Author Archive

Holiness

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2010 by mdchwong

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” – D.A. Carson

The pursuit of holiness is hard work!

For many years, I naively thought that unlike keeping my room clean, getting into shape, doing well in my university courses, or learning how to play a musical instrument, following Christ didn’t take much effort – no blood or sweat; no hours of studying; no years of practice.  Saved by grace right? (Eph 2:8-9)  But then we read a few more verses further and it says that, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)  Recently, I was reminded that being a Christian is all about pursuing holiness – to practice the presence of God in authentic worship every moment of every day.  This is an active process…requiring works…because “faith by itself, if it not accompanied by action, is dead.” (Jam 2:17)

What is authentic worship?  Well, according to Harold Best, worship involves…

“acknowledging that someone or something else is greater – worth more – and by consequence, to be obeyed, feared and adored…worship is the sign that that in giving myself completely to someone or something, I want to be mastered by it.”

Do we truly fear the awesome, living, sovereign God of the universe or are we more afraid of what our friends think of us?  Do we actually adore God?  What does it mean to adore someone?

Valentine’s Day is coming up tomorrow and I considered what we do when we’re in love with someone.  We spend heaps of time together in conversation, we travel with one another, we serve each other, we lavish one another with gifts (just look at this weekend’s Valentine’s Day chocolate and flower sales), we enjoy the highs and endure the lows…an incredible amount of time and effort goes into nurturing a loving relationship.

Are we truly in love with God?  Do we merely claim to love Him or do our actions reflect that as well?  Do we desire to talk to him in prayer, to live in His presence wherever we go, to serve Him in obedience and honour Him with our money and resources (that are totally provided by God to us in the first place)?  This is no easy task but the apostle Peter reminds us, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” (1 Pet 1:15-16, NIV)  Those of us who have received the gift of salvation through Christ Jesus have been bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).  We should never forget how Christ’s blood, shed on the cross, paid the price of death for our sins so that all who believe can be made saints for the service of God’s kingdom (Rev 5:9-10).  Here, a ‘saint’ is someone who is ‘sacred, pure & blameless’ in God’s eyes.  As I heard from David Hunt this past week, although we were once sinners, we have been washed clean by the blood of Christ and God now sees us as saints who sometimes sin.  Therefore, the challenge for us is to live our lives worthy of this calling.

“God doesn’t demand hectic church programs and frenetic schedules; he only wants his people to know Him more intimately.” – D.A. Carson

Maybe some of you are a bit tired of filling your schedules with all the corporate prayer meetings, Monday night bible talks, CiA/YF/small groups, showing up early on Sunday mornings to usher/setup sound, leaders meetings, leaders retreats, church camps, etc.  Although many of these are important, remember that God wants our love and affection more than simply more time blocked off in our diaries each week. God is glorified primarily in our hearts as we love Him and remain in awe of Him – not just in what we do.  Praying together, studying God’s word together, and serving the church with joy are just some of the ways we can learn to embrace more of Christ’s character as we desire to experience God’s presence and glory in our lives.

“We walk before God simply, in faith, with humility, and with love.  We engage in a continual, silent, affectionate conversation with Our Father.  Out of love for Him, we strive to do nothing and think nothing which may displease God.” – Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God

The pursuit of holiness ain’t easy as we are in a constant struggle between living by the Holy Spirit and living for the flesh.  But I think the apostle Paul got it exactly right when he says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Phil 3:8)

How’s your pursuit going?

How Would You Rate Your Prayer Life?

Posted in Prayer on May 9, 2009 by mdchwong

Prayer is one of the big application points that’s coming up in our final bible study of Colossians.  Like many of you, my Facebook homepage has been flooded with info on what kind of power ranger/fruit/Disney character/Twilight character/periodic element/animal/food people are based on some quiz they took.  With all of the Facebook quizzes floating around out there, I thought I’d toss up this “prayer quiz” for us all to consider and have a think about.  I stumbled upon it in a bunch of other resources here (http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=4307 ).

Rate your own prayer life by answering each of the following questions with one of the following (and total up your score):  Always = 4, Often = 3, Sometimes = 2, Seldom = 1, Never = 0

1. Do you set aside time for prayer in private every day?
2. Are you able to keep your thoughts from wandering to other matters when you pray?
3. Do you make yourself get up promptly in the morning in order not to neglect prayer?
4. In public prayer are you able to forget the people present and make real contact with God?
5. Do you always approach the Father through Jesus’ name? (Ephesians 3:12)
6. Do you diligently watch for and record answers to your prayers?
7. After receiving an answer to prayer, do you fulfill any promises you made to God?
8. When you pray in public do you resist the temptation to orate?
9. Do you share with others when you receive definite answer to prayer?
10. Do you have a prayer list?
11. Do you wake up in the morning with a definite prayer in your heart and on your lips?
12. When others are praying, are you courteous and reverent, praying silently with them?
13. Are you willing to be the instrument by which God answers your prayers?
14. Do you keep your promises to missionaries and others who ask your prayer help?
15. In sickness or trouble of any nature is prayer your first thought?
16. In saying grace at the table do you avoid mechanical statements and really thank Him?
17. Do you remember to pray regularly, as God commanded, for our government?
18. When you instruct others in praying do you teach them to talk to God?
19. Are you free to incorporate Scriptural expression in your prayer?
20. Do you refuse to use your public prayer to instruct or attack others?
21. Are you so in earnest about your requests that you come to God again and again with them?
22. Is your most fervent prayer all the time prayer for the salvation of the lost and the welfare of fellow Christians?
23. Do you really fight the interruptions that would keep you from praying?
24. Do you utilize prayer as a means of resisting temptation?
25. When you pray, do you honestly seek the glory of God?

Total Points = ?

The quiz states that if you score 100, you have a rather outstanding prayer life…if not more than 50, put yourself at the top of your prayer list.

How can you improve your prayer life?

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” – Col 4:2

A God Who is Able

Posted in Theology on April 5, 2009 by mdchwong

God’s Promise to Israel through Moses:

Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel:

“I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you.  The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’  The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you.  He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land.  Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said.  And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land.  The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:1-6)

God’s Promise to Joshua:

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” (Joshua 1:5-6)

Recently, I was encouraged by a friend of mine back in Canada…

She was sharing with me what it’s like to hear the words “Your dad has cancer” – four words that I think nobody ever wants to hear.  She shared about how she’s been thinking about other four-word phrases like “God is with us” or “The Lord is good” and that somehow, with the blood tests, X-rays and CT scans in your face, the words “Your dad has cancer” is all you can think about.  She has been following Christ for many years but admitted feeling helpless and lost.  “You hear things like ‘God is real’ all the time in church” she said, “and after a while you repeat it and you know it in your head but sometimes it loses it’s meaning.”

On the way home from the hospital, she told me she listened to a song called “God Who is Able” by a band called Fridays Cry that really lifted her spirit and reminded her that we serve a God who never leaves us, nor forsakes us – a God who never fails.  Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  The writer of Hebrews in 13:5-6 reminds us from history that God kept his promise to his servants Moses, Joshua, Jacob (Genesis 28:14), and Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:20) and that we can be sure that in the same way, He will remain faithful to us as servants of Jesus Christ.

The only place I can find the song is on the band’s myspace page HERE.  You can view the lyrics HERE.  I don’t know what all of you might be going through…maybe you or someone close is ill, maybe you’re struggling just to get through each day, maybe your world is being turned upside down… maybe you will be encouraged by this song to not give up because we serve a God who is able to carry us through.

Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians: (and an encouragement for us!)

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to HIM WHO IS ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)

The Wonderful Cross

Posted in Reflections with tags , , on February 25, 2009 by mdchwong

When it comes to a battle of the best lyrics, I find that old hymns usually come out on top of the contemporary Christian songs that have been produced in recent years. The words from these ancient songs are simple, profound and biblical. But, the problem is that the musical style of the song is a few hundred years out of date and not many of us really enjoy listening to organ music or Gregorian chants.

You’re probably aware of the fact that a lot of Christian artists have caught onto this and have attempted to modernize a lot of hymns by combining the golden lyrics of the past with music that we can connect with to produce some really great songs. We’ve spent the month of February at CCCB Coopers Plains singing “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin. He took a classic hymn, changed the music a bit, added in a bridge part, and then stuck it at the end of one of his albums that’s since been certified Gold as of 2008 (according to wikipedia). Maybe it shows a lack of creativity to do a slightly modified song cover and stick your name behind it but it seems to be going on everywhere these days – especially in pop music. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the ‘Stones, “I Got A Woman” by Ray Charles…the list goes on.

Anyway, I like hymns redux and “The Wonderful Cross” by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves and JD Walt is no exception. It’s a cover of the old hymn written in 1707 by Issac Watts called “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross” and has a beautiful message centered on the cross.

whenisurveythewondrouscross1

I was recently reminded by Bob Kauflin, a pastor from Sovereign Grace Ministries, that the central and foundational theme of our worship is the cross of Jesus Christ. Worship referring not only to the music we make or songs we sing, but what we do every moment of our lives – our glorifying response to God for all He has done, is doing, and will continue to do. This little symbol that so many people wear around their necks stands for something huge: the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God. As Bob puts it, “It focuses on His substitutionary death at Calvary…His incarnation, His life of perfect obedience, His suffering, His resurrection, His ascension, His present intercession and reign in glory, His triumphant return.”  It represents the only way to God, the only answer, and our only hope.

This song moves me every time I hear it and refocuses my often distracted attention on the awesomeness of the cross.

“The he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.'” – Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24