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

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

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

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

The Hero’s Journey


Daniel 10:1-21


Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” Daniel 10:12, NLT

To live in the kingdom of heaven here on earth is not a sightseeing tour nor a pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It is to follow the hero’s journey of Jesus Christ. The Good News is that Jesus is our spiritual hero who lived, died and rose from the dead to show us the divinity that lies within us. The stories in the bible are powerful images to open our minds to the reality of the kingdom of heaven. They are to encourage us to seek the kingdom of heaven in a dark and broken world. 

But there are evil forces that are keeping us out of the kingdom of heaven. It is a spiritual battle to lift our hearts to God to seek Him with a humble and total love. We need to let go of anything that distracts us from God and to give ourselves over entirely to God’s pleasure:

“Saints and angels rejoice when you do this and hasten to help you forward. The evil ones are furious, however, and will try in every way to deflect you. But the whole of mankind, in a most mysterious and wonderful way, will be helped by your action.”1

We need to persevere by learning to wait on God in prayer. During the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, Daniel fasted for 3 weeks in mourning after he received a vision of times of war and great hardship in the future. He then received a terrifying vision of “a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.”2 The man assured Daniel that he had come  in answer to Daniel’s prayer:

Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.”3

The man told him that he had been fighting the spirit prince of the Kingdom of Persia and had received help from Michael, one of the archangels. But he had to return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia who will be followed by the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece.4 

The story of Daniel inspires us to grow in our character through our problems and trials. We develop endurance and endurance develops strength of character. Daniel was looking forward to the hope of salvation but we have the confident hope of salvation when the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God.5 We will have trials and sorrows in this life but Jesus has overcome the world.6 To help us find meaning in life it is crucial to see our life in the context of our new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus conquered death so that we can live out the truth: 

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”7

This is the destination of the hero’s journey. The journey involves becoming aware and taking captive of the enslaving thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that keep us from becoming the children of God. Uche Anizor found that our mindset is very critical to the vibrancy of our spiritual lives. If our minds are set on the things of the Spirit, we will experience abundant life and peace. However, if our minds are set on the things of the flesh, we will experience an inner hostility toward God.8

We need purpose and passion to embark on the hero’s journey – to pursue righteousness and unfailing love.9 To find meaning in suffering. To turn adversities into opportunities to develop endurance. To live in the rhythm of God’s loving embrace in the humdrum of life. To see dying as the greatest adventure of our lives – a journey from death to eternal life. 

God is waiting for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth – we need the spirit of love to see others as God’s children in order to live out our true identity as a child of God. We need the wisdom of spiritual truths to balance our scientific knowledge. We become less human with more scientific knowledge when we do not see them as truths that God is revealing to us.10 Let us be like Daniel who outlived kings and outlast kingdoms by seeking the kingdom of God. 

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you.
Hallelu, Hallelujah!”11


Lord, help me to live the hero’s journey with the power of Your Holy Spirit.


1.   What does it mean to live the hero’s journey?

2.   What is keeping me from living the hero’s journey?

3.   How is God leading me to a hero’s journey?

Song of Praise

Seek Ye First



1.  The Cloud of Unknowing, edited by Halcyon Backhouse, page 23
2.  Daniel 10:5-6, NLT
3.  Daniel 10:12, NLT
4.  Daniel 10:13-21, NLT
5.  Romans 5:3-5,NLT
6.  John 16:33, NLT
7. Galatians 2:20, ESV
8.  Uche Anizor, Overcoming Apathy
9.  Proverbs 21:21, NLT
10. Isaiah 48:6-7, NLT
11. Seek Ye First

Conformists or Transformers


Jeremiah 10:1-16, NLT


“This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them.” Jeremiah 10:2, NLT

The human heart is idolatrous. In the ancient world people worship idols made of wood, silver or gold and they prayed to the idols for their provisions and protection. As human beings prospered materially, they prayed for health, wealth and prosperity. In the modern world, the idols we worship are comfort, pleasure, money, sex and power. To lead human beings out of idolatry, God led the Jews out of Egypt into the Promised Land to be His show piece to the world of what it means to be a special people of God:

“What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way. You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God.”1

The Jews were to show the world that they worship a God that is way beyond the idols of human imagination. They were not to act like the other nations or to be afraid of their predictions of the future:

This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them.2

They were not to be afraid of the idols of the nations around them which cannot harm them nor do them any good. These gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field who cannot speak and need to be carried as they cannot walk. There is no one like God who is great and whose name is full of power.3 The Jews were to be a shining example of a people who are living by God’s instruction manual for the abundant life:

 If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.”4

Unfortunately, like Adam, they became gluttons for power instead of being stewards of God’s creative power. They became conformists instead of transformers. And so they had to be led into exile in Babylon. Like the Jews, we too fall into idolatry and turn away from God when we adopt a comfortable, materialistic and successful lifestyle. And we need God to turn us back to Him.5 This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”6

The Good News is that the Kingdom of God is in our hearts when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and King. It is only by faith in the revelation and evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that God can set us free from our addiction to sin by changing our stony and idolatrous hearts. Our faith journey is to let our hearts be flooded with light so that we can understand the confident hope of being the holy people of God. Then we will grow in understanding of the incredible greatness of the power of Christ’s resurrection to transform our minds and hearts.7

When the gospel of Jesus Christ is rooted deeply in our hearts and minds, there will be a radical difference in the way we think about our meaning and purpose in life as well as about suffering and death. N.T. Wright makes the point that the true Good News for every person in the whole world is that Jesus is our King. When this Good News influences how we think, make personal decisions, endure hardships or navigate conflict, our worries and problems can become part of the tapestry of God’s work to recreate his beautiful world as we pray and lend our energies to his good purposes to flood all of creation.8 Only then can we be transformers instead of conformists as we live in the power of the Cross:

“Oh, to see my  name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the power of the cross:
Son of God, slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.”9


Lord, help me to be Your transformer in the world as You reign in my heart.


  1. What are the idols in my heart that blinds me to God’s grace?
  2. Am I living as a conformist or a transformer?
  3. How does my living show that Jesus is King in my  heart?

Song of Praise:

The Power of the Cross



  1. 2 Samuel 7:23-24, NLT
  2. Jeremiah 10:2, NLT
  3. Jeremiah 10:5-6, NLT
  4. Deuteronomy 28:9-10, NLT
  5. Psalms 80:3, NLT
  6. John 3:16, ESV
  7. Ephesians 1:18-20, NLT.
  8. N.T. Wright, Simply Good News.
  9. The Power Of The Cross, Stuart Townend

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

Life Beyond Death


Matthew  17:1-13


“But Jesus touched them and said, “Get up, and don’t be afraid!” As they raised their heads, they saw no one but Jesus.” Matthew 17:7-8, GW

How we live our lives on earth in the here and now depends on what we believe about life beyond death. If we believe that there is no life after death, then it is logical to seek to live life to the fullest now by enjoying the pleasures of this world – “let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we’re going to die!”1 

However, if we believe that there is life beyond death because there is a loving God who created us to be His masterpieces and to be His children, we will see that even the mindset to eat and drink and find satisfaction in our work comes from the hand of God.2  Having lived past my 75th birthday, I have a vested interest to reflect on the existential question, “Is there life beyond death?”

The greatest evidence of life beyond death is the resurrection of Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is rooted in His resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we cannot have any victory over sin, death and evil. Our faith is worthless as sin will still have power over us. And as the apostle Paul reminds us, if Christ is our hope only for this life, we deserve more pity than any other people.3

Jesus brought Peter, James and John to a high mountain where they could be alone. There the disciples saw Jesus transfigured in the presence of Moses and Elijah. But Jesus ordered them:

“Don’t tell  anyone what you have seen. Wait until the Son of Man has been brought back to life.” 

The story of the transfiguration of Jesus makes sense only in the light of the resurrection of Christ. It is a dramatic revelation that Moses lives on after death and Elijah was taken up into heaven. Hearing the voice of God was an awesome experience. The disciples were terrified when they heard a voice from a bright cloud telling them, “This is my dearly beloved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” Then Jesus touched them and said, “Get up, and don’t be afraid!”4

The good news is that Jesus came to show us that God is our Heavenly Father and His greatest joy is in our listening to Christ as our Shepherd of Love. The transfiguration of Jesus points to a spiritual dimension beyond death. If we believe that there is life beyond death, we have to face the reality of heaven and hell. Taoists observe the “Hungry Ghosts Festival” during the seventh month of the lunar year – a time they believe the gates of hell are opened. Christians also believe that hell exists. But we do not have to come before God with the awful fear of an angry Judge but with the awesome fear of God as our loving Heavenly Father. The reality of life beyond death also reminds us that there is a spiritual battle against evil which Jesus has won for us on the cross.

When Jesus reigns as King in our hearts, life on this earth is a foretaste of life after death. God’s Kingdom is seen on earth when the Risen Christ is in our hearts and we are living our lives according to God’s will and not ours. Without Christ, we live like Adam, hiding from God. With Christ, we are restored to an intimate relationship with God through transforming listening conversations. The resurrection of Jesus Christ empowers us to live with hope in this life as we face pain, suffering and loss. 

The most powerful witness of our faith in the Risen Christ is seen in our joy and peace in the midst of our sorrows. Jesus died and rose from the dead so that we are blessed when we feel we have lost what is most precious to us. For only then can we be embraced by the One who is most dear to us..5 Through faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit transforms our grief to the glory of God:

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort. He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we received from God. Because Christ suffered so much for us, we can receive so much comfort from him.”6

As I care for the dying, the nearing death awareness experiences of some of my patients have reinforced my belief that there is life after death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the hope for a life beyond death –  something we cannot see but we eagerly wait patiently and confidently for it,7 And with this hope we can face the unknown, uncertain and unpredictable future without fear but with faith in our Risen Savior:

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives”8 


Lord, thank You for the power of the resurrection to help me overcome sin, death and evil.


1. How does the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ help me to face death?
2. How does a belief in life beyond death help us in our grief of losing a loved one?
3. What changes in my life do I need to make if I believe that there is a life beyond death?

Song of Praise

Because He Lives



1  Isaiah 22:13, NLT;  1 Cor 15:32, GW
2  Ecclesiastes  2: 24, NLT
3  1 Corinthians 15:19, GW
4  Matthew 17:1-13, NLT
5. Matthew 5:4, MSG
6. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, GW
7  Romans 8:25, NLT
8  Because He Lives – Bill Gaither