For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them – Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)
September 22, 2013
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them – Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)
August 18, 2013
You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. – Leviticus 20:26
I remember when growing up, dad used to have a handmade wooden toolbox stowed underneath the bed where he kept all his tools and hardware. Right next to it were couple tin paint buckets containing screws, nails, nuts and bolts of all kinds. It was his prized collection that he collected, salvaged and saved them over the years. Before each project, we would pick out the tools from the box, and dig through the buckets to pick out the nails, and screws needed for the project. There were perfect nails, but there where also worn-out, clipped off, rusted or bended nails in the bunch. I asked what good were the bended nails, and he would take them and straighten them out with hammer to put in the ‘good’ pile for his project. Despite their imperfect, they were picked out, and set apart for a purpose.
Instead just sitting in the toolbox, we are picked out and set apart for a purpose. We are tools and hardware in God’s hands for His works. We are not just mere tools but more than that, God set us apart to be His own, to be like Him, be holy. God desires the relationship with us. We are not perfect, very broken, yet God cares much for us. What do we do to deserve such attention, or to be adopted into a royal family? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We don’t deserve it at all. But it is the King who chooses us. What an awesome blessing and privilege that is! The devil for sure doesn’t want us to realize we are the apple of His eyes, or our special purpose in Christ, and he and will distract us from what we are to be or to do. Indulgence, idling, not serving are causing us to not enjoying or doing what God intends for us. Some time, name calling, shame, guilt are thrown at us to cause us forget who we are in Christ. But we ought to remember this important truth and claim it daily. It’s God’s word to reminder us that we are set apart to be His own. We are to be holy, like Him.
July 18, 2013
Recently I read a powerful testimony of someone’s life and amazing transformation God has done in the life of this person, using him for God’s purpose and ministry. As I read about his life story, I wish I were experiencing such powerful transformation. “God can change this part about your life” he said in his book. “Oh I know God can. Nothing is impossible for God” I thought to myself. It seems that God placed a question in my head as I read on “Tom, do you believe I can change this part about you?” and I was stuck with my own rationalizations. “Well, that works out for him. But everyone’s situation is different.” “This has been a problem so long. I don’t think it will change.” “Well I’m not sure. I have tried before and failed.” “My problem is not like his at all. Maybe not as bad.” Reasons, excuses, justifications just keep popping up. You see, sometime God asks us just one simple question “Do you believe?” but we can’t give the straight answer.
I’m reminded of the story in John 5. There was a man crippled for 38 years, waiting by the pool of Bethesda for a chance to dip in water and be healed. Thirty eight years – that’s a very long time living (or maybe not-so-living) in this cripple condition, yet for some reason, he did not have any friend, or family, or band of brothers who knows about his condition and help him. He was very much alone. But Jesus noticed this man among the people! He saw and knew what the man needs and approached him. Jesus asked: “Do you want to get well?” (verse 5) The answer wasn’t sounding joy of “Yes!” or “Finally!! Someone come to my rescue.”, but the man answered with bitter, anguish that no one to help him. His eyes probably weren’t looking at Jesus, the very source for his salvation, but were limited in the view of the problem or the effort of trying to beat the crowd, hoping to be the first person in the pool. I’m just thinking out loud here, but as if this man has lost all of his hope and accepted his fate in this cripple condition. Jesus didn’t wait for the cripple man to have great faith, correct answer first, but He showed him compassion and healed him.
I can see myself in this crippled man. God sees things in my life that crippling me, and it could be things that no one could see, things that were problem for so long that I have accepted as ‘facts of life’. With compassion, God approaches you and me with the same question “Do you want to get well?” For God knows how many long years we have suffered a ‘condition’ that crippling us, stealing our love & joy in Him, robbing our time & money, destroying relationships, and now God wants heal us from it. He wants us to get up, wrap up our mat, and walk away free. The healing part is not ours to do, but it’s God. We just simply believe and receive. Knowing God’s healing power can do this is just not enough to get healed, but we need to desire to be healed and experience the healing for ourselves. There is different between knowing and believing. Knowing who God is, the extend of His love and grace, or what God can do in and through my life could simply be knowledge that I was taught, or impression I get from seeing or hearing from soneone’s story. Just knowing about God is not enough. I have to believe and start experiencing God for myself. Otherwise I just have all the textbook knowledge but missing out big time on the exciting field experience with the best guide I could ever have – God himself.
Now back to the question that stemming from the transforming life of a person, whether I believe God could also transform my life. Regretfully, I was hesitated with my answer before but I now firmly profess: “Yes, God. I believe You can change this part about my life just as You have done in this man’s life.” There is power in humility, admitting we can’t do things that only God can. There is power when we are fully surrender our lives to God. Couple common reasons for our hesitant are:
Sins. There might be secret sins that we are still secretly indulging, holding on. There might be ungodly belief or practice that we refuse to give up. Light and darkness cannot coexist. If we still side with darkness, we will less likely want to be changed, transformed.
“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20)
Fears. Everyone faces some form of fear: rejection, punishment, letting go, unknown, etc. But God loves us and He’s not in business to put us in shame or punishment. Instead of fear, God gives us hope.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18)
“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5)
Controls. We like to be in controll. Though we don’t see or care to admit but we’re being controlled by things we entertain; that is music, TV, shopping, foods, drinks, shopping, power, or a person. Which yolk we want to be under? We think giving up something is losing control, but rather we find strength when we complete surrender ourselves and submit to God. We are not of our own as we have been bought with a prize, Jesus’ blood. We belong to Christ now, and set apart for God’s purpose.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3)
Failures. Many of us has suffer failures and defeated. Some have tried all and kept failing. Steps program, rehabs, anonymous group, accountability, or maybe all of of the above seem to yield little to no result. It’s not our effort that drives the success, but it’s the work of God. Remember Jesus did the healing first. We can’t work out our own salvation by effort, but by power of the Spirit in us.
“continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13)
May we surrender all to Jesus, our sins, our fears, let go of our controls, our past failures, and let the transforming work of God be done in our lives.
June 20, 2013
St Pete Beach, Florida / June 11-15, 2013
Day 01-02 – Best seafood dinner ever at Crab Shack Restaurant. Blue sky, white sand, palm tree, warm emerald water, calm, little to no wave. Just perfect. Meet new friends. See pictures here.
Day 03 – Eat. Sleep. Beach. It’s what we came for. Get buried in the sand. Caught some exciting fishing action at the pier. The sunset on the beach is just gorgeous. See pictures here.
Day 04 – Boogie board and riding the waves. A bit shopping and fun time at Boardwalk. Catch dolphins at sunset. See pictures here.
Day 05 – Beach one last time at early morning before the flight home. Not in the picture: fresh chilled rambuton!! Too delicious forgot to get camera out.
March 20, 2013
Last week was my on-call week at work, and as part of the on-call duty, I had to carry the work cellphone with me 24-hr and be ready to investigate and respond any issues that were paged to the phone. There were few nights on the row I had to get up in middle of the night because of the page, checked out the problem, and followed up with the issue in the morning. Sometime I really questioned the sensitivity and intensity measures of these alerts that paged to the cellphone, as it is quite annoying having to get up in the middle of the night for a false alarm. However, when it comes to business of financial gain loss, a few seconds of down time doesn’t mean much to a typical person, but it is a big deal to business. There are many bank heist movies came out from Hollywood with similar scripts, where thieves are taking advantage of the downtime and vulnerability of system to rob million of dollars from the bank. So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see companies spent millions of dollars on infrastructure, network, hardware, software solutions to ensure their systems are secured, stable and they’re in business at all time. Companies would boast of their 99% up time in their marketing strategy, and will aim to close that gap to a near 100% at possible at all cost. They just can’t afford the down time.
That’s the world we are living in now. But think of our spiritual life, it is not a picture perfect, sepia tone, calm wind, clear sky, not a care in the world and crime-free. No, it is a war zone, a spiritual war zone! For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) The devil has declared war on us, and his purpose is clear: steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) It prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) The devil has come down to us with great fury, because he knows he has a short time (Revelation 12:12)
Now that doesn’t sound like something we just brush off and ignore, does it?! So what are we guarding, and what security measures necessary are we equipping ourselves?
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23)
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:13-18)
Can we afford down time? I think not! Unless you enjoy being captive, living in bondage. If a company would invest millions of dollars to ensure their system’s up time, what would we invest in our spiritual life to win this spiritual war?
August 29, 2012
“God, please give me power to overcome the burden, shame, and habitual sins in in my life!” Does that prayer sound familiar to you? How often do we cry out to the Lord and beg for that power? God probably chuckles and replies every time we ask that question: “Son, I already gave it to you. You already have THE power. Use it, son.” Wait, what?! How come we’re not seeing it? Or did we forget? Well, sure enough, God wasn’t lying; He already gave us that power to overcome sins.
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every namethat is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:18-21 NIV)
Imagine that, the same power that “raised Christ from the dead” is in us!! How incredible is that for us to receive such power, yet somehow we are totally blindsided and not seeing it. We don’t need to ask for the power anymore. We need to see it, and use it. Paul was praying that the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened, so that we can realize this power is already in us, with us.
It’s funny, not funny haha, how we already possess the ultimate power, yet we are still seeking for some other ‘answer’ somehow. Sometime the answer is just that straightforward, simple, but we tend to complicate it, and want to do the hard way. We think the answer might be in another men group, another accountable partner, or sympathy and understanding from someone who shares the same burden, a step program, a workshop or a convention… They all are great resources to assist us in pursuing God, but they are not the answer to our problems. God is.
What’s dead? Our sinful nature, our dark past, our struggles, burdens, and shames. They’re all dead when we came to Christ. We have been made new as a new creation when we came to Christ. Look at what we have left behind at the foot of the cross: They’re dead. They stink. They have maggots all over.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath (Ephesians 2:3 NIV)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1 NIV)
But they were the past when we used to live with them, dwell in them. They are not part of this new creation that God has made us. (2 Corinthians 5:17) That doesn’t mean we would never ever sin again. Foolishly, we get ourselves dirty playing with the dead, the stinky, maggots covered things, but God’s grace is sufficient to give us the good soak and cleanse in His blood, by His mercy and forgiveness. We are now cleansed, so don’t intentionally touch or play with the dead things anymore.
What is not yet dead in our lives? Kill it. Cut it life source. Stop feeding it. Put it to death. Bright it to the light, don’t let it grow in the dark anymore.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5)
How can we activate this power that is already in us? Claim it. Proclaim it.
A pastor shared he starts his day with a routine by coming to the Lord with the list of his struggles, and one by one, announcing its dead, and claiming God’s power over it. They are dead to him, stinky, with maggots all over, and have no hold, no power on him anymore.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:8-14)
So start our day by giving death-certificate to our sins, our shames, our struggles, and proclaim God’s power over them. We are not dead-man-walking. We have the eternal power, the eternal life source in us. So start living by God’s power, and live victorious. Daily.