Posts by Peter Eng

God is Answering our Prayer Before we Know it

“Hi Melodie, how’s everything?” I greeted my daughter over the phone, around 12.05am on Saturday. She was 12 hours later than we are, should have arrived at the test center located in center city Philadelphia about 30 minutes before the test reporting time of 12.30 pm, Friday. If she does not make this test for any reason, she will have to wait another year. I have been praying and fasting for her for about 24hrs, and decided to phone so I can pray with her. The people @theWell have also been praying for her, but I had not asked anyone to fast with me. This test is important to us, but not something I was prepared to ask others to join me in a fast. Just two days earlier, I was also praying and fasting for Krystal (our second daughter) for her third teaching certification test. God heard our prayers and she has passed.

“We are still on the road,” Melodie said.

I prayed with her, and after the prayer, learned from the rather desperate sounding Lily in the background that they were in some sort of trouble.

“I-95 is shut down, and we are using local roads. We programmed the GPS to avoid I-95, but we are still stuck in traffic,” Melodie tells me, with only the sheerest hint of tension in her voice. “The ETA according to the GPS is 12.40pm.”

This is disaster!

It’s a good thing Melodie did not seem stressed out. The GPS gives minimum time assuming no traffic. She is to report 12.30pm for the test and they are very strict about timeliness. Late reporting automatically disqualifies test takers. First we prayed. Then I got online again searched for real-time Philadelphia traffic. So, I was on the phone giving directions to Melodie to relay to Lily (who was driving), to avoid traffic hotspots in Philadelphia.

I was waiting for my internet service to be installed. The ISP gave me a limited 3G data card which I could use while waiting for my service. Sister V learned of this and loaned me her dongle so the card could be used. A week earlier, mom had handed me a plastic bag of wires, and other electronic stuff. On Friday night, I opened it and found a prepaid phone card that was still valid. On a whim, I went online using the dongle and bought a prepaid card that allowed easy overseas calling. I was calling Melodie using that card.

Melodie then called the test center to explain that the Interstate 95 shut down due to an accident, and the resulting massive traffic congestion throughout the city as all cars diverted from the Interstate. And our great surprise, the test center said they will let her take the test if she makes it by 1.30pm! The traffic was brutal and it is by no means certain that she will make 1.30pm.

I stayed on the phone and online giving driving directions. When they had passed the traffic hotspots, I hung up and desperately cried out to God. I prayed for 3 things: (1) safety, as people in a hurry can become careless; (2) that she’ll get there on time and be allowed to take the test; (3) that she’ll pass the test (which we will know eventually).

I like to believe that my directions helped. By God’s grace, she arrived 1.20 pm and was allowed to take the test.

Serendipitous? I see the good and merciful hand of God already at work even before I knew it. Why should mom pass me the bag of stuff? Why did I open it after more than a week, but on the same night to find a valid phone card and a working phone? Why did the ISP provide a 3G card without a dongle? Why did sister V loan me her dongle? Why did the extremely strict test center reporting rules allow an hour delay in reporting? And how is it possible that I should be giving road directions here in Singapore to my wife winding through the streets of Philadelphia to get our daughter to her test?

This is the amazing hand of God!

But God is not done.

At about 5.40am, I got a phone call from Krystal. “Not so good,” she replied to my query. Mom is at Target and she is not able to start the car.”

“But that is good,” I replied. The car did not break down on the way to the test center; it broke down only when mom is on her way home.”

This is not life and death. Precisely because it is not life and death and I see God’s wonderful love and care for us, and his incredible concern for even the little things in my life that I marvel and praise him.

Thank you Lord! I stand amazed at how you work. You have answered my feeble prayer effort with marvelous goodness. Who can compare with you? I praise O Lord!

PE@theWell

(26 August, 2013, on the events of 16/17 Aug, 2013)

Arrive Safely at Death

“To arrive safely at death” is powerful irony. It calls us to the reality that we die.  It also calls us to the reality that too many live such timid lives as though by being timid we can avoid death.  Whether we march, dance or tiptoe to death, we all get there. The issue is not about meeting death.  The issue is how we have lived our life when we get there.

Afraid of failure. Afraid to work too hard. Afraid of any uncertainty. And for the risks we cannot avoid, there is an insurance company quite willing to bear that risk for you. We can tiptoe through life as though it makes a difference when we arrive at death’s door.

Christians can be among the most risk adverse people. We seem to think that when doing God’s work, we cannot risk failure.  In part, we are conditioned by the belief that if we are doing God’s work, we can never fail.  If we fail, it is not God’s work.  This leads us to a spirit of timidity. So we choose the least risk, and the options most likely to succeed and call it God’s work.

Jesus chose Peter to lead the twelve because he was bold.  He made mistakes and we mock his failures.  In part, it is because we are timid and are afraid of failures. Peter pushed himself to the limits of faith.  He is the one who asked Jesus to let him walk on water.  He is passionate about Jesus and eager to test what it means to trust in Jesus. 

Peter denied Jesus because he placed himself in the courtyard of the high priest when Jesus was tried. Only John was with Peter, and John was somewhat protected because he was known to the high priest. Peter took the most risk, and failed.  But it was part of God’s plan for Peter; that he will fail because he was tempted while the other disciples were not.

While Satan would put all the disciples to the test, Jesus said he had a special prayer for Peter, “But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32).

The tiptoeing Christian will not risk anything for God, will not invest in God’s work, will not stretch his faith even as God is calling him. He will never know victory because he never risked failure in spiritual battle.


Apostle Peter – Part 2

Bethsaida, about 2 km from the shore
Peter’s first hometown was Bethsaida (John 1:44; 12:21) before he moved to Capernaum (Matthew 8:5, 14).  There is both historical and spiritual significance in this.

There is dispute on the location of Bethsaida [Aramaic: House of Fishing].  The traditional site of Bethsaida (Julias) was under the jurisdiction of and raised by Philip the Tetrarch.  The chief problem with this site is that it is about 2 km from the shore of Galilee and it does not make a good fishing village.  Some have suggested Peter’s Bethsaida is a location yet not discovered, or not yet identified among the excavated sites, but one that is much closer to Capernaum where Peter eventually moved. There have been some suggestions, but none is confirmed. So for now, we will work with Bethsaida Julias as the site of Peter’s first home (that we know of). John is the one who recounts this detail. And John and James were fishing partners with Peter and Andrew. As far as John was concerned, Peter and Andrew were the guys from Bethsaida.  This suggests the move was fairly recent.  In any case, it suggests they were adults when they moved.

We do not know why Peter and Andrew moved to Capernaum.  If they had lived in Bethsaida Julias, it is unlikely that they were fishermen there as the coast was 2 km away. Of course it is possible that they were fishermen and were tired of making a daily commute and decided to move closer to the shore.

I like to suggest that when Peter and Andrew moved to Capernaum, it was somewhat   tied   to  their  entering  into   the fishing business with John and James, with their father Zebedee. Perhaps Peter and Andrew relocated to be closer to their business partners who had a better location than their own.  Perhaps they moved first and found James and John later.

At some point after they were business partners, Jesus called them to be his disciples.  We do not know the interval, but when we factor in Peter and Andrew’s move from Bethsaida and their fishing partnership, it could have happened not long before Jesus called them to follow him.

Peter and Andrew, James and John could view the call to discipleship two ways.  One is to argue that they have a newly formed and good business going on.  God couldn’t possibly want them to put that on hold, or on the backburner to follow Jesus.  The other way is to say that even though their aim was to build a business, and they came together for that purpose, God had a higher plan for them.  He was redirecting them to follow Jesus and put their fishing business on the backburner — they should follow Jesus and just wait and see what would happen to their business.

Bethsaida - The Fisherman House

We know they decided to follow Jesus. Their cost was to become absentee business owners rather than owner-operators. They had to let go of their business operations.  That too, was risk. That too was a step of faith. Especially for Peter and Andrew.  They moved from Bethsaida to Capernaum for a reason, and it wasn’t Jesus.  They had to make significant adjustments to follow Jesus.

Taking Risk for God

We will not accomplish anything for God when we do not try anything.  This world celebrates the successful, but Jesus looks at the person who dares to try.  The surest way to never to fail as a Christian is to never attempt great things for God. 

The world defines Peter by his failure.  He is the one who denied Jesus.  Jesus himself predicted Peter’s denial.  But there was something about Peter that caused Jesus to say, “once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32). The one who will fail is the one chosen to strengthen others beyond his own failure.

The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man (1 Cor 1:25). We look to leaders who have never fallen.  Jesus looks to men who would take risk for him — even if they fail. But there will be a redemption with their failure.  They will grow much more than those who did not try.  They will know what it means to push the envelop of their faith, and not live in spiritual mediocrity because they are afraid to fail.

There is a reason why the blandest people seem to lead churches.  People choose those who never fail, even if it is because they never try.

Yes, Jesus chose Peter despite his failure. But why did he choose Peter?  Is it not because he was the boldest?

We remember Peter denied Jesus three times.  But we forget the other disciples fled.  Only Peter and John were there when they tried Jesus.  The other disciples were not around to deny Jesus. John was never placed in that predicament.

Peter followed Jesus from the front.  He had that special turn of character that did not depend on the actions of others. He was willing to take spiritual risk. While the other disciples followed Jesus, they often looked to Peter and followed Peter following Jesus — and then sometimes not — as at the trial of Jesus.

Christians today look for two types of leaders: those who are bland and if they are bold, they must not have failed in any dramatic way.  Christians can live with non-performance among their leaders, but cannot live with failure.  Jesus cannot tolerate a lukewarm church, but he chose a man who would try even when his spiritual strength is not yet equal to his task. 

When Peter denied Jesus, Jesus did not reprimand him; he only looked at Peter in love. Jesus chose the only disciple who denied him to lead the others to confess him. What mystery of grace and power in Jesus our Lord!


Apostle Peter – Part 1

Artist-perception-of-Peters-denial.jpg

Peter was probably the oldest of Jesus’ disciples.  This led to a consistent portrait of Peter as an old man. In some instances, as a very old man. The artists seem to forget that he was young once!

Peter-deny-Jesus-2-Rembrant.jpg

When Jesus began his ministry, Jesus was about 32/3 years old.  It is likely that Peter was not much older (if indeed he was older) than Jesus.  At the time when Jesus walked the earth, we should expect Peter to be no older than his mid-thirties.

Peter-weeping-after-denying-Jesus.png
The representation of Peter in “The Passion of the Christ” is closer to the age of Peter at that time.  It may still be a little too old, but that depends on how quickly an individual ages.

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When Peter first met Jesus, he was living in Bethsaida.  Not long after, he moved to Capernaum.

Peter was married.  We do not have the name of his wife in the Bible. We also do not know if they had children. One possible reason for this silence is to protect them during this time when persecution, or the threat of persecution, was ever present.

Peter’s ministry started with the Jews, but it very quickly included Gentiles.  He was originally based in Jerusalem, but eventually went to Rome where he served a significant length of time.

While in Rome, he bore witness for Jesus.  Mark was this companion assistant and he recorded Peter’s account of Jesus.  This eventually became the Gospel according to Mark.  Mark’s Gospel is really Peter’s portrait of Jesus Christ.  But in it, we also find Peter’s portrait of himself.  It is a humble representation of his own foibles and Jesus’ greatness.

Matthew and Luke used Peter’s (Mark’s) account as their framework.  John did not.  So John’s representation of Peter is much kinder than Peter’s representation of himself.

Two things stand out in the early church. The individual who did wrong is most likely the one who made it public.  The other Christians represented the failure more kindly than the person who failed.

This stands in contrast to the thinking of the world, which has also crept into the church.  The wrong-doer denies fault or minimizes it, and third-parties, including Christians, can be vicious in their attacking the brother who has fallen.

Apostle Peter 05: Jesus, My Superhero (Part 2)

Bible Reference: Mark 1:1-20

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Apostle Peter 05: Jesus, My Superhero (Part 1)

Bible Reference: Mark 1:1-20

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Petition & Intercession

Prayer is talking to God — Yes. There is a prayer that is easy going.  It is a conservation, a banter, a chat in good times when we feel no weight or pressure.  It is when we see the majestic mountains, the vast oceans and thank God for his creation.  It is when we learn about the amazing complexity of even a single cell and marvel at his creative goodness.

Then, there is the prayer of desperation when we set aside time to pray to God about our sick child, our own failing health, our financial crisis, some extreme danger we are about to face.  That type of prayer takes spiritual energy.

Let me make an observation here.  Desperation is not prayer, desperation is not faith.  Desperation is no more than desperation.  Prayer is TIME and energy set aside EXCLUSIVELY to seek God. It is making and keeping an appointment with God to talk to him about your problem.  The problem drives you to your knees and turns your face Godward.

Many of us have experienced such committed prayer.  But not many have transposed a similar level of passion of energy when we pray for others.  In most instances, our love is too shallow and too narrow to pray for another person the same way we pray for yourself.

True intercession is the fervent prayer for another individual.  This is why intercession is serious business.  It is emotionally draining, and it takes spiritual energy.  “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16b NLT).

Our passion, our commitment, our expression that we really want this thing, matters with God.  It is like Jacob wrestling for God’s blessings. So better a few intercessory items that engage your entire being that endless lists of items said with no passion.

As a community of people, God has called us to the MINISTRY of intercession.  It is a ministry, it produces spiritual results by trusting in God.  It is not a mere listing of items. 

Let us engage fully in a prayer ministry that is biblical, authentic, relevant and effective.

Malicious Prosecution

by Peter Eng

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The Sadducees

When Jesus stood before the high priests, he suffered malicious prosecution.

57Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

59The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.

60But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.  Finally two came forward 61and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” (Matthew 26, NIV)

Christians tend to believe the words of the prosecutor.  The vast majority of the time, they prosecute criminals and keep the society at peace and call criminals to account for their evil deeds.  Prosecutors have a difficult and sacred duty.  My sense of how prosecutors work in Singapore is that they tend to press charges only for what the person is truly guilty of — at least in their minds, and with the proper integrity of heart.

From time to time, around the world, I have seen prosecutors who are obviously malicious.  They throw all sorts of charges against the defendant and hope that some will stick.  In some instances, they do it because they cannot prove the real crime and can prove a fabricated one.  In other cases, they are politically motivated.  And of course, there are prosecutors who are just mean. They are like the police who abuse their authority, the soldier who pillages the weak, rapes the defenceless, and kills civilians because he can do it and get away with it. 

Most times, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day kept the peace.  But when it came to Jesus, the evil in their heart surfaced.  The Pharisees did not have political power but had social influence, and they were envious and incensed to lose their social influence to Jesus. The Sadducees did not have much social influence, but they had political power, and they did not want the Messiah to come and take away their power.  The Herodians were supporters of the House of Herod and clearly did not want Jesus to rule.

Under the cover of night, the Sadducees (high priests) arrested Jesus, and began their malicious prosecution of Jesus.  This is a grave evil at the highest level.  The people who are entrusted with the power to prosecute have the power to protect the innocent in society.  But if they turn their power to evil purposes, they will stand before the just Judge who will not let their guilt go unpunished.

Prosecutors are imperfect people, like we all are.  But if prosecutors deliberately prosecute the innocent, they should be held accountable.  The name of the Sadducees go down in infamy for their malicious prosecution of Jesus.

Angela Corey

Sanford, FL.  The jury found George Zimmerman “Not Guilty” on all charges.  As I expressed in my blog, it is clear that Zimmerman acted in self-defense in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. I am glad Zimmerman is a free man today.  But there is much travesty of justice in his prosecution alone.  This injustice was done by Democrats and Republicans alike.  But most painfully, the severest antagonists are identified as Christians. 

President Obama gave impetus to what eventually became malicious prosecution when he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Is it appropriate for a President to identify with Trayvon simply on race alone? Is that worthy of a President who serves the interest of all Americans?

Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev Jesse Jackson are leaders within the African-American population.  They riled the African-American with lies about Trayvon and Zimmerman to advance their careers as politicians. I shall not demean myself by repeating their demagogic statements.

The extreme left-wing NBC has done it again. NBC is (associated with XIN-MSNBC), our source of news in Singapore.  This is how they depicted Zimmerman’s conversation with the 911 dispatcher.

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

The actual conversation was:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

NBC deliberately edited out the fact that Zimmerman did not look on Martin racially, but was noting his actions. NBC also omitted the fact that it was the dispatcher who asked for the racial profile, and Zimmerman was responding to the dispatcher. NBC has apologized but the harm is done.  The African-American population were baited, took the bait, and they are now furious with Zimmerman for an issue NBC (among others) created.  If I were African-American, I think I will be upset too!  

Other media falsehood include a picture of Trayvon when he was 12 years old, another in a nice white hoodie.  We know that a person can change dramatically during those years.  While the image of Trayvon should not be the issue, it became one.  It is therefore right that the public should understand what the real Trayvon looked like on the night he was shot.  The judge did not allow unsavory details of Trayvon to be raised in court, and I am assuming she had legal bases for the ban.  Now that the case is over, details have emerged that Trayvon was suspended from school three times (?), was using marijuana, knew a lot about guns, and was certainly not a 17 year old who looked like a 12 year old, going home after buying a bag of skittles.

Trayvon was over 6 feet tall, well muscled, and without a doubt, was raining blows on Zimmerman. He broke Zimmerman’s nose, smashed his head against the concrete pavement, and held Zimmerman in a “ground and pound” punching him repeatedly.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN

There is just a total lack of evidence for anything other than that Zimmerman acted in self-defense. The lies told by the media, Al Sharpton and others created pressure to which the weak caved in, the ambitious seized upon, and the malicious carried out.

On the night of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, police arrested Zimmerman and brought him in for questioning.  They found Zimmerman’s account of self-defense sustainable and did not have probable cause to hold him or to book him. So they released him.

The black politicians like Rev Al Sharpton and other community leaders wanted Zimmerman charged.  The police chief William Lee could not do it because there was no “probable cause.” He was then fired for not charging Zimmerman. Here is his interview with CNN: CLICK

“I had one of the city commissioners come to me on two different occasions and say, ‘All we want is an arrest.’ And I explained to them, ‘Well, you just can’t do that, you have to have probable cause to arrest somebody.’ And it was related to me that they just wanted an arrest, they didn’t care if it got dismissed later. You don’t do that.”

Politicians want to show support for the African-American population by bending to the passion created by NBC and the likes of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the NAACP, the Black Panthers, etc. The city commissioner threw justice out of the window and insisted that Lee does what is wrong to satisfy his political agenda.  This city commissioner should be held accountable.

The next victim of malice was Norm Wolfinger, the State Prosecutor with the original jurisdiction over the death of Trayvon.  He refused to prosecute Zimmerman because there was inadequate evidence that Zimmerman committed a crime.  He stepped down.  The reason(s) are unclear to me, but it appeared that he did so under pressure.  He also expressed outrage at the lies presented to the Justice Department for federal review as though there were some cover-up in his position.

The Justice Department under Eric Holder decided to pursue the case against Zimmerman.  This action, at the very least, received the tacit support of President Obama who identified with Trayvon.  The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott caved in to pressure and appointed Angela Corey to prosecute Zimmerman.

ERIC HOLDER

The evidence is clear.  Starting with Obama down, the politicians have caved in to racial and political pressure to prosecute Zimmerman when there was no case. They will keep looking until they found someone willing to do the dirty job.  And they found Angela Corey to do the dirty job of prosecuting an innocent man.

This reminds me so much of the malicious prosecution of Jesus.  Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians, and Romans, all converged on an innocent man to crucify him because it was expedient for each group that he should die.

While there is culpability all around for the malicious prosecution of Zimmerman, Corey is the most responsible. This is because she deliberately perverted the rules of engagement as prosecutor in trying to get a conviction.  Her role as prosecutor is to uphold justice.  To the extent that justice calls for a conviction she has the duty to prosecute.  If she perverts justice to get a conviction, she has acted in malice.

Angela Corey has a reputation of viciousness in her prosecution. The evils in Corey’s actions began with accepting a case where there are no merits.  She is supposed to be Episcopalian / Anglican.  She has disgraced her faith and shall stand before Christ who suffered malicious prosecution. What she has done to the least of the defenceless people in malice, she has done to Christ.

Let me demonstrate my case against Corey. About a month ago, Information Technology Director Ben Kruidbos revealed that Corey was hiding from the Defense information which they were required to reveal.  Sometime around last Friday, Corey fired him. Corey was wrong in hiding information. She was perverting the course of justice.  Because she had the power to do so, she fired the person who showed she was perverting justice.

During the trial, the prosecution imputed evil motives and misrepresented information to the jury.  Their case was built on speculative accusations and did not have a single shred of evidence. To top off what is a case of malicious prosecution, they changed their charges last minute and the judge allowed the lesser charge of manslaughter to go forward to the jury when the entire case was prosecuted in court and defended as second degree murder. The evidence was so overwhelming that despite the last minute switch, Zimmerman was still found “Not Guilty.”

The prosecution succeeded in keeping the image of the real Trayvon from the court.  If the role of prosecution is to convict, I can see why they do that.  But if the prosecutor’s role is to protect the public and only go after the real criminals, I cannot see why they deliberately perpetrated a false image of Trayvon.

ANGELA COREY

“…  text messages and photographs from Martin’s mobile phone, which show him smoking, discussing drugs and firearms and being “kicked out” from home by his mother, cannot be brought up in opening statements and will only be admitted later with her approval, she [judge Debra S Nelson] ruled.” (By Richard Luscombe, The Guardian. Tuesday, May 28, 2013 15:56 EDT)

Angela Corey’s wrong is so apparent that a Harvard Law Professor Dershowitz openly pointed out Corey ought to be disbarred.  Here is the interview: CLICK

MIKE HUCKABEE: You have said that you thought the prosecutor ought to be disbarred, that’s a pretty serious type of violation to get a person disbarred. It is that serious to you?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Right, it is. She submitted an affidavit that was, if not perjurious, completely misleading. She violated all kinds of rules of the profession, and her conduct bordered on criminal conduct. She, by the way, has a horrible reputation in Florida. She’s known for overcharging, she’s known for being highly political. And in this case, of course she overcharged. Halfway through the trial she realized she wasn’t going to get a second degree murder verdict, so she asked for a compromised verdict, for manslaughter. And then, she went even further and said that she was going to charge him with child abuse and felony murder. That was such a stretch that it goes beyond anything professionally responsible. She was among the most irresponsible prosecutors I’ve seen in 50 years of litigating cases, and believe me, I’ve seen good prosecutors, bad prosecutors, but rarely have I seen one as bad as this prosecutor, [Angela] Corey. (Huckabee, July 14, 2013)

The way of the wicked

In this malicious prosecution of Zimmerman, it is truly sad to note that many of the principal characters are Christians of one stripe or another! What a disgrace to the name of Christ!

Angela Corey is an Episcopalian (on record). The most vociferous inciter of hatred are Rev Al Sharpton (Baptist) and Rev Jesse Jackson (Baptist).  Obama who gives impetus to the current chaos was a long time member of a Black Liberation Theology church. Governor Rick Scott who appointed Corey is a founding member of Naples Community Church.  It is a sad day for America, a sadder day for Christians. Malicious prosecution was the legal instrument that nailed Jesus to the cross.  Even though justice was done in that Zimmerman was found “Not Guilty,” what great evil was done in the mere act of prosecution! So-called Christians tried to do to Zimmerman what was done to crucify Jesus — malicious prosecution — because it was politically expedient to do so.

May the Lord have mercy on these who have acted with such malice. May the Lord bring them to repentance and may they seek the forgiveness of Zimmerman whom they have wronged so gravely. Psalm 1 says there will come a day when the “way of the wicked” will perish. Let us pray that God’s kingdom come, and God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.  Let us pray this dark day will pass, and those called by the name of Christ will promote justice and truth, not lies and malice.


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Intercession

It is quite common for us to hear prayer requests like, “Pray for my boss, my co-worker, my friend’s brother, etc.”  I wonder how many of us really bother to pray for someone we don’t know or have no real passion towards. I can see you praying passionately for someone at your place of work.  But do you pray passionately for someone at someone else’s place of work?

Most of us do not pray for a friend’s friend, but we ask others to pray for our friends.  It is good to pray for an extended circle of people, but we need to watch our hearts and ask what that prayer request means. 

I will pray for your friend whom I don’t know. But prayer is real ministry, real spiritual and emotional energy which I cannot exhaust myself willy-nilly. I will ask if I can minister to your friend more fully. To visit, speak with, meet the family members, and engage more fully so that my prayer can be more meaningful, and when the prayer is answered, the recipient of the blessing will glorify God.

When I agree to take on a prayer request, I am agreeing to serve a person.  It is a serious commitment, and I need to engage more fully with the person for whom I am praying.  As much as some of us treat God as a Santa Claus, they look at pastors as Santa’s Helpers.  That is a role I find hard to fill. 

Prayer is powerful and serious business.  The prayer for the one who needs it, is an exercise to bring someone alongside to prayer the prayer of faith and thereby grow.  It is also a prayer to faith for one who is not in fellowship with God. I may ask in different words, but I would ask the recipient, “When God answers your prayer, what will be your part?”  A prayer request must bring the blessed individual closer to God. Agreeing to a prayer request is not agreeing to pass on a message to Santa.

Our Limited Justice

[Reflections on Shane Todd, George Zimmerman, and the Kingdom of God]

Have you seen a court case or some social injustice, and feel indignant?  Perhaps this is less so in Singapore because the media carefully aligns itself to the official position. So most of us in Singapore will only read what we ought to read, and hear the objections we ought to hear, and come to the conclusion with the official position because others manage our information — less so now with the internet.

Despite how our media manage our information, there is a group of Singaporeans who distrust everything found in the official position, and find a conspiracy under every stone.  They will oppose the ruling party because they are ruling.  If another party is ruling, they will oppose that party.  They are just the perpetual opposition, perpetual objectors; they make cynicism their badge of pride.

Let me point to these two events so we can go through our emotional indignation together.

Not too long ago, Shane Todd, an American scientist who worked in Singapore was found dead, hanging in his bathroom.  The Financial Times began to speculate that he was murdered but it was made to look like suicide, and the Singapore investigators were either incompetent, or worse. The conspiracy theory is that Shane’s work is connected to Huawei, the China company, and this work led to his murder. Shane’s family took up the issue and eventually the US government got involved.  The FBI and other American personnel were given full access to the Singapore investigation.  My initial assessment was that the case of conspiracy was weak.  At the same time the Singapore side was saying that they cannot discuss an ongoing case.  I didn’t have much to go on, but the prima facie case is that it was suicide and not murder, but there is a possibility that the Singapore investigators who have less experience with murder and staged suicide may have missed out something.  So I was pleased to learn the US government is 100% satisfied with their access to information, etc.

The case was reexamined, and the conclusion is that Shane’s death was suicide and the US government is satisfied.  The only dissatisfied parties are Shane’s family and Financial Times. In this case, I believe truth prevails and justice has not suffered any miscarriage — in the legal sense.  But it is unfortunate that FT remains obtuse and insist they have done no wrong.  This only discredits the FT in the long term. I am pleased that the Singapore government did not respond to the FT with defamation suits because if they had done so, it would suggest Singapore has something to hide.  Instead, they allowed any lingering doubt to surface and their position challenged in public.  Truth is not afraid of investigation. In this instance, the Singapore government and the investigators emerge fully exonerated. It is not just the Singapore court decision that upheld suicide but the US government satisfaction that Shane was not murdered and this must persuade even skeptics.

It grieves me to see the netizens condemn Singapore’s handling of the case, which I believe was completely clear headed, as was the US government’s.  The only befuddled people are FT, the two demagogic senators from Shane’s state, and Singapore’s own netizens who adopt a “blame Singapore first” attitude. My indignation was not towards the Singapore system.  In this case, it is admiration.  My indignation is towards FT and certain netizens.  The foolishness of Shane’s family can be ameliorated by their grief. But what excuse can Singapore netizens have to condemn ourselves when we are right?

I think most Singaporeans do not follow the trial of George Zimmerman now approaching its close in a live televised court in Florida.  So please be patient as I outline it for you.  Last year, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. There is no debate on that.  The question was whether it was self-defense or some level of culpable homicide. Race should not come into play when we are concerned with justice, but it does.  And the sooner we acknowledge it, the better off we will be.  George Zimmerman is hispanic and Trayvon Martin is black.

On the night of the event, Zimmerman, a member of the neighborhood watch noticed a suspicious character, a tall black man in a hoodie in his neighborhood where there had been many break-ins. He called 911 and wanted to follow the man.  They eventually encountered each other and it led to a fist fight.  Martin (black), got the better of Zimmerman (hispanic), smashed his head to the ground, broke his nose, and was sitting on top of Zimmerman pulmetting him with blows.  Zimmerman was armed, and reached for his gun and shot Martin who died in a very short time as the bullet went through his heart.

Zimmerman’s testimony, his call for help, his head injuries, his broken nose, all point to a prima facie case that he was indeed acting in self-defense. The police did not arrest him or charge him.  The state prosecutor also saw self-defense and did not prosecute Zimmerman.  But Obama and the black activists, including those who call themselves Christians, pressed for charges to be brought against Zimmerman.  The police chief who did not press charges was fired. The state attorney who did not press charges against Zimmerman was pressured to remove himself. Another prosecutor was appointed who would charge Zimmerman.  It is clear that there did not appear to be a real case against Zimmerman. People were losing their jobs in the name of justice for a stranger they did not know!  But, we must not be hasty.  There may be things that will come out in court that we the public does not know.

All the evidence has been presented in court and the prosecution and defense are now presenting closing arguments. All the commentators and what I can follow on the case indicate that the charge of second degree homicide will not be able to stand. Knowing this, the prosecution wanted the jury to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter — the judge allowed it.  The prosecutor also wanted to include the charge of third degree homicide based on child abuse (because Martin is 17 years old) — the judge disallowed it.

I have not speculated on Zimmerman’s motive for following Martin, and I have not speculated on Martin’s actions that dark night.  But the evidence is clear.  The grass stains were on Zimmerman’s back and Martin’s knees, Zimmerman had head injuries and a broken nose.  Eyewitness called by the prosecution confirmed Martin was on top beating Zimmerman, after which the shot went off.  There is not even enough evidence for the police to book him or the prosecutor to proceed.  This prosecution was created by the political pressure from black activist groups and Obama himself.  If Zimmerman were to be convicted for anything, it would be a grave injustice and Obama would have been a significant contributor to this injustice.

I am not white, not hispanic, not black, and I don’t have a dog in this fight.  My only interest is for justice.  Even if Zimmerman is acquitted, is justice served? He would remain a free man, but he has legal bills he will never be able to pay off (I am guessing).  When justice is done there is still injustice in the process. And these government servants who perpetrate injustice are not accountable while those who chose to do right were fired or had to step aside.  Would this be justice?

True justice comes when Jesus rules. In the great prophecy about the Messiah to come, Isaiah said, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:7).

When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven” we are praying and exercising our hearts to long for the day when justice will prevail on earth.  We are praying for true justice.  We are praying that God in Christ will return to rule the earth and doing so as the all knowing judge, justice will prevail.

There is an imperfect justice even in the best of courts. This is because our laws are imperfect, our knowledge is imperfect, and our motives to pursue a case are often wrong. In the case of Shane Todd, Singapore has to be humble and in the process of time vindicated herself.  In the case of Trayvon Martin, the first victims of wrong prosecution are already fixed: the police chief who refused to book Zimmerman and the original state attorney who refused to prosecute. Obama abused his power with comments unbecoming of a president, and the black activists are the chief proponents of injustice in this case. But these people will never be held accountable.

Lord Jesus, raised up a people in America who can discern right from wrong.  Let them choose their next leaders based on sound ethical principles.  Quash the evil tide of injustice, special interest groups, and those who call ‘good’ ‘evil’ and who call ‘evil’ ‘good.’

Lord God, expand the minds of your people in Singapore who still think that we can isolate ourselves from the shifting tides of this world.  Cause us to pray for our leaders and the leaders of the world, that your kingdom will come to earth, and your will be done here on earth as in heaven. Cause us to reject any delusion that Singapore is heaven on earth, and let us turn our trust to you and not to man.

Peter Eng (11 July 2013)

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The Presence of God

5I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. … 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15)

From time to time, the Holy Spirit of God will move powerfully in the midst of a group of Christians praying, and that presence of God will be undeniable.  But if we do not practice the presence of God in our private prayer, it is unlikely that we will experience the presence of God in corporate prayer.

In fact, Scripture tells us that when the Holy Spirit comes on a heart that is not prepared to receive him as a true child of God, strange things happen to the person who so receives the Holy Spirit.  (1 Sam 19:23-24)

First, we need to seek the presence of God during consecrated time.  That is to say, we need to set aside time to be with God in prayer and experience his presence there through the normal engagement in prayer — starting with thanksgiving, confession, etc.

Experiencing the presence of God in prayer is a wonderful thing.  It makes our faith real.  It establishes a relationship with God, and in that, we truly abide in the vine (i.e. in Christ).  Our prayer takes on a different dimension — it gets answered!

Next, the Christian who has first experienced the prayer presence of God can learn the experience of the perpetual presence of God. This happens when the Holy Spirit of God fills our life that the moments of a day are passed in God’s presence. There is a God-consciousness and a God-communion throughout the day.

Many Christians have not experienced the first and so cannot experience the second. Let us seek the presence of God in prayer and truly grow in our Christian walk.