Thursday, November 15, 2018

Blameless, Just, Fear God, Shun Evil (Job 1)

"Job...was blameless and just, one who feared God and avoided evil" (Job 1:1b). "...a man blameless and just, who feared God and avoided evil" (Job 1:8). "Does Job fear God for nothing?" ("Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it?") Satan replied (Job 1:9).

What is the relationship between perfect character and perfect life (Job 1:1, 8)? Are the two inevitably related? This question is at the heart of the book of Job.

Job 1 directly and indirectly poses all kinds of theological questions:

Monday, September 24, 2018

What you do in the Lord is not in vain. N.T. Wright

"What you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that's about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that's shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that's about to be dug up for a building site. You are--strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself--accomplishing something that will be come in due course part of God's new world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art of music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read of to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one's fellow human beings and for that matter one's fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God. God's recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God's people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted. It will last all the way into God's new world. In fact, it will be enhanced there." N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, pp. 219-220 . Your work is not in vain -- because of resurrection.

Monday, September 10, 2018

What to Do with Your Pain - ABCDE

Pain Makes You a Philosopher (Sermon at West Loop Church on Sep 9, 2018).
  1. Accept it, not avoid it.
  2. Bear with it, behold it, not blur it or bury it.
  3. Confront it, not complain about it.
  4. Deal with it, not deny it.
  5. Embrace it, not erase it.

“...taking life seriously means...that whatever man does... has to be done in the lived truth...of the rumble of panic (pain) underneath everything. Otherwise it is false.” Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Pain Makes You a Philosopher

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support for me as I had surgery to replace both my knees on Aug 10, 2018.

From July 9 to Sep 5, 2018 I was away in Malaysia. My bilateral knee replacement surgery was not planned, but I decided that it was the best option for me.

The constant symptom after surgery was the pain from the surgery, the sutures, the swelling, the stiffness and from the physical therapy daily. My daily activities was markedly curtailed, reading, studying and just sitting at the table was very difficult, and sleep was near impossible every single night, because there was no comfortable position and the pain felt worse than during the day. Thus, I thought about the "problem of pain" that all human beings experience with no exceptions.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Kind of Man Paul Was (Acts 20:17-38)

What kind of a person are you? Truly?

As I was preparing for my bilateral knee replacement (Aug, 10, 2018), I obviously desired a good result from my surgery. But I realized that the kind of person I become and how I respond following the surgery is far more important than the good outcome of the surgery.

I began to think about the kind of man I should be. Paul's farewell address to the Ephesian elders came to mind, as Paul spoke freely from the heart expressing the kind of man he was.

What kind of man was Paul? What kind of person should I be as a man, a Christian and a leader?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Legalism, Liberalism and the Gospel

Ben Toh; June, 2018
Legalism (conservatives, generally“older”) “Jews”
Licentiousness (liberals, generally “younger”) “Gentiles”
The Gospel
God is holy – shape up.
God is love – be yourself
God is holy and love.
Man is a soul. Spiritual life important.
Man is a body. Physical life important.
Man is both body and soul.
Just teach the Bible (evangelism). Focus on the soul and eternal life.
Just do social justice. Focus on caring for the present life of all people.
Do both.
Sin is very serious – beat yourself up and/or beat up (criticize) sinners.
Sin is no big deal – ignore sin, minimize sin in yourself and others.
See Christ on the cross – he took your sin very seriously and still loves you.
Repent of “sin.”
Repentance? What is that?
Repent of sin, especially self-righteousness.
Reject physical pleasure. “Deny yourself.”
Satisfy your physical desires. What feels right is right.
Physical enjoyment is good, but live wisely.
Hard to embrace unrepentant people – people  who don’t change.
Embrace people with no consideration of whether they change or not.
Embrace people with prayer and tears for their repentance/conversion.
You must do this. You must do what I say.
You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do.
Do what is right in love (grace and truth).
You must earn righteousness.
You don’t really need righteousness. Who knows or cares what that is anyway.
Receive God’s perfect righteousness.
Critical, condescending, condemning, censuring, conditional.
Embracing, welcoming, unconditional, non-discriminatory. Ignore and overlook issues.
Face and confront issues with unconditional love.
Critical of (hates) liberals - too loose.
Critical of (hates) conservatives - too rigid, inflexible.
Critiques both. Loves both.
Impatient. Absolute.
Tolerant. Relative.
Gracious. Kind. Absolute and tolerant.
Just change.
People don’t need to change.
People can change, but it takes time. There are no quick fixes.

Either my way of the highway. Anyway is okay. Jesus says, "I am the way."

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Living with Uncertainty and Insecurity (Psalm 91)

"For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go" "For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways" (Psalm 91:11, NLT, HCSB).
Troubles abound in life. No one's life is ever trouble free. No one's life is ever always a bed of roses. We may not think so, but even Bill Gates' life is hard. Life gets better, then it gets worse. Uncertainty in life is a certainty. Unpredictability should be predicted. Unexpected events should be expected. Life is like that.

How do we deal with such a life? Psalm 91 deals with such a life head on. Simple trust will bring us into a place of strong defense (Ps 91:2), the personal warmth of divine care, pledged defense (Ps 91:4) and a host of heavenly guardians every step of the way (Ps 91:11). Psalm 91 wants us to know that those who truly trust God are a protected species.