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1 John 2:12-27

When I was studying in Sheffield, one day a friend said to me, “Bert, you’re running around like a headless chicken.” I was totally offended. First of all, my legs are nothing like chicken legs. But that aside, here I was, doing my best, trying to get things at church organised, while balancing my masters degree, and my friend had the audacity to say i’m running around like a headless chicken?! Why the nerve!

After the initial offense wore off, i realised that my friend was right. I was so busy running around doing stuff, i’d forgotten why and what I was doing it for. In fact, i’d very quickly lost my purpose in life — and more than that, i’d somehow convinced myself that I was the only answer to the situation.
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Why Love Those You Hate?

Love.  All religions and cultures teach about it.  They claim it to be among the world’s greatest virtue.  Is it a feeling or an action?  Is it in roses and chocolates or through special words and unexpected gestures?  Whatever form it takes, it is clearly not something that is innate within us.  When you look at a baby, the only one he truly loves is himself.  I cry when I’m hungry.  I cry when I poop.  I cry when I wake.  I cry because I want things.  And yet, as adults, I actually don’t think many things have changed.  As I have learned so many times through marriage, still, the only one I truly love is myself.  Instead of crying, these days I just whine.  Many arguments and annoyances that erupt in my relationship with my wife seem to stem from the same source as when I was a kid: my purely selfish nature.  It seems as though the reason all religions and cultures talk about love so much is because it is so absent in our very beings.  Rather, as this past sermon seemed to suggest, something that is perhaps more true about human nature is the very presence of something completely opposite: hate.  It is a harsh word but when you take the façade and fakeness away from statements like “I’m just annoyed at her” or “He irritates me so much,” it really translates out to hatred. Read more on Why Love Those You Hate?…

Exploring Community: Brother’s Keeper

This past Sunday, Pastor Bert shared about being our “brother’s keeper.”  It was quite an emotional sermon which left Pastor Bert and  many within the congregation in tears.  I think Pastor Bert really shared the weightiness of the love that God desires of all His people.  There is a truth that, when you love, you give of yourself and you risk being hurt.

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Exploring Community: Grace

Bankruptcy.  Two types exist: temporary or permanent bankruptcy.  The first assumes, often foolishly, that you are able to lift yourself out of your dire position.  The second acknowledges that nothing more can be done and all is lost.  As humans in our spiritual quests, Pastor Bert highlighted on Sunday, we tend to choose the first option and claim that we just need Jesus to give us a jump-start in life.  We are not as spiritually bankrupt as everybody says we are and we can still revive ourselves by our own strengths. Read more on Exploring Community: Grace…

Exploring Community: Obstacles

Pastor Bert this past Sunday challenged us with a discussion on exploring community through… typography?  Yes, the art and techniques associated with fonts.  (If you missed the sermon, it is worth listening to and going through his deck of slides.)  He explained how fonts can be beautiful and not so beautiful, letters in different orientations have different meanings, and words come together to form meanings.  This, of course was a sermon-long analogy for community and the obstacles that prevent God’s work in and through community.

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Exploring Community: Family

Pastor Bert continued this past Sunday on the subtheme of Exploring Community.  It was a sermon that reminded us that the Bible rarely describes God in declarative statements (“God is Holy,” “God is Just,” etc.), but rather in more organic descriptions (“God is teaching,” “God will show you,” etc.).  The former is really an exercise of academics – how able we are to remember and regurgitate x number of facts about God.  The latter is about being alive through God.  And even in Bible studies and perhaps in our own quiet times, we discuss and analyze God almost like in a petri dish as a science experiment.  Yet the God we are trying to dissect is very alive and very present in our lives.  He should not be relegated to simply the “third person.”  He needs to be brought into our lives and discussions as well as our interactions with others.

Betty (my wife) and I were talking on our way home from church and were thinking that we did not pray together as much as we did when we first started dating.  Read more on Exploring Community: Family…

Exploring Community: United Hearts

I have been thinking about Pastor Bert’s sermon this past Sunday, and I realize he is very right — there is something very different from communities of this world and a community of God.  Most communities in this world have an object of focus.  But the latter has a focus on a personal God — THE personal God.  God is that unique focal point Whom we can engage and the relationship by which we can develop.  I think I too easily fail to embrace this reality.

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Passover

 

Tradition!  While Pastor Bert was preaching on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof when he explained: “Because of our traditions, everyone of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”  This is the same with us.  But with Tevye, as with us, he often did not know why the traditions were there to begin with.

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Faithful, True, Protector

Reward.  That was perhaps the thesis of Pastor Bert’s sermon this past Sunday.  God is our great reward.

When we think about rewards, we often think about something we have earned through some great work of our own.  So, if God is our reward, we must have done something great to deserve Him.  Well, I would suggest, that is a great blasphemy.  In fact, the image that we have from Scripture is quite the opposite. Read more on Faithful, True, Protector…

The Great Adventure

Genesis 12:1 was a very instrumental verse for me.  When I was working as an engineer in San Diego, I was on the phone with my dad who was in Los Angeles.  I was explaining to him that I believed God wanted me involved in some form of full-time ministry.  My dad (not a Christian) said “There is no god who would tell somebody to leave his family or his country,” and he slammed down the phone (my dad has never hung up on me before).  At once, I remembered Genesis 12 where the God of the Bible told Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father’s household.  My dad did not know the God of the Bible.  It was at that point that I knew I needed to refocus my energy on preparing for the ministry — 12 months later, I quit my job and started full-time study in the seminary.  As a missionary once told me “You cannot tell other people about an Awesome God if you are unwilling to follow this Awesome God.”  Until that phone call, I was not following the Awesome God I claimed to trust in.
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Joy

I was hesitant to post anything since it was so late in the week. But I came across this interesting article entitled Laugh and the World Laughs With You: How Happiness Spreads and thought it would be an interesting thing to comment on.

Happiness is something that the world chases after.  The American Declaration of Independence proclaims that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights of every human being.  (Oddly, it seems as though we often believe that life does does not exist without liberty or happiness.)  From finding that true love to blazing down the M6 in that dream car, happiness is what makes our hearts beat.  According to this Time magazine article, happiness has a ripple affect spreading to others (they have it down to a science — 25% to a close friend, 10% to that friend’s friend, and 5.6% to that friend’s friend).
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