Friday, October 31, 2014

My overloaded inbox

Graphically speaking, my Outlook Inbox looks like this today. It is so full and brimming over the screen so much that I had to stay back at work to clear them all, on a Friday no less.

I managed to do that except for a large group of emails sent by a new staff of mine who has just been transferred to my team. He is an excellent worker, I'm so glad to have him.

And now, both of us need to sit down and talk about a better way than for him to send me a copy of every email he sends out.

Photo: Keith Williamson

Thursday, October 30, 2014

First day at work

Today is my son's first day at work under his school's Work Experience Programme. Students were given some options to choose from and my son chose one that is office-based that will allow him to try his hands on administrative work. Good for him!

He looked absolutely spiffy today but sorry I can't post pictures here because he won't allow it.

He spent the day in a three-hour meeting (already???!!!) and was asked to write something (wish I knew what; he won't tell me).

He felt it was a good first day of work, and I pray for many more good ones ahead to learn and experience what work is all about.

I did tell him to just enjoy it. Work is fun when you really enjoy what you do.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Evangelical women writers

I was introduced to a book written by a lady minister and I was very impressed with her scholarly writing and knowledge.

This got me to think of how very few good women writers there are in the evangelical circle. The few that I have read and was impressed with are only these three:

1. Elizabeth Achtemeier
2. Mildred Bangs Wynkoop
3. Nancy Pearcey

I also wondered of all the books I have read, whatever genre they may be, how many of them are by women writers.

It is a good thing I have all my books listed out in and I did a calculation and came up with just 27%. The remaining 73% are all by men authors. However, this is only counting from when I started to list and keep track of my books, which is roughly from year 2000.

But most of the books I've read that are by women writers are either in the genre of fiction or Christian living. I've only read Pearcey, referenced Achtemeier and currently reading Wynkoop.

And I must say I that the late Dr Mildred Bangs Wynkoop was an excellent writer. I have just started on her book, The Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology but what I have read so far is just brilliant!

And talking about women, I was just asked a question in one of my blog post recently on my stand on women in ministry, if I hold on to an egalitarian or complementary stand.

In my reply, I took the complementary one, but in truth, I haven't made much study into it to be 100% sure of my stand. And so I am going hold it for now and not make a decision until I am fully sure of what I am.

I thought I should hold on to the order of creation, but as I now think about it, I'm not so sure anymore.

I shall have to shelve the matter for now and address it later when time and energy permit.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: The Prince (Sons of Encouragement)

The Prince - Jonathan (Sons of Encouragement)
by Francine Rivers

I was right. The Prince is a good read. Any book that makes me weep is surely good and this one did, not a lot and only at the end, but it was good enough for me to give it a thumbs up.

I suppose in comparison to The Priest and The Warrior, the main characters here in The Prince--Jonathan, Saul and David--were very engaging and I felt like I was there with them.

But I also realise that I am more attracted to books and stories about people and their relationships.

Anyway, I just took a look at all the books I have been reading this year and I think at the end of the year I shall put it all out in one go for I certainly see my life journey through them throughout 2014.

I'm looking forward to it!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Review: The Priest & The Warrior (Sons of Encouragement)

The Priest - Aaron
The Warrior - Caleb
(Sons of Encouragement)

by Francine Rivers

I read Francine Rivers's Redeeming Love and Lineage of Grace and loved them so much that I also purchased her series of five books on the Sons of Encouragement.

I have read The Prophet (Aaron) some months ago and I have just finished reading The Warrior, which is on Caleb.

I wonder if it's just me but I didn't enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed the Lineage of Grace series especially the ones on Tamar, Rahab and Ruth.

Maybe I was already too familiar with the accounts of the exodus to find The Priest more than just a summary. And The Warrior was too much about wars and fighting to really engage me. In fact, Rivers's portrayal of the main characters were not as good as the ones she did with the ladies in the Lineage of Grace, at least in my opinion.

I'm now reading The Prince, the story of Jonathan, and so far I found it quite promising. Let's see how it will finally torn out.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

A good meet up day

Today was a good day. For one, I was able to catch up with a very dear sister in the Lord during lunch. She is serving in the church and will be moving on into pastoral ministry with another church in the coming months. We will then have even more to talk about and I look forward to our next catch up.

After lunch, I had the opportunity to arrange a meet up between my two Arminian mentors, and I was prepared to just sit and listen to them talk shop. These two gentlemen have a lot in common. Not only are they steep in their study of Scripture, Arminianism and apologetics, it was soon found out that they are both into chemistry as well! One a chemistry graduate and the other a chemistry professor no less. I'm not far from wrong when I said they're long lost brothers.

It was indeed a good day.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Being gracious to each other

We had our first bible study on TULIP in CG today, beginning with Total Depravity of which I manage to correct some common misunderstanding about Arminianism, particularly the one where they equate it with Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism, and to state that Classical Arminians do not believe in self-salvation. And we do believe in Total Depravity, God's Sovereignty and grace but differently from Calvinists.

I am not a person who like to argue or debate but I have made it a point to read about both sides, and my next read will be Michael Horton's For Calvinism.

I only wish I am given the same respect as I believe I am giving. I like what this Calvinist say in Calvinists Sometimes Make the Worst Calvinists.

And of course I can say the same about Arminians, that Arminians sometimes make the worst Arminians.

We all need to be gracious to one another, as long as we both hold on to the Gospel of the cross of Christ.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mariah Carey - The Elusive Chanteuse

I was invited by a friend to Mariah Carey's concert today at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur.

I was quite excited since this would be my first ever concert, but it was quite miserable. Oh, not Mariah, she gave quite a cool show but it was raining the whole two hours we were seated there.

It didn't matter we had VVIP second row tickets, the rain though not heavy was relentlessly pouring down on us. Though we were all clad in raincoats, they were thin and sticky; it was miserably chilly, damp and wet.

Mariah's show was alright. OK, I'm not a fan but it was still cool being able to go to a concert of a world-class performer. She does have a good voice and she does nice faultless perfect pitch rolls.

But I was just not in awe, like I was back in 2007 when I attended an awesome concert by The Trinity College Choir.

Or maybe it was just the rain.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Binging

I thought I have stopped book binging but here I go again, buying books just because I like having them. But I still think these are great buys as they make excellent reference, and both electronic mobile versions too. Excellent!

New International Version Archaeological Study Bible

Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts


Monday, October 20, 2014

等 Wait by Danny Chan

I don't know many Chinese songs. At most, just two or three Cantonese songs and a couple of Mandarin ones.

But this by far, is my all-time favourite: the late Danny Chan's 等 or Wait.

I didn't quite understand fully what's being sung, but when I checked it out, it turned out to the saddest song ever.

But doesn't it sound wonderful.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Total Depravity vs Total Inability

We attended church service yesterday evening and spent the day today resting and relaxing at home--it is different and I am not used to it.

Anyway, yesterday's sermon was on Total Depravity. As an Arminian, I could agree with most that was preached, especially on the parts where we as human are total depraved, there is nothing good in us. But when pastor referred Total Depravity to Total Inability, I will have to disagree.

As much as we are in ourselves unable to receive the gift of life, God enables and persuades us to receive him through his prevenient grace. Calvinist will accuse us of work righteousness, but where is works in the decision of receiving of a gift? The glory still resides with the giver, not the receiver.

I was conversing with a Calvinist to find out his stand and find that in general, the Calvinists I know usually do not really know who we are as Arminians, in the classical sense, they do not know what we stand for, and they do not read or find out what we actually believe in. Most of what they say of us are wrong most of the time. Which is sad. I feel that they should at least find out exactly what we believe before "attacking" us, the worst in labeling us Semi-Pelagians, which we are not.

I have read this article written by Roger E. Olson some time ago:
Don't Hate Me Because I'm Arminian
My Reformed friends sometimes treat me like the enemy, but actually we need each other.

Again I reiterate, we need to dialogue. We need to first study and read reliable sources of what we each are, sit down and discuss, not fight or argue or accuse.

There isn't a more comprehensive volume on Classical Arminianism than Roger E. Olson's Arminian Theology, Myths and Realities.

I challenge you to read it--for Arminians or if you suspect you are one, you will get a deeper understanding of what you already know and correct some views as well. For Calvinists, you will at least know what we actually believe in.

Arminian Theology, Myths and Realities
by Roger E. Olson

The 10 myths that Olson interacts with are:

1. Arminian Theology is the Opposite of Calvinist/Reformed Theology.
In reality, Jacob Arminius and most of his faithful followers fall into the broad understanding of the Reformed tradition; the common ground between Arminianism and Calvinism is significant.

2. A Hybrid of Calvinism and Arminianism is Possible.
In reality, in spite of common ground, Calvinism and Arminianism are incommensurable systems of Christian theology; on issues crucial to both there is no stable middle ground between them.

3. Arminianism is not an Orthodox Evangelical Option.
In reality, Classical Arminian theology heartily affirms the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy and promotes the hallmarks of evangelical Protestant faith; it is neither Arian
nor liberal.

4. The Heart of Arminianism is Belief in Free Will.
In reality, the true heart of Arminian theology is God's loving and just character; the formal principle of Arminianism is the universal will of God for salvation.

5. Arminian Theology denies the Sovereignty of God.
In reality, Classical Arminianism interprets God's sovereignty and providence differently than Calvinism without in any way denying them; God is in charge of everything without controlling everything.

6. Arminiansism is a Human-Centered Theology.
In reality, an optimistic anthropology is alien to true Arminianism, which is thoroughly God-centered. Arminian theology confesses human depravity, including bondage of the will.

7. Arminianism is not a theology of Grace.
In reality, the material principle of classical Arminian thought is prevenient grace. All of salvation is wholly and entirely of God's grace.

8. Arminians do not believe in Predestination.
In reality, predestination is a biblical concept that classical Arminians accept, though they interpret it differently than Calvinists. Predestination is God's sovereign decree to elect believers inJesus Christ, and it includes God's foreknowledge
of those believers' faith.

9. Arminian theology denies justification by Grace alone through faith alone.
In reality, Classical Arminian theology is a Reformation theology. It embraces divine imputation of righteousness by God's grace through faith alone and preserves the distinction between justification and sanctification.

10. All Arminians believe in the governmental theory of the atonement.
In reality, there is no one Arminian doctrine of Christ's atonement. Many Arminians accept the penal substitution theory enthusiastically, but others prefer the governmental theory.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Restoran Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee

My son is a picky eater. He does not like Chinese food that much other than a few exceptions. So when he pestered me to go for Chilli Pan Mee, I went along and brought him to Restoran Kin Kin, the originator I believe of this absolutely delicious Chinese noodle dish.

The originator of the Chili Pan Mee.

The uncle who manages the restaurants. His other two sons are now overseeing two other branches.

What's missing here is the dried chili paste. Mixed it all up and it will look like a plate of spaghetti.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Vietnamese Egg Coffee

I finally tried to make Vietnamese Egg Coffee and it wasn't half bad! I'm quite happy with the results. I made it during CG supper time today and it was quite well received.

This was how it turned out. The only thing I was not happy with was that I was not able to get the egg beaten well enough. It was not as frothy as I would like it.

This was my first Egg Coffee in Pho Co Cafe, Hanoi in year 2012. It was good, but the arduous climb up the stairs to the roof--at certain spots even rickety, dark and dank--kind of took the fun out of it.

Then I made my way to Giang Cafe, Hanoi. This was a much better experience and the coffee was much better.

I sure wish I were back in Hanoi to taste the authentic Giang Cafe Egg Coffee, but what I had made myself in CG this evening was good enough.

I shall certainly try it again.

Here's the recipe if you would like to give it a try. I've adapted it from Legal Nomads.

Vietnamese Egg Coffee
(Cà Phê Trứng)

1 egg
3 teaspoons of Vietnamese coffee powder or brewed Vietnamese coffee
2 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk
Boiling water

1. Brew a small cup of Vietnamese coffee.
2. Crack an egg and discard the whites. Put the yolk and the sweetened condensed milk in a small, deep bowl and whisk vigorously until you end up with a frothy, fluffy mixture.
3. Add a tablespoon of the brewed coffee and whisk it in.
4. In a clear coffee cup, pour in your brewed coffee, then add the fluffy egg mixture on top.
5. Pour hot boiling water in a small bowl and place the cup of coffee in it. This will keep your cuppa piping hot as you enjoy it sip by sip.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Classic Christianity by Thomas C. Oden

A Systematic Theology, Classic Christianity
by Thomas C. Oden

In my preparation to equip myself with systematic theology, Noel recommended me this book that I just purchased.

I need to read sections pertaining to "Sin", "Election and Reprobation", "The Atonement", "Regeneration" and "The Perseverance of the Saints" (Chapter 24, 32, 27, 34 and 40 respectively in Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology). I have not checked them all yet, but I could not find any sections relating to "Original Sin" in Oden's Classic Christianity. He has a section on "Sin and Evil in the Light of Providence". That must be it.

I have a feeling I will find it difficult to find the rest as well.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Forsaken

The peace which others seek they find;
The heaviest storms not longest last;
Heaven grants even to the guiltiest mind
An amnesty for what is past;
When will my sentence be reversed?
I only pray to know the worst;
And wish as if my heart would burst.

O weary struggle! silent years
Tell seemingly no doubtful tale;
And yet they leave it short, and fears
And hopes are strong and will prevail.
My calmest faith escapes not pain;
And, feeling that the hope is vain,
I think that he will come again.

by William Wordsworth


Monday, October 13, 2014

Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy

When I was reading my devotional on Isaiah 8 today, verse 12 particularly caught my attention:

11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.

This is because I hear a lot of comments and opinions around me, and I am reminded to be critical and be conscious to what I hear, and not to agree so readily. In general, I think am quite steadfast and seasoned in my thinking and response, but nevertheless I still feel I must listen to these words of the prophet.

His usage of the word "conspiracy" made an impression in me. I am usually readily available to listen to disagreements and comments, but here is a warning to not call conspiracy all that others call conspiracy. Do not be caught up with the thoughts of the world, but be filled with the Spirit and be reminded of the Word of God and be open to the prompting of the Spirit.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Creeds in Churches

The sermon this morning was pretty interesting - it has to do with the Christian creeds, and the material that was handed out was printed with The Apostles' Creed, which is unusual for a Baptist church.*

From what I know, Baptists are a non-creedal denomination. And this is what I read from Wikipedia:
Many evangelical Protestants...reject creeds as definitive statements of faith, even while agreeing with some creeds' substance. The Baptists have been non-creedal "in that they have not sought to establish binding authoritative confessions of faith on one another". While many Baptists are not opposed to the ancient creeds, they regard them as "not so final that they cannot be revised and re-expressed. At best, creeds have a penultimacy about them and, of themselves, could never be the basis of Christian fellowship". Moreover, Baptist "confessions of faith" have often had a clause such as this from the First London (Particular) Baptist Confession (Revised edition, 1646): Also we confess that we now know but in part and that are ignorant of many things which we desire to and seek to know: and if any shall do us that friendly part to show us from the Word of God that we see not, we shall have cause to be thankful to God and to them.
Pastor Marvin did mention that as much as creeds are not used in our services, it does contain the barest minimum of doctrine and statement of faith of a Christian, and to that I agree.

I felt really nostalgic reciting The Apostles' Creed, as prompted by Pastor in midst of his sermon, though it did not have the "right feel" because we read it, rather than chant as it is done in services that commonly have readings. But it was still good.

* Note: I am a Methodist currently attending a Baptist Church ;)