Winter wonderland appeared overnight outside my window.
A group of Bible College students (from all over the world) are going to visit and serve the people at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. They are learning to show the love of God to a people whom they have never met. Please visit the following site and look at the pictures of some of the children and the magnificent sceneries. We would appreciate your show of love too by supporting the mission through donations and prayers. The money will go into the College’s accounts for a common pool for the whole group, although your donation is for a specific student. Every student is required to practice raising mission fund by faith. Thank you for making us your hands to serve the people and feet to walk this beautiful historical land.
This following video shows some of the activities the students will do in our mission trips.
No doubt I have some special talents and skills. Some accumulated with experience, study and practice. The disciples too. Jesus knew. Mark 9:33-34 recorded this realistic scene. Jesus knew they were disputing among themselves who would be the greatest. I can imagine the conversation among them:
- Peter: I should be the leader. I am always the leader and spokesman. I have the revelation knowledge. I was the first to declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that Jesus has the words of eternal life. (John 6:68-69)
- John: I am the chosen one. I am the beloved of Jesus. Jesus let me lay on His bosom. I can accurately conceptualize and summarize the essence of the words He has spoken. In fact, I know Jesus best. I have a better and more complete in depth revelation knowledge of God and Jesus, the Son of God. I even recorded down Who He said He really is. I believe in every word He has spoken. I believe Jesus trusts me most and will entrust His mother to my care if in need.
- James: I should be the commander in chief. I am fiery and unafraid of evil. I can call down fire to burn those who oppose Jesus! I am in the Lord’s inner circle of three (Peter, John and James) and saw Jesus’ glory on the mountain of transfiguration!
- Philip: I managed to convince the skeptical Nathanael to join us here! I am the first evangelist! I am good in economics, market prices and figures too. I make sure I stay quite close to Jesus so I can ask Him stuff and also serve Him. For example, Jesus asked me where we shall buy bread. I am the one who knew how much it would cost to feed five thousand. (John 6:5, 7) I am the first cross-cultured missionary. The Greeks come to me so I can bring them to Jesus.
- Andrew: I. I am the first evangelist. I went and persuaded Peter to join. Remember? I am a populist. The little boy came to me and offered his five barley loaves and two small fish. See, how popular I am? The Greeks look for Philip but Philip still has to find me to bring them together to Jesus. (John 12:20-22)
- Matthew: Stop. I am the most qualified and experienced in crucial departments: accounting, tax evasion investigation, inland revenue and custom duties collection, reports writing etc. I am also most well versed in Moses’ laws and Jewish tradition and practice.
- Thomas: I am the realist. You need to be realistic and demand the specific practical evidence and details. You must doubt and challenge everything before you can be an effective leader. Never take things at face value. I make sure we clarify and know what Jesus is talking about and the exact route we can use to go where He is going. (John 14:5, 20:24-29) but I have loyalty. I am willing to die with Jesus. (John 11:16)
- Nathanael: I am the man of integrity. Jesus said so!
- Judas Iscariot: I am the man of the highest integrity. See, you all entrusted me to keep your money box. I even have the discretion to give to the poor, take and spend what I need to. I also have friends in the high places, like the Chief Priests and the Pharisees.
- James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, and Simon the Patriot: We are the true disciples. Action speaks louder than mere words. The Master (Jesus) sent us out, gave us authority and power to go preach the kingdom of God, heal the sick and cast out demons. We did that faithfully. Leaders are action and performance-oriented, with evidence of fruit.
In conclusion, I should not be thinking that Jesus is merely talking to His disciples. I too, like the disciples above, could make assumptions about my human abilities and qualifications when I lapse into self-engrossment and human efforts even though I do not vie for any leadership position. Jesus was not against His disciples performing well and becoming leaders. But at that time they missed the whole point about His life ministry, which is not a kingdom on earth. And His successors are to make disciples of all nations. This mission is to be fulfilled by His followers until He returns.
Definition of a disciple:
This is the definition of a disciple. A disciple is a person who continues in God’s Word until they experience freedom. Put together with John 15:8, where Jesus said a disciple is one who bears much fruit, we can say that a disciple is someone who continues in God’s Word until they are free and it can be witnessed in their lives as fruit. (Andrew Wommack)
I just listened to an excellent teaching on “the power in time” by my favorite Bible teacher, considered one of the premium Bible teachers today. The subject is based on Ephesians 5:15-17, about how to walk as wise, redeeming the time. He teaches that time is a resource that impacts eternity. We can take from the eternal and sow into this temporal life, and from the temporal and sow into eternity. Some go through time, never redeeming one minute. How to redeem time? 1. Have the right attitude. Hebrews 11:1 (faith). 2. Do not look at the temporal. 2 Corinthians 4:18. We have spiritual eyeballs to choose to see through God’s words, our default, and expect God’s promises to be fully realized. 3. Perseverance. Galatians 6:9. Do not grow weary doing good, for in due season (time) we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
The above encouragement is timely as I am pondering on making a choice in what to major in third year. I just watched the presentation of the seven faculties to choose from. It is hard to make a decision at this moment. I have narrowed down the options to three. But it appears that all three are relevant to my future direction: ministry, business, and media school.
My mentor advises me to be patient and continue to finish my present year’s course and the Holy Spirit will guide me on the right choice. Has my fasting worked in terms of sharpening my spiritual hearing ability? I seem out of practice after having been so engrossed in busyness in chores, what with sudden landing of a young ward to serve for a season (time)… Alas. But I am determined to redeem time and sow into eternity come what may.
My generic guide: Bible verses from Luke 4:18
Luke 4:18 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me [a]to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are [b]oppressed;
I am fasting from the service of money. Lately I find that my increased focus on money has caused thorns and thistles to grow and choke the words in the soft garden of my heart. Thus, I have found an additional purpose to fast. I am fasting from the most prevalent worry of this world, the fear of a lack of money (Actually not for myself, ironically.) Like the Apostle Paul advised, “I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control.” What has money got to do with subduing the body (physical)? For me and many other born again believers, we believe we need to hear God and receive wisdom to manage our lives on earth. God actually speaks through His revelation words and many other ways. When we are tied down in our physical needs and worrying and occupied mind we just cannot hear Him clearly and align with His plan accurately. Fasting is always accompanied with reading His words and praying. I pray this sharing of my experience encourages you to ponder over how you may hear God too.
As I have written in this blog previously, there are variations and ways to prepare. (click this link to read)
Three types of fasting: Normal- Abstaining from food, solids, liquids except for water. Absolute – Abstaining from everything. (Not more than three days.) Partial (Daniel 10:3) Restricted Diet. Jesus fasted and taught it as a part of the Christian discipline.
You may choose from a long list of choices: 1. the number of days (1, 3, 7, 14, 21, 40) 2. the number of meals to abstain (1, 2, all ) 3. eat vegetables/fruits only 4. no solid intake, drink water/liquid only.
This time I decided to have plain water with no food and solid intake for three days. Prior to this, I did a full 24 hours’ fast as a preliminary trial, followed by a break of taking one light meal a day for two days. I would urge you to follow the prompting you receive from the Lord. How is the fast so far? It is showing positive effect after getting through the tough second day. For new comers, yes, you may feel physically uncomfortable initially. But you can overcome it by focusing on the right source of your strength and purpose. Throughout the Bible God tells us that He is our strength and focus.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 The Passion Translation (TPT)
Paul’s Disciplined Lifestyle
24 Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack[a] keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each one of you must run the race to be victorious. 25 A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. 26 For that reason, I don’t run just for exercise[b] or box like one throwing aimless punches, 27 but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body[c] and get it under my control, so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified.
- 1 Corinthians 9:24 Or “the runners in a stadium.” This refers to the Pan-Hellenic stadium near Corinth where the Isthmian games were held.
- 1 Corinthians 9:26 Or “I don’t run aimlessly.” That is, Paul ran with his eyes on the goal of ending well.
- 1 Corinthians 9:27 Or “I beat my body black and blue.” This is an obvious metaphor of placing the desires of one’s body as second place to the desires of the Holy Spirit. See Rom. 8:13.
Money Matters: To SERVE money means to place such a high value on it that we develop a wrong priority compared with our relationship with God and others. Here are some symptoms: Place our trust and faith in it. Look to it for our security and happiness. Expect that it will guarantee our future. Desire it more than we desire God (as evidenced by the time we spend with whom). Our life is then spent in the pursuit of it rather than God.
Jesus spoke about money through these Bible verses:
Matthew 6:19-24 New Living Translation (NLT)
Teaching about Money and Possessions
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
What is in God’s heart? How did Jesus demonstrate this?
Mark 6:34, 36 – “When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd [lacking guidance]; and He began to teach them many things.
God’s solution to sin, sickness, poverty, and death: The sacrifice of Christ through the shedding of His blood. Ephesians 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
Commandments given by Jesus to all believers: (Scripture quoted in New King James Version)
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Mark 16:15-20 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
Luke 24:46-48 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things.
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
2 Corinthians 5:19 – “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
THIS is What Stirs the Heart of God:
Luke 15:7 – “I say to you that likewise, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance.”
For Evangelists: Psalm 2:8 – “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.”
Titus 2:14 – “God gave Himself for us, that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself.”
Examples of how the apostles and early churches/disciples applied what Jesus has commanded: How they prayed, the prayer’s effect, and how they applied:
Acts 4:29-31 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.
Acts 5:14-16 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
Acts 5:29-32 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit Whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Acts 6:7-8 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
Acts 8:6-8 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.
I started reading 2 Corinthians in the Bible with freshness and revelation in my spirit. I believe this is an antidote to the prevailing fear in the face of uncertainties in the external factors that appear to impact our life and our ministry. In chapter one Paul displayed his key success factor, the God he believed in. Who is God? What can God do? What has God done? What is his relationship with God? These are the questions he has answered. I pray you too will be comforted and reassured as you read Paul’s confession in this letter.
My summary of 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 Paul is entirely God-focused:
- God is: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
- God raises the dead: who delivered them (Paul and his team) from death in the past, and does deliver them (present), and in whom they trust that He will still deliver them in future.
- God is faithful with all His promises: when He says Yes He means Yes.
- God is his witness; anointed them; given them the Spirit as seal and guarantee; God gives grace and wisdom abundantly to Paul and his team.
- Paul is apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.
- Paul follows God’s plan (walking by the Holy Spirit) in every decision.
- With God in mind, Paul and his team conduct themselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity.
- Paul values the answered prayer/intercession by the Corinthian and Achaia Christians for Paul and his team’s safety.
I have not been thinking aloud for sometime. What have I been doing? Well I have been studying and sitting for exam. I am serious. The last time I studied for exam was when I did a postgraduate degree for a second career. The current three years’ course is for my “third career”. Yes, my family members are laughing out loud when they read this. At my age and my station? Unbelievable! Well, why am I taking up such a seemingly directionless challenge? I could have easily gone on a world cruise and enjoy watching, listening and recording a great variety of perspectives of many sights, sounds and tastes.
For the benefit of my closed ones and other passers by, here is a random list of my study goals in no order of importance. As some may observe the goals are personal.
1. to be a role model for the younger generation who have aversion to study in my extended family. (I include this goal because several very young members are still students)
2. to compel me to leave the soft couch and sit on a chair with hard back.
3. to change my habit from random information skimming to a focused in-depth study.
4. to have a clear sense of direction.
5. to have a specific higher goal.
6. to practice self-discipline.
7. to exercise my memory and brain functions.
8. to practice long-suffering and perseverance.
9. to learn focus and deter distraction.
10. to equip for a third career. (I include this goal as a commercial motivation for myself and the younger generation too!)
Have I achieved or progressed in any of the above goals? To some degree, yes. I did not include my spiritual and goals of higher values in the above list. They are personal too. Have I achieved or progressed in them? Yes, very much. Would I recommend to my peers such a course? Yes, definitely. Far, far better than going on a world cruise. From a spiritual watchman’s perspective, cruising in the sky has a wider and more panoramic view than taking a ride in a boat.
The way we think influences the contents we speak of. Some people may prefer their life colors remain in varying shades of grey. But there are times in lives we stand at the watershed between truth and untruth and need to make a clearly demarcated decision.
A current news event has stirred up my memory of a story I read sometime ago about a young woman uncovering her unmarried aunt’s reason for remaining single. She still could not forget her first love from junior high school. She did not marry him because she was ambitious and felt that he could not possibly give her the financial freedom she yearned for. They separated and lost contact for decades. She became a famous commercial artist in her own right. The young niece did some sleuthing and finally tracked down the man in question. He turned out to be a very successful but reclusive industrialist manufacturing highly sought after exquisite glassware. He had married, divorced and remained single. He soon detected this young girl stalking him and confronted her. Here is the anti-climax: when she told him she was trying to reconcile him with her aunt, he categorically denied having ever known her aunt!
What really happened? The girl was disappointed and puzzled. The aunt told her the name of her first love and this man bore that name. But this man had no idea who the aunt was and denied ever loving any woman of that description. The girl finally found and showed him the faded photo of her aunt and her young lover from high school. It dawned on the industrialist that the young man was his classmate and good friend then. Apparently the aunt remembered a wrong name. The girl was shocked. All these years the aunt was stalking/thinking of the wrong man when she kept abreast of news about his development and achievements in life.
But what happened to the other man? The undistinguished real lover? The girl eventually found him, an ordinary man at his death bed in a hospice. He had married, propagated, widowed, retired and lived with his grown-up son and family. He thought she was her aunt because of the resemblance. In the story she let this poor man hold her hand until he breathed his last.
I know my memory cannot be classified as totally objective, factual, accurately organized and stored like untempered computer data. I used to think otherwise. But one day my younger sister unknowingly challenged the accuracy of my facts. I overheard her recalling a historical family incident to our younger relatives. I remember everything just as she narrated except for one crucial fact. In my memory I was the hero who did that act of charity. In her narration she became that charitable person! How can that be? I was stunned. I stayed silent. Either one of us has to be wrong. Who is it? She is an honest person. I know that as a fact. So am I. But one of us remembers an untruth.
What affects my memory? How do I remember things? I use ways to memorize different details, often by associations which are not entirely reliable. Despite being a very careful reader of maps, when I am driving in a less familiar terrain (and without GPS), suddenly realizing that some familiar landmarks have changed without my previous noticing, I would find myself stopping my car in the middle of the road, pulling aside to figure out where I am on the map, because I cannot rely on my internalized auto-pilot system anymore.
I personally find that faces, names and places are the most difficult items to synchronize when recalling. Often I have to put memory pieces like jigsaw puzzles (real and imagined?) together to form a coherent (in my thinking) narrative picture. Association can be misleading and deceptive too like the story above of the two young men and their names being mixed up in the memory of a young girl.
Being fond of writing and reading words, I realize that my thinking formulates pictures the way I see them in my mind which is in turn influenced by many variable factors, some real, some unintentionally and often unconsciously creatively imagined. After awhile, I even speak as if they are real. I am thankful that I have a family and loved ones with enough common sense and who are not afraid to point out where I err in this memory-recalling processing task.
What matters is how God sees us. Knowing how He sees me and aligning with His view will be the best guide for every aspect of life. What about memory? Leave it aside unless it fits the following happy thoughts.
So keep your (my) thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your (my) thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always. (Philippians 4:8)
It was an awesome spiritual encounter. I was woken by the worship song downstairs. My housemate was ministering to a first year correspondence Bible College student group in the living room. The song was powerfully sung. I thought it was a recorded or online video but the guitar was clear and the surround effect was too good not to be live. They only sang one song, a Chinese original composition called “You are Worthy”. I did not know the number of participants. It sounded like a full house. The music was great and powerful too. I could not figure out whether there was one or two guitars. Then they prayed in tongue. It blended into the music and the song. I became wide awake and joined the praying in tongue in my room.
Later, when their class was over they prayed in tongue again. This time I was sitting at my desk, continuing my own study. I was also praying in tongue. I realized that I was singing in tongue, and it was a gentle beautiful song in an unknown tongue. The students then took turn to pray in understanding. The music was playing softly in the background. After their closing prayers I heard people talking and leaving.
I was impressed to open my Bible to see what the Lord has for me about my tongue (spiritual song). And the verses I received were most appropriate. They are taken from Psalm 119:97-104 MEM. Here is a description of what it means:
It means mighty, overpower.
Meaning: God waters His servants. God gives life-sustaining knowledge to His servants. God waters His people with understanding and insight. The two forms of MEM show Moses (in the open) and the Messiah (the “hidden” water).
The above confirms my spiritual song just now. When I was singing I could feel the flow in my spirit, like calm water, gentle, peaceful and refreshing. I could also feel the joy and sweetness in my soul. The Lord indeed gives understanding and insight to me and the students as they too prayed in tongue, expressing their passion and love for the words of the Lord in their spirit.
It was near midnight when the last of the students left. I then found out that there were only ten students. One young couple served as worship leaders and another older couple could sing very well too. One guitar accompanied the singing. But it was a powerful passionate worship team I heard. Who are the rest? Awesome!
Psalm 119:97-104 New King James Version (NKJV)
97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the [a]ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:100 aged
The watchman has lately been increasingly prompted and deeply impressed in his spirit to spend more quality time with God, seeking God for Himself and not what He can do. So this morning he dusted the floor, took out the thin mat which he had tucked away for quite sometime in the closet since moving to this house.
After spending an hour or so in praying mostly in tongue and reading aloud God’s words at brief intervals, he finally settled down at one spot and leaned his back against the wall underneath a window. Then he heard in his spirit this, “You have done enough talking. Now it’s my turn.” So he listened.
“First, this woman (a sister whom another house-mate is ministering to) was already healed; she will live and not die. Healing is not your ministry. Secondly, cooking ministry is not your calling (he has been cooking for the two). It will be taken care of. Thirdly, I have taken care of your family (in another State going through some significant changes and from whom he has just returned after a visit.)”
“What is my calling then?” He asked.
“You must now focus on completing the First Year Bible College study this year.” (He has started the course but paused half way.) “You will be upgraded to another level next year.”
“What is my calling then?”
“You are being equipped. Finish your equipping as scheduled.”
The watchman knows this is again a confirmation of what he has been impressed in his spirit sometime ago about his calling. Distractions are major weaknesses of his family. Their minds and hearts hardly stay still. His are no exceptions. But this time he has purposed in his heart and mind to hear the Lord. And the Lord does not disappoint.
Romans 5:5 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.