PS stands for Plain and Simple! I love writing stories to enhance reading of God's Word. The Holy Bible has always been transforming lives and penetrative to our inner souls where no other books can ever do. I desire every Christian to love God's Word as fresh bread from the oven of heaven!
“It’s time, Russell!” Mr. Wade whispers, inhales deeply. The new PA of Kingswell Co. has learned pretty well from his Boss in this last year. Finally, the founder finds solace to see his new protégé being able to co-helm the growing company with flying colours.
“I have much to learn still, Mr. Wade, hang on,” Russell encourages him. “No!” the ailing man protests. “You can get the job done. You can do much better, son,” he adds, still oozes with confidence. The soon-to-be Boss of Kingswell pushes the button to call the nurse as Mr. Wade squeezes the side bars of his bed and shivers. And before the doctor and a nurse can approach the dying man, he has stopped breathing. Nancy hugs her husband and they cry in each other's arms. Russell clutches tight a book by the late Mr. Wade and a letter of authorization of his ascension to head Kingswell Co.
Russell opens up the book to the other side of the cover and smiles. The words, “For the new King of Kingswell Co.!” were written personally by Mr. Wade to him. The book entitles, “The Unchanging Values” was what the late Mr. Wade wanted Russell to possess when he would take over.
In his first official meeting at the boardroom, he meets with his new assistant, Tommy, the brother of Mr. Wade. He has been warned by his late Boss to watch out Tommy who has a reputation for unclean deals. Tommy runs the quality control section of their business of household products and his two sons are in charge of publicity. One of the principles he learned from his late Boss has helped him deal with any eventuality of conflict that may arise. The values and the wisdom from the founder of Kingswell Co. have stuck in Russell’s mind. They have become the integral part of Russell’s business dealings.
“Hey, how’s your day?” Nancy kisses her husband on the cheek. “Stressful!” he shoots back.
“Tell me about it if you want!”
“It was Tommy. He, his sons and some others are beginning to show signs of wanting control.”
“That fast! I don’t know. Maybe jealousy could be the motive.”
“I don’t think so. Wade told me to beware of him and his sons. They had done some unhealthy deals in the past.”
“How come Mr. Wade did not do something about him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t want to upset everyone in the company. There are some good workers who may be affected if things blew up.”
“Could it be they are brothers?”
“I doubt so. I know him. He is genuinely honest and kind. I read part of the book yesterday and saw the values he wrote and what he had done. I don’t see any incongruity.”
Russell lies in bed with the book in hand. While he turns to another page, a folded piece of paper drops out. Curious, he begins to read. His eyes widen. While his wife is fast asleep, he slips out to the living room and sits down at the dining table, sweating.
Two years later…
“I have an announcement to make!” Russell speaks confidently. The departmental heads are reminded of Mr. Wade whenever the new Boss speaks like that.
“I have found discrepancies in many areas in Kingswell Co. Some of you have been with us for so long, wearing the same uniform, feeding on the same vision and dreams of the company, yet you did things out of the scope of our beloved Mr. Wade set of values.” The heads turn to look at each other.
“I did not act out of fear that some good ones may be affected by any drastic measures. I don’t want the company to become news for the wrong reasons and also lawsuits and all. I also would like to thank so many staff who have kept Mr. Wade's great values at work and not only that, they have influenced new ones to do the same," Russell continues.
“And now, I want to introduce to you, Mr. Gregory,” Russell welcomes the newcomer as he walks in. All the heads of departments are still blurred on what is going on.
“I received a letter from Mr. Wade before he died. It was about Mr. Gregory. He has been a good friend of Mr. Wade and he has just bought over Kingswell Co. He will be our new Boss and I have given the list of names to him. The list contains names of those who will be retained or promoted and those who will be let off. And oh, one more thing, it also contains names of some who will have to face the police for some bad deals!”
The parable of the “Good Seed and the Weeds” is only found in Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43.
Many Christians conclude that all the parables in Matthew chapter 13 are spoken in succession and they form one thought, whereas, the Lukan and Markan thoughts on the parables are mainly topical in their messages as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
To Matthew, the radical Gospel of Jesus is about the coming Kingdom of heaven on earth. The penetrating of kingdom values as oppose to the worldly values hold by the majority of people in Israel.
The parable of the “Sower and the Soils” starts the ball rolling by Jesus. It is the Word of God which forms the basis of the Kingdom of God. Only to those who hear, act upon the Word and being fruitful (Seed that fell onto good soil), that this next parable of Jesus can become meaningful. They stand ready for being called the Good seed, the sons/daughters of the kingdom!
For Christians who are serious about carrying out kingdom values on earth, Jesus will gladly plant you in places where you will be even more fruitful. The good Seed, mentioned above, stands for the sons of the kingdom and oh, what a privilege to serve the King of all kings! We are to promote new radical values, set up in the heavenly. It is directly opposite to the world's values of lordship and control, selfishness and short-term thinking, lust and all sorts of earthly pleasures. The most incredible kingdom value a follower of Christ must learn is love (agape), unconditional love: while we are yet sinners, Christ died for us!
Weeds are bad! Every farmer or gardener knows that. In this parable, Jesus speaks of darnel, a kind of false wheat which looks like wheat but it is not wheat. It is only noticeable when it grows its ear.
Interestingly research has shown that darnel when eaten can cause drunkenness. When Darnel has been given medicinally in a harmful quantity, it is recorded to have produced all the symptoms of drunkenness: a general trembling, followed by inability to walk, hindered speech and vomiting. The word Darnel is itself of French origin and testifies to its intoxicating qualities, being derived from an old French word Darne, signifying stupefied. The ancients supposed it to cause blindness, hence with the Romans, lolio victitare, to live on Darnel, was a phrase applied to a dim-sighted person. See http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/tares.html
Here, the weeds represent the sons of evil deliberately sown by the devil himself. It is sown to confuse and to destroy the good wheat unsuspectingly before the Harvest!
Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). Evil in the world is inevitable and all those who oppose the heavenly kingdom’s values will oppose the true followers of the kingdom of heaven! Yet Christians are not called to judge or fight them before the time of the end! They will ultimately be judged by King Jesus Himself, the Judge of the Living and the Dead. The Bible tells us in the end, that the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever" (Rev 11:15).
As for now, we, the sons and daughters of the kingdom, are to continue our focus on expanding God’s kingdom on earth! To continue influence the world, the values of the kingdom of heaven! Of course with the power of the Holy Spirit! As we stay close to God and be serious in following His values, we will be empowered, protected and be used by God to carry out His great plan on earth.
Jesus prayed for His disciples, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:14-15).
Here is a caution - the world is the field where children of the kingdom is being sown, not the church. We impact the world and not the church! Church is like a training ground or a lab for Christians to go outside the four walls and be the influence for God's glory!
Recently, something happened in Israel that had caused the US to grow weary of its most closest and strategic ally. When Vice President Biden came to Israel trying to revive the Mid-East peace process and to push it forward, Jewish Interior Ministry issued a statement approving of building settlements in East Jerusalem. And everybody knows how that would surely kill off any plan to talk further with the Palestinians. As expected, the Arab world erupted with intense frustration and the Palestinian leaders seethed with extreme anger. What is more damaging to Israel is the stinging rebuke of the US, quite unprecedented and never before as furious as this.
Perhaps, for the very first time, many top dogs in America are directly linking the conflict in the Middle East to the US armies fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They said the Jewish building settlements and the unresolved conflict of Israel and the Palestinians were endangering those American soldiers.
Uri Avnery, an Israel writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom, even suggested that Israel must learn from its history! How the Zealots who rebelled against the superpower of the day, the Romans, had caused destruction of Jerusalem and the burning down of its temple! He put it as an act of madness! He wrote of the Zealots foolishly relying on God and on the purported weakness of Nero at that time. They also got rid of moderate leaders in order to launch their plan.
The US has been in the forefront as usual trying to solve the delicate peace process in the Middle East but as usual, without much success, or perhaps not any. It has become extremely frustrating and deep lethargy has begun to sink in. For some, it must come a time to do some arm-twisting to succeed and any President of America would know, to succeed in the Middle East is to succeed, period. And what a potential golden opportunity Obama and Clinton being presented as that untimely announcement made in the settlements issue brought. They should understand the intense pressure of Israel will embolden the Hamas and the extremists to attack the Jewish nation. Iran will find another reason to justify itself!
Prime Minister Netanyahu is not any normal nationalistic secular top leader in Israel but a downright spiritual biblical man of God he presented himself to be. The Bible is his motivation. To remove any part of Jerusalem out of his heart is to remove his heart, period. As long as he governs the nation, no one can separate the East or any inch from Jerusalem out of him, not even President Obama. And all who are familiar with the Mid-East conflict will know that Jerusalem is the main contention and the centre of it all. Everyone who is from the Abrahamic faiths wants a piece of Jerusalem! And the Muslims simply adore it and would do anything just to own all of it.
The Bible predicted that a time would come when nations would gather to attack Jerusalem. This is telling because if that is true, there would indeed be an Israel nation which is stubbornly standing firm in Jerusalem to warrant such an attack! This could only happen when the protective hands of the superpower like the US begin to pull away. It could only happen with a Prime Minister who is as spiritual (or as stubborn) as Netanyahu. Perhaps someone even more daring like the Zealots of old. And they would rely on God and His Word!
This time, perhaps the scenario is different as in the days of the Roman Empire. Today, we are in the last days of which the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing to return. Everything is set in place for that to happen! It might not be so easy to burn down Jerusalem like in the days of old! There will come a time where Israel does not depend solely on the United States for money, weapons, military skills and strength. It may even lose their support if Israel continued to be stubborn. Instead, Jerusalem belongs to God and His Son, Jesus Christ who would sit on the throne and rule the whole earth!
Russell hears a knock on the door on a windy but peaceful night. His children are fast asleep at the living room while he and his wife are chatting as usual. He opens the door and is startled to find his boss outside.“Mr. Wade, I am surprised. Please come in,”Russell leads him into the cosy corner of his humble home. His wife, Nancy is busy at the kitchen making hot tea for the important uninvited guest.
“Russell, I have news from the company which I want you to hear,”the bearded bespectacled man speaks with a smile.“Can you be my personal assistant?”
Russell’s eyes widen.“Why? Sure. Can I?”he mumbles.
“One thing you also need to know,”his boss puts his hands on his shoulder.“There will be no extra pay BUT I will see to it that you’ll be rewarded later. Don’t worry about being inadequate. I will be your teacher and if you are willing to learn, you can make it soon enough.”
While Nancy serves tea to both of them, she interjects,“That would be an honour for Russ.”Her husband grins at his supporting wife and decides to take the challenge.
“Yes, I will take the challenge. It is an honour, Sir!”Russell speaks convincingly.“I don’t know what to say. For you to visit this unimportant employee has already thrilled me to bits,”he adds.
“Then, it’s done. My words are good as gold,”Mr. Wade stands up and shakes Russell’s hand.
Nancy is surprised at the speed for such a major shakeup. So does her husband.
Russell has always trusted Mr. Wade as his boss has been consistent in his business dealings. Mr. Wade is also known to be kind and charitable. But for him to take over as PA is surely not in his wildest dream.
Next Day at the office…
“Hey Lee, what’s happening, man?”Russell pats Kenneth Lee, his colleague on the shoulders.“Russ, let me tell you something,”Kenneth pushes his friend to a corner.
“Something happened yesterday that you would never believe could happen,”he whispers.
“Mr. Wade went to my house!”
“Oh, what did he say to you?”
“He offered me a job as his PA, can you beat that?”
“Wow! Did you take the job?”
“Take the job? Take the job? You must be kidding me!”
“Do you know what it entails to be a PA? I have not even finished knowing my job right now! Furthermore he said I would not have extra pay. My take, he can keep his PA post to himself.”
Russell walks away a little confused.
Near to his office room, he meets Wayne. He sees a troubled look on his friend’s face.“Hey, what’s the trouble?”he asks.
“Can you keep a secret if I tell you?”Wayne walks into Russell’s room.“Boss came over to my house last night,”the worried man utters.
“What did he say to you?”
“He offered me a job as his PA.”
“Wow! It’s good news! What’s troubling you?”
“Deep down I want to take the challenge but the more I think about it, the more I am afraid.”
“What are you afraid of?”
“You know, Russ. The last time I was promoted as a senior supervisor, I faced so much resentment from my peers and subordinates. They chose to ignore me and gave me troubles in every little thing. I sense a lot of jealously in this company.”
“So, what’s your decision?”
“I think I want to give it a miss.I know it is an honour for this post in such a large company but I think it’s not my time. One more thing though, the post comes with no extra pay.”
Wayne hurries off for his appointment as Russell starts to grow agitated.
Few hours later…
There is a knock on the door.“Come in!”Russell calls out.“Hey, Russ! How’s your day, man,”
Scott pulls out a chair and conveniently sits down.“Okay. So far so good! How’s yours?”Russell speaks casually.
“I am okay too! In fact I am very okay.”
“What do you mean?”
“Last night, boss offered me a powerful post!”
“Okay. Tell me about it,”
“He came over to my house uninvited and asked me if I could become his PA?”
“Wow! Did you take it?”
“In fact, I said, “Yes!” but…”
“I was struggling about it. Last night, as soon as Boss left, I googled for information regarding PA’s works in big corporations. It is really terrifying! I may have to do a lot of travelling, leave my beloved family behind. I am now enjoying my life here and being very comfortable. I come home every night to my family and we do things together most of the time. I don’t know if I can sacrifice everything for this job.”
“But I think you won’t know until you work as a PA. Maybe it’s different with Mr. Wade.”
“I am not willing to take this challenge. Anyway, it will be too late for anything. I spoke to Boss just now about not taking the job.”
Scott gets up to leave and turns around whispering,“Boss said this PA post comes with no extra pay.”
Russell ponders about his own commitment as he heard each of his colleagues’ explanations.
Russell gets a call from Mr. Wade’s secretary to see him in his office. As he walks along the big corridor leading to Boss office, he is struggling hard about the PA post. He is wondering whether any more employees were spoken to last night.
“Come, take a chair, Russell”Mr. Wade adjusts his spectacles.
“Thank you, Sir!”Russell responds uneasily.
“I see a struggle in your face, young man. What’s wrong?”
“Oh, no! Nothing,”
“I know. You are suspicious that I spoke to three of your colleagues about the same thing.”
“May I ask why you did that?”
“Oh, it’s simple. I needed to see who has the most willing heart to take this all important post.”
“What if all of us agreed to take up the post?”
“Then so be it! That’s why I offered the post without extra pay. Okay, do you also want out?”
“No. I stand by my word. And your words that said not to worry about inadequacy and you will be my teacher and if I am willing to learn, I will make it soon enough.”
“Great! We have a deal!”Mr. Wade stretches out his hand to Russell.
“Yes! Thank you for the post!”Russell smiles.
“I also want you to know one thing before you go. I will not keep it secret anymore,”his Boss speaks softly.
He leans close to Russell,“I am dying with cancer. I want you to take over this company when I am gone!”
The parable of the Sower and the soils is found in all three gospels, Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23; Mark 4:3-9; 13-20 and Luke 8: 5-8; 11-15.
For the first time, Jesus explains a parable to his disciples, the only ones who are interested to know more. The rest, the Scriptures in Isaiah was proven true again, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9).
There are many reasons why some are more interested than others. Jesus said, “For this people's (not interested ones) heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Isa. 6:10).
I believe Jesus is not at all surprised by those who hear something wonderful but simply walk away unmoved and untouched. But He is excited by His disciples who take Jesus aside and ask Him for explanation. He exclaims, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear (Matt. 13:16).
As I wrote before, Jesus came with a radical Gospel of the Kingdom! The words of the King of kings are life and they stand for eternity. And Jesus wants to completely alter the game plan of all peoples in Israel and the rest of the world. Either you run with the heavenly words or stagger in your earthly pit. The desire of the God Almighty is for everyone to have a heavenly kingdom perspective and live a fulfilled significant life. This is the only way forward and upward!
Yes, we can all make excuses or plead ignorant as the parable suggests but they will be to our own peril! We are not bluffing God but ourselves! Sometimes we are so entwined with our worldly environment that we refuse to step out of the boat of comfort! That is why so many Christians today are nominal and remain non-influential!
So, clear your eyes and check your ears! Make sure they are on the same page as the heavenly words! Then with a passionate and a willing spirit, run the God-given race as to win the prize!
Natalie takes a turn for the worse, shivering even though she is double-coated with thick blankets. Dr. Simon and Dr. Carl try to keep her as warm as possible as they head to the former’s office for discussion. Simon is a famous surgeon in this chic hospital, having a string of successes with high profile patients. His friend and partner Carl is concerned lately with the famous surgeon’s drinking habits. He points towards Simon's unkempt hair as they walk along the vast corridors in this posh specialist center. The large office in this famed surgeon is filled with photographs of his past credentials.
Dr. Simon’s credibility takes a dip recently when he failed to save his best friend’s younger sister, suffering from colon disorder. Last week, one more life slipped away from his care. The management has alerted Carl to talk to Simon about his frequent bout with alcohol. It is not easy for Carl being a junior and his senior being the mentor to discuss the problem.
“I think we should try a new formula with Natalie,”Carl suggests. Dr. Carl is an avid reader of medical journals and he is not afraid to try out new procedures. He too has a string of successes with his bold moves to administer different techniques and next in line to be promoted as a senior partner. Simon often finds his friend annoying and recently jealousy is added into his excuses for alcohol.
“No! Carl, I am fed up with your ‘can we do this, can we try that’ thing!”Simon raises his voice a little.
“Natalie’s case is like all others that I have done before. Is that clear, my friend?”he adds with a little sarcasm.
“But we have finished all our tricks, Simon. Is it not the time to try a different approach? I have discovered…”
“No! We just have to run a few more tests on her. Maybe I have misread the previous ones.”
“Simon, I got to be straight with you. Sometimes you think this is all about you but it’s not. We are talking about lives here!”
“How dare you talk to me like this? Do you know I have the power to lay you off this Natalie’s case from your hands?”
“Listen here, Simon. I appreciate all that you have done for me. But today you are not the same Dr. Simon that I knew. My friend, let us help you?”
“Us? You mean the management asked you to talk to me.”
“Yes. They knew about your drinking some time ago. Dr. Simon, you are indeed special to them and they are just concerned.”
“They are concerned that I will kill those patients under my care. They just don’t trust me anymore.”
“Okay. Okay. Let us talk about Natalie’s case first. I have a feeling I can do something to save her life.”
“No! I have been here for thirty years! Thirty years! I can save her! I want you to lay your hands off her for good!”
Carl shakes his head and walks off. He bangs the door so hard that Simon shakes inside him. He never sees his friend being so angry before. Tears trickle down his face as he takes a look at his shaking hands.“What is happening to me?”
Simon takes a quick walk towards Natalie’s room. He sees the skinny woman struggling to keep warm. He puts his hand on her forehead to make sure there is no fever.“I can help you, Natalie. I can,”he whispers to himself.
The next day, Carl goes into Simon’s room for another chance to convince that stubborn man.“I am sorry about last night. Let me try to save Natalie before it’s too late. The tests may have to take the whole afternoon.”
“Carl, this is important to me. I want them to know I am not a failure. I am still the surgeon they want to have,”Simon argues.“Give me another day. I am sure Natalie can pull through,”he adds with conviction.
Simon reads all the results meticulously, decides to have another operation with Natalie. He walks over to the room to give her his professional opinion and before he can reach her, he hears the beeps of death. He kneels down in front of her, sobbing.
“I am sorry, Natalie! My darling, Natalie,”he cries in desperation. He will sorely miss the smile of his beloved wife of 32 years.
The parable of the old/new cloth and old/new wineskin is found in all three gospels; Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39.
God sends Jesus to earth with a powerful mission! He wants to change the minds of people with the radical gospel of grace. To Jesus, it is an all-out assault, they either change or perish. He knows it would be difficult to change people when they are so used to the Mosaic Law mentality for more than a thousand years. This parable is shared when some people question Jesus about His disciples not fasting while John’s disciples and the Pharisees are fasting. In fact, Jesus is feasting! He does it with a purpose, of course! It is not about food or fasting but lost souls! To God, an old wineskin mindset in Jesus’ day is an upside down order. They suppose to celebrate as mighty Jesus is around but they are fasting. Instead of fasting, they (the Pharisees) celebrate when Jesus is on the cross! They are not prepared for the new thing!
In order to change from an Old Testament outlook to a New Testament perspective, Jesus requires all to prepare themselves with new wineskins. The old is not sufficient anymore! It is not enough anymore to hold the new things that are coming. The fermenting of new wine builds up pressure in fragile containers which can burst old skins. It will explode! Jesus begins a new thing not only in Israel but throughout the whole world! The Holy Spirit’s power and new anointing are coming for all people who are prepared with new wineskins! The old wineskin people will reject Jesus and what he has to offer! The old wineskin mentality will burst with misunderstanding of Jesus and the radical Gospel He came to promote! They will oppose and suppress people with the new thing!
And neither patching of a new cloth on an old garment would work. You cannot take some new things what God is doing with old mindsets. You spoil the new and ruin the old. And this parable in Luke adds a little humour to it saying that it is not fashionable. The new cannot go with the old! In this case old is not gold!
This new wineskin mentality is an ongoing process and in every generation, God is pouring out new powers for His disciples worldwide. Those who love the old wine will not change. They will die being insignificant and out of sync. But to those who are willing to change, God will cause giant waves from within them to overflow resulting in revivals and fresh awakenings!