Thursday, April 30, 2015

Praying Through Psalm 30 (For Nepal)

Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: April 30th, 2015
"I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me." (Ps 30:1)
(Photo Credit: BBC 2015)
O Lord, it's Nepal. What is happening there, You know best.
How do I exalt you in the midst of news like that? Can the wounded be lifted out of the depths?
Did the people of Nepal do something wrong to deserve all this disaster?
There is so much suffering and pain over there now. Lord, do something!
Let there be miracles in the midst of tragedy. Let there NOT the enemies of Nepal, wherever they are, gloat over the tragedy of Nepal.

"2Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit." (Ps 30:2-3)
Lord, You are able to help. Bring forth your compassion through the efforts of the nations who have pledged help. Enable them to send their best. Bring them from afar. Enlarge the capacity of the Nepali infrastructure to cope with the increased demand. Encourage the rescuers with good news. Heal the hurt. Strengthen the rescuers. Spare more lives. Let there be survivors who would call out, cry out, and shout aloud their location. Prevent more people from going to the pit.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Living in a Hostile Climate

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5:43-48
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: April 21st, 2015.

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The climate against Christianity is increasingly hostile. From persecutions of Christians in the Middle East by ISIS to religious extremism in Malaysia, life is getting very complicated and dangerous for people of the Cross. Just today, I read about Ethiopian believers being executed in cold blood by the Islamic radicals. The killers even gloated about the killings as something that they do in the name of Allah. The violence that they have meted out is atrocious. The Christians were killed simply because they refused to embrace Islam or pay a heavy tax to retain their faith. The ones who died are the martyrs of today. They died for their faith.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Relinquishing Control

SCRIPTURE: John 8:31-32
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 13th, 2015

31So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

It is not easy to relinquish control. The more competent a person is, the more difficult it is to stay away from controlling things, circumstances, or even people. An expert mechanic would be able to sense the reasons behind a rumbling noise behind the wheel. Upon hearing the troubling creaks or squeaks, he would be quick to offer a way for the driver to look into. After all, mechanics are trained to listen for strange sounds or problems regarding the automobile.

Like mechanics, computer technicians too will be ready to solve any problem regarding computers. If a computer slows down, try adding additional RAM memory, defrag the hard drive, or simply reboot the machine. If the software breaks at some point, try to tweak it, or to uninstall and reinstall it afresh. Troubleshooting problems can be very time-consuming, especially when customers do not really know what they have done before. It takes a patient and understanding technician to get to the root of the problem. While skilled technical people find it easy to get into a problem solving mode, it is not so easy to relinquish control of the situation. For some, it is the thrill of finding out the cause that drives them. For others, it is their reputation of a computer expert that is at stake. Yet, for others, they need to satisfy the impatient and increasingly irritated customer.

This is a world of technical prowess in a culture infatuated with speed. If one is not competent, one will lose the job to the competition. If one is not quick enough, customer satisfaction will be affected. For such people, rest is particularly hard especially when it means relinquishing control over things that are within your domain of expertise. For Christians who honour the Sabbath, it is also a practical question. How would you reconcile trying to solve work issues on your rest day? Are you able to relinquish control for an immediate resolution to a problem? Why is it so hard to wait?

There are many reasons why people find it hard to rest. Let me share just three.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What About Saturday?

SCRIPTURE: John 19:28-30
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date:April 3rd, 2014.

"Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lip. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:28-30)

SYNOPSIS: Good Friday is often remembered as the day where the sins of the world are laid upon Jesus Christ. Resurrection Sunday is the day of hope. What about Saturday?

So what do we do between Good Friday and Easter?
Today is Good Friday. Christians all over the world commemorate this event as the day where the wrath of God was satisfied as Jesus took upon himself the punishment for the sins of the whole world. This is through no fault of his but all of mankind. Theologians call this the atonement. Also called the penal substitution where Jesus bore upon himself the sins of the whole world for our sake, it is a core doctrine that unites the Church during this Good Friday remembrance. That is not all. In our Christian doctrine of the Trinity, in Jesus is suffering, it also means God the Father and the Holy Spirit suffers too. For God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three persons in one Godhead. When one suffers, all suffer. It is not three Gods but one. It is a mystery that has confounded people through the ages. One of the best ways to understand the Trinity is this:
The Father is the Father because of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Son is the Son because of the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit because of the Father and the Son.
Those who over-analyze this risk turning the Trinity into some form of heresy about the Trinity. This is not to say we cannot study or think of the Trinity. It simply means that there is an aura of mystery that will keep us in wonder and openness to revelation to come. The Athanasian Creed is particularly instructive.