AWARE 2: The Aftermath

I have a busy week. I do not really wish to write about AWARE again but since I have started it, I believe I should close it or it will be left hanging. Let us recap from the previous article.

We learn that there is a feminist mentor who had organized like-minded women from her church to launch a holy crusade to take over AWARE because they had a higher calling to remove its programs that promote homosexual lifestyles in schools. What a noble calling!

However, the ousted leaders of AWARE (also known as old guards) denied openly that they had been promoting homosexual lifestyles in schools. Not only that, even the Ministry of Education of Singapore has openly stated that they had never been any program that promote homosexual lifestyles in schools.

So, we have some integrity problem here. Somebody has been blatantly and shamelessly lied to the public. Who is the liar? We can easily narrow the liars down to two sides.

 Had the feminist mentor and her fellow crusaders lied in accusing the old guards of promoting homosexual lifestyles in schools?

 Or, had the old guards together with the government of Singapore lied to cover up their activities in promoting homosexual lifestyles in schools?

Who can we trust? Who are the shameless liars here? Telling you the answer will be an insult to your intelligence.

This gives me a problem. Suppose a non-Christian guy asks me whether Christians are supposed to have integrity like not lying opening to the public, I will not know what to say. I wish I can say “Yes, Christians are supposed to have integrity.” However, if he is to refer to this incident, I will be very embarrassed. This is a problem I don’t know how to solve.

Of course, the feminist mentor and her fellow crusaders will not be bothered with my insignificant problem. They have their crusade to fight in. In all crusades, the ends always justify the means. As long as victory can be achieved, who cares about things like morality and integrity? It is the crusade that matters.

Let us move on to the final showdown on 2 May 2009 where both sides battled to take control over the organization. Let me give you my predictions based on two different scenarios.

Scenario 1: The old guards win.
This should not be a surprise because they have the support of all the non Christians and Christians who believe in integrity, tolerance and mutual respect. The day 2 May will always be remembered as the day all Singaporean women stand together and declare in one voice that they reject all forms of religious intolerance and lies. The old guards will have their position back. AWARE will be stronger than ever.

As for the crusaders, they will have to crawl back into their church in shame. After a while, no one will remember them anymore.

Scenario 2: The new guards win.
This scenario is still possible because the crusaders are more organized. They have an entire church behind them. So, if all the female church members obey their pastor’s battle cry to support the crusaders out of church loyalty regardless of the truth, the crusaders will secure their control over this organization.

As a result, AWARE will be shunned by all the non-Christian women. It will only be an organization by Christians for Christians. It will lose its integrity as an honorable and secular organization.

Meanwhile, the old guards will be urged by their supporters to set up a new AWARE. This new AWARE will take up all the functions started by the previous one. It will be seen by the public as the real AWARE. It will emerge stronger and more influential than the old one.

As for the crusader who “won”, they will be remembered by all Singaporeans as religious extremist who will sink to any level to promote their religion. Ironically, they will suffer more humiliation if they win.

Conclusion
Whatever the results of the showdown, the winners and the losers are clear. It is only a matter on how much humiliation the crusaders will take for being committed to their crusade.

AWARE

Currently, this word must be the hottest topic in Singapore. For the sake of those who are not in Singapore, let me give you some background information. AWARE is basically a woman NGO whose primary purpose is to promote gender equality. Like most Singaporeans, I have never bothered about it until the recent quarrel. The quarrel has aroused the interest of the nation the situation has become uglier by the day. How does this happen and what makes it so interesting to so many of us? I shall provide the story and some analysis of it.

It begun when the existing leaders were voted out of office and replaced by a new group. There was a sudden increase in membership just before the election and this give rise to the speculation that these new members joined just for the sake of taking over the organization. The media used the term “old guard” and “new guard” to describe the two opposing teams. The old guards cried foul and accused the new guards of promoting their religious and anti-gay agenda. It so happens that the new elected members are all Christians and are from the same church.

The battle line is drawn. On one side, we have the old guards who are seen as liberal and tolerant, while on the other side we have the new guards who are seen as conservative, anti-gay and having a secret religious agenda. Sounds like the classic good verses evil story. The cyberspace is full of conspiracy theories and most of them are not very friendly to the new guards. It is really getting very ugly out there.

There are even revelations that the new elected leaders received death threats. They had suffered fears for their families and their own safety. So, the question here is, do these Christian ladies suffer for the sake of righteousness or do they suffer out of plain stupidity? Here is my analysis.

Composition of the new leaders.
The new president and all the new exco members are Christians. Many even come from the same church. How will the public see this? It certainly looks like a clash between two minority groups. (Christians are a minority group in Singapore.) On one side there is a liberal and tolerant group. On the other side, there is a Christian group who may have a “Christian agenda”. Who is right and who is wrong? It does not take much intelligence to understand that the general public will prefer a liberal group than a specific religious group to serve them. The new group can say that they do not have any religious agenda but who is going to trust them? In the eyes of the public, the new group can never wash themselves clean from stigmas like “religious agenda”, “Christian agenda” or “anti-gay agenda”.

I believe most Singaporeans do not like the way the old leadership promotes homosexual lifestyles but I also suspect that they hate the idea of “Christian agenda” even more. So, the homosexual issue has become the equivalent of lesser evil, thanks to the effort of these Christian ladies.

What should the new leadership do instead? They should get the participation and support from women from all the major religious groups. It is only when the new guards have an executive council that consists of women from various religions, they can boldly proclaim that they represent the majority of Singapore women. The old guards will have a weaker ground to fight back.

The new guards wanted to stage a coup to take over the organization but they did not want to cross the religious boundary to make their coup a success. Instead they chose an easy way of recruiting only from their same church and faith. On this issue alone, I am sure that no matter how the meetings turn out, the new leadership will only be seen as villains. In extension, the public may view all Christians the same way.

The objective of the coup.
Based on the news I have read, it seems that the real objective on why those Christian ladies went through so much troubles is to stop AWARE’s program in promoting homosexual lifestyles in schools. They must be planing take over the organization and then cancel all these programs. Does this solve the problem?

If this organization can go to the schools to promote their homosexual agenda, so can any other. What if there are other organizations out there going to the schools to do the same thing? Will these ladies infiltrate these organizations and take over them? They will be very busy.

The real solution lies in the schools. The problem would not have existed if the schools do not participate in those activities. They should approach the authorities instead. It does not have to be a direct ban of those homosexual activities. We can just ask the government to prevent the schools from sending their students to those homosexual programs without the parents’ consent. Will this be more effective, simple and less strenuous than the current coup?

Contradictory statements from the new leaders.
When the new president was interviewed by Channel News Asia, she made the following statements:
1. The objective of the takeover is to bring AWARE back to its original focus, which is women welfare.
2. There was no secret pact among then elected leaders to take over the leadership because they did not know each other before.

However, yesterday’s news revealed that there is a mastermind who planned the entire takeover. She called herself the feminist mentor. The mentor revealed that the real reason for her action is to stop AWARE from promoting homosexual lifestyles. While the first statement of the president is not entirely wrong, she is not being clear about the homosexual issue. This gives the impression that she is hiding something.

The mentor had also revealed that she was the one who planned this. So, the takeover is pre-planned despite the earlier denial. The exco members may not have known each other before but they know the mentor. The mentor was the one who get them all together. So, the facts show that the event is orchestrated despite the president statement.

Conclusion.
Based on the above three reasons, I conclude that this takeover is a failure. I wish the public will not lump all Christians with these women in the coup.

What Will Happen To The People Whose God Is The Lord?

13 Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields;
14 our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.
Psalm 144:13-15 (NIV)

If I am to ask you if the Lord is your God, you may think it is a silly question. Every one of us knows the right answer. Even theologians and doctrine worshippers know how to say yes to this question. However, we should realize that while these heretics use the same terms as us Christians, their meanings to them can be totally opposite from what the Bible says.

When I was in my first church, which is religious, I had also considered the Lord as my God as I am now but the meaning of it is very different. At that time I had a very negative impression on God because I believed in the lies of theology. In my mind, God is only good, loving and caring only to those who are not Christians. Once you become a Christian, God will impose his perverted will on you. He can make you poor and sick to show you his “goodness”. He also expects you to go for missions and give money to the church.

So, I tried to stay away from God as much as I can. I tried not to pray for too long because I wanted to avoid the situation where God speaking to me. When it comes to the idea of God speaking to people, the only thought that came to my mind was the call for mission and give money to the church. I hated these two.

In short, I considered the phase “the Lord is my God” as “the Lord is my oppressor”. I thought of God telling me to give him all my money and go for missions. This is the theological bondage I was in when I first got “saved”.

Thank God, he had delivered me from those lies. I have been set free by the truth of God written in the Bible. Today, the Lord is still my God but the meaning of it is different. When I think of “the Lord is my God”, I think of the above verses. The above passage tells us the true meaning of having the Lord as our God. Verse 13 tells us that we will be very rich. Our assets will multiply by the thousands. Verse 14 speaks of our safety. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets. In other words, we will have peace and harmony when the Lord is our God.

This means having the Lord as our God is a good thing. The Lord wants to be our God and his motive is not to oppress us. The Lord does not want to be our God in order to ask us for our money, as I was led to believe. He wants to be our God to give us a lot money. He wants to be our God to bless us in every area of our life like health, wealth, safety, long life and success everywhere we go. These are his motive for wanting to be our God.

Somebody may ask, “How about many Christians who are poor, sick and do not look very successful?” The answer is, these Christians need to start reading the Bible. They need to know and believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. As for me, I am not going to reject the Gospel just because there are Christians who are poor and sick. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true even if there are many poor and sick Christians out there.

Let me put this in another way. It is not the responsibility of God to change his truth each time he sees a sick or poor Christian. It is the responsibility of all Christians to learn about the truth of God and use it to overcome all the poverty, sickness and failures in our lives so that we can live the lives God wants us to live: prosper and be in health as our souls prosper.

In conclusion, we need to be aware of the true motive why the Lord wants to be our God. His real motive is to bless us and not to oppress us. He will never give you some thorns in the flesh to show you his sufficient grace. Instead he will give you great prosperity in every area of your life to show you his exceeding and abundant grace. This is the Lord our God.

The Reward Of Obedience

19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land;
Isaiah 1:19 (NIV)

The topic of discussion here is obedience. I am sure even the theologians and doctrine worshippers from religious churches are familiar with this topic. However, there is a huge difference between obedience according to the theologians and the true Christian obedience according to the Bible.

When the term “obedience” is preached in religious churches, it always means this: If you obey God, nothing will happen but if you disobey God, something bad will happen.

In other words, obedience has become an instrument of blackmail in religious churches. Church members are constantly blackmailed into obeying their church leaders in the name of “obeying God”. You better do what your pastors tell you to do if you do not want God to do bad things to you. However, another problem here is the term “good” and “bad” can be interchangeable in theology.

For example, according to the doctrine worshippers, God can make you poor and sick as a part of his “good” will for you. I have came across a doctrine worshipper praying for God to make him sick and poor if being sick and poor can make him closer to God. Another infamous example is God can give you a special disease called “thorn in the flesh” to show you his sufficient grace. I don’t think I need to elaborate further on how perverse theology is.

So, if you happen to be under the bondage of theology, you are really caught in a confused state. Should you obey God? If you disobey God, he will do bad things to you to punish you. If you obey him, he will also do bad things to you to show you his sufficient grace. Either way, bad things will always happen. There is only one solution to this problem. Reject theology and turn to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, let us look at the true obedience according to the Bible. According to the above verse, if we obey God, we will eat the best from the land. Please note that the verse does not say we will have enough to eat. It says we will eat the best. Having enough to eat is good for us to live on. Being able to eat the best refers to a life of luxury. In other words, God promised prosperity to those who obey him. The choice is yours. If you want to be rich, obey God. If you want to be poor, don’t obey God.

In case some people may ask whether God still punish Christians for disobey him and sin, the answer is absolutely not. God will never punish us for our sins. Jesus has taken all the punishments that are due to us. So, while we can sin all we want without having to worry about the punishments from God, we need to be aware that we are still not immune from the side effects of sin itself. In other words, God will never punish us for our sins, our sins will.

Let me give you some examples. If you choose to commit crimes like stealing and killing, the law of your country will punish you. Being a Christian will not make you above the law of your country. If you constantly tell lies, no one will ever believe you. It is not God’s fault. God will never tell your friends not to believe you. They choose not to believe in you because they get fed up with your lies. So, we should not disobey God and sin because sin is bad for us, not because we are afraid God will punish us for disobedience.

In conclusion, Perfect love drives out fear. We obey God because we want the prosperity that comes with it, not because we are being blackmailed into it.

Can Jesus Afford A Pillow?

20Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Matthew 8:20 (NIV)

This must be one of the most abused verses in the Bible. Theologians and doctrine worshippers love to use this verse as their “indisputable proof” that Jesus was poor when he was on earth. After all, Jesus himself said he has no place to lay his head. How poorer can a man gets? So as far as the theologians and the doctrine worshippers are concern, this verse alone is good enough to prove their heresy.

It does not matter to them that Jesus’ family received many chests of gold before he reached the age of two. It also does not matter to them that Jesus financed his own ministry. Jesus never conducted any fund raising activities like the religious preachers of today. Jesus never begged or threatened anyone for money. He never behaved like the pastors of my first church. Jesus had his own money and he even had assigned a disciple to carry his wallet for him. This tells us that Jesus’ wallet must be quite heavy. Jesus’ life story tells us that he must be very rich. Yet, some heretics can use just one verse in Matthew 8:20 to say otherwise.

In this article, we shall look into the real meaning of the above verse. What was Jesus actually saying? Did Jesus really say he was poor? Based on the context of his life story we know for sure that Jesus was rich, not poor. The only time the Bible said Jesus was poor was when he was at the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus died poor for us to live rich.

Please note that Jesus did not just say he had no place to lay his head alone. He compared himself with the foxes and the birds. Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but Jesus has no place to lay his head. This sounds like Jesus was poorer than the foxes and birds. Let us look into the foxes and birds. How do the foxes get their holes and the birds get their nests? How much do they pay for their holes and nests? The answer is nothing. Foxes dig their own holes and birds build their own nests using branches. So, if Jesus wanted a hole, he can dig one. If he wants his own nest, he can build one himself. How can Jesus be poorer than the foxes and birds?

Obviously, Jesus was not talking about how poor he was. This means the idea that Jesus was so poor that he has no place to lay his head is pure heresy that comes from the pit of hell. Only theologians and doctrine worshippers believe in it.

What exactly was Jesus referring to when he said those words? He was simply referring to the fact that he has no permanent base for his ministry. In today’s context, he did not have a headquarters to base his ministry on. The above verse was Jesus’ reply to a teacher of law who said he wanted to follow him. It seems that the man wanted to be one of Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus was basically letting him know about the working environment in his ministry so that the applicant can make an informed choice on whether he wanted to join Jesus’ team. Jesus’ message to this man was his ministry was always on the move. Anyone working for him will be expected to travel from place to place. You cannot expect to have a permanent office in Jesus’ ministry. That is all. There is no other hidden message.

Jesus was not trying to tell us that he was very poor. Jesus was rich, not poor. If anyone quotes the above verse to “prove” Jesus’ poverty, you can refer this person to this article.

God Wants Us To Have The Best

15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever.
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Psalm 81:15-16(NIV)

The purpose of this article is as a reminder to us on what are God’s will for his people. Verse 15 tells us the result of those who choose to hate the Lord. This is not good. Fortunately, it does not refer to believers. Our part as believers is in the next verse, Verse 16. This verse says the Lord will feed us with the finest with the finest wheat and satisfy us with honey from the rock. We shall look deeper into the meaning of these two acts.

Let us begin with the finest wheat. Wheat represents daily staple for the people there. When God promises to feed us with wheat, it simply means he will keep us alive. We will not die of starvation. We will be able to stay alive. So it is good to have God promising to feed us with wheat but God does not stop there. God will not feed us with any ordinary wheat. He feed us with the finest wheat. This means God’s intention is not limited to just keeping us alive. He wants us to prosper and have more than enough.

I don’t think I have to convince anyone that we do not need to eat the finest wheat to stay alive. Any ordinary type of wheat is good enough for our survival. Yet, God promises us with the finest. Why is that so? It seems to me that God wants us to know that he wants us to be rich as well. Not only does he want us to have enough to eat, he desires us to eat the best. In short, God wants all believers to be rich. In fact, God wants us to be so rich that we can afford to have the best in life including the finest wheat money can buy. This is the will of God for us Christians.

Despite this truth, I am sure there are many theologians who says sometimes God wants Christians to be poor and eat the worst wheat. Yet the above verse says the opposite. This tells us that Satan (who is the god of theology) is trying very hard to hide this truth from Christians. This truth must be very dangerous to him and his gang. It is more important for us Christians to hold on to this truth: God wants all Christians to be rich. He wants us to be so rich that we can afford to eat the finest wheat every day. Only when we are fully convinced of this truth that we can live the way stated in the verse.

Next, God promises to satisfy us with honey from the rock. Honey is not a daily necessity. It may have some medical property but it is usually consumed as a luxury. This reinforces the truth that the blessing of God is not limited daily bread alone. The daily bread provided by God is made of the finest wheat and they come with honey. In other words, God will bless us with so much riches that we can live our lives in luxury. A life of luxury is a life that glorifies God. A life of luxury is a life that tells the whole world that our God is good. God is not just an empty talker like the theologians but he is able to deliver his promises. God has the integrity to deliver what he has promised and the fact that we Christians are living in luxurious prosperity is the undeniable proof of this.

Therefore, from the Christian perspective, the desire to be rich comes from God, while the desire to be poor is nothing but blasphemy to God. What is your choice?

The verse also mentions honey from the rock. What rock is this that can produce honey. Rocks must be something common in that time and place. They have no commercial value. The people there could pick up as many pieces as they wanted everywhere around them they would never got rich out of it. So, rocks are something that is very common and yet without any value. You may find yourself in the same position where you find yourself having a lot of things or talents that have absolutely no value. You are like having a lot of rocks in your house.

Yet, God can produce honey from those rocks. This means God can create miracles that can turn things that look useless into something valuable and bring joy to us. It is like turning rocks into gold.

You may be in a situation that is telling you that it is impossible for you to get rich. It may be so but you need to be aware that nothing is impossible to God. Even if you only have rocks, God can produce honey from those rocks. You can get rich from selling honey. All you need to do is to believe that God is faithful and he always keeps his promises.

Pray For The Authorities

1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.
2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)

The above passage tells us that it is a good practice to pray for others. It does not mean that we cannot pray for ourselves. We can do that. In fact, God encourages us to pray for ourselves. At the same time, there is no loss for us when we pray for others. We can afford it. When we have the mentality of abundance, we will no longer be limited to meeting our own needs alone. We will look beyond our own needs to meeting the needs of others.

In short we can afford to help others through our prayers. In addition, praying for others will help to strengthen our mentality of abundance. It will only result in us getting richer. So, interceding for others costs nothing and yet able to benefit us in a huge way.

In Verse 2, we are told to pray for those in authority like the government. Please note that, Timothy was not living in a democratic country when he read this verse. Human rights did not exist at that time. By comparison with today’s democratic countries, Timothy must have lived under a very oppressive system. However, that did not stop Paul from advising him to pray for the government.

So, in today’s context, we should pray for our own governments regardless of whether it is good or bad. Even if you live in places like North Korea, Somalia or Zimbabwe God expects you to pray for those in power in your country. The question is why should we do that? The second part of Verse 2 tells us the reason. We are to pray for those in authorities so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Let me explain further on what it means. No governments can be perfectly evil. There is always some good in it. Put it this way. A good government is better than a bad government. However, a bad government is better than no government. No matter how bad your government appears to be, it is still preferable than living in total anarchy.

When you are living in anarchy, you can never live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. Anyone can break into your house and take anything you have. How are you going to live in peace? How are you going to get rich?

The best example I can think of is Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a bad leader. His government is corrupt and oppressive. One day, President Bush decided to invade Iraq to liberate the Iraqis from their oppression. Maybe he was hoping to have access to Iraqi oil as a reward. However, he made a fatal mistake. He did not install a replacement government immediately after he removed Saddam Hussein. The entire Iraq was thrown into anarchy. The previous regime was bad but at least it was able to maintain order some order in the country. After the American “liberation” there was no order at all. The situation became worse than before. This gave rise to local warlords who took advantage to fill in the power vacuum. The result is today’s version of chaotic Iraq.

The moral of this story is, be thankful for any type of government for their existence because it is still better than anarchy. This also tells is why God has not removed all the bad governments in this world. Their sudden removal without replacement will throw many countries into anarchy. There will be more suffering to the people. So, God is being merciful here.

Does this mean the situation will never change? The answer is no. There is something we believers can do and it is called prayers or intercession. We can change the situation by praying for our governments. Whatever they lack of, pray for God to bless them with. If you have a government that lacks compassion, pray for God to give them compassion. If they lack wisdom in managing the country, pray for God to give them wisdom. This is what our God wants us to do to them.

Having said that, it does not mean that we cannot vote for an alternative during election. When you vote, vote for the person you want but once the election is over, the person who wins will become the legitimate government in your country. Your role is to pray for this person.

This is what God wants us to do. When we obey, we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.