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.