A Personal Faith with a very Public Fruit

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? – James 2:14-20 (NLT)

How does one know that there is helium inside a balloon?  We know that there is helium in the balloon because it floats in the air.  That’s the reason the balloon is able to defy gravity.  Helium is much lighter than the typical surrounding air so it is able to carry the weight of the balloon against the pull of gravity.

Continue reading

Who Will Cry for You?

“His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” – Job 2:9-13

I shared this story to the congregation when I preached last Sunday on bitterness.  I was hesitant at first but I realized that God can use such a tumultuous episode in our lives as a way to build and encourage others.  I know that He did it for me.  Such incredible pain can turn one who trusts in the Lord to someone useful for His kingdom.  I hope you see why as I recount such a harrowing experience…

Continue reading

Divinely-Authored Life or Doctor-Assisted Death: A Perspective

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10 (NIV)

Today, the federal government introduced the highly controversial yet much-awaited legislation regarding medically-assisted death with a qualifier that bounds the law “for adults who are suffering intolerably and for whom death is reasonably foreseeable.”  Furthermore, the bill restricts eligibility to those who are mentally competent, 18 or older, have a serious and incurable disease, illness or disability and be in advanced state of irreversible decline in capability.

Continue reading

Living the Dream

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Human experience is tangled in a weave of irony and contradiction.  As much as the triumph of human stories symbolic of a “rags to riches” akin to Cinderella abound, there are equally a good accounting of those who pursued plenty yet ended up in poverty; those who vied for victory yet experienced vanquish; and those who longed for love yet endured loathing.

The recent debacle surrounding the Panama Papers (exposition of a supposedly clandestine, illegal network of foreign, tax-sheltered investments) engulfed the world in a firestorm of controversy and confusion.  While investigations continue to probe into the validity of the information that leaked out into an already suspecting society, this fiasco exposes yet again man’s penchant for malicious avarice and propensity for material abundance.

It is within this human predilection to satisfy himself with worldly pursuits that Solomon sets out with his own personal examination and exploration as expressed in the book of Ecclesiastes.  In tackling the various dimensions of personal pleasure, Solomon, the epitome of the earthly man who experiences it all, winds up with a heavenly revelation he articulates in the last two verses of the book:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

When Solomon assumed the throne after the death of his father, David, he presented a humble petition to the Lord to equip him with the wisdom necessary to bring divine discernment in his leadership of the nation of Israel as his prayer constitutes in 1 Kings 3:9:

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? “

God was pleased with this prayer and even more pleased to grant such a noble request in His immediate response to Solomon as spoken to in 1 Kings 3:10-13:

“And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.  And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.  And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.”

The Lord emphasized His delight in that Solomon did not set his heart in the hankering for health (“hast not asked for thyself long life”), or want of wealth (“neither hast asked riches for thyself”), nor expunge his enemies (“nor hast asked the life of thine enemies”).  Moreover, God’s extreme pleasure in Solomon’s prayer resulted in the provision of those things that he did not desire (well, at least in the beginning of his reign) – treasure and tribute.

Yet, while Solomon’s inaugurates his kingship with a deep aspiration for godly wisdom, eventually his inner man takes over and moves him towards the dangerous appetite for women and the allure of wealth.  Although he concludes his research into the vanity of life in a righteous disposition, the personal pursuits he engages in great detail in Ecclesiastes paints the picture of how even the wisest among us can be entrapped in the vicious cycle of seeking satisfaction in the empty promises of a purely tellurian ambition.

It’ll be more wise to ask before it’s too late, “Who’s dream are you living?  What are you living for?”  Solomon, one of the wealthiest and wisest who ever lived, concluded that nothing beats living the dream that leads to eternal security.  Are you living that dream today?

Lost in the Fine Print

“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:21-23

Tim Horton’s famous Roll Up The Rim To Win contest has just ended.  It is one of the most successful business campaigns here in Canada causing a frenzy of coffee-buying (as if we’re not already overly indulging in this caffeinated drink) just to get at a chance to win any prize.  Here’s what most people probably don’t know about the contest:

Continue reading