Where is the love?

"Love is the key. Love is the answer. Love is the solution. They don't want us to love. Love is powerful... And if you never know love then you never know God. What happened to the love and the values of humanity?"
-- The Black Eyed Peas

"If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!" (Luke 6:32-33)


Refugees: Church's golden opportunity to love & be loved

Evangelicals, Republicans, and a More Excellent Way on Refugees
By Ed Stetzer
The Exchange
Christianity Today

Caring for refugees should be neither controversial nor partisan.

At the White House #WelcomeRefugees event last week, I found myself in a much-needed conversation. Ironically, this White House and I are, on many issues, ideologically far apart. But this time, I was there to talk about welcoming refugees.

This visit, my Evangelical faith and my historically Republican positions aligned me with the White House and progressive Democrats rather than my normal compatriots.

I joined a few Evangelicals, and a few dozen others involved in refugee resettlement, in a meeting where we actually heard from refugees and those serving them. Listening to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough speaking of our American responsibilities in the midst of this global crisis, I thought that at one time this could have been either a Republican or a Democratic administration, and Evangelicals would have been there, ready to serve.

Such a meeting wouldn’t always have been controversial. Evangelicals have had a long-term commitment to refugee ministry, caring deeply for the most vulnerable in the world. Republicans and Democrats used to agree on welcoming refugees.

Until this election cycle.

Now, caring about refugees has become both controversial and partisan.

Though I don’t think identifying as an Evangelical and as a Republican are always linked, they do statistically correlate. As such, I will speak to both groups – people like me – who need to find a better approach to discussing refugees. The urgency of this conversation is apparent, as leaders from around the world gathered for the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants this week. It is time for leadership, specifically American, in the midst of this crisis.
Earlier this year, I asked Evangelical leaders to join me in declaring that we are not afraid to welcome refugees. Thousands responded, many of whom signed a powerful statement: “As Christians, we must care sacrificially for the refugee, the foreigner, and the stranger… In light of these Christian principles, we cannot allow voices of fear to dominate. Instead, we commit to actions of love and compassion for refugees who have been admitted into our nation(s) in refugee status.”

The document acknowledged security concerns and more, but the statement demonstrated that Evangelical leaders are ready to speak – despite the climate towards refugees among their constituents.

However, recent polls show that the overwhelming majority of Republican voters, many of whom are Evangelical Christians, are opposed to welcoming refugees into the country. A recent poll done by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows only 15% of GOP supporters are in favor of Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S (Gallup, November 23rd 2015). And many of those Republicans are Evangelicals.

I suggest three ways to help Evangelical Republicans change their approach to the Refugee Crisis.

1: We need real facts.

Facts matter here, and they clearly say that the refugee resettlement program has a remarkable history of safety and success. When we consider the requirements laid out, if someone want to do us harm, going through the refugee process is a foolish way to do it, when there are so many easier ways. As a matter of fact, almost 800,000 refugees have been resettled since 9/11, and the record of safety is impressive, to say the least.

We are in what will be – according to former Obama CIA Director Leon Panetta – a decades long war with radical Islamism. However, refugees are not causing the violence. They are actually the ones fleeing it. Almost all recent terrorist attacks in our own nation have come from long term residents or citizens, not new refugees.

Yet, most Republicans and Evangelicals are simply unaware of how scarce a threat refugees actually pose – largely because we haven’t heard the actual facts and listened to their tragic stories.

We’ve turned away refugees before – actually, we have a history of doing so in times of fear. And we’ve regretted such in the years that followed. As the government does its work, and the church takes its role, we can do better this time.

2: Evangelicals Need to Speak Up.

Evangelical leaders, pastors, and others, based on my observations, seem to be engaged in refugee ministry (and open to refugees) at a much higher level than the Evangelicals answering the polls. Perhaps decades of ministry to such marginalized people have connected them better to refugees.

This is a time when Evangelical leaders need to speak up. It is also a time when Evangelical leaders must consider distancing themselves from the fear-driven views of the current Republican mood on this issue.

Evangelicals also need to recognize the importance of our voice within the Republican party; recent history has demonstrated that our votes and endorsements are influential. As a Church, faith rather than fear must determine how we approach the refugee crisis, considering our nation as an arm outstretched to serve those in need. The voice of the church can only resound on the national stage if the church is willing to speak for those who cannot.

Evangelicals longing to live out Jesus’ story must advocate in line with the Sunday school question: what would Jesus do? How would Jesus care for the Samaritan – or the Syrian?

As we contemplate how best to care for these individuals, concerns related to safety certainly should remain relevant in the conversation. This administration, as well as the next one, must work diligently to earn and keep the trust of the American people as they prove themselves capable of effectively screening all refugees and migrants that cross our borders.

As various communities, including Evangelicals, become more confident in the vetting processes, they will find themselves approaching this issue without apprehension and fueled by a greater desire to open their homes and hearts to the marginalized.

3: It’s time–past time–for leadership.

The U.S. needs to lead, and right now it cannot; fear has caused this to become a partisan issue. If other countries are expected to be generous in their provision of resources and humanitarian aid, our nation must continue to do the same. As of late August, 10,000 Syrian refugees have been admitted into this country. That’s not leadership.

In addition, churches need to lead, and since one in eight Americans regularly attends an Evangelical church, Evangelical churches need to get involved. We can encourage American leaders to welcome more Syrian refugees in the coming months and years. We, together, can welcome refugees with a warm and loving embrace. Organizations like World Relief have continued to remind us of this through their hashtag movement (#WeWelcomeRefugees) as well as their continued support and care for the refugees.

The simple fact is that, like us, many refugee families fear the same things we do: radical Islamism. It is, after all, radical Islamism that contributed to the violence that propelled them to flee from their homelands; we really have more in common with each other than we are sometimes willing to acknowledge.

But someone needs to lead in the midst of this greatest refugee crisis in recorded history. That will require the government and the church, and we need to speak to both.


Earlier this year, on the day of our Evangelical refugee summit, we invited a recently resettled Syrian refugee to be interviewed. He spoke of his thankfulness for a new life far away from lawlessness and violence as well as love for his family. But he also spoke of the gratitude he had in his heart for those Evangelicals who helped him start a new life here in the United States.

Initially, when we planned our event, we did not know that the Senate would later schedule their debate about refugees on that very same day. Although votes on that issue were cast overwhelmingly along party lines, with my party voting against resettling refugees, Republicans did not have enough votes to change the law.

As such, I brought this courageous young father back on stage. I looked him in the eye and told him that this country – my country – still welcomed him, especially the Christians gathered before him in the room.

On that day, I was conflicted but thankful. I was thankful that my country still welcomed refugees by law, but disappointed that my party did not. And I left more convinced that I needed to speak as an Evangelical to my party, all while serving and ministering to refugees.

So, this week, I pray that President Obama will lead a global effort to care for hurting refugees, that Evangelicals will speak up to the Republicans driven by fear and not facts, and Evangelical churches will act by caring for the refugees that do come.

That’s what the Bible calls a “more excellent way” and it’s what we need today.

Source: Christianity Today: The Exchange


Why have you forsaken Me by neglecting prayer?

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. (James 4:2) But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28) This kind [of evil] cannot be driven out except by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14) Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2) Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18)

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:12) The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18) For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20) Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalm 18:6) 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16) Cry to Me in your trouble, and I will deliver you from your distress. I will make the storm be still, and the waves of the sea be hushed. Then you will be glad that the waters are quiet, and I will protect you in the land. (Reference: Psalm 107:28-30)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)


False hypocrisy: Dissimulating righteousness beneath the pretense of wickedness

Why oh why, in spite of our screaming conscience and our deeply wounded humanity, do we remain pretending to be compelled and still insist on continuing this dark path of enduring the forcing of ourselves to pretend as if we are resolutely choosing to act in the way of wickedness -- rendering God's interests subservient to worldly purposes -- when inside of us intensely burns the purifying fire of God's Holy Spirit whose light is bursting with immensely glaring divine righteousness?


Badly needing savings?

If you badly needed to have real savings, then don't live within your means! While the live-within-your-means scheme will leave you in relatively worry-free living condition (basic needs met, bills/obligations paid, you are able to live life with modest minimal comforts and enjoyments), but it also will leave you without real solid savings. To have real solid savings, something a little beyond what is usual or common must be done. One way popular to old Chinese money-saving tradition is to discipline your self by strictly following a practical budget that prioritizes primary basic needs over wants/desires without overly compromising living quality. Practically, that means living a little bit of percentage below your means.

In a nutshell, it works something like this: If for instance, after careful consideration and budget experimentation, you've figured out that you can handle living 10% lower than your means, then you will have 10% of your means saved to wisely use for investments or other important intentions.

You can invest wisely your painstakingly-accumulated savings on worthy financial ventures and reap financial gains in the future. Or, you could put it in God's hands by investing it on ventures that bless others and that help in building his Kingdom on earth -- and experience for yourself God's faithfulness as He blesses you with overflowing blessings you can't contain such that other people also get blessed through you, and you won't be badly in need of savings henceforth.

God is the best investment manager there can be, and He is an investor particularly on human souls for He is the Creator of Life and the Author of Existence.


Rest carefree under God's protection

To recharge their body cells for the energy spent after half a day of driving around the city, tricycle drivers take a quick afternoon nap after having lunch.

Written on the back of the red tricycle is a verse from the book of Psalms: "But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." (Psalm 3:3)

They are resting carefree under the protection of Psalm 3:3


Who is worthy?

God is the author of life. By His word, He effortlessly spoke into existence all forms of life, except human life. Because humankind was to be after His own image and likeness, He so specially created human with his very own hands and He imparted His very own likeness into man by breathing His Spirit into man, and human life ensues.

If we are willing to have the humility to grasp this truth, then we would deeply realize that before God, we really own nothing -- not even our very "own" life!

If -- by the account of the countless most wicked and evil things that people have done -- God's most beloved Son Jesus had paid with His very own life the retribution of all of the sins (past, present, and future) of all of mankind (past, present, and future), then what greater power or virtue there is that would make us worthy to take the lives of worst criminals or sinners?

God's justice is never without mercy. In fact, His justice exists because of His mercy. Even hell exists because of God's mercy! Hell's primary purpose is not as a deterrent for mankind from committing sin. It is primarily intended as the eternal abode for souls who, despite knowing God (the Way, the Truth, and the Life), remain perpetually rejecting Him with teeth-gnashing rejection. Hell is the eternal place for voluntary (or free will) perpetual separation of one's self from God. Hell is not a retribution, rather it is God's mercy that is still at work despite a soul's utter rejection of God. Nothing can separate a soul from God's love, not even hell.

Before God's Son paid on the cross with His life the retribution of mankind's sin, the penalty of sin then even included death in public (by stoning). But after the cross, sin is met with God's mercy that gave the hope of salvation through repentance in the name and sake of Christ's redemptive suffering of the retribution of sin which was death.

So, what makes us think we are worthy to usurp the ownership of human life? Are we worthy to have the Author and Owner of human life be under our authority?

Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but only say the word and I, your servant, shall be healed of my own sinfulness!

"There is no fitting punishment without hope! Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not of punishment." -- Pope Francis


Caterpillar or grub?

Even if the physical features seem to confuse, it can still be ascertained whether a larva is a caterpillar or a grub by closely observing its characteristics.

Only caterpillars grow into butterflies. Grubs will always metamorphose into bugs.

Butterflies are beautiful, tender, harmless to plants, and pollination agents. Meanwhile, bugs are rugged-looking, rigid, mostly harmful to plants, and are mostly considered pests.

Butterflies, no matter how big are some of them, they are very weak. Big bugs, such as the beetles, are very strong.

The Almighty created the butterflies for specific purposes just as bugs are made for other purposes that other creatures are not able to accomplish.

It is beyond natural metamorphosis if a grub transforms into a butterfly, or a caterpillar transforms into a beetle.

Transformation is God's preoccupation. He transforms sinners into saints.

But transforming a grub into a butterfly to do certain tasks that only beetles [can] do? That would be beyond human comprehension -- but not impossible by God's wisdom.


Every Child or Person is Special

It takes wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit to truly understand our brothers and sisters. It takes genuine humility and kindness to really be able to help and uplift them.

It is God who created every person special. He gives wisdom and understanding to those who earnestly ask Him. Therefore pray that He opens the door of your mind to wisdom and your heart to understanding so that as you go through your days in this new chapter of your life, you will be able to persevere and overcome the great challenges that lie ahead.


Scatter those seeds

God has provided us various good fruits for our nourishment. Don't waste the seeds by just simply discarding them away mindlessly. Rather, after you have tasted of the goodness of the Lord and have been satisfied by His blessing, invest a good portion of your time scattering the seeds of those fruits on good grounds where they have a good chance of growing and thriving. In that way, you have shared hope for others to be able to also partake of the fruit you have been blessed. In the future, when those seeds will have grown into trees and shall bear fruits, others too will benefit from the fruits of those trees as you have. Then people of today and the succeeding generations shall rejoice and glorify the Lord for the blessings handed down to them.

Do your part with due diligence and leave the rest to the Lord. For it's for man to scatter the seeds and tend the plants; but it's for God to grow them and make them bear fruit.



When tempted to judge or condemn someone, don't rush to put the person's light out by landing your knuckles right on his/her chin (so to speak). Rather, press your knuckles on your own chin; it shuts your mouth and it helps you turn your mental light bulb on -- and your dark thoughts will vanish.


Respect is greater than tolerance. Therefore let respect be rooted in God's Truth and Love

The issue on the clamor by a mix of supporters from different sectors of our society for the legalization of same-sex union should perhaps not just be centered on the theme "human rights and anti-discrimination". There are things surrounding the issue that must also be given due consideration and importance because of the ramification that this particular issue could bring about.

Perhaps we simply don't mind people we don't know or who are not close to us having same-sex relationship. But what if one of them or both of them are our close friends? Or, one of them is a member of our own family? Or, what if both of them are members of our own family?

Citing just some sort of possibilities surrounding this issue perhaps would trigger something worthy of careful consideration. Now let's experiment with our tolerance and let's try to see how deep is the extent of our "relative morality". Most people simply don't mind gay people having same-sex union. That depth of tolerance let's designate as "A1". Below are given different situations of relationships. Be honest with yourself and try listening to the voice of wisdom of the totality of your inner human being and try gauging your tolerance as to how deep can you go down the scale.

A. People in a same-sex relationship:
1. Both persons you don't know
2. One is or both are your best friends
3. One is or both are your relatives
4. One is a member of your own family
5. Both are members of your own family

B. People in a brother-sister relationship:
1. Both persons you don't know
2. One is or both are your best friends
3. One is or both are your relatives
4. Both are members of your own family

C. People in a parent-adult child relationship:
1. Both persons you don't know
2. One is or both are your best friends
3. One is or both are your relatives
4. Both are members of your own family

D. You yourself are in a "not-permitted" relationship:
1. Your partner is not related to you
2. Your partner is your best friend
3. Your partner is a close relative of you
4. Your partner is a member of your own family

Tolerating something doesn't necessarily equate to agreeing with that thing or accepting it. But when is tolerance a virtue and when is it a vice?

If same-sex union has to be legalized for the sake of human rights and anti-discrimination, then what reasons would there be left for the government as its defense to continue upholding its prohibition on other "unlawful" unions?

If it is insisted that same-sex union must be given equal rights under the law, then brother-sister union and parent-adult child union must likewise be given equal rights under the law when the time comes that people would insist on their legalization, otherwise limiting legalization to same-sex union only would be grossly dicriminatory to the other two prohibited unions.

How did the prohibition of these particular relationships came about? Are the norms of this prohibition based on religious beliefs or scientific beliefs? In the long history of human civilizations all over the world, how are the societies doing as they prohibited or allowed such said relationships among them?

[To be continued]


Between equality and social justice

Only when a society reaches a certain level of social maturity that it is able to prioritize the least and the weakest among them.


和平与你同在 -- Peace Be With You

On this yet another Chinese new year, once again wishing everyone and specially China the "big brother" of Asia, Ping Pa Ho -- Peace Be With You. May understanding and cooperation among nations prevail that would usher in true and lasting peace in the Asian region.

Our prayer is for China to become not a big bully but a caring big brother. We want to support a big brother China become a world power and a force for good, not a world power that is stepping on every small country. A big brother who not only looks after his own prosperity but will also help us grow and prosper together as brother nations.


Live a life full of meaning and value

"To live a life full of meaning and value, you don't follow your passion... your passion follows you." --Terri Trespicio

"Do what's valuable. Focus on getting good at something that genuinely helps others and makes the world a better place." --Benjamin Todd

For the Christian, to live a life full of meaning and value is summed up in this short verse: 

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)


The good life is built with good relationships

What makes us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you want to invest in "the good life," where should you put your time and energy? Robert Waldinger answers these questions with lessons learned from a 75-year-long study of adult life that started in the late 1930s and continues to this day.

Good relationships are built on the foundation of the God-kind of love that is experienced and learned first-hand in the family. God established the family as an eternal institution of love. While good earthly relationships foster good earthly life, there is a life far more greater than good earthly life. It is a life that lasts throughout eternity and is built, first and foremost with our relationship with the Lord God which empowers us with the capacity to love (with the God-kind of love) our fellow human beings and also gives us the capacity to be able to love and care for God's creation as according to His ordination of mankind as the steward of it.