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Archive for March, 2009

I found that teaching this during cell was simpler than usual. Firstly, it was very point based. Namely, the difference, the benefits, the sins, the ways to over come them.. and so on.. It felt different, but refreshing for once when we did not have to delve into any philosophical issues. It was simple to understand, as everyone could relate to it through their own experiences. And I do hope, that you, who have bothered to start reading this post, would be blessed.

When we discuss about both trials and temptations, we have to recognize that as Christians, it is inevitable that we face both, and need to overcome both. And to add to that, we’ll get them all the way until we die. Great right? And I’m not being cynical.

Trials and tests come from God, and they were meant for us to overcome and succeed. Temptations, however do not come from God, as God cannot tempt us. In the Bible, examples of temptations are mainly from the world, our sinful bodies, and the devil. This is the difference: They were meant for us to fail.

James 1:12-15

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
In our world, there are three “root sins” which would be the causes to everything else evil that we do.

1 John 2:16

16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.

The lust of the eyes- when we desire to possess what we see and like. Or desire to possess more of what already have. The most common example would be money. I feel that it is important for us to always remember what we are on this earth for. Not to make as much money as we can to live life, but to carry out God’s purpose. Materialism, I want to stress, is wrong. Instead of placing value on what the world has created and make out so good to be, we have to remember that true meaning in life can only be found in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The lust of the flesh would be gratifying our sinful natures by complying with it. What I find many people think of first would be satisfying sexual desires. It is true that that is a common problem, but the lust of the flesh may be subtle at times. Even consumption of alcohol, smoking and overeating are sins. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we shall not violate it, nor cause any deliberate harm to it. The Bible does speak very strongly about such sins, and maybe I shall talk about them another time.

The pride of life, I find, is the sin I personally dislike the most. Of the three, I find that this root sin is the most difficult to evade, and the most difficult to detect. Sometimes you’d never know. I admit I’m still struggling hard with it. Pride elevates us above the rest. We may become so self-centred that we just lose control of what we say, and we we do. And I shall tell say this: people know it when you’re proud in speech and actions.

So that’s a short summary of the three root sins.

Trials and temptations however, do have a purpose.

James 1:2-4

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

When we overcome tests and temptations, we would develop perseverance. This is the endurance that we will have spiritually. We will be able to overcome even more, and succeed in greater tests and temptations. In the NKJV, verse 4 says that we will then be perfect. Perfect in this case means that we will be spiritually mature.

My mentor once told me that “The more crap you go through in your life, the better, because it would mean you grow even more”.  And this is true. The more we are tested, and the more we overcome, the more spiritually mature we will be. And that is why we are called to “consider it pure joy”. Joy of receiving tests is not an uncontrolled feeling, but something that we choose to do. When we are faced with trials and temptations, we should choose to accept them. And then choose to overcome them because we know of the benefits that we will receive.

At this point in time, I hope you would realize the seriousness of this topic. I would state some ways that we could overcome trials and temptations, but the onus is on you all to take responsibility for your Christian life.

1 Corinthians 10:13

13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Many have found this verse rather encouraging. God will provide a way out, definitely. But if He provides a way, you still have to choose to take that way.

I have personally found that using God’s Word is a very effective method of overcoming temptation. I would put them on my walls, behind my locker door, in my wallet, and everywhere I can think of. Ephesians 6:10-18 would be a good passage to read, but I guess I won’t make this post too long.

One other way would be to deliberately remove temptation from your life. Bring less money with you so as not to overeat or overspend. Don’t walk pass the clothes shop which you know you would go into.

And in all things, put your trust in the Lord, and you’ll never go wrong.

Overcoming temptation will be difficult, but it is even more satisfying knowing that you have overcome it when you have.

After all that, I still want to constantly remind you that temptation will bug us as long as we live. So do not be complacent when you overcome one, but always be on your guard against the devil.

As Christians, we are called to defy the evils ways of this world, and let us do so. Then, we shall receive the crown of life that God had promised us, and blessed we will be.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

p.s. And please, do continue reading from verse 4 onwards 🙂

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Back Home

right after the sun rose on alexandra arch

right after the sun rose on alexandra arch

My week was filled with studying. In fact, more studying than I have ever done before. I don’t remember being so hardworking for O levels or promos. I suppose the motivation’s a lot more this year. After terms, I shall once again leave my life behind for a while, and stop thinking. Then, I will be calm. But then again, I know I never will be fully at peace until the Lord comes.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

Psalm 84

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Of Love

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Of Love, the Bible speaks a lot. My concordance leads me to at least a hundred verses about it. I find it glaringly similar to many things the Bible speaks of. Of Faith, we may have dead and saving faith. Faith in belief, or faith in actions. Of God’s Word, we may choose to hear, or hear and do. And so it is with love. We may love, but do we also choose to love?

There is a difference. I cannot explain how love comes about. As humans, we’re just like that. Maybe we can ask God about it next time. The only aspect we may control would be our actions resulting from love. Jesus never told a parable about a person who merely loved. That person would love, and act on it. I don’t even have to look for specific passages! The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, and so on and so on.. The message is obvious- Love, then do stuff for the people you love.

I was just looking through some letters and birthday gifts from before. Well it was a distraction from my studying, but it struck me that these people love me. Their effort in encouraging me, wishing me a Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas was just in those simple gifts. Even while I was typing this post, a classmate sent me a message to clarify a math answer that I couldn’t get a few days ago. She seriously could not have bothered. If she, a non-christian, can love her friends in this way, how much more can we do so?

” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ “

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These days have been passing by rather quickly. We finished our GP terms today, which was quite alright. Well, GP is always quite alright, being so uncertain in nature. And that sounded familiar.. The passage today was about taking risks. Everything we do today would pose, to varying extents, a danger to us. This danger may be physical, as getting injured, emotional, as being rejected. perhaps even psychological or whatever “als” there might be. It is in the nature of the physical world for uncertainty and danger to trail us where ever we go, and whatever we do. Quantum Mechanics has proven this. Or at least, has proven the accurate prediction of events possible, but requiring so much intellect and precision that the process was unanimously declared impossible. The view of our future, or destiny, some may call it, would seem nebulous to many. That is the way of the world.
However, through our faith in Christ Jesus and His grace, we have been saved. Our destiny is determined, as so has been the process. Though we do not know the process, that which is our lives, but we are certain, and have hope that it will be good, as we have been promised. And the wonderful thing about it is that we have faith, so we don’t need to see the process.
Our lives may seem uncertain, but fixing our eyes on our destination, all the world fades away, as we have peace transcending, peace surpassing, and hope for our future.

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In the world today, the sciences are greatly valued. Scientists with great revelations and inventions are well-known and recognized. But how many artists get the same amount of attention? The science courses are generally more popular in schools. One reason would be that subjects in science allow for a greater choice of university courses. And also, we would naturally assume, better-paying jobs. Chemistry for Medicine, Physics for Engineering, Biology for the rising industry of Biotechnology. However, not many would proudly say that they would want to become an economist. Or perhaps a historian, or a writer.

The more developed societies in the world value the sciences and the technology it brings more because they directly improve our lives. And very evidently so. We have research in stem-cells, improvements in surgical methods to help us prolong our lives. With the recent developments in computer technology, who wouldn’t admit that sciences are useful? They indeed do improve our standards of living.

Now, what about the arts? Some may claim that they provide benefits of intrinsic value to our lives. They may provoke thought, communicate, or even allow us to escape from the realities of life for a short while, enjoying their beauty. But the arts just have one flaw, or rather, we humans have one flaw- we do not see directly how the arts may benefit us. Sure, there are people who love music, who enjoy staring at art pieces for immeasurably long periods of time. But not many do. At least, not as many as those who see the value of technology in our lives.

One more thing- have you ever wondered why the pure sciences are as highly regarded as the applied? They do not exactly bring us material benefit directly. Research has been successful. With the Large Hadron Collider created to investigate the collision of subatomic particles. The revelations of modern physics, or quantum mechanics and black-body radiation. The list goes on and on, and organizations are spending increasing amounts of capital on them. All this time and money spent for the sake of knowledge. Perhaps this knowledge may allows scientists to invent more things, to make lives more convenient. Then we’ll once again honour these smart people for doing so. But then again, perhaps not.

In such a fast-paced world, we look for better, faster, cheaper, and easier ways of doing things. Technology has undeniably proven itself worthy of our praise. For me, I do see value in the sciences, and I personally enjoy studying physics, learning more and more about it. Of course, without science and technology, I wouldn’t be tying this post on my 22 inch screen and then publishing it for the whole world to see. But I would always enjoy the break from all these things. Perhaps I would stare at a beautiful art piece for a long, long time. Or watch performances and concerts. Then together with these artists, we would celebrate the beautiful things that exist in this world. At least, things that do not seek to improve, but seek to bless and inspire.

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Lost Generation

Here’s something interesting my friend sent to me.. don’t take it too seriously.. haha. But then again, maybe you can.. and should.

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