Thursday, July 13, 2017

CCF: Do You Have 20/20 Vision?

Seeing Jesus for Who He is: John 9:1-41
Brother Kiddit Afable

At the moment there are 39 Million blind people in the world, and 90% of them are living in low income countries. By 2050, 1 Billion people are at risk of becoming blind. But aside from physical blindness, humanity is suffering from moral and spiritual blindness. The book of John was written to shed light by declaring who Jesus is and revealing his deity to mankind. He is The Great I Am who heals the blind man in the pool of Siloam. 

John Chapter 9 accounts the story about the man born blind who was healed by Jesus through spitting on the ground, applying the clay on the man’s eyes and asking him to wash himself in the pool of Siloam. Miraculously the man was able to see and his neighbours were greatly amazed. But the Pharisees questioned him several times trying to deny the divinity of Jesus for it was Sabbath when the man was healed, but as the story progress we witness how the formerly blind man was radically transformed and worshipped Jesus as the Son of God. And towards the end of the chapter Jesus affirms His Deity. 

This miracle teaches us to see our Divine Purpose rooted in Redemption that leads to Radical Transformation and ends with Worship.

Divine Purpose (John 9:1-5)
Momentary suffering is incomparable to God’s eternal glory

Suffering is real. Human suffering started after the fall of man in Genesis 3, while adversity is evident as in the life of the man who was born blind, we can always choose to shift from causality to the purposes and plans of God.
Jesus is the light of the world. Just like how He gave light to the dark world of the blind man.
Momentary affliction is incomparable to the eternity God has planned.
God has an amazing end-game. Whatever you are going through, learn to trust the process.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Redemption (John 9:6-12, 13-17)
Jesus is the only source of the deep peace we seek

Sovereign grace and sovereign will dominate the miracle.
Jesus meets us at the place of our greatest need. Without Jesus all we know is darkness unless He seeks us out.
Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. As a response we should learn to delight in His design and find peace and rest with our Maker. Allow Jesus to heal you on the day of rest so you can have rest.
The Sabbath is for God extending His blessing to the broken and weary.
Jesus is the source of the deep rest and peace that we need.

Radical Transformation (John 9:18-24, 24-34)
God’s truth pierces through our spiritual darkness

A powerful personal testimony trumps self-righteousness.
Truth gives rise to full-blown courage.
The Gospel vs. religion – shattering the religious status quo
The Gospel vs. religion – there is great tragedy to unbelief
God pierces through our spiritual darkness 


The main question you have to ask yourself is, where do you stand? Light or darkness?

Worship
There is a profound response to truly seeing Jesus

In the story we can see the progression of how the blind man recognise Jesus. First as a Man in verse 11, then as a Prophet in verse 17 and finally the Son of God in verse 38.

v11 He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” 
v17 So they *said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
v38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. 

Because there is a profound response in truly seeing Jesus.

As believers of God, what should be our proper response:  


Ultimately, we should be a courageous worshipper of Jesus!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Australia: The Pinnacles

On our attempt to explore the west coast Australia, we found ourselves driving more than 220km from Southern River WA all the way up to the Pinnacles Desert located in Nambung National Park for almost three hours.

Pinnacles Desert is world famous for its stromatolites and strombalites - the oldest living fossils on earth.




Ever wondered how this thousands of strange looking limestone pillars in different sizes were formed?

***
The coast of Western Australia, from Shark Bay nearly to Albany, has a near continuous belt of Tamala Limestone (probably more accurately called) aerolian calcarenite - ie. wind blown calcium carbonate - which has been produced by the combination of wind, rain and the cementing agent of calcium.
A set of unique circumstances produced the pinnacles. Firstly the huge sand dunes stabilised. The rains which fell on the dunes leached down through the sand carrying the calcium. This resulted in the lower levels of the dune solidifying into a soft limestone. As this stabilisation occurred a layer of soil formed on top of the dune which allowed plants to grow and further cemented the limestone below. Gradually the lowest layer of soil, which lay between the surface and the limestone, formed into a hard cap which resulted in the old dunes having three levels - a soil and plant level near the surface, a hard cap below the surface, and a thick layer of soft limestone at the bottom of the dune.
Inevitably the roots from the plants on the top level found cracks and broke up the hard cap and the layer of soft limestone. The result was that under a surface covered with plants and soil the pinnacles developed. No one knows for sure how long ago this process occurred. It may have started as long ago as 500 000 years but equally it may only be a few thousand years old and it may still be continuing today. The Western Australian Museum has opted for some time in the last 80 000 years.
Anyway the advent of drier weather in the region resulted in the top layer of plants and soil being removed and gradually the pinnacles were exposed so that today they stand like strange sentinels on a plain of wind blown sand.
*** Excerpts from www.visitpinnaclescountry.com.au
Amazing as the nature, these phenomenal rock formations formed over million of years ago is not only educational but also a perfect backdrop for crazy pictorials.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

US: Seven Things I Learned in my First Long Haul Flight

The longest airplane flight I had till March, 2017 was 7hours, 15min Singapore-Dubai flight during my Holy Land tour in 2016. So my mind cannot comprehend how a person can stay inside an aircraft for more than 10 hours until I am left without choice as I have to travel to United States April this year. We have option for a direct flight from Singapore to San Francisco via Singapore Airlines but my heart was anxious imagining I will be up the air for 15 long hours. Instead we took Cathay Airlines with connecting flight from Singapore to Hong Kong(3 hours, 33 mins) then finally Hong Kong to San Francisco(12 hours, 45 mins). It may took us two more hours to reach San Francisco but at least I get to step my feet on the ground in between flights.

Flying up in the air for extended amount of time requires both physical and psychological preparations. At least for me, as I am not like the gifted travellers who can easily sleep through the entire flight, I am wide awake for the most of it. I do strive to have a pleasant and restful journey up there, but its a learning process. Here are some of the things I want to share with you on my first long-haul flight experience this year.

Image courtesy of bonappetour.com

1. Dress for comfort more than fashion.
This is not the time to impress as the clothes you're wearing will be your companion for the next 15 hours in an economy seat and you do want a comfortable trip. Choose breathable fabrics, loose attire like cotton t-shirts and drape pants. Heels are definitely a no no, you want comfy flats or flip flops. Reserve your contact lenses when you land, it's uncomfortable to wear them as your eyes tends to be dry during long flight.

2. Stay hydrated and moisturise.
Hydrate yourself night before the flight. Being inside an enclosed cabin for long hours without fresh air and little amount of oxygen easily dries your skin. It is essential to know the right skincare regime that will keep your skin fresh and glowing by the time you reach your destination.

3. Select the best seats for you.
If you're the kind of passenger who goes to toilet every now and then(like me), strategically select aisle seats which are accessible to the toilets. If you're a sleepy-head-kind-of-passenger, window seats will be the best choice.

4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Coffee and soft drinks which both contain caffeine are diuretic which means it increases the amount of urine produced in your body causing you to visit the toilet often and prevents good sleep.

5. Keep your blood flowing by occasionally moving.
Stretch you arms and legs every now and then, stand or walk if you need to.

6. Bring necessities with you.
Pen is a must when travelling. Have yourself an eye mask, noise cancelling ear plugs and travel pillow to promote sleep environment. Place your meds and supplements in your hand-carry in case you'll need them.

7. Pack your entertainment
Long flights tends to be boring as you are contained in a limited space. Make sure to bring any gadget that will keep your sanity while flying like book or kindle, your-kind-of-music, your favourite tv series or movies in your mobile phone.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Australia: Biking Rottnest Island

This getaway is a perfect escape to soft white-sand beach, glorious marine life, panoramic views, safari of wild animals and tranquil ambiance. Rottnest island is located 11 miles west of Perth, Australia facing the Indian Ocean.


We booked our day tour ferry tickets via Rottnest Express which have three accessible departure points -- B-Shed Fremantle, Northporth and Barrack St., Perth. We reached B-Shed Fremantle around 9AM for our 9:30AM boarding time via Rottnest ferrry and travelled 45 minutes.



We docked at the Rottnest arrival port at around 10:15AM and we are welcomed with radiant weather, crisp air and thin, wispy strands of clouds. We have to find the bike rental and explore a little bit of the port area to know where we can find things we need.



There is so much activity you can do in Rottnest Island Reserve so prepare yourself for fun and adventure. You can bike your heart out to tour this amazing island, until your legs hurt. But trust me its going to be worth it. There are three suggested bike routes in varying distances - 4km, 10km and 22km.  We did the second route which allowed us to sightsee almost half the island mostly the eastern part of it. The route was a bit tiring because of the uphill, downhill slopes but altogether it was an exciting adventure.

Don't forget to kiss the sun and savour the fresh air.



You also get to meet new friends in the wild who will amuse and entertain you for free. Remember not to feed them 😂😜 as you are not doing them any better if you do that.


You can also find two mighty lighthouse within the island. The Wadjemup lighthouse standing tall and strong in a mountain top and the Bathurst lighthouse lying beside the sea shore watching the bay.


 


The landscape views were breathtaking and spectacular. See the fine line where the light blue skies meets the aqua sea and the waves touches the sand. It tells me, we have an amazing Creator.






Aside from biking tourists can do swimming in some of the best beach bay locations around the island, have a closer encounter with marine life by snorkeling and diving, be refreshed as you surf your mind through the waves, enjoy whale watching, bring out your fishing rods to catch some seafood, hop in various shops for unique souvenirs, experience dinner or lunch by the sea with different cafe and restaurants options or simply grab any spot in the island to appreciate the view and people.



Oops did I mention doing pictorials in different spots and sides of Rottnest is also a great way to capture the best angles of this peninsula. Even the most rigid rocks by the beach can give your photo a different tone and emotion. With so many incredible backdrops, you will surely run out of poses. Remember to be creative and always have fun. Jump shots for sure. 😎😜





Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movie: Wonder Woman

Image courtesy of Google
Hippolyta: Fighting does not make you a hero.

Diana Prince: If no one else will defend the world, then I must.

Queen Hippolyta: If you choose to leave, you may never return.
Diana Prince: How will I be if I stay?

Queen Hippolyta: You have been my greatest love. Today you become my greatest sadness.

Diana Prince: I will fight, for those who can not fight for themselves.

Steve Trevor: If you believe that this war should stop, help me stop it right now.

Diana Prince: I used to want to save the world, to end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpse the darkness that lives within their light and learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves, something no hero will ever defeat.

Diana Prince: I stay, I fight and I gave for the world I know can be, this is my mission now, forever.

Diana Prince: It's about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.

Diana Prince: I am Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta. In the name of all that is good, your wrath upon this world is over!

Image courtesy of Google

Monday, May 22, 2017

CCF: So That You May Know the Bread of Life

John 6:25-71
By Bro. Fred Magbanua

During the biblical times, bread is considered a staple food and an essential part of their meal. Not just an appetiser or side dish but something that satisfies people and make them full. This is the context when Jesus said “I am the Bread of Life.”

In the book of John chapter 6, after Jesus feed the five thousand multitude with five small barley loaves and two fish, great crowd of people followed Him. But Jesus convict them that people are seeking Him because they look up to Him as someone who can provide for them and deliver them from the Romans. Jesus recognised that men needs bread to live but emphasised that men should not live on bread alone. He encouraged them not to work on the food that perishes but focus on the food that has eternal life.

Where do you focus most of your time and activities? Does it have lasting value? Like working hard on your career, spending time in leisure and sports, or feeding your mind with all kinds of learning. There is nothing wrong investing our time on these things BUT if it takes away the time for things that are important to God like family and ministry, then we might need to revisit our priorities.

As the people ask Jesus what must they do to do the works of God, He respond to them that it’s not about working but about believing in the One sent by the Father. As Jesus declares “I AM the Bread of Life” the first of the seven monumental I AM statement of Jesus. He is clearly claiming His deity.

Jesus said to them, “I AM the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. —John 6:35(NASB)

While Jesus assures that whoever comes to Him, He will not turn away, there must be a will from the person to come. The word “come” in Greek does not necessarily mean leaving or moving in a direction but also about arriving to the destination. It is not just about seeking Jesus but also entails arriving to Jesus.

As Jesus claims to be the bread that came down from heaven, there are people who grumbled and did not believe Him because they thought they knew Him and His family background but miss out the truth about the virgin birth. But Jesus rebuke their disbelieve:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. —John 6:47-48(NASB)

To simply this statement in an equation we can say:

Whoever believes in Jesus = Has eternal life
If anyone eats this bread from heaven = He will live forever
Whoever believes in Jesus = Anyone who eats this bread from heaven

In spite of His promises, not everyone believed Him, in these scripture we could see three reactions to the teachings of Jesus:
1. Fall away - Some people had a grumbling heart, they took offense as their disbelief hardened and turned back from Jesus;
2. Betray - More than not believing or just being passive, others made actions to put down Jesus and the credibility of His words;
3. Commit and obey - Other recognise that Jesus is the Holy One who gives eternal life

So you may know the Bread of Life:
Jesus is the Bread of Life, the true bread from heaven
We need the spiritual bread to have spiritual life. We eat this bread by believing Jesus, walking with Jesus, the Son of Man, God Himself.
People could fall away or betray; we must decide Jesus is the only way and let Him keep moulding us everyday!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Australia: Swan Valley Tour

With just 30 minutes drive east of Perth, Western Australia you will find Swan Valley a sanctuary of boutique wineries and microbreweries, fresh produce, gourmet restaurants, blooming vineyards, wildlife parks and breathtaking views.

Our Swan Valley tour started around 11AM via a couch that picks us up from Central Perth station. Driving all the way to northeast of the city along the Swan River. The tour begin with a wine tasting at Houghton Wines, producing award-winning WA wines since 1836, making it one of Australia's oldest operating wineries.





Aside from classic wines, we also enjoy the luscious scenery and greens around the area which is a perfect backdrop for photoshoots.




                                       

Next stop is Lancaster Wines. Lancaster welcomes wine enthusiasts on its famous outdoor tasting shed, enjoying premium wines and gourmet selection of cheese in a casual, relaxed atmosphere surrounded with gorgeous vineyards.




During our wine tasting tours, aside from being greeted with flourishing vineyards, we were also treated with wide variety of fine wines including classic selections. We tasted different unique blends of aromatic white and red wines which includes Chardonnay, Rosé, Cabernet, Shiraz, Sauvignon.

After treating our wine buds with great selection of wines, we continue our tour indulging our sweet buds in Margaret River Chocolate Factory. This place has cafe where you can enjoy fresh, delicious breakfast and light lunches together with large selection of desserts, hot and cold drinks. For visitors they can take home sweet goodies from their shop that offers broad range of freshly made chocolate products in different flavours, size, shapes and colors.








We are up to our third wine tasting shop and at this point I am feeling a bit dizzy after all the wines we drink. Sandalford Wines celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2016 since the Prendiville family took over in 1991 from the descendants of the original founder, John Septimus Roe.


Finally in the afternoon we had appetising snacks and choice of drinks at Mandoon Estate and Homestead Brewery, Swan Valley's newest boutique winery offering a purpose-built wedding location.




I am not a wine drinker but I must say I enjoy the white wine selection of Lancaster and the flavourful plate of cheese.