Month: February, 2016

The Reverence for God

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Security or Privacy?

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The fight between the FBI and Apple has implications for us, even though this fight is in America. At the very least, we are forced to think about the morality of business.

The issue: the FBI wants Apple to disable the iphone feature that destroys all data when there are 10 failed attempts to unlock the phone. This is so the FBI can access the phone of the Muslim terrorists who killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 in San Bernardino. Apple refused to assist. The FBI secured a court order. Apple is seeking relief from the court order. This suggests Apple is planning to challenge the court order as being unconstitutional. The reason why Apple refuses to do as ordered by the court, in their own words: “In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.” The argument from Apple follows along the line of: (1) the customer’s right to privacy is sacred; (2) this is good for business; (3) if Apple creates this ability to disable, then other governments also demand Apple to do the same thing.

What is interesting is that the FBI is not asking for the “master key” it is asking Apple to disable the self-destruct feature, so the FBI can unlock. I think the analogy is false. Further, privacy is not sacred. Everything we do is open before God. Apple and other big businesses like Google, credit rating agencies, etc. are always collecting our personal information. A business that collects our personal information cannot claim it is sacred. If our privacy is sacred, why do the businesses themselves collect our information? Isn’t that hypocrisy on the part of Apple? The truth is that Apple, Google and other companies want control over our information without giving the government access. When a court order is given to search a house, that right to privacy is gone. But Apple refuses to acknowledge the authority of the State to access information even when the evil of terrorism has already been committed.

This matter causes me to ask about the ethics of Apple. Is Apple is morally right to refuse to do something even when their refusal supports the cause of Muslim terrorists? Apple has made privacy or business sacred. What does the Bible instruct me on Apple’s values?

Christians have a moral responsibility to influence businesses to do the right thing. Christian values must instruct businesses as they must also instruct governments. Our values are counter-culture. They are from our Creator.

Pastor Peter Eng

Healing Through Prayer

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16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5 ESV)

I like to continue from last week’s chat with you on forgiveness and healing, and a little on healing by using what God has provided us so we can heal. In Christian vocab, they are called “means of grace,” that is, the means through which God’s grace comes to us.

We all want God’s blessings, God’s grace. But how do we get it? Too many people today talk about a “breakthrough” in life and God intervenes so our brokenness gets healed. In reality, the breakthrough is more closely related to the one-time event like forgiveness or understanding where there was ignorance. This is like the surgery we go through so our healing can begin. The surgery is a one-time event. But healing is incremental over time. While God can give us miraculous healing of the soul as he sometimes does in the healing of the body, instantaneous healing is not the norm either of the body or of the soul. For instance, repentance from a drug addiction is a moment in time. But healing from a drug addiction takes time. All healing takes time. But time alone does not heal. Prayer over time is one of God’s means of grace for us to heal.

We cannot heal spiritual brokenness without prayer. And when we pray, we heal even the spiritual brokenness of which we are not aware! Prayer is not about asking things from God. That is the last reason to pray. We pray because it makes us whole.

Some of you have practiced what we see in the Lord’s Prayer, and you have been greatly blessed. Keep doing it. There is no particular order of importance but they should all be practiced.

(1) Call on God as Father. There is nothing wrong with calling him “Lord,” “God,” etc. But you understand God’s heart in prayer when you call him “Father.”

(2) Pray aloud. All prayer was done verbally, not in the head. Go back to that. You will find it helps you focus better, and the mind does not drift as easily. This also makes your prayer deliberate. It is a personal time and place set aside to pray out loud to our Father in heaven.

(3) Posture. Recently one of you shared that you prostrate in prayer, that is, kneeling with forehead to the ground. And that makes a difference to you. Yes, the posture of the body reflects the posture of the soul. God made us body and soul and the two are intimately connected. What we do to one affects the other. Another one of you shared that you are so comfortable with kneeling that you can fall asleep while kneeling. Yes, that is also true. This is why we do not prescribe one posture. It is important for you to adopt the posture that works for you. For me, walking has been the most effective posture to take when talking to my Father in heaven. This is not praying while I need to walk from one place to another. This is praying and the walking is incidental. I am not going anywhere when I walk and pray. That is praying time, not commuting time. I can pray while I commute, but that is not dedicated prayer.

(4) Listen. I am so glad to hear one of you also say that you are also experiencing this. When I pray to Abba Father, I find he talks to me too! Not an audible voice, but suddenly new thoughts come to me that are not “me.” When I am in desperate need for strength or wisdom, as I tell Abba Father my problems, he strengthens me even as I pray. And I emerge from the prayer a stronger, calmer person with less anxiety.

If we neglect prayer as God’s means for our healing, we will never be healed. It is as serious as that. That natural heart-cry in times of desperation is good, but not enough. Your prayer time must be a time of deep personal communion with God. You will find much healing from any brokenness. Your heart will be transformed as you pray. Your deep hurts will come out and gentle healing will soothe your soul. Your worst insecurities will be placed before your Father in heaven, and he will give you the blessing you need to move you from fear to faith. Your pride will melt away. Your besetting sin will be taken apart by the healing of the Holy Spirit and you will see your own heart like never before.

When we pray as Jesus teaches us to pray, a whole new world of spiritual reality opens up before us. We will begin a journey that allows us to experience the presence of God.

Pray. Because without prayer, we will not find healing. It is God’s powerful provision for our wholeness, our wellness. We will never heal without prayer. We will never fail to heal with prayer.

Pastor Peter Eng

The Relevance of God

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Forgiveness and Healing

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B is addicted to gambling. In the past, she would go to Genting to gamble. But now, all she needs to do is to pay $100, and gamble to her heart’s content at MBS. Over the course of a year, she has lost all her savings. She starts borrowing money from loan sharks, always believing her luck will change. It didn’t. She now quarrels with family because she wants to “borrow” from them. She then steals from family to pay the loan shark. She begins a pattern of self-destruction: borrow from loan shark and stealing from family.

One day, she comes to her senses. She calls her estranged family together, confesses her sin, and asks for their forgiveness. She wants to turn over a new leaf. The forgiveness part is taken care of, but what about the healing? The family knows she has a sin pattern and that pattern has to be broken. They want her to register herself so she cannot go to the casino. They want her to use her time constructively by taking on a job. Any job would do. They want her to surrender all her money except her daily allowance. They send her to an addiction clinic for help. And they require her to worship, join a small group, and talk to the church pastor.

Let’s say, the family accept her repentance, but do nothing to help her heal from her gambling addiction. You can be sure she will drift back to her pattern of gambling.

When water has been running down a hill a certain way, it gouges out a path for itself. This becomes the path of least resistance, and the water will head down that path digging a deeper and deeper groove. If we want the water to run along a different way, we need to divert that water. We need to fill up the ravine the water has gouged, we need to do something to effect change.

Our Father’s forgiveness is only the start of his goodness to us. He continues his goodness by providing us healing from our sin issues. These are called “means of grace.” Repentance brings forgiveness, but repentance does not bring healing. It is amazing how often we confuse the two.

If a child says, “I have wasted my time in computer games. From now on, I want to use my time wisely.” The parents are delighted and then expects the child to somehow stop his pattern of behavior and adopt new patterns. It can happen. But more realistically, the child needs support to find new patterns of behavior.

If a person is ensnared in a sexual sin, he can repent from it, and can want to genuinely move out of it. But until and unless he also has a healing process in place, he will fail again and again. He will hate himself and write himself off. He thinks his repentance is also healing. It is not. It is only the start of healing.

If a person is insecure or lonely and gets into all sorts of trouble in her quest for security or companionship, she may repent a hundred times for all the wrong things she does to meet her desperate need. Yet, her repentance will not lead to a new life unless the wound of insecurity and loneliness is addressed.

(1) The first means of grace is also the act of repentance – baptism. In baptism, we say, “I believe in Jesus, I confess him as Lord, and die to sin, and now I will live a new life.” It is like the surgery one needs to get a fracture fixed. Then comes the other means of grace. They are like the physiotherapy and exercise one has to do to recover. They have to be done constantly, regularly, and diligently. (2) One of these is the holy communion. It is the physical affirmation of the spiritual reality of baptism. It is the reminder that we have died to sin, and the sin that we engage in is motivated by the evil one. (3) Another means of grace is prayer. Not the type of prayer that merely lists items, but personal prayer through a time we set aside, call on Abba Father, assume the right posture, and pray out loud to him. (4) In our day, God has provided another means of grace at a level no generation before ours enjoyed. Bible Reading. We have all sorts of reading programs allowing us any version to compare if we think something is unclear; and on days we are too lazy to read, we can even switch to audio and have it read to us. We can read in different fonts and on the computer or the phone. We can do it while we travel. We can even take notes and share with friends in a reading community.

Let us receive not only forgiveness but healing also. Let us exercise God’s means of grace to us with diligence that we may have healing in our soul.

Pastor Peter Eng

Loves Covers a Multitude of Sins

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Love changes the way we look at people. Love takes us from cold rationality to warm, fuzzy bliss. If love is not blind, it is at least near-sighted. Love makes us notice only the good things. It makes us delightfully bias, and unashamed of our bias.

Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love empowers us with the remarkable ability to forget offenses. There have been times when I ought to be angry at a family member, but I can’t stay angry. I am sure you have experience something similar also. Love supplies this strange ability to make us forgive and forget.

Conversely, when we do not love, we are easily offended. There are times in our life when we are unhappy about something or someone, and we choose to turn that unhappiness over and over again in our minds. “I must not let this go” we say. “I must make that person realize his wrong. It’s for his own good after all.”

One sister borrows a dress from another without asking. The other sister gets upset. “I am about to use that dress” she says, full of hurt. “Why don’t you buy your own? Why do you always borrow my clothes?”

“You borrow mine more than I borrow yours!” her sister replies. And there is truth in it.

“But I always ask before borrowing,” comes the retort. And she is speaking the truth too.

“I didn’t think you would mind since you borrow from me so often. Also you were not around.”

The conversation spirals downwards and twenty years later, the sisters are still not talking to each other.

Looking back, the offended sister had chosen to be angry. She wasn’t about to use that dress. She was just saying it to win the argument. But that truth is suppressed because it makes her mean and small.

She nurses her envy towards her sister and wants to grind her down in a “gotcha” moment. She amplifies her grievance, modifies reality, and turns a harmless oversight into the crime of the century.

If her thoughts took another direction, “Oh well, I had not planned on using that dress” the outcome would be very different. Or, if she looks at her sister in her dress and said, “You look really good in that. You must be an head-turner today!” she would have totally ignored her sister’s oversight and delighted in her sister looking good.

There are people we love. And there are people who love us. These more-precious-than-gold relationships are also the ones most susceptible to damage. Our blood family, our spiritual family, our dearest friends, can all be lost in a moment. The Word of God urges us, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8).

The Holy Spirit of God lives in us and gives us the capacity to love. When we hate, when we are mean, when we find fault, it is not truly from within us, for we belong to God. When we allow the devil to whisper evil thoughts into our hearts and act according to those evil whispers, one thing leads to another and before we know it, the devil has succeeded in dividing us.

We can forgive when we recognize the negativity in us is from the devil. We can forgive when we recognize the negativity in the other person is also from the devil. Instead of resisting the devil, we can end up fighting each other, and hating ourselves.

But if love resides in our hearts, we forgive. We hope for the best outcome for the one we love. Love “keeps no record of wrong.” “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

It is my joy to observe that you have made provisions for each other in our community life and service, and that tells me you do love one another. Let us excel more and more in love. For by this, all will know we are disciples of Jesus.

Pastor Peter Eng

Our Father’s Forgiveness

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Celebrating Family

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Chinese New Year is that wonderful season when we connect with relatives, relatives with whom we have no reason to meet. The custom for us to visit the most senior matriarch (or patriarch) on the first day is a bitter sweet experience. We will run into relatives and delight in renewing ties with them. We may also run into relatives we would rather not meet. Both are important. But for tradition and propriety, we may never connect with more distant relatives, and forget that relatives can be adversaries at the same time.

For many people, the cost-benefit of running into adversarial relatives is not worth what we gain in reconnecting with distant friendly relatives. Yet we do it – because of tradition, because if we do not, we are seen as aloof. Acting with mixed motives is the reality in life. But there is great hope for us to sanctify our motives. We can begin to overlay these reunion events with goodwill and see how we can love and reach out to our relatives.

“By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another,” Jesus gently explains (John 13:35). The language of love is universal. Conversion, evangelism, talking about Jesus, can be misunderstood as dominating behavior. This is why the actions of love must shine through clearly. Without love our words are like clanging cymbals. Love is action. This is vitally true in our culture where the verbal expression of love is restraint. CNY is a good time to show love and to follow it through beyond CNY. CNY gives us a traditional context to show love to relatives.

The tradition that promotes strong family ties is a sword that cuts both ways. It makes us responsible people towards our family, but it also tends to limit our generosity to family members. It doesn’t matter that some family members are of the worst character, we can enable them to continue in their waywardness in the name of family. Our love can be sincere but we do not take up the other duty of showing light to the ones we love. Our love can be so bound to earthly tradition that we ignore their spiritual need, in the fear that if we raise it, we lose our earthly relatives.

An event in the life of Jesus teaches us a lot about family.

Matthew 12 46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

We see the priority of Jesus’s relationship with his Father. Every human relationship brings meaning and joy only when it is placed under “Our Father who is in heaven.”

Earthly relations are important. Yet our earthly relations will not endure the curse that ends all relations. Death. The only means through which our earthly relations can be redeemed from death is when they also do “the will of my Father in heaven.” Jesus cares deeply for his mother and brothers. He cares too deeply to let them go their own way when their way is wrong.

Jesus is not asking us to love our family less. He is asking us to love our family right. When we love our family right, we love them more.

This CNY, I would like you to consider how you can love your family and other relatives right, and more. To love with deeds. To give both love and light. Let your hong bao be filled with prayer and love. Let your wishes of prosperity extend to the wealth that cannot be lost. Let your light so shine among people that they see your Father in heaven.

Pastor Peter Eng

Our Father’s Abundance

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Understanding Revelation 4 – The Beast (LECTURE)

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