Thursday, December 2, 2010


I am a history lover and this book comes in handy for me. The author has done a great job, writing devotional with a twist, making it into a historical journey that is. Some stories made me mad, some made me cry. Most of all, the reading inspired me very much. I must salute Robert J. Morgan for being able to speak so much with just a few short paragraphs of each personality.

This book has indeed increased my appetite to know more about those saints of old. Someone said, “Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it” but I would say of this book, “Those who learn history from this book will be excited about the future with God.”

If you are looking for systematic history in this book, you will be disappointed. I believe the author just wants the readers to grasp a sense of God’s working in history everyday. He ends every story with a relevant verse or verses to tell the world that God’s Word still works today!

I give four stars to this book.

I want to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for giving me this book free for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


My darkest fear had finally become a reality! And the lightning and thunderstorm outside made it worse. My mom warned me beforehand that I would live to regret it. That day, regret was more than an understatement. I had ruined my life.

When my dad was very ill, he began to manoeuvre the directors to have me helm his company. Suspecting my constant indifference towards business, they fought against the idea. Finally they gave up and in I went. As a loving traditional father, he hoped what he had strived for would be carried on by his son. But it was not to be. Instead, it was a disaster just waiting to happen.

I remembered how I sat at his desk just a week after his funeral. It was an indescribable feeling. The aspiration to take over finally came. But I had an agenda. A wicked agenda that was. Every one that stood in my way was either fired or transferred out! Many advices were torn asunder and thrown aside! Including my mom’s!

I started to bully smaller companies and forced them to close down. They cursed me to bits but I cared not a bit! In my mind I thought those were worthless companies! Many people suffered under my destructive ideas! Although I felt like a champion but deep inside there would always be a tinge of fear for consequences. Months passed and those fears intensified. The board of directors dropped hints whenever we met. The loudest was my mom who outright warned me that my sins would catch up with me, just a matter of time.

Just a year only I took over the company, the profit plunged and overheads increased tremendously. I knew somehow something was not right but I was too lazy to do anything about it. I trusted “my” people to monitor everything for me while I went about living out my promiscuous life.

That night changed everything. Few men accosted me outside the bar and hit me real bad. Stabbed and battered, I lied unconscious on the dirt road next to the rubbish dump. Before I collapsed, I still remembered that in my mind, I told myself, ‘This is it! This is it!’

Lying in the hospital bed at this moment, tubes everywhere in me, I remembered my mom’s warning, “Just a matter of time!”

The parable of the barren fig tree is only found in Luke 13:6-9.

When Jesus tells this parable, He is responding to some self-righteous people who think that those who had suffered and died violently deserve it (v1). They reason that God has judged them is because they had sinned greatly. Or simply they are Gentiles and are not chosen people of God. Remember, Luke writes to everyone regardless of status and creed, souls as loved by Jesus, the Saviour of the world. That “holier than thou” mindset is prevalent in Jewish culture. It is dangerous and must be seriously addressed. And Jesus knows that. This kind of thinking will prevent them from accepting God’s grace that He comes to offer the world.

Jesus being radical with His teaching on parables, does not mince His Word. He warns them about the impending wrath. Jesus assumes the role of the prophet of old. Repent or else! And He utters it twice (vv3, 5). Those who think they can escape the wrath of God with their sins must think twice. It is just a matter of time.

No one will escape the judgement of God unless he humbles himself and acknowledges his sins before a righteous God. God does not want anyone to perish! He waits patiently! Jesus tells of giving the fig tree another year after a long wait for the fruit.

On another look at the parable, the owner seems to give enough time for the tree to grow fruit. It is the servant who asks for another year extension. God listens to the prayers of His saints. If not for the prayers of the saints, many people would have perished.

Let us all take this parable as a warning that self-righteous attitude will lead us nowhere but downhill. How many Christians who went through troubles and sickness had received a double whammy when “Holier-than-thou” people whacked them of having been judged by God.

Let us all remain humble at all times and also pray for God to wait longer so that precious souls can repent and be reconciled to God.

Next: Parable of The Lost Piece of Silver Coin

Monday, November 1, 2010


I came back to my room, confused and frightened. Staring at the still photo of my best friend near my bed brought chills down my spine. How could such a successful man die so suddenly? When he had everything going his way? My mind that day wouldn’t let me doze off as quickly as I usually could.

Memories after memories of Peter came rushing back like an overflowing river about to burst its bank. Peter had flooded me with so many nuggets of wisdom about being rich and successful yet one statement always hollered louder than the rest. “Grab everything NOW while opportunities are in front of you!” Even at the funeral that evening, scores of friends and colleagues spoke of him as a self-made man. One even said jokingly of Peter as “The Grabber".

But no one knew that he spoke to me privately about how he wanted to settle down and enjoy his spoils. He told me how he wanted to live like the conqueror, like the king who had just won a battle, savouring victory. All his life, Peter worked tirelessly to get hold of everything that life and opportunities granted him. Before he died of sudden heart attack, he already acquired a mansion with 10 rooms, huge swimming pool, few fountains leading to the vast garden, fourteen cars of all kinds, plenty of properties all over the city. Wine and women were his constant companions. He was the envy of the city!

I stared at the clock and it was 3AM. Then something like a feeling of depression wormed its way into me. I am rich but why am I still depressed? Death took everything away from Peter! I didn’t think he anticipated that ‘thing’ to hit like that! Far from sight and far from mind.

On second thought, I felt death could be knocking on my own door soon. I began to wander about the rightful place of money and material things I acquired. Never one time had I heard my late best friend said, “Let’s use this money for charity!” or “Let’s give some money away to the underprivileged people!” In fact, we had these people all around us. We didn’t even stop for them, let alone give.

Peter’s sudden death changed my life forever. In the wee hour of that morning, I knelt at my bedside and prayed a tear-filled heavenward-goal prayer. “Lord, all my money comes from YOU and I do not deserve a single cent. Please forgive my sin of greed and indifference. Lord, from now on, let YOUR will be done!”

Strangely, when I finished this prayer, my eyes felt heavier. When I woke up the next day, I felt so fresh as though I got a shower from heaven. Immediately, my mind whipped up an idea, “I will shower my world with all the blessings from heaven!”

The parable of the Rich Fool is only found in the Gospel of Luke 12:16-20.

In Luke’s world, the rich are the elite Romans who lust after all kinds of material gains. God is of course concerned about the Jewish populace and later churches being influenced by them. Already, they are some Jews colluding with the greedy Romans just to enrich themselves.

Jesus tells the hearers to watch out for all kinds of greed (v 15). It is not only the greed for money that concerned the Son of God but also lust for fame, sex, power. But to love money is the root of all evil. Greed of money will eventually lead a person to lust for all other worldly pleasures that go against the will of God.

It is therefore both appropriate and timely that Jesus shares the death of the rich man who thinks he has it all. The man calls himself a success but God calls him a fool! Death is not the opposite of life but a part of life. No one escapes death even when one chooses not to talk or think about it.

At the end, Jesus wants His hearers to see the temporal state of life on earth. It is not that God wants everyone to refrain from enjoying life or trudging through life like a pauper, rather, He wants them to focus on heavenly riches.

In God’s spiritual law, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Greed does the opposite. Greed always says what’s in it for me. It doesn’t care who is hurt as long as I get it. God and greed don’t mix. You will love one and despise the other. The man in the parable chose the latter and lost everything when death knocked on his door. He not only lost what he hoarded but also opportunities to use what he had to serve God.

What about you? What will you choose?

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:20-21)

Next Parable - The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Monday, October 25, 2010


In Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado has outshone every other book of his that I had read. This is a compelling book that every serious follower of Christ must get a hold of. The more I turned the pages, the more it stabbed deep into my heart. I have to humbly take off my lenses of self-centredness and “thought-I-have-it-under-my-wings” when I finished the book. Truly it is an amazing book that depicts the very heart of God. If only believers of the LORD Jesus Christ, who gave His all for us, will give our best to impact our world. If only we Christians chucked aside “what’s-in-it-for-me?” attitude to “how-should-I-help?” mentality, then healing and hope would have saturated this broken world. Thank you, Max, for your heart of gold fashioned by the heart of God.

I give this book a five-star!

I want to thank Thomas Nelson publishers for their generosity in providing me the freebook for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My little Tommy fell asleep in my arms as we watched his favourite cartoon movie together. Twelve this year, he was talkative and playful. As I carried him into his room, I was crying. Those were tears of relief and joy rather than anything. I knelt down by my sleeping boy and thanked God profusely. Carla, my lovely wife, stood by me, as always, cried along.

“Can we take away your baby for some kind of a palliative care?” Those words still rang vividly in my ears when Tommy was born. The cold doctor delivered the bad news to us. We knew our baby had some kind of deformity but shocked at the doctor’s suggestion. Confusion and anguish jammed my mind. Both of us gave him an emphatic no! I still remembered telling God not to treat me like Job. “Please don’t give and then take away,” I prayed with extraordinary fervency.

“Is there anything else we can do about the baby?” Carla implored the doctor and nurses in between sobs. “Yes. Let go,” the doctor said in a tone as if he had seen it all. My wife hollered uncontrollably in my arms as we pondered the next best thing. I finally made up my mind to hang on until God told us to let go. “It’s going to be very difficult for both of you,” one nurse chipped in. Fears gripped us at those words as we were also struggling to make ends meet.

We took the baby home and trusted God. The severe Down-Syndrome child that befell us took a toll on us. But determination and love for our own flesh and blood overcame all adversities. The negative voices were not over yet as murmurings could be heard from our neighbourhoods. Some even called to offer solutions other than the ones we had decided. Carla and I have never been so close to the LORD before as this ‘project Tommy’ (as we used to call it) had brought us. Day and night we prayed for strength and wisdom. At times, when Tommy’s condition didn’t improve, I argued with Carla that we should listen to the doctor’s advice. Other times, especially when Tommy could utter some sounds, they were such sweet music to our ears.

Pastor and members of the church became our greatest cheerleaders. They helped so much that sometimes I felt we have taken advantage of them. Anyway, that was my prayer to God when I complained to Him about my tiredness. “Can you send me some angelic help, God?” Sometimes I did feel angelic presence especially the day we saw Tommy’s first full smile. Both of us cried unashamedly. It was an extraordinary and a victorious day!

Tommy grew up so well it astounded all doctors when we went for his usual check up. They credited the success to the love and patient of Tommy’s parents but we gave all glory to God. By ten, Tommy had become a memory genius. He could remember most of the names of the 300 odd church members. It was amusing to see how he could know all the names of the members who sat at the first few rows without them being present. He was such a joy to the church.

The most incredible moment came when he went up the platform in the church to share his testimony. I promised to buy him his favourite cartoon movie and watch it with him if he shared in the service that morning. There were hardly any dry eyes in the church that morning when he stood to share.

“When I was born, doctors gave up hope on me. They said I would die. Thanks to God and to my dad and mom who loved me so much, they never gave up on me. I know God loves me and He also has a plan for my life. Thank you, pastor and all of you for helping my mom and dad. Thank you. God bless you all.”

The parables of a persistent friend (Luke 11:5-13) and a widow (Luke 18:1-8) are only found in the gospel of Luke.

As usual, Luke writes the gospel concerning Jesus to a wider audience as he is a Gentile. With many Jewish friends, he is considered to have best of both worlds. The poor and the under privileged are common sight to him in the land of the Romans. The Roman citizens enjoy vast support from the governing bodies of the day while other second class people of the land left to fend for themselves. The words of the risen Saviour therefore are vital to these hard-pressed ordinary folks.

Both of these parables tell about persistency in asking for help. One parable speaks of a man who knocks loudly and shouts at his friend’s door at midnight to save another friend. He is not bothered of the commotion he caused to his friends’ family members and the neighbours. His ultimate goal – to save a friend. The other parable tells of a widow whose persistence in disturbing the judge makes her wish to have her case heard comes to reality. These parables tell us about the unwavering urgency in pursuing righteousness and justice!

In both parables, Jesus teaches on prayer. Prayer is God’s method of answering His people. Persistent prayer melts God’s heart. Never give up attitude talks about faith in action and someone who is serious about doing what's right. God stops for all these people! Remember how blind Bartimaeus defies all negative voices, shouts for Jesus! And it makes all the difference. Jesus stops for him. No longer sits in the dirt road begging, he now skips joyfully along with Jesus (Mark 10:46-52)

Children of God, let us never give up asking God to fulfil His will on earth. Not to satisfy our own lustful pleasures but that the whole world may know Jesus! Let us fight for justice! Let us run with righteousness! Let us persevere to hold on to what God has for us!

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it (Matthew 11:12).

Next: Parable of the Rich Fool

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I had never understood pain this great before as when my husband left me for another woman. The arguments and silent treatments I endured could not compare to the day when I signed on the dotted line of the divorced papers. How could he? He promised love forever when we dated and later married. I felt violated and betrayed. I had lost my joy and the sense of security for the future. I wanted out fast of this misery. I looked for quickest and easiest way to end my life.

Whenever I wanted to do something terribly drastic, a name kept popping up my fragmented mind. It was Cindy, my best friend. Surely she could at least listen to my desperate cries. I waited for her. I wanted some release. Finally, she bumped into me on the way to work. To my surprise, she asked me casually about how I was coping since the divorce. Why? At least she could do was hug me and perhaps cry with me. I wondered what had happened. You know, I was by her side when she went through a rough time with the back operation. Some said that I did much better in helping her cope than her own husband. I was devastated again. The pain actually intensified.

I asked heaven what was there left to live. Was there hope for people like me?

By this time as I was contemplating another round of putting myself to “sleep”, another name cropped up. It was Chad, my boss. He had been quite an understanding person to me. When I was having marital hiccups, he became concerned. He offered me a good holiday break and lessened my burdens in the company for a time. It was quite refreshing for me just to think of such a person at this hour of agony. But he too didn’t call to offer a sympathetic ear. I understand his predicament because it was dangerous for a married man to console a lady in distress. He took the cautious road. But at least a call of concern, that’s all.

I waited as I sat at my cubicle at work. After some time, his secretary came over with some documents from him for me to peruse. Apparently, she brought along a message from Chad to offer his sympathy for me. Through her, he also reminded me not to put the company at risk with her personal issues. It was beyond sickening. He would usually chat freely with me and bring those documents himself.

I could literally feel the ache and numbness in the heart as extreme frustrations took over. It was unbelievable for those whom I gave everything for to shun me at such a time like this.

Why? I cried so much on that day, my swollen eyes could barely manage tears by then. I felt like a bird with broken wings trapped in a tiny cage.

That’s it, I thought. I felt I didn’t belong in this world at all. This was all too alien for my mind, my dreams and expectations. It’s time to go and bid farewell. What was the best way to leave this earth painlessly?

Just when I was about to spiral deeper into the cycle of depression, I heard few faint knocks on the door. Who could that be? Who cares anyway?

I didn’t even want to open the door. I hoped whoever at the door would slowly slip away as everyone had done on me. But the knocks not only persisted but became louder. Finally, I asked for identity. To my surprise, it was a voice which I was totally unprepared for.

Devi lived next door to me. I shunned her appearance as she would always look like your girl next door. Plain Jane so to speak. One time, I even sneered at her for being alone and I was thinking maybe she was not attractive enough for any man. I looked back now with deep remorse. She would always smile at me and my hubby but we seldom reciprocated.

We disliked spicy food and sometimes we told her not to cook her stuffs so much as the smell was pungent to us. Strangely, since my husband left, I did not smell those cooking at all. Perhaps she knew I was suffering that she did not want to add to my distaste.

The girl next door clasped both hands together to greet me as I opened the door. I could see her eyes widened when she saw my blood shot eyes, swollen almost shut. To my astonishment, she was weeping as she stood there.

Hey, remember me? Hello! I was the one who treated you badly?

Perhaps it was a natural reflex action, I hugged her tightly. At last, I felt warmth in this cold universe. She was apologetic to me for crying but later told me about how she wanted to help but couldn’t find the courage. We chatted and cried. It was a long evening for Devi who was all ears at my long-winded session of blowing hot and cold. I had never found someone as patient as her. She would not speak a word for hours but her silence spoke volumes to me.

Later I found out Devi even took few days off just to help me. For few days we went out strolling along parks, stopped to look at flowers and people walking pass. We went for movies, eating ice cream at the road side stalls. We also went to a hill resort suggested by her just for me to recuperate.

I felt like Devi opened my cage and pulled me out. Although my wings were still broken, I surely sensed healing coming. Whenever I felt the pain again, she would hug me without words! We became best friends forever.

The lesson I learnt from my ordeal was not my brokenness but Devi’s willingness to offer me help even though I treated her harshly.

I found out later that my best friend, Cindy and my boss, Chad avoided me, afraid that I might destroy their marriages since I was still attractive and would be single again.

The parable of The Good Samaritan is only found in Luke 10:30-35.

This parable was told by Jesus in response to a law (Moses laws) expert’s question about who should be the neighbour found in the two Greatest Commandments (vv 25-29; ref. Lev. 19:18).

When Jesus tells a story to illustrate a point, he will often go for the jugular. He is that radical! It is also interesting for Luke to write this as he is a Greek. Perhaps, Luke too has been discriminated against by Christian Jews.

Samaritans are considered impure Jews or even discarded as Gentiles. The religious elites teach people to shun the Samaritans and never to associate with them. The disciples are also taken aback when their Master Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well.

In the end of the story, Jesus forces the law expert Jew to answer Him. And he grits his teeth to acknowledge the Samaritan’s kindness. He says it reluctantly as he omits the word Samaritan with “the one who had mercy on him” (v37). It is exactly this deep seated discrimination that Jesus comes to dismantle. God sees the potential in everyone. Although this story is told to this religious fellow, Jesus nevertheless wants all His disciples to understand His heart. There is no favouritism and discrimination with God. His love reaches everyone regardless. And Jesus wants His disciples to reach out to those who may not be like them. Sharing God’s love to some people that they may find offensive. And to nations that may even persecute them.

Jesus foresees the future of the church with that story.

(Col 3:11-14) Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

In fact, He foresees the ultimate kingdom of God on earth where every tribe and language, every people and nation will fall within His overarching grace. And all will be able to worship God in Spirit and in truth.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Although I have been an avid end-time student and teacher as well, this book builds on my excitement concerning the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! Dr. Jeremiah is an exciting writer and his passion for God is all over the book. This is an amazing and timely book for such a time like this. Many people simply scratch their heads at the unpredictability of events in the world today and this book can offer them the stability that they long for. All in all, it is a book that I believe will win loads of pre-believers to the Lord Jesus Christ! I give this book 4 stars.

I thank Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program for giving me this book for free. I also would like to apologise for reviewing this a tad late.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Marion holds the cup with her trembling hand and manages a sip of the hot-brewed coffee. Gazing through a window in her ground floor apartment waiting for the sun-appearing moment is her hobby. “Hey, handsome, isn’t this a beautiful day?” she gently jokes, while holding the photo frame of her late husband. He died early in their marriage and left Marion to take care of four little kids, two twins in a row, one set of gender each. Odd jobs and routine house works took up all the time she had, hardly enjoying a trip outside of town.

While she gets all excited at a tiny light appearing in a small cloud far above her, a knock on the door interrupts her vivid attention. Pastor Jerry has been visiting Marion almost once every week but today he is exceptionally early.

“Hello, Pastor, today’s early?” she opens the door for him, a little disappointed on the inside. “Sweet Marion, I know. Sorry about that. I have some things to do afterwards and thought of coming earlier to see you,” Jerry apologises. He helps old Marion to her favourite chair and pulls a stool beside her. The sunlight through the window has enlivened the golden frame of Marion’s husband’s photo and her eyes catch hold of him. A tear drops suddenly from her cheek.

“What’s wrong, Marion?” the pastor enquires gently. “Oh, nothing. Just a little tired,” she tries to look cheerful. “Okay, good. I have twenty good minutes to spare and I was thinking over some things about you,” the clergy man clears his throat. “Since you came to church some years ago, you have not been involved in the ministries of the church. I was thinking if you would want to serve in any of the various departments of the church,” he proffers.

The church they go situated few blocks away has been the busiest church in town. Rev. Jerry often preached about Christians losing the treasures in heaven and believers must give account to Jesus.

“I am sorry, Pastor. I will if I am not busy,” Marion replies bluntly. She received Christ as her personal Saviour about three years ago and Pastor Jerry feels that she needs to earn some “points” in heaven. “Okay then. Hope to hear from you, Marion,” Jerry speaks quickly and Marion can feel his disappointment. He prays for her and excuses himself, a little earlier than expected, just like he dropped by just now.

Marion cries when she hears Pastor Jerry’s car zooms away. It is not that she doesn’t want to serve but she feels inadequate. Moreover she doesn’t like the limelight. She laments the fact that she is useless before God. Old and useless. She thinks aloud and cries some more.

Saturday is her favourite day when she gets to cook for her sons and daughters and their family. The rest of the week, they take her out. Oh, how she could not wait for them to return. She looks at her watch for the fourth time. Smelling all the favourite foods she cooked for her own flesh and blood, she sits there and grins. Before she can look at her watch again, few tiny knocks sounded at the door. It must be the grandchildren.

When she opens the door, before she can say anything, two girls scramble to hug her. “Grandma! Grandma!” As the hugs are going on, her eyes wink at all the sons and daughters walking in one by one smiling. “Johnson, stop your itchy fingers from the food before prayer,” she warns the youngest twin with a smile, like she have eyes on her back. All of them now have good jobs and earn more than a decent living. Laughter fills the entire apartment as they chat like long lost folks.

David the older twin son gives Marion a long kiss on the forehead. “How are you, lady?” he teases. “Okay, son, okay,” she answers, not as cheerful as before. David senses some discomfort from the old lady, whistles for June, the eldest sibling in the family to come near.

“Mom, you can surely talk to us, can’t you?” June asks with concern.

“I was thinking about my spiritual life. Well, I am going to meet my Maker soon enough. What have I got to offer Him?” Marion opens up.

While the children are playing away, her four kids sits her down calmly.

“Mom, you have more to offer God than all of us put together,” June begins first.

“And how’s that?” Marion answers unconvinced.

“Take a good look at the four of us, Mom. Who brought us up and make us stand on our two feet? Who taught us the values we hold so strongly now?” June continues.

“And who had cooked for us to make us strong physically so that we had enough energy to make a decent living?” Johnson chips in.

“Who brought us to the church so that we found Christ?” Rachel, the other twin daughter adds, wiping her tears away.

“Yeah. And who was there when we needed comfort and guidance?” David speaks gently, holding her mom’s face up.

“Mom, you were serving God when you gave your best to your children and you still are. We all love you!” June speaks firmly with a smile.

"And when you meet God one day, hold your head up high to Him and smile,” David adds on strongly.

Marion lets out a wide grin and tries to hug them all at one time. “I could do that when you guys were little but now, I can’t,” she jokes.

“That’s because God grows the effort you put in for Him,” June responds.

The parable of the Growing Seed is only found in Mark 4:26-29.

This story of the growing seed speaks of a simple trust in God when we serve in His kingdom. A normal farmer’s know how is to scatter seed first and then harvest them when the time comes. He would never bother to learn the dynamics of a growing plant with all its complications. All he knows is that it works and it works well every time provided there are no natural calamities.

But the farmer must be a good farmer to be called a farmer. A good farmer is dedicated to seed planting and harvest gathering. When is more important than why!

Many Christians are concerned about the ‘whys’ so much that they have forgotten about the ‘whens’. They have lost so many opportunities for harvest, lost souls slipped from their ‘net’. They talk and talk about the dynamics of fishing and never really do any fishing. In fact good Christian like good farmer is an oxymoron. Christians are good and farmers are good at what they are doing.

So, let us all know when to scatter seed and when to harvest. When opportunities arise, let us seize them with our very best!

NOTE: I am not saying we should not analyse anything but do not let our analyses paralyse our opportunities to advance the kingdom of God.

Monday, August 16, 2010

SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME – Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent

This book has brought out in me so many emotions even with those that have left dormant for some time. It was inspiration, laughter, anger and grief all rolled up into one. All in all, it left me breathless in many parts of the book. The writings of both Denver Moore and Ron Hall are witty and purposeful, not forgetting captivating. I have lost count the things I have learned from this book and as a Christian and pastor, I highly recommend to all genuine believers in Christ!

I am inspired with the honesty, passion, love and godliness by all the characters in this book and what is so awesome about all this is it is a true story! So often we want to do what we want to do but doing what God wants to do will far exceed what we ever desire to do. I sincerely think that this book can be turned into a great movie. I believe the late Deborah Hall, so central to the whole book, the magnificent passionate Christian, may amen to that!

I am so grateful for Thomas Nelson Publishers for giving this free book to me in their Book Sneeze program for the purpose of reviewing the said book.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Tom walks past two old men, both slumping on their wheel chairs, staring into space. The familiarity of the place makes him oblivious of those residents languishing in the old run-down centre. He has seen it all, the filth from the bodies and all. Worst were those who died with sores and liquids running down their faces. Sitting down at his office, he gulps down a hotdog, fresh from the oven. Checking his accounts again, he puts on a wide grin. Not bad for this filth factory! He smiles again.

Many years ago, this Home was the pride of the town. To register in, one has to wait for a long time, until everything is stringently checked and in order. Since Mr. Lansing took his business to another country, things began to deteriorate. His late co-worker’s son, Tom Watson runs like a tyrant businessman, careless and completely detached.

Those who are there now have few distant relatives who seldom drop by anymore. They trust the once-popular centre to handle everything, hence, only send in their money.

At Tom sits there about to doze off, a knock on the door jolts him. “Mr. Watson, there is a young man outside who wants to see you. He said something like wanted to be a volunteer,” an old worker opens the door. Tom waves for the old man to leave and ushers the energetic teenager to have a seat. “A volunteer huh? You mean you don’t want to get paid for helping here?” he quickly enquires.

“Yes, Boss! I am here to help, that’s all!” the young man answers politely.

“How can you help and what are the hours? We don’t want half-hearted religious freaks here,” the fat caretaker grunts.

“I will be here in the afternoons. I don’t mind to do anything."

“Very well, then! Can you help out in the kitchen as one worker is sick today?”

Johnny strolls into the kitchen and his eyes widen. It looks more like a garage than a place where health of the old folks are supposed to be taken care of. Vegetables are strewn everywhere, stale and brownish. He opens the old squeaky fridge only to find more almost rotten meat and vegetables. The floor reeks with combined smells of milk and medicine. No wonder he saw the sign just now from the outside, “Do Not Enter”.

Few small drops of tears fall from his eyes as he helps to clean up. “Hey, who are you?” a rugged man roars from behind him.

“I am a volunteer here,” Johnny quickly wipes his face.

“Oh, just don’t get too neat here. We may not know where to find things,” the cook speaks with a sarcastic tone.

Late afternoon…

Hearing laughter from the corridors which is rare, Tom takes a u turn. He peeks to see the teenager having a lively conversation with Uncle Joe, a long time resident in the Home. Knocking on the wooden frame to get Johnny’s attention, he whistles for him.

“I think you shouldn’t speak to the old people here, especially that old man,” Tom orders.

“Why not?” Johnny protests.

“They are quite sketchy of things here and tend to complain a lot. I don’t want them to discourage you,” the caretaker explains.

“As far as I know, they are fine,” the teenager shoots back. “Uncle Joe did complain a little bit but he has accepted his fate,” he adds with compassion for the tough old man. Resignation is the obvious sign for all these residents, just bidding for their time to go.

“I think I made a mistake to let you help here. Anyway, I still feel drowsy from last night’s football on TV,” Tom clears his throat.

“Please Boss! Let me help,” Johnny pleads.

“No. Please get out of here,” the fat man raises his voice. Few old people stare blankly at him. He lowers his voice but still holds steadfastly his decision.

The teenager cries and marches out of the door. He really desires to change things around here and he feels he can contribute substantially.

Next Morning….

Tom puts both of his feet on top of the table and reads the sports page. A knock interrupts his intent gaze. Two burly men in uniform stand in front of him. “Mr. Tom Watson, you are under arrest for abuse and fraud. We need you to follow us to the station for questioning,” one officer speaks with a stony face.

Trembling with fear, he protests. “You guys are crazy. What abuse?” Tom shouts back.

“There are two witnesses who will testify against you,” another officer puts it calmly.

“Who dares to do that, I’ll sue him!” the fat man yells on top of his voice.

“First, Uncle Joe, who have had enough of your antics at this Centre. And he… is my uncle,” the cop speaks angrily. “I didn’t know until someone reported you. He is the second person, Johnny Lansing, the youngest son of Mr. Lansing, the original owner of the Home.”

“You have no proofs,” Tom Watson grunts.

“These photographs from Johnny’s camera say it all,” the cop retorts, holds some clear shots from the Home. “How could you? You have carried away by your own laziness and greed. The whole reputation of the Home which Mr. Lansing and your dad built has been ruined,” he blurts.

As he is led out, a loud cheer can be heard from the residents. Tom sees his workers all already in the patrol cars. Before he enters into one, his eyes lock on the teenager’s. Johnny stands there, feeling a little uncomfortable. Next to him, his father, Mr. Lansing nods sadly at the handcuffed man. He remembers how he used to love him when he was little.

The parable of the Sheep and the Goats is only found in Matthew 25:31-46 and the last one in this Gospel.

Sheep and goats are quite similar in their looks but characteristically different in their behaviour. Goats are natural browsers and agile, they are actually quite independent. Sheep are more grazers, graze close to the soil surface whereas goats like to eat top of plants. One significant difference is that sheep have a stronger flocking instinct and become very agitated if they are separated from the rest of the flock.

When Jesus presents these domestic animals in the story, everyone knows what he is talking about. The Israelites have been using these animals for sacrifice and food for centuries! The goats are independent lots who browse everywhere for food, “touch and go” animals. These represent a part of humanity who is selfish, restless and thinks he’s okay without God. These groups of people listen to Jesus’ words but those teachings often fall on unfertile hearts. They care more for things than relationships.

Sheep eat tender grasses and they do it slowly, making sure everything is gobbled up before advancing. Sheep fear being lost. They desire a loving shepherd to guide them. These people in Jesus’ days are absorbing the words of God like a sponge. They feel good when they hear of a God who takes care of them and will never leave them. If nurture properly, these followers will never turn away from the Shepherd. As their relationship with the Shepherd strengthens, good works naturally flow out of them. They are warm and gentle people and desires relationships more than anything.

As Jesus ends with this final parable, he speaks about His kingship on earth where the kingdom of God would culminate. There will be a final judgment. They will be a separation of sheep and goats. The sheep invariably did something that they did not even realise (Matthew 25:37-40). That automatic natural flow of good deeds is borne out of a steady and close relationship with the Shepherd Jesus! Social gospel is not Jesus' intention here but He emphasises more of obedient servants whose adaptability and willingness speak volumes of their readiness to follow God.

Goats on the other hand, do not care at all. They live like there is no judgment and no repercussions for deeds left undone, needs left unmet when they were capable to fulfil. Eternal punishment reserve for these people is not because they did not do something, rather they refused to do and obey.

For those warm and gentle sheep who follow the Shepherd, the crowned King of all kings has this to say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

Note: The Scriptures are clear that only those who genuinely believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God have eternal life (John 3:16, 5:24; Acts 2:21, 4:12)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I have been reading some heavy stuff lately and truly thank God for this book’s timely interruption. This is like God’s gift for me personally for I simply adore simplicity. Max Lucado has a knack for touching hearts especially putting together those that are fragmented. Short passages from every page form one line of thought – God’s loving hand upon our lives. Each one of us is special and called to be who we are. The best role you play in the divine drama directed by our Master from heaven is you. God will use your story to fit into His story. I have been a fan of Max Lucado since God knows when and every book never seems to disappoint me. This one’s included. I give 4 stars to this book.

This book is generously provided free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for the purpose of this review. Thank you!


Charles sees another piece of 3M sticker on Frank’s desk, ‘Out for the afternoon’. He looks annoyingly at Francis, his colleague; both troubled over their team member’s attitude. What happened? A quick thought emerges in Francis’ mind. He still believes in Frank’s capability as Dr. Bergman, the CEO, did not leave any negative words for him when he entrusted the multi-million Project to the three of them.

A strange illness has since plagued Dr. Bergman and he has gone to the Far East looking for a cure, leaving the whole company to the trio. BakeHeart recently declared a hefty jump in their dividends pay-out since they were public listed. Dr. Bergman’s dedication and masterly skill with people have made him one of the best CEOs in the city. Always cheerful and generous, he was well-liked both by BakeHeart's workers and his clients.

“Can you talk with Frank? I think he has not been concentrating on this latest Hypermarket Project,” Francis pleads with Charles. “Mr. Bergman had put his entire hope on this and any wrong move will have serious consequences,” he adds with a stony face. “I will try. But if he wants out, there is nothing you and I are going to do about it,” Charles snaps.

The Next Day…

Frank whistles his way into the office. “Good morning! Oh, Charles and Francis want to meet you at the latter’s office now,” the secretary speaks sweetly as she passes by.

Yeah! What else? Is the Hypermarket crap again! Frank smiles and offers her a casual thanks.

“You are late again, Bro,” Charles shoots as Frank saunters in.

“Oh..late for what?” he answers annoyingly, like they break his pleasure momentum. Both Francis and Charles know of his partying spirit.

“Late for reporting to us about your meeting with the GM of FOCUS Hypermarket,” Charles interjects angrily.

“Come on, Frank. We need you to settle down. This is serious,” Francis adds.

“ mean I am playing a fool, is that right?” Frank snaps. “Okay. I admit I am a little lax these days but hey, relax, it’s not like that old man is going to return anytime soon,” he continues ranting.

“No, Frank. You got it wrong. He gave us his trust and Charles and I are not going to lose that by being irresponsible,” Francis clarifies with his usual down to earth honesty.

“Okay! Okay! I will make the appointment with Clarkson of FOCUS soon,” Frank retorts, seeing the seriousness of his two colleagues.

“What? What have you been doing all these while? You mean you have not even met with Clarkson!” Charles turns his back to face the wall. Francis shakes his head.

"As the acting CEO in this company, I want you to lay your hands off this Project from now on. You will now handle some small retail projects for BakeHeart,” Charles commands. “I don’t know what has distracted you but with smaller projects, I hope you can manage better,” he offers Frank the best available option.

“Okay, if this is what you want me to do,” Frank accepts his lot. He feels a little embarrassed but at the same time, relieved.

“I believe this is what Dr. Bergman would want you to do. He believes in not overburdening his staff,” Francis reminds him.

A Month Later…

Frank scampers into the Boardroom, unkempt both in his attire and hair. He takes a seat and straightens his tie. Feeling a little uneasy at the surprise meeting, he looks around. Strange! Why so quiet this time, unlike the previous meetings? He senses two hands rest upon his shoulders at the back and as he turns around, his jaws drop. It's the CEO! He wasn't aware all along Mr. Bergman standing there at the corner, getting his usual dose of black coffee. The CEO’s hands this time feel like a huge sack that sags right down his spine.

“Oh..Dr. Bergman. Go…od Morning. I didn’t see you just…,” he rises up to greet him. The CEO just takes a seat, leaving Frank’s hand unshaken.

“Well done, Charles and Francis! I just got a call from FOCUS and they have agreed to all our requirements for the contract. BakeHeart has now doubled in its expansion plan. Thank you!” Bergman speaks excitedly to the applause of all in the meeting.

“Charles and Francis, you both are now officially promoted to First and Second Most Senior Manager of the Company,” he rises to clap softly. Everyone rises to clap except Frank, who slumps in his chair.

“I have received reports of some retail outlets being neglected. And that had caused some losses to the company. It is not so much of monetary losses but the image of BakeHeart. Frank, what have you got to say?” the CEO sits down as all eyes turn towards Frank. The lazy and distracted man stares at Charles and Francis.

“You are fired! All the perks you have taken from this company must be paid back by end of this month or else?” Bergman warns.

“Okay. This wraps out today’s meeting. Oh yes, all of you will be given a trip to Europe for a week as we are going to celebrate like crazy for the unbelievable successful year,” he pats Charles’ back and leaves.

Everyone is so taken aback by the generosity of Dr. Bergman. As everyone leaves the room, Frank puts his hands over his face and cries in deep anguish.

The Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25:14-30 and a slight difference in Luke 19:12-27.

Before the man begins his journey, he entrusts money to his servants for the sole purpose of investment. In Matthew, the Bible does not specify where he is going but in Luke, we know he is going to be crowned as king. Both these parables are spoken by Jesus almost at the end of His time on earth. This time, Jesus is concerned about His disciples more than those who oppose Him (Luke 19:14-15, 27).

Together with the parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus desires them not only to enter the kingdom of God but to do well! There is no plan B for Jesus when He leaves the earth, the disciples will be passed the baton.

First of all, the lazy wicked servant deserves his rightful place, in darkness.

In Matthew Parable, we read about the owner who is first of all not a taskmaster (Matthew 25:15). He is actually quite generous in entrusting everything to his servants. A Talent is many years’ wages of an ordinary average worker. This means that the third servant gets a good deal too! The master is not only generous in parting with money, he is generous with praises too (Matthew 25:20-23; Luke 19:16-19). In Matthew’s parable, he praises the two servants with same exact words. This tells us that our Master Jesus will judge us by our faithfulness and not success according to numbers and statistics.

By hiding on the ground such huge sum of money, the lazy servant has not only broken trust but lost the value of it due to depreciation caused by inflation. He is so lazy that going to the money-changers (which is not a desired thing to do for fund managers) is a burden. Perhaps he is so distracted that he is not even aware that he has hidden his master's money. He has forgotten that his master is coming back and he is accountable for everything. Worse, he even accuses his master of being a taskmaster which is not true at all. He is not only lazy but wicked as well.

In contrast, the two servants are good and faithful who deserve rewards from their master.

1. They desire to please their master when he returns.
2. They know their given responsibility until the master returns.
3. They seize every opportunity before their master returns.

There is a fundamental difference between the lazy servant and the two trusted ones. The relationship with their Master. The faithful acts of the two faithful servants stem from a sound relationship with their coming Master. The previous parable about the virgins illustrates the same ingredient missing in the five foolish virgins. Therefore, Jesus uses these stories to drive home a point - your relationship with God somehow determines your obedience to Him.

The kingdom of God is soon climaxing and reaching its shore on earth. Will our Master find all His servants doing their very best for Him? Again, Jesus has no Plan B, we are the only lights in the world today. Are you hiding or are you shining?

Next: Parable of the Sheep and the Goats