Thursday, August 2, 2012

Happy Wednesday (08/01/2012) (Discard)

Hi All, 

I've been doing a lot of house cleaning recently and find that I've developed a bit of a pattern in my approach to things. The very first step is to throw everything onto the floor and pick through all the stuff that was hidden away in a closet or a box. I've learnt to be brutal and merciless in throwing things away. If it doesn't have deep sentimental meaning, if I will never use it ever again, if it is easily/cheaply replaceable,  out it goes. Interestingly, this discarding process is usually the most time consuming part; the actual sorting, repacking and cleaning is, in general,  quickly done. In fact, I might argue that throwing things out is the most important part of cleaning up as up to half the clutter are gone simply by throwing away what I do not need or desire anymore. 

In the parable of the unclean spirit's return (Matthew 12:45-46), the focus is usually on how a heart that is emptied of sin needs to be filled with Christ, yet so often we forget the emptied/cleaned part and try to fill our hearts with God without FIRST having emptied it. We have no room in our hearts for Christ if it is filled with clutter, and I take my once messy room as a personal parable of this truth. Without bringing to light all my old habits, selfishness, sins, habits, and ambitions; without examining all of these things and deciding if they are worth keeping around; without making room by mentally deciding to get rid of unnecessary things; God has no place in me. There needs to be this mental sorting, prioritizing, and discarding for us to truly choose Christ. He would not fit in all the clutter otherwise. 

Have a Happy Wednesday,


"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation." (Matthew 12:43-45 ESV)

Michael Jackson vs James Brown in Whose Line

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Wednesday (Assumptions) (07/25/2012)

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." - Philippians 4:8

In my single days I keep hearing from people and reading in books about the importance of dealing with insecurities before getting into relationships. As a bit of a catch-22, most of these insecurities won't surface until you start dating, this was certainly true in my case.

Past or current relationships that hurt us somehow tends to shape our perception and, at least in my case, leads to me making assumptions about the things people say or do. Generally these are not positive assumptions and I find myself reacting to imagined insults or attacks. How it usually plays out is a conflict rises up and I find myself assuming that her intentions are the same those of people in past interactions - which, more often than not, is simply untrue. I defend against an attack that was never there and end up hurting her. 

Why IS that? What is it in us that makes it so easy to assume the worst in others and so hard to imagine the best? Why is it so hard to trust that the people closest to us have our best interest at heart? To quote someone who was merely quoting someone else, "hurt people hurt people." The good news is that Jesus' death upon the cross was meant to repair what was damaged in the fall of Genesis 3 - namely our relationship towards not only God, but each other as well. We see it in various aspects of Jesus' ministry from the bleeding woman to his charge to John to care for his mother, Mary, after his death. Jesus cares about our relationships and always desires reconciliation. 

Encouragement for the week, to work hard at shedding cynical/judgmental views towards others and to clarify rather than assume; to be calm rather than wrathful; and to pursue peace rather than frustrations that chases us when we make false, groundless assumptions. 

Have a happy Wednesday, 


"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy Wednesday (Frustration) (04/25/2012)

Hey Guys, Been a while! I think the lesson I've been learning the past few weeks has been on learning to deal with frustrations. Granted, quite often frustrations come from legitimate sources, where our antagonists are purposefully unfair and spiteful; or perhaps it really IS just one of those days where the laws of probability and physics seem to conspire against you. However, what I've been learning has more to do with why perfectly normal, decent, well meaning human beings can frustrate each other. What I've found helpful in the past is that it often helps to step away from the person/problem, and soberly ask yourself whether you are the one in error (even if only partially). In my case, the answer is quite often a disheartening "yes." If so, it falls on us to humbly acknowledge this fault and to apologize. Sounds so easy but pride ensures this to be a gut wrenchingly difficult task at times. Even were it not your fault, taking the time to calm yourselves and approach the other person with humility is far more likely to obtain a positive response rather than a defensive one. I think in arguments, defense is generally the worst way to go. Talk with the person rather than avoid the issue. This is important because we often make the false assumption that we understand the other person's point of view. So often, arguments flare up over a simple misunderstanding of a person's words or intentions or a difference in expectations. Although a solution or compromise isn't always possible, understanding each other's views is the first step towards peace. Timing is important too. You do not want to talk about it too soon, while the anger is still fresh. Yet you do not want to put it off too long to where the other person (or you) no longer cares about the matter. This is not peace or reconciliation, this is apathy and in some ways it is even worse than actual fighting. Apathy is effectively saying to yourself that this person is not important enough for me to resolve problems with. You miss out on learning important things about yourself and the other person by abstaining from difficult conversations. So much about myself was learnt by striving to be honest and humble while refusing to ignore awkward conversations with people closest to me. Encouragement for the week. May we not avoid difficult conversations; may we deal with our frustrations with each other in ways that are humble and genuine; and may we find ourselves not only able, but willing to talk and pray about things that bothers us. Have a happy Wednesday Edward "Blessed are the peace makers, for they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9 "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:2-3 "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32 Dare to fight?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Wednesday (2/29/2012) (Guilt)

Hey Guys,

I've always known that one of my deepest fear is letting other people down, but it wasn't until recently that I begin to dig a bit at why that is and what the implications are. Every time it happens, particularly to people I am closest to, I am often filled with feelings of guilt and find myself apologizing repeatedly. On the surface, it seems like a rather noble fear but if I allow myself to be honest, it is actually a fear born more out of insecurities and hypersensitivity to what others think of me than out of genuine desire to serve others well. It stems from a desire to please others.

What I needed to realize is that letting other people down due to my own forgetfulness, sinfulness, and character flaws is a natural part of life. I need to understand that those closest to me are eager to forgive me and encourage me to be better; that I am my own harshest critic. There is nothing wrong with having a conscience and allowing God to convict us when we wrong others, moving us towards atonement or reparations. But excessive preoccupation with past mistakes, or maintaining a deep-set fear of disappointing others can be bad in at least three ways:

1) I am sometimes guilty of blowing small things out of proportion and caring too much about a mistake that is relatively small. Learning to distinguish between big and small issues is a mark of maturity.

2) I find myself holding unrealistically high expectations for my friends and family at times precisely because I hold those same extreme expectations to myself. So not only am I plagued with unnecessary guilt when I fail to meet those standards, I am plagued with sinful resentment or anger when they fail to meet those same standards I myself am not able to maintain.

3) There is usually some elements of idolatry in caring too much about what others think. In desiring their good opinions, not for God's sake, but for my own. If we are able to make amends, apologize with true humility, and ascribe all of this behaviour to God, how beautiful do we show him to be! Instead, holding onto feelings of guilt indicates a works-based mentality in which I assume people would only like me if I do not mess things up. This runs completely contrary to the Gospel which is a message of redemption rather than performance. Mistakes and sin is for God's glory, not our shame. For this reason, we should rejoice (and not grieve) over failures and mistakes because we learn and grow from them.

If you're the type to care too much about what others think of you, chances are you share this struggle with me to some degree or another. Encouragement for the week for when you screw up (and you undoubtedly will at some point): Apologize humbly and sincerely, once. Repent. Learn from the mistake. And do not forget to forgive yourself. Afterall, if our God is a God of grace, shouldn't we live in like manner towards each other as well as towards ourselves?

Have a happy, guilt-free Wednesday!


"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

"All this from God who, through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

"Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead"

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Wednesday (2/1/2012) (Fear)

"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" Romans 8:15

Hi Guys,

An uncomfortable lesson this past week through which I learnt some unpleasant things about myself. These are, of course, the very best lessons as delving into our weaknesses is really the only way we grow.

Fear is an interesting thing. It is there to warn us of real dangers, yet it can be twisted into something irrational and harmful. I must distinguish between what I'm choosing to call "general fears" and "personal fears." General fear is loosely define as what a person might experience when faced with an armed assailant, death, disease, lions, clowns, extreme height, etc. Personal fears encompass various psychological dysfunctions such as fear of rejection or fear of insignificance.

I'm no psych major, but what I seem to find in myself and from talking with various people is that personal fears usually arises from past social interactions (or lack there of) which resulted in some sort of emotional trauma. Fear becomes a means by which we cope with that pain and attempt to avoid experiencing it again. Now, what's always seemed intuitively obvious, yet was demonstrated to me this past week, was this: personal fears harm relationships.

For example, a fear of insignificance causes one to constantly evaluate his or her own worth and how it stacks against others' around them. It is small wonder that such people would constantly boast in themselves while tearing down other people's accomplishments and merits. Such a person could never offer genuine encouragement, quite the opposite. They feel threatened, rather than delighted, by other people's growth and strengths.

On a more personal note (as someone who deals with this intermittently), a fear of rejection leads a person to either push others away OR latch tightly onto them in an unhealthy emotional dependency. Any attempts to draw needed boundaries or hesitancy to interact with the fearful in the way they expect arouse suspicions of rejection - which causes them to lash out or grasp on even more tightly. People dealing with this fear have a hard time feeling secure with their relationships and are often in constant oscillation between worrying about offending others, or being inadvertently offended themselves by unsuspecting friends.

Our sinful nature would take fear, a defensive mechanism designed by God for our self preservation, and twist it into a means of controlling pain; and in doing so, hurt ourselves and those closest to us. In short, personal fears fuel various dysfunctions and insecurities that prompts us to do/say unloving things.They cause us to act selfishly when we, as Christians, are called to live selflessly. Our tendency is to hide such fears rather than face the painful task of uprooting them, yet they are the cause of so much conflicts in our lives. The dangers of such fears is that they are sin, yet are so easily disguised as personality traits and, as such, "acceptable weaknesses."

Encouragement for the week: Begin facing down your fears and deal with them. God doesn't want us to live in fear, but in courageous love. Acknowledge that they're there and that they carry very real, very negative consequences. Ask God to work on your fears with you and pray that he would break you free. Lastly, tell someone you trust about your fears and how you've allowed it to hurt others - confess it as a sin and repent of it as you should any other.

Have a happy, fearless rest of the week!


"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."
- Frank Herbert, Dune.

Dad on duty..

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Wednesday (01/25/2012) (Better)

Hey Guys,

Recently heard a sermon where the preacher made a really good side point to the effect that we generally want to be better than we are now. There are habits we genuinely want to break and virtues we want to adopt. This wasn't even his main message but it was one of the parts that really stuck out to me. There are parts of us that want to be respected for all the right reasons rather than the wrong ones and, for the believers, a desire for the Father's approval. From a secular standpoint, moralistic behaviour are the mere byproduct of human evolution - a necessity for communal survival. For the regenerate Christian, these noble aspirations are evidences of God's grace.

I fall short so much of the time. While nonchristians would say I am too harsh on myself, I know my own mind and how easily it strays from God. So, ignoring worldly standards of right and wrong and comparing myself solely against God's standards, I know Edward to be selfish and prideful. As good and polite as I am externally, I know how deeply sin lies embedded in me. Yet there is so much grace and mercy! Not only that God would forgive, but that he would actively work in me to desire things of him. To want the painful sanctification that is so contrary to my own nature. And that is just it, our nature is self preservation and self glorification and with a tendency to shy away from thoughts and actions that would compromise either. God desires that we be conformed to his image and to worship him instead of ourselves. Would that we respond to these God-given desires to become better, instead of resisting them. Would that we put aside excuses and reasons for delay, and pursue a life of godliness and productivity.

Encouragement for the week: Be better.


"For it is God who works in you, both to will and to act according to his good pleasure." Philippians 2:13

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy Wednesday (01/18/2012) (Doors)

Hi Guys,

As most of you know, I am in the middle of applying for school - my life is going through a period of transition and changes are flying at me. I've generally found that whenever Christians pray for things like job or school applications, the phrase of choice is generally for God to "open the right doors." Verbatim, those are practically my own prayers this past season. But I noticed something interesting in studying Acts recently.

In the 16th Chapter, we find that Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned due to false accusations. In the middle of the night the prison doors miraculously opened and chains fell off their wrists and feet, yet they stayed in their cells. Why? My thought is that they were so in tune with following God's will that when they see a literal door open, their first instinct wasn't escape but seek God's will - and I believe they were told to wait. It was later revealed that both Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, and their beating and imprisonment was unlawful. Now, if I was threatened with unwarranted physical beating and imprisonment that I can get out by simply declaring my citizenship - I would probably do so. Yet these men sought God's will even under those circumstance.

This begs the question. Why would God, who loves us, purpose for us to suffer? Why would God tell Paul and Silas to bear the beating and imprisonment in stoic silence? We'll never know the full effect of their decision, that is for God to know; yet Acts records the lives of other prisoners touched by the hymns they sang to God (none of them escaped when the doors opened). We see a jailer (not usually the softest characters) moved by their testimony and integrity in not seeking escape, so much so that his entire family found salvation that very night. Lastly, we are told of magistrates who, embarrassed with the wrongful imprisonment of two Roman citizen, were all too eager to be sympathetic to a newly formed Philippian church. God's kingdom grew in Philippi and I believe it had its roots in the events surrounding Paul and Silas' decision to seek God's will rather than leap through an open door.

One of the harshest lessons for a 21rst century, first-world believer is that God's will is NOT necessarily our health and prosperity. An open door is not necessarily an invitation to walk through, but perhaps a means to demonstrate a people who would choose to value God over the blessings of an open door. I'm not saying we should live in perpetual indecision of trying to figure out God's will; but there needs to be a decision made daily to value God over any opportunities we are blessed with. Encouragement for the week: Ask for doors to be opened, but continue to seek God's will and direction even after an opportunity presents itself.

Have a happy Wednesday,


Acts 16:19-40

Funny video of friends hypnotizing each other (Thanks Christina)