Thu, Mar 30th - 9:13AM
Our youths... going... gone?
I read of this article by Jimmy Dorrell entitled Have We Lost Our Urban Youth? http://www.youthspecialties.com/articles/topics/urban/lost_youth.php.
He mentions that there is a growing tread of "a growing 'non-church Christianity' where God-talk is hip but church is out". I cannot deny this statement: it is becoming a fact. There are just too many examples I can quote that support the author's argument. This is a growing concern to the church, especially those who have survived years of service.
Probably these things did came into my mind (a call of the Holy Spirit, I will say) with regards to:
Spiritual Angst in the City
The author does highlight a phenomenon typical of well-established churches: Youths being "forced" into church and this faith because of family. I saw quite a few examples in my church, which is quite scary. In church service, I can see bored faces of youths just clapping along with the worship leader for the sake of clapping. Hmmm, imagine worship is boring? Then what can be more exciting? Then comes...
In the author's words, "Birthed in a type of urban poetry laced with feelings, protest, and brutal vulgarity, urban youth found a way to speak their minds in a public forum— a forum that took over the music world."
Now, we have a generation of "angry" and "hip" youths, who are picking up worldly skills and knowledge, I will say "The Tree of Good and Evil" as in the tree, which Adam and Eve took its fruits to eat and sin comes into creation. The Hip-Hop Culture, or maybe I can add on, the "Hype" Culture of the youths now seem attractive than the church activities. Like what one senior officer of the Boys' Brigade did highlight: the last generation of youths joined BB because they had nothing to do outside; now this generation has the Internet, the games, the youth activities that are so enjoyable to themselves. Nothing wrong, except they have "worshipped" the wrong things above God and these things become their lives, not God.
Luckily, this has a solution as what the author says, "... capitalize on young people's frustration with America's culture of materialism and reshape the biblical message of purpose and meaning in the harsh and honest language of the streets." I guess the church needs to recognise that the youths now look at more practical and realistic things that are closer to their youthful hearts. Pastor Tim Chin, of Church of Singapore (Bukit Timah), suggested of his method to teach Bible studies to youths in one Christian Education seminar: to go down ground to know their needs and then find practical examples and solutions to suggest to youths using the Bible. Well, I am also trying this method, although a little different, to teach my youths, which is giving some positive results from what I see.
Now, youths want to experiment. Jimmy said that youths are "rejecting absolutes and embracing relativism as a standard and so most reject any claim that suggest there is only one way to God". Most turn atheistic and discuss issues based on "world values"
Maybe we can see "absolute" and "relative" truth and judgment. Relative truth based on human judgment. In my opinion (and some Christians'), how can people still say homosexuality is okay when in the Bible, it is mentioned that such behaviours are not accepted by God? Like Apostle Paul said,
"Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
As Christians, we need to base our judgments on "absolute" truth: The Bible. This is the real set of values that God give us to obey.
Lastly... Unchurched Christians
God give Christians His family: the Church so that we can grow and develop in our earthly life as Christians for eternity. However, of late, quite a lot of new converts are not inside a church. So, they will still be exposed to the worldly temptations and have no or little heavenly wisdom that church services, cell group teachings can provide. Yes, you are saved with the Salvation by grace by saying the Sinner's Prayer, but can you retrain your Salvation if you stray away from Jesus and His Word, Family? As a Methodist member, I will say no. In my company and a GB company, I guess the new Christians, thankfully, are developed spiritually by the older officers, who do Bible studies with them, but what's next after the officers have moved on?
Dear youths in Christ,
Yes, we have the energy, the passion, the right to be youthful. However, how can we ever forget the Lord that has been our faithful Father, who blesses us with so many wonderful things that material and physical gains alone cannot provide?
Remember the Preacher who says,
"Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment." - Ecclesiastes 11:9
Let me, as a (still) youthful servant of God, encourage us, as how Paul encouraged the young Timothy,
"Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." - 2 Timothy 2:22
These pleasures of youth are temporary, but the happiness of the Lord is forever. Enjoy God's presence and worship Him above all. Then we will get the joy that God promise to give to all Christians.
Desmond logging off
Fri, Mar 17th - 9:51PM
"An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins." - Proverbs 29:22
Aaarrrggg... Imagine being scolded by an instructor that you pay him to teach you to drive? You mean you pay him to scold you? That's quite ridiculous. Gross...
Yesterday night was the first time since months that my temper guage hit red hot. Last day of the week. This could be another start of a good possible break from work, from possible scoldings of superiors. Then came the instructor who spoiled it all. Ok, possibly I was not flexible yet to do what he want. Then again, once you are so hot, you just could not think rationally.
Everyone has the right to be angry. Yes, even Jesus was so angry that something immoral had happened inside the Temple that He chased out all those "sinners". Many people mentioned in the Bible, too, was so angry that they questioned and debated with God why such things would occur onto them.
However, I remembered that someone thought me that for the first few seconds the moment you are angry, you cannot control your temper and after that, you have the power to tame it. Luckily, for me, I controlled my emotions and did not sin against the instructor. Paul said,
" 'In your anger do not sin' : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry" - Ephesians 4:26
A wise man is like what James described,
"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" - James 1:19
When you are pissed with the person who has offended you, the worst thing I believe people will do is to judge and condemn that particular individual. The Bible does say only God can judge.
Jesus, to me, concluded my case by saying,
"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." - Matthew 5:22
Angry yes, not sin, never judge.
Desmond signing off
Tue, Mar 14th - 8:20AM
From strength to strength
"The LORD will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free." - Deuteronomy 32:36 (NIV)
Today, as a mechanic, I had to remove the drag rod below a vehicle in order to replace the damaged rubber holders on the ball joints. While removing the drag rod from both wheels, I slowly lost strength and began to work inefficiently due to fatigue.
I guess everyone will have their own limitation when it comes to their physical and mental strength. We will feel fatigue and tired as to why life is so difficult with such limited abilities we have. Then we will keep on saying "we cannot do it", "we are just human" etc; the same set of excuses that probably everyone has similar examples.
Maybe we can look to Gideon's example. Imagine a physically and mentally weak person being called to lead God's people into battle when the Lord said,
"Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" - Judges 6:14
Hmmm, with the limited strength he had? Or I have? We have?
Same, I guess King David had cried out to God for strength in his pslam:
"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." - Psalms 18:32
Look to the Lord with hope and He will give us His stregth combined with our abilities to fight the battle of our life on earth.
"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31
Desmond signing off
Sat, Mar 11th - 8:52AM
Drive my life
Wow, it's being long since I last blogged. Haha. I'm just too busy with work and learning how to drive a manual car. Wow, the experience of learning driving first time was just so scary yet fulfilling.
Hmmm, to put what I have learnt into words, definitely you will need to know the three pedals below the driver's panel, comparing it with the words the Holy Spirit inspired me, namely:
1) Crutch - Basically we need it to change gear. Thinking about it, isn't this the driving force that keep us going in serving God like changing to a higher gear each time? Sound like...
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." - 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)
2) Brake - The life saver of the driver and the passengers inside the car. Hmmm, it is like the Counselor that we have, the eternal braking system that automatically operates when we sin. Maybe like...
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own" - 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)
3) Accelerator - The speed depends on this. You control it. How about thinking it as God controlling our life and making our life God-centred? Look like...
"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" - Romans 8:6 (NIV)
These three sound like the driving principles that maybe we should remind ourselves to continue doing them. Be pure, God-orientated and renew with the passion to live for Him.
Desmond Low signing off
Tue, Mar 7th - 8:33AM
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” - Psalms 139:23-24
I guess we will something forget about watching our words. We, as humans, may love to talk about gossips and spread rumours. Who bully us, who is doing something bad yada yada, all these are like so preverse that it can hurt people's emotions. Rumours are just like a back stabbing action to your friends. I guess two verses that describe God's reaction to "mindless gossips" are
"Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips." - Proverbs 4:24 and
"The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just." - Psalms 37:30
After reading Psalms 139 in my quiet time, I just realised my own sin of having a poisonous tongue that I committed just now. Lord, forgive my ignorance. Hopefully, we can learn from my experience and watch our mouth for James said,
"The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." - James 3:6
So, what should we use the tongue for? Yes, praise the Lord, sing His Glory and spread His Word.
"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." - Psalms 126:2
"And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:11
Desmond Low signing off.
Sun, Mar 5th - 6:52AM
Three's a help.
Does making big decisions, especially when there is no "right or wrong" answer, give you heartache all the time? It's just like everyday you have to make so many decisions, climbing up the million dollar questions but you do not have 4 multiple choices, but so many more. You just are still afraid to make important decisions that can go very wrong and affect you for the rest of your life.
Luckily, by the grace of God, we can do three steps and on the way, God will give three lifelines that work hand-in-hand in our decision making process.
Step 1 (Important: my advice is that you do this first): Pray to God and seek His Wisdom.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
"If you need wisdom--if you want to know what God wants you to do--ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking." - James 1:5 (NLT)
Then these three lifelines will come along the process:
1) His Word through The Bible
"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
2) His Will through His Holy Spirit
Remember "But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative--and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit--he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you. I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." - John 14:26-27 (NLT)?
3) His Advice through His family (friends)
"Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success." - Proverbs 15:22 (NLT)
Step 2: With all these lifelines, analyze. God gives you free will for you to think.
"Wash yourselves and be clean! Let me no longer see your evil deeds. Give up your wicked ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows. 'Come now, let us argue this out,' says the LORD. 'No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.' " - Isaiah 1:16-18 (NLT)
You can work with two or three of these lifelines. Definitely, these three (or two) lifelines must have the following condition(s):
- They must not contradict each other, especially God's Word with the rest.
- They must be unanimous.
- The unanimous advice must works for the Glory of God (good in God's eyes in short)
" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.' " - Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)
Step 3: Step and act out in faith even if it's not your desire.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
So, yes! Do this three step and know these three lifelines of God. Remember that everytime God commands, He will give us a promise. The promise of celebrating in His Glory will be your end.
When Three's a help.
Desmond Low signing off
Sat, Mar 4th - 5:38AM
Hehehe... so coincidental, Gospelcom.net has a verse for my title (praise God!):
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9
I admired King David's bold proclamation on the mystery of faith:
"The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?" - Psalms 27:1
I was and probably am still quite fearful of certain things: the fear of heights (that's ironic, because God gave me a tall build) and the fear of being lonely (rejection, mainly).
But the biggest fear then was to preach the Gospel openly to a group of people, because of my inability to speak well (in my view).
Probably I was like Timothy, whom Paul encouraged him,
"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God"
Then came God's new calling for me: to be a cell group leader. Wow, the Holy Spirit did give me the inspiration to go ahead while I was being asked. Without second thoughts, I obliged.
Surprisingly, God's plan to train me up as a small group leader unfolded: I went for some Bible study teaching courses and now I can proudly say to God that I know how to teach His Word (although there are more to learn).
Hmmm, now I can proudly proclaim, "Who shall I fear, when God is with me?" Probably one thing to fear: God. Yes, the only person we should fear is God.Then His blessings will overflow.
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him" - Psalms 103:13
Fear Not, because God is here with you.
Desmond Low signing off
Fri, Mar 3rd - 4:32AM
FriENDs NeveR ENDs
Compare God saying, "It is not good for the man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18) and the famous quote, "No man is an island". It's all about the people around us. Friends, especially. To be frank, friendship are one of the most lasting relationship, beside God's and kinship.
Surprisingly, I notice that the last three word of Friend is End. However, this "End" has different meanings, the meaning of:
- "End"less numbers of people you can know
The day you know God as your Father and Jesus as your Saviour, the whole Christian family is your kins and next-of-kins. Isn't that wonderful?
Hebrew 2:11 "So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sister"
- "End"less different experiences and help
We need each other because we are different. You are good in music; you can help me do worship, while I help you in evangelising that maybe you are weak in. We can have great partnership with friends, just like the Trinity (The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). How awesome is that?
Romans 12:5 "so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others."
- "End"less advices and self-reflection
Do you know that friends are your mirror that will reflect back what your character is? Will you ever know that you are caring or selfish, if not for your friend who says so? If you are backsliding, friends will be there to see and advise you. How marvellous is that?
Romans 1:11 - 12 "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."
1 Thessalonians 5:11a "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up"
I guess the End refers to the end of our walk in this life and along the walk, friends will be there to help us grow, encourage and support us.
Probably a good ending verse: The Family of God, where FriENDs never END.
Desmond signing off
Thu, Mar 2nd - 1:43AM
Lo-EvErY minus World
I am feeling better now, thank you. But still I am unable to go back to work and I doubt I can go under the sun to do physical stuff anymore. Anyway, back to...
Love. Guess the most complicated feeling God gives is this one. I felt out of love before, but never felt out of God's love. We got many classification of love: friendship, couple, "puppy" (or crush) and parental love mainly.
I just hear this song "I need You" by Kristy Starling. Well, it definitely has Christian significance in it, talking about the Love from Heaven above. However, Jesus told us of another love that is so close to heart
John 15:11-13: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Definitely you can identify: this is Jesus' second commandment. I was in a The Boys' Brigade training course and one of the values inside the BB Beliefs is "We are committed to serve the community" and further emphasized from the Bible that we should love our neighbours as ourselves.
We love our friends, our boyfriend/girlfriend and close ones, but have we loved the one who irritated or hurt us most? O perhaps those who we think are outcasts? Jesus did remember us that "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:45) Well, I must admit, I am still struggling with this principle, especially in this world of deception and fake friends. Love everyone, Jesus says.
But definitely one love we must not have: the love of the world. 1 John 2:15 says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." This is what Jesus says too: "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (John 15:19). What it means do not love the values of the world.
Lo-Every(thing) except the world...
A tired Desmond signing off
Back to Blog Main Page