Why Conscience Is Not Reliable

To many people, conscience is almost all that they have by way of knowledge of God. This still, small voice which makes them feel guilty and unhappy before, during, or after wrongdoing, is God speaking to them. It is this which, to some extent at least, controls their conduct.

It is this which impels them to shoulder the irksome duty and choose the harder path.

Now no serious advocate of a real adult religion would deny the function of conscience, or deny that its voice may at least give some inkling of the moral order that lies behind the obvious world in which we live. Yet to make conscience into God is a highly dangerous thing to do. For one thing, as we shall see in a moment, conscience is by no means an infallible guide; and for another it is extremely unlikely that we shall ever be moved to worship, love, and serve a nagging inner voice that at worst spoils our pleasure and at best keeps us rather negatively on the path of virtue.

Conscience can be so easily perverted or morbidly developed in the sensitive person, and so easily ignored and silenced by the insensitive that it makes a very unsatisfactory god. For while it is probably true that every normal person has an embryo moral sense by which he can distinguish right from wrong, the development, non-development, or perversion of that sense is largely a question of upbringing, training, and propaganda.

Source: YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL by J. B. Phillips

Quietness Before God

“People today are afraid to be alone. This fear is a dominant mark of our society. Many now ceaselessly sit in the cinema or read novels about other people’s lives or watch dramas. Why? Simply to avoid having to face their own existence…

No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place of quiet — because, when you are quiet, you have to face reality. But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise…

The Christian is supposed to be very opposite: There is a place for proper entertainment, but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet. Rather we are to put everything second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow it to speak to us and confront us.”

Source: Francis Schaeffer, “Walking through the mud,”  in No Little People (Downers Grove, 1974), pages 86-87, as posted by Ray Ortlund in The Gospel Coalition website.

I have calmed and quieted my soul. Psalm 131:2

Set the Foxes On Fire

I know it’s almost 3am, I’m too sleepy but there’s just something about IGNITE 2011 that I can’t shake off my head. I am talking about the upcoming Lifebox Campus Conference in Manila on May 26 this year. And I’m also talking about setting 300 foxes on fire. Crazy idea, huh. Let me explain:

In Judges 15, there is this weird story where Samson caught 300 foxes, tied them tail to tail in pairs, set them literally on fire and let them loose on the fields of the Philistines. The fields caught fire and in just a few minutes, the Philistines’ source of food and military strength were nothing but black ashes on the ground.

Smart move. Bold move. Unprecedented move. Weird move. Crazy move. But no one can argue that it was totally effective. Samson was picking a fight with the Philistines on purpose so God can bring down his judgment on the people who oppressed Israel. But of course, that has nothing to do with IGNITE 2011, right?

Wrong. What if it is possible to invade the enemy’s camp and burn it down to ashes faster than usual? Sounds like a good idea? Yup, definitely. How? By following Samson’s crazy strategy. Catch foxes, tie them tail to tail, set them on fire, and let them go.

Did you catch that? Let’s do it again: Engage them, establish them in the faith, equip them, and empower them to go! Seriously, I think I’m just making this up and the analogy is a little forced. But let me get to my main point: Let’s help our students catch fire so they can run with the vision and turn this nation around for Jesus.

In plain English, what I’m really saying is that, hey, singles, young professionals, and working people, can we please help our students pay for their registration for Lifebox Ignite 2011? They say it only takes one spark to start a fire. Let’s help them make it happen for their generation too.

Yun lang, thank you!

Scarlet Cord

scarletScarlet cord on the window. A symbol only Rahab and the foreign spies understood. For everyone inside the safe walls of Jericho, the cord was just one of the many unusual things about the infamous prostitute. For Rahab, it was a promise of safety, of deliverance, of salvation, not just for herself but for her entire household.

The conditions of the promise were interesting. Rahab had to tie the cord she used for the spies’ escape on her window, her family had to stay indoors during the invasion and she had to keep their espionage a secret. The last two conditions were fine; it’s the flapping red cord on the window that intrigued me. Continue reading Scarlet Cord

Fasting Right

We fast not to twist God’s arm so He will pay attention to us. We already have His undivided attention. We don’t fast in order to make ourselves worthy of His acceptance. We already have His uncoditional love.

We fast not so He will hear us but for us to hear Him. Not for Him to focus on us, but for us to focus on Him. To train our soul and flesh to be still and to know that above all, He is God and the lover of our souls.


Catching Fire

God’s invitation for you to step out in audacious faith isn’t going to fall from the sky and hit you in the head. You’ve got to train your eyes to look for it. The impossible becomes possible only as you carefully observe and faithfully obey the direction of the Holy Spirit.

God wants to increase your influence and multiply your impact in more ways than you could ever imagine. But he doesn’t always do that by calling you to make dramatic changes in your life overnight. He probably won’t call your family to relocate to a remote jungle before the end of the month and translate the Bible into Braille for a tribe of blind cannibals. More likely, some ordinary opportunity or responsibility in your everyday life will seem to catch fire. Faith opens your eyes to see the potential to serve a God who is already at work on your behalf.

So don’t leave all the good parts for the Christian-celebrity A list. Don’t be disillusioned by a lack of special effects in your life. You’re probably standing next to a burning bush right where you live and work. That’s where audacity started for me. That’s where audacity started for Moses. And it’s not a bad starting place for you.

Excerpt from Steven Furtick’s book SUN STAND STILL

Teaspoon Christianity

For those of us who have been Christians for a while, it becomes easy to think that we’ve pretty much exhausted the possibilities of the Christian life. We can settle into a routine of activities at church and in our small groups and Bible studies, with little expectation of anything new. The familiar becomes the predictable, and everything from here on out will be more of the same. We dip our teaspoon into the vast ocean of the living God. Holding that teaspoon in our hand, we say, ‘This is God.’ we pour it out into our lives, and we say, ‘This is the Christian experience.’

[Raymond Ortlund, via Joshua Harris’ blog]

Jars of Clay

A Rabbi was once scorned by the daughter of a Roman emperor because he was not good looking. She was scandalized that such great wisdom be contained in such a sordid body of a deformed Rabbi.

The Rabbi asked her in what containers do they put their best wines in the palace. In jars of clay, came the reply. But why not put the wine in expensive silver containers? Why put up with lowly, ordinary, sordid jars of clay when they could afford to store them in more attractive containers? The girl was challenged with the idea that she ordered to put all their wines in silver containers.

The wine turned acid.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells of the same story. Sometimes we wonder why God would entrust the message of the gospel to ordinary people like us. Why can’t He just send the angels to preach?  One seraph could probably make more converts than a thousand of us put together. And why put the power of the gospel in sordid vessels like our frail bodies?

The answer was simple. The vessel should be very ordinary so that people would not confuse the message and the messenger. Unadorned clay pots don’t produce wine. They can only contain it. The excellency of the power of God would be better revealed if the container is as ordinary as jars of clay. Like us.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2Cor. 4: 7)

Same Old Mandate

For some Christians, world missions is just one fine idea to toss around in church. They believe the great commission, they believe that the gospel of Jesus should be brought to all parts of the world and they believe that the church has to do it. But not by them. Not when it takes them away from their comfort zones, not when it’s such a huge inconvenience to their carefully-planned lives, and certainly not when they have exciting careers to work on.

While most Christians think of world missions as a secondary business of the church, God values it as top priority assignment. The idea is actually as old as the Old Testament. When God blessed Abraham in Genesis 12: 3, He said it plain and simple, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed through you.” When Jonah was eaten alive by a huge fish, he was actually running away from world missions, from reaching the politically powerful city of Nineveh.

Continue reading Same Old Mandate