Proven character

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Romans 5:5

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

How do we build a Christlike character?

Character is the springboard to a successful life. Developing a godly character in the face of our daily struggles is essential to having a more intimate relationship with Christ. Character is not just having integrity or being honest or even doing the right thing. A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions. It is good to remember that character is developed over many experiences, not on the basis of a few isolated actions.

Romans 5:5 says that our character develops from experiences of conflicts and tribulations. God uses trying times for our ultimate good.

Moreover, we are reminded in the Scripture that we can rejoice in trials because trials produce perseverance and perseverance produce Christ-like character and Christ-like character is a proven character, which leads to eternal hope.

Proven character comes from the word “dokime” in Greek. It is used to describe metals that had been tested and determined to be pure. The idea behind is that when metal is put through a fiery test and it comes out on the other side “persevering and enduring,” that metal is now proven to be genuine or authentic.

The same process happens wen our faith is tested. If we persevere and hold up under heavy load of difficult circumstances, we have “proven” that our faith and character are genuine and authentic.

One Minute Reflection

What tribulation God uses that shows your real character?

“The measure of every man’s virtue is best revealed in time of adversity—adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.” – Thomas Kempis

Home is where the heart is

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And just like that, we are almost halfway through the year 2020. Our ordered lives were turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. We lost track of time; we are stranded in a place that used to be our home fourteen years ago and do works that we do not think we will be doing.

This pandemic makes us realize that we cannot fully control our situation. Only God can.  We could not do anything that requires us to go to other places. As much as we want to go home to Thailand, we could not as the airport are closed at least until the end of the month. 

We miss our children, our home, and friends in Mae Sai. But we know that our waiting will not be for long. We will be home soon. In the meantime, while we are here God has given us the opportunity to minister to our church here in our own small ways. I have been helping as part of the worship team, preaching, and helping the media team doing the church’s worship online. Narlin is leading multiple Bible studies online on Facebook. 

We are thankful to the Lord for His faithfulness to provide for the needs of the children. Narlin and I have expenses on our own, but most of the support that we are receiving is mostly spent on the needs in the home and of the children. We are grateful for people who recognized that it is difficult for us to be away from our ministry and that we have our own needs too. 

We are aware that there are people who wonder how we take care of the children while we are not physically present. We mentioned this in our previous newsletter in passing but it is good to clear it up again here. Our children are in their late teens. We talked to them online often. They are well-disciplined and know what their responsibilities are. For our friends who stayed with us can attest to it. Jillian grew up with children and know each one well and she knows how to deal with them. 

Our children’s home does not exist in isolation. We are part of a community. Our church looks after the children while we are away. Our Pastors, Ajan Sunit and Ajan Chang, comes to our house regularly especially during this pandemic and we call them whenever there are concerns that need to be addressed immediately. Both of them pray and study the Bible with the children. We are also part of the network of other children ministries in Mae Sai and their leaders are our friends who are happy to help while we are not there. 

Except for the time when I had two surgeries last year, this is the only time we are away longer.  We never consider leaving Mae Sai except for a consultation with my oncologist. After we got our bone scan result, and I believe I will be cancer-free soon,  we will find a local oncologist so that we don’t have to go to the Philippines for monitoring. 

We thank the Lord that in every situation, He reminds us that "He is the one who meets all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). 

Thanks again for your love, prayers, and continued support. Please pray that the pandemic will be over, pray that we can go back soon, and pray for the children

Meeting Our Needs

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Philippians 4:19

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible reveals God as our provider. Throughout the pages of Scripture, God is portrayed as the one who sees and cares for all of our needs.

Today we are examining the wisdom we can extract from Paul’s New Testament letter to the church in Philippi, which was founded around 50 AD. Paul is sharing four important truths about having our needs met by Christ, Himself.

What can we learn from Philippians 4:19?

One

Paul uses the words “my God.” We can take comfort in the fact that God knows us intimately and deeply and is our personal provider.

Two

Paul tells us, “my God shall supply.” If we seek God, we can allow Him to supply whatever we need.

Three

Paul reports that God shall meet “all your needs.” This is where we have to separate out our desires from our needs. God will give us what we need to develop into the persons He originally created us to be.

Four

Finally Paul asserts that God meets our needs “according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” God’s giving is not merely giving from His riches, but according to His riches. In other words, Christ, Himself, is the prize, not what we can gain from Him. It is a critical distinction.

One Minute Reflection

What do you need out of God’s riches today?

After the Lord has tried our faith, he, in the love of His heart, gives us an abundance. For the glory of His name and for trial of our faith, He allows us to be poor and then graciously supplies our needs.”- George Muller

Audience of One

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Matthew 6:1

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.”

Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, do things to please an audience. This has become increasingly true in our modern, publicity-seeking, popularity-concerned, reality-television, social media-based society.

The question is not whether we have an audience but which audience we have.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we should only be concerned with God being our number one fan. When we take this pursuit seriously almost all of our endeavors are transformed.

God has designed each of His commands for our benefit: to protect us from harm and help us develop foundational contentment, regardless of circumstance.

Jesus makes it very clear in our passage today that we are not to practice our righteousness in front of others because if we do, we will receive no reward from our Father in Heaven. When we live only for God’s praise, we realize that His commands are actually blessings in disguise.

If we want to create a tangible difference in our own call as Christians, we need to grow in our awareness that only one opinion ultimately matters.

Our desire should be to please God alone.

One Minute Reflection
What audience do you care about and why?

“I have only one audience. Before you, I have nothing to prove, nothing to gain, nothing to lose.” [Winston Churchill]

Tracy Baumer Fox, Having A Heart For God Devotional: 365 Days of the One Minute Bible Study

Selah Amid COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic helps us realize that we are a community. We are not meant to live as an individual in our private world. Somehow, somewhere each one of us has a connection. Every action we do affects someone, in our country, in our town, in our community, our neighborhood, and our family.

The question we need to ask is after this pandemic is: “Will we ever be the same?” I hope our answer is: “No, we will never be the same. The worst that could happen is to go back to the way we were before. We must not stay the same. We must never be the same again.”

The sons of Korah wrote this song during a time of chaos, trouble, and uncertainty. This Psalm was written for the nation of Israel, but it applies to us today too. Reading this Psalm, we will notice the word “Selah” mentioned repeatedly in verses 3, 7, and 11.

The word “Selah” is a direct transliteration from the Hebrew. Psalms are songs meant to be sung. “Selah” refers to a musical rest. The singers stopped singing to take a breath. It also means silent reflection.

Moreover, “Selah” can also be translated “to praise” and “to lift.” Perhaps the singers paused so they could think about what they had just sung in praise to God. It is something required for the singers to do. So “Selah” means that we should pause and praise God. Every time we see “Selah” while reading Psalm we pause, look up and praise God.

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Selah) 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;he lifts his voice, the earth melts.7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.(Selah) 8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;he burns the shields with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Selah)

So while reading this Psalm, we can pause, look up and praise God for:

His Promise: God Is For Us (1-3)

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Selah)

The word used here for God is “Elohim” which means that He is the Creator, King, Judge, and Savior. Regardless of what we are feeling in this troubled time. This is a reminder to us of God’s promises that He is our refuge, our strength, and our help. He is not asking us to go to a safe place. But He (himself) is our place of safety. The word “refuge” is a place of trust and literally, it means “to flee” running into an indestructible shelter.

God promised us that He will hide us in His shelter, and His strength will help us. He is a “very present help in trouble.” The word “very” means His help is great and abundant right now in our present situation. God’s help exceeds any kind of help that any humans can do. We should be glad that we are serving a God who is always ready to help when we are in trouble.

In verse 2, the writer imagines the worst calamity that may happen to us. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountains slipping into the sea. It seems like the destruction of the planet earth. But even though the earth gives way” or the landscape suddenly changes, we don’t have to be afraid.

Verse 3 describes the roaring waters of the sea. This represents something so violent that we have no total control. Roaring means “to rage” or “to be at war.” COVID-19 is not as violent but it is a crisis that we don’t have total control. Every country is in a commotion on what to do next. Humanity’s sense of control has been replaced with fear and concern about the future. It’s fair to say that the entire world has been humbled by this pandemic.

This Psalm tells us that when our security is suddenly gone, we’re to seek refuge in God. Our sense of helplessness and fear should draw us nearer to God. We will echo the voices of many people of God that this tragedy should bring us to our knees and cause us to be a more humble world.

God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

This pandemic is pointing us to the real problem—humanity’s pride, self-centeredness and spiritual brokenness.

His Presence: God Is With Us (4-7)

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD Almighty is with us;the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Selah)

God promises us shelter when we need it. We don’t have to look for Him because His presence is with us. In verse 4 the city of God refers to Jerusalem. It was a beautiful city but we all know that there is no river flowing through it like any other major cities during that time like Babylon has Euphrates, Egypt has Nile, Rome has Tiber. Jerusalem has not the physical river, but it had something even better—the presence of God.

The word “Most High” is Elyon, which refers to God as the highest of all. He is sovereign and supreme, and He is present with us. God’s grace flows like a river to bring gladness and joy to His people. While the ocean rages, God’s presence is depicted as a calm and gently flowing stream. This image in the Scripture is used to represent happiness, abundance, and peace, even when everything else is falling apart.

God’s presence with His people is one of the central truths of Scripture. Verse 5 says that “God is in the midst of her” and verse 7 declares that the “Lord of Hosts is with us.” This is from the root word “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” and was used in Matthew 1:23 to refer to Jesus. This means when we put our faith in Jesus, we have “God with us” at all times.

Notice the last part of verse 5: “God will help her at the break of day.” No matter how bad things get, God’s presence means He will help us. When we wake up to start a new day, we will experience what Jeremiah did in Lamentations 3:22-23: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” God is faithful to us. He will never leave us or forsake us.

His Power: God Is Over Us (8-11)

8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Selah)

We can depend on God during times like this because of His promise, His presence, and finally, because of His power. Verse 8 says that God calls us to “come and see what the LORD has done.” The word “come” means “we are to run or pursue” in order “to see” or “to behold.”

It means “to perceive through sight, to gaze intently upon, to observe fully.” It expresses a strong feeling of hope, expectation, and certainty. “To behold” has the idea of vividness and emotional involvement. Here we are commanded “to come and behold.”

There is a phrase that says, “We become what we behold.” A Pastor tells it like this: “Tell me what you are beholding, and I’ll tell you what you are becoming.”  When we behold the Lord and His works, we become like Him and do His works. I believe in this COVID-19 pandemic many people are seeking the Lord right now.

Verse 9 shows us that in His position as the Almighty God, He makes “wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the chariots with fire.” We believe that the LORD has the power to stop the war.

Sometimes we feel like that there is nothing we can do to stop COVID-19. We may even feel helpless and even hopeless. This pandemic helps us realize that we don’t have control over the details of our lives. But God is in total control.

In verse 10, we are called to “be still and know that I am God.” To “be still” means to “cast down or let fall” and was used to the idea of dropping weapons.We have to stop fighting a battle we can’t win.  We are not to just have a “moment of silence” or even to just be quiet. We are to cease, surrender to God and let go.

The purpose of being still is so that we can know God. To “know” means “to acknowledge and comprehend, to discover intimately.” It is not just enough just to know about Him; we must have a deep personal relationship with Him. To do that, we need to be still before Him, pray and listen to His words.

The last part of verse 10 says that “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Ultimately, all nations will exalt God. Jesus will come again and all the nations will surrender before Him. No matter what happens, in this pandemic: God will be exalted among the nations and He will be exalted in the earth. He is working out all things for His glory and our ultimate good.

Verse 11 is a great summary statement of this entire psalm as it repeats verse 7. Because “the Lord of hosts is with us, and the God of Jacob is our fortress,” we can trust Him.

Conclusion

Jesus Christ is God and Lord of history. Nothing has happened outside of His plan. Through worst disaster, though the mountains fall into the sea, if we believe in Jesus we have nothing to fear.  Whether COVID-19 pandemic leads to more catastrophe and confusion, or the nations rage against one another, God is our refuge.

No matter what happens, we can pause, look up and praise Him for His promise, His presence, and His power.

Let’s pause here at the final “Selah” and praise God for His power. It’s time to be still and surrender before Him because we know that He is the most powerful God.

Photo is from South China Morning Post
Adopted from Pastor Brian Bill’s Sermon

Wait Upon God

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He [Daniel] prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.- DANIEL 6:10

The more I think of and pray about the religious situation in our country, the deeper my conviction becomes that Christians do not realize the aim of conversion is to bring them into daily fellowship with the Father in heaven. For the believer, taking time each day with God’s Word and in prayer is indispensable.

Each day, we need to wait upon God for His presence and His love to be revealed. It is not enough at conversion to accept forgiveness of sins or even to surrender to God. That is only a beginning. We must understand that we have no power on our own to maintain our spiritual life. We need to receive new grace daily from heaven through fellowship with the Lord Jesus.

This cannot be obtained by a hasty prayer or a superficial reading of a few verses from God’s Word. We must take time to come into God’s presence, to feel our weakness and our need, and to wait on God through His Holy Spirit to renew our fellowship with Him.

Then we may expect to be kept by the power of Christ throughout the day. It is my aim to help Christians see the absolute necessity of spending time with the Lord Jesus. Without this, the joy and power of God’s Holy Spirit in daily life cannot be experienced.

Heavenly Father, as I come into Your presence, I desire to know more of You. Teach me to wait quietly, with expectation that You will reveal Your love to me. I surrender all to You, Lord. Amen.

Andrew Murray. 3-Minute Devotions with Andrew Murray (Kindle Locations 33-46). Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition

God has other plans

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We were on our way to the Philippines when the news of the spread of the coronavirus in China and Italy spread out—on newspaper, radio, TV and the internet. At that time, no information yet was out about the spread in Thailand and the Philippines.

Our plan was to do what we must do in a short time. We cannot afford to be far away from home for long. We need to enroll the children, take care of the house rent, and prepare the children for the school opening.  We were certain that three weeks were long enough to do the blood tests, bone scan and consultation with my cardiologist, nephrologist, and oncologist. However, as I was having my bone scan when news came out that COVID-19 had spread in Philippines and Thailand. Both governments enforced enhanced community quarantine.

We could not go anywhere. The airline canceled our flight. The result (five days after) of my bone scan stayed in the hospital. We had no way of getting it. I could not go to consult my oncologist in Baguio. We don’t have slightest idea how long will be staying here in the Philippines.

It further complicates our situation. On the 20th of April, the Thai government will cancel our non-immigrant visa and work permit because we will not be there to renew it. The visa that we had been using for fourteen finally come to its end. We are going back to Thailand in tourist visa and no work permit.

The children are doing well in Thailand, we are closely keeping in touch. Thank God for the technology, we can talk and see each other every day. They plan to go home to the villages this summer as they usually do in the last three years. But with the virus outbreak, we asked them to stay home.

Tilek graduated from junior to middle school and Pia graduated from primary to junior high school. In the next couple of years, four them will be in the University. We feel sad that we could not be there for their graduation.

The year 2020 will be a real challenge for us. We thought we have this year figured out, but apparently the Lord has other plans. Proverbs 19:21 says that:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Prayer Concerns

We are experiencing the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. We pray that God will answer our prayers that this pandemic will be over soon. I will copy the prayer concerns we have been praying every day with our family here. Let us all unite praying for these concerns (CSM Prayer Pointers):

  1. Pray for our loved ones. Let’s pray for protection and good health for our family, friends and yes, even our enemies.
  2. Pray for governments and leaders. Let’s pray for godly wisdom for governments and leaders of all the countries that they may make wise decisions.
  3. Pray for the frontliners. Let’s pray for health care workers, and others in the community who need to work to meet the needs of the people who are in quarantine. Let’s pray for their health and protection.
  4. Pray for the poor, weak, and sick. Let’s pray for the most vulnerable sectors of our society. Let’s pray their healing from their sicknesses and provisions for all their needs.
  5. Pray for our respective countries. Let’s pray for Philippines and Thailand for peace, unity and healing for our lands.
  6. Pray for the world. Let’s pray for complete recovery of the world from pandemic COVID-19. By now we know that we are all connected. One country’s action affects other countries. Pray that God’s will amidst all.
  7. Pray for ourselves. Let’s pray for our health and growth and for God to show us the next right thing to do in this situation.

Thank you once again for your love and prayers. We appreciate your continued partnership as we look forward to fruitful ministry. In time like this, we strongly believe that God is in control.

God Willing

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We are now living amid COVID-19 crisis. Our President declared a nationwide lockdown to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus. It is important to follow the government during this troubled time. I understand that we should be together for prayer and worship. But wisdom declares that we should stay at home and not to gather. We want to stop the virus from moving around. If people keep moving around, we are making a way the virus spread rapidly more than our healthcare professionals and front-liners can handle.

It is in time like this that we also the best and worst among us. I believe that people are good, God created us in His own image anyway. Sin may have marred God’s image in us but it still there. However, in a situation like this, sin also exposed the worst among us. Our self-centeredness.

We are going to see from our text that self-centeredness sickness infected even Christians. We can read it in James 4:13-17. We will learn that the cure for self-centered sickness is following the will of God.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Verse 13 gives us the symptoms of our disease: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit.’” People, even Christians make plans without any regard for God’s will.

The statement “come now,” is found only in this verse. It is a forceful warning to businesspeople. In James’ day, sellers would buy goods from one city and travel to a distant city and remain there until they sold those goods at a profit. Then with the profit, they will buy goods from that city and move to another city to sell the goods.

These business people had a good business plan. They had everything figured out or so they thought. They answered all the questions:

When? “Today or tomorrow”
Where? “such and such a town”
How long? “spend a year”
What? “trade”
Why? “make a profit”

It was a good plan, but they forget the most important question—who? God was not included in the plan. Having a plan is good but planning without acknowledging God is.

Making plans is a good thing but planning without acknowledging God is selfishness and arrogance. Acknowledging God’s will over our lives is a cure for our self-centeredness sickness.

Admit we do not know the future (14)

Listen to the first part of verse 14: “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.” We don’t know what will happen tonight, much less next week or next year. Proverbs 27:1: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring”. The COVID-19 pandemic proves this point. The only time we know for sure is this time, right now.

Yesterday is called “the past” because it has already passed. Tomorrow is yet to come. To be honest, we will not know what will happen tomorrow. That is why, a quotation says: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift—that is why it is called the present”.

The rich fool made plans he thought would give him security for the rest of his life. He planned for what he knew would happen, but according to Luke 12:20, he was caught unprepared, “God said to him, ‘Fool!’ This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’”

We don’t know our future; our future is in God’s hands alone. Unless we commit ourselves and our plans to God, our future is meaningless.

Acknowledge the brevity of life (14)

Life is not only uncertain; it’s also short. We see this in verse 14: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” J. B. Philips version says it this way: “You are like a puff of smoke visible for a little while and dissolving into thin air.”

The Greek for “mist” is atmos, from which we get the word “atmosphere.” James is thinking of the morning mist which appears for a “little time” and goes away when the sun comes up. The word “vanishes” has the idea of utterly disappearing.

Have you ever thought of yourself as fragile as the mist? You’re here one moment and then gone the next. Even if you live to be 100, time goes by quickly and like vanishing steam from a hot cup of coffee, you will eventually evaporate from the earth.

Life is too uncertain and too short to live it without God at the center. We count our lives in years, but God tells us in Psalm 90:12 to number our days. Everyone in this room is just one heartbeat away from eternity.

Because life is short, live as if this is the last day of your life. Have you admitted ignorance about the future? Have you acknowledged the brevity of life?

Align with God’s will (15)

The third directive is found in verse 15: “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” We’re called to move from arrogant independence to dependence upon God. God is actively and personally involved with His people. Because He has plans and purposes for us, we must seek Him and His will. The little word “if” makes all the difference. “If” the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.

No amount of money, influence, power, or planning can guarantee tomorrow. Only God can grant us another sunrise or another breath. Let’s declare with David in Psalm 31:15: “My times are in your hand.”

It would be helpful for us to say, “Lord willing” whenever we make plans. The key is not to make this phrase a trite formula but to really mean, “If the Lord wills.”

One commentator offers this helpful insight:

  • We should refer to God’s will.
  • We should defer to God’s will.
  • We should prefer God’s will.

It’s not wrong to make plans, but we must make sure they align with God’s purposes. Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Avoid arrogance

According to verse 16, God does what He chooses in my life. Therefore, I must accept what He chooses to do: “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” The word “boast” means to exult oneself higher than God.

If we plan without aligning ourselves with God’s purposes, we become arrogant. 1 Corinthians 5:6: “Your boasting is not good…” We might call ourselves Christ-followers but by leaving God out of our lives, we are acting like atheists. Boasting is evil because we are defying the true state of our lives and living like we don’t need God for anything.

I appreciate Charles Spurgeon’s advice for conquering pride:

  • Embrace your Nothingness – “Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace.”
  • Embrace Christ – “Pride cannot live beneath the cross.”
  • Embrace Suffering – “The benefit of the furnace; it melts, tries, and purifies.”

Act in obedience (17)

We’ve been challenged by the Book of James to live out what we’re learning. The final directive is found in verse 17: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” This literally reads, “sin it is to him.” This attitude says something like this, “God, I know what you want me to do, but I’m not going to do it. I know better than you do.”

Some of us think we haven’t done anything bad, so we’re good to go. Perhaps we even point out others who’ve done awful things. But the truth is we can sin by doing nothing. It was Edmund Burke who said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.

James is addressing the sins of omission, which result from failing to do something God’s Word commands us to do. A sin of commission is a sin we actively commit.

The best way to deal with the future is to be faithful today. Now is always the right time to act because it is the only time you can be sure of it. The only moment you can guarantee is this moment. When you procrastinate doing the right thing, you end up doing the wrong thing.

We could say it like this: Delayed obedience is disobedience. Do you have any delayed obedience in your life? Do you know what God wants you to do or to stop doing, but you’ve been delaying?

Conclusion

We are living in uncertain and dangerous times. Nobody knows what will  happen in the future. There is a quote that says: “We do not know what the future holds but we know who holds the future”.

The safest place in the world is if we are in the will of God. We do it by admitting that we don’t know what will happen in the future, acknowledge that life is short, align our will with God’s will and we should act in obedience.

Made for each other

iron-sharpens

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

We are made for each other. Yet making relationships work, let alone making them flourish, is often remarkably difficult. We all know that justice matters, yet it slips through our fingers. We mostly know that there is such a thing as spirituality, and that it’s important, yet it’s hard to refute the charge that it’s all wishful thinking. In the same way, we all know that we belong in communities, that we were made to be social creatures.

Yet there are many times when we are tempted to slam the door and stomp off into the night by ourselves, simultaneously making the statement that we don’t belong anymore and that we want someone to take pity on us, to come to the rescue and comfort us. We all know we belong in relationships, but we can’t quite work out how to get them right. The voice we hear echoing in our heads and our hearts keeps reminding us of both parts of this paradox, and it’s worth pondering why.

“We were made for each other” is a profound statement of reality, echoed in the proverb—for it’s in community that we are shaped and find our sharpened selves. It’s also a signpost of a deeper reality, telling us there is a road ahead that leads to goodness. Lord, thank you for making me for community; may I become more like you through others’ help. Amen.

N. T. Wright. Faith That Matters: 365 Devotions from Classic Christian Leaders (Kindle Locations 409-422). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Our citizenship is in heaven

Baptism Photo

Fourteen. Yes, that is the number of years that God has allowed us to stay here in Thailand.  God has proven His faithfulness throughout those years. We experienced God’s blessings even in difficult times.

This year, we make the decision not to extend our visa with the Rainbow Foundation when it expires in April.  We thank their staff for making our lives easier with our status as non-immigrant, preparing all the paperwork and representing us to the Thai government. However, visa fees and expenses are getting insanely expensive. We need to be good stewards of God’s resources and use that fund for the ministry.

Within those fourteen years, the Thai government makes renewing our visa more difficult and more expensive.  We are grateful though that our citizenship is not here nor is in the Philippines. The Bible says: 

"…our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."  – Philippians 3:20-21

For now, we struggle with our citizenship here on earth. But we sure know that our home and final destination will be in the presence of our Father.  We are looking forward to that time when we will not be concerned with this matter. This inspires and strengthens us to overcome the struggle we are experiencing. God is faithful.

Prayer Concerns

  1. Please pray for our visa for this year onward. We trust that the Lord will lead us to a Foundation that is willing to give us a work permit and visa for free.
  2. Please pray for provision as we will be paying our one-year house rent late next month. We have saved money for this but we have had unexpected expenses recently. We trust as always that God’s provision is always on time.
  3. Pray for the children’s schooling. Tilek finished middle school. The school is closing this week. We will be gone again for another three weeks, please pray for Jillian as she will again look after them while we are away.
  4. Please pray for our ministries. The children are now the main worship team in our church. At a young age, God is using them to lead praise and worship. Joey is one of the regular preachers and Narlin is working with the women.
  5. Please pray that our partnership with Tesaban 1 Municipal will resume. The school get in touch with us again and was looking forward to another fruitful partnership this year and beyond.
  6. With the coronavirus outbreak, the English camps we scheduled this summer might not push through. Please pray that the coronavirus crisis will be over soon.
  7. Please pray for us as we travel again to the Philippines on March 3. Pray for Joey’s follow-up checkups, bone scan, blood tests, x-ray, 2D echo, and other lab tests. Pray for favorable results. No more mass, tumors, growth, and metastases. Pray for healing and provision.

Thank you so much for your love and prayers. We are excited about what the Lord will do for the rest of 2020.