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.