Category Archives: Old Posts

Everything I’ve written before 2007. It’s a mixed bag of writings that I can’t quite sort through myself.

Reboot

“We often make wholehearted commitments, only to realise that our hearts aren’t whole to begin with.”

Which is true of this blog. I’ve been slacking. But strangely my readership has increased. I think it’s probably partly due to that Facebook link.

Anyways, after a month of absence, I’ve decided to abandon my daily posting system. It can be rather exhausting.

Instead I think I’ll just post up simple statements. Like the above.

And every now and then I’ll launch into a series on something that concerns me. And when I have time to do so.

In the meantime, stay safe and happy reading!

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February 29, 2008

So I woke up today and went to my online Bible reading page to see what today’s passage was. To my surprise, they didn’t factor in a Feb 29! The only ‘break’ I get in a year from the chronological guide.

Well. This means today’s post will be a random blurt of mine.

I want to say:

18 days till I fly home! Yay!
23 days till Easter! YAY!
Flu! YA-, well maybe not..
God works in mysterious ways! YAY!

So I figured I’m going to write a bit about my flu the last point. I have had it for over a week now and it doesn’t seem to be going away as fast as I would like it to been doing some extra thinking lately and been astounded at the way God weaves together little threads to form a larger and larger fabric that depicts His story. I can barely wrap my head around a basketball offensive play and the multi-directional off-the-ball runs by 2/3 players, or the amazing seemingly telepathic ability of ManUtd at times, and here He is, weaving an almost infinite number of threads from an almost infinite number of places, to fit tightly into one single pattern! Don’t bother with David Blaine specials – just watch God at work!

Take Passion 07. That was AMAZING. Hadn’t heard of it 6 months before. 6 months later I found myself with 23000+ others having my eyes and ears opened like they hadn’t had before! And what were the little threads? Matt McGee. Tim (yes I would have really considered not going if you had not managed to make it, and this story on its own requires a few more threads to justify itself that even I can’t begin to identify myself!), Rodney, Rodney’s friends, plane ticket!, Matt’s church, his family and friends, Christmas holidays, youth camp…that’s all I can think of for now. And the ripples afterwards – can’t begin to describe how deep they resounded. PLUS I just got news the day before yesterday about some stuff from Lydia – amazing how long these ripples can keep going for.

God moves in a mysterious way. Sometimes you wish you could unpack it. But upon reflection, all I need to know is His will is always good, pleasing and perfect. So perhaps it’s better that the mystery remain for greater amazement!

#25: February 27, 2008

It’s almost been a week. Today’s post was drawn from Numbers 10.

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And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.
Numbers 10:9

So the LORD spoke to Moses and told him to make two silver trumpets. He gave a description of how they were to be used. One of which was to sound it during war, so that “you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.”

Remembered? Doesn’t that imply God forgets things? You could almost imagine one of those cartoons where you have the big guy in the sky, with just the feet showing, and suddenly he hears a trumpet and goes, “Oh you’re still around! What is it you want now? Ohhh you’re fighting a war. Ok. Give me a minute while I hatch a plan to save you.”

But God doesn’t forget things. He’s sovereign over everything. Nothing happens that escapes His attention, simply because everything that happens is ordained by Him. So why the word ‘remember’?

It’s because it gives all glory to God. Picture this. Which scenario glorifies God more? The one where you’re fighting and suddenly your enemies turn and flee, and you’re left wondering what they’re doing? Or the one where you’re fighting and you call to God for help and He sends your enemies fleeing? It clearly is the second. It’s not a matter of God remembering us, because He always remembers us, but it is us remembering Him.

It’s a prayer for God to remember us. “Don’t forget us! We need you!” That should be the plea of every one of God’s people. The Israelites back in history, and we who are the people of God through Jesus Christ. It also serves to remind us that we are His people. “Remember us! We are the ones You have chosen to save!” It’s also an answered prayer. God always remembers us. But sometimes we just can’t feel His closeness. So we ask Him to remember us, and the fact is He does!

So when we’re facing trouble, we shouldn’t just face it on our own, and hope for divine intervention. We should call out to God, to remember us, and deliver us. It’s a sure promise. His method of deliverance might not be what we have in mind, but He will remember us and deliver us according to His good purpose.

And finally, if there are any doubts regarding this promise, it’s worth bearing in mind that we who are in Jesus Christ have called on His name, and we have been saved!

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#24: February 21, 2008

Today’s reflection is drawn from Leviticus 16.

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Leviticus 16 is a description of the Day of Atonement. One day a year, the high priest was to go into the Holy of Holies and make atonement for the sins of Israel.

It’s was a very long and drawn out process, but for good reason. The high priest had to be clean before God to enter before the mercy seat on the ark where God was said to dwell. Tradition has it that the high priest would wear a rope around his foot. If he was not clean before God, he would be struck down. And the other priests would have to pull him out, as they would not be able to physically enter the place and carry him out.

It was an extremely serious affair. And it’s such a contrast with the position we are in today. In the New Testament letters, there is much on our freedom to approach God with confidence. We are, by nature, just as sinful as the high priests during the time of Israel. The only difference is that we now have a high priest who has atoned for our sins once and for all. His name is Jesus. Hebrews 7 states that “unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.”

It is through Jesus that we are righteous – without sin. It is by the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus that we have the confidence to freely approach the throne of God. And how significant that is!

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16
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#23: February 20, 2008

I’m breaking from tradition to select certain verses from within the book of Leviticus. Today’s was from Leviticus 11.

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For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
Leviticus 11:45

Leviticus is a book of Law. Here God tells the Israelites what is permissible and what is not permissible. He distinguishes between the clean and the unclean. He sets forth a pattern of offerings. He ordains a series of festivals.

But then you get bits like the above, which cuts through the letter of the law towards the spirit of the law.

Why was God being so particular with His laws? The verse above is a perfect answer.

God had specifically chosen the Israelites to be His people, redeeming them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Because He had rescued them to be their God, it was only fitting that they should be holy, as a reflection of the holiness of God.

This line of reasoning may not seem to make much sense. I wrestled with it for a while. But I believe the key bit is to understand what it means to have someone or something as our ‘God’. When we have a God, we want to follow it, become like it, because we idolise it. We see it and utter, “Wow! I want to be just like that!” If something or someone is the god of our lives, we unconsciously express it.

And here the people were in awe of God. After all, just moments before, they had all fallen facedown in worship before the presence of God. And so God ordains that if they are going to worship Him as their God, then it is necessary for them to express Him properly. And God is holy. So His people must be holy. If they were not holy, they could not be His people. For God cannot tolerate sin. How then can He call a people His own if they are sinful?

There’s one more thing though that caught my attention. “For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God.” God doesn’t appeal to His awesome power. God appeals to His awesome redemption. Because of His powerful redemption, the Israelites ought to be holy.

The Israelites should be responding out of gratefulness! That God has freed them from bondage. But that, as the course of history progresses, is far from what really happens. The Israelites are an ungrateful people. But then so are we. Mankind is rebellious by nature. We have hearts of stone that cannot appreciate the freedom God offers.

It’s in this context that what Jesus has done for us contrasts so vividly! Read 1 Peter 1. And see the difference. The call is there at the end, to be holy just as the One who called us is holy. And the reasons are the same, that we are a redeemed people. But there’s one crucial difference. The new birth that comes from God. We no longer have hearts of stone. Peter says that we should rejoice in what this new birth has brought us. And so we should! How then do we respond?

Be holy, because the One who has called us is holy.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14-16
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#22: February 19, 2008

Well. It’s been a long 12 days. In that period, the reading guide has moved on and is now midway between Leviticus. Leviticus is somewhat repetitive, but there are pretty eye opening bits in there. Today’s is one such bit, and can be found in Leviticus 9.

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When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.
Leviticus 9:23-24

I just want to draw attention to a particular bit. Namely when all the people saw the glory of God, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.

Not facedown in fear. But facedown in joy.

There’s a need to visualise this scene somewhat. There’s a need to comprehend the very nature of God’s glory. The nature of it that brings joy. And the nature of it that causes us to fall facedown.

It’s not hard to do that, being in the UK. There are times when it’s freezing. Like yesterday morning. I think the temperature was -5 or something. It’s actually been a very warm February, apparently the warmest ever, but yesterday was a bit freakish. And so everything was frosted. Including me. And when you’re cold, it’s horrible. If I had to decide between being cold, or being hot in Malaysia, I’ll pick the latter any day.

But then the sun came out. And when you’re standing in the sun, it’s suddenly a lot warmer. The air around you might be rather cold, but you can feel the warmth of the sun. And it’s a pretty joyful moment. The feeling of warmth.

That’s an imperfect metaphor of God’s glory. It’s like the sun shining on you in the cold. Or in an equatorial sense, you could probably compare it to freezing in an air-conditioned room, before walking out into the hot outdoors. There’s an inherent joyfulness to be found in it. In this biblical context, I believe it’s a display of God’s power that’s the source of joy. It is also a display of God’s approval for the sacrifice that is a source of joy.

Before I draw some parallels with today, there’s one more aspect to look at. Why fall facedown? Matt Redman has a good phrase to encapture this: “When you face up to God’s glory, you find yourself facedown in worship.” It’s a natural response. We become so captivated with the Almighty that to fall before him in total surrender seems the only appropriate response. And the Israelites saw the power of God and could only respond in facedown worship. It’s like a sun so bright, you can’t look at it, yet it doesn’t matter, because you can feel it.

It’s a powerful image, this display of joyful facedown worship. It means three things for us. First, God is so great that to face up to His glory causes us to fall facedown before Him. Second, experiencing the glory of God brings us joy. Third, if God is so great, then surely the joy we find in Him must be the greatest of all joys.

And if this is the greatest of all joys, then why do we not seek it wholeheartedly? There are many reasons for this, but they mainly result from the fact that we are never fully convinced of this reality. But I believe that while we can never remain fully convince of this reality in this life, being in Jesus, we are in a position today to experience such joy, in increasing measure.

Where do we start? Just as God revealed Himself through the sacrifices of the Israelites, we can do likewise today. Not slaughter a ram or goat, but as Paul advises us in Romans, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – because this is our spiritual act of worship.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2
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What has happened?

Yes. There clearly seems to be a failure going on here.

Instead of progressing, it’s regressing. So here’s what I have been up to this week:

Work.

House. Best TV series in the world. Well, in my world at least.

A movie or two.

Shocking really. And for some reason I’ve been extremely tired the whole week. Meaning I haven’t been able to get myself out of bed until half an hour before lectures. Not sure whether there’s a correlation to the work.

Anyways, this column will resume normal service very soon. I’m thinking Tuesday. Or possibly Monday. But Tuesday sounds like a more reasonable target.