Monday, December 10, 2012

Be Kind... Rewind

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Help me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours

Everything I am for the Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
 Brooke Fraser

It was at a Loy Krathong Festival here in Bangkok couple of weeks ago. I was sitting by the river bank of the Chao Phraya River watching people float their krathongs and light up their hot air balloons. The sight is amusing even for someone like me who's been here for a while and have witnesses this rituals quite a number of times. And if you happen to be in Chiang Mai, the celebration is spectacular.

Then it dawned on me. Watching people celebrate religious and cultural festival like this in Thailand has become for me a common sight. Elaborate but nothing so unusual anymore.... What happened?

It wasnt like the first time I was here. Things were so different back then. Coming from a culture shaped by anything Catholic, it was overwhelming to be seeing many Buddhist temples and Islamic mosques instead of the churches and cathedrals we have back home. Those tender days when I felt so much compassion for the people for worshiping golden statues, offering incense, food, and flowers at a spirit house to appease the unseen spirits, and kneeling before a monk with offerings to ask for blessing and protection and to make merits. The longing to let those people coming out of a mosque on a Friday know about God's ultimate Korban, in the person of Jesus Christ. Those days when I felt so helpless because despite my best intention, I couldnt do much because there are barriers to overcome - the culture and the language.

So I tried. To learn the culture and to speak the language. In time, with my adaptation to my host's culture comes the adaptation to everything else. Ministry has become more like something to report about not something done because God's heart breaks for these people. I envy cross-cultural workers who remain focused to the task, where living and sharing the Gospel is one the only one thing that keeps them in their host countries. Anything else is just part of the main package.

It was on that Loy Krathong Day that i realized I needed a new baptism of fire from the Holy Spirit, and a new baptism of compassion for the lost souls. Talking to my friend last night about going back to 1998 when I was being challenged about the task remaining and how we can take our part in it. To keep that call alive and to not become too familiar with the things that I once perceived as foreign beliefs, practices, rituals which desperately needed the proclamation of God's power unto freedom and salvation. And more often, it's when we lose our first love to Jesus that we start losing our love for things that mattered to Him.

Now, where do I begin? ; )

Sunday, September 25, 2011

To The Ends of the Earth... Really?

We talk the big talk
On how to reach out
But we keep it to ourselves...

"Show me the Light"

I was playing this song on my music phone today as i was on my way for antoher visa run... Trees, and hills, and tall grasses, and sporadic houses against a gloomy sky. Felt like im in the middle of nowhere... Perfect scene to be reminded of how God has commanded us to go and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth...

Then i started pondering. Random thoughts passing through my mind as we travel. I have been in Thailand for seven years... maybe eight. Somehow i have stopped counting. Been doing this visa runs thing for like forever. I have thought of this a lot in the recent past... the last seven years, what have i really accomplished? Like, it was only the last two years that i have been really serious with improving my language skills. And how many hours each day do i actually spend interacting with the people? Does facebook even count? [I have this account that is mainly for my Thai Buddhist and Muslim friends where i interact with them in Thai. I realize that if i post in Thai then i get more comments than when i post in English. It's where i practice my Thai writing. Nothing spiritual although i sometimes post something that might trigger their curiosity about God and supernatural things.. But does that count as interacting with the people group?]

Then came back the number eight... I remembered reading from Dutch Sheets' book "Praying With Authority" that eight is a number of new beginning. Just as seven is the number of completion... If that were so, then this is my new beginning. The hit and miss, trial and error, pass and fail era is coming to an end. Gives me hope and something to look forward to. Mmm...

Then back to the Commission... The call to proclaim God's message to the ends of the earth... But at what cost? Seven years already and hardly scratched the surface. What an embarassment. Then i got to ask myself... How many of us God's people are actually responding to the call each day? That at this time of economic difficulties, how many are still bold enough to take the risk and go to where the harvest is ripe and plentiful? How many back home are still willing to send people to the field? And how many more unreached people groups are there? [Being in Thailand, i have difficulty having access to new editions of books like Operation World.] But even as those who are already in the field, how many are actually working towards fulfilling the Great Commission? Some dont even bother learning the language and culture well of the people group. Many are just content hanging out with other cross-cultural workers. Many are just content leading worship and getting involved in the local Christian circle. Those are noble things and im sure are acceptable services to our Father... But if the unreached are still hardly touched, then there's still something wrong with our "obedience." Dont get me wrong... im not judging or pointing fingers. My last seven years have been really awful. I guess, im just really evaluating myself. And with that, comes the realization that there are many other cross-cultural workers like me. Obedient, maybe yes. But faithful, that's for us to evaluate. It all comes down to this actually, in my opinion. What are we really called to do? Are we exhausting all effort, energy, and resources toward that calling? If we are called to reached the unreached, are we taking time to learn the language, the culture, and really take time to spend time with them in the process? How much comfort are willing to give up to accomplish the task? Didnt Jesus tell us to go to the highways and by-ways?

Sad that in as much as we talk about the Great Commision a lot, the gospel is till very much hidden from the very people we aim to reach out to...

See, i told ya. Just random thoughts that came across my mind while traveling whole day for my usual visa run... Maybe i should've listened to some mindless imstrumental techno-chill out music instead during the travel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Living and Learning

i'm waiting for the world to fall
i'm waiting for the scene to change
i'm waiting when the colors come
i'm waiting to let my world come undone...

waiting for my world to change
-jars of clay

mmm... took me awhile to finally write the traditional blogger's new year's blog. i guess i finally got the feeling that it is indeed another year. new set of calendar. new set of goals. new set of hopes and dreams. and for some, new set of new year's resolutions.

this is the good thing about new year... it gives us something new to look forward to... to recalibrate... to evaluate what the whole previous 12 months that have passed has taught us. to analyze our progress. our growth... as a person. as a believer. as followers, disciples, and servants of Jesus. what have we become? what have we accomplished? has life been better? bitter? bitterer? new year somehow helps us make new plans... to look forward to something fresh. something hopeful. to forget the things of yesterday behind and press on to what is ahead. set the calendar to january and you're in for another year of new things to accomplish... new adventures to dive into. new dreams to pursue. or to puruse old dreams with new perspective.

last year has been kinda experimental for me... as i decided to extend my stay here, tried on new things. many things. regarding myself. my calling. my walk with God... new experiences and expressions of my faith. some have been good. some have been not so good. but it's ok. new year has come. my experimentations on some issues of life and ministry will have another run. and through previous successes and failures, i know things will get better. clearer. more glorious...

truth is, the year that was had brought me to a lot of new and interesting discoveries. new friends. new networks. new organization. new ministry opportunities... it was a tough ride. but it was worth the adventure.

after all everything is for God... everything is really about God. though i also have my personal desires and faith goals, everything in the bigger picture really points towards God and his Kingdom. so at the end of the day, week, month and even another year, it's really just a matter of being faithful. to God. to the call. to the cause. and whatever difficulties we may encounter, we can be certain that they are just part of the whole journey towards man's end... which is to know God more intimately and to take part in this Kingdom he is building until the fullness of time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Trying Times

If weakness is a wound that no one wants to speak of
Then "cool" is just how far we have to fall
And I am not immune, I only want to be loved
But I feel safe behind the firewall

Can I lose my need to impress?
If you want the truth I need to confess

I'm not alright,
I'm broken inside
And all I go through
It leads me to You

I'm Not Alright
-Sanctus Real

I cant sleep... Must be the load of caffeine i took earlier at the tea shop. Went out for a breather. So i went to this coffee shop where i often hang-out either alone or with my Muslim buddies. After all, the area is composed of food shops and tea shops owned by Muslims, for the huge muslims populace in the sector. The four coffee shops packed with people as Manchester United was playing and winning. First had cold milk tea... followed by warm coffee as i play with my fone, facebooking. It's my version of getting drunk... haha!

Anyway, so at least i find time to write this blog idea that i have had in my cerebrum for some time. Things have been a little tough lately. A little mentally draining. Sort of... You know, those season when you feel like facing too many life issues... Like, just when you think you have overcome one battle, here comes another. And they come in waves... Intermittent. But for what it's worth, at least it's not constant. We are still given a chance to breathe... a chance to celebrate our victories before another blow comes straight right between our eyes! A time out...

I love telling of God's goodness... the miracles, big and small, that happen everyday. But i am not ashamed to also tell of my sufferings. Struggles. Apparent defeats. For even the apostle Paul, the super-apostle that he was, also mentioned a lot of his earthly sufferings. His thorn in the flesh [though we still wonder what that really was]. His sometimes longing to be with the Lord which, he said, was far better than suffering here on earth.

And then there was mighty King David. His Psalms are full of both declarations of God's mercy and goodness, and also his many sighing... His litany of hardships. Of enemies pursuing him non-stop. And of course there was these heart issues he had to deal with. If these highly favored of God, men of radical faith, werent exempted of sufferings and pain... how are we different?

I know, i know... some of us never really suffer that much. We have good health. We have abundant [or at least, sufficient] provisions. Good family and smart kids. Wonderful friends... We have heaven on earth. Just as God promised to those who would follow and trust him. Some of us dont really know the meaning of the word "suffering" or "trials." Of enemies of the soul... of thorns in the flesh.

But the same God also said that those who follow him will have various trials. Will be persecuted. Be tempted. Jesus told us to be always on guard because the spirit is forever wiling but the flesh is often weak. And while Paul talked about his sufferings and weaknesses, he also affirmed that in his weaknesses God's grace abounds. He experiences God's working power. His deliverance. His miracles.

It's not always easy... We sometimes cry to God for easy way out. For deliverance to come immediately and not prolong the agony. But God knows where he wants us molded. Broken. Strengthened. Sadly, God doesnt take short-cuts. And hopefully, our experience of different difficulties and struggles will enable us to relate to a dying, struggling, broken world. To a world full of lonely and desperate people we will be able to sympathize...

Hopefully. If we allow God to work in us, and through us... These trying times will benefit us. And the world around us.


Time to sleep.....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Faith Like A Child

They say that I can move the mountains
And send them crashing into the sea

They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
With faith like a child

"Like a child"
-Jars of clay

Jesus, in few accassions, has mentioned little children in his teaching about the Kingdom. He told us that unless we come to him like a child, we cannot enter into his Kingdom. But why did Jesus likened us to becoming like little children when we approach Him? I think the answers are obvious.

First, children are sincere. They only say what they think they know. It's been said that a child cannot lie. They say exactly what they feel. They havent learned of the word hypocrite yet. Although they dont sometimes know what they are saying, they say only what they have learned. What they have heard. What they have observed. As we come to the Father, we must come to him with all sincerety. Praise and trust Him with the pureness of hearts. After all, God knows every intent of the heart...

Children are innocent. They are pure. They havent been contaminated by human logic and reasoning. They dont know many things. They cannot argue or reason out. They listen to instructions and obey. Okey, some kids dont obey. Some kids are stubborn. But they are the excpetions to the rule. As we come to God, we must have this attitude of absolute surrender. We dont reason out with God with human logic knowing that our wisdom is just foolishness to Him.

Children are persevering. They believe every promise made to them and will never give up until they get what has been promised. Ever made a promise to a child? Maybe a son or daughter... A nephew or niece... A grandson or a grand daughter... And that child never stopped reminding you what has been promised? When we come to God, sometimes He simply wants to see how persistent we are. Like Jacob who wrestled before God. Are we persevering in claiming the promises of God knowing that He who promised is faithful?

Children are esily pleased. Easily satisfied. A donut. A trip to the park. A new pair of shoes will already make a child love you... Makes him thankful. Do we rant and ramble and complain about how God has been caring for us... Are we grateful with even the smallest blessing that we receive from Him. Are we faithful with the little things?

Children are very dependent. They feel secure when they see their father and mother around. They never trust strangers. They only trust those they know. They want their parents to tuck them to bed. They cry when they wake up without anyone beside them. They always long for the company of their parents. Their care... their love. Are we dependent on God's love and promises? Do we long for his care and affection. Do we long to seek only His affirmation like a child seeks only the affirmation of his eartly father? Or are we so dependent and secured of ourselves that we only need Him when our plans go wrong

You see, unless we come to God like little children, we cannot inherit His Kingdom...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Table in the Wilderness

All in all we're fading
Like a soul lost in the wilderness
We're cold and we're cut off from it
Not knowing where it's gonna end
There's a star in Bethlehem calling you
It's a memory of one made it

Kevin Max

Wilderness experience. It’s not a very pleasant experience. We try to avoid it. We try to run away from it. All we really want is to walk by the still water… stroll by the garden of Eden… where there’s peace and serenity. Where there’s stillness of the heart and soul.

For what is there in the wilderness? Nothingness. Dry and weary land. Heat and discomfort. Not much of life forms to appreciate. Not much of a picture of what life should be. No wonder anyone who is experiencing life’s toughest, most difficult situations call themselves to be deep in the wilderness.

But a wilderness experience is not all bad. Yes, it’s intense and difficult. There’s hurt and pain everywhere. It can lead you to doubt. Does God really care about me? Am I really chosen? Why me... all these pain and misery? There might be despair and hopelessness. But a wilderness experience is not all that bad.

In the wilderness, the Israelites experienced God’s miraculous provision. They just walked out of Egypt journeying towards the Promise Land. But first they had to pass through the wilderness. And there God showed his power and glory by providing food to eat and water to drink. By going with them as a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.

The there was John [the Baptist] who said, there is a voice crying out in the wilderness. Indeed, oftentimes we hear God more clearly… we experience God more closely, when we are in our most trying times. When everything seems wrong. When every circumstance seems against what we hope our life to be. When nobody seems to understands us. it’s when God shows his love and kindness and assure us that he understands us. Just as what the King David said… “In my distress I cried to the Lord, and he answered me.” Yes, in the wilderness where everything seems dark and dry and destitute, we can cry out to God, pour out our heart and we will hear his voice.

How about the Messiah himself? Before he officially started his ministry, he stayed 40 days and nights fasting and praying in the wilderness. There he was face to face with the Deceiver… there he overcame the temptations of the Enemy. After that wilderness experience he came out mighty and anointed. But he is no ordinary man, we can argue. He's a Prophet, Priest, and King. He is the Anointed One. That exactly why he had to go thru a wilderness experience. So he could relate to humanity who he came to help and save. So that he could experience and understand the many painful trials each person go thru life.

So what do these all stories tell us? What do they teach us? They’re letting us know that there is a table in the wilderness… That in the wilderness we can hope in God to provide us faith and strength we need to overcome our desperate situation… That in the wilderness we can hear the voice of God more clearly... assuring us of his love, comforting us with his words and promises, affirming us of his call, instructing us of his directives… That our wilderness experience is only strengthening us so that we can be what God wants us to be… His children and army… tested and purified… unshakeable and immovable… strong and faithful… ready to display His glory.

All we really want is a fine, fine life... where everything's a-halo and all you can eat buffet. But God said that who he loves he chastens... purifies. The wroking of our faith and perseverance. And he does that in the furnace of afflictions.

Do you feel like you're deep in the wilderness at the moment?... dont lose heart... Worship and stay in God's presence. It's only a matter of time that God will show himself and speak to your heart...