Surpassing a high standard of righteousness

There seems to be a difference when we say we are to “be righteous” or to “live righteously”.  To live righteously would seem to imply that our actions we do are to be righteous.  To be righteous would imply a constant state of righteousness.  Which is easier to carry out?

In Matthew 5:20, Jesus gave his disciples a command that is impossible to carry out:

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I would say it would be impossible to surpass the righteousness of law-abiding Pharisees even if in today’s modern-day context.  Unless Jesus becomes our very own righteousness, or gives us his righteousness, there is no way to have a perfect righteousness.   Living out perfect moral lives is impossible and Jesus seemed to be giving us the impression here to the effect of saying, “Since you can’t surpass the righteous of typical lawyers, there is no way you can do it on your own, you are then forced to run toward Jesus to be our righteousness.

Can we live righteous enough lives to have a righteousness that is better than perfect law-abiding people?  I have admit that I don’t.

My prayer: Jesus, be my righteousness because I cannot be righteous enough to surpass the righteousness of good people.

Trump communicated to Christians and silent majority

trump-obamaThe day after President Trump’s inauguration, Democratic organizers changed what they planned as a victory parade into a women’s demonstration to protest against Trump in many cities across America.  It was also a protest against the what they “think” are Trump’s ideology of anti-women, anti-racial inequality, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-this, and anti-that.   The anti-Trump side dumped a lot of cooked-up baloney on Trump. And what surprises me is that they were surprised he won the election.  Liberals were completely mesmerized by the results because they were not listening to Trump’s real message, but only at how he communicated.

What pro-Clinton liberals and the mainstream media refuse to acknowledge and accept the reasons why Trump won the election.  They are still reliving the election and are bitter against conservative populism being more popular than progressive liberalism.  But we can all agree on something: that Trump got elected for reasons other than his oratory skills, which is not the finest.  The hard-to-swallow truth is that Trump effectively spoke to the “silent majority” who felt their voices had not been heard, which included religious conservatives (Protestants, Catholics and evangelicals).  His message resonated with many other people within this silent majority including the working class, labor unions, classic Democrats and Republicans, educated professionals.   Trump’s message touched people of all stripes, even people of all color: white, black, Hispanics, Asian, (including disenchanted white supremacists which was unintentional).  Simply put, Trump had the right message, not Hillary Clinton. It was a masterful work of speaking to conservative populism in America.

franklingrahamHillary Clinton and Obama and the Democrats for many decades have totally ignored conservative populism and they chose to ignore them to their peril this election.  Despite the dishonest media’s gang-up on Trump in order to delegitimize his presidency even before he’s still barely getting started out the gate, Trump’s message is still getting out.  Good thing for Twitter.  Evangelicals were happy to see invited the Revs. Franklin Graham, Paula White, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, amongst others, invited to read scripture and pray at the Inauguration.  Hillary Clinton would have never given conservative evangelicals the time of day–except for scorn.  Trump has made religious conservatives (who had been treated like outsiders under Obama and Clinton) feel like insiders during this election.  It will continue in his nominations to key positions (incl. Mike Pence, Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Elaine Chao, Rick Perry, Ken Blackwell, etc.).  This is why Liberal Democrats are attacking Trump and his Administration.  It is a battle over ideology and message rather than fluff.  Despite what the biased media may be reporting, Trump does have a real message, and it carries deep meaning to millions of God-fearing, God-loving Americans.

Trump does not talk like an insider politician and polish orator but yet, he won.  How did this happen?  He speaks using simple language, not as an educated scholar with a post-graduate degree.  A person without a high school degree can totally understand his message–including immigrants who cannot speak perfect English like my parents.  His style resonates with regular common people and this is what made his message so effective. I dare to liken Trump to young David to defeated Goliath.  Yes, the Clinton-Democratic election machine was ready for a huge defeat over Trump but yet they lost.  It was a big fall and hence, they had to turn the planned victory parade into a women’s protest in Washington, DC and other cities.

Obama chooses his words carefully and includes all people and speaks like a polish orator.  He tries to please everyone by including the outsiders to make them feel heard and included. This is good and admirable, and it even makes an Asian dude like me feel included.  This contrasts with the hard-hitting style of Trump who is fashioned like a bulldog; he bites hard and doesn’t let go of his opponent.   Like a Doberman, Trump barked at the elitists and called-out their dishonesty, and it scared them, hence the strong reaction from people, including Republican insiders.  Beholden to his opponents, Trump’s simple message hit the right points in people’s hearts and made outsiders feel like they were being heard and supported. Note that these outsiders are different from Obama’s outsiders.  This was a key to why Trump was so successful in winning the election.  It was Trump’s message that won their support–not his oratory speaking abilities.

To President Obama’s credit, Obama has a wonderful gift of speaking, and he stands in my books as one of the best orators. He knows how to inspire and include the listeners in his speeches (even Christians to an extent), and I think this was the reason why Obama got elected back in 2008.  But whether he actually united people or not is another thing.  Just as President Reagan was known as “the communicator”, I would opine that Obama’s oration skills is up there along with Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. If this election were Obama vs Trump, it would make for an very interesting battle–two effective communicators in a war of words.

We wish outgoing President Obama and his family best wishes, happiness and security.  We also wish incoming President Trump and his family prosperity, peace, happiness and God’s protection in the coming term.  God bless you all, and may God bless America.

Walking in the light

jesus-light3Jesus was teaching Nicodemus about living in the light and being born again into the kingdom of God.  He said in the Gospel of John, ch. 3:20-21,“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (NIV).

As human beings, all of us fear being exposed of our sinful or unlawful acts because we feel shameful of our sinful acts, habits or practices. We are guilty of breaking the moral, and even, civil laws given to us by God or society. But if we enter into the merciful courts of God’s presence, there is nothing God cannot delete from His list of our wrongs.

Walking in the light of Christ means that we are to daily confess to God all our sins—yes, telling God everything we have done, said, or thought, that day or week. It means exposing everything to God means we are walking in safety—not in fear like walking on hot coals.

But what if our fear overtakes us and we run and hide away from God’s light?  The Holy Spirit wants us to learn to trust that it is safe to expose our sins to God and to trust that God’s grace is always forever merciful. The Spirit wants us to have more courage and boldness to walk in the light of Christ.  Yes, this is a hard thing to do.  Even though I have been a Christians for decades, I still find it a constant challenge for me to trust that God and man can be merciful. Perhaps it comes from my Asian heritage, which is a shame-based culture.

Prayer: Lord, constantly be my lighthouse to shine into my darkness so that I may contemplate my sins within your perimeter of light and become cleansed by your gift of forgiveness.

A spiritual experience in your baptism

I don’t remember my baptismal experience being a spiritual experience, but it does have a deeply spiritual significance for me.  When Jesus was baptized, his experience was very spiritual.  It was heaven coming to earth.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17, ESV)
When you were baptized, did you remember having a spiritual experience during your baptism?  Was it anything like Jesus’?  Was your baptism a deeply spiritual or more of an earthly experience, or both?

Wear God’s righteousness like a robe

Isaiah61:10 the prophet uses an image to speak of God’s righteousness (also 2 Cor. 5:21; Job 29:14; Rev. 19:8):

“For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

God’s righteousness is a powerful image of God covering people with his righteousness, which is compared to a robe. We can wear God’s righteousness like a robe. Allowing his robe of righteousness wrap around you is like allowing the Lord love you. No more having to try to earn your righteousness by being better. God’s salvation and righteousness doesn’t work that way. God wants us to be so comfortable and secure in God’s righteousness that it should feel like we are wearing it like our own clothes. Wear God’s righteousness like your everyday clothing, like blue jeans and your favourite piece in your wardrobe.

Isaiah’s image means that the Lord’s righteousness sits as beautiful and naturally as a garland or crown on your head, or like jewels that signifies how you are loved and significant you are. What makes us regal and sons and daughters of God is not our own human strength. It’s about God and his righteousness. When we truly believe it and practice it in our daily lives, it can transform your outlook on life. Why?

1/ God’s righteousness erases your guilt and shame and you won’t need to care about the accuser who wants to lay more guilt, and sin on your conscience.

2/ You don’t need to prove to be someone you are not. You don’t need to pretend because God loves you and accepts you just as you are. Total acceptance. God’s grace and mercy is sufficient for you and you know it.