The Sacred Secular Divide

Sacred-Secular SplitI used to consider some activities as spiritual (sacred) and others as worldly (secular).

Spiritual. I thought that carrying out 1:1 Bible studies on the UIC campus was the single greatest Christian activity under heaven, and that it gave God ecstatic chills, goose bumps and enthusiastic high-fives among the Three Divine Persons of the Godhead! So for over two decades I averaged ten 1:1 Bible studies a week, while working full time and never missing any UBF evening meetings, which was usually 4-5 every week.

Worldly. Conversely, I thought that going home to visit my aged mother in Malaysia was selfish and family-centered, and that it displeased and grieved God. By visiting mom for even a week, I would not be on campus to focus on the most important task of making disciples among college students (Mt 28:19), which was unthinkable for me. Continue reading →

My Baptism Testimony

Nzma5pplEditorial note: Nianzu Ma is a graduate student at UIC (the University of Illinois at Chicago) studying for his Ph.D in computer science. He fellowships with many friends in UICCCF (Univision in Christ Chicago Chinese Fellowship) at UIC and attends West Loop Church. He shared this testimony before his baptism on Sat Aug 23, 2014 on a beach by Lake Shore Drive.

I. Pre­-Conversion

I think that every human being would seek God, if his conscience has not been seared as with a hot iron (1 Tim 4:2). God made us from one man. God made us to seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him because he is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being. We are God’s offspring  (Ac 17:26-28). I am a man who is a wretch (Rom 7:24). (I could write ten pages to describe in detail what a wretch I am, but I think it is better to keep it between me and God, because he knows my heart. But if someone is interested we could discuss it). Continue reading →

True Love’s Kiss

Maleficent-true-loves-kissNot necessarily a chick flick! This is a random, jumbled musing after I finally watched Maleficent, which was thoroughly satisfying. It reminded me of Frozen. These two very touching movies centered on the theme of love, which is NOT of the chick flick variety. Sorry for spoilers! Both films required a TRUE LOVE to reverse a curse of irreversible sleep in Maleficent and being permanently frozen ice in Frozen. Isn’t this the gospel? (I also recently watched The Fault in Our Stars, which is an entertaining non-cheesy tear jerking well done chick flick.) Continue reading →

My Mother

hIt seems like every other week in the comments I see people arguing about Samuel Lee. Some think the judgment is if he was a terrible, or the most terrible man who ever lived. Others think he might have had some redeeming qualities but overall he was a bad guy. Others present a stance that he was ok but made a few mistakes which people soon point out don’t matter because he was such a terrible person. A common topic I hear repeated about Dr. Samuel Lee is that he was a man who loved God but he was overbearing. To be clear I have never met Dr. Samuel Lee, I never met him and did not know who he was until several years after his death. His teachings live on through his disciples to varying degrees. I have heard he was the worst man who has ever and will ever live. I have heard is the best man who has ever and will ever live. Although I never met him he in many ways reminds me of my mother.

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To be or not to be…a shepherd

dI recently heard a story of a man from a UBF chapter far far away from me. The topic of him becoming a “Shepherd” had been raised numerous times to him and felt as though he was being pressured. He asked me about the topic. I was in an interesting position, as I suddenly felt I could push the man from UBF forever or try to convince him to stay. This is what I told him.
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On Heresy

hI always thought when I met a heretic I would know exactly what to say. I would be armed with all my beliefs and I would quickly dismantle such an argument. Instead I was just awestruck.

“God’s love is conditional upon our obedience.”

“We must hate God’s enemies.”
Me: “Are you serious right now?”

Until about a year ago I thought that heresy came in two forms, early first century church heresy involving the divinity of Christ and modern ideas of moral relativity, religious pluralism, and a general denial of miracles. Oh was I mistaken.

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Mark Driscoll Removed from Acts 29

Mark_DriscollWhat we can learn from Mark Driscoll’s removal from Acts 29?

The big news in Christendom today. Acts 29, a national church planting group with 500 churches cofounded by Mark Driscoll, has removed Driscoll, the senior pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle and the church from membership, with seven board members urging in a letter that Driscoll “step down” from ministry and “seek help.” The letter is here.

5,000 church members in 8 years. In the mid-1990s, at age 25 Driscoll started a church in his house in Seattle with a dozen people. In 8 years, his church grew to 5,000 members when he was only 33 years old. Today, his network of five local churches boasts 18,000 members. He founded Acts 29, a church planting network that grew to 500 churches, and a Bible seminary. He is said to read one book a day. His sermons are downloaded millions of times by Christians throughout the English speaking world. He has authored many Christian books, including the popular and controversial Real Marriage. He is famous throughout the world with invitations to preach and teach in churches from many countries. Continue reading →

2 Corinthians – Section 2

ncN.T. Wright’s study guide continues with the text of 2 Cornithians 2:5-3:18. This sectioning off of Scripture is teaching me a highly valuable lesson: consider the more comprehensive thought streams in the text. To chop up the bible into exact chapters is becoming less and less helpful to me. I really appreciate, therefore, the initiative by the Biblica people in creating the Community Bible Experience program. The second study from N.T. Wright is entitled “The Letter and the Spirit”. Here are my thoughts from the study and the text.

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Why I will not try to obey the OT Law

l1So you are not even going to try to obey God’s Law? Nope. Not even a little? No. Aren’t you afraid of backsliding? No. Don’t you fear God? Not anymore, no. Aren’t you afraid of drifting away from God? No. Don’t you miss fellowship with God’s people? Not really, no. Are you a Christian? Yes, I consider myself a Christ-follower. Don’t you want a faith community? Someday yes, but not now. Why aren’t you going to even try to obey God? Well let me explain some things I’ve learned as a Christian outsider.

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2 Corinthians – Section 1

c2N.T. Wright’s study guide is remarkably easy to understand and yet opens doors of deep thought. Section 1 is entitled “The God of all Comfort”. Clearly the first major theme Paul introduces is that of comfort. God is the God of all comfort. I’ve been thinking about that one word the past couple weeks–comfort. Comfort means “a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint; the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” Here are my thoughts on this first study guide and on 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:4. 

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