- BEING EFFECTIVE WITHOUT MANIPULATION
Nowadays we hear and read pseudo-news which are spread through social media, that is hoax. Many people are cheated and their emotion are involved so they spread the issues too, even blow it up and mislead more people than before. In the ministry we also discover much more falsehood or manipulative even hypocritical ministry that makes deviation of church members’ faith and spiritual growth.
In this short article we will discover from the Bible some forms of manipulative ministry that getting God’s punishment. We will also discover how the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believers and make someone’s ministry effective without manipulation.
The term “manipulate” means “influencing or attempting to influence the behavior or emotions of others for one’s own purposes.” The effort of those influencing use ways which break the norms and ethics and tends to be negative ones. We will discover some examples of manipulative living and ministry from the Bible: sacrificing without obedience, bones covered by tombstones.
Sacrificing without Obedience – The prophets in the old testaments delivered warnings to all believers, which on that period are regularly giving burnt offerings. On the contrary, no one knows the first thing about God, they even show no loyalty and obedience. Hosea says that God “…desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offering.” (Hosea 6:6 – KJV). Meaning, burnt offerings are just a formality to be seen by others, not based on Love on God. This is a manipulative living, full of falsity. The thing is, God sees deep inside your heart, if you truly love Him, then your offerings will be pleased.
There’s another warning from Isaiah, “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:5-6 – NIV). Being God’s servant isn’t only vertically (pray and fast), but also horizontally (love on others). If not, then it’s a manipulative living.
Bone Covered with Headstone – During His ministry, Jesus gives the same warning to the believer who beautifies the service only from the outside. Humans only see with their eyes, but God sees the heart. Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”(Matthew 23:27 – NIV)
Isn’t it the same thing often happens these days? On social media, people are sharing lots of words of God and testimonies, but they’re not reflecting it in their life with their spouse or family, they live without love and loyalty. Even they do plenty of ministries at church but shows no mercy at their workplace. Employees are just pawns to gain the company’s profit. When becoming an official, they seem like a generous person, doing charities and share their fortunes, but it all came from corruption. Same like when a servant of God do amazing prophecies and divine healing, but apparently, the person who gave the testimony was hired.
Effective Ministry without Manipulation
Bible state the existence of ministries without manipulative, effective ministries full of Holy Spirit, which are: the occurrence of miracles and miraculous signs, repentance, and integrity. The word “effective” means “1. Have effects (consequences, impacts, impressions); 2. Healing (refer to medicine); 3. Bring results; succeed (action, effort); 4. Come into play (refer to the law, constitution)”. So, effective ministry means impactful and be blessings to others.
Miracles and Miraculous Signs – There are various miracles and miraculous signs written in the Bible, which are the extraordinary work of God. He divided the Red Sea in two, provided manna at the desert for Israelites, water flows out of the rock, Naaman recovered from leprosy, etc, all of these are the uncontested works of God. For one person is given through the Spirit the gifts of healing and to another performance of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:9-10 – NET). The lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised, all are works of the Spirit. We have to believe that miracles and healings are still happening until now because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8 – NET). We got to believe and confess that the Spirit is indeed working and reveal His power within us.
True Repentance – People who are touched by the Holy Spirit will experience true repentance. There’re eunuchs from Ethiopia who repent through effective ministry from Philip. Cornelius who repent with his whole family through Paul and Silas’s ministry. True repentance (not manipulative nor pretending), seen from the existence of transformation or changes: selfish to selfless, full of desires to full of the fruit of the Spirit. That transformation isn’t temporary but permanently, even growing in a better direction.
Integrity – People who served led by the Holy Spirit have great integrity. People with integrity perform harmony between what is said and what is done, between what is believed and what is experienced. When we’re weak, just say “I’m weak” and we need others to pray and strengthen us. We don’t have to keep living manipulative as if our faith is perfect: never fail, always strong, etc. It will be much better if we admit and ask God to restore us. Precisely by recognizing our imperfection, God will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 – NIV). If we say in a fellowship or service that we love God and others, then let us no love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18 – NIV).
by: peter freshman
2. THE BIBLICAL VIEW ON LGBT
LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. Recently, the police arrested a gay’s party in Jakarta. Ironically, some of them are young Christian generation. It requires explanations of the Biblical view on LGBT. Here in this article, the writer will reveal the essential points.
First, what’s LGBT to the Bible? The term LGBT doesn’t imply in the Bible, but there’re effeminate and abusers who will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9 NKJV). The term “effeminate” generally refers to a man who acts like a female, vice versa. While “abusers” generally refer to the subject of sexual harassments or sexual distortion. In other words, they will not be saved without restoration.
Second, what’s the cause of the deviant behavior, is it because of hormone? Psychological and social factors? Maybe spiritual? When we see the root, that kind of deviation is because of the original sin by Adam and Eve. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:27-28 NKJV). That’s why LGBT must be handled to be restored. But to resolve must be adjusted to the motives. If it’s hormonal, hormone therapy is the answer. If it’s psychological and social, they must be handled psychologically and socially. If it’s spiritual (include self-image), biblical counseling is the answer, but it must be followed by openness and willingness.
Third, there are two types of behavior as an LGBT, subject or object. Generally, the subject was an object, a victim, but because it’s not in the right hand, the role changed. If he’s an object/victim, he has to step back from the crowd for a while, and it’s necessary for parents, to consult with a pastor.
Fourth, better prevent than cure. Parents and the younger generation have to stay alert to society. Prevention could be done with tolerance, good communications between parents, teachers, friends of our child, and supervise the use of social media. Moreover, parents have to keep praying and equipping their children on a daily basis with the word of God, particularly about holiness and sex education with a right and healthy way.
Restoration of the LGBT is a spiritual battle, where the darkness keeps manipulating the younger generation to fulfill their own desires. The devil which is a deceiver will always say that LGBT is just an abnormality that must be accepted. Otherwise, the word of God says it’s curable, they can work it out and the Holy Spirit will guide and empower us to bring restoration. Lots of witnesses declare the release of this bondage, and as the children of God, we must care, bless, and lead them to the cross, because only through Jesus they can be saved.
3. REPRODUCTION BIOETHICS: ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION AND IN VITRO FERTILIZATION
In making decisions in the midst of chaos, human confronted with ethics. According to Indonesia Dictionary (1998), ethic means “what is right or wrong adopted by a certain group of people or community”. K. Bertens (2007: 6), claims an understanding of ethics: “Ethics is a moral value and norm, which become the main principle to humans individually or in groups in controlling their behaviors.” It implies that ethics related to moral values and norms, which are attached to our principles, that based on our beliefs or the foundation of faith. Therefore, we as believers have Christian ethics based on scripture, which is the Bible. Because we assure and believe that the Bible is the word of God, a lamp for our feet and a light on our path (Psalms 119:105 KJV). So, Christian ethics could be different from other religions or beliefs.
There are lots of ethics subsidiaries, one of them is ethics related to biology and medicine, which is bioethic. Few of the problems discussed in bioethics are artificial reproduction technology, include artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. Recently, both topics are being discussed, including the believers. So the author considered that it’s necessary to elaborate this topic in this article.
What are artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization program? Why are more and more people using both of these methods to produce offsprings? May Christian use these methods? This article will discover the topic in the theological review, to equip churches who want to have children, so they’re doing it according to the word of God. This article will also discover Biblical values about reproduction and how should Christian respond to those methods.
Meaning of artificial Insemination and In Vitro Fertilization
Artificial Insemination (AI) is a technology that supports reproduction process by accumulating sperm and mechanically put it into women’s reproduction duct. First research about AI of pets is reported by Lazaro Spallanzano (a physiologist and anatomy from Italia, 1780). He succeeds in practicing this method on amphibians and dogs. The system is then followed by several countries such as Italia, Russia, Denmark, etc. on horse, cow, and sheep farms. Advances in artificial insemination technology on animals runs rapidly and massively.
Later on, the method is being used on a human. It was first done in 1790 by John Hunter (a Scottish anatomist and surgeon), he put germs into the wife of a linen cloth trimmer, using her husband’s sperm. After almost a century, William Panacost, a professor in a medical school in Philadelphia perform artificial insemination using sperm donors (Chang, 2009:22).
There are several possibilities on how this method is done:
- The husband’s sperm implanted into the reproduction duct of the wife. This procedure called AIH (Artificial Insemination by a Husband).
- Donated sperm (individually or sperm bank), a man’s sperm implanted in the reproduction duct of a married woman. This procedure called AID (Artificial Insemination by a Donor).
- Sperms from sperm bank, a man’s sperm implanted into a single woman. This occurs when a woman is expecting a child without a husband.
The differences between artificial insemination (AI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are:
- AI is being performed by simply implant qualified sperms into the womb, to occur conception. While IVF is a complex procedure, which involve both sperms and eggs placed in a “petri’s cup” for fertilization to occur. After the egg is fertilized and forms an embryo, the embryo is implanted into the uterus after 5 days of fertilization.
- AI depends and adjusts to the ovulation process of women to find out the level of success, while IVF doesn’t. But still, it will be monitored to extract the fertilization of the.
- Fertilization process on AI occurs inside the womb, however the patient must go through the examination 2 weeks after conducting an insemination. While IVF, fertilization occurs outside the womb, when conception has occurred in the cup, the embryo will be implanted into the uterus.
- Level of success of AI is lower than IVF.
- AI is more desirable for most couples because it’s affordable.
Bible Principles about Bioethics
Here’re important things that we need to understand from the Bible related to reproduction bioethics: marriage holiness, continuation of generation, murder, and the glory of God.
First, marriage holiness. In the whole Bible, God requires His people to not profaning their life and marriage, because God is holy. Words “keep the bed pure” (Hebrews 13:7 – NIV), could be translated as we can’t confront a man and a woman outside of marriage.
Second, the continuation of generation. Genesis 1:27-28, God blessed humans who were created in His image and said to them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Meaning it’s a common thing when a family desire to have one or several children. Even God gave that capabilities to the first human exist, Adam and Eve, and they brought children, some of them are Cain, Abel, and Seth.
However, there are some women who have infertility. In the old testaments, there’s a culture that if the wife is barren, the husband reserve a right to take female servants who work for the family (Abram took Hagar and have Ishmael as their first-born – Genesis 16:3-4), or took another woman as his wife (Elkanah took Peninnah because of Hannah, her wife is childless – 1 Samuel 1:1-5), to produce offspring.
Another story tells that when infertility occurs, a couple prays and ask God to open the womb, they pray for a miracle. It proved that God answered their prayers. Sarah in her old age gave birth to Isaac, as God’s promised (Genesis 21:3). Hannah who’s barren and God opened her womb, so she gave birth to a son, named Samuel and to the other five (1 Samuel 1:20; 2:21)
In the new testaments, there’s Elizabeth which was also barren at first. But, by the grace of God Elizabeth with her husband, Zacharias who has aged, gave birth to a son, named John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-64). So, from the stories above, we see there’re some important values. First, if a family desires to have a child, they can ask God in prayers. God answers our prayers and for Him, nothing is impossible. Second, normally or miraculously, son and daughter are the results of the relationship between husband and wife.
Third, murder. Sixth law of the ten commandments says “you shall not murder” (Deuteronomy 20:13), it includes: abortion, mercy killing (injecting a dying patient or shoot down a dying soldier), and prevent fertilized eggs to stick to the cervix.
Fourth, the glory of God. Many people’s having a wrong view that child with disabilities bring dishonor. But God says that people with disorders were born so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him (John 9:3). For example is Nick Vujicic, who has no hands and feet, glorifies God by supporting, preaching, and motivating lots of people. To avoid disability, there’re methods to get rid of the “bad” seed and pick out “prime” seed. Whereas in the natural process, God’s in control of natural selection, so even though God allows the birth of bad seeds, it’ll bring glory to His name.
Christian responses to Artificial Insemination and In Vitro Fertilization
Both AI and IVF, those practices become consideration for Christians:
First, from whom the male seeds (sperm) come from? If it’s from the dead husband or from another people who’re not her husband (either it’s stranger or not), then it’s contrary to God’s words. The seed must come from the husband. If it’s not possible, it would be best to avoid AI and IVF.
Second, how to take male seeds (sperm)? If it’s obtained through masturbation or sex outside marriage, God forbids it. If the sperm is needed, then the husband must have it with his wife. If it’s not possible, it would be best to avoid AI and IVF.
Third, how is the selection process of male seeds (sperm)? If human’s consideration becomes the basis of the process, then it is not necessary. Humans have a tendency to control everything, include the sperms selection process. In marriage, there’s natural selection, set by God Himself. Of so many sperms, there’s only one sperm allowed to fertilize egg cells. However, human focus on earning the eugenic seed. Christians have been taught to do God’s will, not by his own desires.
Fourth, whether he’s a man or woman, single or married, he should not perform AI or AFV, by renting out his womb or even renting a womb.
Fifth, what’s the motivation behind AI or IVF? If it’s to earn some benefits, ex. to get some money by commercially renting out a womb, then you should not practice these procedures.
After understanding the Bible’s principle regarding AI and IVF, the conclusion is everything that we do good intentions are not enough, follow His words. No matter how good the intentions are if it’s not according to what God’s desires, it will bring no blessing. You should not have wrong motives before God.
It will be best to follow His favor, by praying to ask God to give children (miracles happened because God answers this kind of longing), medical check-up to restore reproduction organs, adopting children, giving scholarships to school-age children, supporting orphanages, etc. Rather than trying so hard to get a child with AI or IVF, but without God’s permission. If you want it so badly, it would be best to have a consultation with a pastor, so there will be no wrong decisions.
by: peter freshman
4. THE BARRIERS IN SPIRITUAL GROWTH
When someone accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, he identified as a new shoot. Shoot growth depends on the word of God he receives through hearing, reading, and meditates on His commands (Psalms 1:1-3 – NET), prayer life he pursued, personal spiritual experience, and relationship with his neighbour. With these factors, all believers could experience healthy spiritual growth as the time flows, until he is mature spiritually, that is to have the character of Jesus. In reality, everyone has a different level of spiritual growth, some even not going anywhere. It shows that there’s something that holds us up to grow. In this short article, the writer will elaborate on the possible barriers that end up becoming critical distractions for us to grow. By knowing these points, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we could get over it, and grow spiritually.
First, the world. The Bible says that the world (from Greek “kosmos”) has three unique forms that could be the distractions of spiritual growth, which are the desires of the eyes, the desire of the flesh, and the arrogance (1 John 2:16). These three things used by the devil to test God. He gave us an example of how to be up against the test, which is by the power of the word of the Lord (Mat. 4:1-11). Many Christians fall into that temptations: women, power, and wealth, that end up deflecting their spiritual growth. Those who have a friendship with the world means hostility toward God, whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy (James 4:4). In fact, God has given us the only weapon to defeat the world, our faith. Consequently faith comes from what is heard (Rome 10:17). If we truly listen, read, meditate, understand, and do all that He commands, then we will not be diverted.
Second, the devil and demons. Jesus said, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). According to its name, the ‘accuser’ will always accuse us by shadowing our past mistakes. For example, the devil accused Joshua the high priest because he was dressed in filthy clothes means he’s not worthy to serve God. But God strengthened Joshua by dismissing his clothes and change them with nice clothing. In other words, God welcomes Joshua to be His servant (Zach. 3:1-3). To get away from the devil, we have to confess our sins and stay away from it (1 John 1:9). Remember that we have received nice clothing from His sacrifice and if we wear it all the time we will be justified (Romans 3:26).
Third, ourselves. Man received a free will even after they live in Jesus Christ. Its purpose is so that man could make his own choice whether he/she wants to grow or not. Spiritual growth is not something you can forced someone to go into, but it’s something that we must pursue. Saint Peter use imperative word which is “grow” (2 Peter 3:18). It means the person himself wants to grow, and let the Holy Spirit to guide him. But if he satisfied enough with his spiritual growth, then the Holy Spirit will let him be.
Why some of the people stop growing? There’re a few reasons. We can’t deny that there’re risks when we grow spiritually, for instance, rejected by our business partners or friends. Someone who spiritually mature will act clean, refuse to insult, deceive, lie, and foul-mouthed to another. He put himself on a fifty-fifty area: halved live for God, another for sin. He acts like Eutychus who sat by the window. Half of his body is inside the room where the Apostle Paul is teaching the word of God, and another half is outside the window, sinking into a deep sleep. As a result, he fell off from the third store and was picked up dead. Favorably, the Apostle Paul – by the power of God – woke him up (Acts 20:7-12). We have to dedicate our lives to Christ, the choices are yes or not at all.
Fourth, heresy. In the end of this age, heresies intensified. It’s not only about false teaching which diverges from what the Bible says, or heretics such as Jehovah Witnesses, Theodicy, Mormonism, etc. (Mat.24:11). Those false prophets clearly must be rejected, because it’ll lure us out from the truth. Furthermore, there’re incompletes teaching of truth. Means, it focuses on physical blessings, known as Prosperity Gospel. But Jesus said “if anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up His cross, and follow Me.” (Mat.16:24). There’s no glory without the cross, no crow no crown. Behind the cross, there is glory.
There’re ignorant Christians who don’t care if he’s receiving true teaching or not. They assume that it’s the theologians and pastors business. As long as it fits the situation and rationally correct, he’ll accept it. The innocence of the people sometimes benefit the false prophets. They use religious terms and personal experience in their testimony, even elevate its value more than the word of God to gain benefits. The Bible placed under the testimony when it supposed to be our main principle and judge on various teaching around us. When you hear false teaching, consult with a God’s servant who loyal with the teaching of God’s word.
The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is near. He’s the groom which by the Holy Spirit is equipping us, His church, to be His bride. He yearns us to be mature spiritually. There will be no wedding if the bride is a baby or a child, isn’t it? Let us leave our status as a child spiritually and keep growing healthy by defeating those barriers.-
by: peter freshman
5. POLITICAL EDUCATION TO YOUNG GENERATION
We’re Indonesian, part of a democratic state in the form of republic. Note that our nation use Pancasila as its main value. Proven that in the Opening of 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia stated, “…therefore the independence of Indonesia shall be formulated into a constitution of the Republic of Indonesia which shall be built into a sovereign state based on a belief in the One and Only God, just and civilised humanity, the unity of Indonesia, and democratic life led by wisdom of thoughts in deliberation amongst representatives of the people, and achieving social justice for all the people of Indonesia.”
Democracy itself is “a system of government in which people are entitled to vote and take part in decisions – directly or by representative – in the formulation, development, and regulation making process”. Democracy includes social, economic, and cultural conditions that allow the practice of political freedom freely and equally.
In general, democracy has four important aspects: election, participation, protection, and justice. Early education is necessary for all the citizen to understand the importance of these aspects, which we should take part in it.
While carrying out democracy education for the four points mentioned above, things to be understood that:
- Democracy process happens gradually and continually.
- Democracy process is evolutionary, in the sense of taking it slow.
- Democracy is a medium to achieve a smooth transformation without violence.
- Democracy happens deliberately to achieve agreement.
Democracy education performs in various contexts, formal education (school, college), non-formal education (nonscholastic course), and informal education (multicultural society, relationships). Following are some democracy education forms we could perform:
- Election –Early childhood education is necessary to teach them in decision making. We can give them several options or alternatives, educate them to see both the negative and positive sides of the options. Furthermore, children must learn to choose according to their personal preferences along with the risks. For example: decide a holiday spot, major in college. Compare with Joshua who give options to Israellites about to whom they will serve. “…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 – NIV). Children must be educated to respect other people’s choices. They can’t impose their will but must perform flexibility, so the decisions were made voluntarily. Sooner or later, they’ll able to pick the right decisions and be responsible for electing the future leaders.
- Participation – Children and young generation must be included in most activities at home, church, school, and in society. They can’t be a mere spectator or commentator, but must involve themselves according to their interests. It starts with a small part. If you have been faithful with a few things, God will put you in charge of many things (Matthew 25:21 – NIV). Sooner or later, they’ll have a great sense of nationalism and will be involved in parties (regional parliamentary elections, as well as presidential election). At the future, they’ll become a part of national activities, and it opens up the chances like Daniel who become God’s loyal witness in government.
- Protection – Children must learn how to respect and to defend someone weaker. They are educated not to bully their peers, besides protect and respect them as the fellow of God’s most precious creation. Sooner or later, they’ll learn how to protect the minority in their society: from the ethnic minority, social-economy (the poor ones), people who have no access to higher education, to religious minority. Jesus Himself had compassion on the poor because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
- Justice – Children and young generations are guided to act justly in taking actions. Start from entrusting them with a simple law case, and ask them to conclude what is right and what is wrong. Appreciate them if they deserve it, and give penalty or punishment if they did wrong. On a higher level, entrust them with a case where one of the disputants is their friends, will they able to remain fair? Sooner or later, they’ll be able to do it, as well as God Himself is just, He requires us to act justly (Micah 6:8).
Democracy education can’t be just learning to know, but it has to be learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together in any fields.
Democracy Education Constraints and Solutions
Democracy education is not an easy task to do. There are some difficulties, which need further attention and we need to look for its solutions. First, the intervention of foreign culture, if we’re not careful, it could affect our nation’s nature of democracy. Second, people lack models in state officials, those who sit in the executive, legislative, and judicial fields. Models are necessary for every aspect of life, family, and school. In the old church, parents, teachers, and the servants of God are the closest ones to the children. Third, parents are unwilling to spare enough time to teach their children. Overworked is the main reason. For parents, it’s necessary to have various roles, so their kids are educated in the faith and cultivated the high sense of nationalism at once, so later in the future, they become a democratic person no matter where they work and live.
Once again, democracy education is not a simple process, it has to be performed gradually. So that later, the generations who are brave to make decisions for nations, actively involved and care as a responsible netizen, defend the poor, and act justly to everyone without exception will arise. When they appear as a democratic individual, that pleased God, it will make a turnover to Indonesia. Our nations will become one great nation.
by: peter freshman
…and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 – NIV)
The Apostle Paul once said: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, and made under the law” (Galatians 4:4 – KJV), has a very deep truth.
First, miraculous birth of Jesus Christ pertained to His own timing. He never fails on setting the timeline. When the Emperor August ruled Rome, Maria was engaged with Joseph, and King Herod ruled over Judea, God was in control in all of these events. And all things work together for good to those who Love God (Romans 8:28). God is never too soon or too fast on doing His plan.
Second, miraculous birth of Jesus Christ was God’s own will. Jesus Christ came to the world because The Lord sent Him, what conceived in Mary is not due to her relationship with Joseph, but it’s from the Holy Spirit. First, we need to understand this then we can receive all of the God’s works in our lives. We can only say as Mary said to Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant, may Your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38 – NIV). As a servant, we can’t determine anything according to our own will, as well as the miracles. Let The Lord declare His miracles according to His.
Third, the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ through a virgin who’s willing to sacrifice and being used by God. Mary was a Godly woman, and she keeps her holiness alive. She’s giving up her womb to give birth to a Savior. With her willingness, Mary is ready to bear all the Nazareth’s assumptions. As a virgin, if she is found to be pregnant, she could die stoned in front of the crowd. But Mary was willing to endure it all because she loved God. He was also willing to travel far: from Nazareth to Bethlehem, from Bethlehem to Egypt, and from Egypt back to Nazareth. It’s not a short distance, because there was no transportation as advanced as now. However, her sacrifice is not worthless. Jesus Christ has come to the world and become the Savior to all humanity.
Fourth, the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ occurred in the conquest of the law. That means God declares His miracles without giving any damage or dismantle what once He has set. God intended the law Himself. He knows that humans would not be able to practice the law by themselves and that’s why He came to fulfill it. Of course, first he was born from the virgin Mary and practice the law. Renewal and transformation in life do not have to destroy what already exists, but in the meantime perfecting it.
Many people expected miracles to happen in Indonesia. Unfortunately, they destroyed orders and even public facilities. As a result, there’s no transformation or renewal. Instead, the government must issue the cost of renovation and reparation. There’re rules and procedures that we need to obey if we expected renewal and transformation. God can still reveal His miracles without giving any damage to things that already existed.
by: peter freshman
7. THE COLOURFULNESS OF LIFE
There’s a reality show on television in Indonesia called “Hitam Putih” or “Black & White”. Our life has more than two colors, it’s colorful. It means that each one of us have our own experiences. In this short article, I will share the colorfulness of life, its cause, purpose, and how to respond it align with God’s words.
The Forms of Life
In the Bible, the colorfulness of life shown in the lives of good people in the Old and New Testament. Shortly, we can witness bunch of people’s experiences in the Old Testament through Hebrews 11, which are:
- Abel killed by his brother, Cain, because he brought God a better offering than Cain did (verse 4). The color of Abel’s life: persecuted as a righteous man.
- Noah, built an ark to save his family even though he warned about things not yet seen, which is God’s plan to condemn the world with the flood (verse 7). The color of Noah’s life: He’s prepared to be misunderstood because of his faith.
- Abraham, he waited for God’s promises to enable Sarah to bear children and experienced a great deal of dilemma where God asks him to offer Isaac, his one and only son (verse 8-19). The color of Abraham’s life: ready to bear the risk because of his faith.
- Moses accepted a formidable task to lead God’s chosen people out of Egypt (verse 23-29). The color of Moses’s life: an excessive burden as a leader.
- Gideon, Samuel, David, and the other names also have a very mixed color of life (verse 32-40).
In the New Testament, there was John the Baptist who beheaded as a martyr because he preached the gospel, by King Herod’s cruelty (Matthew 14: 1-12). Then there was a woman who struggled for her sickness, so he touched the edge of His cloak (Matthew 9: 20-22). There was also Nicodemus who longed to be saved but bound and burdened by religious life (John 3:1-21). A Samaritan woman who hid from people for her condition, but then God restored her life (John 4). There was Stephen, people stoned him because he testify for the Lord (Acts 7:54-60), and many more.
From the stories along with our experiences, we know that life is full of joy and sorrow, lack and abundance, cries and laughter, storm and serenity, etc.
Cause and Purpose
Why is our life colorful? The Bible set out some reasons: first, God created it: seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night (Genesis 8:22). Second, there’s free will that God has put to humans when He creates us (Genesis 1:26-28). It’s unfortunate when Adam and Eve, misuse it by defying God’s will, when it supposed to bring God’s glory. Third, balance and harmony. It’s like a song. There’re different notes and even minor chords. But when it all combines, will form a beautiful song.
Meanwhile, the colorfulness of life also have purposes: first, God works all those colors for the good of those who love Him, to be a beautiful rainbow of life (Romans 8:28). Second, with all of those colors, the human can share their personal life experience to inspire others, to be a wiser human being.
by: peter freshman
8. LOVE BRINGS VICTORY
There is a contradictive meaning of love between human and the Bible. Human define love as an “if”, for example: “if you…, then I’ll love you.”. While the Bible define love as an “even if”, like “even if you… I will still love you”. Love in the Bible – which called “agape” – is God’s love upon this world and He would want us to love Him back and to love others too.
The Bible says agape is a type of love which brings victory. People who possess it will experience victories after victories. Victory over what? First, victory over fear. The Apostle Paul said to Timothy, for the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear makes someone unable to move and do anything. But by His love within us, we no longer have that fear. Remember when Joseph have a courage to take Mary as his wife, it’s because he loves both God and Mary. Joseph wanted to divorce her quietly, but an angel of the Lord said to not be afraid to take Mary home as his wife (Matthew 1:19-20)
Second, victory over selfishness. People who don’t love God and others will love himself. They’ll be selfish. For example is King Herod, he only have power in his mind. When he heard that a new King was born, he hate it, and gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under (Matthew 2:16-18). Meanwhile, people who love will able to see the needs of others rather than himself. God said that He did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45)
Third, victory over self-pride. People who don’t have love will underestimate others. He’ll prevent others to grow because he thinks he’s the right one. But people who love will be humble. He realizes that he’s imperfect, and needs others to grow. God even calls us to be His co-workers (1 Corinthians 3:9). He wants us to learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29)
Fourth, victory over hatred. Human have 2 choices, hate or love. When someone loves, he’ll not hate again, even their enemies. Hatred is a negative and destructive feeling that will destroy ourselves and others. But someone who love is construtive, bring physical, mental, and spiritual health. He’ll have the generosity to forgive and accept others. The only way to defeat hatred is by love.
How to obtain Love
After we understand the magical power of love, we have to know how to obtain the agape love? First, if we live as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). It gives us new status, that becomes a child of God. As a proverb “Like father, like sons” therefore as a new creation, we obtain God’s glorious attributes, including love.
Second, we have to tap into Him like a branch attached to a vine, which is in prayer and His words. Whoever doesn not love does not know God, because God is Love (1 john 4:8)
Third, live by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so we produce the fruit of the Spirit, including love (agape) (Galatians 5:22-23).
Fourth, open up ourselves to see the need of others. Love is action, not just by words. Others will not experience our love if we’re exclusive, limit ourselves to different ethnic, religion, even by social-economy status. Christianity is salt, give tastes to wherever it is by merging. Maybe it’s invisible, but the impacts are visible.
by peter freshman