Proof of God

Is God a figment of human imagination? Is He real? Does He exist? Have anyone seen Him?

These questions were answered two thousand years ago.

Proof of God3God came in the flesh at the first Christmas. Christ was born. God became Man. Mortals saw the Immortal.

Simeon said, My eyes have seen the One who will save men from the punishment of their sins”(Luke 2:30).

John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Simon Peter said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)

The Roman centurion said, “Surely he was the Son of God!”(Matthew 27:54).

The Samaritans said, “… we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42).

His disciples said, Truly you are the Son of God”(Matthew 14:33).

These and many more could see, hear, feel and touch God. They know God is real. God is here. God is with us!

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means “God with us”(Matthew 1:23).

That is the wonder of Christmas!

That is proof of God.

That is why we can truly sing with joy, hope and confidence,

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’ Incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel*

*Hark! the Herald Angels Sing UMH 240

Standard

Break that Tradition

Came across this story.

A young rabbi encountered a serious problem in his new congregation.

During the Friday service half the congregation stood for the prayers and half remained seated, and each side shouted at the other, insisting that theirs was the true tradition.

Break that traditionNothing the rabbi said or did moved toward solving the impasse.

Finally, in desperation, the young rabbi sought out the synagogue’s 90 year-old founder. He met the old rabbi in a nursing home and poured out his troubles.

“So tell me, was it the tradition for the congregation to stand during prayers?”

“No,” answered the old rabbi.

“Ah, then it was the tradition to sit during the prayers?”

“No,” answered the old rabbi.

“Well, what we have is complete chaos! Half the people stand and shout, and the other half sit and scream.”

“Ah,” said the old man, “that was the tradition.”

The story may be funny but sadly true and repeated down the ages in many congregations.

The conflicted situation may somewhat be different but the issues are often the same, involving stylistic ways of approaching worship, acceptable types of songs and instruments or requirements for membership and leadership and suitable service times.

Such squabbles have generated heated arguments and led to tears in the fabric of Christian fellowship. They leave indelible marks in the history of churches that the succeeding generation of leaders are often told to tread carefully in the light of those “tradition.”

We need to break that “tradition.”

For so the apostle Paul urges in Ephesians 4:1-6.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all andin all.” 

The call is to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

The call is to uphold the oneness of God, the oneness of faith, the oneness of baptism and the oneness of the body.

The call is to be peacemakers and unity preservers.

Let’s break that tradition.

Standard

Northern Lights

Seeing the Northern Lights is our bucket list. It is reason why we went to Iceland.

Every day we checked the Aurora forecast to see whether the activity is high, moderate or low.

Every night I peeked out my hotel room window hoping to spot the appearance of Northern Lights.

Unfortunately, the sky was cloudy every night.

One evening, our vigilance paid off.

Northern LightsIt was at Myvatn, Iceland. The sky was clear. There was hardly any cloud cover. The night sky was dotted with tiny bright stars. And we saw the unmistakable swirling Northern Lights.

It was white-gray. But when captured on our camera lens, they appeared greenish with tint of pink. Like wisps of smoke, they come on and off, moving from one part of the sky to another. The aerial display lasted throughout the night.

I could not take the cold arctic air. I had to move back indoor for warmth from time to time before venturing out again with my camera on tripod.

That night we had our fill feasting on the Northern Lights. Thanks to little or no cloud cover.

It was worth sacrificing sleep and dragging myself out of the warm bed.

But more beautiful than the aura of Northern Lights is the aura of Divine Presence.

Moses requested this from God. It was his bucket list.

“Please, let me see the dazzling light of Your Presence” (Exodus 33:18 GNT).

I believe the activity of divine presence is always high. But we could not see it because of the cloudy condition of our lives.

The clouds of sinful disobedience hide His glorious Presence.

“Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Few have seen the swirling northern lights. Even fewer have seen the dazzling lights of God’s glory.

Moses did. We could too.

Make that your bucket list.

Standard

Old Paths in New Age

Jeremiah lived in a topsy-turvy world.

The divine assessment was: “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:30-31).

We too lived in a topsy-turvy world.

The “prophets” in the Internet churn out fake news. Popularity rules. People are becoming anti-establishment, suspicious of governments and distrusting authorities. Businesses and lifestyle have the “e” prefixed – e-services, e-transaction, e-chat, e-correspondence and e-everything. Meeting people and relating in person are obsolete. Protectionism is the new normal of putting your own interest, wellbeing and survival first. The last things you want to be concerned with are the migrants and foreigners. Yet it is a world that seeks to be “inclusive” – accept my choices, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad, sound or otherwise. Even if it tears the family and social fabric, we call it “progressive.”

Don’t mistake all this to be out there in the modern world. It is also found in the modern church. People, prophets and priests live as they please.

And the Lord spoke to Jeremiah.Old Paths in New Age

“Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).

To the travellers in this modern world intersected with many choices, easy options and different new ways, the Lord gives this exhortation.

Stand – Stop and think. Take time to consider as you stand at those crossroads.

See – Observe and assess. Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t blindly enter the road multitudes have taken.

Seek – Ask and search for “the old paths, where the good way is.” Seek out those who will know the old paths taken by the saints of old. 

Step In– And then “walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”

Sadly, the response of many in “modern” Judah was, “We will not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16e).

But let us be the people who walk the old paths in this modern world, obeying the voice of God.

“Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23).

Standard

Triple Tribute

 

Today I served Holy Communion to two elderly sisters who lived by themselves in an apartment.

These two ladies were faithful in attendance and actively involved in the service at our church.

Age has taken a toll on them. They have lost part of their hearing and mobility is a challenge. Recently one of them had a fall and now the older sibling has to take care of the other. They are under our housebound list. Each time I visited them, I gave a short homily as they have not stepped into the church for over a year.

Here is what I shared.

At the close of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul gave a triple tribute to a little known person by the name of Phoebe.

Triple TributeHe called her, sister servant saint.

“I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever  business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” (Romans 16:1-2) 

Firstly, the apostle regards Phoebe as a  sister

Phoebe is more than just a friend or an acquaintance.  Paul said, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister.

She is a member of God’s family. She was born again. She is a sister in Christ. She is our sister.

Just so, the two elderly members who have been away from church for so long that they may be strangers to many. Yet the truth of the matter is they are our sisters.

Secondly the apostle Paul esteemed Phoebe as a servant.

He said, “I commend to you Phoebe … who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea … for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.”

Phoebe was not a pew warmer who only goes to church. She is a “helper of many.” She is someone who has willing heart and working hands.

And there can be no greater tribute than to be called a servant of the church.

Thirdly, the apostle Paul called her a saint.

He wrote, “… that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints.”

Not that she has been canonized and to be venerated as such, Phoebe is someone made holy and becoming sanctified in Christ. Every passing year saw evidence of her becoming like Christ and therefore she is to be received “in a manner worthy of the saints.”

The triple tribute or affirmation does not belong to just Phoebe alone but also to all in the Church of Christ.

Can I call you, sibling servant saint?

Standard

Horror-ween

Halloween and hexing seem to come to the fore for me recently. It jolted me.

One celebrates darkness. The other capitalizes on its powers.

Halloween is not an innocent fun celebration for kids dressed in spooky costumes going from house to house for “trick or treat.”

Horror-weenThe origin of Halloween is occultic. We who are children of light should not be glorifying darkness.

To be sure, Halloween is not just for kids but also for young adults who go to Universal Studios at Sentosa, Singapore for the Halloween Horror Nights. They pay handsomely for a horrifying fright. Still others would watch Singapore’s first widely released local zombie film, “Zombiepura.”

I have no doubt something happens when the mind is gripped by the terror of darkness. Like my domestic helper who went to one such movie and she dare not go to the toilet at night and slept with the lights on.

Hexing is not something we read in the folklores of past history. It is being practiced today. There appears to be a rise in the interest and use of black magic to cast spell and bring forth curses. This is not something we see in the movies. It’s real. The Wiccans or Witches has a large following. Recently a group of them gatheredin Brooklyn, New York to place hexes on the appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

There can be no justification for cursing someone whom we believe did wrong.

The teaching of the Bible is clear.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).

“There shall not be found among you anyone … who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

This is a spirited world.

Satan and his demonic host are real.

Jesus once said, Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23).

Let’s not unwittingly glorify Satan.

Let’s not innocently celebrate darkness.

Whether it’s Halloween or hexing, don’t let the fascination of such mystic darkness draw you and your family into it.

Standard

Pass It On

While in Iceland, I chanced upon a BBC Food Network featuring the English chef Jamie Oliver running his Ministry of Food based on the principle of “Pass It On.”

That principle has a familiar ring. It’s the title of a song in our United Methodist Hymnal (UMH). We sing it at our Watchnight Services as we light each other’s candles.

Pass It OnOliver believes passionately in the idea of “Pass It On.” He is fully convinced that if he could teach a few persons how to cook “Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham” and each “Passed It On’ to two others, then eventually the whole of Britain can cook that dish.

“Pass It On” started in the town of Rotherham. It was met with much resistance and many naysayers, who said, “It will not work. People have no time. They are too busy with work and family. Besides, who is going to fund the project?”

Despite the barrage of pessimism and negativity, Oliver went ahead by teaching eight people how to cook some simple dishes, which they can “Passed It On” to their family members and friends.

This group comprised of single mothers, busy working parents, bachelors, and an elderly man. They have never cooked.

Like Natasha, a 22-year-old single mother of two, living on benefits. Prior to the class, she had never cooked a meal for her kids. They ate takeaways for dinner and her fridge was filled with chocolate bars. She eventually turned out to be one of Oliver’s most enthusiastic ambassadors, showing a flair for cooking.

Claire is another mother of two, living on benefits. Prior to the campaign, she was eating ten packets of crisps a day and didn’t even know what boiling water looked like. She acknowledged that her family ate take-away for dinner four nights a week. By the end of this campaign her fridge was filled with fresh produce.

Mick never cooked a meal in his life. But he is now a born-again home chef.

The campaign then took on to workplaces where employees teach each other during lunch breaks how to cook a dish .

“Pass It On” was also held at a football field with men who taught two others a dish, who then each taught two more people, and so on without Oliver’s involvement.

It wasn’t long when Rotherham Council decided to take over the Ministry from Oliver and agreed to fund it to the tune of £125,000. They saw “Pass It On” as an effective way of tackling obesity and chronic poor health as people learn how to cook fresh food and establish healthy eating as part of their daily life.

Today “Pass It On” has spread beyond Rotherham to Leeds, Bradford, Newcastle and Stratford in east London.

And I just wonder couldn’t this be so with the spread of the Gospel.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going
And soon all those around can warm up to its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You spread your love to everyone
You want to Pass It On (UMH 572)
 

We have a ministry of food from the Lord who says:

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34).

Standard