this verse about God's thoughts are different from ours is a bit misquoted. If you had known and received Jesus, the Holy Spirit in you will reveal God's purposes in your life. This is a different topic entirely now.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: "And if you think God has a different plan if people ask for materialistic gains, status, etc. I'm quite sure you don't really know Him."

There are MANY poor, faithful Christians living in third-world countries today. Why is it that these Christians never become as rich as say, many from the mega-churches in Singapore? You might think they lack faith. Many of them, however, would realize that they have received a contentment that no materialistic gain can offer. They do pray to get rich, but they might not, and they do not mind because they know God knows what is best for them! And that, I think, is what Christianity is about.

> Kaffein reply:
I never said there aren’t any poor Christians. They could have lived poorly because of the country, social, politic and economic reasons. They are there because they were born there. There are many reasons.

But frankly speaking, do you think they want to be in that situation? Don't say just Christians, even non-Christians will want to leave that country given a choice. I’ve never doubted a Christian’s faith should he wish to leave the 3rd world country.

Yet do you think the norm of selling one's daughters to become prostitutes because the country is in poverty is good? So do you think it is a blessing and glorifying to God to be poor? Yet I don't understand why Christians think poverty is good (IMHO). Prosperity gospel? Nope, just plain common sense.

I’m not interested in any prosperity gospel. I am interested in THE prosperity and provider. His name is Jesus.

There are many members in the body of Christ, living and serving in different locations and at different capacity. Some live in the 3rd world countries, others more affluent countries. Some are called into 3rd world countries to live amongst the people, to reach to them, to be the hands and feet of the body of Christ. Some are called into wealth mgmt, investment (Joseph, Abraham, Solomon, etc) and so through the financial wisdom God had given, the riches are used to bless the orphanages and ministries to help these missionaries. Others are called to be the mouth (eg. pastors, preachers, evangelists), the ears, the eyes, etc.

Let's not limit how Christians should be. If your believe being poor glorifies God, it’s your choice. For me and my house, I choose to want to bless others, be it spiritual or material things.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: If you read the bible, no one who calls upon Him was poor or needy. In fact, they were rather rich: Abraham, King Solomon, David, Joesph, Job, etc.

Was Job a typo? Because Job had like, everything taken away from him. Job's tragic story, his questioning, and his coming back to faith stand as countervailing evidence to your Prosperity-Gospel theology: God DOES NOT need to bless us with material wealth to be GOOD.

> Kaffein reply:
Did you read the whole of Job, ZX? Or did you only liked the part where Job was poor and lost everything?

1. Firstly, Job wished there was someone who could stand in the gap for him. In his time, he didn't have Christ to mediate on behalf of him. Now we have Jesus Christ who is our great High Priest and Mediator. So can Satan stand before God and accuse Christians now and take all blessings from them? That’s was what Job (and David) was hoping to have!

2. Second, did you ever read the end of Job story? Everything that was taken was given back to him, and even much more. So the question is not whether God had blessed Job with material wealth (my bible says he did), but whether Job took it or not. My bible says Job was the richest man alive then.

3. Thirdly, if you read carefully, who was it that blessed Job? It was God. If according to you, Job should give all away. Or did you believe that Job was struck down because he had so many things? If I’m reading the correct bible, it says God was the one who blessed Job and protected him.

4. If going by what you say again about God not needing to bless us materially, that means God shouldn't even bless Job after taking everything away from him, right? My bible tells me God blessed Job even more than what he had at first before Satan took them away! If I follow you, that meant Job should tell God, “No don't give me anymore stuff!”. Erm, that's not what my bible tells me.

5. Lastly, it was Satan who made a bargain with God. He lost. According to the book of law, Satan had not only to pay back what he stole from Job, but much more. So it's always a risk when Satan attacks a Christian.

I'm not sure if you can use Job as a good example because it's a one-off situation. I can see more richness and blessings of many others than the one-off Job in the Old Testaments. Yet in the end, Job was even richer. So somehow your support for Job doesn’t stand.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Yes, these 'wealth-promising' verses have often been misunderstood. Especially when Christians forget Jesus' reminders in Matthew 6:19 and 6:32-33.

> Kaffein reply:
Look at the context and whole chapter in Matt 6:19. He's talking about the Pharisees who often are showing off their fasting, flaunting their wealth and giving tithes to let everyone see how holy they are. I don’t believe Jesus was calling us hypocrites at all.

The LOVE of money is the root of evil. It is not money itself. A man with $10 can be greedier than a multi-millionaire. The problem isn't about money but our hearts.

The key verse is found in v21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Jesus didn't say you shouldn't be rich, but if you put riches before God, money is your god. I'm quite sure you have misquoted.

Matthew 6:32-33.
"32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Again the key verse you've missed out is your Heavenly Father knows you need them. Them means material things which the pagans run after. Seek first his kingdom and His righteousness: what do these refer to?

Jesus refered the Kingdom to the new covenant God is going to make with the people. Many times, Jesus said: The Kingdom of God is here. His righteousness? Only one qualifies that name and that’s Jesus.

So this verse means seek God through Jesus, and all these things (includes material things) will be added unto you. Because the things he referred to were the very material things that pagans run after.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: If He had already given His best, why shall He withhold other things that He knows you need - financial, health, prosperity, wholeness of mind, etc?

Because He knows that these other "needs" can so very often, distract/blind us from his 'best'? If not, why in the world would Jesus have said "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)?

> Kaffein reply:
Again you have misunderstood what Jesus said.

Jesus wasn't saying the rich man couldn't enter because he had great wealth. The rich man had great wealth and he did not want to let go of it. That was his god. The rich man also boasted in his works: honouring his parens, not murdering and loving his neighbours as himself. The man was basically proud because he boasted in many things - he thought himself better than others.

So Jesus pointed to him his weakness. That is his love for his great wealth. And the trust in his own efforts to enter the kingdom of God.

Remember Jesus said anyone who wants to follow Him must deny himself and his family? Yet I don't see Christians denying parents or their wives for the matter? Isn't it contradicting the law which says to honor your parents?

Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. If your hand causes you to sin, chop it off. Better to enter the kingdom maimed than to be thrown outside.

So why don't we all gouge our eyes and chop our hands? Which of us can safely say we don't have envious, jealous and wandering eyes? Or our hands have never done anything wrong?

What Jesus is saying is no one, by their own efforts can enter the Kindgom of God. That's why we need a saviour.

If I take Jesus' meaning literally, that means I should be poor and maimed and blind. Yet Jesus healed the blind! Why would He do that since the eye caused me to sin and not enter the kingdom? Likewise, God should not bless Job, or David or anyone of us at all? Yet again why am I working? Better if I go to the countryside and be a farmer and grow just enough for me and family.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
Kaffein wrote: And He gives freely to all who call on Him, by grace.

But surely, He showers his grace as well, in many other ways, to those who are not materialistically 'blessed'. Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'"

> Kaffein reply:
Ahhh the key word is LOVE OF MONEY. Not don't have money. I can have $10 in my pocket, yet I'm not satisfied. I can be a multi-millionaire, yet I'm not fulfilled. So it’s not the money but the love of it.

> ~[z][x]~ said...
No offense meant, kaffein. It is just that I really disagree with what is being taught in many churches in Singapore today. And you sounded uncannily like them. Would love to hear what you have to say, though. Thanks.

> Kaffein reply:
None taken. To each our own understanding. I just think you have missed out much of what God has in store for you.

You see, if I'm wrong, I'm still saved by grace, be it I’m rich or not. Well, if you are wrong, then you suffer needlessly on this earth.

Cheers,
Kaffein
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Mr Wang's blog on Christianity and TAR (part 1)

Well, you can read the comments published in Mr Wang's blog.

I love a healthy debate. At the end of the day, it isn't a matter of right and wrong. Everyone has a choice. :)

---
This part where I respond to Mr Wang's comments:

Hi Mr Wang & ~[z][x]~
This discussion can get long, ardous and theological. I have no intention to lead this to a heated debate about the Christian faith for I'm certain this is not Mr Wang's intention. I am also not here to convince or convert anyone. To each individual person, whatever you believe is your choice and I respect your decision.

This will be my last reply. If anyone wants to continue, do so at my blog. I’m most happy to discuss further.

Now back to some points I want to highlight.

>Mr Wang wrote:
"In other words, if you deeply believe something (whatever that something may be), then it will appear in your reality. And faith is simply another word for "deep belief".

In other words, if you deeply believe that you are going to receive X because you asked God for it, then yes, X will appear in your reality."

>Kaffein reply:
There is a difference between Christian faith and personal faith.

*** Christian faith NOT equal Deep belief ***

To put it simply, Christian faith is "when I see God's faithfulness through Jesus Christ, God sees my faith". I cannot, therefore God can.

Deep belief doesn't move God's hand. Many of the Pharisees in Jesus time had a deep belief in God and their laws. But God was not moved by their efforts. Nor was He impressed.

So I disagree with trying to put personal belief with the Christian faith. It's totally opposite. The more you trust in yourself, the more God steps back. I'm not sure if many understand this part.

However if you are saying in the capacity in personal belief and motivation, I agree totally. What I belief can somewhat affect how I want the outcom to be. That's one of the basis of positive thinking, motivation.

> Mr Wang Says So said...
Kaffein wrote: "I repeat, always. In other words, my prayers are always answered."

.... sure, I have no difficulties with that. If you have been following my previous posts, you would know that. Thoughts affect reality; and deep thoughts affect reality deeply.

In other words, if you deeply believe something (whatever that something may be), then it will appear in your reality. And faith is simply another word for "deep belief".

In other words, if you deeply believe that you are going to receive X because you asked God for it, then yes, X will appear in your reality.

> Kaffein:
Again if you say this in a personal capacity by my effort or strength and thoughts, whatever a man puts his mind, his hands and believe in it, I'm sure it will come to pass.

However, with the God of the Christian faith, it is quite the opposite. This is what I wish to communicate. The more one trusts in his works and self-beliefs, the more God withdraws. yes you can achieve, but you will have to sustain it. It is those who say I cannot that God says I can. And He will.

As for the Father-earthly parenting, all I'm saying is God is NOT like us. We, earthly parents, can be selfish in our desires and think best for our children. However God is far from it. And God always gives us the free choice to choose our wants and desires (be it selfish or magnanimous).

And yes God has his own personality and ideas. However He does not impose them upon you. The choice is up to you.

... now to reply to ZX's comments.

Cheers,
Kaffein
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

More photos but mine will have to wait

If you just wanna see Rachel's photos just before we left for Melbourne, you can visit QQ*Librarian's blog. Both her husband and her are our best friends.

And she misses Rachel... awww.

---
More pertinent issues at hand. Just read an article on Mr Wang's blog (Christianity and TAR).

I really value and dig his opinions. More often, his advice are eye-opening and they give a different perspective to questions in life (though I prefer his analysis on the current politics).

I didn't comment on Buddhism or other 'forms' of thinking, meditation, etc purely because I am in no position to comment.

But here are my comments revised with a bit of grammatical corrections (I hope he publishes my comments in his blog though):

"I respect your opinions, Mr Wang.

But in terms of Christianity, I kinda disagree with lots of your statements and will like to comment on some of them.

"The other big difficulty is that God, as seen from the Bible, has His own distinct personality, ideas and plans. He doesn't necessarily give you what you want - instead He may have his own very specific plans on what you should be doing and where you should go (think Jonah and the whale)."

I must disagree. Perhaps writing on God, when you don't know Him, seems a bit sweeping. Perhaps it's your POV, so you are entitled to them.

My family and I are Christians first and foremost. Not that I am in a position to speak on behalf of God, I can only write about Him as much as my experiences with Him go. For me and my family concerned (though I cannot say for other Christians), my God always supplies all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

I repeat, always. In other words, my prayers are always answered.

And if you think God has a different plan if people ask for materialistic gains, status, etc. I'm quite sure you don't really know Him. If you read the bible, no one who calls upon Him was poor or needy. In fact, they were rather rich: Abraham, King Solomon, David, Joesph, Job, etc. He met everyone according to their needs and their desires. But that is another topic which I shall not dwell upon.

Oh one might say, that's >2000 years ago. Look at the Jews today. See how this small tiny race are movers and shakers, impacting the world we live in. How many are well-known scientists, inventors, nobel-prize winners, etc?

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

It has been misquoted. If you read the context, esp before those verses, what Jesus is saying: God is NOT like this.

You don't need to knock, seek and beg to be let in or for God to listen to you and then supply. Just as a father already knows his child's desires (I'm sure you already knew what your children wanted before they asked), God is even more loving and concerned about our wants and desires than we can ever imagine.

And pray tell me, Mr Wang, why do you want your child to ask of you? Do we need to be formal with our kids that they must ask to receive? Or are we as adults playing hard to get? Or perhaps they must earn it to ask?

Or do we, as earthly parents, freely give even before their asking?

Yes, if we as earthly parents can feel joyful when we are able to provide, how much MORE does our heavenly Father longs to give? Actually had He already not given His best - Jesus His Son?

If He had already given His best, why shall He withhold other things that He knows you need - financial, health, prosperity, wholeness of mind, etc?

Of course, this is one of the basis of Christianity: we cannot because He can. And He gives freely to all who call on Him, by grace.

On a personal note, I long to hear my daughter ask of me. Why? Because I love her and she loves me. And even before she can utter the first words, I have already given it to her.

Cheers, Kaffein"

Well what do you think?
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Ok, ok, I'm sorting out my photos and I hope to publish them asap. Some people are already complaining why my updates are so slow.

*sigh* Singaporeans...
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Thursday, July 05, 2007

LifeHack? Read on...

I wouldn't classify 'LifeHack' as self-improvement, positive thinking, conventional wisdom or reinvention.

Rather it's a 'geek' approach of making routines more efficient, productive and satisfying…perhaps there is a gem or two we can each apply individually or as a group.
  • Hacking Toward Happiness (Time article by Jeremy Caplan, 21 Jun 2007)

    Beneath the bits and bytes that shape the character of Silicon Valley, there's a booming digital subculture committed to the art of self-improvement, geek style. It's known as life hacking, and it's all about sweating out the best ways to crank through e-mail, sabotage spam, boost productivity and in general be happier... (read more)

LifeHack sites to read more:

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Delivered as promised

I know most of you are saying, "Cut the chase and give me the good stuff." Yeah, who cares about Mum and Dad anyway.

So to appease you hungry fans, lots of Rachel photos for you.


On her new Dora the Explorer kickscooter. Vroommm...


At a nearby playground

Family photos time!


Selene & Rachel, Princess Fiona & Shrek the Beautiful

Met up with Naomi (sister-in-law's sister in Melbourne). She brought us to CityLife Church where we are worshipping now.


Rachel with her distant cousins (Bella, Zoe & Skye)

We took a train to the Melbourne with a family whom we befriended in church. Remember I mentioned about Rachel praying to have friends about her age to play with?

Yeah Anthea is one of her playmates. Prayer works... everytime!


Anthea and Rachel along Yarra River
with Melbourne City in the backdrop


A shopping arcade in Melbourne City
Quaint, tudor-court, English-style setting

Selene befriended the mother of one of Rachel's classmate.


Rachel and Nickhil in the 'ark'

There are lots of birthday parties to attend. And they are BIG in Australia (the bigger and more elaborate the party, the more the mums look up to your family)! It's like a subtle 'class' system, in my opinion.

This is Zoe's birthday party. It was very well-coordinated and successful. Drawing on aprons, clay molding and painting, fun outdoor games, blowing bubbles, lots of cakes, cookies, sweets, chicken nuggets, jellies, barbie doll cake, party bags...

It was so much fun that the children all didn't want to go home. They all forgot their parents. Rachel included :)


See all the happy children and working parents

So you see, we have been tremendously blessed. God has indeed met to our needs more than we can ever hope or dream of!

Sure, there are tough and challenging times. Sometimes I do wonder if I've made the right choice. But seeing Rachel having so much fun (she is so adaptable and trusting towards God to provide), I can only look forward to a better future.

He has a plan for me and my family, indeed; plan to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future.

Stay tuned... more pictures coming up.

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