Thursday, November 10, 2016


SCRIPTURE: 1 Tim 2:1-4
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: Nov 10th, 2016

1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. - (1 Tim 2:1-4)

For many people, the unthinkable happened. If Murphy was alive, he would have repeated with an i-told-you-so look: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." For nearly half the population of America today, it has indeed gone wrong when their candidate failed to garner the required number of electoral votes to win.

On January 20th, 2017, the controversial and straight-talk tycoon, Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States. In a result that took many people by surprise, it was the Democrat supporters, the widely leftist media and pollsters who had to flee with their tails between their legs. Even today, some are still scratching their heads wondering what happened. Others blamed it on the complacency of the Democratic establishment while some analysts said many Democrat supporters stayed home and did not vote. Those who could not accept the result took to the streets and protested the outcome. I watched the media and saw a 180-degree turnaround in their reporting. All their predictions were wrong. Instead of Clinton winning by a huge margin, it was Trump who took in the majority of the electoral votes. Instead of the former First Lady and experienced bureaucrat sweeping into power, it was a boisterous and shrewd reality-TV personality receiving the prize. News agencies and reporters continued to analyze the results and the reasons. Some blamed, others shamed. Many people continued to talk about what happened on Nov 8th, 2016 where America elected her new President. Some people might want some guidance with regard to this event. Let me then offer five post-election thoughts.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day Tributes

Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: May 7th, 2016

Mother's Day is coming. All over the world, mothers are celebrated with a well-deserved meal or special dinners. Often, they would be given beautiful bouquet of flowers. Sometimes, they would be treated to a surprise that is out of this world. It could also be a simple hug from a loved one. As long as love is expressed and received, who cares what the present is. Who would question where or how much the item costs? It is more than the thought that counts. It is the heartfelt gratitude for mothers who had the toughest job in the world.

As a tribute to mothers all over the world, I would like to share five of the most touching videos I have seen this year. They have been made at various times but the effect is still powerful. Enjoy.

1) Toughest Job in the World (American Greetings, 2014) - Youtube
Created by ad agency, Mullen in 2014, this video shows several online interviews over a fictitious job. The results are heartwarming.

2) Mother's Day Tribute (Embridge, 2016) - Youtube
This is a beautiful reminder that all of us have mothers who will grow old one day. There's no better joy than to see loved ones visit and to know that one is never forgotten.


3) Thai Ad on Runaway Daughter (2015) - Youtube
The love of a mother knows no bounds.

4) Full-Circle (2012) - Youtube
A creative audio-visual video on the growing person.

5) Prayer For All Mothers by Rick Warren (2016) - Youtube
This prayer is all-encompassing and inclusive. Great prayer to learn from.

THOUGHT: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:25-26)

Happy Mothers' Day!


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at . You can also send me an email at for comments or inquiries. Note that views expressed are personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any person(s) or organization(s).

Friday, April 22, 2016

It's Still Easter!

Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: April 22nd, 2016

The Church is well-prepared for the coming of Easter. For 40 days, pastors, preachers, and Church leaders will call their flock to fast, to pray, to seek God more, and to observe a sense of holiness as one reflects on Christ’s journey to the Cross. Then comes Holy Week and voila! Christians are united with one voice to sing: “Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” That was more than three Sundays ago. This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday.

Nice Summary of Eastertide
The same cannot be said for the periods after Resurrection Sunday. After all the excitement; the disciplines of the 40 days; the preparation for Palm Sunday; the solemnity of Maundy Thursday; the painful trials and sufferings of Good Friday; and the pinnacle of Easter, the days following the Resurrection Sunday remembrance seem to become an anti-climax. The traditional Church calendar puts out 7 Sundays (including Easter Sunday) as a season of Easter, or Eastertide. The 8th Sunday is the Pentecost. How then do we celebrate and live out Easter? One way is to search the Scriptures to learn how the disciples responded to the Resurrection.

1) Remembering the Promise
6“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” 8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:6-8)
Jesus had promised that He would be killed, buried, and on the third day rise again. The disciples didn’t believe, let alone the women. That was why Mary Magdalene and Salome did not expect to see an empty tomb. That was why they were afraid. That was why they didn’t know how to react. They had forgotten what Jesus had said about Himself. If only they had believed Jesus meant every word He said.

Easter is about remembering that whatever Jesus had promised, He will do it. He proved it in the First Coming. He will do the same, and even more in His Second Coming. That is glorious reason for hope!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Finding Our True Need

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:19
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: April 9th 2016
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
This is a popular verse when we write encouragement cards to people. It is a marvelous verse to tweet quickly to one another to assure them that God is aware and God will do something. Moreover, it comes from God’s abundance and generosity. What more could we ask for? If God is for us, who will be against us? The question for this week is this: What is our true need?

A) Typical Hierarchy of Needs

The Famous 5-Level-Needs of Maslow
Those of us who are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs will remember the famous pyramid. Based on these, we all have the five levels of need. The first level is physiological where we need to provide food on the table, shelter for the family, and paying for our basic expenses. This is something all of us will understand. With jobs, we get some income to help pay for our housing, our food, our transportation costs, and the basis living expenses. The second level is the need for safety and security. We look not simply for a good house but a good neighbourhood. We do not simply buy food but healthy diets. We travel in a manner that is safe. When I was young, my mother kept telling me about the dangers of riding a motorcycle. Whenever there is an accident involving the two-wheeler, regardless of who is in the right, the motorcyclist will usually end up as the victim. I have known friends who had been seriously injured when they fell out of their bikes for various reasons. To this day, I do not have a motorbike license. I have heard lots of nice stories of people feeling a sense of freedom when they ride on a bike. Not me.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Faith and Contentment

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:12-13
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: April 1st, 2016

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:12-13)

This week, I want to share three thoughts from my sabbatical.

It has been a strange sabbatical for me. After seven years of being in gainful employment, I took a 3-month sabbatical so as to take a step back from my routine, my regular work schedule, and my familiar activities. During this time, I preached at different churches. I traveled to the Far East. I spent more time with family and friends. When people asked me what I wanted to do during this time, I told them I wanted to write a book. That had not taken off. The ideas were there. The thoughts were there. However, the determination and discipline to do that were not there. After all, a sabbatical must be a sabbatical. Otherwise, call it a different kind of work or some activity-oriented break. One of the problems in modern society is that we have not really understood what rest means. We know how to work from 9 to 5. We know how to bring our projects home from the office. We know how to get connected to the Internet, carry our emails with us, and stay connected to work even when we are home. We have become so comfortable with working that we are increasingly uncomfortable with anything non-work. With such a work-saturated mindset, true rest is hard to find.

Many people have said good things about the sabbath. Let me share a few.
  • Seven days of work makes one weak
  • "It is not the Jews that kept the Sabbath but the Sabbath that kept the Jews." (Jewish Rabbi) 
  • "He who cannot rest, cannot work; he who cannot let go, cannot hold on; he who cannot find footing, cannot go forward." (Harry Emerson Fosdick) 
  • "As a man addicted to activity and anxiety, I could tell you story after story about how a restless lifestyle is everything from silly to stupid to soul killing." (Mark Galli)
  • "Test the premise that you are worth more than you can produce – that even if you spent one whole day of being good for nothing you would still be precious in God’s sight. " (Barbara Brown Taylor)
  • "No other behavioral change has brought so many unintended but welcome benefits to my life of faith and my work as a pastor." (Eugene Peterson)
This week, I want to share three thoughts about my sabbatical.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Were You There?

SCRIPTURE: Luke 23:44-49
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 25th, 2016
44It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. (Luke 23:44-49)

This Holy Week, the following came to me:
God's tears were shed on Holy Thursday;
God's blood was bled on Good Friday
God's voice was muted on Silent Saturday;
God's glory was raised on Resurrection Sunday.

As far as man are concerned, they view Jesus not from God's perspective but from the world. On Thursday, the disciples were still oblivious to what was going to occur. They ate bread and drank wine together with Jesus. Their feet were washed. They were served. They were prayed for. Little did they know that among them was Judas Iscariot who would not only betray their lord, but would be the first of a long list of people who would desert Jesus.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What is Calling?

SCRIPTURE: Romans 8:18-30
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: Mar 16th, 2016
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

These days I have been thinking about calling. Maybe it is just that mid-life crisis topic, or just an impromptu moment. Maybe it is about transitions or some new adventure to embark upon. It forces me to go back to the biblical word, "called." What is it? How is it applied to today's context? These two questions will guide my reflection for the next two weeks. This week, I like to deal with the subject of calling.

What is calling?

Simply put, I believe calling is a journey. In Romans 8, we see how Paul describes his own call in terms of moving toward a final goal. Life for him as a Christian had been tough. He could have enjoyed the fruits of his Pharisaic achievements. He could have become a top solicitor for some rich clients. He could have earned enough money to simply go through life by sitting in positions of influence, reputation, and fame. Yet, he made that decision to turn back and as a consequence, had to suffer for his choice. He writes with boldness that "I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Friday, March 11, 2016

Don't Idle. Evangelize!

SCRIPTURE: Isa 43:18-21
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 11th, 2016

18“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise." (Isa 43:18-21)

I have brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances in many different churches. Some of them are normal Sunday parishioners while others are actively serving in the leadership. Others are fellow ministry workers plugging along through the ups and downs of Church life. Indeed, one of the most difficult places to work in are non-profits such as Christian organizations. One is expected to do good, to be good, and to appear good even when the going gets tough and the emotions get rough. Without a proper way to vent frustrations, one can easily get burnout. An effective way to share the burdens is to find encouragement among people who understand the unique situations when serving in Church. One feels free to talk about the flock, about the leadership board, or even about fellow workers in the same Church. Usually, no names are mentioned. It is more about finding ways to support one another in prayer rather than to turn the meeting into some forum for complaining. From time to time, whether over coffee or casual meetings, we would talk about some serious going ons. One such question is this: "Why is the Church not growing?"

Friday, March 4, 2016

Spiritual Unity

SCRIPTURE: John 17:20-23
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 4th, 2016.
20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
The Church is not as united as Christ wants her to be. This is a historical fact and also a present reality. In biblical times, there are many examples of how God's people go their separate ways. The very first split between human beings mentioned in the Bible is the classic case of Cain and Abel over worship. Cain offered some of his crops to God while Abel gave the best of his firstfruits. Envious of God's acceptance of his brother's gift and not his, Cain schemed and slaughtered Abel. When questioned by God, he skirted the issue. In Genesis 13, we saw the first patriarch of Israel having to contend with family dispute with Lot. In order to prevent further tensions, Abram and Lot agreed to part ways as they could not get along (Gen 13:8-10). Family relationships are often the most difficult to resolve.

Even King David right from the start had to contend with the problem of unity. Before his enthronement, Saul his predecessor tried to get rid of him. In his later years, he had to flee for his life because of a family mutiny. While his heart remained true to God, his own son failed to do the same, resulting in the split of the nation of Israel into Israel and Judah.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Faith Films

Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: Feb 27th, 2016

The Oscars will be held this weekend. With glittering stars and dazzling movies, it is that one time each year that awards be given to film directors, notable actors and actresses, special effects, and all kinds of recognition of great movie work. Even faith films are in town.

If you check out Faith Films, you would see some movies due to be launched this year in Canada. The movie "Risen" has already been launched. As the title has suggested, it is about the eyewitnesses take on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dramatized from the eyes of a non-believer, a member of the powerful Roman military establishment, the story revolves around the tensions after Jesus was crucified.

Another film that will be coming out on March 11th is a film called, "Miracles from Heaven." The story is about an incredible series of miracles that started with the discovery of an incurable disease in a 10-year-old girl named Anna. It sparks off a mad search for a cure, a doomed diagnosis, an accident, and a turn to faith. In real life, the making of the movie has impacted the lead actress, Jennifer Garner, so much that she has now made a point to take her own real life daughters to Church regularly. This is a dramatized version of a young girl who in 2011 was amazingly healed after a near death experience.  It is a powerful movie about family, based on a book written by Anna's mother, Christy Beam. Poised to be a hit with family and Christians, this movie is a tear-jerker that forces viewers to come face to faith with the supernatural, faith, and how it impacts our day to day living. I am looking forward to this film release.

This week, I watched a preview of "Young Messiah," a movie that focuses on the life of young 7-year-old Jesus and his intimate relationship with his parents. Based on a novel written by Anne Rice, the storyline revolves around the dangerous journey taken by Joseph and Mary during the tumultuous time of King Herod, the Jewish rebellion, and the dangers faced by Jews in the midst of harsh Roman rule. Filmed on location, the film is set in beautiful scenery. Since the Bible has very little description on the life of young Jesus, there is a lot of imagination and dependence on Rice's "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" to fill in the gaps.

What about consumers? What can we make of faith films? Are they real enough to be believed? Are they too fiction for comfort? Are they simply another Hollywood movie under the guise of a Christian label? Let me offer three thoughts this week about faith films.

First, every movie is a director's perspective. Like many of the movies, they are all dramatized versions and fictional retelling of a basic historical aspect of Jesus' life and the Christian faith. There is no need to go on a witch-hunt to determine how true is one film over the other, and how accurate it is in depicting the truth of the Bible. The key thing is that all the films are interpretations of a part of the Bible story from the lens of the movie makers. They are all made with the modern viewers in mind. The flurry of faith films that is coming out of Hollywood tells us that more and more directors are aware of the huge market in religion and spirituality. The spending power of Christians in churches around the world cannot be underestimated. Any business with a megachurch in town will surely do well to target this segment of spenders. The movie, "Heaven is For Real" may have been based on the story of the boy, Colton, but the story was told from the perspective of the father, Todd Burpo. Like any retelling, there is always a personal perspective infused into the storyline. While we may not be able to distinguish exactly what parts of the movie are on whose perspective, it is good to keep at the back of our heads that this is just one particular perspective.

Second, criticism of movies and the storylines is legitimate but do not let criticisms overwhelm the intent of the movie makers. The movie website "Rotten Tomatoes" is a popular place where people dish out their two cents worth of reviews about each movie released into the marketplace. Like real life situations where people throw tomatoes at horrible performances on stage, reviewers often throw all kinds of criticisms on movies that fail to meet certain expectations. Sometimes, the measurements can be quite ambiguous. Is the number of tomatoes thrown equal to the quality of the movie? Not really. Sometimes, a controversial movie may trigger a barrage of emotions that do not necessarily reflect on the true performance of a movie.

Third, enjoy the story. Whether it is a feel-good movie like "Miracles From Heaven" or a shocking rendition like the gory scenes of "The Passion of the Christ," going to the movies is essentially about the experience. Appreciate the movie for what it is, but let the questions drive us on our own personal research or discovery of the truth. Just like what I call a good Bible Study session. A good Bible study for me is not about the number of answers that one can derive after the study but the lingering questions that keep one's curiosity going. Getting one answer may be good after one session. However, leaving with questions can lead us onto more than one answers that enrich our learning experience.

As an avid movie-goer, I appreciate faith films although many of them still do not match the standards of a modern Hollywood offering. Fortunately, things are changing. More movies are now been made, thanks in part to successful launches by initiatives by Sherwood Pictures (Fireproof, Courageous, War Room). In fact, while I support faith films, I think it is more important to go to the movies with a Christian worldview to interpret the film and not become vulnerable to the shaping tendencies of movies. Like a measuring tape that has absolute boundaries in metric or imperial units, our worldview enables us to discern what is good and what is not. Personally, I find movies with vulgar language and excessive violence very off-putting. Generally, I would switch off and avoid such movies. This is one reason why I find faith films more acceptable. I understand modern movies try to be as "realistic" as possible about contemporary culture. Yet, I feel that we should not be "educated" by vulgarity or violent behaviours. We should stand up for what is right, what is beautiful, and what is holy. The perspective we bring into films is equally important.

Be aware. Be critical where needed. At all times, learn to enjoy the movie and not be stuck on criticisms. After all, going to the movies is more about an experience, not a school research project.

THOUGHT: "What's hard for Christian films is we're presenting to them [people], 'here's what a Godly, good, happy, loving marriage can look like, or here's what forgiveness looks like, or here's how God does answer prayer.' So to the world that may feel inauthentic to them because they've never experienced that before. They may say 'well that's cheesy' but we say 'No! That's real life, we're introducing you to something you've never experienced in your own personal life.'"(Alex Kendrick)


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at . You can also send me an email at for comments or inquiries. Note that views expressed are personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any person(s) or organization(s).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Miracles or Strength?

SCRIPTURE: Hosea 11:1
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: February 15th, 2016.

"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." (Hosea 11:1)
What do you do when a loved one gets very ill? What happens when we are helpless and totally dependent on others for a good outcome? What goes through our minds when we seek comfort and assurance in the midst of a difficult time? For Christians, one of the things is prayer.
  • "I'll pray for you."
  • "Keeping you in prayer."
  • "Keep seeking God!"
  • "Get well soon. Praying for the doctors to be attentive to details."
  • "I'm praying for a miracle."
The last one is particularly poignant. Suppose I summon up all my knowledge and my determination, filled with all passion and emotion, and I boldly claim the promise of God for healing. In such a disposition, there is no room for doubt; no room for discouragement; and no room for debilitating thoughts. Surely God is Almighty Physician and Healer. He can choose to heal. If He can make the blind to see; the lame to walk; and the dead to life, surely He can do anything He wills. Some Christians, intent on seeing miracles would venture far to engage spiritualists and miracle healers, like the efforts of the woman with a tissue of blood trying to touch the tip of God's cloak and obtain healing in the process. 

In her book, "A Place for Healing," Joni Eareckson Tada shared about an encounter with a visitor named David on a Sunday morning at a church parking lot. Seeing her, David said that he had been praying for Joni, a quadriplegic who had been on wheelchair for over 40 years.  For all his zeal, he was trying to point out Joni's problem of sin, being the cause of her illness. Having met many people in her years of disability, Joni was familiar with them all. Patiently she listened, until David came to a passage about how the passage of Luke 5:18-19 described Jesus healing the man on a stretcher lowered down from the rooftop. All the time, David was convinced that Joni had not enough faith; not enough prayer; and not enough repentance for her sin. Gently, Joni pointed out verse 20.

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'" (Luke 5:20)
Joni turned the tables around. The Luke passage that David pointed out is about the faith of the friends, not the disabled person. She then went on to say:

Don’t you see? He didn’t require anything at all of the disabled man. What He was looking for was faith in those men who had lowered him through the roof. God doesn’t require my faith for healing. But He could require yours. The pressure’s off me, David. If God has it in His plan to lift me out of this wheelchair, He could use your faith! So keep believing, friend; the pressure’s on you!” (Tada, Joni Eareckson, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty, David C. Cook: 2010, p17)
When we pray, if our focus is on healing, then we are not really focused on God. Our focus is on the outcome. In order to pray in the will of God, we need to acknowledge that we are not in charge. We are weak and powerless in ourselves. We need help. In prayer, we acknowledge that only God can do whatever we want. When we pray, we need help to come to that state of peace to be comforted by God's presence more than divine presents.

Perhaps, we can pray for strength. Strength to overcome the hard times rather than to ask God to pamper us by removing the hard times. The deepest virtues are often manifested through difficult moments of life, just how we detect who are our real friends. Will our true friends forsake us? No.

Perhaps, neither miracles or strengths should be our primary focus. Our primary focus must be Christ. Whatever it is, whether healing or strength, we give thanks. Whatever it is, whether strengthened or wearied, we submit to God's wisdom. Whatever it is, whether good news or bad, we remember that in Christ, God's answer is always yes. The passage from Hosea tells us of God's memory of Israel, that God calls Israel as a son. Even when Israel was suffering in Egypt due to the harsh enslavement, God calls out to the heart of the people, amid the pain and torment they were facing. God could have sent angels to lift each and every one of His people out, but He didn't. He could have used heavenly chariots to rescue the people, but He didn't. Instead, He called them. Many ways, He called, using Moses, Aaron, and even using many signs to assure them. Eventually, Israel was delivered. People celebrated, but only for a time.

When the going gets tough, it is not easy to say, "The tough gets going." If we wear the "miracle" hat, we would be praying with all our passion and might for the "tough" to be removed. If we put on the "strength" hat, we would press on with grit and determination to finish the race. Between the two, "strength" is almost always the preferred prayer request. This is something that enabled Joni Eareckson Tada to found her ministry of hope (Joni and Friends) for the disabled. This is something that kept Paul going even as he wrestled with the thorn (2 Cor 12:7). From Hosea 11, there is a clue that tells us of a third thing: Praying to understand the heart of God.

This is something not many people would do. It is common to pray for miracles. Next on the list is to ask for strength. Yet, asking to understand the heart and Person of God is not very common. Perhaps, it is time to do just that. Our prayers if centered on our will and desires will always be fixated on human needs and matters. If we want to pray in the will of God, we must have a spiritual breakthrough just like the words of Jesus:
27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:27-34)

It's good to pray for healing. It's better to pray for strength. It's way way better, to seek after God's heart. This is spiritual direction. As we give up our agendas for God, and to adopt God's agenda instead, strangely, we find our prayers becoming more liberating.

THOUGHT: "The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. Understanding your wounds can only be healing when that understanding is put at the service of your heart." (Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love, Image books, 1998, p107)


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at . You can also send me an email at for comments or inquiries. Note that views expressed are personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any person(s) or organization(s).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In Pursuit of Money

SCRIPTURE: 2 Timothy 6:9-10
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: Jan 27th, 2016.
"Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (2 Timothy 6:9-10)

Last week, I wrote about the enticement of power, how power corrupts the flesh and how good Christian people in avoiding power like a plague miss the opportunity of seeing power as a gift to be stewarded rather than a poison to be shunned.  This week, I continue with some thoughts about a second temptation: Money.

I watched IP MAN 3 last night, a movie about a Chinese legendary hero, Ip Man. He was the said teacher of the famous Bruce Lee. A top martial arts pugilist, he pioneered a special kung fu called the Wing Chun martial art. This third installment, while not as good as the first one that launched Donnie Yen to fame, has enough bells and whistles to make it a worthy watch. There are many wonderful values in the film. There is the value of friendship, where leaders from the top pugilist schools regularly show respect to one another in admiration of their respective skill-sets and legends. There is the value of integrity, where people meant what they say, did what they promise, and kept their word. There is the value of marital love, where the protagonist lays everything aside, his reputation and fame, just to care for his cancer-stricken wife. Yet, a movie plot is not very exciting without villains and some level of bad behaviour. Here is where my reflections on money begin: Money corrupts the soul of the person from the inside out. Let me share three examples from the movie Ip Man 3.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

As the Spirit Leads - Reflections on Power

SCRIPTURE: Romans 8:5-8, 14
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: Jan 20th, 2016.

"5Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:5-8)
"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (Rom 8:14)

If we crave status, we would be lead by the enticement of power.
If we crave money, we would become enslaved to activities driven by the pursuit of monetary gains.
If we crave fame, we would become infatuated with famous people in order to be somewhat like them.

This week, I want to start a series of reflections on how the idolatry of power, money, and fame are dangerous to the spiritual life. Power, fame, and fortune are three major distractions from the spiritual life. First off, power.

A) The Seduction of Power

George Orwell has famously written in his classic satire, Animal Farm, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Like nooses that render one helpless like a donkey, power makes one weak on the knees as the heart gives way to the potential benefit of power. The famous words of Darth Vader in Star Wars also refer to power: "Come to the dark side" and "You don't know the power of the dark side."

The star in the movie, Luke Skywalker was also intrigued with the powerful dark side when he asked Yoda his teacher: "Is the dark side stronger?" Yoda replied gently: "No, no, no. Quicker. Easier, more seductive."

The use of power is key to getting things done quickly in many societies. The movie, "The Story of Qiu Ju" (starring Gong Li) tells of a pregnant village woman (Qiu Ju) trying to find justice in a sea of powerful establishment. Angry at how the village chief kicked and hurt her husband on the groin, resulting in severe pain. Just watching the movie tells us a lot about the use of power in the Chinese culture. If one is a nobody, a weak peasant, a woman, or a marginalized person, it is hard to get things done. People brush one aside like fluff. They trample on the weak like leaves that dropped on the road. However, when they hear a serpent hissing, they stop their tracks. When they see a dalmatian growling, they freeze. When the king or president of the country travels, the roads that you normally drive in are immediately closed so that the royal or official entourage can pass.

In countries where corruption is rampant, if one does not have the right connections or know the right authority, it is quite impossible to get things done. Even issuing passports can be expensive. If one refuses to pay top dollar for quick processing, following the regular process can be extremely long and frustrating. Just one bribe to the man in charge and the passport could be renewed within 24 hours. Gang members drop names to tell others about who they are dealing with.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Spiritual Formation: A Love-Hate Relationship

SCRIPTURE: Galatians 4:17-19
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: January 11th, 2016
"17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!" (Galatians 4:17-19)

SYNOPSIS: Spiritual Formation (SF) is not some Spiritual Disciplines version 2.0 or 3.0. It is a life-long process that lets Christ be formed in us so much that people who see us, would find it inviting enough to do the same. For all its good points, I still have a "love-hate" relationship with this term. This article explains why.

A sample copy of the popular devotional
There was a time in which people were all crazy about devotionals. I mean super crazy. The freely available "Our Daily Bread" from Radio Bible Class was one of the first devotionals I ever had. Printed as a pocket-sized booklet, it let new believers to read a verse, reflect on the story, say a prayer, and to hear a thought for the day. Other friends of mine swore by Selwyn Hughes's "Every Day With Jesus" devotionals. Unlike the ODB, EDWJ is not free. The first issue of EDWJ was published in 2000 and focused on monthly themes. The next wave was the practice of spiritual disciplines, thanks to the popularity of Richard Foster's "The Celebration of Discipline" which not only became a bestseller, it created a new wave of interest in both inward and outward practices of spiritual disciplines. Even today, people still talk about Richard Foster's spiritual disciplines as a way to live out their Christian lives.

Just like the way we upgrade our software, Christians sometimes wonder, "What's next?" Lo and behold, there is a new wave after Foster's Spiritual Disciplines. This is called "Spiritual Formation." I remember a time in which seminaries, churches, and various Christian groups were all talking about spiritual formation for their communities. In the minds of many, it was the "next big thing." For some then, it simply meant "Spiritual Disciplines 2.0" or version 3.0.

This week, I want to share the five things in my Love-Hate relationship with this strange thing called, "Spiritual Formation."

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016?


Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: Jan 1st, 2016

Happy New Year? What does it mean? Wait, isn't this the exact same words we wish back in 2015, in 2014, in 2013, in 2012, and well, almost every other year? It's the same Auld Lang Syne every 365 days.

It's the same fireworks, parties, and dancing every 52 weeks. For some, it's the same mumbo-jumbo of goodbye or good riddance to a year mixed with more downs than ups. For others, it's the same "looking forward" to new hope, new promises, new adventures, and new opportunities. Then, like the annual clock, we come back to the same old midnight countdown the last minute of the year. With cheers and whistles, with beer and thistles, we welcome the new year by giving it another 365 days expiry date.

Then comes the tough questions.

1) What's your new year resolutions? (Don't know. Been there. Done that. What's new?)

2) What's your plan for the year? (Don't know. Same old same old, I suppose. What's new?)

3) What's different from last year? (Don't know. Is there really anything different?)