Wednesday, February 22, 2017

God Is In the Business of Impossible (Genesis 17:15-19)

God continued speaking to Abraham, ‘And Sarai your wife: Don’t call her Sarai any longer; call her Sarah. I’ll bless her—yes! I’ll give you a son by her! Oh, how I’ll bless her! Nations will come from her; kings of nations will come from her.’ Abraham fell flat on his face. And then he laughed, thinking, ‘Can a hundred-year-old man father a son? And can Sarah, at ninety years, have a baby?’ Recovering, Abraham said to God, ‘Oh, keep Ishmael alive and well before you!’ But God said, ‘That’s not what I mean. Your wife, Sarah, will have a baby, a son. Name him Isaac (Laughter). I’ll establish my covenant with him and his descendants, a covenant that lasts forever’
(Genesis 17:15-19, The Message)

Sarai was 90 year-old when God gave her a fresh start. No longer would she be known by the old Babylonian name she had been born with. From Genesis 17 onward, she would be called “Sarah” – Princess – and she, like her husband (Abram, previously renamed as Abraham), would be the mother of nations. Name is so important. It represent who we are, our origin. Good name is crucial for a new identity. Abraham and Sarah’s names are God’s prophesy of what they would become.

I’m thinking of Abraham… how his faith were stretched… he had been called upon to believe some wild things (Up-In-The-Sky-Kind-of-Promises!) over the previous 30 years. But the thought of his 90 year-old wife would “give you a son” was too much. Too impossible for him – and probably too stress – that he laughed! Abraham being Abraham, he gave God a suggestion, a solution: “Oh, keep Ishmael alive and well before you!” What he meant was, “Lord, why couldn’t Ismael, be the son of the promise? Let him be!” Perhaps Abraham truly love Ishmael. Perhaps Abraham sick of waiting. Perhaps he felt bad for the boy Ishmael, son with the servant woman Hagar. Illegitimate or not, he was till Abram’s flesh and blood.

Let me reason for Abraham… Hey, Ishmael, his son, was already there. Why wait? I think it is quite awesome if God were to make a great nation out of Ishmael (in fact, God does it). But to imagine an as-yet-unborn son of a 90 year-old woman? To me and Abraham… that was impossible to imagine...

About two thousand years later, God did the same impossible promise. Elderly Elizabeth who were barren bore a son, John the Baptist and Mary, a virgin, bore child Jesus the Messiah (read Luke 1 and 2). Both were impossible cases, but as Gabriel, the archangel said, “Nothing, you see, is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, Msg). God had His own plans, His plans will come to past. He is in the business of impossible. “That’s not what I mean,” God insisted, “Your wife, Sarah, will have a baby, a son.” God was doing something utterly new to Abraham. In the end, Sarah gave birth to a son named Isaac (read Genesis 21).

When God plans to do something, something great
Hold fast to His promises, He keep His promises,
Remember: “Nothing, you see, is impossible with God

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ and My Fellow Malaysians, Let Us Pray for Pastor Raymond (Missing for A Week Now)

One of the saddest crimes is kidnapping or human stealing. Every day whether you turn on the news or go on the web, you always see kidnapping crimes going on worldwide. This is probably the most severe form of stealing. In the Old Testament this was punishable by death. Exodus 21:16, for example, says, “Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.” This was what was happening back in the slavery days. It is not applicable today, but still, this law shows how serious this crime is (I checked: A Malaysia’s 1961 law states that kidnapping carries a life sentence or a death sentence, preceded by a whipping).

According to police, Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo, 62-year-old, of DUCM (Damansara Utama Methodist Church) is believed to have been abducted by a group of masked men after he was seen driving along Jalan Bahagia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, in his car between 10.30am and 10.45am on Monday, 13th February 2017. It has been exactly a week since his disappearance. “My children and I are very anxious for Raymond,” writes Susanna Liew Sow Yoke, Raymond’s wife on her message thru WhatsApp, “How can this blatantly happen in broad daylight in the peaceful place of our home land.”

Susannah continues, “I believe that the people who took my husband from me are no ordinary abductors because of the following reasons:
§  They were masked
§  The abduction was professionally and deftly executed, taking less than 60 seconds
§  The abductors had money, or were backed by money, or by an organisation with money as the cars they used were expensive SUVs, at least one of which was a black Toyota Alphard
§  The abduction was planned, timed and executed at an opportune moment, which suggests that they were waiting for my husband who drives an old Silver Honda Accord bearing number plate ST 5515 D.

Someone in the group calmly filmed the entire abduction while other masked members of the group re-directed the traffic. According to witnesses, at least five masked men were involved. According to CCTV footage, at least three black SUVs stopped in the middle of the road.”

Koh and his wife has been involved in many church charity and community work with a group called Harapan Komuniti, which he founded more than 10 years ago. Harapan Komuniti holds free tuition classes for children and English lessons for adults. Koh is well-known for the controversy in 2011 where the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) accused him and his NGO for proselytising Muslims following a disrespectful raid on a thanksgiving and fund-raising dinner at the DUMC. (Actually, Jais raided without search warrants). Demi Membela Al-Islam wordpress on their 14th October 2011 entry accused Koh and Susannah of converting people – especially Muslims – to Christianity (and putting Koh, Susannah, and Daniel Ho’s pictures as wanted figures). These liars accused them of gaining lots of money, around RM30,000 – Rm40,000 for every convert from the Christian Organization from Australia. This is a lie from the pit of hell! If it were true, I shall quit my job and focus on converting Muslims in Malaysia and beyond. The Worldwide Christian conspiracies (which is fuelled by hundreds of rubbish ‘literatures’ sale in Malaysia’s bookstores under the “Agama” section) is created by small-minded, spiritual-freak, die-hard religious people!

But I won’t deny pastor Koh’s involvement in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, to the Malays. He is an evangelist, he evangelized people no matter who they are, provided that his audiences are willing to hear the News. No manipulations. No force. Not for worldly reasons. I believes he evangelize to the Chinese, the Indians, the foreigners, the marginalized and disables, the rich and the poor, children and adults. The Good News is for all people, no other race is lower or higher than the other. That’s what pastors – and Christians – supposed to do! I’m proud of Pastor Raymond.  

If you’re not keen of the fact that he is a Christian pastor (you refuse to be move by his faith), then you should be compassionate for him as a person, as a law abiding citizen who has done nothing more than help the underprivileged regardless of race, religion or nationality. As Malaysians, we should stand together asking for mercy and justice. Dear polices, please update us of your investigations? Dear government officials, why nobody say anything? Dear government-based media (national TVs) why there is not a single news report of this kidnapping? It’s been a week for God sake!

Let us continue our prayer for Pastor Raymond Koh and his family. Susannah writes, “Let us persevere in prayer for the prayers of the righteous avails much. Let us continue to love God and do good to our neighbours. Raymond would be very happy today if he knows not only Malaysia is praying for him but also the whole world. Raymond always stood for justice, righteousness and truth. He always reached out to the poor, needy and marginalized. He even loved his enemies. Jesus was his example.” Amen.

[P.s: The family of pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo is offering a reward of up to RM10,000 for any information on his whereabouts. Please WhatsApp Jonathan at 011-3973 2670]


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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Simple Book Review: "Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of the Life of Christ" (1996) by Robert H. Stein

Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of the Life of Christ (1996)
by Robert H. Stein

This book is very scholarly, I mean, technical but not that hard to understand. It seem like Professor Robert Stein aims at writing this book for seminary students. Prof Stein is a fine evangelical New Testament scholar. In this book, he draws together the results of a career of research and writing on Jesus and the Gospels. “Every episode in the life of Jesus is here treated with historical care and attention to its significance for understanding the life and ministry of Jesus.” To me, this book give inquiring minds a sure grounding in Jesus the Messiah.

This book is divided into 2 parts and 19 chapters:

Part One: Key Issues in Studying the Life of Christ

1)    Where You Start Determines Where You Finish: The Role of Presuppositions in Studying the Life of Jesus
2)    Where Can We Go? Sources for Studying the Life of Jesus
3)    When Did All This Take Place? The Problem of Chronology

Part Two: The Life of Christ

4)    Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary: How It All Started
5)    What Was the Boy Jesus Really Like? The Silent Years
6)    The Baptism of Jesus: The Anointing of the Anointed
7)    The Temptation of Jesus: The Battle Begun, the Path Decided
8)    The Call of the Disciples: You Shall Be My Witnesses
9)    The Message of Jesus: “The Kingdom of God Has Come to You”
10) The Person of Jesus: “Who Then Is This, That Even the Wind & Sea Obey Him?”
11) The Events of Caesarea Philippi: The Turning Point
12) The Transfiguration: A Glimpse of the Future
13) The Triumphal Entry: Israel’s King Enters Jerusalem
14) The Cleansing of the Temple: God’s House – a Den of Thieves
15) The Last Supper: Jesus Looks to the Future
16) Gethsemane, Betrayal & Arrest: God’s Will, Human Treachery & Governmental Evil
17) The Trial: The Condemning of the Innocent
18) Suffered Under Pontius Pilate, Dead and Buried: Despised & Rejected, a Man of Suffering
19) The Resurrection: “Why Do You Look for the Living Among the Dead”?

This book is very helpful for my personal and groups study on the Gospel :)


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