“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
That was the word that I chose to summarize this year’s Africa Ministry Training Course (AMTC) when each participant was asked to do so at the end of the seminar. This was a record-breaking year for AMTC, bringing over 70 participants from across the globe to London for a weeklong study of biblical doctrines, spiritual cultivation, and RE training.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2)
A New Year’s resolution is a promise people make to themselves to be better. For many people, the New Year is a good time for a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions are usually about living healthier, having more success, or finding satisfaction in life. Some common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more, learn a new skill, save money, etc. These resolutions are not of a religious nature. However, the New Year can be a time to reflect upon our spiritual growth and set a goal for spiritual renewal.
But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mk 10:38; cf. v39-40, Lk 12:50)
The baptism that Jesus was referring to here is not water baptism, but the baptism of trials and suffering. When I was young and an unbeliever, I used to wonder, “Why are good kids bullied in school? If the problem is not with them, why are they ostracized for being good?” It took me a while to realize that such kids—coming from good, loving, and often privileged homes, who are meek, good-tempered, and usually bright—are frequently the target of bullies because of jealousy. This is often inexplicable, but the human psyche is not easy to understand. Is it better then for them to renounce their good nature or privilege just to avoid the bullying? Of course not.
People around the world like festivals. To make festivals fun and memorable, especially for children, holidays are filled with many man-made traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Claus, reindeer, the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat, etc. People, especially children, like Christmas as it’s a time when they give and receive presents. Can we celebrate these commonly regarded as religious, yet non-biblical holidays? Should Christian parents allow their children to participate in traditional activities that are associated with those “religious” holidays? These are questions that we, particularly parents with children, may struggle with.
And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12)
Gideon is perhaps one of the most misunderstood or questionable characters in the Bible. He was of a quiet and timid character (Judges 6:15, 27), and at times displayed reluctance or even doubt of God’s abidance with Israel (Judges 6:13). He was definitely not a perfect man, but one thing is sure because God had this to say about him before any feat of courage or action of strength: you mighty man of valor (Judges 6:12, 14)!