Showing posts with label Dr Benny. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dr Benny. Show all posts

Monday, July 04, 2016

The Faith Hall of Fame | Manna for your Soul

I've borrowed many parts of this week's 'Manna for your Soul' from a 'Faith' series of sermons that my pastor Dr Benny Woods was teaching at church.

Back in the first place, I worked at, we had the Wall of Fame of the Top Performers (nicknamed 'Roaring Tigers') at the reception and at the cafeteria. As new employees, we would look at the 15ft of wall space with bright envious eyes, secretly wonder when we would see our names up there too. All them were exceptional performers with statistics that seemed beyond our reach. 

And then 4 months later, I saw I was on the Wall of Fame for being the 'Roaring Tiger' for that month. I remember thinking 'Wow, that wasn't too hard. All I had to do was be consistent.' 

That is how spirituality is as well. Strip away all the rituals and rigors of being a 'follower/disciple', you will begin to see that all Jesus really asks of you is - 'Be humble, love, and forgive as much as you can. And be consistent in all these things.'

If Hebrews 11 is the Wall of Fame of ordinary men and women who did what God expected them to do, then Hebrews 12 is the 'How to' guide to get there.

And here are some quick pointers from Hebrews 11.
  • Giving when we don't have - Having the right attitude and purpose when we give.
  • Obeying when we don't understand.
  • Believing when we don't see.
  • Persisting when we don't feel it.
  • Thanking God before we receive it  (also Mark 11:24).
  • Trusting even if we don't get it.
Faith is a gift from God and is not automatically activated but must be exercised to become active. Just as we have to exercise our muscles to develop it, the seeds of faith must be nourished and exercised to grow. 
And this is what separates the believers from the non-believers:  Non-believers think their good acts will be sufficient to take them to heaven while believers must transfer their faith from themselves to Jesus before they can begin living by faith.

Believers know God is omnipresent and although we cannot see the invisible tie we can experience His presence in everything we do. Because He has promised to never forsake nor forget about us. 
We know He is always accessible to us through humble prayer, overcoming obstacles and living a life worth His joy.

So what is 'faith' and what does the Bible tell us about it?
Quoting with Hebrews 11:1-2, for a believer, every facet of our spiritual life is affected by faith. 
We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we live by faith (Galatians 2:20), we walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), we stand by faith (1 Corinthians 16:13), we pray by faith (Matt 21:21-22), we overcome by faith (Matt 17:20), we fight by faith (1 Timothy 6:12), we gain victory by faith (John 5:4), and we please God by faith (Hebrews 11:6).

So while faith is beyond mere book knowledge of the Bible, knowing God and being faithful to Him is the only key that will open the door to heaven.

Many people love to recite how 'faith that can move mountains' is essential in your life. What they don't tell you is what this really means. Jesus wasn't talking about moving physical mountains, but about the 'mountains of doubt/sin' in our lives. 

Do you have the faith to move 'mountains' in your life?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story | Book Review

Having known Dr Benny as my personal saint, counselor and pastor, I am honored that I was asked to write my first book review for his latest book My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story.

This book is recommended reading for anyone who has been hurt. Ever
If you have gone through times in your life where you doubted God's plan for you, then you need to read what Pastor Benny has to say. 

The first thing that you'll notice when you start reading the book is the Dr Benny's spiritual foundations. Partly autobiographical, reading this book makes you realise how God allows His children, even the ones He chooses to do His work, to go through a process of spiritual refinement. 

By the time I was mid-way through the book, I was welling up with tears and having gone through something similar in my workplace many years ago, I could understand his hurt. And this is exactly what I needed to read to heal. 

My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story gives you a glimpse into the personal and professional trials and tribulations that Pastor Benny went through and is a handy guide for anyone who wants to heal. 
There are many things I liked about the book. I loved the easy imagery that he puts in our minds. As I kept turning the pages, I found myself traveling along with him, through the countryside, the roads and the cowboys, feeling the same hurt that he felt, the betrayal, angst and the depression. 
His style of writing is relatable and easy going. His methods simple and his advice enriching. 

'My Wounded Heart. A Pastor's Story' is born out of years of experience living with and coming to terms with wounds that people can inflict on you, with practical advice on how to come out to the other side stronger than ever.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pastor Benny's book and I am sure you will too. 
In the words of Po, the Kung Fu Panda 'Wounds heal, scars fade away..'
Let the healing begin!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ready to go in?

At a time, when millions of Christians around the world faithfully fast and earnestly pray, how sure are you of your intentions?

But has the stress of modern living jaded the significance of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior?

The comforting remembrance that God sent His only Son, to save humanity. To let Him suffer and die for the sins of all humanity.
2000 years ago, he traded sin and shame for hope and salvation. The Hope that we are never alone… Even when the world around us crumbles in anarchy.
Even when personal tragedies overwhelm us, and even when we are anguished at how God could abandon us, He is closest to us.

Growing up, my Dad was my role model. He was the perfect family man; devout Christian, an incredible father and a loving husband.
Several years ago, he lost a well fought battle against cancer. I couldn't stop grieving. I hadn't loved him enough. But he now lives in me. I know that he sees
me and understands me better. Never judging me. Never impatient with me. He is with me whenever I miss him. How much more our Lord Jesus who died for us, just so that He will be in us for eternity.

Death of a family member is a vacuum that can never be filled.
But because He died, You live.

In times of seemingly endless spate of political and economical turmoil, natural calamities and spiritual bankruptcy, our only hope is the hope and salvation that
Christ's death on the Cross and His resurrection has given us. Because Jesus conquered death, we know that we have chance to live again.
How exhilarating would it be if you heard that your loved one has risen? Yes, Jesus did.

At times when money, people and all that the world holds dear gives way under our feet, it is His promise of hope that never fails and salvation that never fades that we can hold on to. A promise to wipe away every sin, every tear, every hurt and every moment of pain. A promise that is rock solid and is guaranteed for eternity and beyond.

Are we the recipients of this hope?
Can we hope to be saved by His precious blood?

'If you confess with your mouth. "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes,
resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in
salvation.' Romans 10:9-10

Are you at a point in your life where if you are at Heaven's gate tonight, would
He take you in?

Monday, June 20, 2011

What do you need?

Part 5

A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Given a choice between the two, would you like your needs satisfied or your wants fulfilled?

What is  your greatest need?
A new car? New home? More money? Promotion? High paying Job / Profits from business? Lots of clothes?

If you find yourself nodding to any of these, don't be surprised. So did a billion others too. Strangely, not many people would actually prioritize God in their lists of needs.

In my concluding part of the five part Series on what Jesus Christ really wanted to tell us without telling us, I am going to explore how we can have a New Beginning in Him.

In the cloak of darkness, we are said, Nicodemus visited Jesus. Now, we all know how Jewish leaders hated Jesus. He was a rival that threatened their very existence. Convinced in some way that Jesus does hold the key to eternity and salvation, he appears to have come to meet him out of personal admiration of the divine authority that Jesus possessed. Curious as he was, he wanted Jesus to teach him the way to salvation. Cryptic in His answer, yet poignant, Jesus told him that he must be reborn to be able to see the Kingdom.

At a time when Pharisees are hard pressed to be critical of His teachings and His followers, Nicodemus was confused by His answer. To many Jews at that time and many people in today's society, being born in the 'right' family, is all that mattered. Too many Christians think that being born as a Christian and attending Masses are enough to reach salvation.
Just as Nicodemus figured that by the virtue of his physical birth and his religious status as the leader of Pharisees that he is destined for the kingdom of Heaven, too many Christians think by elaborate prayers and measured tithes, they've booked their 60x40 in the Kingdom of Heaven.

O you, of little faiths! How far from the truth are you?

Reading on, we can also picture the shock and disbelief in the face of Nicodemus as he is asked to do the impossible task of being reborn. Jesus explains how a person must be born of the water and the spirit to be considered eligible to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Perhaps Nicodemus came to Jesus with an agenda to trap Him or to prove Him wrong. Yet maybe, he might have come with a need to be validated.
But Jesus's answer stumps him. Nicodemus struggles with the answers but goes back a changed person. From a haughty and proud Pharisee, he becomes a humble believer.

To all who come to Jesus, there is good news.
The Bible is replete with stories of people who has a need. We all have unending lists of needs. But are we really satisfying our Spiritual needs too?
There's healing available for everyone.

There's healing for everyone..
Faith is all that is required. Learning to exercise faith in Jesus and the willingness to humble yourself is the only thing that can save you.

The problem with religion is that people are constantly trying to complicate things. Followers are led to believe that they must go through a series of rituals to be saved. Jesus tried to simplify Godly living by showing us that He can do it even as a human being. Its doable!

'Here I am, Lord, Use me as you will'
Salvation is yours, the moment you confess this with your heart.

Friday, June 17, 2011

God is Now Here

Part 4

A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Growing up, I've read countless stories of how God is omnipotent and omnipresent.
He truly is. But why is there still a lot of doubt and disbelief in this world?
What is it about us that we constantly doubt His presence and His plans for us?
I go through indescribable pain every time a family member is about to depart after a long visit.
I go through a phase that borders on Melancholia. But all the sorrow is soon overcome when they come back. I am glad that we are reunited.

2000 years ago, the mother and disciples of our dear Lord had to go through the same indescribable pain when Christ was crucified.
Of course our Lord hates to see us upset. He would give Himself as ransom if that is the only thing that could make you smile, in a heartbeat.
But are we really grateful for all that He has done and will do in our lives?

When He was crucified, the Jews thought they had eliminated Him.
Little faith and perhaps even lesser knowledge of The Word.
Surely as He promised, He rose again from the dead. And is everywhere now.
In your life and mine. Working on mundane issues like your promotion, a new dress or a hike in your salary. Name it, pray for it, He is listening to you.

I've heard people complain about how God has abandoned them.
They mourn about how God (aka fate) is cruel towards them.
They lament about God is not doing anything good in their lives.

While some of those who complain do so just to gather sympathy, most are truly ungrateful and ignorant about the way He works in our lives.
He has a place and a plan for you. One that is unique and made only for you. He may not want to show you what the future is, but just because you don't see it, it doesn't mean it isn't there. He waits for you to let His plan unravel.

Seeing is Believing. In times when we loose all sight of hope, we throw our arms up in despair and cry.
How could you forget how God saved your life?
Maybe, nothing will happen the way you want. But His plans and His thoughts for you are way above any that you could possibly have. I've seen people who've rebelled against God, but have since struggled to get everything they didnt need. And I've seen people who've found it easier to rely on God only because it was the most easiest choice. But I'm yet see a person who trusts in Him because it is the only way to live.

'Life is difficult and can be unforgiving'. Not once did the Bible try and sell Christianity as a bed of Roses, but it is indeed comforting to know that He will pull you up even when least expected.
Scripture shows that He is omnipatient and loves taking in new recruits.
He is coming back, soon. But until then, trust Him to have a plan that will knock the socks off your feet.

Monday, April 05, 2010

When memories come rushing by..

Recently I read an article which confirmed my worst suspicions.
'Words do hurt'

The article in question apparently quotes a scientific study that probably spent hundreds and thousands of dollars to prove how certain words do make our brains to react in a certain way. Duh!

Do you ever wonder why scientists are researchers are always proving the most mundane fact of life?
Who sanctions all the funds for these studies? What is the point? Are we any bit the more wiser or saner?
Does this study mean we will be happier and shield ourselves from all the painful words/places/memories?
Neither did I.

We have all gone through a lot of hurt. We are human, after all.
Which one among us would not have been in a hurtful relationship.
I have been in relationships where I have been both the victim and the villain.

Come to think of it, I have been in committed relationships for the past 6 years with women who have given a lot of love in their own unique ways. But with a lot of love, comes the scope of a lot of hurt.

Wounded hearts. Contrary to popular wisdom, time does not heal your wound but just keeps you in a drug induced pain-free state of mind. Lot of people choose not to look at their wounds and like how you inevitably bump just that wound when you least expect it, there comes that word, thought or act that rips open the wound.
You could have been wounded by offensive things that other people say or do to hurt us, by our own sinful behavior or by a calamity that overwhelming.

A wound to our heart never heals with time.
I've had fits of depression and I know lots of people who have struggled with physical, mental and spiritual symptoms of inner wounds.
Often the first response is to back away from the situation to allow time for healing. They often turn inward and brood over their hurt. The hurt gradually grows to be a festering sore just waiting for that unfortunate word, act or memory and out comes all the anger, bitterness, hate, revenge and fear. The rejection that they then receive brings more hurt. This is a vicious cycle.
Yet other people respond by balancing hurt with anger and revenge or by trying to protect themselves from further hurt to allow time for healing. As much as it seems, this never leads to true healing. As they enter into relationship, the wound hardens their heart and we receive more hurt.

True healing begins with God in your heart and your lives.

Throughout the Scriptures, in both the Old and the New Testament, we see our Lord's intense love for us.
God cares about your broken heart, wants to heal it and is waiting for us to let Him do the healing.
Jesus suffered the most excruciating death on the cross because it was His desire to heal us of the wound that the first human brought to Earth.
However, we must allow Him control, because He cannot change what He does not control.
Fair deal, I say.

The process starts by making a list of your hurts, starting with the greatest first.
Ask God to cleanse your heart of all anger, bitterness, lust, revenge, hate and inability to forgive.
Picture the experience in your mind and then picture Jesus suffering the same hurt and sin for you at the Cross.
His resurrection meant forgiveness and mercy for your sins.

Just as surely that the Lord can heal your wounded heart, He can also give you a tender heart that will be sensitive to the hurts of others.
He who is Omnipotent can change that which was meant for evil into good.

I had my Damascus road experience roughly two years ago.
God started healing me the moment, I asked Him to take control of my life.
When we have the reins of our life in our hands, we are capricious. There are some of us have learnt how to surrender ourselves to God, some others to the world and then some others a convenient combination of the two. However, what we forget is that we can never serve 2 masters, while being loyal to both. There will be a time when you will need to choose between the two.

Luke 4:18-19 says:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Lets all be messengers of the Good News.

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