Wednesday, April 25, 2007

If Kids Wrote to God

Anything is possible through the eyes of a child. -Anonymous-

What would you ask God if you could write to Him?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Warning Against Desiring Spiritual Success

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you . . . —Luke 10:20

Worldliness is not the trap that most endangers us as Christian workers; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go "outside the camp, bearing His reproach" (Hebrews 13:13 ). In Luke 10:20 , Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view— we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation. Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives until they are totally yielded to God. One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God, we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and those lives will be God’s testimony to us as His workers. God brings us up to a standard of life through His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that same standard in others.

Unless the worker lives a life that "is hidden with Christ in God" ( Colossians 3:3 ), he is apt to become an irritating dictator to others, instead of an active, living disciple. Many of us are dictators, dictating our desires to individuals and to groups. But Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced His words with an "if," never with the forceful or dogmatic statement— "You must." Discipleship carries with it an option.

Taken from My Utmost for His Highest dated April 24

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Monday, April 23, 2007


It feels like your life's crashing down all around you
Let me ask if it's really so bad
Look at the world in it's suffering
Can you honestly tell me that no one else could understand
All of the hurting inside

A young child looks through a great stained glass window
Watching the people go by
Everyone seems to be wearing a red coat
His mother sees jackets in white
Now he can't understand why does she see it this way

Yesterday, you really couldn't see
By changing your angle a new world would be
Revealed to your once blinded eyes by moving a few degrees

Why can't you see that freedom is sometimes
Just simply another perspective away
Who could you be if your lens was changed for a moment?
Would you still be the same?

Words by Kutless

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Songkran @ Kanchanaburi

I've been living in this country for years but never have I participated in the Songkran festivities. Getting wet in the middle of the street was not my idea of fun, so I had been avoiding it by flying back home. But this year, my friends and I decided to witness the highlights of Songkran -- not in the city, but in a wonderful province called Kanchanaburi.

It took us less than a week to plan the getaway. We were able to make a reservation even at the last minute, thanks to the wonders of the internet. Hotel/guesthouse bookings in provinces are usually full during this time of the year in Thailand, since most people from Bangkok leave the city for the holidays. Check out Sam's House. This was where we stayed for 2 nights.

Day 1: We were greeted by splashes of water, left and right! The songtew driver even tried to avoid the *busy* streets so we could arrive at the guesthouse safe and dry. As we enjoyed the moment, we wondered where all the water was coming from, because they were using an awful amount of water by the minute. We found out the next day that they pumped out water from the river Kwai.

Sam's House was just as we expected. Well, to cut the story short, the website pictures are the same as the actual place, hehe. We just checked in, dropped our bags in the room, then headed for the bikes. We pedalled our way across town while getting spattered by cold water and powder all over. There's no point avoiding the wet folks, they sure know how to hunt the dry ones down. We rode our bikes till sunset, right when the splashes stopped. That was truly a ride to remember.

Rain came, so we raced back to the guesthouse and had beers and chips at the back porch while waiting for dinnertime. There was something weird about dinner, though. For some reason, there was cauliflower and carrots in our tom yum... hmmm. Well, fortunately enough, we eat ANYTHING when hungry, so never mind about that. When the rain stopped, we headed for the massage parlor to relax.

Day 2: It was an early start. Got up at 7, then had breakfast at 7.30 while waiting for the tour group to pick us up. We had the day planned out for us. The tour included: swimming and trekking at Erawan waterfalls; elephant trekking and bamboo rafting; trip to Kra Sae cave (or rather *a glimpse of*) and the wooden railway bridge; train ride on the Death Railway; and, quick tour to the bridge on river Kwai. I liked bamboo rafting the most, not only due the fabulous scenery, but because my friend was having the time of her life with this mouth-watering hunk. (Well, she just sat beside him and had a little talk on the raft, in case you're curious *wink wink*)

The 400-meter hike to Erawan falls was a bit of a disaster. The national park was packed with people, and we had to climb really, really high to get a decent space of water and rocks. The water was cool, and the boulders of rocks were slippery, and two toes on my right foot are now swelling like chorizo de bilbao because I slipped and hit the darn thing. Ok, exagge. But my toes do hurt... *sniff*

Night came, and the rest is history... (clue: something to do with booze and whatever-occurs-in-this-room-stays-in-this-room kind of thing) Haha! Well, it was a fun night. Thanks to my friends, with whom I shared some good laughs till 2.30 in the morning.

Day 3: Woke up at 9.30 am, packed, checked out at 12.30, had lunch near the bus terminal at 1.10, got on the bus at 1.50 then headed back to Bangkok. We arrived 2 hours later, then went straight home to enjoy the leftover sinigang and adobo, with matching pusoy-dos.

Check out the rest of the pictures here. Enjoy!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Celebrating Disappointment

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing. —Psalm 30:11

After receiving his second Academy Award, Denzel Washington said to his family, “I told you, if I lost tonight, I’d come home and we’d celebrate. And if I won tonight, I’d come home and we’d celebrate.” Denzel, a Christian, was trusting God, whether in blessing or in disappointment.

A Christian couple I know were inspired to follow Denzel’s example. The woman was applying for a dream job that had just opened up where she worked. The interview went well, but she knew she might not get the position. Her husband suggested, “Let’s make reservations at our favorite restaurant this Friday to celebrate—no matter what the outcome.”

Soon the news came that someone else was offered the job. But that Friday the disappointed couple still celebrated. While eating a delicious meal, they were able to count their blessings and renew their faith in the God who holds tomorrow’s opportunities in His hand.

When the psalmist counted his blessings, he was lifted out of his despair and praised God, saying, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing” (Ps. 30:11).

Are you facing a situation in which you could be disappointed? Why not set up a celebration to count your blessings no matter what the outcome? Dennis Fisher

Thank God in your disappointment,
Celebrate His grace and love;
Know that He will never leave you
And will bless you from above. —D. De Haan

The pain of disappointment is soothed by a heart of gratitude.

Taken from Our Daily Bread dated April 13, 2007

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hurry Up and Wait

“A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” Proverbs 14:29

One of my all-time favorite school teacher stories is about a kindergarten teacher who at the end of an exasperating day had to put boots on all 31 of her students before she sent them out in the snow. As she struggled to lace up the last boot on the foot of the 31st student, the child looked at her and said, “These aren’t my boots.” Thinking that she would have to go back and re-boot the whole class, she furiously ripped off the boots only to hear the kindergartener say, “They’re my sister’s boots, but my mom let me wear them today.”

Does life ever try your patience? Of course it does. There is just something about being born on this planet that makes us vulnerable to snap, often destructive, responses to life’s inevitable stress.

What is it that pushes you to the edge? Is it that guy who keeps cutting you off in heavy traffic or your daughter who keeps snapping her bubble gum every 10 seconds? It’s different for all of us, but we’ve all experienced that temptation to explode when somebody or something stomps on our frayed nerves.

I hate to up the pressure, but it’s in moments of near-nuclear explosions that we find out how closely we’re walking with the Lord. Galatians 5:22 says, “And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience.” When life takes us to the edge, it’s easy to tell if we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit, or whether our old nature is going to step up to manage the situation.

Being patient doesn’t mean that we morph into milk-toast people for Jesus, with no fire in our belly. But the kind of patience that the Spirit wishes to produce does bring restraint to our anger. Anger always clouds good judgment while patience helps us stand back and evaluate the tension in a constructive way. As our text says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”

Patience says “no” to our “gut reaction” to do the first thing that comes to mind. When your gut reaction is: “I’m quitting this job right now!” patience says, “Why don’t you give it a few days and pray about it. Think about how this will affect your future and your family.” Patience gives you the space you need to make better decisions. An impulsive “I’m heading to the dealership right now to buy that new car!” may need patience to slow you down long enough to ask yourself, “What’s wrong with the car I have? Is there anything better that God would want me to do with the money?”

And, patience may just get your anxious little self out of the way so that God can accomplish what He has in mind through the trial that has you so frazzled. The psalmist helps us when he says, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14 NASB).

And Isaiah assures us that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB).

So all together now: Let’s take a deep breath, step back, and patiently wait for Him to manage your response. No wonder patience is called a virtue!

Taken from Daily Strength dated March 30, 2007

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Faith, Not Emotion

We walk by faith, not by sight —2 Corinthians 5:7

For a while, we are fully aware of God’s concern for us. But then, when God begins to use us in His work, we begin to take on a pitiful look and talk only of our trials and difficulties. And all the while God is trying to make us do our work as hidden people who are not in the spotlight. None of us would be hidden spiritually if we could help it. Can we do our work when it seems that God has sealed up heaven? Some of us always want to be brightly illuminated saints with golden halos and with the continual glow of inspiration, and to have other saints of God dealing with us all the time. A self-assured saint is of no value to God. He is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and completely unlike God. We are here, not as immature angels, but as men and women, to do the work of this world. And we are to do it with an infinitely greater power to withstand the struggle because we have been born from above.

If we continually try to bring back those exceptional moments of inspiration, it is a sign that it is not God we want. We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to "walk by faith." How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, "I cannot do anything else until God appears to me"? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, "Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!" Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.

Taken from My Utmost For His Highest dated May 1

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Is There Good In Temptation?

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man . . . —1 Corinthians 10:13

The word temptation has come to mean something bad to us today, but we tend to use the word in the wrong way. Temptation itself is not sin; it is something we are bound to face simply by virtue of being human. Not to be tempted would mean that we were already so shameful that we would be beneath contempt. Yet many of us suffer from temptations we should never have to suffer, simply because we have refused to allow God to lift us to a higher level where we would face temptations of another kind.

A person’s inner nature, what he possesses in the inner, spiritual part of his being, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the true nature of the person being tempted and reveals the possibilities of his nature. Every person actually determines or sets the level of his own temptation, because temptation will come to him in accordance with the level of his controlling, inner nature.

Temptation comes to me, suggesting a possible shortcut to the realization of my highest goal— it does not direct me toward what I understand to be evil, but toward what I understand to be good. Temptation is something that confuses me for a while, and I don’t know whether something is right or wrong. When I yield to it, I have made lust a god, and the temptation itself becomes the proof that it was only my own fear that prevented me from falling into the sin earlier.

Temptation is not something we can escape; in fact, it is essential to the well-rounded life of a person. Beware of thinking that you are tempted as no one else--what you go through is the common inheritance of the human race, not something that no one has ever before endured. God does not save us from temptations--He sustains us in the midst of them (see Hebrews 2:18 and Hebrews 4:15-16 ).

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