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

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

The Heart Of Worship

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” Daniel 6:10, NLT

A sermon by Rev Zach Meerkreebs in an ordinary chapel service at Asbury College on 8th February 2023 ignited a revival that lasted 16 days and drew thousands to the town of Wilmore in Kentucky. It was a sermon based on Romans Chapter 12 in which the issues of guilt, shame, anxiety, abuse and the struggle to sincerely love others were addressed. It was a message that touched the hearts of the young people, many of whom were struggling with feelings of sadness or hopelessness and even suicide. 

There was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the students who were hungry for a God who can change their lives. Asbury Seminary Professor Kenneth J. Collins observed that the students were sick of trying to live without a true hunger for God which they could not find in the culture around them.1 There was a need for a true revival to change the habits of the heart and shape how believers live each day.

It was challenging to see the movement of the Holy Spirit in our day and age. We are living in the end times – this was clear from our small group discussion on the book of Daniel. This was the lesson from the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar that God revealed to Daniel.2 

The story of Daniel being thrown into the den of lions inspires me to cultivate a heart of true worship. Daniel chose to disobey Darius’ decree to worship only the king and no one else, divine or human for 30 days. He did not count the cost of losing his life to put God first in his life. Daniel could have easily refrain from worshiping God for thirty days but he knew how easily his faith would be eroded in 30 days without the habit of worship.3 

Some 40 years ago, I had heard a message by Danny Morris in Barker Road Methodist Church on the Ten Brave Christians: The John Wesley Great Experiment. One of his Sunday School teacher, Sam Teague, was inspired to draw up a 30 day spiritual programme to live a life that matters. The Ten Brave Christians movement gave birth to the revival in Asbury in 1970. Unfortunately, Danny Morris’ sermon fell on thorny soil in my heart and it dawned on me that I had been living in a spiritual wilderness for the past 40 years trying to serve God in my own strength without the Holy Spirit.

I was led to reread the book, The True Wilderness, by H.A. Williams, which convicted me of the truth that sharing second hand convictions, irrespective of whether they are orthodox, modernist or non-Christian, has no transformative power. It is only the truths of God’s love that have been proven true in my own experience, living them and knowing them at first hand, that can lead others to the loving embrace of God.

Williams found that our intellect craves for complete systems of logical explanations and that there are areas of human life, such as personal relationships, where such explanatory systems can falsify as well as illuminate. The wine of life cannot be contained in the bottles of old mindsets – we will find ourselves with no wine when the bottles have been burst by the wine.4

Lent is a time to cultivate spiritual disciplines that will open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit. The most important lesson from the Asbury revival is the need to live a surrendered life so that the Spirit can rewire our minds, renovate our hearts and so transform our lives. It is not trying to live a purpose driven life but a Spirit driven life. It is learning to live life fully in the face of death and suffering.

We need bottles of new mindsets for the new wine of life that God wants to pour into our hearts. It is impossible to live like the followers of Christ in the book of Acts without the Holy Spirit.  We need radical humility to confess that we do not know what to do and our need to turn our eyes upon Jesus.5 Then the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.6

The discipline of prayer prepares us to be a living sacrifice through silence and solitude to abide in Christ. Through the discipline of fasting we  remember that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.7 Instead of trying to turn stones into bread, we are to be living stones.8 The discipline of charity is to learn to be a sheep – to see heaven everyday in every person.9 Through these spiritual disciplines of Lent, we are led to live as a child of God in the family of God and to become the hands and feet of the Risen Christ to heal our broken world.

After the revival, when the music fades and all is stripped away, we need to long for the Spirit to search deep within our hearts. To remind us how weak and poor we are as every single breath comes from our King of endless worth. To come back to the heart of worship:

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus.10



  1. The Ashbury Revival –
  2. Daniel Chapter 2:1-45
  3. Daniel Chapter 6:1-17
  4. The True Wilderness, H.A. Williams
  5. 2 Chronicles 20:12
  6. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
  7. Matthew 4:4, GW
  8. 1 Peter 2:5, NLT
  9.  Patrick Kee, Living With Our Shepherd Of Love
  10. When The Music Fades, Matt Redman

Leaving Home or Going Home

This is what these words mean: Mene means ‘numbered’ – God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.” Daniel 5:26, NLT

Some years ago, when we were on holiday in Nepal and window shopping in the grounds of a temple, we heard a chant that sounded like “no money take me home.” Indeed, we are homesick for heaven only when we run out of money or health! The reality of heaven is eclipsed by our concerns and worries as well as by the attractions of this world. Heaven is only a virtual reality for we are afraid to talk about death and dying and forget that our days are numbered:

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”1 

When we do not number our days, we cannot grow in wisdom.2 We will be like King Belshazzar who forgot the life transforming lesson that God had revealed to his predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar – that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them. Success led to pride and arrogance. He became complacent and overconfident. He was partying with 1000 of his nobles even though Babylon was under siege by the Persians. He worshiped his idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone with the sacred gold cups taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He was oblivious to the fear of God –  that it is God who gives the breath of life and controls his destiny. God sent him a dream to predict his death and downfall:

“This is the message that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is what these words mean: Mene means “numbered’ – God has numbered the days of your reign and has bought it to an end. Tekel means ‘weighed’ – you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up. Parsin means ‘divided’ – your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”3

That very night, King Belshazzar was killed and his kingdom was taken over by Darius the Mede. We need God’s grace to see the hidden treasures of God’s wisdom in the bible. King Belshazzar’s story is a revelation of the hard truth that God knows the length of our lives, how many months we will live and we are not given a minute longer.4  But the good news is that we have hope in all our years of struggle and would eagerly await the release of death if we believe that the dead can live again.5 

The most important question is whether we believe that heaven is real. Jesus came to give us the keys to the kingdom of heaven in the Beatitudes6. Jesus came to show us the Way to heaven and taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth.7 Heaven is more than a destination after death. We begin the journey to the kingdom of heaven here on earth – a journey that continues after death. Then death is not leaving home but going home to our Heavenly Father.

When I woke up to the truth that my days are numbered, the mustard seed of the kingdom of heaven was sown in the Egypt of my heart. By faith in Jesus Christ I seek to walk by the Spirit through the wilderness of my life. By grace, I am to work out my salvation in the Promised Land by being the hand and feet of Christ. And in Babylon at the end of my life, the challenge is to be a witness of the unfailing love of God. 

My task on earth is to live out my numbered days in the will of God so that my death will bear fruit in the lives of those I leave behind. I cannot be too comfortable living in this world – I need to be homesick and be prepared to go back home to our Heavenly Father. Only then will I not be fearful of death – to leave my earthly home. 

The story of King Belshazzer encourages us to remember the Creator when we are young before the days of trouble come and the years catch up with us.8 Caring for the elderly sick has been a blessing for they have taught me the importance of living out the truth that our days are numbered. It is heartbreaking to see the dying suffering from futile treatments when their families refuse to see the “writing on the wall” that the end is near. To live fully in the face of death, the dying and their families need to face the truth that the days of their loved ones are numbered. At the end of life, we can live with hope when we seek God’s way for dreams of love and healing to become a reality.

When Christ is our everything in this life, we will have even more when we die.9 It is not a sacrifice to leave our earthly home. It is a sacrifice to postpone our going home if we are needed to help others grow and be joyful in their faith. On Valentine’s Day last week, the following thought came to mind:

God knows our hearts and will give us what we need to draw closer to Him at the right time and in the best way. All we need to do is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices through the discipline of silence. How we practice silence is not as important as a passionate desire for God. We need to fall madly in love with God. We need a restless desire for God to have a restful waiting on God. When redeeming love is the theme of our lives, we can sing of God’s power to save even in the grave:

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
  Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
  I’ll sing Thy power to save:
  I’ll sing Thy power to save,
  I’ll sing Thy power to save;
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
  I’ll sing Thy power to save.10



  1.  Psalms 139:16, NLT
  2.  Psalms 90:12, GW
  3. Daniel Chapter 5, NLT
  4. Job 14:5, NLT
  5. Job 14:14, NLT
  6. Matthew 5:3-10, NLT
  7. Matthew 6:10
  8. Ecclesiastes 12:1, GW
  9. Philippians 1:21-25, GW
  10. There is a fountain filled with blood, William Cowper

Warriors of Love


Joshua 10:1-15


Do not be afraid of them,the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.” Joshua 10:8, NLT

The wars in the world, like the Ukraine war, are but the grim and stark revelations of the sins of lust, greed and pride that enslaves humanity. God did not create humanity to live in violence – it is humanity that choose violence. The battles recorded in the bible appears to depict God as a God of war. But these battles are God’s declaration of war against injustice, oppression and inhumanity.1 

Adoni-Zedek the king of Jericho had called on the kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon to attack Gibeon after the Gibeonites made peace with the people of Israel. The Gibeonites then called on Joshua to save them from the kings of the Amorites. Joshua was assured of victory by the Lord: Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.” And it was recorded that the sun stood still for a whole day until the Amorites were totally defeated.2

The most important lesson from this story is that God is not a God of war but a God of love and peace who has the power to make the sun stand still. It is not whether we believe the sun had stood still but whether we have a mind set that limits the omnipotence of God. We need a mind-set that believes that God can make the sun stand still to have a  faith that expands our imagination and opens us to a universe with endless possibilities.3 

The story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is mind blowing when we read of how darkness came over the land for three hours and the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. There was an earthquake and tombs were opened and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.4 Such stories are to blow up our logical, dualistic and exclusivistic mind and fill our hearts with a childlike wonder of God’s spiritual atomic power. Only then can we live our lives with the power of the resurrection and a pocketful of miracles in our daily lives.

Secondly, the stories of wars in the bible draw attention to the inner wars that are deep within our souls. We are a people of war because there is “a war that rages deep within us that boils over and sets the world on fire.”5  Our human nature drives us to fight for positions, possessions and power in the world. But there is a spiritual dimension of life that is beyond our thoughts as well as beyond space and time.  We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.6 But we do not wage war with human weapons:

For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.” 7

Jesus is our Prince of Peace and we are warriors of love. As a warrior of love we have to fight for peace within our souls. We cannot bring peace to the world, according to Erwin McManus, if we have never come to know peace within ourselves. Winning the battle for peace is by one person at a time, one heart at a time, one soul at a time.8 In Christ we can have inner peace even when the world is not at peace. But there can be no world peace when we do not have inner peace.

The biggest enemy of peace is fear. Fears steals our freedom and courage. What we fear has mastery over our souls.9  We become slaves of the devil instead of being the children of God. Jesus died to break the power of the devil over us by setting us free from the fear of death.10 To be a warrior of love we need to face death and to embrace pain and suffering in order to experience the power of the resurrection:

Times of affliction are the wars we go through to experience the joy of a resurrection life. They are times to turn our eyes from our transient afflictions to the glory of an eternal life in Christ Jesus.11 They are times to endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus:12

“Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies, through His eternal Son;
Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty pow’r,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.”


Lord, help me to be a warrior of love by being at peace with myself, with others and with You.


  1. What does it mean to be a warrior of love?
  2. How can I battle the negative thoughts that flood my mind?
  3. How can I change my mindset from one that limits God to one that is open to the miracles of God?

Song of Praise

Soldiers of Christ, Arise



  1. Erwin Raphael McManus, The Way of the Warrior, page xii
  2.  Joshua 10:1-15, NLT
  3. Erwin Raphael McManus, The Way of the Warrior, page101
  4. Matthew 27:45-56, NET
  5. Erwin Raphael McManus, The Way of the Warrior, page xiii
  6. Ephesians 6:12, NLT
  7. 2 Cor 10:3-5 NET
  8. Erwin Raphael McManus, The Way of the Warrior, page 98
  9. Erwin Raphael McManus, The Way of the Warrior, page 7 
  10. Hebrews 2:14-15, NET
  11. 2 Timothy 2:3, NLT
  12. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV
  13. Soldiers of Christ,  Arise, Charles Wesley

Imagine Heaven


Joel 2:12-27


“Don’t be afraid, O land. Be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things. Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green.” Joel 2:21-22, NLT

At the concert of my grandson’s school, the choir sang John Lennon’s song, Imagine. It was a song with the message that where there is no heaven or hell, no countries or religion, people will have nothing to kill or die for. John Lennon’s dream was that people will live a life of peace in the brotherhood of man in a world where there are no possessions, greed, or hunger.1 

To imagine there is no heaven or hell is a foolish and futile exercise. Religion, nationalism and materialism are the inevitable manifestations of pride, fear, greed and lust – these are the root causes of much of the suffering in the world.  To find the cure for the woes of our world, we need to make the right diagnosis. We are living in a dark world of chaos, brokenness, suffering, evil and death because of sin and evil. God’s justice demands that there be punishment for sin and evil:

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 2 

God has a better dream. God’s judgment is not to throw us into hell but to reveal the reality that we are now living in hell when we seek to do our own will and live without the grace of God. The prophet Joel shared the promise of God’s restoration and renewal of the world with the the Jews in the face of their punishment when they were exiled to Babylon. Joel exhorted them to practice the repentance of the heart and gave them God’s promise:

“Don’t be afraid, O land. Be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things. Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green.”3 

We live in hell when envy, greed, pride and fear reigns. But God so loved that world that He sent His only Son to be the Light of the World and to save the world.4 Jesus came to restore and renew the earth and to draw us back to the kingdom of heaven with cords of love. Heaven is not a pipe dream nor a figment of our imagination. Kindness, goodness, humility and peace are the hallmarks of the person who is abiding in Christ and living in the kingdom of heaven.  Heaven is an existential reality that is beyond space and time. To search for answers to the hard questions of life, we need to seek God’s presence with all our heart:

“I have asked one thing from the Lord. This I will seek: to remain in the Lord’s house all the days of my life in order to gaze at the Lord’s beauty and to search for an answer in his temple.”5

Jesus came to lead us out of the Babylon of this world and to be pilgrims in this world. We are to live as citizens of the kingdom of heaven with Jesus reigning in our hearts as our King of kings. We are to be ambassadors and priests to share the love, joy and peace  of God’s Kingdom of love in a messy and godless world.  We are to give the world a foretaste of a new heaven and a new earth through our lives as new creations in Christ Jesus.

Our mission is to live a life of thanksgiving and praising the Lord – telling the nations what God has done and let them know how mighty He is.6  We are to give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love that endures forever.7 The practice of silence is a simple but difficult way to do so every morning and evening. Silence is the expression of our reverence for God and enthrone Jesus as our Servant King.  Silence is an ancient path to find rest for our souls:8

“But the Lord is in His holy temple,
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”9
“Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”10 

Silence expresses our reverence for God and empties our hearts so that God’s love can be incarnate in us. In silence, we rest in God and wait on Him. In silence we can live in God’s loving embrace which is far more wonderful than imagining heaven. It is in silence that we rest in peace (R.I.P.) even before we die:

“Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God.”11


Lord, teach me to rest in You so that my life may overflow with Your love.


  1. What do I believe about heaven and hell?
  2. How can we be God’s servants to restore and renew the earth?
  3. How does silence help me to find rest for my soul?

Song of Praise




  1. Imagine, John Lennon
  2. Romans 8: 20-23, NLT
  3. Joel 2:21-22, NLT
  4. John 3:16-21, NLT
  5. Psalms 27:4, GW
  6. Isaiah 12:4, NLT
  7. Psalms 106:1, NLT
  8. Jeremiah 6:16, ESV
  9. Habakkuk 2:20, NKJV
  10. Zechariah 2:12, NLT
  11. Still, Hillsong Worship

What Really Matters


Lamentations 3:25-58


“But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.” Lamentations 3:55-57, NLT

Queen Elizabeth served as a servant Queen for more than 70 years and lived a very fruitful life. Death is part and parcel of life. As the whole world mourns her death, I am reminded of the truth that we are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes.1  People are like grass whose beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field beneath the breath of the Lord.2  But we can take comfort that though God brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.3  

It is not how well we live but how we prepare ourselves for death so our lives can bear fruit in the generations that follow us.4  It is how we hang on to our faith in times of suffering and sorrow. Times of adversities and tribulations are times to examine our ways – to turn back to God in repentance. When we do so and call on God’s name, God will hear our cry:

“But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.”5

The writer of Lamentations reminds us that God does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow. There are spiritual laws and consequences for breaking God’s laws. The writer of Lamentations drew attention to God’s justice that is manifested through God’s anger and judgment against injustice and evil. The good news is that in the face of disease and death, we can put our hope in God’s redeeming love. God is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him – to sit alone in silence and wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.6

There will be times when we struggle to find meaning in suffering. However, even when our pain seem meaningless, God can use our pain to bring hope to others through our weaknesses and vulnerability for His power is made perfect in our weakness.7 Jesus died and rose from the dead to show us how much God loves us – that God is in Christ, we are in Christ and Christ is in us.8  We are to bring Christ to the world and the world to Christ:

“Christ for the world we sing, the world to Christ we bring
With loving zeal, the poor, and them that mourn, the faint and overborne,
Sin sick and sorrow worn, whom Christ doth heal.”9

Jesus Christ gave us the Beatitudes which are the keys into the kingdom of heaven – blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.10  We are to seek the Kingdom of God in our todays and not to worry about our tomorrows.11  What really matters is whether we are living as citizens of heaven in a manner that is worthy of the Good News about Christ –  standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for our faith in Christ, and making every effort to keep ourselves united in the Spirit and binding ourselves together with peace.12  For we are called to share in God’s Kingdom and glory.13

When God dwells in us through Christ, the Holy Spirit binds us together as the Body of Christ. We are empowered to live out His commandment to love another. When we are of one heart and mind, the world will see the love of Christ in us. Only then will the stories of our lives be of significance in God’s unfolding love story.

God is Love and Love is the presence of God in me. When I am full of myself, there is no room for Christ in my heart and there can be no fruit of the Holy Spirit. I can only overflow with love, joy and peace when I am emptied of my ego and filled with the Holy Spirit. We will be challenged to give of ourselves and to put our trust in God’s providence and God’s perfect will each day. That is why we need to pray every day, “Give us  this day our daily bread.”14 For blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.15

The discipline of prayer is to open ourselves to the kingdom of heaven in the here and now. We pray to enthrone Jesus in our hearts so that our hearts will be filled with the love of God by the Holy Spirit.16  With the death of Queen Elizabeth, the anthem of the United Kingdom has been changed to “God Save The King.” I felt led to use the following words as my personal anthem to remember that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God:

God is our gracious King.
Our lives to Him we bring
God is our King

Christ’s reign is glorious
From sin victorious
With joyful hearts we sing our praise
God is our King


Lord, be enthroned in my heart so that my life and death will bear fruit for Your kingdom.


  1.  How does suffering and sorrow help me to live well and die well
  2. What does it mean to live as a citizen of heaven?
  3.  How does prayer help me to live in the kingdom of heaven in the here and now?



  1. James 4:14, NET
  2. Isaiah 40:6-7, NLT
  3. Lamentations 3:32, NLT
  4. Henri Nouwen, Dying Well, 10th Feb 2018
  5. Lamentations 3:55-57, NLT
  6. Lamentations 3:25-42, NLT
  7. 2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV
  8. John 14:20, NLT
  9. Christ For The World We Sing
  10. Matthew 5:3-4, NLT
  11. Matthew 6:34, NLT
  12. Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 4:1-4, NLT
  13. 1 Thessalonians 2:12, NLT
  14. Matthew 6:11, NKJV
  15. Matthew 5:6, NKJV
  16. Romans 5:5, NLT

The Consuming Fire Of Love


Matthew 10:5-33


“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31, ESV

Jesus turned the world upside down and was crucified by the religious leaders when he confronted their hypocrisy and idolatry. When we follow Christ and advance the kingdom of heaven here on earth, we will also face opposition and persecution. Jesus did not sugar coat the trials and tribulations of discipleship. He cautioned his disciples to count the cost of following him:

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!”1 

To be a disciple of Christ is to embark on the journey to love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind.2 It is easy to write, teach and preach about discipleship. But to be mastered for discipleship is to fall into the hands of God. And it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.3 It is to face the reality of being in a spiritual war. It is to let the power of love consume me.  It is to live with one foot in the hell of self-righteousness and one foot in the heaven of total surrender to the Holy Spirit.

To fear not, we need to fear only God as we all have to face the judgment of God. The judgment of God is a refiner’s fire to purify our hearts like gold and silver.4 We need to see the fear of God through the lens of God’s love. God’s fire of love reveals what is deep within our hearts. Trials in life are God’s consuming fire of love to test our faith and prove that it is much more precious to us than gold.5

Shadrach, Meshrach and Abednego were thrown into the fire when they refused to worship the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. They  were not afraid of King Nebuchadnezzar who can kill the body but not the soul. They were prepared to die in the furnace rather than to worship the golden statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. They chose to be living sacrifices to prove their faith in God’s omnipotent power. And their faith in God shone brightly in the fire of the furnace when King Nebuchadnezzar saw a fourth person, who looked like a god, walking with them around in the fire.6 

Shadrach, Meshrach and Abednego chose to worship God who they believed has so much more power than King Nebuchadnezzar. They fear only God, the King of kings who can destroy both soul and body in hell.7 God wants us to worship Him out of love and not out of fear.  Jesus came to show us the power of love – to open our eyes to see God as our Heavenly Father, our Shepherd of Love and our Divine Lover, who cares for us and who will provide and protect us:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” 8

These words came alive to me a year ago when two baby birds fell from their nest in our porch as they were unable to fly.  We found them among our plants in the driveway from their chirping and put them back in the nest. For three days we had to pick them up from our garden and even in the drain outside our house when they kept falling out of the nest. As I was thinking of getting a bird cage to keep them safe I felt led to message my small group to pray for them. To my surprise, one of them was then able to fly soon after and the other, a couple of hours later. 

Jesus encouraged his disciples with the example of God’s care for the sparrows after warning them that the world will hate them and that they may even be betrayed by their family members. The disciples were sent out to announce that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.9 We are called to show the world that the Kingdom of Heaven has come by offering ourselves as living sacrifices in our mundane lives each day.10 

This is the challenge of discipleship –  to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice by following Jesus’ example of kenosis – the “self-emptying” of our own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.11 As Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us  – “when Christ calls a man,  he bids him come and die.”12  Jesus died and rose from the dead to teach us that it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Henri Nouwen wrote that “dying is the greatest act of love, the act that leads me into the eternal embrace of my God whose love is everlasting.”13  

So to follow Jesus, I need to practice kenosis – letting go of my will so that I can be a channel of God’s will – to be transformed from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Kenosis is to go through the stage of the chrysalis.  When I am not afraid to face death, like Shadrach, Meshrach and Abednego, I will not be afraid to face the consuming fire of God’s love.  When the desire of my heart is to do God’s will and to advance His kingdom, my trials and tribulations becomes the Refiner’s fire to “strangely warm” my heart.

“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”14


Lord, may Your fire of Your Love consume all that keep me from Your perfect will.


  1. What does discipleship mean to me?
  2.  What do the tribulations in my life reveal about what is in my heart that needs to be purified by God’s consuming fire of love? 
  3. What does it mean to live as a living sacrifice each day?

Song of Praise

Refiner’s Fire



  1. Luke 14:28, NLT
  2. Matthew 22:37, NLT
  3. Hebrews 10:31, ESV
  4. Malachi 3:2-3, NLT
  5. 1 Peter 1:7, NLT
  6. Daniel 3:1-30, NLT
  7. Matthew 10:28, ESV
  8. Matthew 10:29-31, ESV
  9. Matthew 10:5-18, ESV
  10. Romans 12:1, ESV
  11. Kenosis, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also Philippians 2:5-8, NLT
  12.  Deitrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
  13. Henri Nouwen, Nouwen Meditation: Dying Leads to Love, 6 Sept 2022
  14. Refiner’s Fire, Brian Doerksen

Stones Alive!


Haggai 2:1-9, NLT


“My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.” Haggai 2:5, NLT

In the autumn of life, I am attending more funerals than birthdays and weddings. But these are times when I witnessed the miracle of the triumphant crossing to eternal life – walking through the valley of the shadow of death with the blessed assurance that we are going home to our “mansions in glory.”

Last week, one of my cousins passed away peacefully after suffering from a stroke more than a year ago. At her funeral, one of her close friends played a number of beautiful hymns on a harp. As her body was cremated the truth dawned on me that our lives will bear fruit in the lives of those we leave behind in ways beyond imagination. In Christ we have the hope that our ashes will be transmuted into crowns of beauty:

“He has sent me, to provide for all those who grieve in Zion, to give them crowns instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of tears of grief, and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, the Plantings of the Lord so that he might display his glory.”1

Grief can feel like a stone in our hearts.2 The good news is that our Heavenly Father is the God of all comfort. Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that we can experience the overflowing comfort of God through the sufferings of Christ. Our struggles and suffering in life are times to experience God’s comfort so that the power of Christ’s resurrection will overflow to others.3 The Holy Spirit turns our tears of grief into tears of joy and leads us to worship God with a garment of praise. We become stones alive who are overflowing  with joy in God’s living sanctuary.

After the Jews rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem, they were discouraged as the Temple appeared to be nothing compared to the former splendor of the Temple. They were given words of encouragement through the prophet Haggai:

“Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.”4

Times of sorrow are times to sow righteousness. The bad news is that we cannot be righteous when we have stony hearts. To sow seeds of righteousness, our stony hearts need to be broken before we can harvest a crop of steadfast love.5 Our calling is to be Oaks of Righteousness who are being led in the paths of righteousness by our Shepherd of Love.6

We are to be living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple as well as His holy priests.7 The future glory of this Temple will be far greater than its past glory.8 And the Temple will be called, “The Lord Is our Righteousness.9

I need to return to the heart of worship which is all about living and breathing God in my daily life.10 Jeremiah reminds us that the human mind is the most deceitful of all things and is incurable. We need God to search our minds and test our hearts.11 I need to practice the presence of God through prayer. I need to turn away from sin in repentance, and to turn back to God in surrender. Without repentance and surrender, I am at risk of losing my first love12 and become a lukewarm Christian13 or even a Christian atheist. It is only in returning to the Lord and resting in Him that we can rewire our deceitful minds.14 In quietness and confidence I can be a stone alive with God looking deep into my heart:

“I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required

You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m comin’ back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus14


Lord, help me to be a stone alive that is overflowing with Your Love.


  1.  Why do our hearts need to be broken before we can be filled with the joy of the Lord?
  2.  What does it mean to be a living stone?
  3.  How can I live as a living stone?

Song of Praise

The Heart Of Worship



  1.  Isaiah 61:3, GW  
  2. Dorothy Day, The Reckless Way Of Love, page 49
  3. 2 Corinthians 1:5, NET
  4. Haggai 2:4-5, NLT
  5. Hosea 10:12, ESV 
  6. Psalms 23:3
  7. 1 Peter 2:5, NLT
  8. Haggai 2:9, NLT
  9. Jeremiah 33:16, NLT
  10. Psalms 34:2, MSG
  11.  Jeremiah 17:9-10, GW
  12. Revelations 2:4-5, NLT
  13.  Revelations 3:15-16
  14.  Isaiah 30:15-16, NKJV
  15. The Heart of Worship, Matt Redman