Thursday, August 27, 2015

In the Name of Jesus

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What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus? I am pretty sure that you can find a good explanation from the pages of the Bible. I think Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkeegard has given us a good insights of the theme.

To PRAY "in the name of Jesus" may perhaps be explained most simply in this way. A magistrate orders this and the other thing in the name of the King. What does that mean?

In the first place it means I myself am nothing. I have no power, nothing to say for myself—but it is in the name of the King. Thus to pray in the name of Christ means I dare not approach God without a mediator, if my prayer is to be heard, then it will be in the name of Jesus. What gives it strength is that name.

Next, when a magistrate gives a command in the name of the King it naturally follows that what he commands must be the King's will, he cannot command his own will in the King's name. The same thing is true of praying in the name of Jesus, to pray in such a way that it is in conformity with the will of Jesus. I cannot pray in the name of Jesus to have my own will ; the name of Jesus is not a signature of no importance, but the decisive factor ; the fact that the name of Jesus comes at the beginning is not prayer in the name of Jesus ; but it means to pray in such a manner that I dare name Jesus in it, that is to say think of Him, think His holy will together with whatever I am praying for.

Finally, when a magistrate gives an order in the name of the King it means that the King assumes the responsibility. So too with prayer in the name of Jesus, Jesus assumes the responsibility and all the consequences. He steps forward for us, steps into the place of the person praying.

Kierkeegaard, Soren, Journals, trans Alexander Dru (1938), pp 974.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

He Will Bring Health and Healing

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“Do you have insurance?” The nurse asked us after Narlin signified that she was so dizzy to stand up and may need to stay in the hospital for the night. She was complaining of deafness on her left ear. She had vertigo and suffering from nausea for almost two days.

Although she was given medication for anti vertigo, we decided to go to the hospital in Overbrook Chiang Rai for a thorough diagnosis. After several tests, the doctor’s diagnosis was that she is suffering from Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL). We are asked to come back to the hospital on the 5th of September to assess if the medications are working.

We don’t have any insurance but God. The cost made us think twice about buying a plan. The children’s needs and education are our priority. Regardless, we believe that God will provide, keep us safe and preserve our health.

This reminds me of couple of familiar verses from the Old Testament, Jeremiah 33:3, 6:
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know…. Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
We trust that God will completely heal Narlin’s sickness, he will protect us in every situation and he will provide for all our needs. Thank you so much for praying with us and for being part of God’s answer to our prayers.

Thanksgiving


We are thankful for our friends who prayed and encouraged us by sharing their experiences similar to Narlin’s sickness. We are thankful for doctor friends who gave us medical advice.

We are thankful for Jennifer whose presence become more indispensable when Narlin was confined in the hospital. She looks after the children when we are away. She will be leaving on the 14th of September. Please pray for traveling mercy and provisions.

We are thankful for God’s provisions for Reuven’s schooling. We were able to get his credentials from Philippine Embassy in Bangkok, his certificate/records from Mae Sai Prasitsart School which cost us some money. He is now enrolled in a university in the Philippines.

We are thankful that God has given us the opportunity to help more children. Whether it is through teaching English or taking care of them may it be short or long term. Please that we can help a couple more kids this year.

We are thankful for the opportunity to work with teams, schools and villages in ministering to the children. We are looking forward for another team to come and help in the near future.

We are thankful that our children have the opportunity to participate in drama competition in Bangkok. Although we don’t expect to win anything this time, we just want to give glory to Jesus’s name for all the blessings and experiences they will be enjoying.

We are thankful that in spite of the big amount we spent in our children’s schooling this month (August), the Lord has provided us enough amount for Narlin’s hospitalization.

Most of all, we are thankful to God every time we remember your partnership with us. We appreciate your love, support and untiring prayers.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Book of Jesus

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The Book of Jesus: A Treasury of the Greatest Stories and Writings About Christ edited by Calvin Miller. Here is a book I wanted to read for a long time. Surprisingly, I found it in our library, one of the books I mindlessly picked up during one of the conferences held in Chiang Mai last year. The book is edited by Calvin Miller. He is a pastor, speaker and professor. He is the bestselling author of more than thirty books including the enormously popular Singer trilogy.

From the blurb, it says that The Book of Jesus is an essential volume for every Christian library: an all-embracing collection—in style of the The Book of Virtue—of the best stories, poems, essays, and songs about the life of Jesus Christ.

“No two people know quite the same things about Jesus or see him in quite the same way,” says Calvin Miller in the Introduction to this monumental work. “Some see him as judge, coming to scourge the nations. Others see him primarily as a lover of children. Scholars tend to see him in scholarly ways. Poets see him more poetically. Preachers see him as a preacher, teachers as teacher. Carpenters like remembering he was one of them.” The Jesus of Scripture, Dr. Miller says, “is only finished in the individual hearts of those who believe.” In compiling The Book of Jesus, Dr. Miller’s goal is to bring together some of the most fascinating, original observations on the life of Jesus Christ, and the result is truly wonderful.

The Book of Jesus contains hundreds of selections drawn from every era of history, presenting a spectrum of contributors from Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, Hemingway, and C.S. Lewis to Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, and Desmond Tutu. This broad, eclectic volume also includes works by contemporary Christian writers such as Max Lucado, Elisabeth Elliot, Charles Colson, and Eugene Peterson, and other poems, songs, and essays, traditional hymns, and verse from the Bible.

The selections in this indispensable book, when taken together, present “the Christ of universal reflection, “for many thousands of people who see to find out exactly who is this most important man.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Lord is My Shepherd

Three days before we hadn’t the slightest idea that we would be in the Philippines attending the funeral of Gavs. We were all shocked by his “untimely” death caused by brain aneurysm. He was a funny and humble man, a good father and a loyal friend. He was our nephew but more than that he was like a son to us. He never knew his father and her mom got sick when he was little. We took him in our young family then. He spent many years of his life with us. He was 30 years old.

Just before his body was put into the ground, the Pastor recited Psalm 23 and uttered a comforting prayer for the bereaved family.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Although this Psalm is considered to be part of the funeral liturgy, we believe that God’s promises in this passage are being fulfilled in our lives on daily basis.  Thank you for being part of God’s fulfilled promises to us and our children. We are thankful to the Lord for using you in our ministry to help children, youth and women in the community.

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English Camps

It is a joy to watch a group of young people sharing the gospel to more than a hundred of students through songs and Bible Story in an English Camps. We thank the Lord for the YWAM team composed of youth members of Faith Family Church (Illinois) who came last week that helped us in a 3-day English camp at Tesaban 1 Wat Proweehan School. These young people shared God’s love to the students.

We have another YWAM Team that came last Friday and will help us in another English Camp in Suntard Village School. This is a small village school that the government is planning to close down if the student population will not increase. We want to help the school to have more students next year so that it will continue. Together with our friends who live there, we are praying that the presence of the YWAM Team teaching at the English camps will help the school. We also hope to get volunteers to teach English at the school on regular basis.

After helping the school, we are praying that we can start the ministry with young women in the area with our friends. We also hope that we can share the gospel and a community of believers will gather to worship in the village. Please pray that God will use the English camp as a channel of God’s blessings in that village.

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Visa Extended For Another Year

As far as I can remember, this year holds the record for the smoothest visa extension we ever had. We drove to Chiang Mai to visit the immigration office to have our visa extended. We noticed right away that there were fewer people at the immigration office even though we went there on a Monday. We learned later that the place is being used solely for visa extension and the 90-day appearance, re-entry permit and such like transactions are transferred to another location. We are thankful that we don’t nee to come back after a month. The office granted us one-year visa in just one visit. Thank you for including this concern in your prayers and for your contribution to our visa expenses.

Little Family Update

Although we are mourning, our visit to the Philippines also made us happy. We were able to spend precious time with our own children for 4 whole days. Those days were the happiest days for us in a while. We have many wonderful things to be thankful for. Jared is already working as teacher in a private school. Jillian defended her thesis last week and she will graduate next year. Reuven will be enrolled in college soon. Please pray that the certificate from Philippine Department of Education for his passing the ALS Test will be given soon. We are praying that he can enrol this August. Thank for helping us in praying for our children. Please pray for God’s provision for their studies.

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More Prayer Concerns

  • Please help us to pray for the following concerns:
    Pray for the ministry in Suntard Village. Pray for our friends, Wayne and Jeen, who live there and want to spread the gospel to their neighbours. Pray for Larry as he works out the details of our plan for the ministry to the young women that will be based in that village.
  • Pray for our ministry at Pantamit church. Preaching, training and teaching children in Sunday School.
  • Pray for Jennifer, our friend from Ireland who has been helping us immensely with English teaching ministry, English Camps, music and caring for the children.
  • Pray for good health for all of us specially the children during this rainy season.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support. We sincerely appreciate your love and generosity. We pray that God will continually prosper and bless you. The Lord honors the sacrifices you made in helping us in our ministry.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Love Within the Body of Christ

Romans 12:9-10 Untitled
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
I remember in our church every time we had finished taken the the Lord Supper, we would read the Church Covenant and there is a part there that says:
“We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.”
These words remind me that wherever we go as family, the first priority for us to look for a local church where we can serve God. So it makes me sad that many people claims to be Christian but do not want to be part of a local church. It just doesn’t make sense. In order for us to have a clear understanding of or passage, we have to read it in its context. In verses 1 and 2, Paul talks about spiritual worship and in verse 3 to eight, he talks about our humble service to the body of Christ by using our spiritual gifts. We need to understand that Paul refers specifically to the local church because every believer should commit to serve God through a local church.

Some believers would make excuse that it is not necessary because they are part of the universal invisible church. Warren Weirsbe tells a story of a free-lance missionary that visited a pastor friend asking for financial support. "What group are you associated with?" his friend asked. The man replied, "I belong to the invisible church." His friend then asked, "Well, what church are you a member of?" Again he got the answer, "I belong to the invisible church!" Getting a bit suspicious, his friend asked, "When does this invisible church meet? Who pastors it?" The missionary then became incensed and said, "Well, your church here isn't the true church. I belong to the invisible church!" His friend replied, "Well, here's some invisible money to help you in your invisible church!" God called us to serve Him in a local church through our worship (12:1-2), our service by using our spiritual gifts and then by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 This morning the word of God challenges us to follow Jesus command to love one another. We follow Jesus example when he demonstrates his love when he died on the cross to suffer in our behalf. He did not do that because he wants to do something nice for us but because of his obedience to the Father. By following Christ’s example, we are commanded by the Father to love every person in the body of Christ.

Love in the body of Christ must be sincere (12:9a)

The English word “sincere” comes from two Latin words meaning “without wax.” In Paul’s time, potters would sometimes take wax and fill in the gaps in broken or cracked pottery. Then they would paint over the wax and sell it. The only problem was that when someone bought this pottery and put something hot in it the wax would melt and it would leak. Good potters distanced themselves from this practice by saying that their pottery was “sine-cere,” meaning it was pure with no wax. Likewise, our love must not have cracks in it, or wax that is simply a cover-up. The Greek word that Paul uses means “without hypocrisy.” The word was used of the masks used by actors on the stage.

 During Paul’s time, the actors used the mask to show the role that he was playing not his true character. Paul says that our love for one another should be without mask, but rather should be real. We should truly desire God’s best for others. Now, I think the question is how we can love our brothers and sisters in Christ in the church, John puts it very clearly in 1 John 3:16-18, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”


Love in the body of Christ must be holy (12:9b)

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. In order for love to be sincere, it must also be discerning. Love should know what is good and what is evil. It never endorses or encourages in others attitudes or behaviour that is evil. Rather it embraces what is good in God’s sight. God’s standard of what is evil and what is good does not change with the times or with different cultures. God reveals his holy standards of right and wrong in His Word. For example, when the Bible say that homosexual behaviour is sinful, then it does not changes even if public opinion polls or scientists say it is acceptable. If it is sin in God’s sight, then it is not loving to treat such behaviour as morally acceptable, because sin hurts people. Instead, the loving thing to do is to gently and with compassion, tell that person about his sin and point him to Christ so that he can be saved before his sin destroys him.

 Also Paul does not just say to avoid evil, we are to hate it. It is an strong emotional reaction against all that do not please God. Since God hates sin, we should also hate sin. We should not laugh at evil or be entertained by evil. The opposite of hating evil is to cling to what is good. The word “cling” is quite descriptive. It means to stick to something like glue; to hold fast, to join or keep company. It has the idea of tying ourselves to what is good. We must focus our minds on what is good and make sure that we keep company with people who will build us up, make sure we’re connected to church, and that we’re equipped to serve. We can flip it because they are really two sides to the same coin. The more you cling constantly to what is good, the easier it will be to hate what is evil. The word “good” was used of things that were morally good and beneficial or useful for a productive Christian life.
7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. -1 Thessalonians 4:7-8


Love in the body of Christ must be brotherly (12:10a)

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Here Paul is challenging us to love as family members love. Here’s the deal. When we come a Christian we only get a birthday present called spiritual gift, we also become part of a new family. Each one of us is a child of God so we are a brothers and sisters to each other. The Christian community is composed of people from very different cultures. In the New Testament the church is composed of Greeks, Jews, Barbarians, Slaves, and free men and women but because of their faith they become one family in God.

 I believe it is not different from our present situation, we are all very different people but because of our faith in Christ, we become one family. Everyone of us has a family. There are times when we are not in talking terms with a member of our family. We fight, we argue and don’t talk with each other for a long time but we still love each other. The kind of love we should express within our families, is to be the kind of love God expects for us to express within the local Church: The church, is first and foremost the family of God, and each member of that family is important, with no distinctions, no discriminations.

Love in the body of Christ must be humble (12:10b)

Honour one another above yourselves.
The word “honour” literally means to put a “heavy weight.” It implies that we assign the greatest possible weight to a person in terms of respect by holding them in “high regard.” To honour someone is to measure his or her value on a scale and conclude that it is “heavy.” On the other hand, to “dishonour” means to treat someone as if they were “light or insignificant.” It would be used to describe a child that treats his parents lightly because he or she does not value them. We’re called to prefer others above ourselves. The idea is that we will take the lead in showing the honour that is due to each other in the family of God.

 This passage means that we do not wait around for people to recognise what we are doing good and praise us. Instead, we should be alter to what others are doing good and honour them. We are not to seek honour for ourselves, but rather we truly rejoice when others receive honour and we don not. It is easily said but it is hard to practice. If we will keep this principle in our hearts we will never look down upon other people especially our brothers and sisters in the church because at the very moment we look down on them, we actually are putting ourselves lower than them.

 Let us think of this truth always if you heard someone who are putting down a brother or a sister in Christ consider other Christians as second class citizen, according to God’s Word he or she is actually lower than the person he is putting down. So when Paul says, “honour one another above yourselves,” he doesn’t mean that we should deny our gifts or knowledge. Rather, he means that we should have a true estimate of ourselves. We should not over-estimate ourselves and under-estimate others. As Paul says in 1 Cortinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

Conclusion

It would not take you too long to live in Mae Sai to realise that some Christians lack commitment to a particular local church. And I cannot blame them, there are just too many local churches here. They have a lot of options. I know a village that have five small churches and two Bible schools. I wonder how much influence they have in the community. In fact, I know a Christian leader who moved here last year and in just a few months was able to start a new local church disregarding local churches that are already existing. I am not saying that it is bad, I even think it is good. But I believe if we Christians want to have a weight in this predominantly Buddhist nation, we should better get our acts together.

And we can start by committing ourselves to a local church: commit ourselves to Jesus Christ who is the head of the church and commit ourselves to the members of the local church we are a part. How can we do that? By keeping this verse always in our hearts: Love one another sincerely, hate evil and cling to what is good, be devoted in loving one another like a family and honour one another above yourselves.

 Before I close I want to read part of the church covenant: We engage by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.

 We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer, to help each other in sickness; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Network for Children and Women Under the Same Sky (NCWSS)

Ncwsa logo copy During our early years in Mae Sai, God clearly impressed upon us that we will be working with children and women. So it is only logical that we are now working together with NCWSS. We are hoping to do more projects through NCWSS. Below is the document describing the organization's activities and projects. NCWSS is an orgnization who woks to help the child and women in the provinces of Northern Thailand like Mae Sai, Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Kong, Chiang Saen, Mong, Lampang and other places. Many children and women became victims of abuse, exploitation and human trafficking. These problems are real but the community seems oblivious to the increasing realities of these evil deeds being committed against children and women. Therefore, different organisations and individuals who are genuinely concern to fight against these problems work together to protect the right and welfare of women and children. NCWSS goals are as follows:
  1. To provide accommodation and education for the homeless children.
  2. To assist in the care of the orphans.
  3. To help the children who are the victims of sexual abuse.
  4. To assist in protecting the children from human trafficking.
  5. To help women from abusive husbands.
  6. To assist women and children from labor and sex trafficking.
  7. To help women workers from exploitative employers.
  8. To increase knowledge of the communities to enable them to have a greater concern for being part of the solving problems.
When there are several groups and organisations which have the same mission and vision, they can work together to achieve their goals. NCWSS has been established for the purpose of:
  1. Unite together to help and protect children and women’s right.
  2. Share information, problems and experiences for better solve the problems.
  3. Coordinate with the government, community organisations and individuals to achieve the goals.
  4. Educate and encourage community and individual to work together on solving these problems.
The organization is registered with Ministry of Social Development and Human Security as Network for Children and Women Under the Same Sky as a public welfare organization by Legal Principle Section 82 of the Civil and Commercial LA. In September 15, 2008 and was awarded a certificate from The Association Registrar of the Chiang Rai Province. Main activities of the association:
  1. Annual meeting to update and revise policy for the members’ guidance.
  2. Organised seminars to educate and train the members how to extend assistance to the victims and to be more informed about the law and regulations.
  3. Help and assist the children and women who are in danger of becoming victims.
  4. Educate community, individual citizens and schools about the problems confronting the children and women in the society and how to acquire help to solve the problem.
  5. Encourage the citizen to have an active part in solving these social problems.
  6. Help the poor children by donating food, clothes, medicine, school supplies, finances for school fees, etc.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Through the years



Happy New Year! It’s a bit late greeting but we missed the opportunity to do it because we skipped sending you our January Newsletter.  We thanked the Lord for your continued partnership through out the years. Nine years to be exact.

We came to Mae Sai in January 2006 hence we are now on our ninth year here. This year, we were together in celebrating God’s faithfulness in our lives and ministries. We are grateful that Jared and Jillian were able to come to celebrate Christmas, New Year and the anniversary of our coming here in Thailand.

Team Visits
They came with a purpose to help the children at risk and we happen to have ten of those. Seven wonderful young ladies from YWAM DTS-Madison came to help us with the children and also with teaching English at the Municipal school. They stayed in our house for almost a week. We also took some time out to show them to few interesting places in Mae Sai. They came at the right time because we needed to go to the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok that weekend because Reuven had to take the Alternative Learning System Accreditation Equivalency (ALSAE) Test. We had people who looked after the children while we were away.

We also met with a 32-people team from South Korea through our Pastor friend. They were doing mission exposure in Southeast Asian countries. We were grateful to them for taking the time to visit our place and for encouraging us. We were able to help them in our own small way to look for an overnight accommodation.

We will also be working with YWAM Team from South Africa this month. Please pray for the school activities where these young people who will minister among the students of the municipal school.

Children Update
We thank the Lord for his provision for all the children’s school expenses. They are all doing good in the school. Being with them and seeing them 24/7 make us oblivious to the physical changes happening to them. We just noticed that their clothes are getting too small for them.  So we are again buying them new set of clothes and school uniforms.
Our own children are doing well in their studies. But Narlin and I think they need somebody to be with them to help them keep the house tidy and prepare food for them. Jared will be graduating in May and Jillian will be in her third year. The fact that they are in the Philippines in college is a miracle of God’s provision.

Reuven took this year ALSAE Test. If he passed, he will go straight to college in the Philippines. The test is specially difficult for him because the test is 90% in Tagalog. For someone who who live in Thailand for most of his life, written Tagalog is not easy to understand. Please pray that Reuven will pass the test this time.

HT Related Projects
Please continue to pray for us as we help our friend to start his ministry projects in Mae Sai that seeks to prevent young women from becoming victim of human trafficking (HT). We hope to find a place to rent to be used as vocational trainings centre (initially sewing for crafts like dresses and bags and maybe more courses later) and another place for shelter. Pray for our friend's health and pray for wisdom and provision.

During our last meeting with the Network for Women and Children, someone brought out a pressing problem. We are told that the Thai Immigration Office deported several young women who are working illegally in Thailand. Although these girls are from Burma, they practically grew up here. They couldn’t speak Burmese and they don’t have any idea where their family are located. Allegedly, they ended up homeless and raped by the police.

We are hoping to help provide solution to this problem by having people in the immigration office to look for the deported girls and provide them temporary shelter until such time they locate their family in Burma. This is a good opportunity to share God’s love to them.  Please for God’s guidance and provisions.

Members of Network for Children and Women (NCW) sharing problem on human trafficking and sharing ideas on how to provide solutions.

Thanksgiving
  • We thank the Lord for another year he has given to us. We are looking forward for a fruitful 2015.
  • We thank the Lord that our children from the Philippines were able to celebrate holidays with us.
  • We thank the Lord for friends who are faithfully supporting and praying for us. We pray that God will bless you always.
  • We thank the Lord for leading us to a local church where we can serve him.
  • We thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve with the international community (who need spiritual feeding too) in our once a month English worship.
  • We thank the Lord for the opportunity to teach English and the Word to the children and young people in the community. 
  • We know it's still early but please help us pray for our visa and work permit this year. We are grateful that we did not have major difficulties in extending our stay in Thailand.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Thanksgiving Message

Philippians 4:4-7


We non-Americans will never fully understand why the Americans celebrate thanksgiving. Sure we can know its history and how it is being celebrated, but for us it is totally an American holiday just like Loi Khratong is a Thai festival. We may know about it and participate in it but we it would not be meaningful if we are not a Thai.

Charles Dickens once said that they are somewhat mixed up in America. He told an audience that “instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have 364 “days of thanksgiving.” Use that one day just for complaining and griping,” he said. “Use the other 364 days to thank God for the many blessings He has showered upon you.”

As Dickens suggested, we should not wait for a special holiday to express our gratitude to God. Instead, thanksgiving should be a part of our daily lives. In fact the bible is very clear that thanksgiving is perhaps one of the most vital characteristics of any child of God. And there’s good reason for that.

As a Christian, God expects us to have a thankful spirit. We should be the example of what it means to be a thankful person.

Let us look at Philippians 4:4-7 to know how we show to people that we have a thankful spirit.

A thankful spirit is a joyful spirit (v. 4)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice.

A thankful person is always rejoicing in the Lord. As you may already know, when Paul was writing this letter he was not in a comfortable position. He was actually in prison. The reason we have a joyful spirit is because we know God through our personal relationship with Jesus.

The joy we have inside our hearts should not be affected by the bad circumstances that are happening around us. Paul shows this truth to us. He is full of joy because he knows that no matter what happened to him, he has Jesus Christ in his life. We can be joyful because we know for sure that God will provide for us and takes care of us.

And God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always. Whether we like it or not, we are commanded to  do so not because we could not do it but because it is something that a true Christian should be doing. It is our testimony of how faithful God is to us.

We rejoice because he makes us happy. We rejoice because he gives us exceeding joy. In this passage Paul are trying to resolve some problems in the church, but in spite of that Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always!

To rejoice means to be exceedingly glad The ability to rejoice or to have a joyful spirit is built on our relationship with God, not with what is happening around us.

A thankful spirit is a gentle spirit (v. 5)

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Joy is not always evident but the way we relate to other people is. A thankful person will treat people as Jesus would treat them.

The word “gentle” is very difficult word to translate in English. One word is not sufficient to get the full meaning of it. Different translations translate it as gentle, moderate, kind, reasonable, considerate.
The word refers to a spirit that is reasonable, fair-minded, and charitable. It describes someone willing to yield his or her own right to show consideration and gentleness to others. We may find it easy to be gentle with some people but it is hard to be gentle to the people who makes our life difficult.

Paul is saying that “gentleness”  towards all people should characterise the people of God. He is calling the Christians in Philippi and us for that matter to have the gentle forbearance and meekness of Jesus. It should be one of the most prominent attitude that Christians should show to all people.

The sudden inclusion of the sentence, “the Lord is near” is ambiguous. Paul could have intended it to be like that. First, it may mean that Paul is saying “Rejoice in the Lord always,  and let your gentleness be evident to all for the coming of the Lord is near. On the other he may mean to say that the Lord is always near. Or he says it to mean both.

In the light of the persecution the Christians are experiencing in the hands of those who proclaim that the emperor is Lord and God. These words, I believe, serve as encouragement and affirmation.  That they can do all these commands because the Lord’s second coming is very near and while he is not yet coming…the Lord is near in a very real way to those who are praying to him.

And because of these truths, we are motivated to be gentle to the people who live around us. First, to our brothers and sisters in Christ and second to those who are lost.  A thankful person will treat other with love and respect.

A thankful spirit is a trusting spirit (6)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Circumstances will not shake us. A thankful person  will have full trust in God. This verse literally is saying to us that we should stop being anxious! We should stop worrying. This is the scope of our trust. We are to trust God in every situation.

Three words are use for prayer here: prayer, petition and requests. I looked at the definition of these words. Petition is a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority with respect to a particular cause. A request is an act of asking politely or formally for something.

So this verse clearly tells us that if something is making us anxious we have to pray to God and we have to pray together to God and trust him that he will take care of it.

We cannot let circumstances shake our faith. Anxiety can cause to be irritable and defensive. It is like a fertiliser that make little problems grow bigger. The church at Philippi are having internal problems and it is causing disagreement among the Christians there. It might have been easy for the church to just stop carrying out their ministry that they are called to do.

I had seen the enemy use anxiety to keep us from serving God. If he can get you to focus on problem and be anxious, then we lost our focus on God.

Here Paul says that prayer is our first line of defence. The cure for anxiety is not inaction but prayer with action. Sometimes preparing a message can give like this gives me anxiety. I may get extremely anxious to the point that I can not do anything.

On the other hand, I cannot just pray to God that he will prepare the message for me. I have to read and study the Bible, study other resources and pray for guidance that I can write this message.
Do not let our anxieties stop us from doing our best. Do not let it stop us from serving God instead trust that God will take care of our problems and then we will be empowered to do God’s works.

A thankful spirit is a peaceful spirit (7)

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live for Him. When i read this passage the first image that comes to my mind is the image of secret service guarding the president of the America. And I believe Paul has the same imagery in his mind when he wrote this passage. The image of Roman soldiers standing guard all over the city. Peace is guarding our hearts and minds against the attack of anxieties and many other negative influences.

When things are falling apart around us, we have peace within us that we ourselves could not fully understand. All we know is that God gives us the wonderful gift of peace. This peace gives us clear mind and correct judgement when bad things happened around us.

People might see it as indifference. Sometimes we ourselves thought we should be more worried than we should be. But we need to realise, it is not us. It is the peace that guards our hearts and minds.
Jesus said that he will  give us a unique peace that the world will not understand. It is hard to explain, we may not be able to explain it to others or even to ourselves but we just praise God for it.

If we don have a peaceful spirit, we will have a hard time being thankful. If we are worried and afraid all the time, we will not be able to thank God for what He has done because we will be distracted on the problems before us. Being thankful help us to focus on God more and more.

Conclusion

During a harvest festival in India, an old widow arrived at her church with an extraordinarily large offering of rice – far more than the poor woman could be expected to afford. The itinerant pastor of the church did not know the widow well.

But he did know that she was very poor and so he asked her if she were making the offering in gratitude for some unusual blessing. “Yes,” replied the woman. “My son was sick and I promised a large gift to God if he got well.” “And your son has recovered?” asked the pastor. The widow paused. “No,” she said. “He died last week. But I know that he is in God’s care; for that I am especially thankful.”

For Christians, every moment is an opportunity to give thanks to God. Everyday is thanksgiving day.

The image is from wikimedia.org

Friday, November 21, 2014

We're back

We made our trip to the Philippines and back. Our son, Jared passed through a personal crisis. Relatives and friends thought we need to come home to help and support him. We agreed and besides we already missed our children and it's about time we should have time together. Thankfully, Jared was able to settle the issue by himself while we were still on our way. Regardless, we thought that it is about time to have bonding time with Jared and Jillian. We enjoyed spending time with them helping them with their house chores as they were very busy with their studies. We also had the opportunity to be with Joey’s mother when she celebrated her 71st birthday. The first time in eight years. Reconnecting with old friends was also another blessings we enjoyed during that time.

 We have many things to be thankful for with regards to that visit home. First we are thankful for God’s provisions for the airfare, housing, food and other travel expenses. Thankful for friends who are always ready to extend help may it be encouragement, prayers, cash and in kind. Thanks for Sayarma Beauty and Joanne for looking after the children while we were away. They did a great job. Thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

Thankful for the opportunity to share our ministry and message at PBTS chapel and other three churches. Thankful for friends who picked us and brought us back again to the airport. We thank the Lord for everything. We took the opportunity to have family portrait while we were in the Philippines.

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Christian Hospitality Network GetAway

We praise the Lord for the opportunity to rest and be refreshed. We were recommended by a missionary friend to avail of the R&R being offered by Christian Hospitality Network in Horizon Village & Resort in Chiang Mai. It was God’s timely provision because he knew we needed a rest after airplane ride from the Philippines, sleeping on the airports, waiting on the bus terminals and thirteen hours bus ride from Bangkok. We are thankful for the wonderful time of rest, for the encouraging and inspiring messages and for meeting wonderful godly people. We are also thankful to its Founding Director Paul Cowell and the staff for working so hard to make this ministry possible. You are all a huge blessing to many missionaries serving around the world. We are hoping and praying that they will welcome us again in their ministry in the future.

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We’re definitely back

We’re back to reality. After being away for almost a month, we were expecting that many things will be out of order in the house. The children did a great job in our backyard garden but there are jobs that only adults can do. We fixed those that can be fixed and replaced those we could not. We also trimmed the trees and revived the dying ornamental plants. Sad to say, the fish on our small ponds are all dead. We made a couple of trips to the dumping area to get rid of the garbage that was piled up when were away.

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As soon as we are back, Narlin resumes teaching English to the young people in the neighborhood. The younger students may start coming next week. Joey will also have English and discipleship classes starting next week. He will resume his preaching ministry at Pantamit Church. Please pray that the Word of God could be preached clearly to the Thai people.

 Next week, we will have meeting again with the Network for Children and Women to plan for more activities. We also praying that we can help a friend to start a ministry for the young women in Mae Sai. It will be difficult because it will take a lot of planning and funding.

Please pray for that this project will have a good jumpstart so that young women can be rescued from human trafficking. The children, all eleven of them, go back to school after a three-week break. Reuven is already a week late. His school started a week prior to our return in Mae Sai. This is a start of another school term so we need to pay their tuition fees. We thank the Lord for his provisions for most of the fees. Please help us to pray that God will provide for all the school expenses this term. 

Thank you once again for your prayers with regard to our trips to the Philippines and now that we are back, you’re love and prayers are a big encouragement to us.