From the monthly archives:

August 2009

Reflection On Suffering

by pomankwan on August 30, 2009

My ex–boss of my age has been diagnosed with lymphoma in early spring. After a series of chemotherapy, she is gradually recovering. She shared her difficult moments of life with me in the email saying her journey was not only full of pain, loneness, grief, sadness but also grace, hope, and comfort. I thank her for telling me how God’s grace came upon you. She reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
Her experience helped me to understand that our very weakness allows the resurrection power of Christ to strengthen us moment by moment. Our troubles should not diminish our faith or disillusion us. We should realize that there is a purpose in our suffering. In the eyes of God, our problems and human limitations are different from our perception.
Philip Yancey in “Where Is God When It Hurts?” broadened the list of “advantages to being poor” (written by a Catholic nun named Monica Hellwig) to include all who suffer.
1. The poor know they are in urgent need of redemption.
2. The poor know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with one another.
3. The poor rest their security not on things but on people.
4. The poor have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy.
5. The poor expect little from competition and much from cooperation.
6. The poor can distinguish between necessities and luxuries.
7. The poor can wait, because they have acquired a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence.

May we all have the spiritual gain through our weaknesses and suffering. Our ultimate hope when we are experiencing terrible illness, persecution, or pain is the realization that this life is not our destination. I believe that with my ex-boss’s blessings from God through all resources and networking, she can help more people who are suffering. May we gain the same spiritual insight in our suffering. This is also the mission of Christ.

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Billy Graham at TED

by Lon on August 24, 2009

This recording is 20 years old featuring Billy Graham at the TED (technology, entertainment, and design) conference.

I find it encouraging how even back 20 years, there were people being sensitive to how they were speaking to those outside of the church and yet articulating passionately what they believe.

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Acts 25

by Lon on August 24, 2009

Read the entire passage here

It’s interesting that Paul appeals to Caesar here – He has one God and King yet still willingly works within the system of the empire

Festus seems to have a higher level of morality than the Jews who wanted Paul executed.  He simply couldn’t find a reason for him to be charged.  Isn’t it fascinating how hard it is to see from level ground when we’re in the heat of a battle, hate, anger, etc?

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Mosaic Picnic Photos

by Lon on August 20, 2009


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Feel free to check out more photos by Yvonne

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Acts 24

by Lon on August 18, 2009

Read the passage here

Paul is found on trial here before governor Felix.  The high priest and his lawyer (already an interesting combination) are accusing Paul of stirring up riots.  Paul loosely defends himself, and stays centered on the opportunity of sharing his faith in Christ and his hope in the resurrection.

It’s interesting how he states that he has ‘the same hope in God as these men’.  There’s something Christ-like about being able to find common ground.

But as the story goes, sometimes you’re just left hanging.  Paul is left in prison as Felix stalls on a decision for two years.  No release.  No resolution.  Just left waiting.

What about you?

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Grace

by Lon on August 11, 2009

Below is a message on Grace by Mark Driscoll. 

For those of you who are desperately craving solid teaching and sermons – are these helping you?  I’m hoping to highlight quite a wide variety of perspectives, all biblically based, and all well-communicated.

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Defending your life and faith…

by Lon on August 10, 2009

From our discussion on Nehemiah 4 this past Sunday

- The best defense, is not simply a good offense, but taking defense itself seriously as well.

- What do I pour my energy into building in my life, faith, marriage, family, business, ministry, right now?

- How am I protecting and defend what God has already entrusted to me?

- Do I have a community that will ‘sound the trumpet’ and watch my back as well?  how my community play a role in protective (yet not insular) boundaries in my life?

- But the real underlying question is if you have something worth building and protecting?

- Most people will gladly fight for dreams worth dreaming

- In Nehemiah their work was slowed down by their need for defense, relocation to the city, and dependence on one another (they didn’t even have time to change their clothes!)  – but the city they were building was worth it.

- Are you living a life worth protecting?

- Is what you’re building so impactful and disruptive to the status quo that others are bothered by it (not in an annoying way, but in a transformative way)?

Below is the short story that I began and closed with by Pete Rollins

In a world where following Christ is decreed to be a subversive and illegal activity you have been accused of being a believer, arrested and dragged before a court.

You have been under clandestine surveillance for some time now and so the prosecution has been able to build up quite a case against you. They begin the trial by offering the judge dozens of photographs which show you attending church meetings, speaking at religious events, and participating in various prayer and worship services. After this they present a selection of items that have been confiscated from your home: religious books that you own, worship CDs and other Christian artefacts. Then they step up the pace by displaying many of the poems, pieces of prose, and journal entries that you had lovingly written concerning your faith. Finally, in closing, the prosecution offers your Bible to the judge. This is a well-worn book with scribbles, notes, drawings, and underlings throughout, evidence, if it were needed, that you had read and re-read this sacred text many times.

Throughout the case you have been sitting silently in fear and trembling. You know deep in your heart that with the large body of evidence that has been amassed by the prosecution you face the possibility of a long imprisonment or even execution. At various times throughout the proceedings you have lost all confidence and have been on the verge of standing up and denying Christ. But while this thought has plagued your mind throughout the trial, you resist the temptation and remain focused.

Once the prosecution has finished presenting their case the judge proceeds to ask if you have anything to add, but you remain silent and resolute, terrified that if you open your mouth, even for a moment, you might deny the charges made against you. Like Christ, you remain silent before your accusers. In response you are led outside to wait as the judge ponders your case.

The hours pass slowly as you sit under guard in the foyer waiting to be summoned back. Eventually a young man in uniform appears and leads you into the courtroom so that you may hear the verdict and receive word of your punishment. Once seated in the dock the judge, a harsh and unyielding man, enters the room, stands before you, looks deep into your eyes and begins to speak,

“Of the charges that have been brought forward I find the accused not guilty.”

“Not guilty?” your heart freezes. Then, in a split second, the fear and terror that had moments before threatened to strip your resolve are swallowed up by confusion and rage.

Despite the surroundings, you stand defiantly before the judge and demand that he give an account concerning why you are innocent of the charges in light of the evidence.

“What evidence?” he replies in shock.

“What about the poems and prose that I wrote?” you reply.

“They simply show that you think of yourself as a poet, nothing more.”

“But what about the services I spoke at, the times I wept in church and the long, sleepless nights of prayer?”

“Evidence that you are a good speaker and actor, nothing more.” replied the judge, “It is obvious that you deluded those around you, and perhaps at times you even deluded yourself, but this foolishness is not enough to convict you in a court of law.”

“But this is madness!” you shout. “It would seem that no evidence would convince you!”

“Not so,” replies the judge as if informing you of a great, long forgotten secret.

“The court is indifferent toward your Bible reading and church attendance; it has no concern for worship with words and a pen. Continue to develop your theology, and use it to paint pictures of love. We have no interest in such armchair artists who spend their time creating images of a better world. We exist only for those who would lay down that brush, and their life, in a Christ-like endeavor to create it. So, until you live as Christ and his followers, until you challenge this system and become a thorn in our side, until you die to yourself and offer your body to the flames, until then my friend, you are no enemy of ours.”

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Acts 23

by Lon on August 10, 2009

read the passage here

v1-5 Everyone seems to be swinging between emotions, including Paul.  Shows the value of understanding one another before lashing out.

v6 It sounds ridiculous in our age to be on trial because of ‘hope in the resurrection of the dead’ – there might be disputes and disagreements on it today -but does anyone really fight over it?

v14 vowing to not eat meat till Paul is killed – that would be a lot to ask of some people – what made them so passionate for another man’s death?

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