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February 11 / February 18 / February 25

February 4, 2018 - Fill Your Mind

A couple of weeks ago we had an opportunity to visit with our son and his family in Longview, TX. Hooray! They are finally in the great state of Texas and only 3-1/2 hour drive away instead of 3-1/2 days. Being able to hold my granddaughter once or twice in a month is so much better than once or twice in a year. So we are fully blessed this year, and anything else the Lord gives us will simply be joy overflowing. Since they just got to a brand new town without knowing anyone, they are in a transitional apartment home. It hasn't been fully organized yet, and not much furniture even. So we help them fill it with some living room pieces. Wow, it's amazing what happens. The room becomes something else with new contents. Before, it was a cold hardwood floored mostly empty place. Now it is a warm comfortable "living room" where people can relax, play and socialize in. That all changed with different contents inserted. This is nothing profound. We all can understand that really easily. You put a bed set in a room, and it becomes a bedroom. You put office equipment in a room and it's an office. What about things beyond the living environments? Hmmm...what about our minds? Do what we put into our minds change the dynamics of who we are? You better believe it!

Many years ago as a young Christian, the Lord taught me something about my mind. I was really getting into playing chess. As a nerdy Chinese, I began to play competitively. I read all kinds of books and learned all kinds of ways to defeat my opponents, like a 2 move checkmate and the great "Dragon move". I got so into it and put so much of the info into my mind that I literally would dream about chess tournaments and thought about it constantly. When the Lord gently confronted my heart about this and how it has become an idol in my life, I gave it up. I got rid of all my chess pieces, the clock, the books... and literally stopped playing chess. Soon, my mind had room for other things again, things that were healthy spiritually, relationally and mentally. Now, I am not saying playing chess is bad, but it was bad for me because it filled my mind with things that took over the better things. Let me tell you what is really important to fill your mind with, "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11) No matter what your mind may be filled with, make sure it is full of God's word. Once that happens, your mental "living room" will be a great place to be, for you and for everyone around you.

Make some efforts today to be an instrument in God's hands for blessings to others. If you are a football person, enjoy the Super Bowl!

February 11, 2018 - Agape Love

"Kung Hei Fat Choi!" Yes, it is almost Chinese New Year. This is what Chinese people say to one another during this important holiday. Now it literally means, "...wishing you great happiness and prosperity." How can anyone argue against that? Who would want a friend wishing you sickness and poverty?, "Hey, I hope you flunk your test... or I hope you don't get that promotion." We don't want people like that in our lives and we wouldn't want to live in a society that's so negative, right? Generally, being encouraging and optimistic are things that bless others while being negative and discouraging bringing about the opposite. When we were growing up, one phrase used to be said all the time, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." Actually, that is not true. Words are powerful and can bring a world of hurts to people. And it is multiplied in a digital age many times over. We can see that with verbal bullying at schools, social media attacks, texting, Instagram, Facebook shaming and many other ways that words are used to hurt and destroy people. Sometimes I think we are living in a "toxic" society where people just tear one another down... simply because we can.

As God's people, we not only have experienced the love of God, but also we have the capacity to embrace others with his love too. That's what "Agape love" is; a selfless sacrificial act expressed and done for someone else that may or may not be very nice to us. Often it begins with words. Now, what kind of words will you use? Colossians 3:17 gives us a great pattern, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." If we can keep this always in our hearts and minds, there is no way we would ever become "toxic" to anyone else through words. Instead, we will always be a conduit of blessings from the Lord to others. Now, as Christians, we know that there are far better things than just "prosperity" to bring someone happiness, but I think during Chinese New Year, it's OK to say "Kung Hei Fat Choi" anyway.

February 18, 2018 - 2 Chronicles 7:14

Well, we are now in the season of Lent. It is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. It ends on the Thursday before Good Friday. The purpose of Lent for those who observe it is to prepare the believer for Easter through prayer, doing good things, repenting of sins, giving to others, and self-denial. You know, all the things the Bible teaches us to do every day. Since most Baptists don't follow the Lenten calendar diligently, I do want to point out something that I think is very worthwhile...the commitment to fasting during those 40 days. A lot of individuals will give up something like meat, watching a TV show, Facebook, or stop golfing. Now they do that so they can emulate the 40 days of fasting that Jesus went through in the desert. Most evangelicals who share in this season will focus on a special 40 days of prayer and fasting. This year we have joined the "WayMakers" and their "Seek God for the City" emphasis. I hope you can participate with many others to pray during this period for God to do great and awesome things for our families, church, and city.

One of the truths found in God's word is from 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (KJV) It shouldn't take a special season for God's people to be praying and seeking God. Nevertheless, it is a good reminder as Easter approaches that our lives revolve around the almighty God. He is the one we derive everything we are and have from. He must be our priority and so we must live our lives in such a way as to honor and love him. In the days ahead, let's spend some time before God being humbled, thankful, and prayerful. And let's ask him to transform and heal our land. Whether you eat meat or not, sacrifice any pleasure, or determine to do something different for these 40 days... make sure you spend time before God and know that we worship a great and mighty God who desires to heal our nation, if we will but humble ourselves before him.

February 25, 2018 - Dr. Billy Graham

This past Wednesday one of the greatest servants of the Lord entered into eternity and heard those precious words, "Well done good and faithful servant..." from Jesus. For more than 60 years, Dr. Billy Graham, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, preached the gospel all over the world to more than 80 million people with many more millions who watched him on television. More than 3 million stepped out and came forward during his crusades to receive Jesus Christ as Lord. Most of us have been touched in some ways by him and the legacy he built through his family, his books and his ministry. I remember singing in his crusade choir (yes I did... but not very loud!), being a part of recruiting and encouraging people to attend, and being absolutely mesmerized by the crowds that went forward after hearing a simple gospel message. The Spirit of God worked powerfully in this servant's life to touch and transform so many. Through it all, he shunned fame, prosperity, and power. His salary was always modest. Although he was named to so many famous platforms, he always deflected them to his Lord and his ministry. He was asked many times to get into politics, but refused the efforts to take him from his calling, which was to be a simple evangelist for the Lord. What a great man of God. He has been promoted to glory this week.

There will be countless pages written about Dr. Graham this week. The internet will be filled with mostly accolades. Even the enemies of the gospel will have a tough time saying bad things about this godly man, although they still will try. So I will not in this tiny blog do any more. I will simply remind us all of this statement from our Lord himself, "But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave..." (Matt. 20:25-27) One of the greatest servants of God has gone on to his Lord. Let us live out our lives in such a way that we can follow in the steps of people like Dr. Billy Graham.