Monday, September 26, 2011

When Christians Disagree

TITLE: When Christians Disagree
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 26 Sep 2011

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” (Philippians 4:2)

Love is not an option. It is a command. This means that it is to be obeyed, followed through, and lived out continually. Always. Love is possible because of God. Yet, there is a problem. It is hard. For some, it is impossible. How do we demonstrate love for one another when Christians disagree? This week, I like to touch on harmonious living in a fragile world where a broken relationship is just one careless word away.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Expressions of Grief

TITLE: Expressions of Grief – Three ways
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 21 Sep 2011

This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.” (Lam 1:16)

It has been a year since my father passed away. Remembering how he has lived brings a moment of joy. Remembering how he died brings a tear to my eye. My dad has struggled with strokes, at least twice. The first time, half his body could not move. After the second stroke, his dependence on others moved from half to total. I was in Canada when he breathed his last. While I am sad not to be by his side in his dying hours, I am glad to have seen him, and him seeing me a couple of months before he died.

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These couple of weeks, I realize that I have not fully gotten out of the grieving process. Responsibilities at work have grown. My studies have taken on a heightened level of urgency. Yet, the way I manage these outside activities is different from the way I manage the movements inside my heart. I learn that while I can rush work and external responsibilities, I have to let my heart move at a pace of grieving and mourning. Heart-work internally cannot be rushed. Heart-work is hard work. More importantly, grieving is not a problem to be solved, but a journey to be undertaken earnestly and honestly. It is in this light that I want to reflect on three ways we deal with grieving. While the first two are often practiced, it is the third one that I strongly encourage grievers and mourners to consider.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Burning Question on Suffering

TITLE: Burning Question on Suffering
TEXT: Luke 13:1-5
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 12 Sep 2011

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
MAIN POINT: Suffering is blind. It affects the wicked and the innocent. It afflicts both adults and children. It kills one or many. Suffering often evokes the burning question 'why?' Learn to ask a better question.

Last Sunday, I preached on "Burning Questions: Suffering." After going through burning questions on topics like Bible, Salvation, Anger, and Homosexuality, it is quite fitting for a 9/11 sermon to be on suffering. Simply put, the burning question appears like this:

"If God is good, why is there so much evil and suffering in this world?"

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Personally, I don't like suffering. I also don't like my own sermons. Whenever I listen to it played back to my ears, I can find many faults. I don't like my tone. I don't even like my style. What I do like is that, the Holy Spirit can use my clumsiness and my weakness for his glory. That way, when I see lives touched, it is definitely because of God's work, not my own glory. That said, I hope that my own dislike of my sermons will spur me to improve each time, and every time.

Regardless of like or dislike, this topic of suffering is always asked. Despite many attempts, there are few that can adequately address this difficult topic. Nevertheless, I shall try again.  For this week, I like my reflection to parallel my sermon's main point: "Turn burning questions into a better question."

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Gay Agenda

Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 5 Sep 2011

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders.” (1 Cor 6:9)

A) The Question: Would Jesus Attend the Pride Parade?
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Last week’s sermon was about: “Would Jesus Attend the Gay Parade?” Moving through three distinct phases, the pastor touched firstly on the background of the Gay Movement, claiming that it is at least hundreds of years in existence. Secondly, he presented the biblical perspective from Genesis 1:26-28; 1 Cor 6:9-11; and the famous Rom 1 passage that argues against homosexuality. In a nutshell, the sermon declares that homosexuality as an act is a sin. Homosexuality is not part of God’s will for mankind. Otherwise then, how can you and me even exist? How can any same sex couple procreate by themselves? Finally, the pastor tackled the question directly, giving a cautionary ‘yes.’ Jesus will not be on the float flaunting his biceps. Instead, he will be among the spectators at the Pride Parade, and will consistently be seen pointing people toward God the Father.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beware a Church of Nice Guys

TITLE: Beware a Church of Nice Guys
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 1 Sep 2011
You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Matthew 23:33)
Derrick Bird is British, drives a taxi, and lives a quiet life. He works hard, and is a loving father of two boys. Friends call him a ‘really nice guy.’ A neighbour observes that he ‘was always pleasant and never caused any problems.’ On June 2nd of 2010, this nice guy takes a gun, shoots dead 12 people, and seriously injures 11 more before killing himself. Since the tragedy takes place in Cumbria, the massacre is known as the ‘Cumbria Shootings.’ What happened? How can someone with a typical nice-guy image trigger a mad round of senseless shootings? A quiet man ends up with a thunderous act of violence. Whatever the motives, whatever the speculations, this incident reminds us again that nice guys on the outside, hide what is going on inside. Nice guy images are frequently superficial. They are good at hiding their private selves from the public eye. People do not really know them. They do not really want to know people.

Nice guys are everywhere. As long as you maintain a smile, speak nicely, and you will automatically be granted the title: "Mr Nice Guy." While not every nice guy is like Derrick Bird, unfortunately, a church comprising of simply nice guys or nice gals will hardly make any difference to Church growth or discipleship. The truth is, nice people are hardly nice. They are simply being politically correct. They know which buttons to push. They are careful not to press the wrong ones. They are guided by the theory that as long as feathers are not ruffled, everything will be all right. In this week’s Sabbath Walk, I shall argue that in order for any Church to grow, they need people who are not simply content about being a nice person. Instead, we need people to be the spice that God has gifted them to be.