Posts by Peter Eng

Effective for Jesus

What does it mean to be effective for Jesus?

“Meet on Wednesday, not Saturday,” says this loud booming voice from heaven.  So we moved our meeting from Saturday to Wednesday.

Don’t you wish it were that easy?  I do.  Instead, we met on Saturday and learn that it is not a good day to meet. We explored different nights and finally settled on Wednesday night for prayer, dinner and meeting.

One of our core values in to be effective for Jesus. This value is so utilitarian that if you have been fed a diet of spiritually correct speech, it may seem that effectiveness is contrary to dependency on God.  These are not true opposites.

God calls us to use the ability he has given us to reason and plan, and therein become effective for him.

We rejoice in the Lord that with our move to Wednesday, we are now better able to invite loved ones and friends whom we think will benefit from our meeting.

The sooner we recognize that something is not working and prayerfully seek God’s wisdom, the better off we will be. That is what we mean when we say we want to be effective @TheWell.

I wish there was a voice from heaven.  But God choose to make us grow by requiring us to learn.

.True Happiness Among Kingdom People – Part 2/2

Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

  • Acts 4:32-37
  • Acts 11:22-26
  • Acts 15:36-41
PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD

 

Video Reference:

 

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What is Enough?

by Peter Eng

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“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness”
(2 Corinthians 12:8-9)


When it comes to money, surveys show a majority of people give a number that is about 10% more than what they make. When it comes to a woman in your life, what is enough? Why do so many men have a desire for someone in addition to their wife? Is it the “10% more” discontent transposed to our wife?

When the other woman comes into our life, what is happening? What are the emotional and spiritual dynamics that will lead us astray or keep us true? Here we have the phenomenon of pleasure and pain once more. But the temptation is so well disguised that we often fail to identify it as temptation.

We are confident we can spot temptations and make the right decisions. The reality is quite the opposite. The simple temptations are apparent. But the most powerful temptations come in an insidious disguise. “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

The husband about to abandon his wife for the other woman does not say, “I have been unfaithful to my wife; I cheated on her; I am going to dump her to gratify my selfish lust for the other woman.” Instead, he will invoke the best excuse known to our age—love. He will say, “I love my wife, but I also love the other woman.” In some instances, he will say, “I have a child with the other woman. I cannot ignore my responsibility towards my child.”

We use love as the reason to do many things that are really motivated by less noble passions. Men tend to think in a more compartmentalized way than women. Even then, men find it hard to sort out their own desires. Is it love? Is it lust? Is it a mid-life crisis? Is it an escape? Is it boredom? Is it an opportunity to start life over?

The Chinese culture in Singapore retains the social memory of a wife who is submissive in the home but strong and independent in society. She is like the idealized characters in Chinese wuxia (i.e. Kung-Fu) novels. These women may be powerful fighters, but the Chinese social order expects them to submit to their husbands.

The other woman is extremely accommodating. She taps into our social memory of the submissive wife who prioritizes her husband’s needs over her own. The Singapore man who is accustomed to a self-willed, self-directed wife, who perhaps, over time, has become kids-centered, now experiences something lying dormant in his social awareness. He now lives the pleasure of having a submissive partner, one who makes him feel ten feet tall.

Sufficient in God’s Provision

There will always be something the other woman has that your wife does not. This ignites the fire of romantic love.

Romantic love is powerful. It makes the grass greener, the sky bluer, the food tastier, the smell more aromatic. When we are in-love, life is just better. We need less, we enjoy more, we laugh more, we behave better, we try harder. Love is such a wonderful thing!

The passage of time in a marriage can make us lose a measure of romantic love. The other woman makes us alive again. The call to leave her and your child and keep to your wife is quite an unthinkable denial of pleasure.

And we justify the other woman easily by calling it “love.” But romantic love with the other woman is that disguised angel of light. It looks good, feels good, and when that relationship stands in isolation, it is perfect. Temptation is the enticement to sinful pleasure.

colossiansI will not dispute a husband’s love for the other woman. It may be lust, or romantic love, or a mixture of both. What so easily blinds us to sin, what makes it so easy for us to be deceived by temptation, is that it seems to have the glow of love surrounding it. It is not useful to argue about the nature of the feelings for the other woman. It may be love indeed. But wrong love is sinful love.

We are to love the Lord our God with all our being. If we love passionately, but assign that love to an object, it is idolatry. The wrong object of love makes love a sin. Love is good only when the object of our love is good. The amount of love, the nice feeling that comes with love, the need to make sacrifices for that love, all do nothing to turn a wrong love right. Loving is not God’s love when the object of love is wrong.

We choose to love God, we choose to love our wife, otherwise we choose to love an idol, or to love the other woman. Loving someone, in itself, does not make it right.

John Adams (2nd President of the US) and his wife Abigail lived in different cities in Massachusetts before marriage. They had a courtship that depended heavily on writing letters to each other. After their marriage, they suffered frequent separation because John was always away from home in the service of his country.

John and Abigail Adams were passionately in love throughout their marriage. We know of this through the letters they left behind. They exchanged 1,100 letters! In them, we see their shared burdens, hopes, and passions. They were never emotionally detached despite their separation.

They had a good share of parenting problems, financial problems, career problems, etc. But Abigail never forgot whom she gave her heart, and John never vented his suffering on her. They suffered many stresses, but they chose to suffer together. They chose to love the right person.

Abraham suffered terribly when God asked him to abandon Hagar and Ishmael. “The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” (Genesis 21:11-13).

Abraham came to a time when he had to abandon his son Ishmael. But God’s promise to Abraham was that his provision and blessing will sustain him and Ishmael will also be a great nation. There are times in our life when we need to do the thing that is difficult and trust God for things over which we have no control.

If you have a child with the other woman, you need to hear God’s message to Abraham. And trust God for his provision for your Ishmael.

Sufficiency in Christ Alone

There are women who neglect their husband. Some wives practically drive their husband into the arms of the other woman; and then whine about their husband.

They all call him, “Doctor.” He was already ancient when I was a child. My relatives tell me, “Doctor is a Christian.” That is not remarkable. But they also say, “Doctor’s wife is mental. But he looks after her himself. When he is at work, he employs a nurse to look after her.”

I was only in Primary school. But this doctor’s devotion to his wife was indelible in my mind. I could not understand how he could do it. Of course, I never spoke with him since I was only a kid. But it was clear that my relatives attributed it to his Christian faith. I am guessing that he meant his marriage vow, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health … till death us do part.”

Most of us marry because the other person makes us happy. And when we marry, we are supposed to become happier. What we forget is that happiness in a marriage is the result of a good marriage, not the purpose. If we marry to become happy, we forget the other person also marries us so that she can become happy. What we have are two sinful self-centered persons wanting the other person to make them happy.

Let us step out of marriage to learn a lesson about God’s purposes. Generally, what is God’s purpose for us to meet this or that person? We know not everybody makes us happy. God brings them into our life to make us holy. There will be some who encourage us God-ward and therein lies how they make us holy. But there are others who do the opposite. They bring out the worst in us. These people, no less, are also there to make us holy! They try our patience; they tempt us to anger, anxiety, frustration and other negative emotions. And they play a necessary role in God’s development of our character. They make us holy.

Marriage is the closest relationship two people have with each other. Marriage, more than any other relationship, makes us holy. There will be aspects of the marriage that fosters holiness in a positive way, as in mutual encouragement, love, doing things together, etc. But there will also be aspects of the marriage that are negative, like an indifferent wife. The indifferent wife with negative aspects is no less God’s instrument in characterforming to make us holy. The husband who has an indifferent wife is blessed in a unique way. If we are in this predicament, we will be in a situation we do not want, to learn something we need. We are about to learn sufficiency in Christ.

We will be tempted to reject this pain. We will say we have done our part and what we are going through is unfair. Life should not be like that. We should not be given pain for all that we have done. And we are right. There is pain that we ought to have because we have sinned. But when there is also pain when we have done right, that is a special position in life.

James I:2ff says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter different temptations … that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” It is in such a situation that we can know we are completely in God’s will and not suffering the consequences of our own sins. We are in a place of pain because we ought to be there. This is our Garden of Gethsamane.

This is one time when pain temptation is clearly laid before us. We are to embrace the pain of an indifferent wife and reject the pleasure of the other woman. When we accept the pain of “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” we become “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The coldness of an indifferent wife is not reason for embracing the other woman. It is reason to embrace the pain.


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.True Happiness Among Kingdom People – Part 1/2

Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

  • Revelations 19:7-8
  • James 2:18-19
  • Ephesians 5:15-21
  • Matthew 6:33
  • Matthew 6:1
  • Matthew 35:37-38
  • Romans 4:13-18
  • Matthew 5:12
PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD

 

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Faith in the Public Square

Mike Huckabee was a Baptist pastor who became the governor of Arkansas, ran for the Presidency of the United States, and among other things, is the host of the The Huckabee Show on Fox News Channel.

There are some things l like about what this man is doing. One of them is how he brings good moral and social values into the public square. Another is his readiness to talk about faith in public.

I know he is new to my friends in Singapore. Enjoy the clips below where Huckabee interviews Francis Chan.  You will see two men committed to Jesus engaging the public.

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR1I-ULyAj0[/youtube]

 

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OOsh_ebRQg[/youtube]

Pleasure and Pain

by Peter Eng

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“Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign master, pain and pleasure – they govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think.”
Jeremy Bentham


The temptation a man faces with the-other-woman is intense, but the dynamics are similar to all other temptations. It doesn’t matter if your besetting sin is laziness, the love of money, lack of forgiveness, or idolatry of things and people. The devil has a pattern of attack and if we know that pattern, we can repulse that attack. Our adversary uses the pincer movement of pleasure and pain.

Think about your motive for doing something, anything. Let’s say, your motive for getting out of bed in the morning. Let’s see if your motivations are similar to mine.

I know I accept the pain of crawling out of bed each morning to start a new work day because the alternative is the far greater pain of privation and hunger. If I endure the pain of working beyond my necessities I am motivated by the pleasure of rewards I wish to enjoy, or the pleasure of security, or the pleasure of providing more for my family, etc. The simple act of getting out of bed in the morning to work is a complex mix of motivations, but they all have to do with pleasure or pain.

As a child of God, I seek to purify my motive for getting out of bed to work. Even then, I do it to have the pleasure of God’s approval, and I do it to avoid the pain of God’s displeasure. It is in our DNA. We do things for pleasure or to avoid pain.

When a man is tempted by the-other-woman, he is facing a temptation of pleasure. The proposition is simple enough. It is the proposition of the “adulteress” in Proverbs 7. It is the promise of stolen pleasures without consequences as long as the parties don’t talk about it. It is excused as actions between consenting adults, and nobody gets hurt.

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Why does a person steal? One reason is that he thinks he can get away with it. Why does a person catch AIDS through sex? Because he thinks he can get away with a certain event or lifestyle. The proposition of the “adulteress” is that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience without consequences.

When a person takes drugs, he is manipulated to think in the same way as the victim of the adulteress. Why do people indulge in substance abuse? The overwhelming reason is for its pleasurable effect. A secondary person may be peer approval – which is also pleasure. Most people do not become physically addicted with a single incident of substance abuse. But that one no-consequence of the incident leads to another, and another. The horror of drugs, like heroin, is that after a time, the dependency is so severe that getting off the drug involves a process of great pain. Now the reason to consume the substance transitions from an indulgence in pleasure to avoidance of pain.

The shared dynamic of temptation is this. The pursuit of pleasure brings us to sin, the avoidance of pain keeps us in sin.

The two faces to temptation are pleasure and pain. In modern English we use the term “temptation” to refer to things of pleasure, and not to describe the avoidance of pain. But in older English, such as found in the venerable King James Version, the word “temptation” is used for both the temptation to pleasure, and the temptation to avoid pain. One example of such a use is in the term “The Last Temptation of Christ.” By this, we mean the event in the Garden of Gethsemane. That was the place Jesus spent his last hours before he was arrested. There Jesus agonized over the looming darkness of the cross. What was the nature of that temptation? It was the temptation to avoid the pain of the cross. There was no pleasure involved, there was only pain.

The Greek word for temptation is peirasmos. We notice that the KJV consistently translates “peirasmos” as “temptation” and never as “trial.” But changes in the meaning of “temptation” have caused modern translators to use the term “trial” in place of “temptation.” Below is a comparison.

  • My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (King James Version)
  • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, (New American Standard Bible)
  • Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (New International Version)
  • Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy (New Living Translation).

I had struggled with temptation and I came out bruised and beaten, notwithstanding the repeated assurances that as a child of God, I am supposed to have victory over temptation. As the Lord led me to study Scripture for myself, I was stymied that I did not even know the meaning of temptation. I cannot recall what led to my study of James 1. But it was here my understanding of temptation was challenged.

So how should I read James 1? As “temptations” or as “trials”? “Temptation” has to do with pleasure, and “trial” with pain. How can these opposite experiences in life reside in one word?

First, we note that opposites are connected. If they are simply unrelated, they will not be opposites. Temptation and trial are related as opposites. The trial/pain and temptation/pleasure contrast is connected by motivation in life. We observe there is hardly any action in the ordinary course of life that is not motivated by either pain or pleasure. On this account, the devil uses these same two motivations to entice us to sin.

Second, we note that they possess the cause-effect connection. We know from experience that when we seize pleasure that is improper, we will enjoy the pleasure but suffer pain as the consequence. Conversely, when we accept the privation of not yielding to sinful pleasure, the result is true pleasure. Yielding to sinful pleasure produces pain; and embracing righteous pain produces pleasure.

So when the Bible uses the same word “peirasmos” for both pain-temptation and pleasure-temptation, it calls us to recognize there is a cause-effect of pleasure-pain in temptation. The indulgence in pleasure produces pain, and the acceptance of pain produces pleasure.

When we are tempted, we are tempted to indulge in a sinful pleasure, or we are tempted to avoid a necessary pain. When we indulge in a sinful pleasure such as a tryst with the little dragon maiden, or an addictive drug, we seize the pleasure, confident there is no pain at the other end. The same dynamic applies for all sins, like the sin of gluttony. We delude ourselves into thinking that we can indulge and not bulge. We think we can be lazy without poverty. We think we can overwork without breakdown. We think we can ignore the spiritual disciplines and still be spiritually strong.

We live in an age when we think pain is the greatest evil. I recall Saddam Hussein broadcasting the confessions of a captured pilot, who denounced his own country. It is apparent the pilot was roughed up with a swollen face. Many people say it didn’t matter what he said because he was tortured. The temptation he faced was pain avoidance or staying true to his country. Many US pilots captured by North Vietnam suffered similar temptations, but most refused to give in. The temptation to avoid pain can be very compelling. And it is right for us to accept a pilot’s betrayal as having mitigating factors. But it does not change the reality that the act itself is motivated by pain avoidance.

Coercion is possible only when we fear pain or the ultimate pain, the pain of death. Once we no longer fear pain or death, we are liberated from this temptation. This is the victory of the early church when they faced persecution. They accepted pain and death for loving Jesus supremely, and Rome lost its power over them. We witness the same victory that overcomes the temptation to deny Christ among the persecuted Christians in China and India today. They have the victory because they are prepared to accept the pain.

Most of us do not suffer the pain of persecution. We just suffer ordinary pains in the course of life. For instance, we avoid the pain of developing a career and think that we can somehow escape poverty through our wit. We think that if we avoid the pain of living within our means, and just keep borrowing, things will somehow work out, and there is no day of reckoning. We think we can avoid the pain of rehabilitation from substance abuse, but discover that our addiction has led us to terrible things.

We are naturally driven by either the avoidance of pain or the pursuit of pleasure. The use of peirasmos for temptation and trial (pleasure and pain) returns us to what motivates our actions. Together, they provide the push and pull motivations of life. They also become the bases for sin. When the Bible uses the word peirasmos (temptation/trial) it covers both the sinful indulgence in pleasure and the sinful avoidance of pain.

I will avoid using the term “trial” for peirasmos because it causes us to think of the event differently. Instead, I will use the term pain-temptation and pleasure-temptation as the need may arise.

I think it is important for me to jump to a topic we will cover later, and note that all true pleasure comes from God. There is nothing wrong with pleasure. God gave us the capacity for pleasure. And it gives God pleasure when we enjoy our life with thanksgiving. The devil perverts the pleasure that God gives us for our proper enjoyment. The devil corrupts true pleasure into something selfish, excessive, or abusive; thus turning holy pleasure into temptation to sin.

This is easily observable. Food is good, but food in excess is sinful towards God and harmful for us. Rest is good, but laziness is a repudiation of the productivity God expects of us, and such indolence is harmful to us. Work is good, but when work defines our value or we become workaholics, we depart from God’s purpose for work by neglecting our loved ones. Temptation as sinful pleasure is a perversion of God’s blessing of pleasure.

When we see that the sinful indulgence of pleasure and the sinful avoidance of pain naturally result in the exact opposite, we begin to appreciate the true nature of temptation. To yield to immediate pleasure of sinful indulgence is to choose long-term pain. To accept temporary pain that we are called to bear, is to choose long-term pleasure.

When the Bible uses one word (peirasmos) for both pleasure-temptation and pain-temptation, we see two nuances driving the meaning of the word. First, we become aware of the motivation for our actions. Left to our own devices, we are almost always driven by our anticipation of pleasure or pain. These two opposite motivations are what the devil use to lead us away from God. Next we accept the cause and effect of pleasure and pain. This sensitizes us to the real results of sinful pleasure or the rejection of just pain.

Once I understood how the devil uses both pleasure and pain to induce me to commit sin and remain in sin, I understood how and when to call upon the Holy Spirit to empower me in my weakness. This was a seminal moment for me because it placed everything in perspective.


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.Making Your Happiness Complete

Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

  • 1 Peter 1:3-5
  • 1 Peter 6-9
  • Hebrews 2:10
  • Hebrews 10:34
  • Hebrews 12:1-2
  • Matthew 5:12
PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD

 

Video References:

 

Reference in the message taken from video time segment 12.07-14.30

 

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Journey of Hope: it helps to know where to start

“I want to hold him, but he pushes me away,” a mom describes her angst. “I know it is his condition, but I still feel the rejection.” Moms with kids in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face challenges others don’t dare to know.

“I have been praying desperately for my son, and when I learned of this treatment, I was so hopeful, but it didn’t work. Sometimes I feel that God is not really listening to my desperate cry for help.”

“This preacher prophesied that my son will be healed of autism, and I believed him. But it has been five years and it doesn’t look like anything is happening.”

“There is no cure, no hope for my kid. I know it and there is nothing to pray about. God won’t be healing my kid, and there is no use praying or trying, or go around looking for a cure.”

How do we find hope when there are so many options and no real promise of a treatment that works? Where is God in all this?

Moms suffer the pain of alienation from their autistic kids. It hurts. God knows the pain of alienation. Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” when he hung on the cross and suffered the pain of alienation from his Father. But beyond that alienation was great joy.

“ let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverancethe race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrew 12, NIV)

Hang in there with me will you? We will take a route that leads to the perfecting of faith and arrive at the prize of joy.

Did Jesus heal autism?

If you lived during Jesus’ time and you have an autistic child, would you bring him to Jesus for healing? I would jostle crowds, break through a roof, climb a tree, do whatever it takes to get my kid to Jesus for healing. Jesus healed people from all sicknesses, but autism was never mentioned.

It is quite apparent that the term “autism” will not be in the Bible as the term was coined only in the 20th century. Instead, we look for descriptions that might suggest autism, and in a short-handed way talk about autism / ASD in ancient texts. I still cannot find any such description in the Bible.

According to people cleverer than I, the incidence of people with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is 6-11%. By comparison, the incidence of blindness in India, one of the highest in the world, is 1.6%. Let’s assume people in Jesus’ time had three times more blind people than India. This brings it to 4.8%. If there were more autistic people than blind people and so many of the blind came to Jesus for healing, why didn’t the autistic come?

The world’s oldest medical manuals: the Chinese Huangdi Neijing, the Hippocratic Corpus, and the writings of Galen also fail to identify ASD. Can ASD be an illness that started only in the 20th century, like AIDS, SARS, etc.? Many suspect the 20th century toxins as the culprit: lead, mercury, PCBs, pesticides, dioxin, BPA, car exhaust, etc. Is something poisoning us that we have not figured out? Perhaps we are like the Romans who were poisoned by lead in their drinking water and sweetener and didn’t know it. Some even argue lead poisoning caused the fall of Rome.

Argument from silence is never absolute. But I think there is significant silence on autism in ancient texts all the way through to the 19th century. I know of no ancient text up to the 19th century that identifies autism. My tentative conclusion is that autism was rare or non-existent in biblical times and arose in the 20th century, or maybe a little earlier. So if we look for references to autism in the Bible to find hope, we will be disappointed.

The reality about faith and autism is that the Bible does not talk about it directly. Our hope and prayers are built on the reality that there are probably environmental factors creating this global crisis.

Seven prayers for the parent with an autistic kid

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4)

The most common way God heals us is “through means.” That is, God uses available means to heal our mind and body. For instance, if a person has a gall stone, the most common means for God to heal is through the hands of a skilled surgeon and through the follow-up treatment.

The problem we have with autism is that we don’t have a cure. Those publications that declare there is no cure for autism should qualify it as “no known cure according to the methods of determination used by the scientific community.”

The first prayer for your child’s healing needs to go beyond your child. What you, and others, really need is a cure for your child’s condition, not just for your child. Pray for a cure, not just a miraculous healing for “my kid.” Pray for those who are looking for an effective treatment for autism, that God will lead them to find a cure for this condition.

The second prayer also goes beyond your immediate troubles. Pray that researchers can discover the cause of autism. This is different from a cure because a cure without knowing the cause. However, knowing the underlying cause is important because it can produce a more robust treatment program and allows a correction to the underlying issues.

The medical establishment has a very rigorous process before they will declare a cure is found. This is good in that it prevents charlatans from cheating us. But it is bad because it also denies the validity of a cure until it has passed through their evaluative processes. If a treatment is already discovered but it is cheap and nobody stands to gain from it, the likelihood is that such expensive and rigorous tests will not be conducted and a sound treatment remains in the realm of anecdotal evidence. This reality leads us to the third prayer. If there is a treatment already discovered, pray the Lord lead you to it. At the same time, ask the Lord to keep you from charlatans who claim a cure only to enrich themselves.

The fourth prayer is for yourself as a caregiver. When you are a caregiver, your health, your strength, your mental state, are all affected. Pray for yourself.

The fifth prayer is for God to provide. A parent with an autistic child faces incredible challenges, not the least of which is the cost of care or treatment. I am not suggesting that God has to provide you money for every flaky scheme out there, but ask God to provide your child’s real needs. Ask the Lord for wisdom to manage your finances. Your needs are likely to be specific – pray for them.

The sixth prayer is for you to understand the role of pain in your life. Some Bible teachers give false hope – this leads to disillusionment. Others give no hope – this leads to despair. I like to suggest to you there is a real hope in the midst of pain. Real hope accepts reality and finds God’s goodness in the midst of what may be a harsh reality. Real hope gives strength and courage in times of despair. Real hope returns happiness to a life surrendered to the tyranny of autism.

The seventh prayer is usually our first and only prayer. I leave this to the last because it is the exception rather than the rule. We pray for God’s supernatural / miraculous intervention to heal our kid. There is every reason for us to believe that the Jesus who healed out of compassion still does so. Some things are not meant to be, for reasons we do not know. But from time to time, God has the blessing of a miraculous healing for an illness.

This last prayer is a rather self-focused prayer. It benefits nobody but you. And that is one reason why God often does not grant it. God hears our cry for help. But he knows things we don’t know, and if our apparent good is not ultimately good, he will not hear us.

God is not a befuddled old chap who indulges our every desire. There are prayers he will not grant, there are prayers he grants in limited instances for reasons he alone knows, and there are prayers he loves to grant. He loves to grant prayers when our hearts are opened to the needs of others, when we pray for the healing of all autistic kids.

Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ

Peter Eng

  • Next article: The journey of hope: it helps to know how it will end
    God’s journey of hope is not a journey just hoping for the best while fearing the worst. God has given secure promises of how your journey will end.

See this: Raising Autistic Kids


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Media, Politics and the Kingdom of God

In my previous blog, I had talked about how Channel News Asia represented the Malaysian General Election 2013.  There is a term for this. It is called Dominant Culture Rhetoric.  This means CNA reports the position of whoever is in power.  If the opposition had won, they become the Dominant Culture and CNA will report things from their perspective.

In contrast, some sites in Singapore are filled with Contra Culture Rhetoric.  These are the sites that attract people who oppose everything that is held by those in power.  All policies are consistently opposed, regardless of their soundness (like the Occupy Movement).  Their role in the larger scheme of things is to provide a platform for dissent. In practical terms, they can improve good policies by pointing out where the weaknesses are.  Contra Culture Rhetoric tends not to have a direction of its own.  They function just to oppose.  It is like the football fan who goes to the game with the T-Shirt “Referee Kayu” (Referee is Dumb [Wood]). They are not there to see if the referee does a good job.  They have decided ahead of time he is not going to do a good job.

I want to make clear my position to you.  I adopt a Counter Culture Rhetoric. This is the type of cultural rhetoric found in the Bible.  The Bible was not pro-Roman empire, nor was it anti-Roman empire.  If it were pro-Roman, you will find the Roman worldview represented.  If it were anti-Roman, you will find a seditious worldview.  We don’t find either.  Instead we find the Bible has its own agenda.

When Jesus came, he inaugurated God’s Kingdom.  It is not a “spiritual-only-kingdom.”  Such a view is Dominant Culture Rhetoric.  It is the view that says it doesn’t matter who holds political power on earth or what they do, the Kingdom of God is a personal thing, it is within your heart.

Interestingly Liberal Theology and Conservative Theology have their own brands of Contra Culture Rhetoric. Liberals have Liberation Theology, and conservatives have disparate expressions such as Reconstructionism, Dominion Theology and Kingdom Now Theology. These see the existing political leaders as evil and are in need of replacement or at the very least, they are the antithesis of Christian values. They tend to suggest a vague and more ideal government, but their main task is to criticize the existing governments.

I believe the Bible is Counter Culture.  It was not pro-Rome, it was not anti-Rome.  The Kingdom of God had its own agenda.  At times it fit into the Roman structure, at times it was diametrically opposed, and at times it was unrelated to the Roman worldview.  Let me give you an example.

The early Christians value human life as people created in God’s image.  They couldn’t love God without loving people. The Roman worldview did not accord an equal value to all human life.  Infanticide was common.  Slaves were killed without any legal consequences.  People of lower social status did not get the justice they needed.  The early Christians set out to realize God’s Kingdom.  They did not try to overthrow Rome under the banner of these human rights abuses (which would not have been seen that way during that time). Instead they rescued abandoned babies and raised them as their own. They insisted that slaves and masters were both brothers in Christ.  The spiritual egalitarianism as the basis of their social interactions rejected the stratified rights found in Roman society. They advocated a legal framework that recognized the equal right to life of every human being.  Instead of killing political leaders, they worked to redeem them from error, sin and destruction.

Counter Culture can, and does confront Dominant Culture.  But it is a moral-ethical confrontation not a confrontation by swords and spears.  It is the rejection of evil by living-out and advocating virtue. Counter Culture has its own culture and does not find its raison d’etre in opposing Dominant Culture. The Kingdom of God is neither pro-government nor anti-government.  Secular governments operate with a set of assumptions.  Some are right and some are wrong.  Secular governments create laws and work out their goals, which may be right or wrong.  The Kingdom of God is based on a different value system – the one taught by Jesus Christ.  The existing government can remain, reform or be replaced.  Jesus Christ is not Democrat or Republican. When he returns, Christ will fully realize his Kingdom on earth.  The Kingdom of God is neither a ‘personal-only/spiritual-only kingdom’ nor is it ‘Kingdom Now.’

Christians are called to live-out and to proclaim the inaugurated Kingdom of God on earth now, and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when Christ returns.  We are to live for the present expression of God’s Kingdom while we wait for Jesus himself to bring earth into its glorious future.

My rhetoric is consciously Counter Culture.  I do not have dog in the political fight.  We have a worldview whether we are conscious of it or not. Mine is to live-out and proclaim God’s Kingdom.  You will see me advocating and rejecting things done by the same political entity.  My faith is neither in the PAP, nor WP nor SDP, etc. When I lived in America, I was neither Democrat, nor Republican, nor Libertarian, nor Independent.  I do not live for or against the institutions of man.  I live for the Kingdom of God.

So help me God.

His unprofitable servant,

Peter Eng

myosotis

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