Category Archives: Wisdom & Knowledge

What’s your relationship with God like?

Earthly relationships can give us some insights on what kind of relationship we have with God. Allow me to illustrate in a bit. There are different level of intimacy and type of relationship we have with other people. Think about how our earthly relationships compare with our relationship with God. As I mentioned in the previous post, marriage is the most intimate kind of relationship you can have with a person. The marriage points to the intimate relationship between Christ and His bride (church). Jesus Christ loved so much that He was willing to lay down His life for us so that we may live. The love of Christ also compels the bride to give herself completely to Christ. It’s a mutually loving relationship, giving their all for each other. Marriage helps us understand the kind of relationship God wants with His children – to love and be loved!

Take a deep look inside within your soul and ask yourself what kind of relationship you have with God. Please don’t think I am judging you! And also don’t judge yourself! Just think about it. My hope is to encourage you to have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus. And for you to fall in love with Him!

Are we thinking about God constantly, just as spouses think about each other constantly? To yearn for each other whenever they are apart and to delight in each other whenever they are together? Do we have that same kind of passion and love toward God? Thinking of ways to please God? Not out of obligation, but out of love. A sacrificial love.

Or is God a mere acquaintance to us? A mere afterthought? Someone you ask for help but never giving anything back? Or does the relationship consists of mere knowledge of God’s existence – like a lofty theologian studying all his/her life about God but never really having any kind of relationship with God? Or is the relationship like a rebellious son against his loving father, not wanting to do anything with him despite all he has done for son? Or someone who loves the man-made religious structures/doctrines more than God Himself?

So ask yourself what your relationship with God is like. The good news is that you can come to Him anytime and anywhere, despite all our shortcomings and weaknesses. He’s there with His arm stretched open. Come to Him! Talk with Him =) He is inviting you to an intimate relationship with Him, will you accept? Will you lay down your rebellious arm and come back to your loving Father?

See how much God loves his bride and the mankind?

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Song of Solomon 4:9-12 (ESV)
9 You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
11 Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed.

Truly, God has bestowed so many good things upon us – He is worthy of our honor, our love, our commitment, and our everything! So let us set our mind to please Our Creator!

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Marriage as a Sacred Covenant

marriage
Marriage by Kumon licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Marriage is a topic that is close and dear to my heart. I suspect it’s because of the longing I have in my heart, or maybe I just find the idea simply fascinating. Or maybe because it reminds me of God’s immense love for His bride and the wonderful relationship between them. Why am I writing about this? Simply put, I wanted to emphasis marriage as a very sacred covenant between two people and God. I also wanted to encourage people (believers and unbelievers) to treat it as such.

Marriage is a very special gift from God. It creates a safe space where man and woman open up their hearts and connect with each other in a powerful way – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Where two flesh becomes one. In addition to this, marriage is a safe environment for raising children. Of course, this special gift comes with a great responsibility and commitment.

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV)
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Yes, I realize that there aren’t much fairytale marriages out there but single folks can learn from them, whether good or bad, before making one of the biggest commitment in life. Don’t laugh at me, but I do enjoy reading books and articles on marriage so I can learn from them. So I’ll just share what I’ve learned from what I read and observed in real life =)

Firstmost, marriage involves opening yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually to your spouse. That is a very vulnerable position to be in! Yet it’s powerful and special at the same time.

There’s a good reason why God commands us to wait until marriage before fully committing ourselves to other person. It’s not to take away our joy, but instead to protect us from heartbreaks associated with causal dating/relationships. Seeking love, physically and emotionally without a commitment and for selfish reasons is a sure recipe for painful heartbreaks. Imagine opening yourselves up and then getting rejected. It’s very painful. Our hearts are not meant to broken repeatedly. For each heartbreak, it generally gets harder and harder to open up as in the beginning. Marriage is a safe environment for people to express their love fully. The commitment of marriage protects people from being heartbroken.

Matthew 7:6 (ESV)
6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

Your heart is a precious treasure just like pearls in the verse. It’s designed for loving one another and receiving love. Take your time getting to know a person, don’t open up everything at once. A healthy relationship consists of respecting one another and being considerate of others’ feeling. Relationship also takes time to grow and develop.

The Holy Scripture clearly states there should be no divorce except on the ground of adultery. Why?
First, let’s look at these two bible verses –

Mark 10:10-12 (ESV)
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Divorcing would mean breaking your sacred oath of commitment to your spouse and to God. It would mean undermining what marriage stands for. If people treated marriage as causal relationship then it ceases to be safe place of commitment and love.

If we hold these above-mentioned verses to our heart then we would give careful consideration before marrying a particular person since we are treating marriage as an once-in-a-lifetime choice!

And simply put, divorces cause untold sufferings and pains to spouses and children. Custody battles. Bitterness. Regrets. Children going back and forth between parents. Spouses and children feeling abandoned and rejected. It’s a ravager of hearts.

Additionally, I’ve put together a simple list of what helps and hurt a marriage as listed below. These traits doesn’t have to be only for marriage, but can also be applied toward any type of relationships – friendships, families, etc..

Things that helps marriageforgiveness, love, being sensitive to your spouse’s feeling, communication, understanding your spouse, faithfulness, commitment, respect, nourishing the relationship.

I wanted to expand a little bit on two things – nourishing the relationship and forgiveness. Don’t stop with nourishing, keep on connecting with each other! Nourishing the relationship is similar to watering plant. If a person neglects watering the plant then it will wither. Give love and time to each other on regular basis! This also applies to friendships and people you meet. As for the forgiveness, that is very important!! It removes bitterness, resentment, and gives you a CLEAN SLATE with your spouse. God gave you a clean slate, so you do likewise for your spouse!

Things that hurt marriagelack of commitment, not considering others’ feeling, contempt, marrying for selfish reason (money, physical intimacy, social status, etc.), not loving one another, rushing into marriage, resentment/bitterness, lack of forgiveness, being unequally yoked (believers with unbelievers).

Rushing into marriage is a dangerous endeavor since you won’t know whether if you are compatible for each other. It requires having a good understanding of who you are and who the potential spouse is. That includes positive and negative traits. Know what you’re getting into, ask questions but in a loving way of course! Compatibility is an important aspect of marriage. Look no further than the Bible. Remember when Israelites married foreign women, prior to entering the Promised Land AND during their ongoing presence there? Believers with unbelievers. And what about when Solomon had many foreign women during the latter part of his reign? What happened afterwards? Foreign women lured them away from the LIVING GOD who gave them everything, to idols who can’t see or hear or walk.

Ultimately, what ties these hurtful traits together is lack of love and it deprives the spouse from the love and respect they seek. It’s very painful. We cannot change other person, but we can choose how we conduct our actions!

Your hearts are precious treasures. God created marriage to protect and nurture our hearts with love. He doesn’t want to see His precious children getting hurt. Marriage helps us understand more about the loving relationship between God and His bride, how immensely God loves His bride, His faithfulness to us, and how He just want to simply spend time with us!

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Protecting Our Weaker Brothers

I’ll briefly describe what happened in the video. The wolves chased after the herd in attempts to ISOLATE their prey from rest of the herd. When a bison and a calf were isolated from the herd, they became easy targets to the wolves. Then the wolves proceeded to ATTACK the vulnerable calf relentlessly as the stronger bison valiantly kept on protecting the vulnerable calf from harm. What a fiercely protective LOVE! A wolf attempted to DISTRACT the stronger bison while the other wolf leapt toward the calf to attack. They tend to wait until their prey lowered their defense before attacking. The pack of wolves also HARASSES to wear out their prey, in attempt to weaken them for easier targeting.

What happened in the video isn’t that different from what happens in the spiritual realm. Demons and the fallen spirits are extremely determined to devour us. They don’t play fair and they don’t mess around! Most folks usually dismiss them as mere fairy tales, but that’s quite dangerous thinking! Just because we can’t readily discern evil with our senses doesn’t mean it doesn’t exists. We can’t see, smell, hear, or taste radiation but it’s still very deadly to us.

Like the wolves in the video, they use the following tactics – isolate, attack the weak, distract, and harass – to weaken believers systematically in attempts to devour them. Although it’s not a comprehensive list of tactics they use but I’ll just focused on these four for the simplicity of this post.

ISOLATE – The wolves seek to isolate believers from God because they know believers will become weaker and more vulnerable when isolated. The wolves attempt to deceive us into thinking that God is not there for us, distant and aloof from our lives, thus “isolating” us from God’s LOVE. Don’t listen to this lie! Nothing can stop God from loving us! God is faithful to us and watches over us as a loving parent watches over a child.

Although, there are times when God set us in wilderness in order to develop and mold us into a strong and beautiful vessel for the LORD. In this case, isolation can help us to learn how to be truly dependent only on God!

ATTACK THE WEAK – The wolves know to press hard onto any weak spot we might have. We become vulnerable to evil onslaught whenever we turn away from God and His commandments. Unforgiveness, anger, greed, and sinful behavior are some examples of the weak spot.

Take unforgiveness for example. If we don’t forgive those who have hurt us, then the enemy will press this advantage mercilessly. A thought from the evil one drips in your head – “Look what that person did to you, how can you forgive that person?” Then another thought drips in your head – “Maybe you should withhold your love from that person. After all, that person doesn’t deserve to be loved.” One thought leads to another and another. It eventually leads to hatred, bitterness, and perhaps even murder! Thoughts like these starts to crowd out the good qualities God has given us – love, forgiveness, gentleness etc… See how starting with one small tiniest weak spot eventually becomes a glaring hole in the armor, setting themselves up for a fatal arrow blow! The wolves will keep on pressing on the weak spot repeatedly unless we say “NO MORE!” and allow God to repair our weak spot.

Just as Christ has forgiven us, we should extend that same forgiveness, LOVE, and MERCY toward others. If you have difficulty forgiving someone, ask God to give you the strength to forgive! And then move on with your lives.

DISTRACT – The wolves attempt to lure us with worldly distractions because it can be effective at taking away our focus on God. They will try to lure us with career ambitions, social activities, and entertainments to drown out our precious time with God. Lack of time with God means we are not being built up in God’s word and His love. This can make us weak and vulnerable to others’ notions that are not of God. The parable of sower (see the verses below) mentioned how seeds surrounded by thorns – which represented life’s worries, riches and pleasure – don’t mature. Yikes!

Luke 8:4-15 (NIV)
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Another way for the wolves to distract us is through difficult circumstances in our lives. The wolves are counting on us seeing in the present circumstances only and hope we will forget about God’s promises and His strength.

Imagine yourselves as Israelites wandering around in the wilderness – oppressive heat, sheer physical exhaustion, and lack of food. Their circumstances seemed overwhelming! Doubts start to rise in their mind, thinking, “Did God deliver us out of Egypt only to die in the wilderness”? They only focused on the present and forgot about God’s promises that were yet to come. In the end, God did fulfill His promise, giving Canaan to Hebrew people.

We can learn from their mistakes and have faith in God despite whatever circumstances we’re facing. We can always ask for God’s strength to help us through the difficult circumstances. He is our Comforter and Deliverer!

HARASS – The wolves relentlessly takes one bite after another to wear us down. They intend to discourage believers from pursuing a meaningful relationship with God and following His command. While growing up, I’ve experienced emotional neglect and feeling left out many times. The evil ones had taken advantage of this fact mercilessly and harassed me with thoughts of feeling unloved and rejected. Eventually it deteriorated into self-deprecating thoughts such as “I’m nobody special” or having doubts that people actually cares about me. Then I decided, NO MORE! I refused to yield to these thoughts any further. I am choosing to see myself as God sees me, a precious child in His eyes, beloved and loved by our own CREATOR! The following verse came across my mind.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Whenever I get battered with these negative thoughts, I would remind myself of God’s love and how God has created me fearfully and wonderfully! We are His precious child and wonderful creation. To criticize ourselves is to criticize what God has made! So let us say no to these harassing thoughts and remind ourselves of God’s awesome love for us!

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The adult bison reminded me of a mature Christian – strong, valiant and able to stand against the evil. They have been through the purifying fire and they know to rely on the LORD for strength. They possess fiercely protective LOVE toward their brothers, especially the weaker ones. The calf can be compared to a new Christian or a weaker brother, not fully grown and formed in Christ. We are to help them grow and to guide them to Christ. So if you are the adult bison, then let your LOVE of the LORD overflow to the younger ones, protecting them from harm and guiding them toward Christ. If you are the younger ones, then affix your eyes upon Christ and grow in Him. He will watch over your steps and do not fear! Be vigilant and sober!

Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV)
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

 

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Reflecting God

Photo taken by me
Photo taken by me

I love photography and taking pictures of what God has created for us – flowers, stars, mountains, forest, etc…

Recently, an interesting analogy came across my mind. I thought about how taking pictures can be similar to how we chose to reflect God’s character, glory, and love.

Camera is a way of capturing what we see out there, so other people can have a little taste of what’s it like to be there and what it looks like. Of course, it doesn’t compare to being actually there. Similarly, just simply knowing about God is very different from actually experiencing Him and being with Him.

Like a camera, as a vessel of Christ, we are able to “capture” God’s character, glory and LOVE by yielding ourselves to Christ! When we die to Self and allow Christ to increase in our lives, we are showing God’s character, glory and LOVE toward others in hope they will come to God and experience his everlasting LOVE.

Galatians 5:22-26 (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Any good photographer would know that taking care of camera and using them properly are essential to taking quality pictures. Dust and dirt can get on the camera causing the pictures look bad. A photographer would clean the camera lens with a special microfiber cloth. Comparably, sin (dust and dirt) prevents us from reflecting who God is. Only the blood of Christ can wash away our sin. If we seek forgiveness and repent from our sin, then our “lens” will become clean which allows us to reflect God better in our lives.

Using the manual settings in a camera requires basic knowledge on how they work together to be able to take a quality picture. In the same way, building ourselves in the knowledge of God’s word allows us to apply His word effectively in differing circumstances

Taking this analogy a bit further, suppose we wanted to invite unbelievers to God’s kingdom then we want to make sure we take care to handle God’s word with due diligence. If we took a bad picture of a beautiful landscape (God’s kingdom) then would people (unbelievers) be interested in going there? Perhaps if we took a good picture then there could be a chance that people (unbelievers) would want to visit the beautiful landscape (God’s kingdom) after seeing it in pictures? We are to share His good news and invite everyone to His kingdom. Not everyone will accept, but some will!

Luke 14:15-24 (ESV)
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

Even with a good picture of God’s creation, it doesn’t capture everything God had made and designed. We cannot truly put God in a box, all we can do is to point others to His LOVE and GLORY! Consider a picture of a beautiful idyllic lake surrounded by tall swaying pine forest – there is so much that we don’t see in the picture itself. Examples of what we don’t see in the pictures – animals thriving and multiplying, cycle of precipitations, plants growing under the sun, precisely designed DNA in lifeforms, and finely tuned condition in our universe that allows the right condition for the life to flourish!

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Finding God in Modern-day Churches? (Part 2)

I have posted this as exhortation toward modern-day churches because I felt that if something prevented God’s precious children from having a meaningful relationship with God then I would try to break down that barrier. I thought by pointing out the common shortcoming of modern-day churches would help break down that barrier. I only desire to see God’s precious children to have a wonderful and meaningful relationship with their own CREATOR and not to let anything hinder that relationship from growing.

While I can’t speak for all of the churches out there, I am only writing from my own personal observations, a little bit of research, and others’ second-handed account with churches. Several observations came across my mind regarding modern-day churches. I was grieved to see that they had distorted the TRUTH, disbelieved in the LIVING POWER OF GOD, became like the world, became infiltrated with “devouring wolves”, and lacked much in LOVE and COMPASSION.

Please understand that this is not directed against those who truly worship God in spirit and truth. This message is intended to be a strong exhortation for churches whom had strayed away from God.

1. Distortion of TRUTH

Easy and comfortable listening sprinkled with personal or interesting stories has diluted the HOLY GOSPEL in modern-day churches. Most of the preaching I’ve heard throughout my life consisted of inspiring life stories with some or little connection with God’s Holy Scripture. Not even a testimony about how God changed their life. Emphasis on stories can’t teach fellow believers more about God throughout the history of mankind! We have everything we need in the Holy Scripture – poetry, songs, stories, and wisdom!

There is also a tendency of not preaching much about sin and the need to repent. It was considered too “judgmental” and “harsh.” People need to know about sin and the consequence of sin! And how they desperately NEED JESUS in their life in order to be healed and saved! It’s a matter of life or death!

Suppose if a doctor came to a patient with a terminal disease (SIN) saying everything is okay and treated the patient with kindness? Should the doctor soothe patient with painkiller making everything comfortable and all right? No! Far from it, instead the doctor should explain the bad news about the terminal disease (SIN) to the patient first and then proceed to tell the patient about cure (CHRIST). Painkiller doesn’t cure the disease. We need the antidote to cure the terminal disease that lies within. Christ is our cure to sin that lies within, only He can save us from death! Preaching a diluted GOSPEL is akin to giving patient a painkiller, soothing them but not curing them.

On the other extreme end, leaders or fellow churchgoers can spew out condemnation and guilt onto God’s children although this usually happens in more subtle way. This distorts the GOSPEL by minimizing GOD’S EVERLASTING LOVE for his precious children. They can bombard us with so-called challenges to be “better” or “work harder” at being holy. A few examples below –

“You need to be a better father, look at this guy. He’s a good example!”
“You need to give more”
“You need to be more involved in church..”

God’s grace covers us and Holy Spirit will guide us with our permission. Only God can truly fix us from inside out, not some man’s challenge to be more “holy.”

Look at how Jesus dealt with woman caught in adultery –

John 8:1-11 (ESV)
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

See how Jesus didn’t condemn the woman but instead told her to stop sinning.

I know it seems contradictory with the need to preach about sin and not condemning folks at the same time. I’ll explain in a bit. If we go back to the doctor analogy I mentioned earlier – Imagine when if a doctor recoils from patient’s disease then treats the patient with hostility and judgment. That would be acting without love and compassion. Compare that with doctor who genuinely wants to see patient to improve and be cured of their disease. Like the compassionate doctor, we can still explain how SIN infected our lives and how we need JESUS CHRIST’S BLOOD to free us from bondage of sin. We do it with LOVE and a fervent desire to see people freed from bondage of sin and their relationship restored with CHRIST, rather than putting people down with only condemnation and guilt.

Jesus spoke hard truth frequently and told His listeners about the cost of following Him including the possibility of dying for Him. He also spoke of wonderful things: treasures in heaven, everlasting LOVE, etc… Instead of diluting the GOSPEL with only good and easy stuff or without love, we need to include FULL and unaltered GOSPEL including the good (blessings), the bad (our sin, the cost of following Jesus, dying to self), and the ugly (persecution for Christ’s sake). There’s nothing like preaching the GOSPEL with sweet aroma of LOVE!

2. Disbelief in the LIVING POWER OF GOD

I was talking with a Christian about Joseph’s dream. I mentioned how I loved the story of Joseph and how cool it was when God gave him a dream and which was then fulfilled many years later. I think at some point in the conversation, this person told me in a lecturing tone that dreams and prophecies only happened back in the biblical times, not in present-day as to dissuade me from believing in them.

Miracles, dreams, and prophecies are still very much alive to this day! We just need to have faith. Have you noticed Jesus healed those who had faith in His healing power and didn’t much healing for those who didn’t have faith? Check out the following scripture about FAITH –

Matthew 8:5-13 (NIV)
The Faith of the Centurion
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV)
20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Matthew 9:27-30 (ESV)
27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.”

Matthew 13:57-58 (ESV)
57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Luke 18:27 (NIV)
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Seems like a lot of miracles depends on our faith, doesn’t it??

3. Becoming like the world

There have been accounts of pastors wanting to make their churches more “seeker-friendly” to increase attendance. So they resort to worldly means to attract more folks to their church without emphasizing GOD’S HOLY WORD first! People need to know more about the GOD, not to be entertained. We already have plenty of entertainments in this world, can the modern-day churches set aside time that is completely devoted to GOD? Unfortunately churches are filled with music programs, game nights, movie nights, etc.. Modern-day churches looks more like a community center rather than a house of worship. I even remember one church added a basketball court so they could attract more folks to their church. Yikes!

Modern-day churches operate their organization very much as the world does. I’ve heard of emphasis on running the church like a business with pastor as the “CEO” of the church. Reaching out to the lost has become reduced to slick marketing efforts, trying to “hook” outsiders inside and then casting them aside once they’re inside. Marketing catchphrase has diluted biblical truth and God. Sometimes I wonder how much modern-day churches depend on God for their day-to-day guidance or are they mostly following their man-made agenda?

Ancient Israel started out without kings and depended on God to rule over them as a king. But over time Israelites eventually clamored for earthly king to rule over them rather than letting God rule their lives. They wanted Israel to be like rest of the world with an earthly king.

1 Samuel 8:19-20 (ESV)
19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

I’m seeing similar pattern in modern-day churches. We have hierarchical man-made organization with earthly leader at the top, rather than letting God lead them. I suppose it’s easier to go by what we can see and touch instead of going blindly by FAITH and trusting in GOD completely without looking to any man on earth for answers. Is God greater than man is? Why look to man for answers when we can go to GOD ourselves?

4. Devouring Wolves

There are people who purposefully use God’s word to abuse His children. I can’t put specific number or exact percentage of people who does this. It could be widespread or it could be limited to few churches, I do not know. But I do know it’s important to speak out against this kind of practice so God’s children can be set free from these devouring wolves!

There are pastors who peddle God’s word for profit. I did a quick internet search about pastors living in luxuries hoping to find some examples. Some of the stories I came across blew my mind and grieved my heart. I struggled to comprehend why anyone would take advantage of other people like that. Greedy pastors would guilt trip their congregation into giving their hard-earned money, claiming it’s for God and yet the money went toward their selfish indulgences. They bought private jets, mansions, vacations, etc.. Some were even struggling to pay bills while these pastors lived in extravagance. How can the love of Christ be inside these wolves?

1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Let’s look at how Paul treated the early churches in the following verse –

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (ESV)
Paul’s Ministry to the Thessalonians
2 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

See the difference? Paul worked hard as not to be burden on the early churches. As loving parents gave to their children, Paul poured his time and efforts into helping the church grow spiritually. God’s children shouldn’t be pressured or guilt-tripped into giving to specific ministry or church. There are many ways of giving back to God including but not limited to: spending time with Him, getting a nice present for your least-loved relatives, sending a card to the lonely, helping out a friend, and taking care of your elderly parent.

Also check out the following verse about giving:

2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)
7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Another type of devouring wolves is those who seek glory from men. Out of generosity, God has bestowed many gifts to us. Is it right to take credit for what God has created? Glory belongs to God, not man. To seek glory from man is to steal glory from God. Pastors are not to be worshipped! No man is to be worshipped either! While some pastors or Christians may be helpful in guiding our spiritual walk, we are not to be dependent on them for our spiritual nourishment. Jesus Christ is the only one who could truly fulfill our spiritual need. With the blood of Christ for forgiveness of our sins, we can boldly go before God! God gave us His Holy Scripture for us to be spiritually nourished and to learn more about God.

Body of Christ has one leader – Jesus Christ!

We are not to call any man father or priest but only to consider each other a brother. I sincerely believe that every Christ follower can learn AND teach one another.

Matthew 23:8-10 (ESV)
8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.

Some wolves seek power and control over their followers. These type of wolves are very dangerous and leave much destruction in their wake.

When we serve Christ, we always strive to reflect Christ best as we can and of course, if we’re willing, we let Christ increase inside us while Self decrease. God will never force Himself upon us. He waits for us to come to Him! What does this has to do with power-seeking wolves? It’ll make sense in a bit, bear with me. As a follower of Christ, we are essentially an ambassador of Christ – representing Him to the lost and the unsaved. Therefore, when the lost looks upon us, they don’t see the Self that lies within but rather we hope they see the sweet aroma of Christ’s love emulating from within.

Now, with these power-hungry church leaders, they are supposed to be ambassador of Christ to reflect His glory and His love but instead they have exchanged these for corrupted Self. What happens when outsider, assuming they don’t know much about Christ, looks upon these power-hungry leaders as representative of Christ? They might mistakenly associate Christ with these leaders because they claim to be speaking on God’s behalf. Then the outsiders will have the wrong picture of God because of how these power-hungry leaders have misrepresented the true character of Christ! Furthermore, these leaders have denied spiritual nourishment to churchgoers who desperately need it. Fear and condemnation have enslaved the churchgoer under the bondage of law and man-made commandments.

Pride, greed, and lust for power have prevented God’s love and glory from reaching the believers and outsiders alike. This should not be the case!

5. Lacking in LOVE and COMPASSION

Loving God and one another is the most important commandments to follow. Seeing it in modern-day churches is another story. Their lack of love ranges from a simple indifference to condemning mindset towards others.

Imagine this – a poor person comes to a church with tattered clothing hoping to experience God’s love and learn more about Him. One churchgoer tells the poor person to wear a better clothing for the church. How would that person feel? Loved or judged?

Or if someone is struggling with addiction – does the community try to help those who struggle or do they condemn and shun the addict? I’m not saying that we don’t take a stand against sin, but we can strive to be like loving parents toward the weak ones – guiding with loving hands and explaining why certain action is wrong while remaining unchanged in love with healthy boundaries. Loving parents know each child is different and uses different approaches to discipline tailored to each personalities. Some only require a gentle correction and a strong approach may damage that child’s well-being. Other only needs a strong approach.

Or if someone wants to change churches, are they condemned and slandered simply because they left for a different church? What about when churchgoers or leaders condemn other churches simply because they have different ‘doctrine’?

When the community lack in love and compassion, they are falling short of reflecting Christ’s everlasting LOVE and His GLORY.

I wanted to wrap this up with one parting verse

Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

I see Jesus knocking on the door of modern-day churches while everyone inside is having a party. It hurts me to see that they won’t let Jesus in, or even hear Him in the first place! Again, this is only an exhortation for modern-day churches to turn and truly seek God with their heart.

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