Old notes taken mostly from my personal time with God. We're moving house again, so, I guess we're back to being, literally, pilgrims on the Rough Roads of Planet Earth. (Photo taken on a road to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, North Auckland, NZ, Dec 2009.)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
7John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
10"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
11John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
13"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told
them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"
He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."
15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. 16John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 18And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
19But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
God's message to us is still the same - it cuts across the grain of our very nature - the worldly, fleshly nature we are made of. God requires nothing more, or less: We must deny our selfish nature.
John the Baptist's message here can be classified into two categories: Practice charity and practice integrity in our work or in whatever we do. It is so easy for us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and pamper ourselves with more possessions, more holidays, better cars, nicer homes, etc. We say we deserve it because we work so hard. God only asks us to share what He has blessed us with. Share our food and our possessions. When we start thinking of sharing we start asking "with whom?" And then we start looking around and become more aware of the misery and the poverty around us. Sharing is loving. And Jesus said the same thing, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
It's so humanly of us to often abuse our power, especially in the workplace, or even at home or in our community. It's so easy to get blind in this area. When we become popular and influential we tend to overstep the boundaries and limitations that are in place. Often times these boundaries become blurred because of ignorant and consenting people around us. Abuse only happens when there are abusers and abuse-tolerant people. But for one who is in power and in the position to initiate or stop abuse, God expects this: Exercise self-restraint. And we can't do that if we are already blinded by power, influence and popularity. It is only when we remain connected with God that we remain restrained. Self-discipline comes from within and the power within can only come from one who is pure, holy and supernatural - God Himself. We need the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, to fulfill these two basic demands of God: Charity and Integrity.
God's demands do cut across the grain of our very nature. We need to flow with the Holy Spirit to go against that fleshly nature. The Holy Spirit is pure, holy and supernatural. Christianity never comes cheap. It cuts across the grain of our human nature. It demands dying to one's self. And that's the reason why it continues to be refreshing, life-giving, hope-inspiring and beautiful. All we need to do is call on His Name - the Name of a Person called Jesus. If we call long and hard enough we will find help from Him in this seemingly hopeless, ugly and dying generation.
Sadly, not many of us can take the cutting words of John. Yet, he was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he could not help but preach what God told him to preach. And for that, he was imprisoned - cut off from society. Eventually, he lost his head. The messenger of Hope paid with his life to get this message of hope across to us. Christianity never comes cheap.
Photo by my older daughter
Monday, January 5, 2009
12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (NIV)
12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. (KJV)
16"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
-----> We need to get "violent" to find God and His kingdom. Put in more effort, that's what it means. Spend more time reading His word, praying, seriously praying, even fasting. This is what others call "spiritual warfare."
Image from www.pbs.org
Date: April 2008
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 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.
22Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Image from www.wunderground.com
image from http://www.marengocreekfarms.com
Date: April 2008
9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[a] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
-----> All we need to do is ask,... ask persistently!
Rose plant in a nursery here in Auckland, Dec 08
Date : April 2008
Luke 10: 25-28
25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[c]; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[d]"
28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
---------> Simple, eh? The trouble with us is, we never put in the effort to know how God wants to be loved and what He says about how to love our neighbor.
Rose bunch photo taken at a rose nursery near our house here in Auckland
Date : April 2008
He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal them.
----------> We earthly friends play favorites. Well, the Father and the Son do, too. Whoa, and the word of God means what it says. It's as simple as that.
Date: 12 Jan 2008
(These passages are good for meditating on the unique love relationship between God the Father and His beloved Son Jesus Christ.)
God's Approval Over His Son
And a voice from heaven said, "this is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased."
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.
Phil 2:8 ff
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Jesus' Complete Submission to the Father
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
Jesus' Perfect Communion with the Father
No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God, only he has seen the Father.
(I believe Jesus is saying here that only He has really seen God in all His glory, in all His facets, and just as He is. Moses talked with God as a man talked with a friend, face to face; but was it really a face? Or it was Light? Or a form against the Light?)
Jesus as Source of Life
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
48I am the bead of Life.
49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they die.
50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.
51I am the living bread that came down from heave. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
------> Here he refers to the work he would do at the cross - of dying and rising to life again. Without His dying and rising to life again, our Lord's Supper or Breaking of Bread is of no meaning and of no use ( no effect, no efficacy).
Jesus' Words are Life
68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
------> Apparently, based on the chronology in Matthew (see Matthew chapters 14, 15, 16, 17) when Peter said the above, the Transfiguration had not even happened yet. And yet, Peter had that revelation. There must have been something in Jesus - his character, the miracles he did, the good works, his demeanor and of course, his words.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Prayer: Oh LORD, I long for a Jacob's ladder experience. I long for an encounter with YOU! But most of all, I long for an abiding relationship with YOU! I need to make time for YOU!
Matt 4:18-22 The calling of the first disciples
I am still amazed by the quickness of Peter's, Andrew's, James' and John's responses to Jesus when He called them. Surely they would have heard of Him and His ministry. They must have recognized something really significant about Him and being associated with Him. It must have been like Elijah and Elisha. They had a company of prophets. To be called by a prophet of God to become an "intern" or an understudy must have been a really great thing for them, for immediately, they just dropped everything.
Matt 3:13-17 The Baptism of Jesus
In the Old Testamant (OT) the sign of the covenant in the flesh was
1. circumcision - 8 days after birth or any day for adults who convert to Judaism.
2. tithing would be another sign
3. observance of the Law (sacrifices, assemblies, etc)
3 feasts in a year - Passover / Feast of Unleavened Bread
Feast of Harvest
Feast of Ingathering
Notice that these ordinances were introduced to the Hebrews one at a time, gradually.
Yet, more new things were coming.
In the New Testament (NT), yet again two very new things:
1. baptism which is immersion in water - symbol of repentance and a new spiritual birth
2. the breaking of bread - eating the flesh and blood of Jesus
Again, these two things were totally new, and the drinking of blood (of animals) contrasted the OT. The drinking of blood or eating meat with blood in it, these two are "anathema." They are totally prohibited in the OT. And yet, in the NT, the believers are made to drink the blood of Jesus, not to mention, eat His flesh as well. This was shocking and offensive to the Jews.
In the OT the eating / drinking of blood was a practice of the pagan nations around Israel. It was witchcraft. And God totally prohibits them from doing that, "for life is in the blood." (Which means that when you ingest the blood of the meat you're eating you're partaking of the life of that animal so you can have "more" life.) Blood was always poured back to the ground whenever there was a butchering / killing of animals in the OT. (That's why the "blood of Abel cries out to me from the ground.")
And then came Jesus in the NT, the real manna from Heaven, and believers are to be eating and drinking Him. What does that mean? We are not supposed to be drinking or eating any blood, except the blood of Jesus! We are not supposed to be partaking of any life apart from the life of Jesus!
Matt 5: 17,18
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."
The whole passage of verses 17-20 ties up with Exodus 20:1-4. The whole OT preaches on these 4 verses. The gist of the OT is in these four verses of Exodus, which are actually the first two commandments of God. That means, the above four verses from the book of Matthew ties up with the whole OT. The rest of the NT (except for the book of Revelations) only expounds on what Jesus already taught; the disciples lived out what Jesus taught and expounded on His life and teachings. That's how the epistles and the book of Acts came into being. The book of Revelations on the other hand, focuses on the end-time prophecies also talked about to a certain extent by the OT prophets like Daniel, Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah, Enoch, etc.)
1And God spake all these words, saying,
2I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Just to warn you, this ain't as perky as it looks.
For samplers, here's a hard note I wrote in the new year, last year!!
Date: 3 Jan 2008, Thurs
Meditate on these loaded passages: Hebrews 5: 7-10; Philippians 2: 5-11
(Can look up the passages at www.biblegateway.com)
A glimpse of Jesus' struggle with God. Did Jesus "fight" with God over his circumstances? No, He learned obedience as a son and was fully submitted to the Father. Think about God's opinion of Jesus: "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased.'
Even before Jesus was subjected to the final test of His life in Gethsemane, and even before he struggled with men when He preached and very few believed His message and nobody understood Him as a person, God was already well-pleased with Him. Such an understatement of God's approval of His Son.
Is God approved with me???
We may not be walking in the full approval of God but he does fully accept us as His "sons." Praise the LORD for His love and grace! But I pray that God will give me the heart to aspire for His full approval, that God may be "well-pleased" with me. After all, Jesus is my role model and God's ultimate purpose is for Christ to be fully-formed in each one of us ("that we may conform into the image of Christ").
Jesus' Struggle with Men:
He was misunderstood even by His own family: Luke 2:47-50
He was rejected when He preached: Luke 4:28-30
He was betrayed by one of His own men: John 13:21, John 6:70.71
Many of His disciples deserted Him over a hard teaching: John 6: 52-67
Am I misunderstood by my family? Chicken feed.
Do people revile me because of what I say when it comes to matters concerning God? No surprise.
Have I ever lost friends? Do I have close friends who actually back-stabbed me? No wonder.
Have I ever lost friends because they didn't like what I said? Look, Jesus had it really, really bad. I definitely have no complaints.
Happy new year!!
Dated 13 Aug 2008, 1:38pm, Malaysia
Dated 11 Aug 2008, 1:12pm, Malaysia
When we got home I tidied the kitchen and started preparing the fried tanghoon ingredients. Then I realized I would have to put the apple pie to cook first or we won't have a cake substitute. I didn't bother to buy cake because nobody eats iced-cake except me. My younger son and older daughter do eat but only a little bit. Then the ice cream in the shops nowadays are too soft and frothy, I decided to forgo that, too. After making the pastry, cutting up the green apples, mixing, and shoving the apple pie to bake in the oven, I cooked the tanghoon. I asked my older son to help me cut the kiwis, which he did, and ate some of it as well while he was at it. :-) My older daughter and younger son helped a bit in setting the table. We had kiwifruit, dragon fruit and durian to go with the apple pie for dessert. Then we warmed up the pizza. We had fizzy grape juice in ice for drinks. I lighted an old scented candle that was supposed to be discarded since my older daughter already packed all our big candles and table lamps. I think it was a nice simple dinner. We got to talk! We used hubby's cell phone camera to take photos since our own old camera seemed to have finally decided to "retire." I haven't downloaded the photos; I might put up some later, if they are of acceptable quality.
2 Aug. 2008, 12:01pm, Malaysia
The piano pushed down by the flood waters, obviously beyond repair. It survived a house fire in 1966 from its former owner but it didn't survive this flood of 2008 in our possession.
The muddy wooden furniture.
The muddy cooker. It became functional again after thorough cleaning.
Mud on everything.
The muddy kitchen.
The muddy road outside the house. This is the same in all the roads of our town.
Some roads were cleaned up using a "grader" truck but they have no place to dump the mud, so, it's piled right next to the drain. When the rains come the mud pile would flow back to the drain and clog it again!
Some workers hired by the local government to clean up the clogged drains.
As of today, 1st August 2008, 41 days after the flood, most of the mud had already been cleaned off inside our house. My mother was able to find trusted people to help her clean up. The toilet is now back in operation, the water is back, same with the electricity and the phone lines. Only the mud in the streets needed to be cleared. But the damaged furniture are forever gone. We had some damaged pictures hanging on the walls and on top of the piano and lots of destroyed books and clothes that had to be thrown away, having been reduced to rubbish. As for the jeep, my brother still hopes it can be overhauled and be made functional again.
Note: All photos are courtesy of my brother Manong Mike.
8 July 2008, 1:24pm, Malaysia
The untold story of the ..Panay.. deluge ....
8 July 2008, 12:15pm, Malaysia
Piled up motor vehicles after the flood in Jaro, Iloilo.
She's finally found two male persons whom she trusts enough to clean the mud off our house. Water comes in trickles only at the middle of the night, every other day. My mom's TV has already been fixed and will be delivered back any time, same with the refrigerator. So far my other brother living in Iloilo City had been bringing her food every day. The toilet is still not functional but the phone (landline) is back. Also, my mom's feet seems to be having some mould infection because of the damp surroundings, even though she wears rubber boots to move about the ground floor. Also, my brother said, according to sources, that the town of Pototan was also affected by the flood, having 5-foot water levels, not just Pavia and Jaro. Of course, other towns of Iloilo may also have had floods, as well as the towns in the Provinces of Capiz, Aklan and Antique, all on Panay Island.
According to my brother in Manila, my mother said, quoting my brother's email:
"She observed that on the day of the flood there was complete silence all around town. There was complete silence, too, around the neighborhood. Nobody shouted to ask another about their fearsome situation. Mom said that perhaps the reason is that everyone was terrified of the fast rising waters that nobody dared to ask another about their situation. Nang L (a neighbor further down our street who is a bit younger than mom) had to go to the roof of their house to avoid getting drowned. She also had to move her bedridden husband, Nong F, to the roof. S---J---- whose house is a bungalow (single-level house), had to stay on the roof of his house to survive. Manang A and her family and her relatives (our distant relatives who live along the Tigum River bank) are still having no communication with Mom. It means that, according to Mom, everyone in Pavia is still focused on solving their daily predicament that even relatives, or brothers and sisters, for that matter, have no more time to check on one another and see how everyone's doing after the flood."
Photo from :
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- The Many Versions of Love Stories 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. They live happily ever after. 2. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. The marriage sours, they part, and live happily ever after. 3. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. Then boy finds out it's more fun to be girl... or girl finds out it's more fun to be boy, they part, change sexes and live happily ever after. 4.Finally, boy or girl meets God. It's love at first sight... The roads went rough, the tides rose high, the strong winds blew and the quake shook the ground... but they truly live happily ever after, forever and ever. 5. Try God's love... it's always happy forever after, and the story never ends. :-D