The Cheap, Fake and True

“You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Luke 3:7-8, NLT

Life is unpredictable and change is inevitable. We all will face losses in life sooner or later – in our health, finances, and relationships. It is through change that we grow emotionally and spiritually.  We need to change the way we think about our experiences in life by reflecting on how they are affecting our thoughts, feelings and actions.

Changing the way we think through the awareness that we are not living the life that God wants us to live is the act of repentance.  Repentance is waking up to the reality that we are living in slavery to our sinful desires, ulterior motives and hidden agendas and that we need to turn back to God to be delivered from the “Pharaoh” in our hearts. 

John the Baptist called the people who came to listen to him, “a brood of snakes.” He did not preach a cheap gospel of repentance but harshly challenged them to change the way they live to prove that they want to turn back to God. They were not to take God for granted:

“You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are the descendents of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham  from these very stones.”1

The wrath of God is to draw us to the wonder of God’s amazing grace and our need for repentance to be set free from sin through the blood of Christ. The Good News is that Jesus died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit so that we can live in the power of the resurrection. It is through repentance that we can receive the true gospel. The real gospel is that Christ died for us so that we can live with him forever, whether we are dead or alive when He returns:

God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with Him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.”2

The true gospel is rooted in the cross of Christ and the power of the resurrection. The true gospel fills  devoted disciples with the Holy Spirit so that they are able to discern the truth from the distortions, distractions and deceptions of the evil one. The good news is that we are not human worms living from life to death but caterpillars who will be transformed into chrysalises to live from death to life like butterflies. This is the miracle of the triumphant crossing – when death means going home to our Heavenly Father to live the everlasting life.

We need to check if  we are living out the true gospel. A cheap gospel leads to a superstitious faith and superficial Christians who claim to have faith without bearing any spiritual fruit. A fake gospel leads to false beliefs and fake Christians who idolize health and wealth. We cannot grow in faith with a cheap and fake gospel. We will deny and bury our fears instead of using them to build up our faith in God’s loving presence and protection. 

We are to examine ourselves to see if we are feeding on the true gospel or if we are being misled and deceived by the evil one through cheap and fake gospels. We are test ourselves regularly – not to feel guilty but to see if we are in Christ and Christ is in us:

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”3

The members of the Corinthian church were encouraged by the apostle Paul to test themselves in order to have a firsthand faith. And if they failed the test, it would be an indication of his failure to share the true gospel:

Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.” 4

We are to share Christ and not to “sell” Christ – to change guilty mindsets into grace mindsets. We are not called to be judges or saviors but to be witnesses of God’s faithful love that endures forever. We need to examine our lives to ensure that we are not fake Christians filled with the self righteousness and hypocrisy of the Pharisees which Jesus condemned:

You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.”5 

We are called to live as citizens of heaven here on earth – to be witnesses that we live from death to life. We are to put on the garment of praise and to remember that we are the Temple of God when we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We are chosen to live a life of love and to wear love as our basic, all purpose garment.6 We are to be spiritual warriors of love who overcome evil with love by trusting that the battle belongs to the Lord. The true gospel challenges us to live our lives here on earth as a stranger, as pilgrims on a narrow way:

“Mine are days here as a stranger
Pilgrim on a narrow way
One with Christ I will encounter
Harm and hatred for His name

But mine is armour for this battle
Strong enough to last the war
And He has said He will deliver
Safely to the golden shore”7



1   Luke 3:7-8, NLT

2   1 Thess 5:9, MSG

3   2 Corinthians 13:5, NLT

4   2 Corinthians 13:6-9, MSG

5   Matt 23:15, MSG

6  Colossians 3:12, MSG

7  Christ Is Mine Forever More, CityAlight

Using Artificial Intelligence with Spiritual Intelligence

As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” Luke 2:35, NLT

ChatGPT, a generative artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the way we live. The viral artificial intelligence chatbots are finding its way into homes and offices all across the world. We are in the dawn of a new era of human existence. Geoffrey Hinton, the “Godfather of AI,” who created a foundation technology for AI systems, has raised concerns of the profound risks to society and humanity of generative AI. The new generation of chatbots can help anyone to create information about anything.   There is a very dangerous potential for the spread of misinformation created by AI and it would be difficult to know what is true anymore.1 

Nicholas Matthews found that humans are rapidly taking on God-like qualities in our pursuit of creating robots and artificial intelligence. He posed the following thought provoking questions:

  • How do we created humans, create, and how do we then govern this non-human life?
  • How will this new form of life (albeit artificial) interact with humans and interact with each other?
  • Should they remain bound to the service of humans, or should they have the right to exist and determine their mission?  
  • If robots are to have rights, will these rights be their right to freedom of expression and thought, and any subsequent consequence through the legal system?
  • Will they remain as robotic machines, or will they ultimately evolve to be sentient beings who have the ability to perceive, feel, and experience subjectivity?2 

These questions raised by the creation of artificial intelligence by human beings who are made in the image of God filled me with a sense of wonder of the wisdom, power and love of God. If we are not to be deceived and enslaved by artificial intelligence, we need to cultivate our spiritual intelligence (SI)  in order to gain a heart of wisdom. 

A godlike but ungodly and godless creature is doomed for destruction as it will be a vehicle for much evil and suffering. Human beings have the freedom to choose between the love of power and the power of love. God has given us the bible to seek and to develop spiritual intelligence. The stories of Adam and Eve, the Flood and the Tower of Babel in Genesis Chapters 3, Chapters 7 to 8 and Chapter 11 depict the reality and problems of evil and our need for God’s redemptive love. The bible is the sacred record of the truth that love will always be victorious over evil.

When Adam and Eve were tempted by the love of power to seek knowledge, they became more self conscious and hid from God. As a result, they lost their spiritual intelligence. Spiritual intelligence is growing in God’s consciousness and dying to our self consciousness. Jesus came to teach us how to be filled with God’s consciousness and to emptied of self consciousness:

Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, 
He did not take advantage of this equality.
Instead, He emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant,
by becoming like other humans,
by having a human appearance.
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
death on a cross.”3 

Jesus came to restore our spiritual intelligence so that we can live the abundant life as the children of God. Artificial intelligence can help us to be successful in the world but we need spiritual intelligence to face death and to find meaning in life, especially in times of suffering. 

During the circumcision of Jesus when he was eight days old, the Holy Spirit led Simeon, a righteous and devout man in Jerusalem to the Temple.  Simeon was waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. He was given the assurance by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. When he saw Jesus, he praised God for showing him that Jesus is the light to reveal God to the nations and he prophesied to Mary:

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”4 

Without an awareness of our deepest thoughts, we are oblivious to our need for spiritual intelligence. Without spiritual intelligence, we cannot know what God wants us to do with our lives. We will be driven by pride, lust and greed to use artificial intelligence to satisfy our sinful desires. To have spiritual intelligence, we need to be devoted to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.5

The story of Anna, a widow for 84 years after just 7 years of marriage, who spent time fasting and praying6, is an inspiration for the elderly to cultivate the habit of prayer and to be witnesses of God’s salvation. The challenge is for the elderly to be the shining beacons of spiritual intelligence – to encourage the young to be less attached to the things of this world and to be more dependent on God. 

Artificial intelligence without spiritual intelligence will lead to the end of the world. The elderly can be the voices crying out in the wilderness to keep a world from going mad with lust, greed, and pride. The elderly can be role models to encourage us to draw closer to God’s loving embrace through suffering. They are also in the best time of life to face and befriend death. Old age is a time to live out the truth that prayer is the vital breath of our souls:

“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,

the Christian’s native air,

his watchword at the gates of death:

he enters heaven with prayer.”6



1  CNA 2nd May 2023
2  Nicholas Matthews, Being Flawesome, pg 53
3  Phil 2:6-8 GW
4  Luke 2:29-35, NLT
5  Colossians 4:2, NLT
6  Luke 2:36-38, NLT
7  Prayer Is The Soul’s Sincere Desire, James Montgomery

The Wilderness Of Silence

“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79, NLT

When I lost my voice and an ulcer was found in one of my vocal cords during the season of Advent in 2019, I was ordered not to speak for 2 weeks. I decided to use the time to revisit the discipline of silence through centering prayer. I had attended silent retreats for many years but had not incorporated the discipline of contemplative prayer in my daily life. Losing my voice was one of the defining moments in my life. It was the beginning of a journey to be a voice in the wilderness, like John the Baptist, to prepare the way into the kingdom of heaven. 

Before John the Baptist was born, his father Zechariah, was struck dumb for the duration of the pregnancy of his wife, Elizabeth. It was a time in the wilderness for Zechariah as he found himself isolated and unable to speak about his encounter with the angel Gabriel. It was a time for Zechariah to reflect on what God will be doing through his son, John the Baptist. And when John the Baptist was born, Zechariah regained his voice to praise God for sending a mighty Saviour as He had promised through his prophets. He shared what the angel Gabriel had told him about his son, John:

And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”1

After his birth, John the Baptist lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel – calling the people to repentance and to turn to God.2 The wilderness was also a place where Jesus was led into by the Holy Spirit after His baptism. It was a place where Jesus was with wild beasts and was tempted by Satan. It was a place where angels ministered to Him.3  The wilderness was a time when the Jews had to wander for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land.4 

There is also a wilderness that is deep within us – the space deep within our unconscious where our hurts, fears, doubts, resentment, and guilt are buried. We need to journey through the wilderness of our souls to enter the kingdom of heaven that lies much deeper in our hearts. The wilderness experience of the Jews was to prepare them to take possession of the Promised Land. In the wilderness, they were led by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. God provided them with bread from heaven and water from the rock.5 It was a time when they experienced the wonder of God’s loving provisions and protection.

Fear kept the Jews from entering the Promised Land and they had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness. The Exodus story of the Jews is to teach us that there are no shortcuts to the kingdom of heaven – we need to face our fears and replace them with faith in God’s steadfast love. We have the choice to be imprisoned by our fears or to seek our freedom through faith in what Jesus has done for us on the cross. 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is about being alive in Christ and falling deeper and deeper in love with God. A simple way to do so, but one that needs much discipline is the practice of silence. Silence is not just getting out of a noisy world. It is seeking to be alone with God. We have much to learn from the teachings of the desert fathers and mothers – the ordinary Christians in the 3rd century who chose to renounce the world in order to intentionally follow God’s call to live in solitude in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Arabia. Henri Nouwen found that it is in silence that the Holy Spirit pray in us and fill us with the creative energy of God’s love:

“It is in this silence that the Spirit of God can pray in us and continue his creative work in us. . . . Without silence the Spirit will die in us and the creative energy of our life will float away and leave us alone, cold, and tired. Without silence we will lose our center and become the victim of the many who constantly demand our attention.”6 

The wilderness of silence is the time and space to die to self so that I can be alive to God. The wilderness is a time of preparation to open the eyes of my heart to see the burning bushes of God in creation, to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in my interactions with others and to be the hands of Christ to those in need. It is through the practice of silence that we can be devoted in prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.7

Instead of fearing silence, we can invite the Holy Spirit to be with us in the wilderness of silence. It is in the wilderness of silence, with the Holy Spirit, that we can face our wild thoughts without being discouraged, our inner demons without being deceived, and our angels without being distracted. It is not the practice of silence that is important. Silence is the expression of my intention to wait on God. Before I can be God’s voice in the wilderness, I need to be like Zechariah to spend time in silence and to pray:

“Open my mouth and let me bear
gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere.
Open my heart and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.

Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my mouth, illumine me,
Spirit divine!”7



  1. Luke 1:76-79, NLT
  2. Mark 1:4-8, NLT
  3. Mark 1:9-13, NLT
  4. Numbers 14:26-35,NLT
  5. Nehemiah 9:12-15, NLT
  6. Henri Nouwen Society – Nouwen Meditation: The Spirit of God Prays in Us, 2nd May 2023
  7. Colossians 4:2, NLT
  8. Open My Eyes That I May See, Clara H. Scott

Shining Stars In The End Times

“And those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” Daniel 12:3, NLT

We are all looking forwards to better times in the future. However, the hard and harsh truth of life is that as sickness, old age and death creeps up on us, we will have to face losses in our health and relationships. These are the consequences of living in a fallen world that is dominated by sin and evil. The bad news is that there will be a time of great anguish greater than any since nations came into existence.1 

We live in a fool’s paradise when we live in denial of the wrath of God. Without an awareness and understanding of the judgment of God, it is impossible to receive the amazing grace of God to live out the good news of salvation of Jesus Christ. But God’s wrath and judgment is on sin and evil and not on human beings. There is a spiritual battle for our souls. As in all wars, there are many casualties and much suffering.  Suffering is the fruit of sin and evil and blinds us to the faithful love of God. We are created in the image of God and God had looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good!2

The story of Adam and Eve is to teach us that we have the freedom to turn away from God. When we do so, we hide from God and live in a world that is filled with violence, greed, lust and fear. God has to respect our freedom to choose. The judgment of God is that God will allow us to fulfil our shameful desires.3 Like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God waits patiently for us to come to our senses.4  In the end times, many will rush here and there and knowledge will increase.5 Trials and suffering reveal and purifies the condition of our spiritual hearts:

“Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.”6 

Seeking wisdom is a more fruitful exercise than trying to speculate or predict what is going to happen in the future. God is sovereign over history. The question is whether we want to be a part of God’s problem or a part of God’s solution to save a dying world. We need wisdom to lead many to righteousness. Like Daniel we will then shine as bright stars in our dark and evil world.7 We are called to be witnesses of what Jesus Christ had done for us on the cross – we are not called to “sell Christ.”  There is always the temptation to sell a counterfeit faith in Jesus Christ and using godliness as a way to be healthy and wealthy.8

The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is redeeming and renewing the earth through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. We are saved the grace of God to be God’s masterpieces to do the good things that He planned for us long ago.9 Life is not about us but all about the amazing and awesome love of God.

Jesus Christ came to show us that God is our Abba Father and not a Creator Judge. At a retreat during Easter, I was touched by the sharing of one of the retreatants. At a social event in his son’s school , fathers and sons were separated into 2 groups and placed in two different places. The fathers were to call out to their sons to see if the latter can recognize their father’s voice. The fathers were much relieved when all the sons were able to recognize their voices. However, the exercise helped him to see how heart broken God would be if we are unable to hear His voice.

On Palm Sunday in 2010, I was touched by the words of a song we sang – “Break my heart from what breaks Yours.” Parents experience helplessness and pain when they are not able to comfort their crying child or when their children suffer from their acts of disobedience. Likewise, God suffers with us in our pain. As our Heavenly Father, His heart is broken when the church brings dishonour to His name, when we destroy and pollute His beautiful world and when we inflict suffering on others.

In times of discouragement, God leads us to rest and to hear His still small voice so that we can see things from His perspective and to participate in His plans for the world. To say no to the world and to say yes to the Holy Spirit – to accept God’s invitation to be a part of the greatest love story on earth of all times. Without the Light of Christ, we are living in spiritual darkness and in fear of death.

John Wesley believed that we cannot have a reasonable assurance of truth unless we have experienced it personally. We are living in darkness and in the shadow of death without a deep encounter with the living God wherein we become aware of the spiritual dimension of life through the witness of the Holy Spirit. Without an authentic experience of the truths of Scripture that is affirmed by our religious traditions and supported by human reason we cannot move beyond the superstitious faith of the devils.10

We need to be still to know God.11 So often we think that we are waiting for God when the reality is that God is waiting for us to hear His whispers of love. Silence opens the windows of our mind to the light of the Holy Spirit. Silence is the journey to a deep encounter with the Living Christ who dwells deep within our hearts. Let us walk by faith by keeping our eyes on Jesus:

“We will stand as children of the promise,
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward.
Till the race is finished and the work is done,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.

By faith, the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death,
And rise triumphant from the grave.”11



  1. Dan 12:1, NLT
  2. Genesis 1:31, NLT
  3. Romans1:26, NLT
  4. Luke 15:11-18, NLT
  5. Daniel 12:4, NLT
  6. Daniel 12:10, NLT
  7. Daniel 12:3, NLT
  8. 1 Timothy 6:5, NLT
  9. Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT
  10. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral, Chris Bounds, January 24, 2022, weslife newletter
  11. Psalms 46:10, NLT
  12. By Faith, Stuart Townend

Rest & Peace

“He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.” Daniel 11:32, NLT

We are living in an age of anxiety as we grappled with threats of a third world war, financial collapse and climate change. Many are struggling to make ends. Others are burning out as they try to balance work with time for themselves and the family. We suffer from spiritual anorexia when the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of lifedraws us away from God. Our world is crying out for rest and peace. We yearn for rest but as St Augustine reminds us, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God for God has made us for Himself.

We are spiritually dead when we live in sin and obeying the devil who is the commander of the powers in the unseen world. The devil is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.2 The history of the Jews is the story of how evil draws us away from the unfailing love of God. The prophetic visions of Daniel proved that God spoke through the Jewish prophets. They authenticate the bible as God’s “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” Daniel’s visions fulfilled what God had been saying to the Jews through the prophet Isaiah:

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God!” I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass for I do whatever I wish.”3

The prophetic visions of Daniel of the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires and the horrors of the suffering of the Jews under King Antiochus IV Epiphanes are a revelation of the sovereignty of God as well as the reality of spiritual warfare. Daniel was inspired by God to put on record the amazingly accurate messianic prophecy of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. What is most important for us in the twenty first century is the prophetic vision that in the last days, many will fall prey to deception as the Anti Christ will lead many to unbelief and disobedience:

He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.4 

The Jews were chosen to live under the Old Covenant that God gave them through Moses. They were to live in the kingdom of heaven here on earth. In the Ten Commandments, God gave the Jews the simple commandment to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. They were to work for six days each week and to rest on the seventh day by dedicating it to the Lord.5 It was a time to worship God and to listen to His voice:

Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us knee before the Lord our maker, for He is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under His care. If only you would listen to His voice today!” 6

The Sabbath rest was to help the Jews grow in their trust and dependence as God’s sheep. As our loving Creator, God knows the importance of rest to live our lives in peace. We do not have to die to rest in peace (R.I.P.). We will have peace when we nourish our souls with the Sabbath rest. Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.7 

Unbelief and disobedience kept the Jews from entering God’s rest.8 We need to understand that  the wrath and judgment of God is on sin and evil that keeps us away from His love. Sin separates us from God – we lose our trust in God when we lean more and more upon our human reason and understanding.9 We will then not be able to hear God’s voice and will fall to the deceptions of the evil one.

We have the freedom to choose and we can turn away from God like Adam and Eve or to love God with all our heart, our mind and our soul. We have a choice to live in the nightmares of human reasoning or to live by faith in God’s dream of His kingdom of heaven here on earth.  It is only when we have a personal and intimate relationship with God that we can be strong to resist evil and to stand firm in the midst of spiritual warfare. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ opens the way for us to receive Jesus’ invitation to rest:

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.10

Jesus came to be our Sabbath rest. In Christ, God has prepared a rest for us but we will not be able to enter into this rest when our hearts are hardened.11 At a spiritual retreat two days after Easter Sunday, I was led to reflect on the question by Jesus to Mary Magdalene: “Who are you looking for?”

As I meditated on the question, I realized that I have seeking the Holy Spirit in the wrong places. I have not been attentive to the nudges of the Holy Spirit in my daily interactions with others. The Holy Spirit is waiting to fill my heart with the unfailing love of God. But negative thoughts in my mind fill my heart with the weeds of resentment, envy, guilt, fears and doubts – I need to take every lofty thoughts captive to Christ.12

When we rest in Jesus we have the peace of God, peace with God, and peace in God. The Holy Spirit fills my heart with His love and open my ears to hear the shouts of warning in my pains and the gentle and loving whispers of our Heavenly Father in my pleasures. In rest and peace the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the fire of our Father’s love that is vast beyond all measure:

“How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.”12



  1. 1 John 2:16, NKJV
  2. Eph 2:2, NLT
  3. Isaiah 46:9-10, NLT
  4. Daniel 11:32, NLT
  5. Exodus 20:8-11, NLT
  6. Psalms 95:6-7, NLT
  7. Mark 2:27, NKJV
  8. Hebrews 3:19 – 4:5, NLT
  9. Prov 3:5, NKJV
  10. Matthew 11:28, NLT
  11. Hebrews 4:6-7, NLT
  12.  2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV
  13. How Deep The Father’s Love For Us, Stuart Townend

Spooky Encounters In The Unseen World

So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak.” Daniel 10:8, NLT

Modern technology has made virtual worlds nearly as real as the physical world. We are spending more and more time in virtual space and less and less time in physical relationships. At the same time we are becoming increasingly disconnected from the wonder and beauty of God’s amazing creation. The strongholds of  human philosophies, rebellious thoughts, fake news, and idolatrous beliefs are keeping people from knowing God.1 There is a spiritual war raging in our thought life that we are not aware of. We are blind and deaf to the spiritual reality of our identity as a child of God. We have been distracted from our amazing destiny and deceived about our wonderful final destination.

The spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting in the season of Lent are not practices for perfection but practices of preparation to fully comprehend the unbelievable truth of Easter –  Jesus died and rose from the dead to reconnect us with God, to invite us to rest in the love of Christ and for the Holy Spirit to renew our minds. We need to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through prayer so that we can be dead to sin and be in tune with the perfect will of God. Prayer is our mysterious communication channel with the unseen spiritual world.

In quantum physics, it was found that if a particle is observed in one place, another particle – even one light-years away, will instantly change its properties, as if the two are connected by a mysterious communication channel. Scientists have observed this phenomenon in tiny objects such as atoms and electrons. This phenomenon of quantum entanglement – the ability of separated objects to share a condition or state – was described by Albert Einstein as “spooky action at a distance.”2

Prayer is our spiritual wifi for “spooky encounters in the unseen spiritual world.” Daniel prayed and fasted as he struggled to understand the times of war and great hardship in the vision he had received in the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia.3 Daniel led a blameless life – he did what was right and spoke the truth from a sincere heart4 to King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar.5 Daniel was steadfast as he persevered in his prayers. After three weeks of fasting and praying, he found himself in the presence of God. He had a vision that was very similar to the experience of the apostle John on the island of Patmos.6  He met the archangel Gabriel who gave him an account of the spiritual battles that Gabriel and the archangel Michael were fighting.7

Daniel’s prophetic visions are a revelation of the reality of spiritual warfare. Many are tempted to use them to speculate or predict the scenarios for the end of the world. Prophetic visions are revelations of spiritual realities. They affirm the sovereignty of God and reminds us that God alone holds the future. We need to see world events from God’s perspective. The “spooky spiritual encounters” of Daniel encouraged and strengthened him – he was reassured that he was precious to God.  Like Daniel we need to  persevere in prayer – not for personal blessings but to understand the perfect will of God.  

The prophetic visions of Daniel are to open our eyes to the reality of the heavenly realm in our daily lives. Eternal life does not begin after we die, it begins right now when we are in touch with God everyday through prayer. God doesn’t listen to sinners but is ready to hear those who worship Him and do His will.8 We pray to see things from God’s perspective, to grow in faith and to live as a beloved child of God with renewed minds and transformed lives. We pray to live in the kingdom of God and to share Christ with our lives so that others may be touched by the love of God and have a taste of eternal life.

In prayer, the bible becomes the channel of God’s revelations to help us understand the meaning of life, the root cause of suffering and the reality of eternal life. In Christ, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual disciplines are spiritual exercises to invite the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and to fill our hearts with the fire of love. Without prayer, our souls are dead – for prayer is the vital breath of the soul.9 

Prayer is not a ritual to use God as our spiritual ATM to fulfill our wants. Prayer is a living, transactional relationship with the Holy Trinity – to be in peace with God as our Heavenly Father through faith in the Risen Christ and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the simple act of listening to the Holy Spirit through the mystery of silence. The path of silence was Mother Teresa’s simple path:

                The fruit of silence is PRAYER.

                The fruit of prayer is  FAITH.

                The fruit of faith is LOVE.

                The fruit of love is SERVICE.

                The fruit of service is PEACE.10

Silence is a gift that we receive through the practice of the discipline of solitude. In silence, we surrender our wills by being a living sacrifice – we wait to be like the clay that is being molded by the Potter. We wait for the Holy Spirit to fill the love tank in our hearts. As we meditate on God’s Word through silence, we are convicted of our anger and unforgiveness that grieve the Spirit and our pride and envy that quench the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will then lead us to spooky encounters in the unseen world. At times we may be led to taste hell on earth so that we will hunger and thirst for righteousness and be filled with a desire for the love of God with an undivided heart:

“Holy Spirit, Love Divine, glow within this heart of mine;
Kindle every high desire; perish self in thy pure fire.”11



  1. 2 Cor 10:4-5, MSG
  2. Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance” spotted in objects almost big enough to see.
  3. Daniel 10:1, NLT
  4. Psalms 15:2, NLT
  5. Daniel Chapters 1,2,4, 5, NLT
  6. Daniel 10:5-6; Revelation 1:13-16, NLT
  7. Daniel 10:12-11:1, NLT
  8. John 9:31, NLT
  9. Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, James Montgomery
  10. A Simple Path, Mother Teresa
  11. Holy Spirit, Truth Divine, Samuel Longfellow

Condemned Sinner or Convicted Saint

The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” Daniel 9:23, NLT

What we think, what we feel and what we do are determined by our beliefs about our identity, our purpose in life and our image of God. Psychologists have found that how we think about our talents and abilities can dramatically influenced success in almost every area of human endeavor. People with a growth mindset – those who believe that abilities can be developed are more likely to succeed in life than those who have a fixed mindset that abilities are fixed.1 Spiritually, a fixed mindset is a “sin” mindset that leads us to struggle through life as a condemned sinner. We need a “grace” mindset to grow spiritually and live the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.2 To become transformed from being flawed sinners into what Nicholas Matthews described as “flawesome” saints.

Jesus Christ came to change our mindset so that we will no longer live as a condemned sinner trying to appease an angry God but to live as a beloved child of God, shining the bright light of God’s agape love in a world full of crooked and perverse people.3 God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.4 We are created in the image of God5 but we are born into a sinful world where we are programmed to be condemned sinners. We need to be convicted of our need for deliverance from slavery to sin before we will seek God’s gift of salvation:

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” 6

We need a reprogramming of our minds so that God can transform us into a new person by changing the way we think.7 The greatest gem of truth in Daniel Chapter 9 is that we are precious in God’s sight. The vision of Daniel also predicted the coming of Jesus Christ.8  Christ’s Kingdom has come and God’s Will is being done. We have a choice to live in fear of God’s wrath as a condemned sinner or with His love in joy and peace as a convicted saint. As a convicted saint, we are on a journey of transformation from perfectly imperfect sinners to imperfectly perfect saints in our life here on earth.

St Augustine wrote that “the very perfection of a man is to find out his own imperfections.” Nicholas Matthews perceptively described perfection as the attitude and knowledge of being perfected through the completed work of Jesus in our lives. Perfection is not an ideal to aim for, not an achievement to pursue nor is it a destination:

“Perfection is the confidence in knowing our identities are based on God’s perfection and not on human behavior. It’s the position of our hearts and the motivation of our minds aligned to the character of God.9” 

The journey of perfection begins with stepping out in faith into the unknown future with a growing confidence in God’s faithful love  – to discover God’s promises of peace and power in the midst of the storms of life. It is to have faith in God’s faithfulness – in what God can do and not what I can do. God is the Potter. I am only the clay which the Teacher of Righteousness in the Essene community described as the sorry state of our human nature:

“I am a vessel of clay and kneaded with water, a foundation of shame and a spring of filth, a melting pot of iniquity and a structure of sin, a spirit of error, perverted without understanding and terrified by righteous judgments ((1QH 9:23-25).10

The visions of Daniel remind us of the omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of God – that God is with us, God knows everything, and God is in control. Faith is not wishful thinking or blind optimism but having the confidence and assurance in the character, nature and faithfulness of God’s agape love. Faith is not blind but seeing the invisible hand of God. The future may look bleak and uncertain but we have hope because God is our Heavenly Father, Jesus is our Shepherd of Love and the Holy Spirit is our Helper. It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to see the bible as the story of God’s amazing love. To quote Larry Crabb:

“The bible is a love story that begins with a divorce. Everything from the third chapter of Genesis through the end of Revelation is the story of a betrayed lover wooing us back into His arms so we can enjoy the love of family forever.11

As I draw near to God in prayer, I will be tempted by lust, greed and gluttony to seek glory for myself instead of glorifying God – to seek the love of power instead of the power of love. I will be discouraged and drawn into spiritual depression through spiritual dryness, disappointments and distractions. I need to persevere in prayer to declare my total dependence on God, bring my doubts to Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with holy desires.

To be a disciple of Jesus is not striving to be a successful Christian but to grow up as a faithful child of God.  Jesus Christ is our spiritual I.D. – our Identity and Destiny. The cross of Christ secures my identity as a child of God. Our destiny is to have a vision of the kingdom of God, to seek God’s will as my mission in life, and to be empowered to advance God’s kingdom by the Providence, Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we are convicted saints and not condemned sinners, we are victors and not victims for we are on the journey of transformation from flawed sinners into flawesome saints:

“In Christ alone, I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the Cross
In every victory, let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope is Christ alone12



  1. Mindset – Carol D
  2.  John 10:10, NKJV
  3. Philippians 2:15, NLT
  4. John 3:17, NKJV 
  5. Genesis 1:26, MSG
  6. Romans 7:18-20, NLT
  7. Romans 12:2, NLT
  8. Daniel 9:23-27, NLT
  9.  Nicholas Matthews, Being Flawesome, pg 17
  10. John Bersma, Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, pg 217) ( Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, 217)
  11. Quote in Nicholas Matthews, Being Flawesome, pg 55
  12.  In Christ Alone I Put My Trust, Brian Littrell

Hope For The Perplexed

Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it.” Daniel 8:27, NLT

Challenging times are part of God’s bigger and divine plan. The history of humankind is full of twists and turns and makes sense only when we look at it from God’s perspective. With the Covid 19 pandemic, the Ukraine war and the collapse of major banks, we are living in the end times that is reminiscent of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. We need to wait on God to understand what is God revealing to us in His Word. We have hope in our perplexing times because there is a God who reveals secrets and has shown us the meaning of what is happening in our world. Daniel gave King Nebuchadnezzar a panoramic view of the future of the kingdoms in the Middle East and predicted how God’s Kingdom on earth will come through Jesus Christ.1

Although Daniel was deeply troubled by the visions he received during the first and third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, he continued to perform his duties until the time came for him to interpret King Belshazzar’s dream that proclaimed the downfall of the Babylonian empire.2 There are many mysteries about God’s ways that we cannot or will not be able to  understand – God cannot be locked up in a book! Like Daniel, we will be greatly troubled by what is happening in the world but we can trust that in God’s own time He will grant us understanding of His thoughts and His ways. Like Daniel, we are to do God’s will without regard for the rewards of this world.3

The Good News is that Jesus Christ came to give us the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth and to tell us about the future.4 As we grow old, we will face a future filled with loss, suffering and death. Like Daniel, we will be deeply troubled. But we need not fear bad news or be paralyzed by fear when we confidently trust that the Lord cares for us.5 We can choose to see the winter of life as a time to grow in faith. God has given us everything we need to live a godly life. We have been given great and precious promises to enable us to escape from the world’s corruption caused by human desires and to share in the divine nature of Jesus Christ.6

At Pentecost, Peter quoted the prophet Joel who prophesied that in the last days, God will pour out His Spirit upon all people – sons and daughters will prophesy, young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. There will be wonders in the heavens above and signs of the earth below before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.7 

For the early Christians, to call on God’s name was to face death and persecution. However, the early Christians held fast to the truth of Joel 2:32 that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved from the terrifying day of God’s judgment. The early disciples were not afraid of the judgment of men but respected God’s judgment against sin and evil. They lived out their belief in Jesus Christ by following Him to the cross. In Christ, we have every spiritual gift we need as we eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by grace that we will be kept strong and free from all blame on the day when Christ returns.8  

God’s kingdom is always an upside down kingdom. In the modern world, the young are obsessed with virtual realities while the old are grappling with spiritual realities. Visions from God are to empower us to do God’s will. Dreams can be expressions of our fears and desires that are buried deep within our unconscious minds. We are to encourage one another to live in a way God would consider worthy for we are called to share in Christ’s kingdom and glory.9 

God’s ways are not our ways. To follow Jesus is to be God’s 20% who are shining as lights in a dark world of sin – to live with love, joy and peace in the kingdom of heaven. Without Jesus, we will be the 80% living in hell on earth. To follow Christ is to stay alert to spiritual realities and to persevere with difficult people and situations. The challenge is to cultivate the habit to pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.10

To do so, we need to spend time each morning doing nothing but to wait on God. This is not to daydream about our fantasies but the simple act to surrendering our will as a living sacrifice so that we can see God’s vision and dream God’s dreams. It is a time of preparation to open our minds to the Holy Spirit so that we can see the spiritual truths in the bible that we need to apply in our lives.

We are living in perplexing times. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the old can dream dreams. Life’s journey through old age will be exciting and not daunting when we look for God’s surprises. For we have a hope that burns within our hearts and gives us strength for each passing day:

“There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.”11



  1. Daniel 2:28-45, NLT
  2. Daniel 8:15-27, NLT
  3. Daniel 5:17-29, NLT
  4. John 16:13, NLT
  5. Psalms 112:7, NLT
  6. 2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT
  7. Acts 2:17, NLT
  8. 1 Corinthians 1:9, NLT
  9. 1 Thess 2:12, NLT
  10.  Ephesians 6:18, NLT
  11.  There is a hope, Stuart Townend

From Now To Eternity

“But in the end, the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever.” Daniel 7:18, NLT

With the advances in artificial intelligence, human beings have the knowledge and understanding to create a virtual heaven on earth in the near future. It will be possible to experience the heaven of human imagination in the Metaverse. We are living at the end of an age and at the dawn of a new technological era where we can experience “reading an e-book floating in space with stars dying and being born again all around instead of sitting on the shore of a lake at sunset surrounded by nature.” The programmers of the digital world are seeking not just to recreate what we already have but to break the barriers of physics and to build new digital environments that people want to spend time in.1

But the real heaven is a spiritual reality and not a virtual reality. It is not only our destination but our destiny as the children of God. Heaven is where God is present and the bible is the astounding and awesome Story of Salvation of our Heavenly Father who is waiting patiently for us to come home to Him. We are not just saved from hell or sin – we are saved for heaven and eternal life. The bible is not an instructional manual of how to get to heaven or how not to be sent to hell. The sacred stories in the bible are to illuminate our minds and set our hearts on fire for God.

Heaven and angels are very real to the people living in the times of the Old Testament. Daniel was a beacon of the truth that blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.2 As a teenager forced into exile, Daniel chose to be faithful to God and rejected the food that was offered to him by the Babylonians. After his dream about the four beasts, he found himself in the presence of God and was given the prophecy that the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever.3 The story of Daniel is to inspire and encourage us to hunger and thirst after righteousness – for blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.4

Daniel, like Isaiah and John, were awestruck when they were in the presence of God. Holiness is not an option – without holiness, we will be terrified by the consuming fire of God’s purifying love. The good news is that Jesus Christ died to clothe us with His righteousness so that we can come before the throne of God and to rest in our Heavenly Father’s loving embrace.

Jesus fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy and brought heaven to earth. Heaven is an awesome destination that is beyond our thoughts, feelings and imagination. The manger and the cross are the two defining landmarks of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was born in the lowly manger to incarnate the truth that blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  He was condemned to die on the cross by the religious and political leaders of the day to epitomize the truth that blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.5

The bad news of our human condition is that Adam failed to reign over sin. We are living in hell for we are living in slavery to sin. Without the grace of God, our hearts are uncircumcised and our minds are covered with a veil –  we are unable to understand Old Testament.6 But in and through Christ, we have the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness to reign in life.7 Life in eternity begins now in our hearts as we work out our salvation with the grace of God.8 To reign over sin instead of being enslaved by sin it is necessary to cultivate a mindfulness to be aware of our thoughts, feelings and attitudes:

“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”9

Heaven is a boring alternative to hell when we have not tasted the joys of eternity in the here and now. Our minds are blind to the joys of heaven when we are spiritual caterpillars. To see the wonders of heaven we need to go through the spiritual chrysalis of suffering, old age and death. In the autumn of my life, I have a vested interest to see old age as a challenge and not a burden. The dying have taught me how important it is to embrace death – not to escape hell but as the adventure to be transformed to live eternal life as spiritual butterflies. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.10 

We are called to live from now to eternity. We can only do so by God’s grace. And to receive God’s grace, we need to enter the special rest of God through faith in Jesus Christ:

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.”11

Resting in Christ is the simple discipline to prepare one’s heart and mind to receive God’s grace to reign over sin – to be still and know that Jesus is Lord.12  As we wait on God, the Holy Spirit convicts us with godly sorrow and lead us to a lifestyle of repentance as we sing:

“Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner’s fire,
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will”13



  2. Matthew 5:8, NKJV
  3. Daniel 7:15-18, NLT
  4. Matthew 5:6, NKJV
  5. Matthew 5:3,10, NKJV
  6. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15, NKJV
  7. Romans 5:17, NKJV
  8. Philippians 2:12-13, NLT
  9. Romans14:17, NLT
  10. 1 Corinthians 2:9
  11. Hebrews 4:9-11, NLT
  12. Psalms 46:10
  13. Refiner’s Fire, Brian Doerksen

Heaven On Earth

His rule is eternal – it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14, NLT

All the chaos and suffering in the world are to open our eyes to the stark truth that we are living in hell on earth. We are all infected by the virus of sin and live in guilt and in fear of death. We do not have love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, humility and self control because we are driven by lust, guilt, fear, anger, greed, envy, apathy, pride and gluttony. We are living under the judgment of God:

So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” 1

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to inaugurate the kingdom of heaven here on earth. The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a huge, shining and frightening statue of a man and Daniel’s own dream of the four beasts. Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar that the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered – this was the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. God was showing the king what would be happening in the future.2

In his dream during the first year of King Belshazzar, Daniel had visions of the Ancient of Days sitting on a throne of fiery flames and someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He was given authority, honor and sovereignty over all the nations of the world. People of every race and nation and language would obey him and his rule is eternal. His kingdom will never end and will never be destroyed.3 

The stories in the Old Testament are the testimonies of people of faith who died without receiving what God had promised them but they saw heaven from a distance and lived as strangers with no permanent home on earth. And God has prepared a city for them.4  We are not homesick for heaven when we are so comfortable in hell on earth and have misconceptions about the truths of heaven. There is a war in our mind that must first be won before the fire of love in our heart can be kindled. We are in heaven when we walk in the Lord’s presence as we live here on earth.5 

In prayer we seek  the Presence of God to open our eyes to the awe (a wonderful experience) of God. It is the fearless listening and total obedience to the perfect will of our Heavenly Father that leads us into the kingdom of heaven. It is not trying to see inner spiritual things with our mind but to see the truth that the things of this world are only temporary. Ideas about God blinds us to the mysteries and wonders of heaven.

As a human being seeking spiritual experiences, we are like a caterpillar trying to find heaven. We need to be reborn again to be a child of God living in the kingdom of heaven – to become like a butterfly carrying the pollen of God’s love in a dark and loveless world. There are two ways to see and live our life here on earth – to be tempted by Satan to see things from a human point of view or to follow Christ and to see life from the cross. To follow Christ to the cross is to enter the chrysalis to be transformed from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Jesus taught that following Him is to let Him be in the driver’s seat. We are to embrace suffering and not to run away from it. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way to finding  our true self. We are to live out the truth that Jesus will return with all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This is not a pie in the sky by and by. Jesus’ promise is that some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen and see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.6 

Poverty and persecution are the two pillars of the kingdom of heaven. The spirit of poverty is the antidote to the lust of power. We need to confess our powerlessness to be filled with the power of love. We will face persecution and we need the spirit of humility to see our trials from God’s perspective instead of reacting from our egoistic instincts. Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth and painted for us a picture of what life is like in the Kingdom of Heaven. The first and last beatitudes enclose the other six beatitudes which describe the be-attitudes of the citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven.7

Heaven is not a pipe dream, a figment of our imagination – it is a reality that is found deep within our hearts. Instead of speculating on the second coming of Christ, we would be living fuller and fruitful lives by remembering that we are called to be the ambassadors of God’s kingdom here on earth. The hallmark of  God’s kingdom is love. We are to follow Christ with radical humility – to turn to Him so that we can live with radical simplicity to demonstrate true love here on earth. To keep turning our eyes upon the cross of Christ and to share the wonder of God’s perfect salvation to weary and troubled souls in a world that is dying:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.”8



  1. Romans 1:24-25, NLT
  2. Daniel 2:27-45, NLT
  3. Daniel 7:9-14, NLT
  4. Hebrews 11:13 – 16, GW
  5. Psalms 116:9, NLT
  6. Luke 9:23-27, MSG
  7. Morton T. Kelsey, What Is Heaven Like? page 19
  8. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Helen H. Lemmel