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Monday, 27 October 2014

The Grace Shield

People often associate Christians with good moral values.  We are the do-gooders, the prim and proper, the uptight conservatives.  True?

I don't think so.  I think true followers of Christ value good morals, give sacrificially to others and know how to have good, clean fun!  But I tell you, this 'morality' thing is bugging me.  I spent a week thinking about this word. I mean, I see and read about daily assaults on Christians and their moral values!  

So, how do I respond under the grace of God?  Hey, feel free to stop reading anytime.  The power of choice that God gives us:-)

Right and Wrong, Good and Bad
The major dictionaries define morality as "a particular system of values and principles of conduct", "principles concerning the distinctions of right and wrong, the good and bad behaviors".  These days, it seems, liberality and deception has distorted the distinctions of right and good behavior.  Then again, it's an age-old problem that has become more evident in current times.  Everything is relative.
And as C.S. Lewis states:
Toughie or Softie?
Do you see the weakness that bombards and assaults our eyes, our sense of morality on a daily basis?   

When 200+ Nigerian girls and young women are kidnapped by Boko Haram, morality is assaulted.  Boko Haram uses its weakness and lack of moral values to instill fear, attack the bodies of young females, force conversion to Islam.  Boko Haram may have weapons and booming voices but it is a group without morals and value for life.

Right up with Boko Haram, is ISIS.  ISIS is a personification of Evil.  ISIS has no concept of morality.  Their intention is to wipe out lives regardless of Christians or not.  Their understanding of good and value of life is misplaced and warped.

And of course, we have government leaders around the world who rub their hands in glee for endorsing the perverse, for caring so little about the lives of their own people, for defiling the sanctity of marriage (while they remain married to an opposite sex), and yes, even the sanctity of creation! These leaders operate out of weakness, not strength.  They stand against what is good and noble, and remain deceived.  Their own morality hangs in a balance even as they try to take the place of God.  Their endorsement of evil assaults the goodness of God.

In short, when you see evil and perverseness and weak leaders endorse or force it, they operate out of their fears, out of their sinful, weak beings; not strength.  I mean, how can anyone be seen as 'strong' and 'powerful' when they are beheading, murdering unborn babies and kidnapping Christian girls?

So now, what would you call a person who fights for another life? Like soldiers sent to war, or ordinary people who stand against abortions, or people who would not back down and be forced to accept perverseness?  What would you call a person who truly values life, not just their own but another life too?  What would you call people who rescue modern-day slaves because they value other lives? How do you see someone who fights, loves, rescues, values another life?  What title comes to your mind?

Hero? Savior? Yes, and these people who love goodness, not perverseness or evil, operate out of strength.  It takes a strong person to live through tough times.

Seriously? Seriously!
Seriously?  Evil has been present since the Fall (Genesis 3).  Deception and evil has only increased  in current times.  And no, God did not create evil because God is good.  He cannot contradict Himself.

But hey, I am not exalting morality here but pointing out that there is no possibility of being and understanding Good without the Grace of God.  That's what Christianity is about - an acceptance of God's gracious invitation to accept reconciliation through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  Christianity is about accepting this grace of God and living out the grace of God.  And the grace of God is good, all the time.  The grace of God allows Christians to enjoy and embrace truth, sanctities of life, marriage and detests perverseness and unrighteousness in all it's forms.  It's a pathway to freedom - a freedom that values other lives, loves people but not sins, honors a Great God.

Christian apologist Ravi Zachariah states "Here we must bring a different caution. Christianity is definitively and drastically different from all other religions. In every religion except Christianity, morality is a means of attainment. No amount of goodness can justify us before a sovereign God. The Christian message is a reminder that our true malady is one that morality alone cannot solve. A transformed heart by God’s grace is the efficacious power that lifts us beyond mere morality. It is the richness of being right with God. His grace makes up for what our wills cannot accomplish." (http://www.rzim.org/just-thinking/think-again-beyond-mere-morality/)

By God's Grace
Come on fellow Christians, we are not perfect people but we know the grace, forgiveness and wrath of God.  We do know what is good and noble, what is right and wrong by God's standards.  We are called to love the people because God loves all but not the sin in or acted out by anyone. God hates sin.  We are called to keep away from evil and be steadfast in the ways of God.  

Can we adorn our spiritual armor and fight the good fight till our last breath?  Aren't you tired of how we are assaulted on a daily basis?  Can we gather in groups in homes, in schools, at work-places and be on our knees for so many assaulted and deceived by Evil?  In the first place, do we care enough to stand against what is evil?  Do you even know how to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad within yourself?

Let the Holy Spirit of God help you.  Dwell in the Scriptures for a better understanding of God's ways.  Seek wise counsel and never back down from what God has already determined. Operate out of God's love, strength and boldness, not out of fear, weakness and deception.



I stand for Christ,
Rachel (using the grace shield)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

What My Parents Taught Me. . .

These verses got me thinking about my non-Christian parents (still living in Singapore).  

Proverbs 1:8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.

9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

A long time ago. . . .
My dad taught me to:
1. live within my means.
2. to owe no one no debt (I had to borrow some money from him for my studies, tho')
3. to honor elders
4. to be respectful to guests.
5. to do my best.
6. to speak my mind.
7. to take it easy.

My mum taught me to:
1. to serve elders.
2. to be respectful to especially elders.
3. to be polite to all guests.
3. to never talk back to elders (lasted for awhile, then it became debatable discussions as I grew older).
4. to eat all food on my plate (no questions asked).
5. to behave myself...(oh dear!).
6. to cook rice the traditional way when I was ten years old.
7. to tell the truth (or face the cane).

I thank God for my parents and am praying the Peace of Christ to be real to them.

Blessings,
Rachel

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Finding Peace amidst Chaos


If you read reports regarding Central American nations, it can sometimes be depressing as the media highlights the negative news - corruption, murders, rapes, trafficking and so on.  
Are you telling me that first world nations are clean of these unrighteousness?  Unrighteousness, wickedness as well as some good happens in the world around.

We are as safe as can be any where in the world, provided the government cares enough about their people.  

There is a better, safer place:  to be safe in the knowledge of who we are in Christ, safe in knowing that God goes before us.  Even when something bad happens, we believe Romans 8: 28:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  

How can we then find our windows of peace amidst chaos and disorder? 

I don't think anyone needs to be in an idyllic environment to see the beauty in God's creation.  Still, I cannot deny that God, the Creator, the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscience One created this gorgeous sunrise in Guetemala.


Or in super-busy Singapore, when we take time to catch the beauty of a new day among a designed green environment.

Even when Ebola spreads, ISIS slaughters, governments break down and we experience personal loss and struggles;  A new day brings new mercies, new hope and creative beauty sheds a light in various ways - sunrise, sunset, helpful friends and loving family.

The point is:  We have the potential in us to appreciate the beauty of God's creation amidst the chaos, sufferings and pains.  See the hope.  Embrace the peace.

My hope and peace is in Christ Jesus,  Against all odds, in Christ, everything is good and perfect.  I can be at peace in and with God despite the chaotic madness around me, and see how to bring that hope and peace of Christ so the goodness of God prevails, not the stirrings of disorderliness..


Blessings of hope and peace of Christ to you,
Rachel



Thursday, 2 October 2014

Travel Thoughts (written on 30 Sep 2014)

The sun and the rain,
mountains and sea,
hospitable friends
and helpful Hondurans
greeted me.

I thought
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo
and I saw
on a truck 
Si Dios es por nosotros, quién contra nosotros?



Meanwhile 
thousands of kilometers away
my sisters were at the hospital
attending to my dad.
I did the inevitable,
prayed and mobilized prayer.

Prayer rose up from different parts of the world.
Afew hours later, I saw a text message.
Hallelujah! The 'hero' is fine.
I think
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo.

Powerful prayers.
Concerted prayers.
To an Almighty God
in Jesus' Name, Name above all names.
I think
of an answered prayer
when God honored 
our request for healing
a teenager in ICU.

I think
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo.
Si Dios es por nosotros, quién contra nosotros?

As I blog now,
I am on the road
heading to another
Honduran city.
It is pouring
sky juice in abundance
I ask my Father in Heaven
to send some to Texas.

Then I pray
for safe travel
In this heavy downpour.
Still I think
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo.
Si Dios es por nosotros, quién contra nosotros?