Friday, April 29, 2011

The Puppet Master and the Unsuspecting Puppets

Jesus answered them, "“Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin.  -- John 8:34

One of my all time favorite movies is the Sound of Music. It is such a beautiful movie and has all the ingredients of a great movie -- romance, drama, suspense, comedy, and wonderful music.

One of the scenes that I'd like to point out, not only because it is good to the eyes and ears but also it drives home my point, is the puppet show. In this scene Maria (Julie Andrews) and the Von Trapp children play puppet masters. They made the puppets act and dance while they sing wonderfully. It was such a beautiful scene that can capture the heart of any unsuspecting move-goers.

In real life, more often than not, we are unsuspecting puppets playing the whims not of the gentle and talented Maria, but that of an evil Puppet Master. And he is not serenading us, rather he is constantly cursing us. This Puppet Master is called the devil and he is for real. The main reason a lot of us ignore him is because we cannot see him in the form that many of us expected -- two horns, bloodshot eyes, bat-winged, arrow-pointed tail, charcoal dark skin and carrying a trident. The truth is he wants us to be oblivious of him so that he can carry out his spiritual attacks to his clueless victims undetected.    

So how does he works? First, he will try to snag us by tempting us to commit a single sin. Think of one sin as equal to one attached line or string. Second, he will try to tempt us to sin some more. More sins mean more strings of control. Then, once we are snagged by many lines, the Puppet Master will then try to make us an agent of his evil plans of destruction towards our fellow men and women. Get the picture? Think of a person deeply addicted to alcohol, illegal drugs, pornography, gambling, etc. Does he or she bring good tidings to people around him or her? Most likely he is oozing with evil intent.

But before you press that 'condemn them' button let me point out two things: (1) they are just victims of the evil Puppet Master (2) the Puppet Master is about to snag a line on you; press that button and your snagged.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

For the Sake of My Children

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. -- Proverbs 22:6

One of my greatest worries is that my children will grow up following the wrong path of life. I would rather be poor with children that God will be proud of, than gain more, but loss my children to the wrong ways of life.

I have this scene in mind. After I pass by this life, God meets me and asks, “How are your children?” With a ‘big’ smile in my heart I replied, “I raised them in accordance to your ways.” Then He said, “Well done my son.” Wow!!! What joy it will bring to me because even just thinking of it already brought tears of joy to my heart. How much more if this is already for real?

Back to reality. The first hard question that I need to ask is, “How can I raise my children in accordance to God’s way?” 

I have a mini library at home and a number of my books are about parenting. A few helps, but somehow something is missing. Then it hit me – I need to teach them about the truth of life. After all, spiritual battle is not just about choosing between right and wrong, but first and foremost, it’s about knowing the truth from the lies. 

So now I’m down to the next question, “What truths about life that my children need to know first?” 

What I want to capture are the most essentials, and hopefully use these to form the basic foundation of their character. Hopefully, time is still on my side. So I started reading and scribbling, and I want to share to you what I got:

(1) An almighty God exists, He is holy and doesn’t like sin
(2) Sin displeases my God, it separates me from Him and it lead to destruction; sin is detestable
(3) Satan exists, he is evil and he wants to destroy men, women and children
(4) Satan cannot harm me if I am with my God (because He is more powerful than him) so he will try to deceive me to forget my God, and to commit sin (to be separated from Him)
(5) God gives me the freedom to choose – I can choose to love Him and do good things or to ignore Him and live a sinful life
(6) I am a sinner, but God still loves me so much because He is my Father and I am His child, so He gives me a way back to Him (even if I don’t deserve it)
(7) The way back to my God is through His divine Son, Jesus Christ; whoever believes that He is Lord and Savior, and repent of their sins shall be restored to the Father and be healed
(8) A good follower of Christ looks for the truth, speaks of the truth, and follow His teachings and examples; he detest Satan and sins
(9) The world is full of distractions and lies spread by Satan to lead men, women and children to sin; to avoid being deceived, I must make Jesus my closest friend; I should talk to Him every day to ask for help and guidance
(10) God's ways and the truths about life are written in the Bible, so I must study and read it every day so I may grow in spirit and become more like Jesus in character

I cannot choose how my children will become when they grow up. It's their choice. However, I can help them prepare for what lies ahead. This way I give them a fighting chance. The hardest part is that I should not only teach these to them, I also need to show it to them. I am an imperfect father, and I can see very rough waters ahead of me. But this is a journey that I have to make, not only for my own sake, but more importantly, for their sake. So God help me!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Invisible Veil Over Our Head

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6

While sitting down near a table inside my hotel room here in Shunde contemplating on a work related problem, a startling revelation came to me and I would like to share to you. But before that, allow me to tell you a small snapshot of my life to drive home my point.

I was probably in grade 5. It was around 6 o’clock in the evening, and quite dark because the electric power tripped off earlier. My friend, Sonny, and I decided to entertain ourselves by playing catch-me-with-your-eyes-blindfolded – it was an absurd choice. The first it was me. I bent my knees and spread my arms wide and swept the area that I passed by hoping to grab my friend’s limbs. Unknowingly, I was heading towards our wooden stairs made of hard tugas. Ouch! I bumped my right knee to the edge of one of the steps very badly that we had to stop the game. I writhed in pain. 

No one in his or her right mind would attempt to walk with his or her eyes close or with a blindfold. We all know that to reach our destination we have to see where we are heading. The fact is, I and most likely you, have been walking through life blindfolded most of the time without even knowing about it. Unlike the game I played, our eyes are not covered by a piece of cloth, but by an invisible veil of lies! And Sonny is not responsible for this either, but the father of lies himself, Satan.

The world is full of lies. Look around you. You can see these outside, and can hear this inside of you. As a matter of fact, while I was typing this article, a lot of lies flew over my head: "you can’t finish this", "you are not good enough", "no one will appreciate this", "it’s not worth your time"…blah, blah, blah. The truth is, I am not a Roald Dahl or a Stephen King, alright. But I have enough education and a little talent to write a simple message.  And most important of all, I love writing about my God, and I love touching other peoples life with my pen. It makes me feel happy, peaceful and alive. 

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert three times, He always replied, “It is written…” Actually, Jesus wasn’t just quoting the Holy Scripture verbatim, but really He was just exposing Satan's lies by replying truth as it was written; the truth always beats  a lie. In short, Jesus showed us that to be able to tear Satan’s veil of deception in our life we have to know the truth! If you think about it deeply, temptation is simply an invitation by the Enemy to abandon the truth, and embrace a lie with a promised signing bonus of instant pleasure or relief. But in truth, the ultimate reward is slow and sure death.

It all boils down to this. Unlike what I used to think, and maybe some of you, spiritual battle is not only about choosing between right and wrong, but first and foremost, it is also about knowing the Truth from the Lies. The moment a baby first wail and cry, it not only announce to the world his or her first day of attendance, but also his or her ignorance. True, God blessed this baby with a brain, some talents and a built-in conscience, but still that baby is ignorant in many ways including in spirituality.   

Therefore, one of our essential pursuits is to educate ourselves with the truth about life. But where can we find the truth? The answer lies in the Holy Bible. We owe it to ourselves to study and learn about what our God has to say about how we should live our life. Unless you find it amusing to bump and scrape your knees against the steps of hell, then you don’t have to lift a finger to remove the veil that might be hanging over your head now…I don't find it amusing, and I hope you too.