Saturday, January 9, 2010

How do we respond?

The headlines read, ‘A sad day for Malaysia’, and some even called it ‘Black Friday’. The attacks on the church buildings in Malaysia have sparked uproar all over the country. I got up to a few text messages when words like ‘chaos’ and ‘riots’ were used. Facebook had the coverage of reactions by disappointed citizens of all ages expressing their disgust and some even venting their anger over the social network. As I opened my email, there were already quite a number emails being circulated calling for prayer, petition and calmness. I spent the entire morning reading through the news reports online, numerous chats broke off through msn and gmail over what had happened. I also sent out an email to my non-Malaysian friends to call for prayer. I was troubled, many different things rushed through my head and then it suddenly dawned on me. It was only 3 church buildings.

I felt sad, and disappointed, yes. I don’t mean to disrespect the loss of property for the 3 congregations. No lives were lost and we thank God for His protection over our lives. But again, it was 3 church buildings. I quote some politicians saying, ‘it is against Islam that the place of worship of others should be destroyed’. The government has also said that they will allocate money to help rebuild the place of worship of the Christians. That’s the perception and mindset of the church buildings because of their own understanding of mosques and temples. I rejoice in this because the church building is merely a place for the gathering of saints, a location for fellowship and activities and yes, also to worship our Lord. But, worship isn’t restricted by walls for the scripture says that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our very actions in everyday life, our lifestyle, our very being are forms of worship to our God. I rejoice because our place of worship can never be taken away from us. Whether it is at the peak of the highest mountain or the filthy floor of the lowest dungeon we still can worship our God. So do not be confused with words, a few church buildings are have been burned and crumbled but the CHURCH of Malaysia still stands strong.

‘I’ve told you all this so that trusting Me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.’ John 16:33

This was the verse that God comforted me with. Jesus already had forewarned us about the things to come. Something we can also call, the storms of life.

1. Storms of life come to everyone at some point in our lives

We might also call this persecution. Upon receiving Christ into our lives as our personal Lord and saviour, we natural made an instant enemy Satan and his legions. 1 Peter 4:12 writes, ‘… do not be surprised at finding that that scorching flame of persecution is raging among you to put you to the test as though some surprising thing were accidentally happening to you.’

2. We cannot prevent the storms of life from coming, but we can determine its outcome

How do we respond to the storm? Are we any different from the unsaved if we criticise, curse and finger point during this time of adversity. We are actually worse than them, because we know what is right and they don’t know any better. Let’s not roll around in defeat but instead stand up to claim the pending victory. In Acts 27:25, Paul was on a ship at storm in sea but he declared: ‘Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer for I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me. ‘ Christ has overcome!

3.The storms of life will reveal the real us

We are sometimes legends in our own minds. We think we are stronger than we really are. We have been praying for revival and transformation in our country, change has to come. Yes, persecution might have started but barely. Are we prepared for what might follow in the future? Proverbs 24:10 says: ‘If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.’ Let’s pray for ourselves, the Malaysian church.

Our God is sovereign. On the very same day, half way round the world in Africa the Togo national football team was gunned down on the way to the African Nations Tournament. 3 were killed and 10 were injured. God knows whether the 3 even knew Christ. How does that compare to burnt buildings now? Well, I will say after all that we still got it easy. The Lord’s hand of protection was upon us and still is. I urge you not to go around blabbering about things we don’t fully understand for our fight is not merely against flesh and blood but powers and principalities. The culprits ought to be brought to justice but out of love. Let this be a time and opportunity to show God’s love to all. Pray for a shift in the church and a turnaround in the country. Like one of my friends said:’ This is excellent PR for the church’ Four church buildings might have been burnt, but the CHURCH of Malaysia still stands strong. Sejahtera Malaysia!

Hanging on to Hope..

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas is a time to Love

Friend: 'Isaac, I come visit you on Christmas day ok? Very bored la here..'

Isaac:' Sure sure, come come. You can come with me to spend Christmas day with my pastors at their house.'

Friend: 'So how to get to your place ah?'

Isaac: *pauses* 'Alamak! Christmas day got no public transport!'

Friend: 'Taxi le? I don't mind paying.'

Isaac: 'I don't even think you will get a taxi la, Its Christmas Day!'

Christmas is the biggest holiday season for the majority of the western world. It is estimated that UK consumers spend about £20billion in gifts during that short 1 month spending spree. People will save up an entire year to be able to buy presents for their family and friends. For most retail businesses, it's a time to cash in on the habitual spending season. For children, its a time to play, get new toys, eat chocolates and sweets all day. Boys look forward to their favourite football jersey or the latest games console. Girls wish for their favourite dress or heels or even the latest fashion set. Men the latest technology or gadgets, women have an never ending list that I won't even attempt to list out.

Another interesting fact is that on Christmas morning, the church, chapel or cathedral is packed to the brim for the first time in 365 days. They some times call it ending the year with a bang! Attending Christmas service has become some sort of a pilgrimage or ritual for many. For many of these so called 'Christmas service goers', they might be able to recite Matthew 1 and Luke 2 by heart so the good thing is that at least they're memorising scripture.

A sight that is rarely seen in Malaysia is empty high streets. I first experienced this in Buenos Aires, Argentina when i was there over Christmas a few years ago. We were staying in a hotel right in the middle of their busiest shopping street. I remember coming down on Christmas morning and it was dead, you could even hear the pin dropping even before it touched the ground. It is likewise in London. Christmas eve is swarming with people doing last minute shopping, Christmas day is as empty as my stomach now and the people pack the streets again on Boxing day for the sales. The contrasts is enormous especially when it is only in a space of 3 days.

Some Christians have also gone to the extreme of condemning Christmas as merely a pagan ritual that promotes imprudent spending. A very small minority don't even celebrate Christmas as an act of protest against Santa, reindeers, mistletoe and even presents. Claiming that historically, Jesus wasn't even born on the 25th day of the 12th month. I agree that many of us have been brought up with an expectation of things like presents, roast turkey and singing carols which has certainly become more of a ritual than many of us realise.

In the past decade or so, preachers have been coming with quotes like 'Christ is the reason for this Christmas season' and my very own 'Christmas without Christ is just Mas'. Putting the focus back to Jesus is great and absolutely necessary reminder for us all. I know many churches that put up great performances, bonanzas and events as an opportunity to share the good news of Christ during this season. But, imagine Christmas without presents? or fasting during the Christmas week? Can do? So much for Christmas is all about Christ huh..

Christmas has an unusual feel that unites and bonds people of all faiths and races. Even those who do not practice the faith of Christianity spend Christmas with their family over this holiday season- at least in the UK. The nation is at a virtual standstill for a full 48 hours or so. Silent night does actually exist if you are on a deserted university campus, high street or cottage in the countryside. There seems to be a special feeling around and about the place. I call it Love.

The song 'Christmas is a time to Love' is one of my favourite caroling songs. Christmas for me is ultimately about 3 things.
1. Christ
Jesus' birthday speaks not only the birth of our Lord and saviour but faithfulness of the Father to his sons and daughters on earth.

2. Love
Presents, food, chocolates are all acts of love that many might not know how to express. It is a form of love that is most recognised by the majority.

3. Family
An incredible bond in the family happens during Christmas. I have heard many stories of reconciliation among family members so that everybody can celebrate a happy Christmas.

Families come together, literally putting a stop to their busy lives to be with loved ones. Culture here is that people do not and will not work over time for money. They will rather spend time with family and take the few days off. Something that might be quite different from Asian cultures.

So why all these blabber?

Its my third year in a row not celebrating Christmas with family. I have always been very close to my family and even the outer family is a very closely knitted group. Do i miss them? Yes of course i do. Its not that only now that i have realised about the importance of family, rather I'm actually an advocate for family values to be instilled back into society. Just that in the UK where this country has been founded on biblical values, it is one of those values that still appears to be embedded within her citizens. I have never experienced such a big scale 'family holiday' before and it is indeed weird to find a virtual standstill in one of the most developed countries on earth.

To wrap this off, this post was inspired by Steven Curtis Chapman's song 'All i really want for Christmas'. Its a beautiful song that i hope you will be blessed and reminder of God's goodness to us. There are many out there who just long to be loved and a family to spend time with. As i was always taught since young, family comes after God in our list of priorities.

All I Really Want
Well, I don't know if you remember me or not,
I'm one of the kids they brought in from the home,
I was the red-haired boy in an old, green flannel shirt,
You may not have seen me, I was standing off alone

I didn't come and talk to you ' cause that's never worked before,
And you'll probably never see this letter, anyway,
But just in case there's something you can do to help me out
I'll ask you one more time

All i really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in,
A shoulder to cry on if i lose, shoulders to ride on if i win,
There's so much I could ask for, but there's just one thing I need
All i really want for Christmas is a family

Well, I guess I should go ahead and tell you now,
If it's really true about that list you have,
Somehow I always seem to end up in a fight,
But I'm really trying hard not to be bad

But maybe if I had a brother of a dad to wrestle with,
Maybe they could teach me how to get along,
and from everything I've heard, it sounds like the greatest gift on earth
Would be a mom

All i want for Christmas is someone who'll be here
To sing me happy birthday for the next 100 years,
And it's okay if they're not perfect or even if they're a little broken,
That's alright, 'Cause so am I

Well, I guess I should go, it's almost time for bed,
Maybe next time I write you'll be at home


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another dimension of Love..

Its been a hectic few weeks for me. Final year of university isn't easy at all. Church ministries have been piling up with even more responsibilities to be taken, but its been exciting. My other involvements in ministries both in Malaysia and outside have been pouring in. I thank God for those opportunities, but its been a tremendous challenge. Keeping a daily routine hasn't been as easy as it was with random things cropping up most of the time. Yet it seems that time hasn't gone by as fast as i thought it will. Or at least i had hoped...

I had an assignment due today and finished it in double quick time, to my delight. I didn't want anything to interfere with what many called as my 'big' day. I wanted a day where i can just relax and chill out. So, after a long thought i decided to get Dominoes pizza and watch a movie for the night. The movie i picked out from the pastor's house was 'Fireproof'.

I somehow missed out watching that movie quite a few times, and many people raved about it. But somehow on numerous occasions, i just didn't manage to watch that movie. Now i know why, because it maybe wasn't time yet. God told me on my flight back to London in early October. He said that He had a final piece of the puzzle for me for this season. He only said one word, Love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 are verses that describe Love. I have heard numerous messages on love. I know that God loves me and many other people whom i care about. I know that it was love that put Christ on the cross and all that. I know that we will never achieve perfect love. I know that each day we learn lessons to love our neighbour, enemy, irritating person etc. It wasn't until I watched 'Fireproof' that it all just suddenly clicked.

The covenant love of marriage. The love of Christ with the church as the bride. I don't really know how to describe, but its as if i have been just hit with a brick. Its as if I am in another dimension of Love that I have never been nor encountered before. Ever since the beginning of this year, I seem to be on this journey which leads to what many call 'a relationship' or 'marriage' if you're talking about the end product. I have come across so many movies talking about love. I've had books on marriage and relationships given to me. I've had God open my eyes to possibilities out there. I have had opportunities that put love to the test. I have been learning about covenant. It all seems to be piecing together.

Is it just the age to be exposed to this stuff? Or is God just preparing me for it?

Well, I guess I just got my answer today. The day i turned 22. I was reluctant to turn 22 because 21 just seems like such a nice number. I think God chose this day to reveal to me His plan and His preparation for my new journey of Love. I am ready, and eager to learn all there is to learn. The responsibility of a man seems tremendous (as i have also been studying and learning about manhood) according to biblical standards. I knew it was important but after my recent studies, goodness no wonder they needed two separate words to describe males.

All i can say is, that it's going to be an exciting year ahead!

Lord, i thank you for giving me this experience. Thank you for speaking to me about this new journey that we are embarking together. Help me throw away my childish ways and grow with maturity in You. Lord, i want to be the Man that you purposed me to be. The father to the generations, like you have been the Father to the generation before. I pray God for your mercy and grace. For Your Name's sake, Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Coming soon..

Dear all,

Its been a hectic and crazy few weeks for me. A lot has happened, but just haven't got to sitting down to pen it down. A new post is coming soon though.

*deep voice* COMING SOON! *music fades in the background*


Friday, October 9, 2009

Not home yet..

'Welcome home, Isaac!', a church friend exclaimed as she jumped off her chair to give me a hug.
'Errmm yes, I'm back..', i duly replied.

I have been able to build incredible bonds of friendships here in the UK. My active involvement in my church Majesty Christian Centre in London has only been slightly over a year in total. Its only by God's grace where i am at with my pastors and leaders in terms of our relationship. The pastors have really been like my parents over here. I can go over to their house anytime, make myself at home, sleep on the couch, raid their fridge, call on them anytime and they'll be there for me. Some of the church leaders have been some of my best friends. The rest of the congregation at large has truly been like a little family or community. A rather closely knitted one too. I'm absolutely comfortable with this place which i have been for more than 2 years now. I have accustomed to the surroundings and its ins and outs. To top it all, everybody said that they missed me, literally (that's what they said).

But, why cant i seem to be able to acknowledge and call this my 'home'? Aren't all the above characteristics of a 'home'? Why do i find it hard to agree with my church friend?

To tell you the truth, i don't really know. Its a weird feeling. Even when my pastor asked me 'Isn't it good to be back Isaac?'. I answered 'Yes, it is.' But not with the usual vigour and optimism that you would expect from me. Well, there is one thing i learnt though. There is a time and season for everything. I know that God still has a final piece of the puzzle to teach me during this season of training in the UK. What yet, I'm not exactly sure. But i shall wait with anticipation.

The UK is a place God has chosen to plant me for this season of time. There is a purpose for me here, and its process is not complete yet. Therefore, for the next 10 months. This will be my home.

Give me life on earth till my work is done; give me work on earth till my life is done.

Until the Father comes and takes us, ultimately we are Not Home Yet.

UK address:
Flat 50, Room 2, Fleming Hall,
Topping Lane
UB8 2TR Uxbridge
United Kingdom

UK hp number: +447512407692

facebook: Isaac Lee Xing Wei

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The challenge of - INTEGRITY

When people think of politicians, they think corrupt. When people think of businessmen, they think greedy. When people think of government, they think self centred and untrustworthy (in which the sentence might most likely end with a nasty swear word). Of course this is just generalising and stereotyping the above. When people think Christian, what would they say about us?

I would not be surprised if people actually think that we are all of the above. I recently read a book called 'They like Jesus but not the church' by Dan Kimball. Especially in this country (UK), when people here the word Christian, they cringe. I have realised that there is a tremendous mental block (more like a mountain actually) towards Christianity. How do you share the gospel in a country that were one of the major instruments in actually spreading the gospel to all the world for the past hundreds of years. Christianity is no new thing, but has been seen as more of a nuisance than contributing to society. The majority of the British population call themselves Christians, but that will only be true if being a Christian is to just celebrate Christmas and having a public holiday on Easter Monday.

So what has happened? Aren't we supposed to be salt and light? Well, we are in the world and yet show reflections of the world instead of the Kingdom of God. We have achieved the first part of integration with the world, but don't really know how to get out of it. This is because there is little difference between so called ‘Christians’ and ‘the world’. That is why people come out with terms such as ‘ungodly Christian’, ‘nominal Christian’ or ‘unholy Christian’. If that is true, then we should have terms such as ‘godly hindus’ or ‘holy atheist’. The more I think of it, the more ridiculous it seems. The term ‘Christian’ means ‘Christ-liked’. So by calling someone an ‘ungodly Christian’ in reality is actually like calling ‘ungodly Christ’. Its an oxymoron, both are contradicting each other and cannot coexist.

The reason for all these confusion is because the term Christian has been taken too likely. In the book of Acts, when the term ‘Christians’ was used, they were described as fanatically Jesus followers. That was one of the reasons the gospel spread like wild fire. They didn’t just leave their jobs to share the gospel. In fact, they shared the gospel through their work, business, school, farm etc. Their lives were totally transformed, and their fellow colleagues, workers and friends had ‘no choice’ but to be influenced by them totally and converted into Christianity.

So what’s wrong with us now? What has deteriorated the most ever since?
It is Character and Integrity.

In the destiny of every moral being there is an object more worthy of God than happiness- it is character.’ Austin Phelps

In these days of deception and duplicity many are crying out for integrity. Even our now former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Abdullah Badawi had to be nicknamed ‘Mr Clean’. So does that mean the others are all ‘dirty’? Integrity in relationship is rated highly among people surveyed; in fact it is considered more important in their friendship than any other trait. As we see in Job, God Himself considers integrity the highest priority. He even boasts about Job’s integrity to Satan.

A simple and famous explanation of ‘integrity’ is ‘what you do when no one is watching’ or ‘what you do behind closed doors’. Upon examining the dictionary, this nine letter word ‘integrity’ seems to be loaded with meaning. It is derived from a Latin word which means ‘wholeness or soundness’. It also means adherence to a code of values, utter sincerity, honesty and candor. Comprehensive as the dictionary is, ‘salt and light’ Christianity goes much further.

An even more interesting fact which I found fascinating was that the root word of ‘integrity’ was ‘integer’ now a mathematical term which means untouched, whole and entire. A closer examination of the root word ‘integer’ means whole numbers like one, two, four, eight and even zero. Fractions and mixed numbers like one and a half (1.5), or one fifth are not integers. This gives a revelational fact into Christian living. One cannot be a half Christian, one third Christian or even a 99% Christian, and possess integrity. We have to be 100% Christ’s to find wholeness, completeness, and fulfilment. As integrity forms an integral part of being a Christian, such is the standard of living out as a ‘Christ-liked’ one. Nothing lesser than full fledged integrity shall suffice the privilege of being affiliated with our saviour, king and master. Even if water is clear, that doesn’t mean it is pure. A drop of poison can destroy its purity, if not its clarity. So our purity – integrity – has to be complete.

It is certainly a tall order but an extremely necessary one! Lord, may we live a life of relevance without compromise for the sake of your Name.

Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.’ Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shaking hands with Eternity..

'Walt Disney was sitting on a bench one day, staring into space. Someone who passed by asked him, 'How are you sir?' Without looking at the man, he said:' Fine', and kept on staring. So the man said:' Sir, what are you doing?' 'I'm looking at my mountain and my world.' he answered. Walt told his architects about the Space mountain that he wanted to include in Disney World and they begun drawing up plans. Walt Disney died before Space Mountain was built, so he never saw it constructed. When Space Mountain was dedicated, the mayor and governors were all present as was Walt's widow. One of the young men stood up to introduce her, and said:' It's a pity that Mr Walt Disney isn't here today to see this mountain and magnificent park. But we are glad that his wife is here.' Mrs.Disney walked up to the podium, looked at the crowd, and said, in effect, 'I must correct this young man. Walt already saw the mountain. It is you who are just seeing it now.'

What a powerful story of Vision. Proverbs 29:18 states, 'Where there is no vision, the people perish'. It may sound harsh, but it is absolutely true. The full essence of this statement implies that where there is no revelation of the future, people throw off self-control and personal discipline. Where there is no destination, any path will do.

Vision is fueled by a purpose. Purpose is determined by the creator. Therefore, God the creator of man has purposed each and everyone of us for something special because uniqueness is part of God's creation. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, it reads 'He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.' There is something within us that is being called by eternity. The vision God has put in our hearts is 'a piece of eternity' that He gave us to deliver on earth in the form of time and space. Therefore, God has done something awesome. He lives in eternity, yet He has specifically placed us in time so that others on earth will be able to see a piece of eternity that is in Him. Therefore, a God given vision is not only fueled by a God given purpose for us to manifest on earth but, it has also been completed in eternity.

'I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.' Isaiah 46:9-10

In this passage, God mentions two things that He does.
Firstly, He establishes the end before the beginning. This means that He finishes things first in the spiritual realm, and then HE goes back and starts them up in the physical realm which is bounded by time.
Secondly, He reveals the end result of something when it is just the beginning.

This is what it means when God says I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. When God starts something, He has already completed it in eternity.

Just as a builder has an idea in his head. He visualises and pictures the house. He then draws it out exactly the way he wants it to be. The landscape, the color scheme, the windows, the doors, the garden etc. A detailed picture of what the completed house would look like is drawn. That picture is then placed to a board which is then placed at the building site with a big sign above it reading 'Coming soon'. The house was not built yet but, by showing the completed picture of the house it was revealing the end of its purpose. The builder had a vision for that building, because it saw the finished product before construction had even started. God essentially completed us before He created us.

Everything was already finished in God's mind before He laid the foundation of the world. God had already imagined and planned how He wanted everything to be, then He initiated the beginning by creating the heavens before working on project earth.

It can be defined that 'Vision is foresight with insight based on hindsight.' We have insight into God's purpose for us based on what we know God has already accomplished in eternity. Vision is a glimpse of our future that God has purposed. We might not know all the details of how our purposes will unfold, but we see the 'ends' because God reveals them to us in the vision He gives us.

Lastly, so if God had already imagined the entire history of mankind. He already planned everything as He pleases. Everything was already completed in the spiritual yet not manifested in the physical yet. And God is indeed the beginning and the end. Then, when Adam who was the first man on earth walked with God in the cool of the Garden of Eden. When he shook hands with God, he was actually shaking hands with everything which was, which is and is to come. He shook hands with eternity.