Friday, February 19, 2010

Good out of Evil

We truly praise God for His hand over our nation these past weeks. Good seems to have come out of the evil intents, as we have seen in the response to the attacks on the ten churches and one Sikh temple.

Malaysians from all walks of life, persuasions and faiths were horrified at the attacks and promptly reacted with strong words of condemnation and calls for peace and prayers for calm and for quick, firm action from the Government.

We are thankful that the Government has taken proactive action in handling this whole ugly episode with its promise of a full and quick probe into the attacks. Just days after the attacks, police said several suspects had been identified.

In the meantime, top government officials have been meeting with church leaders to find an amicable solution to the matter. And to assist Metro Tabernacle − the worst-hit church − the Government has pledged a grant of RM500,000. During his visit to the church, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the grant was the Government’s way of showing sympathy and support.

The public also donated to a fund set up by a Muslim blogger for the church and the sum of about RM8,500 was given to the church as a show of support not only for Metro Tabernacle but for the church at large. At the same time, 130 Muslim non-governmental organizations have come together to patrol churches within the Klang Valley. That the Muslim NGOs are extending their hand of assistance and showing solidarity with other faiths at such a time is probably the most heartening and eye-opening news to the nation.

While we quietly rejoice for the positive outcome from these attacks, let us continue to be vigilant in prayer, for God’s sovereign hand to stay on the nation and for the Government to act wisely and courageously in the interest of all Malaysians.

Prayer Focus

Once the ‘bread basket’ of Africa because of its large food output, Zimbabwe is now in the grip of long-term poverty and starvation caused by massive inflation and the destruction of the country’s agricultural sector.

Zimbabwe has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world and Christian leaders and congregations have been among the many victims of President Mugabe’s brutal oppression.

Barnabas Fund is supporting Christians in Zimbabwe in a number of ways: providing food parcels to alleviate the starvation among the Christians; supplying seeds and training local people how to farm their land in a more productive way; and providing equipment, uniforms for staff and funding for maintenance at a care home for elderly people.

The feeding project provides parcels of rice and other necessities to thousands of Zimbabwean Christians every month. The agricultural training project assists people who used to receive food parcels to move on to becoming self-sufficient.

Pray for protection for the courageous South African Christians who are driving food in to Zimbabwe to distribute it to the poorest. Pray for Christians being trained under the Barnabas Fund’s agricultural training project to effectively share their skills with the other farmers.

The Christian population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is estimated at less than 1%. Most Christians are from the historic churches of the region, but there are also churches comprising converts from Islam. Religious freedom in Iran is very limited, and Christians from Muslim background face particular persecution.

One convert was officially executed in 1990 and others have been mysteriously murdered, apparently by government agencies, as have Christians who are active in ministry or outreach. There remains the possibility of further executions for apostasy.

Two young Christian women from Muslim backgrounds, Marzieh and Maryam, were imprisoned last March but were released last November.
It is common for government spies to be present at Sunday services and for the phones of church leaders to be tapped. The pressure is such that many have fled Iran to live in other countries.

Pray for Iran’s Christians, that they may be protected from harm and that the Gospel may be heard and received by all. Pray for church leaders and Christian workers, converts who are the main focus of government monitoring, harassment and persecution.
Pray that they will remain steadfast, never shaken by threats to their lives and that God will meet all their needs.

Pray that a provisionally approved Islamic Penal Code Bill, prescribing the death penalty for those who leave Islam to follow Christ will not be passed into law. At present, Iranian judges have to refer to syariah in order to apply the death sentence for apostasy, but having such a law within the Iranian statute books would make converts even more vulnerable.

Twelve Action Steps to Prayer

Thoughts for the New Year

Church Concerns

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Building Relationships in the New Year by Rev. James Wong

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you.

The New Year reminds us of shopping, celebration, and most importantly, the reunion dinner. Let us put some thoughts on building relationships. As you can recall, sharing the Good News begins with friendship. Remember to use the Book Mark 2010 for this purpose. Let us trust God for spiritual victory and breakthrough this year. This week, let us look at some of the common ways we can build relationships.

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). To win others for Jesus Christ we need to be wise and skillful. “To win” means to accept and to draw others to you. It simply means to build relationships. Sharing the Good News is always relational. To win others for Christ, we must learn the skill of building relationships. Here are a few biblical keys:

1. Serve others.
Remember how Jesus summarized his life? He said: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus came to serve and to give. He was known as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19). Many people were attracted to Jesus because he served them sincerely. He was their friend and he was approachable.

2. Give to others.
People are touched by people who are generous. Jesus touched so many people because he gave his life for them. “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men” (Prov. 18:16). If you are generous to people, peoples’ hearts will be opened to you. If you are stingy, your friends will avoid you. Live a life of a giver.

3. Be interested in others.
Do not just talk about yourself; your view, your experiences, your hobbies or your preferences. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). Make everyone you meet feel important. When you are interested in others, you make it easy for people to connect with you.

4. Encourage others.
Don’t pour cold water!. “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24, NLT). Encouragement inspires courage which transforms ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results in their lives.

5. Smile to others.
Smile speaks of friendship. “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health” (Prov. 15:30, NLT). People are attracted to friendly people.


Building the Habit of Time With God’s Word
Rev. James Wong

"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. ~Acts 20:32(NIV)

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?...So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ~Rom 10:14,17 (NKJ)

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.“ ~Eph 2:8 (NIV)

"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” ~1 Pet 1:23 (NIV)

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient."
~Eph 2:1-2 (NIV)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" ~2 Cor 5:17 (NIV)

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" ~Matt 4:4 (NIV)

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." ~Deut 8:3 (NIV)

"some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave."”
~Ps 107:17-20 (NIV)

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed." ~Matt 8:8 (NIV)

"The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple."
~Ps 119:130 (NKJ)

"For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life." ~Prov 6:23 (NIV)

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
~Ps 119:11 (NIV)

"The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip." ~Ps 37:31 (NIV)

"By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward."
~Ps 19:11 (NIV)

"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” ~John 17:17 (NIV)

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may
be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." ~2 Tim 3:16-17 (NKJ)

Serving from the Heart by Rick Warren

From now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he'll take charge of sending the rain at the right time .... Deuteronomy 11:13-14 (MSG)

Repeatedly, the Bible says to "serve the Lord with all your heart." God wants you to serve him passionately, not dutifully. People rarely excel at tasks they don't enjoy doing or feel passionate about. God wants you to use your natural interests to serve him and others.

How do you know when you're serving God from your heart?

The first telltale sign is enthusiasm. When you're doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you, or challenge you, or check up on you. You do it for the sheer enjoyment. You don't need rewards, or applause, or to be paid, because you love serving in this way.

The opposite is also true: When you don't have a heart for what you're doing, you're easily discouraged.

One characteristic of serving God from your heart is effectiveness: whenever you do what God wired you to love to do, you get good at it. Passion drives perfection. If you don't care about a task, it is unlikely that you'll excel at it.

On the other hand, the highest achievers in any field are those who do it because of passion, not duty or profit.

We've all heard people say, "I took a job I hate in order to make a lot of money, so someday I can quit and do what I love to do." That's a big mistake. Don't waste your life in a job that doesn't express your heart.

Remember, the greatest things in life are not things. Meaning is far more important than money. The richest man in the world once said, "A simple life in the fear-of-God is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches" (Proverbs 15:16, Msg).

Don't settle for achieving "the good life," because the good life is not good enough. Ultimately, it doesn't satisfy. You can have a lot to live on, and still have nothing to live for. Aim instead for "the better life" -- serving God in a way that expresses your heart.

Figure out what you love to do -- that which God gave you a heart for -- and then do it for his glory!

Congratulations to our High Achievers

Use Your Faith Energy

A new mind and a new language
By Dr. David Yonggi Cho

(Continue from last week.)
While I was a child, I heard many times from grown-ups, “When you draw something, start with a tiger in mind, and at least you will end up with a cat. If you start with a cat, the best you can do is a cat and maybe not even that.”

They were telling me to aim high. The Bible says likewise. “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10)

As I have led my ministry for the last 46 years, I have always aimed high. Because I aimed so high, I prayed more than others, studied more than others, and made an effort much greater than others. I went about with great confidence.

Actually, when you aim high or not, making an effort to succeed is not much different. Isn’t it better then to aim high?

In order to succeed, you must always picture yourself with a successful image. It is the principle of looking. Christian and non-Christian likewise, you must apply the principle of looking in order to succeed.

People who succeed even dress for success. It does not mean you need to wear expensive and flashy clothes. Like a successful person, you must dress cleanly and neatly. From the way you walk and the way you talk, your whole attitude must be that of a successful person. You must foster and develop your self-image.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9)

Rich people are hose who always look upon themselves as being rich. Successful businessmen are those who always look upon themselves as being successful in business. Those who are respected by others are those who always think themselves respectable by others. Those who do not look at success will not find success.

What is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3)

You must always look at the blue print of success in your mind which cannot be seen physically.

(Dr. David Yonggi Cho, Use Your Faith Energy, (Seoul Logos co. 2004), pp 17-19). Dr. David is the pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, Korea. As of 2007, membership stands at 830,000, with seven Sunday services translated into 16 languages.

BB & GB Combined Outing

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Commitment To A Habit

by Rev. James Wong

The habit here refers to habits that promotes spiritual growth. Spiritual growth must be intentional. There is no such thing as natural spiritual growth though there is such a thing as natural physical growth.

A century ago, Samuel Smiles made this observation:

Sow a thought and you reap an act;
Sow an act and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit and you reap a character;
Sow a character and you reap a destiny.

Everything begins with a thought. If we have an ‘indifferent habit’ in thinking about health, we naturally will not take notice about our health until the day our body breaks down and demands our attention for repair. The thinking patterns of our mind can become known as the habit of the mind. Our thinking will control us to act in a certain way and if we repeat that action long enough it becomes our habit.

It is rightly said that human beings are creatures of habits. We are driven by our habits in our daily living. We either develop good habits or bad habits. When habits are formed they become our natural tendencies and these become our character which will impact our destiny.

For example, if we have a judgmental attitude we will have a habit to criticize others. In the end, others will avoid us. This lonesome destiny is a direct result of our character of being critical of others.

Some habits will cause us to backslide in our spiritual walk with God. One example is the habit of not having fellowship with other Christians.
Hebrews 10:25 says: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Not being in fellowship with the church or other Christians can become a habit that leads us further from the family of God. So, our habits can make us or break us.

What are the spiritual habits that we must form in order to become a disciple of Jesus Christ? That is the focus of this Sunday’s sermon.

Commitment To A Habit

Making A difference in 2010 (2)

The Development of Spiritual Habits

1. The Habits of Time with God's Words
A disciple follows Christ’s Word
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." ~John 8:31-32

2. The Habit of Prayer
A disciple prays and bear fruits
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” ~John 15:7-8

3. The Habit of Tithing
A disciple is not possessed by his possession
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” ~Luke 14:33

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” ~Mal 3:10

4. The Habit of Fellowahip
A disciple expresses love for other believers
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." ~John 13:34-35

When serving God, listen to your heart

by Rick Warren

A man's heart reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

The Bible uses the term "heart" to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections that you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations -- what you love to do and what you care about most. Even today, we still use the word in this way when we say, "I love you with all my heart."

The Bible says what is in your heart is what you really are, not what others think you are, or what circumstances force you to be (Proverbs 27:19). Your heart is the real you. It determines why you say the things you do, why you feel the way you do, and why you act the way you do.

Physically, each of us has a unique heartbeat. Just as we each have unique thumbprints, eye prints, and voiceprints, our hearts beat in slightly different patterns. It's amazing that out of all the billions of people who've ever lived, no one has ever had a heartbeat exactly like yours.

In the same way, God has given each of us a unique emotional "heartbeat" that races when we think about the subjects, activities, or circumstances that interest us. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. These are clues to where you should be serving.

Another word for heart is passion. There are certain subjects that you feel deeply passionate about and others that you couldn't care less about. Some experiences turn you on and capture your attention, while others turn you off or bore you to tears. These reveal the nature of your heart; listen for inner promptings that can point to the ministry God intends for you to have.

When you were growing up you may have discovered that you were intensely interested in some subjects that no one else in your family cared about.
Where did those interests come from? They came from God!

God had a purpose in giving you these inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat is a key to understanding your shape for service. Don't ignore your interests; consider how they might be used for God's glory. There is a reason that you love to do these things. Listen for inner promptings that can point to the ministry God intends for you to have.

How to be A Friendly Person

-To win others for Christ-

"A man who has friends must himself be friendly,” Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)

1. Friendliness is doing what makes others feel comfortable. It's not about me; it's about you. When someone says, "Talking to someone I don't know well makes me feel uncomfortable," they are still focused on themselves. Jesus said: "If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, take up his cross every day, and follow me” (Luke 9:23-24 TEV).

2. Smile and take the initiative to speak. Smile and do not wait for the other person to speak first. This might be your new skill. But as you learn this skill it will become second nature. Having friends is about being a friend. This requires time, thought and effort. Take the first step and be a friend to someone.

3. Speak audibly and speak in complete sentences. Speak up. When someone says something to you, say something back. One word answers, like yes or no, kill a conversation. When answering a question, add an explanatory sentence or two. "Yes, we went. It was really good. The best part was …”

4. When you are not sure what to say, ask questions. What have you been doing today? What is that you are holding? Where are you going for the Chinese New Year? Ask a question and listen.

5. Be a good listener. Instead of planning what you are going to say next, listen to what the other person is saying. Ask questions about what is said to gain a better understanding. When the Bible says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), it is saying, take a genuine interest in the other person's feelings.

6. Always help people save face. Embarrass me or save me from embarrassment – either way – I will remember you. People don't mind having friends who are smarter, but they don't want friends who make them feel stupid. Instead, when someone slips and says something silly that makes others laugh, come to their rescue. "Well, it is true that. . ." Help your friends to save face.

7. Be humble but don't put yourself down. When we put ourselves down, it makes others feel awkward. People don't know what to say. Being humble doesn't mean you need to feel inferior. Humility gives you a magnetic personality. Jesus was known to be friends of sinners.

Religious Harmony

Wild-boar heads found at two PJ mosques
Jimadie Shah Othman
Jan 27, 2010. 10:53am

Four wild-boar heads were thrown early this morning into the compound of two mosques along Jalan Klang Lama, a major road in the southwest of Kuala Lumpur.

The heads were found in the compound of Masjid Taman Dato Harun and Masjid Taman Seri Sentosa, both in Petaling Jaya and about 3km apart.

Two severed heads were seen lying inside the main gate of Masjid Jumburiyah in Taman Dato Harun and another two heads near the parking area of Masjid Al-Iman Al-Tirmizi in Taman Seri Sentosa. ...

This is the latest in a string of desecrations of places of worship across the country over the past three weeks involving 11 churches, a Sikh temple, one mosque and two surau.

The attacks were triggered by the High Court's Dec 31, 2009 decision to lift a government ban on non-Muslims using the term 'Allah' as a translation for 'God'.

The ruling in favour of Catholic newspaper Herald, which argued for the right to use 'Allah' in its Malay-language section, was suspended last week pending an appeal after the government argued that 'Allah' was exclusive to Malay Muslims.

Prayer Of Enduring Significance

Use Your Faith Energy

A new mind and a new language
By Dr. David Yonggi Cho

On a daily basis, I dream and pray about the evangelization of Korea and the whole world. I have always thought it to be possible. That is the reason for our Internet webcast ministry which has been spreading the Gospel through the Internet all over the world. Also, in order to facilitate the evangelization of Korea, I have a dream of pioneering 5009 churches in Korea over the next 10 years. Many have told me it would be impossible. However, the Holy Spirit has assured me, and I have been researching and putting the dream into action.

No matter what difficulties you may face, say to yourself, “I can succeed!” Continually think of succeeding. When you do so, you will indeed find success. On the other hand, when you think, “”Maybe I will fail,” your very fear of failure will cause you to fail. I know of no person who thought of failure and succeeded. There are instances where you will fail in spite of thinking of success. Many people have their faith shaken thinking, “I only thought of success; why did I fail?”

A deacon faced a day in court over a real estate matter. He prayed to God for help and only thought of winning the case. He stood before the judge with confidence. Unfortunately, the decision went against him. The devastated deacon said, “If God is alive, how could He do this to me?” His very faith was being put into question. Why did he lose his case in spite of diligent prayer and thinking of success?

When you study at a school, you pay tuition. From elementary to university, you need to pay a certain amount of tuition. No matter what it is you are learning, you need to pay a tuition fee for your education. It is the same in society. In any society, there is a price in learning the ways of survival in a society. When people invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a business and fail in the business, they lament the loss of their hard-earned money. When people pay thousands of dollars to defend themselves in court but lose, they believe the money was a big waste. That is not so. It was tuition for a greater learning experience, which could lead to even greater success.

Whether in society, at home, or at church, if we are afraid to pay for the cost of learning from failure, we may never find success. Although failure may be a terribly bitter experience, it can be a learning experience leading to success. Rather than despairing over failure, you must be positive. You must consider it as tuition toward success.

You should even accept your failure as part of your future success. You should not think of anything else except your future success. Think and speak only of succeeding. Dream about success, think success, and live a successful life.

“Maybe I will fail,. What if I fail?” If you think like this and despair, you will not have the productive energy to accomplish what you desire. You must not be afraid of failing, but think only of success. Of course that success must be to glorify Christ.

(extract from the book Use Your Faith Energy, pp.14-17)

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