Monday, June 23, 2008

Living abundantly

Yesterday in a weekly Sunday mass, a sermon was about abundant life. The speaker/preacher quoted that in economic term, there are 3 basics need of people namely food, cloth and security. So as long as we have food for the day, a cloth to wear and a shelter we are OK. If we have food supply for more than a day, a few clothes and a big house as shelter, we are living in abundance.

Looking from that sense, I think most of us are living in abundance despite all types of crisis surfacing around us. Despite the rise in fuel price, I do not have to be worried because owning a vehicle is not a primary need. But that's not usually the case. It seems like owning at least one vehicle has became of a great importance. It used to be our want but now it has became our need.

Jesus said do not worry about anything, about what should you eat and what should you wear. Well, I think during that time, Jesus was speaking to the needy, to the poor. Those people have less than enough food to eat and perhaps they did not have extra clothes to wear. All these people have been worrying about food and clothes. So Jesus told them not to worry because God will provide that for them. He also mentioned that life is more important than food and the body is more important than clothes. So as long as we have life and the body, we should not be worry. God will take care of our food and clothes.

Does this mean that we do not have to worry about not having job or steady income? Does it mean that all we need to do is to believe in God and do nothing else and hope God will give us everything that we need? Paul wrote that faith without deed is dead. We need to work our faith out. We need to use our talents which is given by God. God wants us to make us of our talents not to keep it and bury it.

As a Christian, we believe that everything is from God, by God and for God. We do not believe in luck. We do not believe in 'it happens accidentally'. We believe that everything works for good for those who believe in Him. But that will only happen if we live by His words, by His wills. In his blog, 97 seconds with God Jon mentioned about the Tower of Babel that we have in our life. We all have that tower. We built the tower of greed and selfishness in trying to attain our own agenda. We did not even ask God if it is His will. We merely plan our tower and God make our plan become confusing and hard to work out because it is not His will.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Amazing Race

One of my favorite TV shows is The Amazing Race. Being a reality show, the show speaks of our attitude and aptitude. I realized that members of a team got to know each other better and better as they went on running the race. They might be thinking they have known each other well enough but as the race goes on, they realized that there are many more things that they don't know about his/her partner.

Looking at the way the race goes, I find out there a few important elements that participants need to master. Amongst other are:

  • Instruction
    • Each instruction need to be really understood by the participants. Failure to do so will lead the team to a wrong direction
  • Wise decision
    • When facing detour, teams need to decide wisely.
  • Team spirit
    • Since it is a team game, it's very important to support one another in the team. Selfishness is absolutely intolerable.
  • Perseverance
    • Never give up attitude is a must
  • All talents are to be used to the fullest
    • In order to complete all tasks, participants have to use whatever talents that they have such as bargaining, begging, persuading and so on.
Paul equaled Christianity to a racing event. Everyone is running towards the finish line. Our goal is to finish the race. Ranking is not really a matter.But it is not an easy race. Throughout the race we may face many obstacles. Some may give up the race.

I see this as another version of The Amazing Race. We are the contesting teams. God is watching us throughout the race. As long as we reach the finish line, we are not going to be eliminated even though we may be the last team to arrive. In the show, there are teams who only arrive late at night even in the wee hour of the next morning. But the host will still be there waiting for them and to tell them their position. So does God. He will be waiting for us even though we arrive late at night, in the wee hour or on the next day. He will always be waiting because He wants us to finish the race, to reach the finish line.

In the show, each team that arrived at the finish line looked so bad. They were tired and exhausted. But the host and his aids will welcome them with smiles before saying "You are team No. so and so". When they were told that they were not the last team to arrive, they would leap and hug each other in joy. They forgot about all the sweats and tears that had poured out throughout the race. Now they are ready for their rewards.

I could imagine that when we reach the finish line, we will be in a bad shape as well after all the obstacles that we have gone through. But He will be there together with His angels, welcoming us with joy and singing....heaven will be applauding us...or we will be given a standing ovation....and there He is, approaching us and says " Son, welcome to heaven. You are now citizen of heaven".....

But to be able to reach the finish line, we need to understand the instruction (the commands of God), we need to choose wisely (God will help us in making decision if we ask Him), we need to support each other (we need to love one another, built one another), we have to persevere (we cannot give up but ask God for strength), we need to use all our talents (Talents are from God. We need to use them for God).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Singing by the lyrics

My 2 years old daughter was singing with her nanny. Her nanny tried to lead her into singing the song line after line. But my daughter kept on jumping the line and not singing according to the order of the song's lyrics. Every time she did that her nanny would say "No. Not yet." and asked my daughter to sing after her.

I realized that in our life so many times we did not follow the order events. We try to jump the line in order to get things that we desire as quickly as possible. Instead of singing the song according to its lyrics, we tend to jump first few lines and go straight away to the fifth or sixth line. By doing so, we make the song sound weird. The beauty of the song was ruined. And every time we need to be reminded of our mistake.

In the Bible God told us that there is time for everything. We cannot expect to get something that we desire if it's not the time yet. Many times God has to remind us "No. Not yet". If He allowed us to jump to the next event when it's not the time yet, we will change His plans for us. That is why, God keeps on reminding us and He does it in various ways. Sometimes He has to do it the hard way when His soft action did not take affect on us. He just doesnt want us to do it when the time is not there yet. He will give it to us when the time is right.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We left the most perfect home

When prices of goods increase but not my income, I begin to re-calculate my contribution to the church. Normally I will contribute around ten percent of my monthly income to the church in the form of tithes. But with the increase in cost of living, will God understand if my contribution is less than ten percent of my monthly income? For if I maintain the ten percent for God, I may face shortages in other area of my spending.

But then I realized that all the income that I get come from God. And it is more than sufficient to cater for my needs. I do not need to reduce my tithes but to adjust my spending here and there. To conserve fuel, it is useful not to make an unnecessary traveling for instance driving to a sundry shop which is only half kilometer from my house. Some part of my life could be change for good.

It will be tough in the beginning but God will help me to adjust to it. I know that I do not have to worry of anything. During this hard time, God hope is that we come to Him and ask for His help. Like the prodigal son who spent all his money and left with nothing, remembered that he would have never lack of anything while with his father. He came back to his father and apologized in regret of his action towards his father. His father accepted him happily, fed, clothed and loved him more than before.

So many of us have left the perfect home of our father. We might have ran out of our father's home, but he is hoping and waiting for us to come back. Once he sees us coming back, he will ask the whole household to celebrate our home-coming. He is waiting and waiting and waiting because he knows the world is tough on us and we cannot stand it without him...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where is your 'thank you'?

Seeing people praying to God in any occasion brings joy to my heart. Not once I felt so blessed seeing someone praying before taking meals in coffees shops and restaurants.

I happened to be in one of the coffee shop in my town one evening. I saw this group of three young waiters were about to have their dinner. Two of them began eating straight away after sitting down but the other one calmly sat down and closed his eyes and bowed his head down to pray. It was not a long prayer, just half a minute I guess but its effect on me was so great. I felt a sudden and big joy inside me seeing that guy thanking God for His blessing

Giving thanks to God sometimes become the hardest thing to do. In many occasions we will only remember to thank Him when the blessing is great and we feel happy about it. But when the blessing is small in nature we always forget to thank Him ( or we just ignore it because we are not really happy about it). That is why we forget to pray prior to having our meal, before retiring to bed at night, when we wake up in the morning and in many other ordinary occasions. We forget that if not because of God, we will never be able to have even the simplest meal for dinner as those in some countries in Africa, we will never be able to have even an hour to rest and sleep at night as experienced by the victims of the Nargis Typhoon in Bangladesh and earthquake in China or seeing the beautiful sunrise in the morning.

When the blessings are huge and satisfying, we will straight away say "Thank God for this!!!". When we got promoted, we held thanks giving party. But when we were at the same position for 10 years, how many time we thank God for His generosity and blessings for allowing us to survive the 10-years with good health? How many time we thank Him for giving us job that we love and enjoy even without being promoted for 10 years?

Being thankful to God in all situation is the key for happiness. It is not easy to say thank you when we are in the midst of a big crisis, but it is also not hard to say 'help me'. One of the reason for crisis to happen in our life is that we do not ask God for help. How can we expect Him to help if we never ask? But how can we expect Him to keep on helping us if we never say 'thank you'? When Jesus healed the ten lepers, how many came back to thank Him? Only one..only ten percent...same goes to our world today. Perhaps only ten percent of the world have ever came to God and thank Him for His great works in man's life... are we the ten percent?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Shining even in the rain

In Missouri, warm summer evenings offer a special treat. As darkness falls, lawns are covered by the soft, twinkling lights of fireflies. Children love to catch the fireflies and put them into jars to create their own special lanterns.

While I walked home at dusk one hot summer evening with my five-year-old grandson, Zach, a gentle rain began to fall. He questioned, "Grandpa, can fireflies shine in the rain?" I started to say that fireflies don't come out in the rain when suddenly all around us little lights started twinkling. To my amazement, the fireflies were out in large number, rising up from the lawn. Fireflies can shine in the rain!

In a similar way, God's light is stronger than problems that rain upon us. If we follow the light of Christ as God reveals it in the Bible, we can find hope even as we walk in the rain. Like many others, I have endured problems such as divorce, illness, unemployment, and family conflict. In these disappointments, we need not stumble into self-pity, anger, or pessimism. God will bless us with light as we follow Christ; we can shine even in the rain.

Cliff Rawley (Missouri, U.S.A.)

The light of God would never fade even in the heaviest rain. It will keep on shining on us, showing us which way to go. So it is therefore important to remain in God's light to be able to clearly see things ahead of us. Trials of all kinds may rain upon us but we should never be afraid and worry for God's light is far greater than the rain.......
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