Sep 28, 2009


And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'(Mar 12:30)

The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. We are blessed with abundance and receive His uninterrupted daily mercies. All that we have, all that we are, all that we will ever be; what is there, that we have, presently or in the morrow, that was not first given or ordained for us; starting with our very next breath!

Granted the given, we should not find the above commandment difficult to reciprocate. On the contrary, it would be indeed arduous to dispute or ignore His goodness and His goodwill. Yet being on this side of heaven, we are prone to grapple the gifts, more than we would regard the Giver. We will continue to struggle and wrestle with the commandment.

There are many good and right gifts. Some, would go on to so engross our attention, till our vision gets blurred, our hearts dulled, our souls submerged, and our strength sapped. We become so steamed and, like little children, are carried away in the torrent. Truthfully, we all have our pet indiscretions. The reality of ‘enjoying’ them, purportedly minor, cannot be dismissed. Not infrequently, we would ‘do’ these things because it suits us; it is not always that we have struggled hard, slipped and failed. It is more convenient, if not pleasurable, to yield and succumb. We pay a high price for our indulgences. We are deceived and separated from the One who laid down His life to redeem us. Whatever joy, happiness, fulfillment or success derived, cannot profit us in this brevity; what more, if we would know, that it offends Him.

We would confess that it is sin that separates us from Him. We know how irreconcilable sin is to His character. We weekly remember the price, He had to pay, to heal us of sin. But still, and in our weakness, we practice idolatry and hurt Him. Of themselves, many of the idols, may be very good and very right, but idolatry is sin. The best of good things are not necessarily unselfish. The best of gifts can be distorted. We are often blinded to the fact that they are, in finality, only gifts. They were never meant to be the ends. How oft we forget, the purpose for these gifting.

Consider, the ambitions we dedicate ourselves to, being mindful of those things that will have to be left behind; ‘naked I entered this world, naked I will depart’. It would be ironic, if not sad, to learn, that as astute as we would imagine ourselves to be, we have embraced folly with colossal loss. Contemporary thought exhorts, and advertises, the virtues of self-fulfillment, self-actualization, of ‘me-first’; Nike’s clarion to ‘Go for it’ sounds innocuously encouraging and is representative. With retrospect deliberation, we will surmise that these pursuits are truly incompatible with ‘denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and following Him’? Cherishing the world detracts us from the glory of His Kingdom. To say that we would love the LORD and continue in sin is an impossible position to negotiate.

Love is said to be a choice, we were called to make.

"Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Jos 24:14-15)

May we keep our eyes on Him, who loved us, and gave Himself for us. May we be faithful in keeping His command; to love Him with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our strength, and with all our minds. And our neighbor, as ourselves. Amen.

God bless.


Sep 21, 2009


That the LORD is good, patient and long-suffering is a matter we are well apprised, but scant to vocalize. He provides for the whole earth, man, beasts and all living creatures, all their sustenance. He gives them, their very next breath. He maintains and holds together the entire universe in precise obedience to all His will. He watches over every entity, large and small. Nothing is too miniscule and no-one is insignificant. For all His care and undivided attention, without rest, without breech or break, does anyone care to say “Thank You”? It would be well to remember that He is the Creator, having full and final prerogative over His own handiwork; why should He persevere in supporting and caring for unthankful creatures? Perhaps it is only the human race that is careless in this regard. Scripture does describe, that all creation including the mountains, trees, animals, sun, moon and stars all bow in homage to the Creator LORD. The Lord Himself said that the stones will cry out even!

We, who profess to be His children, His redeemed people, His royal priesthood, should be the first in line, to offer Him praise and thanksgiving. He has made us, saved us, and continues to shower His grace and mercies, new every morning upon us. He watches our going out and our coming in. He holds us in the palm of His hands, under the shadow of His wings, keeping us from falling and will never allow us to be tempted beyond that which we are able. Nothing and no-one, except possibly ourselves, can separate us or steal us away. He intercedes for us, has His Holy Spirit dwell within us. He forgives us. Angels are commissioned to look after our well-being.

For all these, and much more, would not our hearts be stirred to render Him His due? He has replaced our hearts of stone and written His law upon the tablets of our hearts’ flesh. There were three major Feasts in the Old Testament that mandated the attendance of every male in the nation of Israel; for these feasts, there was a rather obscured ruling. One could ponder the parallels and impetus for this rule.

"Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (Deu 16:16)

It cannot be that we are always silently pensive in our corporate worship of the LORD. There is no barrier nor should there exist, the hurdle of age, in the acknowledgement, offering of thanksgiving and of worship of the LORD. We shall all practice, participate and be tutored by His Spirit in this, our priestly duty. The psalmist contended for more days by submitting that his human lips would no longer render praise, if he be consigned for the grave. It is good, if not better, that we begin our worship, from the days of our youth.

May we, be mindful, to prepare ourselves; our hearts, our hands and our lips, to offer to the LORD, the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving for all His goodness that He has so graciously showered upon us, and continues to do so.

God bless.


Sep 17, 2009


Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, ….." (Gen 1:26)

Man has always struggled with man. We are fully aware that we do differentiate, at every turn and on every human characteristic; color, gender, age, height, weight, society, status, class, clan, culture, country, intelligence, literacy, knowledge, wealth, possessions, tastes, interests, sports, etc. So mired is the human race, that it takes much for man to set aside his positive, and negative prejudices. On this slippery slope, our sincere efforts to differentiate have often veered out of bounds. Meritocracy is still discrimination, only presented in a more sanitized form. It is easy to forget that scripture has always prescribed special preference for the weak; the lame, the blind, the widows and orphans, the prisoners,the sojourners, especially when our choices are tainted by self-interest or plain fallen depravity. Old Testament principles like the year of Jubilee are not understood or often expounded in our materialistic age. The Micah mandate is scarcely remembered. The world professes that that every man is born equal, having the right to be an individual, yet castigates those who are born or dare to be too different. In the furore over meritocracy, we despise the scriptural beacon of faithfulness. Is it ever possible for humankind to be in absolute unison? Since the Rebellion, we have moved away from the true brotherhood of man; Cain started the ball by slaughtering Abel over, of all things, the issue of a perceived lack of regard for his gifts by the Almighty. Was it pride or insolence, that so clouded Cain till he, as mere man, would not allow for the sovereign prerogative of the LORD; the option of favoring one gift over another? Esau would continue to hate his twin, Jacob, though it was his father’s blessing that so grated him. Brother will chase brother; but not always in love. It is no simple task, to see that ‘other’ as my brother or a person made in His image. To accept and to love him as scripture prescribes is a stretch.

Our beloved country, Malaysia, is undergoing turmoil. There is much that strain relations between us. Beneath the veneer, many issues seethe. There are a recurrent few, on both sides of the divide, who make statements or exhibit demeanors with a blatant disregard for civility. They continue to push the envelope in word and action. Racism, bigotry and brinksmanship rear its ugly face, making salient and obnoxious, their indiscretions. Left unbridled, we find ourselves awashed in spin, spit and spew, and with the approaching possibility of blood. We, who are enmeshed or ensnared between them, are presented with difficult choices and positions, which we would be compelled to take, when push gets to shove. Champions have arisen to carry and acrimoniously raise the baton. At the other extreme, under the guise of magnanimity, tolerance, or long-suffering, many are hypocritically or cowardly silent. We attract the guilt of either commission, or omission. Complicity by default, would make for a sorry excuse.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. (Jas 2:8)

With our current backdrop, the injunction as set forth in the ‘royal law’ is stupendously onerous. How can we love, our neighbor, as ourselves, when we are not able to recognize and accept him as one, made in the image of the LORD, and who is, at the most fundamental, my brother really.

Consider further the exhortation to ‘love your enemies’? We cannot give, what we do not have.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (Joh 13:34)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Joh 15:5)

May the LORD remind us, that we are all His creatures, made in His image and valuable to Him. He can enable us to love our neighbors as our brothers; by His love, by His strength, and by His grace. All glory, praise, honor, and dominion, belongs to the LORD.

God bless.


Sep 7, 2009


Fireproof was a movie was played in church last Sunday. It remains to be one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen. Despite being a low-budget film, it reveals almost nothing unprofessional and managed to gross millions of dollars in the United States alone. Fireproof is one of the most highest-grossing independent films so far. Equipped with a passionate pastor-director, Alex Kendrick from Sherwood Baptist Church and a famous Hollywood actor, Kirk Thomas Cameron, this movie soars high above the ground.

The cast and crew of the film were all volunteers and this was really unexpectedly surprising. They are not paid a single cent at all. Impressive.

The wife, Catherine, portrayed by Erin Bethea was rather “fake” at first in the beginning of the movie. The acting between her and the receptionist clearly indicated how inexperienced and amateurish the actors were. But as the story unfolds, Bethea settles down more comfortably and her character naturally becomes more believable.

The story (as you know) is about a chief fireman, Capt. Caleb Holt who lives by the motto: Never leave your partner, especially in a fire. At work, he lives by this motto; but at home, it’s a completely different story. Both husband and wife were at fault. His wife, Catherine Holt nags him and drives him to the edge, complaining about every single thing he hasn’t done and claims he doesn’t appreciate her. While he neglects his wife and her sick mother (who is in need of a few medical equipments that cost a bomb).

The movie is infused with a couple of hilarious scenes that left me laughing uncontrollably. Caleb’s fellow firemen (who are people with no acting experience) have such great chemistry. The way they tease and trick each other was undeniably funny. Then there’s Caleb whacking the rubbish bin and computer with a baseball bat.

As the war rages on, he couldn't take anymore of her painfully annoying nagging and finally shouts at his wife. Catherine subsequently files for a divorce. He was initially fine with it as he wanted “peace”. Until his father challenged him to a “dare”. He was given a book called “The Love Dare” and was to follow its instructions one at a time for 40 days.

It was unbearably tough at first when he pours coffee for her, buys her flowers etc when she rejects him constantly. Despite the excruciatingly painful rejection, he continues in hopes to salvage the marriage. So you see, as a fireman, he saves lives and puts out fires, but when his marriage is in pieces, will he watch it burn to the ground?

By the help of his father, he turned to Christ, and found the true meaning of love. According to his father, “you can’t give someone something you don’t have.” Because love comes from Christ alone. He gave up his addictions to pornography (which explains why he whacked his computer) and became more committed, caring and considerate even though Catherine tries her best to ignore him.

This movie is especially suitable for married couples. My dad was (surprisingly) tearing, so were all the aunties at the back. You could hear them sniffing and sobbing when Caleb knelt to the ground and begged for his wife’s forgiveness. Most of us cried, including me, because the way he delivered those lines was so heart-wrenching.

When his skeptical wife sent him the divorce papers, he wept. But he never stopped, even after finding out that his wife had an “almost-affair” with a colleague called Gavin. This time, he truly loved his wife. She finally came to her senses when she realized it was Caleb who paid US$24,000 for her mother’s medical equipments and not that pathetic, wife-stealing Gavin.

Of course, the story had a happy ending with the happy couple re-marrying to reaffirm their marriage in Christ.

This movie not only manages to spread the gospel effectively, but also reminds married couples that marriage is a commitment for life. Through trials and tribulations, they must stick together at all costs. Learning more about each other, and mostly, learning to forgive.

Juicy bits: Kirk Cameron (Caleb Holt) is a renowned Hollywood actor. Starring in advertisements and sitcoms like Growing Pains as a kid, and then becoming a heartthrob who appeared in countless teen magazines like 16 and Teen Beat, the 39-year-old actor (a former atheist) is the most passionate Christian I’ve ever seen. He rejects roles which require him to utter disrespectful remarks, and states that he will only kiss his (real) wife alone. In an interview with Today, he says: "I have a commitment not to kiss any other women."

In the ending where Caleb kisses Catherine, the directors had to work around his “demands” by dressing up his wife, Chelsea Noble (who acted with him in many shows. They currently have 6 kids, 4 of which are adopted) as Catherine and then film them kissing in the shadows.

He later explained by saying: “The reason this movie was important to me personally is because I love my wife dearly,” he said. “We’ve been married for 17 years … and we have six children. So marriage is a very special and sacred thing to us. In a day and age where marriage is falling apart, we want to make movies and projects that really uphold and have a high view of that which is beautiful and wonderful in our culture.”

Many people scorn his beliefs and decisions, some even laughing at him, calling him a crazy “nutbag”. Yet, he continues to stand firm in his path and influences so many people. May God bless him for being such a brave, committed and faithful husband, man and servant of the Lord.

The writer wants to punch Catherine in the face. Because even after Caleb took the time to cook and make a candle-lit dinner, and yet she could say, “I don’t love you.” That was definitely a stab in the heart for Caleb.

-- Jeana Joy Tan

Significance II

In an earlier post, I had commented that it was ironic, if not deceitful, for man to exposit the glories of yesteryear from amongst the remnant, skeletal ruins. The Senior Citizens were on an excursion last Saturday. On the itinerary was a tour of the Palace of the Golden Horses. Although barely ten minutes from my home, it had never occurred to me to visit this monumental building. My friends had stayed in that hotel and I had only chauffeured them to and from the building without any further consideration. The tour was, in a sense, overdue.

The hotel was true to her name in that it is palatial. At the entrance, there stood this horses-drawn chariot that was more Roman than Malaysian. The outer design reminded of a Middle-Eastern culture whilst on the insides, were high roofs and canopies, reminiscent of French bourgeois. The marble floors were of assorted hue and color. The porch had black marble ingrained with streaks of red and gold, whilst the inner foyers of a rich beige. Some steps were of a pleasant pink. The tiles were a feast, if one was so inclined. Aligned along the foyers were huge vases; we parodied in jest that they were either vats for the rich olive oils or funeral urns to hide skeletons. There was a huge array of rich wood in carvings, furniture and balusters that adorned the corridors; a complete bumpkin with carvings, I am totally unsure of their origins. Coherent with her name, there were plenty of horses; of different cultures, countries and material. The statues and especially the statuettes were immaculate. The disappointment lay in the front-glass door which looked so miserly in contrast, an unattended aircon-duct that stained the ceiling because it was not properly maintained, and the fading roof-tiles that reflected the ravage of Malaysian weather.

It was certainly quite a place to be, a testament to the achievement of a man. It seemed strange that such monumental finesse was dedicated to a hotel, a much bigger inn of sorts, catering to visitors all and sundry for a pittance if compared to the cost of design, building, materials and on-going maintenance. It is conceivable that a man would be quite engrossed with this achievement, as visitors marvel and attest to its grandeur. Even more replete would be the tour guides rippling the pond of adulation by their declarations that the hotel was specifically inspired by, built, and dedicated to a former premier of the nation.

Taking a seat and contemplating the achievement of man, we remain thankful that the Almighty has indeed given to man, the ability and the materials with which he could today complete this feat. It is undeniable that even the wisdom of Solomon could not spin a vestment worthy to compete with the lilies. The beauty of the Palace lay much in the raw materials and artistry of little known craftsmen.

For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." (1Co 10:26)

Yet scripture foretells that the entire creation will grow old and will one day be destroyed.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2Pe 3:10)

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. (Isa 51:6)

The earth and our lives were given to us to fully benefit and enjoy the goodness of the LORD. Like little children we are ever so often enthralled with the gifts and trinkets, that we forget completely the Giver. The apostle Paul had this exhortation;

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:2)

The apostle Peter ratcheted it a notch;

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, (2Pe 3:11)

If we would therefore venture to build, and live significant lives; only what is done for Christ will last.

God bless.