Christ has Risen!

Happy Easter everyone!

Easter is a profound day of reflection and gratitude. How can we ever pay back the incomprehensible amount of love and grace Christ has given us? By the sacrifice the humble Christ has made, we are made to know the sins within us. The days leading up to Easter, many Christians have bowed their heads before God to seek forgiveness for their transgressions and sins. We know that it is through Him we are made whole and new again. How truly amazing is it that every day, when we live through Christ and we are given the grace of repentance, we can become anew and start clean again? The people of the world, like Pontius Pilate, may wash their hands in clean water to cleanse themselves of their wrongdoing. However, no amount of water or words can justify our sins. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can cleanse us.

The greatest sin of man is that of conceit. C.S. Lewis once said: “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” (Mere Christianity)

The Almighty God who need not have made any sacrifice for our sins and still be entitled to all the services owed to Him, showed His love for us by sending His Son to die for us. How humbling that truth makes us! In 1Peter 1: 3-4, it says: “Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4. and an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”

I hope that we are not blinded by our conceit; that we are able to see and know how blessed the grace of God is. Not everyone in this world may accept Christ’s love, but for us who have received His grace, never forget His grace. Furthermore, with the blessings we have received, always remember that Christ has lived to also show us how to live. Therefore, let us remember to love our neighbors. It sometimes starts by simply sharing the Gospel.

On a final note, may all our readers have faith, hope, and love!

 

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Who is The Master of Us?

the master poster

Few months ago, I had the fortune of watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie The Master. I call it a fortune because the movie was shot with a 70 mm film camera (which is extremely rare nowadays), and New York City was one of the few cities that had a movie theater with a 70 mm projector. Being a cinephile, words cannot possibly describe how happy I was.

For those of you who didn’t watch the movie (and I assume it’s the majority), The Master is about a war veteran named Freddie, who recently came home from the Second World War. Like many veterans he struggles to readjust to society, but his mental instability deters him from having a normal job. Then he comes across a religious cult group named “The Cause,” found by a writer, doctor, nuclear physicist, and a theoretical philosopher (if you believe all this is possible) named Lancaster Dodd, or “The Master.” Initially, Freddie takes a liking to the movement and is wholly devoted to its cause, before becoming frustrated at his inability to conform and change even with the teachings of The Master. During its release, The Master was subject to many controversies for its depiction of Scientology—for as you know, any remote reference to Scientology is guaranteed to garner media frenzy and gossip in Hollywood.

the master scene picture

However, The Master hardly has any relevance to Scientology at all. In fact, The Master really shows us how we want to control our lives the way we see fit. Freddie wants to take control over his life via the philosophy of The Cause, and Lancaster Dodd wants to control Freddie and in extension his followers with his ideology. [SPOILER ALERT] In the end, Freddie once again becomes the wandering sailor he was when the movie started, and The Master is questioned by his followers for changing some of his philosophical/religious doctrines. As such, the movie really tells us that our attempts at becoming the master—whether that is of our lives or others—is doomed to end in futility.

chinese finger trap

Have you ever heard of a Chinese finger trap? It is a toy that traps a person’s index fingers; strangely, the harder you pull your index fingers in attempt to get out of the trap, the tighter it will be. The solution to the trap is simple yet counterintuitive: you have to push your fingers instead of pulling it. This simple puzzle designed for kids has a remarkable truth in it: the only way a person can be free is to curb his will in front of God. The harder he tries to pull his life towards his direction the more he will fall in to a trap. However, if he pushes his life towards God, he is a free man.

In the Book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible, it says:

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

(Proverbs 16:3)

As such, God wants us to wholly devote ourselves to His works. In front of God, I—as an individual, with all my devices and thoughts—am secondary. Just like the Chinese finger trap, we have to push ourselves to where God is if we want to have control over our lives, for only then does God say that he will bless us in all that we pray for. As Christians, it seems like the only way to define ourselves is to deny who we are.

-A.K.

How hard is it to obey God?

The Marshmallow Test is a classic experimental measure of children’s self control. In the 1970’s Walter Mischel, a psychology professor at Stanford University, ran a series of experiments with four-year olds. He gave each child a marshmallow with an instruction that if they do not eat and wait 20 minutes, he will give them another.

Each child is tested in the room that was little larger than a closet with a desk and a chair, and had to stare at the marshmallow for 20 minutes. Of course, 20 minutes feels like eternality to four-years olds. All kids agonized over resisting the marshmallow. They all could not stop staring at it, poking it, and even licking it. However, some kids broke down in 20 seconds, some in 40, and others in two minutes. A few broke down even in last 20 minutes. Only one in three were able to resist the temptation and wait.

Image

The Marshmallow Test clearly shows how weak we are in front of the temptation. The Marshmallow test reminds us of the story of Adam and Even. In the Bible, God commands them to “not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” However, when the serpent temps Eve, she sees that “the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight[ful] to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” She eats the fruit and also offers one to Adam.

Obedience is the simplest thing (because all you have to do is just follow), yet the hardest thing because we are naturally sinners. We naturally tend to choose what looks good and “delight[ful] to the eyes,” instead of what God has told us to choose. Most of the times, what I want is so different from what God wants, and we agonize over resisting what we want to do.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Roman 12:2)

Obeying God is not hard when we believe that He is the Creator who loves us deeply, and also when we love Him. When we start obeying Him, we begin to discover that God’s will for us is “good, pleasing and perfect.” Though it is the constant fight between what I want against what God wants—choose what God wants and discover the perfect will He prepared for us.

– Shua Kim

Source:

http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4622

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/18/090518fa_fact_lehrer

Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 3-6

Roman, Chapter 12, verse 2

Intelligence in a perspective of Christian

Larger brain size = More Intelligent?

Intelligence is a psychological scale defined as an extent to which how deeply humans can abstractly think, understand, and learn about a specific phenomenon. Many psychologist, thus, have used the intelligence quotient, which is also known as IQ, to assess one’s intellectual abilities—IQ scores are seen as predictors of educational achievement, special needs, job performance and income. IQ score is determined using different IQ tests, but general formula is the ratio of mental age (MA) to chronological age (CA) multiplied by 100. The formula for IQ is as follow:

IQ = (Mental Age / Chronological Age) * 100

            Then, what makes one be more intelligent than others? And what is the “Real” definition of intelligence shown in the Bible?

intelligence

Many neurophysiological studies conducted in the U.S. indicated that probably the brain size is correlated with one’s intelligence—the larger the brain, the more intelligent would be. This was believed for couple of decades, but it was criticized by many scientists as some animals, such as elephant, have the larger brain size than humans and do not have higher intellectual abilities as humans do. The well-known difference between the human brain and the animal brains is that the human brain shows relatively overdevelopment of what so called “prefrontal cortex”—an area in the brain where executive functions, planning, and reasoning skills are localized.

TAC believes that intelligence is not only the predictors of achievements in one’s life, but also the “wisdom of sage.” During the TAC meeting, we have seen many examples in the Bible to see what “true” intelligence is.

In Act 17:11-13, we have seen the example of Berea people who were “more open-minded than those in Thessalonica.” Although people of Berea succeeded in their lives and we may think that they had no reason to pray to GOD and listen to the Gospel, their attitude was depicted as being desperate. We should realize that all knowledge from the secular world goes into our brain, but the GOD’s words go into the heart of those who have attitude as people of Berea.

People of Berea were also described as those who read the Bible every day and living their lives upon GOD’s words. Though TAC promotes successful lives, the term “success” is not in the secular context. Intellect is one of eight characteristics of true achiever we believe in and it is important to note that, as seen in people of Berea, intellect is not only about being smart, but how one can live their lives upon GOD’s words.

True success breeds true achiever. Try to find GOD’s messages from the Bible, live your life upon GOD’s words and you will be able to live your life with “true intellect”, as people of Berea.

– T.S.

References

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-brain-size-matter

Sources for Intellectual Discourse First Edition (2011), TAC publishing house

Living the Christian Life

As Christians living in a secular world, we are very much familiar with words like “self-control”, “abstinence”, “temperance”, “restriction” and so on. The Bible strictly tells us certain things that we should not do and these things become sensitive issues in our contemporary world and we even see some people in the Christianity community saying ‘it’s alright to do them’ and easing the boundaries.

I’m not trying to raise a criticism or make a statement against a specific issue here. But I want us as Christians to make some thoughtful reflection about what it really means for us, individuals, to live as Christians and live the Christian life.

In a recent conversation with TACP, I had a chance to really think about what it really means to live as a Christian. Someone in the group brought up an issue of Christians and alcohol and mentioned that she was offered a drink by a friend who was also a church-goer. She said she wasn’t shocked by the offer since she knew that some Christians do drink, and she kindly declined the offer. But this incident made her reflect on what it is to live a Christian life and she wanted to hear some thoughts.

With a small anecdote, TACP shared her thoughts which left a lingering impression on me. She said that especially for young Christians, it is harder to live by principles since there are many factors that challenge our adherence to them. This is true especially when we try to climb up social ladders; we see that many professional and social events cater alcohol as their main drinks.

But, she said, if you have strong Christian principles and values and you know if something is wrong, then stand strong to your beliefs. It isn’t about forcing yourself to follow the rules without being persuaded, she said, but to really build a Christian value system, knowing in your heart that Word of God is the truth, and live by it.

Again, I am not trying to raise an issue with alcohol here. What I want to say is that when we have strong values, we must not fear to stand up for them. Christians have values that come from following Christ and we should not be molded by the ways of the world.

As a follow up, I want to share this heart-touching and powerful sermon by Reverend Billy Graham, delivered in NYC in 1957. The title of the sermon is “How to live the Christian Life” and this is a 35 mins speech, but I hope you give yourself a spare time to watch the whole clip and let a change take place in your life.

As a guideline perhaps, I will leave a condensed outline of the speech. But this won’t do the job of watching the sermon yourself and becoming inspired. I pray you take up the blessing of living a Christian life.

“How to live the Christian Life” by Billy Graham, 1957 New York Crusade

What is a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ? A Christian is a person who had a personal encounter with the Christ and who had made a decision to accept Christ as the LORD of his/her life.

1) A Christian has made a choice to accept Jesus as the Lord in the heart. By the act of will, one must say, “Yes, I will receive Christ.”

2) A change must take place in a Christian; a change in one’s attitude towards God and towards his/her neighbors. If there’s no change, no fruit in your life, then you need to doubt if you have really received Christ.

3) A christian has accepted a challenge, a challenge of Christ.

Then how to live the Christian life?  Just believing and loving is not enough. You have to say “I will.” Like a marriage, it is only valid if I say “I do” by the act of my will. But this is not all. This is just a beginning, as a marriage is a work. I need to mature and to mature, I need to learn and live by the following five principles of the Christian life.

1) Pray: We need to spend definite time and space to pray. Prayer is a work, not something that we only do when we feel like it, but it is an appointment, an interview with God.

2) Read the Bible: Word of God is the food of our souls. We spend a lot of time feeding our bodies but none for our souls when it is our souls that live on after our bodies die? Read the Bible, for God has a message for you every time you open the Bible. Read the Bible with reverence, expectancy, dependence, and adequate time.

3) Have a disciplined life: Christian life takes discipline, renunciation, and sometimes hardship. Bible uses words like “fight”, “wrestle”, “run”, “work”, “suffer”, “resist”, “endure”, “agonize”, “put to death”… Discipline your mind/thoughts, your tongue, and your bodies.

4) Go to church: Christian fellowship is not optional but it is essential. We have the Great Church, which is the body of Christ, but it has local branches all over (Presbyterian, Methodist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Baptist, so on).  God commanded it and you cannot live a victorious Christian life and have a peace and joy in your heart without faithfulness in your church. Stand with your church.

 5) Witness for Christ: You are to witness for Christ by the way you live. Be a model for people. Let Christ live in you and radiate out through you. When people ask ‘what’s your secret?’, tell them ‘It’s Jesus Christ!’  Witness Jesus in everything you do; work for the glory of God. We are peculiar people, set apart to be Christ’s witness. Become a salt and light in your community. Let the people know where you stand for Christ.

published by K.P.