Monday, April 30, 2007

Exhaustion vs. Excitement

I think the key word for the past few days is: exhaustion. I still am, exhausted, what with 2 client meetings today but I better find something else to talk about!

How about my exegesis paper? I think I will be taking the one on James 4:4:

KJV: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

NASB: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

NIV: You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Adulterers and adulteresses vs. adulteresses vs. adulterous people: this will get me into textual criticism, word study of adulteresses and, the study of the cultural and historical context of that time.

Oh! Isn’t it exciting?

Picture by Carla Peroni

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Disciple-Fisher of Men

The speaker spoke on Luke 5:1-11 today. She shared with us her experience in spreading the good news bringing more people to believe in Christ. We need to be always ready to share the Word, to be disciples ourselves and to develop a compassion for others to reach out to them.

When I look at the passage, what we need to first look into is the context. If we look at the chapters preceding Luke 5, Jesus had just begun his ministry, he was teaching in synagogues. He has yet to call his 12 disciples. He was soon driven out of a synagogue in Nazareth, and he went on to Capernaum, Galilee. The people there were amazed by him, his teaching, his healing and rebuking of demons. The crowds searched for him.

Then it was at the Lake of Gennesaret that the people were pressing around him and listening to the word of God. He was by the lake and saw two boats. He got into one. It was Simon's. Jesus was at Simon's house before, healing his mother-in-law from a high fever. It was from this boat that he began to teach the crowd.

When he finished teaching, he told Simon to put out into the deeper water and let down the nets for a catch. (It will be interesting to know the geographical set out of the lake and whether Simon had to bring the boat out further or he just had to drop the nets at the other side of the boat, in the sight of the crowds.)

Then, how Simon responded is important. He first established the fact that he had already been working hard all night (so has Jesus been teaching late into the night as well?) but had not caught any fishes. Is he saying that he knew his job? Is he indicating that by that time of the day/night, there would not be any fishes? But then he said that because Jesus said so, he will do it. Simon has heard Jesus and seen what he has done and therefore there is no reason not to listen to him this time. He let down the nets and caught so many fishes that he had to get other boats to help him. We are no fishermen, but just imagine all the activities and confusion that must have taken place.

After all the fishes has been hauled on board all the boats, Simon fell down at Jesus' feet saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" James and John were also there. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men." As a result, they left everything and followed Him.

A few points I picked up:

1. Like how Simon responded to Jesus because of what he heard what Jesus had said and seen what Jesus had done, in order for us to teach and to instruct, we must first be a good witness in what we preach - i.e. in modern cliche, we must walk the talk

2. Jesus got involved in what Simon was doing before calling him. Jesus went with them fishing. I would like to think that Jesus also helped in hauling the fishes in unlike some pictures I have seen where Jesus was seated while the rest were in hardwork. Likewise, when we want to reach out to the people, we should also get involved and work with them, i.e. be a part of their lives.

3. This passage is famous for highlighting the importance for us to be fishers of men, i.e. to go and spread the good news of the Lord so that more may believe. But notice what the immediate actions of Simon, James and John were. They left everything they had and followed him. They did not immediately became fishers of men but instead they followed and learnt from Jesus. It was not until later, in Acts that we see Simon becoming a fisher of men. In the same way, we first need to be a follower, a disciple of Christ and it does take a lot to be one. It is not so easy to just sing "I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men ...", is it?

Picture by Marcelo Terraza

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Biblical Interpretation: Day 4

It is exhausting. I mean, other than the 6 hours of sleep I have every night for the past 3 nights, I think my mind has been busy working for the other 16, say with 2 hours on the usual stuff like eating and cleaning. So by this morning, I am almost like a zombie to say the least. And on top of that, my PC almost crashed, with our presentation paper and slides still in there. Thankfully, one fellow student helped and got it working again, and we got to present our exegetical work on the 1 Cor passage. The module has been intense but it was good and it was actually fun.

Staying in STM has been a good experience. It is such a nice thing to wake up with singing birds. The only problem I had was the musty smell in the room.

My room

The view from my room

Isn't it spectacular? At least I think so, compared to the view I have at home.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Biblical Interpretation: Day 3

Kar Yong has been a slave driver. There was so much to do today. We have 2 daily assignments and an exegesis to complete.

One assignment is to identify the figures of speech in Psalm 1, which was okay until he had to make us give a running commentary as well, and that took time. The second assignment was to take a look at the 4 prologues and 1 epilogue of the gospel to find if they give any clues to the content and intent of the gospels.

We also have group work to come up with an exegesis paper on a biblical passage. Ours is 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. We have somewhat completed the work though I have not finished with the presentation slides. I need to turn in now. It will have to wait until tomorrow morning.

With regards to the morning lecture, we looked into historical and cultural context and it is a very interesting subject. I am very new to this and so unexposed to it. There is no other way but to read, read and read. I will get back to this topic on this blog one day. Just not today.

More tomorrow.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Biblical Interpretation: Day 2

The day passed by pretty fast today and I had good fun. Here’s a summary of the class.

Grammatical Structure
We need to observe how phrases, words and sentence construction connect and relate to one another. One of the ways to help us uncover the grammatical structure of passages is by way of sentence diagramming. It is particularly helpful with Pauline writings. There are several ways to do sentence diagramming. What we are doing however, is just sentence flow – simpler and less complicated.

According to Kar Yong, seek ye first the Main Verb, the Object, Subject, and the rest will be added unto you. The rest being the modifiers, i.e. the prepositional phrases, adjectives, adverbs, dependent clauses.

Word Study
Words can contain several meanings and when we read bible passages, we need to determine the most likely meaning of the words. As a general rule, the usage determines the meaning of the word and not the other way round, that is: the meaning of the word should not determine its usage.

The meaning of words also develops and changes over time. Therefore we need to be careful to know their meaning in their time of usage and most importantly not to read the meaning of our time into them. A very good example is certainly the word “gay”.

Performing a word study is quite a simple and systematic process, though the effort may not be. First, we read the passage and identify the significant words that control and give meaning to the passage. Take note that we especially need to be careful with words that we are familiar with. Next, we determine the range of possible meanings. It can be done in a progressive manner starting from the book itself, e.g. the book of Romans, then onto the Pauline letters, the rest of NT, the rest of the bible and even extra-biblical sources. Thirdly, we consult dictionaries and lexicons. And finally, we determine out of the range of meaning, the most likely one.

The Rest of the Day
We spend a lot of time doing sentence diagramming and some word study, as well as going through some available and good online resources where we can get our hands into some really good materials. Kar Yong promised to update his website with the latest links.

And I changed my mind on the Historical Cultural Context Study selection of text, deciding instead on Luke 23:2, John 19:12-15 and Acts 25:8 which centers on Caesar and I would most probably have to work on the Roman Empire to understand what Caesar meant to the Jews.

Lee Mei and I spent 3 hours going scouring the library for materials to help us in our assignments. I am quite focused this time in what I wanted to do and therefore I am quite happy with what I manage to get.

As a close to the day, I completed and submitted my sentence diagramming of 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 as the assignment of the day. I was actually only required to construct a sentence flow of the passage but I was so fascinated by some words and phrases that I did a bit more. We were given the freedom to be creative anyway.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NASB)
(Click to enlarge)

What fascinated me were three things:

1. the repetitive usage of the words “death” and life”
2. the possible connection between “jars of clay” and “death of Jesus”; “all-surpassing power” and “the life of Jesus”
3. the usage of “we-us-our” throughout the whole passage until the last word “you” – I have to really work this out one day because the flow is really illogical on face value.

More tomorrow.

Picture by Herb Collingridge

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Biblical Interpretation: Day 1

I know I really enjoy biblical classes and I thoroughly enjoyed the biblical interpretation class today. Compared to the Christian Theology class I attended, I think I can conclude that I enjoy biblical classes more. I will think of a reason why later. Right now, I am just too exhausted, especially after spending about 3 hours on our daily assignment on a textual criticism of Luke 10:1 and Ephesians 1:1.

Here is a gist of what I have learnt today:

There is a tendency these days that Scripture is wrongly applied and even abused. We therefore need to sharpen our skills in biblical interpretation in order to be more in the alert when we read, when we are in discussion with others on biblical texts and even when we sing songs. Songs take a very important and crucial part of our lives – for example it is during our hard and difficult times that songs stay close to our heart. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the songs we use are at least theologically sound. An example, KarYong, our lecturer gave was this song entitled, My All in All. In one of its verses, there is this line which says, “taking my sin, my cross, my shame”. We will have no problems with the first and the third, but the second is questionable since we are required to take up our own crosses. When we sing this song, it seem to imply that we do not even need to bear the cross anymore because Christ has taken it.

When we read the bible, there are many gaps we encounter: linguistic, cultural, geographical and historical. In reading the bible, context must first and foremost be established.

We all come to the bible with our own presuppositions, be it our culture, our church tradition, our social upbringing, our values. These are the elements that we bring along when we read the bible, which will greatly influence what we read. We have our own lenses when we read the bible and we need to be aware of the lenses used by ourselves and others.

For example, just imagine putting together a Methodist, an Anglican, a Brethren and a Presbyterian to study the Eucharist. It will definitely be quite an intense debate.

The questions for reflection thrown at us are these: what are my own presuppositions? What is my view on the authority, the inspiration, the sufficiency of the bible? How can the Word of God be relevant to me?

This is relevant for me because I do have a friend who is more inclined to the Pentecostal tradition and the Prosperity Gospel. I have come to a stage where I decided to still regard her as a good friend even though both of us use quite different lenses in our biblical and theological understanding. But do I need to go further than just accepting it, that we just use different lenses and that’s it? And what will happen if I go forward to "correct” other her lenses? Do I have a right to do it in the first place, to decide my lenses are better than hers? This rings in the same tone some questions I had during one of the Christian Theology classes.

We also did some work on observation of several texts. We were broken into several groups and our group was given Acts 1:8. We were required to produce 50 observation points from just that one verse. It was not easy but I think we managed it, albeit barely. Kar Yong however, commented that he can get 100 observations from just that one verse! I am not sure if I can even muster more than the 50 we did, it was even questionable that we even did 50 because we did not really number them! But it was a really good exercise.

Textual Criticism
Then came the more technical side of biblical interpretation: textual criticism. I learnt quite a bit here as I discovered how to read the footnotes in my Greek bible in identifying the manuscripts that accounts for the variants in the reading.

Kar Yong gave some examples of textual variants and one that interests me most is this one on 1 Cor 11:24.

The KJV reads, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me,” while the NASB version reads, “and when he had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” All my life as a Christian, this phrase “broken for you” has been deeply imbedded in me. If I am not mistaken, it is in our Methodist communion readings (I have to find out to confirm if this is true) and I have been singing this song, “This is my body, broken for you, bringing forgiveness, setting you free, take it and eat it and as you do, do it in love for me.” On top of that, during communion, the minister who gives out the bread, in the form of wafer, literally breaks it before giving it out to us.

And now I am being told that the phrase “broken for you” should not be there as it was added onto the later manuscripts which KJV was based on. I would agree because Jesus was not broken. John 19:36 reads, “For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.” Even though we may say that the bread is broken, Jesus’ body is not. The phrase “this is my body, broken” would imply that the verb broken would modify “body” and not “bread”. I am convinced.

We concluded with Kar Yong blessing us with an assignment on textual criticism. We were required to conclude based on external textual data evidence (those variants provided in the Greek text) and on internal evidence of the text whether Jesus sent out seventy or seventy-two disciples (Luke 10:1) or if “in Ephesus” was an original text or a later addition? It took Lee Mei and I three hours to get these done, but it was fun, at least for me.

More Work
Not forgetting also that in the morning, we were given some Historical and Cultural Context Study questions to choose from and I chose this:

Read 2 Timothy. How does it provide clues for the season for the writing and Paul’s imprisonment condition? Find out facts about Roman prison.

More tomorrow.

Picture from

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Biblical Interpretation: Here I come

There is a fourth reason why I should go for the Biblical Interpretation module. (The other three are found here.)

After paying the fees, I suddenly received news that I might have an important meeting to attend tomorrow or Friday. Attending the meeting would mean that I would have to miss at least half a day's class given that the classes are held in Seremban (about an hour and a half commute from KL). I would rather forgo the entire course.

But after much prayer, both mine and my very good friends' (Julia, Lee Mei, Noel and Alex), the meeting is not happening on these dates and I am free to go!

Therefore, there are now four good reason why I must go for this module.

I have also decided to stay in campus (another last minute decision). Usually I would do a daily commute but this time I did not feel like driving so far to and fro for 4 days. And I think it will be a great experience being in campus again, albeit for only 4 days and 3 nights.

Picture from

Monday, April 23, 2007


I had not been able to reflect much today. I only got some lousy chocolate. My colleague went for a holiday and unintentionally bought something she thought was Toblerone. I tried some and it did not go down well.

Not that I want to spiritualise everything I see but it does remind me of false prophets.

What Peter says in 2 Peter 2:1-3 is very clear:

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

This is what I found in Ezekiel 22. I have not really studied this before and I would need to, soon.

6 They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, 'Declares the LORD,' when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.
7 Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, 'Declares the LORD,' although I have not spoken?"
8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD.
9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash,
11 say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out.

And this is a good reminder from John in 1 John 4:

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.


Sunday, April 22, 2007


I attended two Sunday services today. My neighbourhood church is being constituted into the local conference as a full-fledge church and service was arranged to be held at 4.00pm and so I decided to go back to my old church downtown KL for its 9.00am service. Since the inception of a new pastor into that church, I have been looking forward to hearing him speak as I heard he is good, especially in his expository sermons.

However, it was not meant to be. Attend I did but time was spent with two church members sharing their experience in going on a short mission trip to Northern Thailand, short as in a one-week trip. So by the time the pastor took the pulpit, all the time he had was enough for him to close the testimonies with a few words on mission. And this is not the first time I am missing on his sermons. Looks like I have to try harder.

But about short mission trips, I am not sure yet of my take on them though. It may have its purposes but I question whose needs we are meeting, being just short mission trips. I know I am being very cynical lately and I may not be right about such things. But one thing the pastor say is right, the church needs to be more involved in mission and the next trip they are planning will be one equipped with medical personnel to bring the much needed help and assistance.

Come 4.00pm, we attended the inaugural service of Life Methodist Church Puchong. The sermon was given by Rev Ong Hwa Teik, from Exodus 20:1-17, the Ten Commandments. These commandments were given by God to the Israelites as among the first imprints of their lives as a nation. There are the laws and there must be obedience.

As far as the church is concerned, having called itself Life Methodist Church, must realize the life that is in Christ within and without. Pope John Paul II once said that we live in a culture of death. The events, the happenings, the massacres, the murders and even the violence that we exposed ourselves to in the name of entertainment, give proof to that fact, we really live in a culture of death. Life is indeed very cheap.

But not to God. He is life and life is his to give, and us to receive. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and only in Christ, we have life abundant. Do we receive that life? Do we live out that life in Christ? Do we mirror to the people around us to life that is in Christ?

Picture by Martin Boose

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Best friends

Calvin is having his best friends over for lunch, friends from church and from school.

He got this mommy busy cooking his favourite food for his favourite friends but the kids are more into playing and games than food. Looks like I will have loads of leftovers to last till tomorrow.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Just 2 more months

I took Christian Theology 1 in January and it is already April and I have only 2 more months to work on 2 assignments.

1. A reflection paper of about 1,000 words based on topics of discussion during class.
I think I will be doing one on the deficiencies in the different forms of Church's corporate worship today in terms of the reflection of God's immanence and transcendence. The other one which I may also think about doing is to reflect based on my understanding of the purpose of God's plan, how life of my faith community should look like. The first one would be good for me to work at because of my involvement in the worship ministry whereas the second one will be also close to heart with my recent change of my faith community so to speak.

2. A theological essay of about 2,000 words.
There are 10 questions to choose from and the one that attracted me sounds like this: defend the divinity of Jesus Christ by presenting the possible historical bases for this claim. A big question. I hope I can do justice. If I cannot get started on this question, then I might do the one where I am required to explore in reasonable detail the major theological contribution of one key theologian from either the Patristic Period (100-451) or the Middle Ages (1050-1500).

I have only 2 months. This means that I have 2 weeks for the first one and 6 weeks for the second. Oh boy ...

Picture by Marja F-B

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'd regret it both ways

Today, I signed up for Dr Lim Kar Yong's Biblical Interpretation on 25-28 Apr - as usual a last minute sign up (I almost always register at the last possible date). I was reluctant because this course is going to be tough - but I would regret if I don't sign up as much as I would regret if I do.

Three things made me decide to do it:

1. My plans for a holiday during this period failed. There is no running away.
2. I already have the 3 required text (Carson's Exegetical Fallacies, Fee's NT Exegesis and Klein's Introduction to Biblical Interpretation)
3. I enjoyed myself working on one of Kar Yong's pre-course reading materials. It was a mixed feeling really - I was aghast as well as amused. You can check out Kar Yong's website if you are curious. Click on Hermeneutic/Biblical Interpretion, Report on Babylon. See if you find it as amusing as I did. Noel commented that it borders on being comical.

Just taking a look at the course outline and course requirements available at the website made me shudder. As much as Noel said that he admires my courage in what I am putting myself into, I told him I am just jumping in and trying to swim. There is no other way.

Anyway, it won't do without a word of kudos here for Kar Yong who just got his PhD. Congratulations!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The problem of Job

I did not bring anything else to read in the train yesterday on my way to and fro work, other than my bible and I decided to read the book of Job. I had posted in March 12 that I am beginning to understand why Job.

But I have not finished it. I am not good in reading poetry, I get lost not knowing what they are trying to say or imply. So I went looking and found quite a good article in entitled An Argument of the Book of Job by David Malick. Here are some of the things he mentioned:

“The reasons for suffering in a person's life are not necessarily related to human explanations of personal unrighteousness, but are within the scope of God's good and powerful providence resulting in the defeat of evil and glory to himself.”

There are 3 rounds of speeches in Job, with each increasing in intensity:

Round 1: deals with Job’s limits of understanding
It generally affirms that God punishes the wicked and blesses the good, therefore Job should repent.

Round 2: deals with Job’s limit of power
It is more specific affirming that the wicked, and thus Job, suffer and will perish.

Round 3
It is more intense affirming that God is majestic, but Job is wicked!

Malick says that, “The presenting problem of the book was ‘why do the righteous suffer’. God’s defense did not concern a vindication of His justice in permitting evil to exist. Therefore, the realized problem of the book was:
(1) who controls evil and suffering,
(2) how can I be right before this God, and
(3) how can I fellowship with this God?”

I was also reading in Keil & Delitzsch's Commentary on the Old Testament (they were scholars in the 1800s), an introduction to the book, which I quote/summarise here:
    The Problem of the Book of Job (Keil & Delitzsch)

    Why do afflictions upon afflictions befall the righteous man? This is the question, the answering of which is made the theme of the book of Job. Looking to the conclusion of the book, the answer stands: that afflictions are for the righteous man the way to a twofold blessedness. But in itself, this answer cannot satisfy; so much the less, as the twofold blessedness to which Job finally attains is just as earthly and of this world as that which he has lost by affliction. This answer is inadequate, since on the one hand such losses as those of beloved children cannot, as the loss of sheep and camels, really be made good by double the number of other children; on the other hand, it may be objected that many a righteous man deprived of his former prosperity dies in outward poverty. There are numerous deathbeds which protest against this answer. There are many pious sufferers to whom this present material issue of the book of Job could not yield any solace; whom, when in conflict at least, it might the rather bring into danger of despair.
    But the issue of the history, regarded externally, is by no means the proper answer to the great question of the book. The principal thing is not that Job is doubly blessed, but that God acknowledges him as His servant, which He is able to do, after Job in all his afflictions has remained true to God.

    Therein lies the important truth, that there is a suffering of the righteous which is not a decree of wrath, into which the love of God has been changed, but a dispensation of that love itself. In fact, this truth is the heart of the book of Job.

    To this question the book furnishes, as it appears to us, two answers:
    (1.) The afflictions of the righteous are a means of discipline and purification; they certainly arise from the sins of the righteous man, but still are not the workings of God's wrath, but of His love, which is directed to his purifying and advancement.

    (2.) The afflictions of the righteous man are means of proving and testing, which, like chastisements, come from the love of God. Their object is not, however, the purging away of sin which may still cling to the righteous man, but, on the contrary, the manifestation and testing of his righteousness. This is the point of view from which, apart from Elihu's speeches, the book of Job presents Job's afflictions. Only by this relation of things is the chagrin with which Job takes up the words of Eliphaz, and so begins the controversy, explained and justified or excused. And, indeed, if it should be even impossible for the Christian, especially with regard to his own sufferings, to draw the line between disciplinary and testing sufferings so clearly as it is drawn in the book of Job, there is also for the deeper and more acute New Testament perception of sin, a suffering of the righteous which exists without any causal connection with his sin, viz., confession by suffering, or martyrdom, which the righteous man undergoes, not for his own sake, but for the sake of God.

    If we, then, keep in mind these two further answers which the book of Job gives us to the question, “Why through suffering to blessedness?” it is not to be denied that practically they are perfectly sufficient. If I know that God sends afflictions to me because, since sin and evil are come into the world, they are the indispensable means of purifying and testing me, and by both purifying and testing of perfecting me, - these are explanations with which I can and must console myself. But this is still not the final answer of the book of Job to its great question. And its unparalleled magnitude, its high significance in the historical development of revelation, its typical character already recognised in the Old Testament, consists just in its going beyond this answer, and giving us an answer which, going back to the extreme roots of evil, and being deduced from the most intimate connections of the individual life of man with the history and plan of the world in the most comprehensive sense, not only practically, but speculatively, satisfies.
I do poorly in summarising Keil & Delitzsch, and I cannot possibly post the entire text here. I tried getting a copy of the text online if you are interested but couldn’t find any. So, I guess the best place would be to download it free from

Basically, the book of Job deals with suffering of the righteous and also “the fact that the right to judge righteously is expressed in the power to judge righteously … The power of God alone matches His will, therefore, He alone has the right to rule. Job learned that he acted foolishly by challenging God.”

Picture by Patrick Nijhuis

Monday, April 16, 2007

What is knowledge?

Maybe it is because it is a Monday. I woke up with a dreaded feeling today though I am not sure what should I be worried about. I do think it is because it is a Monday but I also think it is because of my slack in spending time in prayer.

I began reading the Proverbs during my morning devotion and found them refreshing, in that I am reminded that wisdom comes from the LORD and the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. What is this knowledge that Solomon is refering to? Common sense? Common knowledge? Academic knowledge? Street-smart knowledge?

Prov 2:6 says "For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." The knowledge therefore refers to the knowledge and understanding that comes from God. However, I still feel that it is quite difficult to pin that down because it is still subject to the way we all interpret and read it differently. Oh how we need to ask God for understanding and discernment and the Holy Spirit to lead us into this knowledge of God.

Nevertheless I found Prov 3:13-26 comforting:

13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.

19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.
21 My son, do not lose sight of these--
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.

Picture by Christa Richert

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Christian Pilgrimage

The preacher asked us this morning if we have read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim Progress. I read the simplified version during my early teen years. Does that count?

The sermon this morning is based on Micah 7:8-13 particularly the first 2 verses:

8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
…… Though I have fallen, I will rise.
…… Though I sit in darkness,
…… the LORD will be my light.
9 Because I have sinned against him,
…… I will bear the LORD's wrath,
…… until he pleads my case
…… and establishes my right.
…… He will bring me out into the light;
……I will see his righteousness.

When we commit our lives to God, it is not so much a “happily ever after”, there will be hard and tough times and we need to know how to respond to our God. The Christian pilgrimage is imperfect. “Though I have fallen … though I sit in darkness.”

The preacher reminded us that Abraham, the Father of all nations, lied to save his own skin; David, the man after God’s heart, committed adultery, committed murder; Simon Peter, the disciple closest to the Lord, denied him three times. The preacher reminded us that we have hope because even these great men has fallen at some points of their lives but they still had hope and salvation in God.

But I thought that we must also never forget that this is not the license for us to continue to sin. We must remember Romans 6.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? ~ Rom 6:1-2

We still struggle, we still fall. We must confess, repent and face God. Are there sins in your life that you need to confess before God? The pilgrimage of faith is not an easy one. And we cannot be so engrossed in our own ways that we forget the ways of God.

The only way to master life is to trust in God, and in God alone. There is hope in him. The speaker shared with us this story about Mother Theresa.
    Professor of Christian Ethics John Kavanaugh once went to live at Mother Teresa's ‘house for the dying’ in Calcutta for three months. Somehow he thought that he might find the answers to some nagging questions about where his life was headed. On his first morning there he met Mother Teresa herself. She asked him, "What can I do for you?" Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. "And what shall I pray for?" she asked. He voiced the request that had taken him the thousands of miles from his home in the U.S., "Pray that I might have clarity."
    She looked at him sternly and said, "No, I will not do that." When he asked her why, she said, "Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and that's what you have to let go of." But Kavanaugh replied that she always seemed to have complete clarity about what she was doing and the direction of her life. She laughed and said, "I have never had clarity, what I always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God”. What a simple yet powerful statement. It’s something we all need to remember that the most important thing in the Christian life is to trust in God. Our problem is we fret and worry about life, instead of trusting in God.
There is no clarity in life, only faith and trust in God. What happens at times when we do not hear God at all? What do we do? What can we do other than to trust him?

Trust is the only logical respond in our world of troubles. He is hope, he is Emmanuel.

We may have been a Christian for a long time but have we started our journey of faith, trusting him and depending on him for all things? Let God rule in your life. He is God, he is hope.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ~ Heb 11:1

Picture by Alistair Williamson

Text of Mother Theresa from Thought of the Day

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Great is Thy Faithfulness

We had a farewell barbeque party for 2 friends who will be going to Canada soon. It is the never-ending love and faithfulness of God that we are thankful for, it is God we are all indebted to.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
    Great is Thy faithfulness!
    Great is Thy faithfulness!
    Morning by morning new mercies I see.
    All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
    Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pictures of Labuan

I was given a short tour round the island yesterday and I took some pictures.

The Beach
Labuan (pronounced as Laa-boo-arn) is a small island, with great beaches, but laden with jellyfishes.

Labuan is the Malaysian off shore banking financial hub but good for fishing as well.

The Chimney
The Chimney is an artefact from Labuan's coal mining era (1847-1912). During that period, Labuan was used as a coaling station for ships sailing in the Far East area.

The Labuan War Cemetery and Memorial
I was brought to visit the Labuan War Memorial, where the graves of soldiers who either died in battle or captivity during World War II lay here. The remains of the Allied troops were gathered from all over Borneo to be interred at the Cemetery. The place was constructed, and is maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Labuan War Cemetery and Memorial is visited very regularly by War Veteran groups, especially from Australia who have included Labuan as an important destination on their battle-field tours circuit. A special service is held on the first Sunday of November every year, to mark Remembrance Day and is attended by locals and foreign visitors. (text from

The graves lie in long neat rows all bearing a plaque, mostly bearing identification.

A magnificent cross is erected at the centre of the memorial.

The names of soldiers are etched on the pillars and walls in this pavillion.

The lawns at this cemetary are beautifully kept and visitors can appreciate the peace and tranquility of the place as they seek to understand the senselessness of the deaths of so many brave young men.

There are 3,908 of them and I took pictures of some. Looking at them gave me a sense of poignancy and regret. If you can't read the words, click on them to enlarge. It's worth it.