Monday, August 22, 2016

Jesus' Gift Is A Peace of Mind and Heart

[Jesus said] “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you – I am going away, but I will come back to you again... I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me
(John 14:27-29, The Living Bible)

Lord Jesus’ gift to the disciples was “peace of mind and heart.” Jesus wasn’t promising the absence of troubles. In fact, in the near future Jesus Himself would personally endure great physical, emotional and spiritual pains and struggles. What Jesus promised was that they would have His peace in the midst of or during those conflicts and problems. So He affirmed His disciples to “don’t be troubled or afraid.” God was in control.

I think the disciples assumed as long as Jesus was present with them physically, they could rely on the peace and security He brought them, but what would they do when they had to face problems without Him? Besides His continued presence through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), Jesus promised His peace (“shalom”) will be with them. In the days and years to come – example, during the Book of Acts – Jesus’ gift of peace would be a vital source for the disciples. Later Jesus told them, “I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Why Jesus continued to speaks about His imminent departure and return to the disciples over and over again? Oh, so that they would not be surprised and fearful when these events occurred! They would recognize that Jesus knew what would happen (as He said it would be), and they would have confidence and faith in Him. Jesus wanted them to have “peace of mind and heart” and not be “troubled or afraid.” In the same way, as Christ believers we all face struggles, conflicts, tragedies, and broken dreams almost every day. Don’t be troubled and afraid! Jesus’ assurance in the past also applicable for us today: “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.” At every turn, Jesus assures us of His presence and promise. The midst reality of problems and conflicts in life, God is with us.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Top 25 Classic/Contemporary Books that Change My Life (To Reread Again)

A wisdom seeker will read a great book, savour it, and reread it in the future
(Tony Reinke, Lit!)

My leader asked me, “You read a lot of books, is this a form of escapism for you?” My answers was (and is): “Yes, in one sense it is for the purpose of escape, but not so much as escapism. I’m not reading to avoid reality, but I do read to temporarily escape to another world.” For me what’s dangerous is when we read to escape from reality. What I’m promoting is that we read to escape to another world where we get help, encouragement and inspiration in order for us to return home to reality. Great books – Christian books or non-Christian books – can bring glory and honour to God, the Giver of Thought and Word, when those books help me to see more of God’s greatness, beauty and creativity. To these kind of books I want to escape to.

As Christians who treasure an ancient book – the Bible – we by new nature in Christ also (can or/and should) esteem old books. To be honest, many contemporary ‘Christian’ books today are not worth reading, and some are spiritually dangerous and somewhat very shallow. Given the vast number of such books in the marketplace, we need wisdom and discernment in what we read, lest we be unwittingly led astray. Therefore, it is recommendable that we read wisdom-proved old/classic books. C. S. Lewis values old books that he writes, “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.”

Reading old/classic books is a good way to gain the perspective we need to guard our hearts and minds in this age of abundant nonsense and heresy. Having said that, I also would like to recommend great contemporary books that I think should be listed as classic (at least in my opinion). Here are my lists of classic and contemporary books that I will surely reread it again and again:

My Top Classic Books

1. Knowing God (First Published 1973) by J. I. Packer
2. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (First Published 1986) by John Piper
3. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (First Published 1978) by Richard Foster
4. Charismatic Chaos (First Published 1992) by John MacArthur
5. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (First Published 1563) by John Foxe
6. The Pilgrim’s Progress (First Published 1678) by John Bunyan
7. Mere Christianity (First Published 1952) by C. S. Lewis
8. Spurgeon: A New Biography (First Published 1984) by Arnold Dallimore
9. Bible Speaks Today Series: The Message of 2 Timothy (First Published 1973) by John Stott
10. The Challenge of Mission (First Published 1959) by Oswald J. Smith
11. The Holiness of God (First Published 1985) by R. C. Sproul
12. The Mind on Fire: An Anthology of the Writings of Blaise Pascal (First Published 1989) edited by James Houston
13. Expository Thoughts on Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (First Published 1857) by John C. Ryle
14. The Confessions of St. Augustine (First known as “Confessions” written between AD397-400)
15. The Upside-Down Kingdom (First Published 1978) by Donald B Kraybill
16. Whatever Happened to Worship? (First Published 1985) by A. W. Tozer

My Top Contemporary Books (should be classic! Maybe some of it are)

1. God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (First Published 1998, but Jonathan Edwards’s The End For Which God Created the World was published in 1765) by John Piper
2. Don’t Waste Your Life (First Published 2003) by John Piper
3. The Supremacy of God in Preaching (First Published 1990) by John Piper
4. Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (First Published 1993) by John MacArthur
5. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (First Published 2006) by Eugene H. Peterson
6. Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God (First Published 2011) by Timothy Keller
7. Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus (First Published 2011) by John Eldredge
8. Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books (First Published 2011) by Tony Reinke
9. Unlocking the Bible: A Unique Overview of the Whole Bible (First Published 2003) by David Pawson

My favourite preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, writes this about rereading books: ““Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them…digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be ‘much not many.” Now, go, read book!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Apakah Respon Musa Apabila Ada Orang Lain Bernubuat Seperti Nabi? (Bilangan 11)

Maka keluarlah Musa lalu disampaikannya firman TUHAN kepada bangsa itu. Dia mengumpulkannya tujuh puluh orang daripada kalangan tua-tua bangsa itu dan disuruhnya mereka berdiri di sekeliling Khemah. Kemudian TUHAN hadir dalam awan dan berfirman kepada Musa. Diambil-Nya sebahagian daripada Roh yang ada pada Musa, lalu diletakkan-Nya pada kesemua tujuh puluh tua-tua umat itu. Ketika Roh itu turun ke atas mereka, bernubuatlah mereka seperti nabi, tetapi sesudah itu mereka tidak lagi bernubuat. Akan tetapi, ada dua orang tertinggal di perkhemahan, seorang bernama Eldad dan seorang lagi bernama Medad… Roh itu pun turun ke atas mereka dan mereka bernubuat seperti nabi di perkhemahan… Yosua anak Nun, yang menjadi pembantu Musa sejak masa mudanya, berkata, ‘Tuanku Musa, cegahlah mereka!’ Tetapi kata Musa kepadanya, ‘Adakah kamu mencemburui hal itu demi mendukung aku? Kalau sahaja seluruh umat TUHAN menjadi nabi kerana TUHAN mengurniakan Roh-Nya kepada mereka!’
(Bilangan 11:24-26, 28-29, Alkitab Versi Borneo)

Musa sudah hampir burning out. Tugas yang diberikan oleh TUHAN kepadanya sangat besar dan adalah sangat mustahil bagi dia untuk melakukannya sendirian (walaupun Miriam dan Harun memimpin bersamanya). Jadi TUHAN meletakkan “sebahagian daripada Roh yang ada pada Musa” kepada “kesemua tujuh puluh tua-tua umat” atau pemimpin-pemimpin Israel. Selepas itu, Alkitab mengatakan bahawa ada dua orang daripada mereka – Eldad and Medad – keluar dari Khemah Allah dan mula bernubuat secara terbuka di kawasan perkhemahan orang Israel. Pada masa itu, Yosua merasakan ini merupakan suatu masalah yang besar!

Kenapa? Pada pendapat saya, Yosua melihat ‘tragedi’ ini sebagai suatu ancaman terhadap kepimpinan Musa. Sebelum ini hanya Musa yang bernubuat bagi orang Israel. Oleh itu, Yosua “mencemburui” hal itu kerana dia sangat ingin melindungi kepimpinan dan keunikkan tuannya Musa sebagai nabi orang Israel. Mungkin juga Yosua melihat Eldad dan Medad sebagai ancaman kepada kedudukannya sendiri. Dia menyeru supaya Musa mencegah atau sekurang-kurangnya menegur para nabi tersebut supaya tidak bernubuat lagi. Tetapi bagi Musa, dia tidak terasa diamcam. Malah dia mengalakkan supaya (jika boleh) “seluruh umat TUHAN menjadi nabi”! Musa tidak cemburu. Musa tidak rasa tergugat. Musa berharap semua orang diberkati oleh TUHAN, bukan dia sahaja. Memang padanlah apabila Firman Allah berkata: “Musa seorang yang begitu lembut hatinya, bahkan lebih lembut daripada semua umat yang berada di muka bumi ini” (Bilangan 12:3).

Dalam perkara-perkara rohani, ego boleh menjadi penghalang kepada kepimpinan kita. Melalui kes diatas, kita diingatkan oleh Musa supaya jangan terasa cemburu apabila ada orang lain dipanggil oleh TUHAN dan mempunyai kebolehan yang sama (atau lebih lagi) daripada kita. Semuanya tentang kemuliaan TUHAN, bukan tentang kemuliaan kita sendiri. Sebagai pemimpin, kita harus memberi galakkan dan mengajar orang lain untuk melayani TUHAN dan umat-Nya. Kita memimpin mereka supaya Kerajaan Allah yang harus diutamakan, bukan agenda kita didahulukan. Jika difikirkan baik-baik, sebenarnya kita tidak harus mendapat kredit apabila sebenarnya Roh Allah yang bekerja dalam kehidupan kita. Jauhi rasa cemburu dan ego dalam hal-hal rohani.

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