Time may Heal, but Does it Undo a Wrong?

CSLEWIS

As we come into Passion Week, we face the poignant truth of Christ’s crucifixion and our salvation. Facing this truth at times can be bewildering for the people who are ignorant of their sins or wish to spend Lent and Passion Week like they always do, for who likes facing their weaknesses? It is much easier closing our eyes on our wrongdoings than having to confess them, repent, fix, and keep the promises we have made to God. It is always easier to justify our sins, and it does feel better to grow a thick-skin to that stomach-aching feeling of guilt and remorse.

I can only imagine how God must feel when we refuse to face our sins and repent. I imagine it through a human experience when one is hurt and the one who inflicts pain refuses to acknowledge what they have done. Some inflictors try to ignore the problem as long as they can, hoping time would solve it some way or the other.

But the ones who’ve been hurt know– time can heal the wounds, but it cannot undo a wrong. If there is such a thing as undoing a mistake, it is by doing everything to make up for that mistake. By continuing to rebuild trust and walking the process of regaining hope with that person, is there a chance of putting back broken pieces together.

Yet, so often than not, do people hope that time will cancel their wrongs- as if hoping the broken pieces magically come together was the same thing as getting the glue, sitting down, and trying to get it together.

There is also another usual response from the troublemakers. “It has already happened. What am I supposed to do?”

Such a childish response, I have to say. At least children put on a guilty face.

What happened, happened. But what comes after makes a big difference. Apologizing and acknowledging a wrong is a start. Hopefully, the apologizing stems from a deeper conscience called guilt. Guilt recognizes that the pain inflicted on others, matters. In another words, “they” matter, not just “me”. That’s a big step. Then, what can help the healing process is fixing up. You cannot fix what has happened, but you can prevent the same mistake from happening twice. A house can be destroyed by water, but when it is rebuilt keeping in mind the weakness it had before, it can be made to withstand the next storm around.

We are no divine beings, but we can imagine how God must feel at our brazen attitude towards our sins. C.S. Lewis, that truly wise man, once said: “We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin.”

Time does not cancel our sins. It will not undo what we have already done. It will not help God forget our shame, nor will it come to pass when God somehow ignorantly finds favor in His eyes. I imagine God sitting on His throne, looking down at each of us, His sight piercing right through our stubborn brick souls. God is a loving God, and He is waiting to forgive us- but do we seek it?

Though man has his whole lifetime to learn how to forgive, God forgives at the blink of an eye. He gives without remembering our past. Though between a man and a man, it requires a constant and proving to rebuild trust- between God and man, it is a different story.

The Bible teaches us about God’s grace, that ultimate grace that no man can give.

  • Isaiah 43:25-26 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.  Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.

  • Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

  • Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

This Lent season, why not take time to reflect yourself through the Bible? Though man cannot make us anew, nor self nor any other worldly teaching, the Lord can and will. He will wipe our sins like snow, and He will remember them no more. The only truly healing comes through repentance, and only by rebuilding your relationship with God can you find true peace in your life.

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Where does the True Gold lie?

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Were you an avid watcher of the Sochi Olympics? If so, what were your thoughts about the games? Did you find this year’s Winter Olympics the best and most exciting thus far? I personally wasn’t an avid viewer of this year’s Olympics, but I did pitch in to some of the games and rooted strongly for the teams I supported. Otherwise, the only contact I had with the Sochi Olympics was through scrolling down my social media platforms and reading the titles of articles popping up on my newsfeed.

The final closing of the Sochi Olympics ended with the thundering spectacle of Russia’s glorious history. It boasted its national pride. It celebrated the champions, and congratulated the participants in a final boom. Furthermore, with the closing of the ceremony, the game has left athletes with either gold, silver, bronze, or other less precious medals. That also means that it has closed its curtains with fans either praising their country’s athletes and teams, or patting their players on the back and thanking them for their great sportsmanship.

Whatever the case, I think there is no better way to understand the value of the gold medal as demonstrated through the Olympics. For many of us, success or at least the sound of success (the one that sounds like a boom of explosion, with firecrackers bursting in the night sky, sparkling show lights, and the sound of cheers… I would imagine) comes in rather an ironic silence. It may come like a thief, silently and without being seen or heard, perhaps when you are busy maintaining that successful status. Yet, in an arena resembling a coliseum of people cheering and hooting for players who have waited and trained diligently for four years, success is visible and it is on the spot.

It’s going to be hard to argue that gold doesn’t matter. Most athletes that participate in the Olympics are there to win gold, even if they know they won’t be the ones going home with that medal hanging on their neck. But when these athletes are training, they envision that moment of standing on the highest podium, smiling and making their country proud.

But there is something interesting when each game ends. When their country’s team does not win, but their players have demonstrated exceptional sportsmanship and hard work, the often said words are: “It’s not about the Gold.”

But, does gold matter?

It probably does, doesn’t it. If it’s not about the gold, then what is all the hard work about? If the dream you envision, the one that was about that shining gold around your neck, doesn’t come true, was that a dream not worth having dreamt in the first place?

But, is it all about the gold?

The answer is no.

No, because even though gold does matter, it isn’t everything. No, because even if one’s goal was to achieve that gold medal, they have earned something exquisitely profound and invaluable that a gold medal would not have given. No, because even if the winners say that the world only remembers the ones that win the gold, people are moved by those who have a golden heart and shine because of their genuine hard work and a battle won against their limits.

Apply that gold medal to the silent victory in our everyday lives, among the people who don’t have the arena to hear the applause that they deserve. What does it mean to be the first and the best at what you do? And more importantly, how does the Bible teach us to understand success. Does it only prize the first and the best in class?

The Bible defines success in many ways, but one way it doesn’t is: one big bang with explosions in the air and a thrilling round of applause.

Rather, much like the response of many people all over the world who congratulated the Olympic players for their participation, hard work, and genuine sportsmanship, the Bible too resonates a message similar: “It’s not about the Gold”. There is something more, something more valuable.

It is the good well-played game, the fair play, the hard work and the payoff of it all. It is the thanking of the people who believed in the players who at times wanted to give up. It is the competing against the odds, playing in advantageous and even in disadvantageous situations. It is creating, for the next generation, a story of a person who had to beat all odds to make it to where they have. It is the lesson of challenging and trusting.

Though we don’t have every four years to test how much we have come, or the chance to visibly see and feel a glimpse of the so-called success, we go through a similar journey everyday. How much are we participating in this life? How fair are our fruits of success? Have we earned them with honesty and hard work? Did we put our complete trust in God with all that we do, so that even through our success and failure, we never forget why we do what we do? And have we remained steady in our faith, not losing hope in God every time we stumble on an obstacle?

Sochi is over, but not our game of life. Our gold medal lies not in the worldly signs of success but further:
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:32-33)

Negative Feedback: How are you at self-control?

Negative Feedback, or sometimes called Negative Feedback Loop (NFL), occurs when the final result of a system affects the operation of the process itself in a way that it reduces the overall change in the system.

Negative feedback is a self-regulating process, adjusting the parts of a system to maintain stability of the whole system. Regardless of the direction of the external force, negative feedback occurs in the opposite way to reduce the effect of fluctuations. The most important aspect of any negative feedback loop is that the loop reacts to counter-balance, rather than reinforce, any changes coming in from the ambient environment.

Negative feedback system is really common phenomenon in our daily lives. For instance, many public policies, such as counter-inflationary action of Fed Reserve, are designed to be homeostatic in that they system activate automatically in response to changes in the condition they are supposed to regulate.

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The importance of this self-control process is emphasized in many verses in the Bible. The fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 stands out as characteristics all Christians must have. The Bible tells us that self-control is something can be taught, learned, acquired and practiced.

Peter urged the Christians in Asia to exercise self-control in addition to their faith (2 Peter 1:6). It is important to keep in mind that we, Christians, must grow in wisdom to the point that we can apply God’s words to the various situations we face daily; we acquire this self-control as we become more and more familiar with God’s words.

How are you at self-control? Are there things in your life that need immediate improvement?

Don’t just let the things go, nor merely say you wish you could change some time later in your life. Remember, as mentioned several times in the Bible, it is self-control that enables us to have other aspects of the fruit of the Holy Spirit to our lives. Jesus exemplified in His life and Paul strongly encourages us to exercise in ours throughout the Bible. If we are to be made in God’s image, we will yield to God in this matter to glorify Him with our temperance in all things and rigid resistance to sin.

– T.S.

Inside Every Block of Stone

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
― Mark Twain

photo (19)Wise words from Mr. Twain. There is no advantage over the ones who don’t have if the ones who do, do not make some use of what they have. I doubt there is a single person in this world who was born without a single gift to make themselves useful, not only for their own lives but for others. There is that common argument lazy students often give: “I’m not stupid. I’m probably smarter than all of you in this class, but the only reason why I’m failing is because I don’t try. Not because I’m stupid.” Wise words for a young child, but oh so wrong in several ways!

What probably frustrates a teacher more than anything isn’t the student who slowly but cautiously applies himself to the challenges of studying, but the student who pipes up about his intelligence yet shows no application of that so-called intelligence. It is also a trait that aggravates so many of our parents when a child refuses to work up to his capabilities.

There are no guarantees that any two people are built the same way: genetically, without a doubt, but also in factors of intelligence, personality, and capability. Yet what separates the doer from the observer is that one lives his life, and the other watches the doer living. The observer develops a sharp-tongue, a critiquing mind that parses the acts of the doer into multiple categories of good and bad. Yet, that is only a skill that has developed from spending time observing, comparing, and judging lives from the third person. Not to say we don’t need observers who put into study a comparative module of good and bad, but speaking solely of those who lay back and create nothing helpful or useful neither to themselves or those who they critique.

Yet, the doer, though slow in tongue he may be, lives his life. He changes, he develops, and he creates extensions of life by the works of his hands and mind.

In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 64, verse 8: “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand”. This confession promises not only that we leave it up to our Father to shape us, but furthermore, that we are shapeable. Inside every block of stone, there is masterpiece. Likewise, by the hands of our LORD, we can be made like valuable. We can be made into a new creation from the clay that we are.

It is a complete transformation. We have been made new.

And like our Father, have we worked, have we molded anything into something valuable? Meaningful? We may not have all received the same amounts and qualities of talents and skills, but have we expressed our gratitude for what we have by working and molding what we have into something better?

In summary, first let us entrust God with our lives. There is no door God cannot open, and there is no open door God cannot close. If God chooses not to use your talents, then no effort or work invested into your talents will prosper into anything you hoped for. However, as long as you stand righteous before God and entrust Him, discover what God has given you. There may not be a hundred, fifty, or even ten. But take whatever you have and constantly work on it. Farm it, water it, and nurture it with prayer.

Just as you are molded by Christ, mold what you been given for Christ today.

Merry Christmas!

The world lights up to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. There is joy in sharing gifts among the people we love and are loved by, but the greatest love we share is the love within Christ. Sometimes, in the beauty of the bright lights we forget why we celebrate at all. But for many, I do think that the beauty all around us, the love we share on Christmas day, and the joy of gifting remind us how much God loves us and how Jesus has taught us to love.

For TAC’s Christmas message, I want to share with you a simple thought we can all think about. The Holy Spirit came to Virgin Mary and told her that she will have a Son, and the Son will called Immanuel, and that the Son is the Holy Son of God. We can only imagine how surprised the young Mary must have been, how afraid she could have been. A virgin, who was yet to wed Joseph, giving birth to a child and not just any kind of a child, but a child of the Holy Spirit? A child, whose name is to be Immanuel, who is brought to earth to save the world! How does anyone have the courage to accept this, to embrace it, and to believe it?

Mary takes the message with faith and courage. When we think about this story retrospectively, we can ask: What kind of people is God looking for? Who are those that can be entrusted with the symbolic birth of Jesus Christ?

It is someone like Mary and Joseph, who took a large and profound message from the Holy Spirit with faith, and for ten months took the warmth to carry baby Jesus in the womb. God seeks a room, a soul, a body who can carry a great and profound faith. On Christmas day, the endurance and faith that Mary and Joseph had brought to the world, a baby in a manager whose name is Immanuel.

Today, God asks you: Do you have a room in your heart, a soul, a spirit to carry Jesus? Do you have the faith to stand strong against society, against your own fears and understanding to embrace His will? Will you join the people of faith when they rejoice in Christmas because they have waited and endured for His birth?

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TAC hopes you all had a Merry Christmas and that each and every day you bear the faith of carrying Jesus in your hearts and spirits!

How to Face Adversity

Some say adversity is a blessing in disguised and I couldn’t agree more! Adversity is not a misery, but a chance in our lives. However, didn’t we learn from the Bible that our lives should be prosperous and serene if we believe in Jesus Christ? We often find out that this is not always the case. For example, when we look into the book of Jobs, God gave Jobs a lot of adversities and he lost everything he had—his children, wife, wealth, nobility, people, and health.

Why would God do such thing to Jobs? And to us?

It is because He wants to test us. He wants to examine that our hearts and faiths are true to Him. Of course, He is an almighty Lord and already knows them, but he wants us prove to ourselves that our hearts and faiths are real! Through this process, our faiths get mature and harden.

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3)

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)

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Yet, when we face such hardships, we often don’t think they are blessings. Instead, we agonize and complain about them. How should we face it? How should we twist adversity into blessing?

  1.  Embrace your adversity

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1: 2-4)

 Do not run away from your hardship! Running away doesn’t mean you are escaped from the hardship. Who can truly be joyful when they face the trials or tests? However, the Bible tells us to do so because “the testing of [our faith] develops perseverance.” When we face adversity and embrace it, we produce the characters of nine fruits of Holy Spirit—“ […] love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “ (Galatians 5:22-23)

      2.  Pray! Pray! Pray!

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.  You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139: 1-3)

 Adversity is a chance for you to talk to God! Remember that He is giving you the chance to cry out to Him. He is with you most closely when you are facing adversity. When David was running away from Saul, whom tried to kill him, he couldn’t do anything but pray. He finds out that God is always with him and he confesses that God knows everything—He knows David better than himself and guides him on His path. David felt Him most closely when he was in hardship.

3.  Give thanks

“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.”

(Psalm 18:30)

 Be thankful for your adversity! Thank Him because you are in His boundaries. He is leading you in His way. He is perfect and flawless. Be thankful for your hardships because in the end, He will lead you to victory!

The Silent God.

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In the initial steps of receiving Christ into one’s life, the most fundamental dilemma is the question of prayer. “If God does exist and He is Almighty, then He can surely answer everything I ask for couldn’t He?” This prayer stems from the most innocent hearts filled with desperation. Then whenever that deep wishful prayer isn’t answered, it leads to the next step in confusion. “If God has the power to answer all prayers, then why didn’t He answer mine? Did I not wish hard enough? Did I not express my heart truly and fully to Him?”

A spiritually young heart will kneel and pray again and again, asking for that one key that will open all doors. When the prayer is still not answered, other bubbles of questions arise: “Is God even there? Perhaps I am nothing to Him?”

The Silent God.

As we learn more and more about God, we begin to face the Silent God; the One who remains calm and passive to the tumultuous events in our lives. Where is God when I need Him most? Where was the Active God who spoke to Abraham, telling him where to go? Where was this active God who held up the moon and sun so that the Israelites could win their battle? Where was this active God who showed His people both His wrath and love with all the signs of the world?

Say we learn somewhere along our spiritual journey that all we do must lead to God’s glory. So you begin to pray not in just a wishful begging, but with a purpose. You promise God that all your success is for His glory, and that if this one key was to be given, all the doors that would thereby open would be His and for Him only.

Even after that, you may find yourself facing a hard locked door. What then? You begin to bargain with God, giving more and taking away bit by bit what you asked for. When you parse away enough of what you are asking for, you then realize this isn’t really praying at all.

How many of us have gone through these stages? I sure have, and still am. The only thing is that now, I have come to know the Silent God a little better, only just a little, and this has made all the difference in my spiritual life.

C.S. Lewis has once said:

“There is no question whether an event has happened because of your prayer. When the event you prayed for occurs your prayer has always contributed to it. When the opposite event occurs your prayer has never been ignored; it has been considered and refused, for your ultimate good and the good of the whole universe.”

It took one thing to understand what praying really meant, and why certain prayers are never answered. What it took was faith. Faith is the belief that God is Almighty. He is not Almighty because He answers your prayers and not because He has all the keys to unlock the doors on heaven and earth. His omnipotence is not conditional on what He can do with his omnipotence. It is because He can that He can also choose not to, and when you have the faith to know that God is good, then you can also believe that when God can but chooses not to, there is a divine reason for it; a reason that is good in His eyes.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says,

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The Silent God is not a passive God. While we sleep, He is at work. Though God works in mysterious ways we cannot understand, it is by faith alone we are saved, not just on the large scale of salvation but from all our day to day concerns and frustrations in life.

Wherever God leads you, remember that He will raise you up and lead you to the door of righteousness. That door you are knocking on may not be the door God wants you to walk through, and it may be for several reasons but whatever that divine reason is, have the faith to let go if it isn’t right, trust God, and keep walking. Praying is not just about telling God what you want, but also about listening to what He thinks of your prayers. Listen to His small voice, and have faith to lead a life of righteousness.

Remember, God is good.