Tuesday, October 29, 2013

With Knowledge Comes Responsibility

 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them,
because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

This Thursday and Friday, I will be a chaperone to my son’s class’ field trip. We’ll be going to Sukhothai. It’s an ancient city located in Lower Northern Thailand, over 400 kilometers north of Bangkok. It’s a popular tourist spot because it is located near the ruins of the ancient city with the same name. The old Sukhothai was the Thai capital during the 13th century. Back then, when Thailand was known as Siam, the old Sukhothai was founded by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great. He was a monarch highly respected because he created not just the Thai alphabet, but the foundation for Thailand’s politics, religion, and monarchy (Source: Wikitravel.org).
Ancient Buddha figures seen at the park in Sukhothai.
The province's temples and monuments have been restored and it has numerous sites of historical interest. One example of what can be seen there is pictured on the right.
In light of what seventh grade students might do, or not, I was prompted to write today’s post. Sometimes we go through all kinds of seminars, conferences, training, courses, and various sessions without a thought of when we would specifically use what we’ve learned. I believe this field trip is an example of a time when one of those sessions will come in handy. Specifically, I remember a training seminar taught by Neil Anderson, the author of “Victory Over the Darkness”, “Bondage Breaker” plus close to thirty other books. A few years ago, he came and spoke here in Chiang Mai and then representatives from his organization: “Freedom in Christ Ministries” did further training. At the time, I was fascinated that they taught on spiritual oppression and the ways that we can open ourselves up to it. One particular example used was of a group of short term mission workers who did prayer walks in several Buddhist temples. When they finally returned to America, every single person on their team was ill. It wasn’t what they ate, nor was it a virus. When they isolated the incident when they all felt ill, it was after they visited a temple where as they entered, they stooped down to get in a particular low threshold. As they did that, a Buddhist monk was inside the room sitting in a typical lotus-like pose on a higher platform. According to the person who taught the session, that innocent act of entering was considered by the evil spirits to be indicative of submission because they stooped, or bowed (although not intentionally, to the monk). Later on, each person on the team was attacked and oppressed spiritually which resulted in their illness.
The great news was that after discerning the cause of their illness, they only had to pray against the attacks of the enemy and they were all immediately healed. It was simply a matter of how to pray. The verse above rings very true and we can certainly put our trust in who we have inside of us. BUT, even better is to not necessarily do something that will provoke a spiritual attack directed towards us. May the Lord grant us wisdom to determine how those actions can come about. And as I chaperone, may I have the eyes to see in the spiritual to properly steer, lead, and guide those that will be with me. Thank you, Lord, that it is a matter of asking Your help.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

God's Mercy In Noah's Time

Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how
corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth
had corrupted their ways.
Genesis 6:11-12

2013 High School Hume Lake Camp at PREM
while playing recreation games
This past week-end, I attended my first ever camping experience. I really didn't know what to expect but it turned out to be fun. No, I wasn't a camper, but, I helped by being a counselor. It was a Christian camp so they had Biblical teachings but they also had high energy recreation activities the other times. We came home today exhausted from the late nights, early mornings, incessant screaming/cheering, and physical activities. Two mornings, I took a walk with a camper, too. It was on one of those walks when we had a long discussion about Noah and the flood in Genesis 6-9. The camper asked why God didn't just talk to those in Noah's time like He did to Paul on the road to Damascus. It was a great question because understanding why everyone in Noah's time had to die in the flood was one I asked when I was young, too. It seemed really cruel. Why did all the children and the rest of the animals have to die, too? I knew it would take more than me to convince her of the Lord's goodness in spite the outcome: the death of everyone except those on the boat.

I don't know that I answered her well but I sure prayed real hard to know what to say! I explained that Paul (in Acts 9:1-19) was a man zealous for God and he actually believed he was doing right in persecuting the Christians. He was obviously deceived! He didn't know any better so the Lord revealed to him what he needed to realize so that he could fulfill his calling: to proclaim the Lord's name to the Gentiles. Meanwhile, the people in Noah's time were not even aware that there was a God. And if they did, they certainly didn't listen to Him, take Him seriously, nor believe in Him. "...every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil ALL the time" (Genesis 6:5b, I added the all caps). "God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways." (Genesis 6:13) The earth was FULL of violence (Genesis 6:12). In today's standard, it could mean the people beat one another, stabbed, shot, or hurt one another, none exempted. It was no wonder that the Lord's heart was deeply troubled (Genesis 6:7). It made sense that He wanted to eliminate them. Only Noah found favor in His eyes (Genesis 6:8).

As to why all (including children) had to be eliminated, the Lord reminded me of the time when Eric had cancer. His treatments killed all the cancer cells and even some of the good cells. No chance was left for any cancer cell (new or old) to continue living because their existence meant they would grow and multiply again. All the harmful cells had to be killed in Eric's body in the same way that evil had to be eradicated during Noah's time. Because God was holy, evil could not continue to persist. 

And as God proceeded to get rid of evil, He still wanted the people to turn to Him. He gave them time, all the time (years!) it took Noah to build the ark. The immensity of the ark called attention to it, too. Surely the people talked to Noah, or his sons, about what they were building and why. Noah would have told them the reasons. Unfortunately, no one took Noah (nor God) seriously. The procession of animals (in pairs!) must have been quite an extraordinary sight! God could have just created the animals again but He chose instead to have them do a parade to the ark so that the people would notice and want to be like them, follow Noah into the ark. Instead, those who perished chose to ignore what they saw and what happened around them, at least, until it was too late.

God is a merciful and loving God. Like Noah's Ark, some Biblical stories may require more figuring out than others, but, look for His mercy. It'll always be there.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Seeing God in New Ways

My continual Presence with you is an absolute promise. Seek Me in good times;
seek Me in hard times. You will find Me watching over you all the time.
From "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young

Yellow birds from the Night Safari.
 After ten weeks in my new job, I now understand and see that there will always be something to do to keep me occupied. Busy has become a norm for me. There is more than enough to do at work and then some days are followed by soccer games of both Eli and Ethan who are in their school's soccer teams.

In the book of Job (Chapter 1), Job was described as a man who was blameless and upright. He feared God and shunned evil. It was his custom to sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children after a period of their feasting so that they would be purified in case they sinned. Job obviously pleased God because on one of His conversations with Satan, He was the one who proudly brought Job to Satan's attention. God was confident that Job would not do any wrongdoing even with Satan's attack on his life. Job lost everything he owned including his children. The only ones left were his wife and the two servants who told him everything that happened. Yet despite his misery and deplorable state, Job refused to curse God. He was afflicted with painful sores from head to toe but he remained sinless in what he said.

Later in the book, Job defended his integrity and maintained that he didn't do wrong and didn't deserve his plight. God asked him various questions which made him realize that he was in no place to ask the Lord of the universe what He allowed to happen. Job admitted that he spoke of things he didn't understand (Job 42:3). Then, he said in Job 42:5: 

Celebrating Thanksgiving with the Moores
"My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." 

And I am realizing that God is coaxing me to see Him in new ways; just like Job, to relate with Him in unfamiliar means. In my "busy" life, how do I see Him? How does He work in my life? He is everywhere but I realize that when I'm busy, I default to some kind of auto-Martha mode and I just keep going until the day is over. Then, I sigh at the end of the day before I go to bed because I would realize that there had been that disconnection between us. How do I always remain connected to Him? How do I see him? It's still a learning process.

But, some answers came. I was watching the choir performance of the high school students when I thought to ask the Lord, "Where are you in this? How do I see you?" Then, the words to the song they were singing, "I Will" by John Lennon and Paul McCartney started to fill the air. "Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart." And I instantly knew my Lord was singing it to me! =) I could have easily missed that! I'm so glad I asked! Last Saturday, we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends. After supper, we hung around and chatted. Again, I remembered to ask the same questions. Suddenly, the lady next to me turned and said with tears in her eyes, "This is what family is meant to be." And I saw the Lord's goodness in the gift of "family" in the absence of real family. 

The Lord is so good, loving, and relational. Ask Him where He is and how to see Him because He'll show you and answer you. Enjoy His revelations. =) 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Blessings in the Giving

The Lord Jesus Himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Acts 20:35

Pu Pah is 59 years old. She's had HIV for 19 years
but AIDS complications in the last few.
I continue to learn about myself as I visit the women dying of AIDs at Agape Home. I must admit that at first, I only felt sorry for them. When I first met Pu Pah, she was sitting on her bed bent over a pillow. She was grimacing in pain because her back ached. She didn't seem to know what to do with herself. I felt so badly for her. It looked like she wanted to lie down but I knew she was sitting up to make the pain bearable. I could tell that sitting up was an effort for her. How horrible it must be to sit and wait for relief from the pain when the pain just wouldn't go away. I could only pray for her and ask God to heal her, or end her suffering by bringing her home.

The next time I saw her, she was on her wheelchair and slowly shuffling her feet to move forward. She was very gaunt and thin so her arms were very weak.That day, we chatted a bit more and talked about her inability to eat more than two pieces of my favorite fruit (lanzones or longkong) before wanting to throw up. It was no wonder that she was skin and bones! I wonder how long she will suffer. I talked to her about God's love because I knew God loved her. I talked to her about not losing hope because I knew the Lord could heal her (bring her home or physically heal her). Yet, she wonders when she'll go to heaven, when her suffering will end and I don't really have an answer for her. I know I keep going back to see her because I believe in what I tell her. I know the Lord is the answer to her finding joy in her pain. Next time I see her, that is what I intend to pray for her.

I have a LOT to thank Pu Pah. Please pray for her.
In the meantime, instead of feeling like I was giving my time to her, she started to affect me. The day after I saw her, I started to tear up because I could taste food, I could go places, I could sit up without pain, eat until my stomach bulged, converse or read with interest, have the strength to do, and feel joy in my heart. What I used to take for granted, I now felt honestly and tremendously grateful for. I'm so thankful that I met Pu Pah. God had used her and opened my eyes to His goodness. I know she continues to suffer but I also know the Lord is able to be what she needs: a comfort to her soul, peace to her heart, and inevitably, joy in her pain. I don't know how the Lord will do it but I know He will. What a wonderful revelation. In my giving to them of my time, I am blessed even more. It is more blessed to give, than to receive!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Grace Remains

The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for He founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

By the middle of last week, two school-wide prayer meetings were organized so that there could be collective prayer times for Grace International School (GIS). It was unprecedented and well attended. Rising to the call for prayers and making our needs known so that concerned individuals can give, or join us in praying, people didn’t disappoint and neither did God.  By the first prayer meeting, an announcement was made that the stay of execution was granted so the eviction of GIS (which could have happened because it was the verdict when the school lost its court case) did not have to be done. We praise God for this! It could be six months to a year before the Supreme Court informs GIS as to whether they are going to accept its appeal or not. The school is still uncertain of its future but at least it is assured of continued operation in its present premises until at least the end of this school year. We are grateful for God's answer to prayer with the extension received. By the second prayer meeting, there were praises all around for our God who made it happen. Nothing is impossible for Him and we thank Him also that in the meantime, the extended time the school can remain in its present location means more fundraising can happen so that there can be sufficient funds raised to begin building the new school. The Lord is in absolute control and is obviously having His way. May He continue to glorify and magnify His Name because the earth belongs to Him and so GIS is His! Thank you, Lord! GIS, which most of us call Grace, remains, because Your grace remains. Amen!