Sunday, February 9, 2014

Gone Fishing

Peter looked at Mary who was physically shaken.
“What happened, Mary?” He asked.

Don’t tell me it is about Jesus again.

Not a word. Mary was too frightened to say a word.
Peter thought for a moment then said, “Well, I am gone, fishing!” So he went with a few others.                                      
Just like his first encounter with Jesus the Nazareth, Peter, a professional fisherman, did not fish too well again. There was so much in his mind that he could not concentrate.
His hands were shaken, more so was his mind.

What happened to me in the last three years or so? Peter thought.
Was it just a dream or rather a nightmare?

·      I was with my brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, and there He was, a son of a carpenter, no less. “I’ll make you fishers of men,” He said with some authority.  And funny that we believed Him and we left everything behind and followed Him…

·      We saw Him performed all those miracles helping the sick and the poor; fed a few thousands people by the hill with few loafs of bread and fish; and His hands even touched the Gentiles, Huh!?

·      And when He spoke, most of the time, most of us, especially myself, could not quite understand.

·      And then I was having a time of my life when three of us went up to the mountain and saw Elijah with Moses and Jesus were chatting and shinning! And we could not even stay overnight there!?

·      And one time I opened my big mouth saying that He was Christ, the son of God… I meant that He would help us building up the glorious kingdom just like King David once had, but…

·      And another great experience that I had with Jesus, that I was walking on the water and clearly see a few fish swimming under my feet, even just for a few steps, mine O mine!

·      And then all things went down the hill once Jesus was arrested and… and I was… and I denied that I even knew Him, not just once but three times!

·      And soon He was crucified, died and buried that same day – the worst day of my life ever – all my dreams and hopes were broken and gone.

·      Then someone said Jesus was back again! What!?

·      For sure that I’d better got myself together to do the only thing I could handle – fishing.

Peter and a few others went fishing and worked all night but caught nothing. And then they saw Jesus at the shore yet they could not recognize Him. 

Children, have you got any luck?” He said like a tender whisper.

And right then they caught so many fish with His help and then they opened their eyes and recognized Him. And they were speechless.

After a rather quiet breakfast, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than anything else?”
What kind of question is that? And why it is always me?
“You know that I do love you,” Peter whispered.
Feed my lambs,” said Jesus.

“Do you really love me, Simon?” Jesus asked again.
Oh no, not again, not me…
“I do…” Peter could not even hear his own voice.
“Then take care of my sheep,” said Jesus.

“Do you still love me, Simon?” For the third time Jesus asked.
Always the third time…always.
“You know all about me, Lord!” Peter answered in tears.
“Feed my sheep!”

And that was all Peter ever needed.  Simon Peter’s life goal was finally set… He never looked back, ever!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Seeing in a Mirror Dimly

  • Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it, and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have made this water wholesome; henceforth neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” So the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word which Elisha spoke. He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and thence he returned to Samaria. (2 Kings 2:21-25 RSV)
  • For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. (1 Cor.13:12 RSV)

Throughout my adult life, I have often had more questions than answers to life in general and to the Bible in particular.

Many years ago, I was invited to a joint-church-summer-retreat somewhere in North America while the keynote speaker took care of the adult sessions and I was responsible for the younger generations.   A high school junior student asked me during a break that if I got all the answers of the Bible as that keynote speaker claimed.  My answer was, “No. The truth is that I am still looking for the answers!”
I was scared of those who had all the answers of the Bible then.  I still am.

Today’s Old Testament text is one of the few examples that my answers are nowhere to be found.  

How could the prophet Elisha curse and kill those 42 boys in the name of the Lord, just because they joked about his baldness?  Especially right after Elisha did some good stuff (also in the name of the Lord) for the nearby village. (see 2 Kings 2:21-22)

Remember the famous quote by Lord Acton? 
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…”   
No, this is just a good quote, not the answer to that question.

A man died and was glad to enter the heaven.  He was amazed to see that there were so many castle-like buildings around the main entrance of the heaven. 

“What are those buildings for?” the man asked.
The angel answered, “These people in the buildings believed that they were the only ones saved and are now here in heaven.  You see, they always believed that while they were on earth.  They were all kinds: Catholics, Protestantism, Pentecostalism, Non-denominational… you name them, we’ve got them all.”
“Hmm... How about those who are wandering on the streets here?”

The angel smiled and whispered, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matt. 25:35-36)

I love Paul for his honesty when he wrote:
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood."  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Journey Has Just Begun

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them.  A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened.  But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. John 6: 16-21 (NIV)

On this beautiful Christmas Sunday morning, December 22, 2013, shortly after he received the baptism from the pastor, Mr. Chang walked up to the podium, referred his recent spiritual journey to the story of Jesus’ disciples: how they turned from the fear into the joy of being with their master and finally reached their destiny. 

“All our dreams are a little different,” he said softly, “but essentially and ultimately they are the same…” 

He also pointed out that without the help of his several friends in the last ten years he would not have been there sharing his story with the crowded congregation.

Throughout the span of that ten years, there were these  people who directly or indirectly affected Mr. Chang's decision making.  What behind the process, I believe, has been the moving touches of the Holy Spirit.

Mr. Chang has been a giant both in public offices and the business world.   During his adult life, before and after his retirement, he always keeps his sincere smiles and humble attitude toward the people he ever comes to contact. 

His helping hands seem to be everywhere and his kind heart can be felt across the Pacific Ocean. 

Mr. Chang has his way of sharing: always touching.  A day before his baptism, he gave me a book The Gift of Peace - a personal reflections by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.  The book was translated into Chinese "平安"  by S. N. Lin, MD.  I gladly accepted it and told him that I happened to know the Cardinal while I was in Chicago for more than 30 years. The Cardinal was like a loving father to the entire city of Chicago. 

A journey has just begun. 

Whether the steps are giant or small, it’s a journey of peace, grace and joy. 

And like those disciples in the boat, nobody would ever have to sail/walk alone.

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