Friday, June 29, 2007

You must!

I am still working on my Theology of Work, when I remembered this one verse from the book of Colossians. When I looked for it, I am reminded that it is part of the Household Code found both in this epistle and Ephesians as well.

Colossians 3:18-25 (ESV)
18 Wives, submit to your husbands, (imperative!) is fitting in the Lord. (qualifier)
19 Husbands, love your wives, (imperative!)
...................and do not be harsh with them (imperative!)
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, (imperative!)
...................for this pleases the Lord. (reason why)
21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, (imperative!)
...................lest they become discouraged. (reason why)
22 Slaves, obey (imperative!) everything those who are your earthly masters,
...................not by way of eye-service, people-pleasers,
...................but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
...................23 Whatever you do, heartily, (imperative!) for the Lord and not for men,
..............................24 knowing that from the Lord will receive the inheritance your reward. (a promise!)
....................................You are serving the Lord Christ. (possible
25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done,
........................................and there is no partiality.

Wives must submit to their husbands but by God's grace there is a qualifier to that command. The submission must be fitting and acceptable to the Lord. There are no two ways about it, if it is right in the eyes of God to submit, submit we must.

Husbands must love their wives but it must be a gentle love - a double imperative! Be gentle with your wives!

Children must obey their parents, not in their choosing but in everything! Because it pleases the Lord.

Fathers must not provoke or exasperate their children, because they might become discouraged. I have seen it happen much too often!

Slaves or bondservants (in our context, could it be workers like you and I?) must obey, must work heartily, and must serve the Lord in our work. We are promised a reward.

Warning - if we disobey on these commands, there will be paying back and there is no getting away.

If the number of imperatives and the length particularly on the worker portion have any bearing to the interpretation of the passage, it might point to the fact that workers need more push to do what they are required to do. Then husbands, then the rest.

I must do more work on these verses!


Thursday, June 28, 2007


I am getting prepared. For this and that.
I searched the bible. A verse to relate.
I found Proverbs 21:31.

The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But victory belongs to the LORD.

I am prepared. My horse is prepped up.
The saddle. The seat. The stirrup.
I am getting ready. The day will come.
I will fight.


Victory belongs to the LORD.
He accomplishes it. He is the ultimate.
Not my efforts. Not my labours.
His alone.
I am responsible. I am prepared.
I fight.


His is the battle. His is the victory.

So I pray.

All rights reserved © 2007 Pearlie Ng
Picture by Neil Gould

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A spiritual sigh

One of the best exercise to release some stress is to take a deep breath and let out a great big loud sigh. And how I wish I could do that now. So what I can do in replacement is to take a good deep read at these verses.

A spiritual sigh is just as good if not better; a sigh of relief and of release.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

God is so good.

Here is a brief look into the verses, which I did in February this year.

Picture by Alexander Abolinsh

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Language of God

Kar Yong posted a link to Dr Tony Siew, where I got this link to an interview with Dr Francis Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

No one knows better than Dr. Francis Collins how easy it might be for scientists to play God. As the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute since 1993 — what some call the most prestigious job in science — Collins has led the effort to decode human DNA, along the way developing a revolutionary method of screening genes for disease. Yet according to this widely respected scientist, the newfound power to "read our own instruction book" is no obstacle to faith in the existence of God. He converted from atheism to Christianity in his twenties after seeing how radically his patients' faith transformed their experience of suffering, and after reading several works by C.S. Lewis. Some 30 years later, he stands by his convictions, positioning science not as substitute for theology, but as a subset of it. Here, Collins traces out his personal path to God, and explains how his faith affects his work. What follows is an edited transcript of an interview conducted for the making of The Question of God.
I bought Collins's book The Language of God, last Christmas for my "scientific" SH and he very much enjoyed it. I might just pick it up and read it for myself, soon.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Blessed to Bless

Today's sermon by Rev Christopher Rao is on giving: pledging and tithing. God expects us to give cheerfully, it is our duty and our declaration of who our God is. One very important question is this: do we freely praise and worship and yet do not give freely in tithes, in offering and to the needy? Since God has done so much for us, do we not respond in our giving?

One very interesting observation is when the Old Testament talks about giving, it talks about the giving of one tenth and the giving as first fruits. If you think one tenth is a lot, take a look what Jesus says in the New Testament: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matt 19:21).

We need to be faithful to the Lord and give to him and to the poor. We need to give regularly and cheerfully. We need to proclaim and declare whom we serve through our giving. We need to give him what is his in the first place, which he has so freely given us.

I did begin to think why the need to give him back what he gives to us in the first place. He might as well give us the 90% and keep the 10%. I suppose if that is the case, we will not be able to show where we put our allegiance. Being human, we are almost always allured by wealth and materialism. Hence, God still gives the 100% and leave it to us to proof where our allegiance lie.

Picture by Jaclyn Twidwell

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Adult Fellowship

I was invited to share the Word of God with the Adult Fellowship this evening. I shared with them with an overview of the book of Mark and on parables. Basically I tried to bring across two points:

1. The emphasis to the book of Mark is how can you not tell the good news of Christ?
2. Based on the Parable of the Sower, the encourage is to preach and to evangelise, regardless of what the results may seem to be, the harvest will come eventually, thirty times, sixty times, a hundred times


Friday, June 22, 2007

Rejoice! And again I say, Rejoice!

Today just isn’t my day. It started with me getting a telling off for something that is not my fault and now nearing the end of the working day, I got another telling off for something that is again not my fault. And what a way to spend a Friday.

I need to cool down and keep reminding myself that it is the eternity that I live for and to heed what Paul tells us again and again, that is to rejoice in the Lord.

Picture by Jyn Meyer

Thursday, June 21, 2007


This is a record for me as far as slow blogging days are concerned. I have not been spending enough time reading the bible and praying, nor have I been spending much time catching up on blogs.

But I have been reading some, amongst others Raymond Feist's Magician. I was not a fantasy fan until I watched The Lord of the Rings movie back in 2001. Since then I have caught up by reading the entire trilogy, got hooked onto Paolini's books and now Feist. It is nice to go back to reading storybooks, it brings me back to being a child again!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For thought

"You don't have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body."
~ C.S. Lewis


Monday, June 18, 2007

My Monday Psalm

Psalm 61
The Rock Too High for Me

Hear my cry O God;
.....Listen to my prayer!
From the brink of the abyss I call thee,
.....While my heart is growing faint!
.....Lead me up on the rock too high for me!
For thou has been a refuge for me,
.....A fortress in the face of the enemy.
..........Oh! That I might sojourn in thy tent forever!
...............I would be safe in the shelter of thy wings!

For thou hast heard my vows, even thou, thyself!
.....Thou wilt grant the desire of those who fear thy name.
Wilt thou add many days to the days of the king?
.....Let his years be like the years of many generations!
Let him be enthroned forever in God's presence!
.....Charge fidelity and truth to preserve him!
..........Then I shall celebrate his name forever,
...............And I shall fulfil my vows day after day.

Psalm 61 as translated by Samuel Terrien, The Psalms, (Eerdmans, 2003), 452
Picture by Christopher Bruno

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The way up is down

We were blessed to have STM's TEE Director Sarah Yap preach to us today from 2 passages: Mark 9:33-37 and 10:35-45. The theme of the sermon is leadership.

Mark 9:33-37 (NASB)
33They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?"
34But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
35Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."
36Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
37"Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."

Mark 10:35-45 (NASB)
35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You."
36And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
37They said to Him, "Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory."
38But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
39They said to Him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.
40"But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.
42Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.
43"But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;
44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
45"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

These 2 passages took place right after Jesus spoke about his death. It is ironic that when Jesus talked about dying, the disciples wrestled with greatness.

Henri Nouwen in his book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership discussed the 3 great temptations on Christian leadership.

1. The desire to be relevant
We usually want to be relevant, competent and professional in what we do, driving towards accomplishments. In church ministry, competence will get you pass the door but that's about it. It takes more than competent to make you carry on.

Sarah brought us through a brief look at the history of leadership literature in the market. If we were to look at the publishing of such leadership books in the market, the defining title in the 1980s is definitely Tom Peters In Search of Excellence. But with the many business failures thereafter, there is a need for a new model of leadership. The leadership books of the 1990s were led by Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. And in the 2000s, it is back to square one with Covey's The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. Such irony.

2. The desire to be spectacular
Sometimes our serving of the Lord stems from mixed motives. We need to keep it in check so that we will not rob God of his glory. There is this "dark side of leadership", pride: something we really must be careful of, that we do not gain glory for ourselves but for God. Indeed not an easy thing to do.

3. The desire to be powerful
It is the amazing paradox that Jesus gives us: to be the first, we must first be the last. The truth is, to be powerful is a cheap substitute for the hard task of love. In other words, loving is hard work, being powerful is easier.

Sarah then concludes with a reference to a really beautiful psalm.

Psalm 131 (NASB)
A Song of Ascents, of David.
1O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
.........Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
.........Or in things too difficult for me.
2Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
.........Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
.........My soul is like a weaned child within me.
3O Israel, hope in the LORD
.........From this time forth and forever.

This is a song written by David, though king was humbled as a child before God.

Nor my eyes haughty: his eyes are not lifted up to see only the honoured but focussed on the Lord. He does not undervalue or overvalue people.

Nor do I involved myself in great matters,or in things too difficult for me: David is not preoccuppied by anything great but God.

Like a weaned child: just like a 3 or 4 year old child weaned from his mother, David is composed, quiet and secure. Just like the child's relationship with the mother, David has a strong bond with God, having fed on his word and being in his presence.

Hope in the Lord: hope, the anchor of the soul (Heb 6:19).


Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Thousand Words #31

A truly blessed Saturday and a great weekend.
Glory to God in the highest!

Picture by Cornelis Steenstra

Friday, June 15, 2007

I am back!

The past 4 days have been good. The training went well and I had a good time. However, the bad news is that my notebook computer went kaput again. It's a long story. I'll spare you the details. But that means that the posts that I have been working on are inaccessible and the slides that I have been preparing for the MS Powerpoint training tomorrow are stuck in there as well.

The posts will have to wait and I have spent the last couple of hours reproducing the slides for tomorrow's use. It's not a loss.

Meanwhile, I am glad to be back and happy to be with family again.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

I am going home

Finally, we are done training and I am thankful to the Lord that all went well.

Picture by Juan Miguel Rodríguez

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now my eyes have seen you

I was reading Robert Fyall's Now My Eyes Have Seen You, Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job (Apollos, 2002); or at least I tried to read it during the little free time I have. Someone did catch me reading and was surprised that I read to relax. (I told her I do but little did she know the kind of books I read to relax!)

I did not proceed on much with this book, and so I would not be able to provide much of a review of it but I found this interesting in the first few pages that I did manage to read:

"God is not carrying an experiment to see if Job's piety survives the loss of his prosperity ... suffering and calamity are under God's sovereignty. This is not a simplistic proposition and the suffering is real. The book abounds with hard questions and much mystery remains. Yet there is never a question that Job will turn away from God. His protest are not those of the atheist but of the baffled believer." (p.23)

I simply love the phrase "the baffled believer", which I think we all are in our own ways.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things on earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

I have been spending the past 11 hours facilitating a training session and back in my hotel room, I spent a few minutes in worship with this song. I focused on different portions of the song as I sang it.

Turn your eyes – as much as I worship him in all that I do, here comes a time that I want to turn my eyes back on him. I spend the biggest bulk of my time at work and I must be mindful to remember to turn my eyes back on my Lord.

Look full – thinking about it, I have not really looked full into anyone’s faces other than my husband’s and my son’s. What would it mean to look fully into the face of Christ? I can think a few words, I am sure you can come up with more: holiness, love, compassion, service, eternity, truth, way, life.

Grow strangely dim – usually the things that we hold dear are not so important (other than our dear ones of course) and these are the things that should grow dim in the light of eternity. It may seem strange to us because we really thought they were important, and then not.

His glory and grace - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Our Lord Jesus is with doxa and charis, glory and grace. He is both majestic and kind, glorious and gracious. In whatever circumstance I am in, I am standing in his glory and his grace.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Slow going these 4 days

I will be going to Port Dickson to facilitate a 4-day training session starting from today till Thursday. I hope I will still be able to blog but it will be slow blogging days.

Till then!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How to: ppt for preachers/lecturers

Today’s sermon and worship touched me in a very special way and I want to spend more time with it before posting. Rev Christopher Rao spoke to us on “The Human Touch” from Matthew 14:22-33. Look out for it!

Meanwhile, I am in the midst of preparing for training in church this coming Sunday on “Using MS Powerpoint for Church Services” and I thought it may be useful to come up with some pointers for preachers and lecturers as well, those who use Powerpoint slides in delivering their sermons or lectures.

I been producing slide decks for church services for about 6 years now, and have very much enjoyed doing it, though it was hard work – at times we stayed up late into the morning to work on several decks for the few different services. I remember I used to work on them till 4 am especially when errant worship leaders sent out their song sheets as late as on a Saturday. I think it is still happening to Grace who is producing the slide decks now. Be kind to her, people!

I digressed. Back to the useful tips: based on what I have experienced and learnt, I hope you will find these useful.

1. Make use of the Slide Master in [View], [Master], [Slide Master]. Whatever changes you make here would be universal.

2. If you use a lot of pictures or photos in your slide deck, it is a good practice to compress them when your slide deck is completed. I have once helped my lecturer compressed his slide deck from 40MB to just 4MB! You can do it by right-clicking on any picture, [Format Picture], at the [Picture] tab, [Compress], [All pictures in the document], [Web/Screen], [OK]. But do run through all your pictures after the compression especially if you have cropped them. You might need to re-crop them.

3. Always print out a set of handouts of the slides for the driver (the person who operates the Powerpoint slides while you deliver your piece). This is help them a whole lot by allowing them to have an idea when the slide should be changed without having you to utter "Next slide please?", putting unwanted interruptions in your preaching.

4. If you are driving the slides, it is useful for you to know the slide numbers, hence have a printed copy of the slides. Halfway through your preaching or lecturing, you may need to go back or front to a specific slide. In using visual aids, you need to minimize disturbance and maximize flow. So it makes sense to go to that slide directly (and not click, click, click and click through hundreds of slides to go to “Ah! This one!” and then to click, click, click and click through hundreds of slides to go back where you were. You get the idea.) While still on Slide Show mode, find out the slide number, type it on the keyboard (yes, the black square keys below the screen) and press the [Enter] key.

5. It would be advisable for you to forward a copy of your slide deck to the relevant people at least a day before the event. You might think that your slides are so simple that you can plug and play but believe me, I have had instances where after plugging in the sermon slides, the system went berserk and even the regular service slides could not go on. Therefore, don’t assume the system is the same wherever you go, it isn’t. To give you an idea, some churches uses wireless connection while some may use a double monitor arrangement. You may think the system should work since you are only bringing the content. The thing is, things happen and you may not have the experts or specialists around that particular Sunday. So to be sure all work well, give them your slide deck way before the event.

6. Style and taste is personal and so I won’t go there, i.e. what colour or font or font size to use. Some pointers though, if you don’t know them already: know the layout of the place and congregation well and use the appropriate font size. Avoid “loud” slides, minimise on unneeded features (e.g. shadowed fonts are actually quite difficult to read). What I find works is dark background and pale coloured text, because then the slides are kinder on the eyes. Minimise “noise” by sticking to just one type of animation or slide transition if you choose to use them. One more thing on text I learn is that to reduce “noise” on slides, use san-serif fonts. (San-serif fonts are those without edges, for example Arial and Verdana as opposed to those like Times and Georgia.)

7. I find that it is useful to place a blank black slide where you want a break and not show the next slide. For example, at the end of a sermon point, you may want to do some reflection or activity. Have a blank black slide there and you can carry on doing what you need to do in perfect flow. When you are done, click on and you are onto the next slide. But remember to tell your Powerpoint driver about it! To create a blank black slide, add new slide, right click on the non-text area, [Background], [Omit background graphics from master], click on the colour tab and choose black, [Apply].

8. There are a lot of hot-keys you can use if you are driving your own slides. To try them out, press on F1 when you are on Slide Show mode to get the list. Examples: Ctrl-A to have your cursor show at all times (as it tends to fade out if you leave it idle), B to turn your presentation to a black screen and W to white.

I think this should suffice. Do let me know if you have any needs and I will be delighted to see if I can help.

Picture by Steve Schlange

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What is: The Kingdom of God

Matthew 6:33 (NASB)
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I have recited this verse since I was a kid - it is familiar, maybe too familiar. As I thought about it again, I began to really ask, what is the kingdom of God?

Mark 4:26-20 (NASB)
26 And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows-- how, he himself does not know. 28 "The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 "But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Mark 4:30-32 (NASB)
30 And He said, "How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? 31 "It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE."

Luke 13:20-21 (NASB)
20 And again He said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

These passages point to the kingdom of God as a growing harvest: it never occurred to me. The kingdom of God is the sovereign reign of our Heavenly God, the King. It is a kingdom that is both now and not yet. But when Matthew, Mark and Luke describes it, they refer to it as a growing and enlarging realm. Would it then be logical that to seek first His kingdom is missiological in essence?


Friday, June 08, 2007

Chicken and sermon

I do not know how this phrase came about but I was running around like a headless chicken today - and indeed I was. I will be in Port Dickson from Monday to Thursday next week to facilitate a training and even before it all began, things have begun to go wrong. First with the hotel and then with the participants and then more. God help me!

Anyway, Kar Yong just started his blog: the homilia of a budding NT scholar. I enjoyed reading his post on My Sermon: What Story Are You Telling?: it is not an easy thing to do, to preach a well constructed, expository and application sermon; and indeed it is such a delight to be listening to one such sermon.

Picture by David Kindness

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The worker's theology

Albert Nolan, O.P is a brother of the Vicariate General of Southern Africa. He is currently the Novice Master of the vicariate. He is a well known author with three major titles to his name, Jesus Before Christianity, God in South Africa and Jesus Today. In the 1990s, as a result of his conviction that theology must come from the grassroots level and not an academic, he started a radical church magazine called Challenge, of which he was the editor for many years.

In his article "Work, the Bible, Workers, and Theologians: Elements of a Workers' Theology" (1996), he is convinced that "a genuine theology of work will have to be a worker's theology, that is to say, a theology constructed by workers and for workers - a theological reflection of workers upon their experience of work and their experience of struggle." This is so that they can determine whether their interests are being addressed.

He feels that theologians know about it, heard about it, read about it and have talked about it, but it is not their experience. They deal with it and speculate about it secondhand. As such, he concludes that their theology of work will be of minimal interest and value to Christian workers. He continues saying that they who do not have the experience of work, no matter how well they know the Bible and the Christian tradition, they will never be able to see in God's word what the workers see in God's word.

I am not sure if I agree completely with him. To a certain extent, he may be right. But is there really a dichotomy between the work of pastors/theologians/bible scholars and the rest of us? Should there be? Don't we face the same struggles and issues? We both serve men, but ultimately we both serve God. We both face stress of deadlines, of work pressures. We both work hard, be it physically or mentally. Is there a difference?

Nolan suggested a framework for us to start thinking about the theology work: in the form of a series of questions.

1. Is work a blessing or a curse?
2. Does the Bible see work as a blessing or as curse?
3. How can work be redeemed?
4. How does the redemption of work fit into God's redemption?

What are your thoughts?

Picture by Gfree

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The theology of work

What does it mean to work as a Christian? Where do we draw the line as far as the kind of work or industries we allow ourselves to work in? How can we become salt and light in our workplace when we are often deemed as fools?

A theology, according to Augustine, is supposed to nourish, strengthen, and confirm the faith of Christians. As such, we need to have a theology of work: we need to understand what work is, how does it sit in the Kingdom of God, how should we as Christians deal with it.

I have downloaded some articles and shall spend some time reading them.

Nolan, Albert. "Work, the Bible, Workers, and Theologians : Elements of a Workers' Theology." Semeia no 73 (1996): 213-20.
Abstract: What does it mean to construct a genuine theology of work? This essay discusses the elements involved in developing a theology of work that is the product of workers themselves. The usual role of the professional theologian as the expert who uses the insights of others is analyzed and critiqued. A rather different role for the theologian emerges within a process in which the experience, faith, biblical interpretations, and interests of workers are fundamental.

Roels, Shirley J. "The Christian Calling to Business Life." Theology Today 60 no 3 O (2003): 357-69.
Extract: Deepening the idea of business as a Christian calling requires understanding the nature of Christian vocation from both biblical and theological sources. By rerooting such perspectives in the central messages of Scripture about creation, sin, and renewal, the vocation of business can be more fully grasped.

Davidson, James and David C. Caddell. "Religion and the Meaning of Work." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 33 Je (1994): 135-47.
Introduction: Most studies of work focus almost exclusively on secular antecedents of "work commitment," "work involvement," and work as a "central life interest." We argue that religion also influences the way people think of work. We use data from 1,869 Protestants and Catholics to test a theory that includes six religious factors, five work conditions» and other personal attributes. Work-related factors have the most effect, followed by religion, especially religious commitment and social justice beliefs. Among personal attributes, education, family income, and gender have a significant effect on orientations toward work.

Kolden, Marc. "Work and Meaning: Some Theological Reflections." Interpretation 48 Jl (1994): 262-71.
Introduction: Because work is of central significance in our lives, it is important to ask theologically about its meaning. At its crassest, the Protestant work ethic suggests that to do work well and to amass wealth are religious duties. In reflecting on the meaning of work, one does well to take the sixteenth-century Reformers as a point of departure. Here work is associated with God the Creator, who continually creates. In work, we humans become co-workers with God and stewards of creation. By our work, we serve not only ourselves in necessary ways but also God, our neighbors, and the larger good.

Volf, Miroslav. "Human Work, Divine Spirit, and New Creation: Toward a Pneumatological Understanding of Work." Pneuma 9 Fall (1987): 173-93.
Introduction: The purpose of this article is to suggest and make plausible a pneumatological understanding of human work. One could think that with such an introductory statement, I have indicated clearly enough the subject matter to be considered and should proceed without further explanation. But this is most likely not the case. So a further word of clarification is needed. Surprisingly enough, a lack of clarity concerning the subject matter at hand—understanding work from the perspective of the Spirit—lies less in the obscure nature of the mysterious Spirit of God than in the vagueness of our concept of mundane work. Thus in order to indicate clearly the scope of the inquiry I need to interject a word about what I understand work to be.

Picture by Ricardo Marques

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The eternity in my heart

I am again reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:11, He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end (NIV).

Sometimes, time travels
Sometimes, it lasts forever
Sometimes, I am happy
Sometimes, I wish I'd disappear
And yet everything that God has made
Is beautiful
But they are only so
In its time, I know
So when times are good
I won't take for granted
My God, my Redeemer
May His name be exalted
And when times are bad
As they often do you see
I'll remember that
I live in eternity
He has set eternity in my heart
Which is why I always tend
To attain perfection
To every end
So the next time I feel
Like the world has come to a stop
And things aren't in place
Or my bubble just went pop
I will remember
The eternity
In my heart

All rights reserved © 2007 Pearlie Ng
Picture by Teaa

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Follow me

Rev Christopher Rao spoke to us from Luke 5:1-11 today about discipleship. The call to follow him, to trust him and to serve him. A sermon was preached on the same passage some weeks ago: Disciple-Fisher of Men.

Luke 5:1-11 (NASB)
1Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;
2and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.
3And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
4When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
5Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets."
6When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break;
7so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
8But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"
9For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken;
10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men."
11When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

Peter was a fisherman. He is skilled and trained to fish. Peter's encounter with Jesus, whether or not personally, was when his mother-in-law was healed by Jesus of a high fever. Now he is again with Jesus as he was teaching by the lake. When it got too crowded, Jesus got into Peter's boat. After Jesus finished teaching, he asked Peter to put out his net into deep water. Peter must have thought, "what would this teacher know about fishing" but instead he obeyed, and as a result, it was a lot of hard work, commotion and a good haul of fishes that filled several boats.

Like Peter, we may think we are on familiar grounds. But when God calls us to do something we thought we knew so well not to do, by obeying, it will bring him glory. Jesus revealed to Peter who he is, as Peter opened himself to him. We too need to open our hearts to Jesus so that he will speak to us. We need to open our eyes to see and our ears to hear and our hearts to receive him.

Jesus says, "Follow me." Will you follow him? It is discipleship. It dying to yourself. It is carrying your own cross. It is suffering. Will you follow him?

Picture by Jim H

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lina Joy

CCM Press Statement on
Court of Appeal Judgement on Lina Joy

The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) views with great regret and concern the majority judgement that was made yesterday by the Court of Appeal.

We believe that the constitutional provision in Article 11 which guarantees freedom of religion in our country has been severely violated.

The majority judgement has denied the individual a right guaranteed under the constitution, a right to freedom of conscience and choice of religion. It would appear that the constitution is being read subject to extraneous (Syariah) considerations.

It is, therefore, vital that the necessary legislation be enacted to ensure that no citizen would feel penalized when he or she exercises the individual right to choose a faith and to practice it in freedom.

The CCM calls on the government to set in motion measures to protect religious freedom as originally envisaged in the Federal Constitution of 1957.

On this our 50th anniversary of Merdeka we cannot feel a strong sense of celebration when a citizen like Lina Joy, and others like her, have their rights taken away from them from the very courts that are duty bound to protect the civil liberties of all citizens and treat all equal under the law.

Rev. Dr. Thomas Philips

Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri
General Secretary

Dated: 31st May 2007

Federal Court rejects Lina's appeal in a majority decision
Judge: It’s illegal and unreasonable
Lina unhappy with decision
CJ: NRD’s requirement is reasonable
Mixed reaction to court decision

CCM's website

Friday, June 01, 2007

Isaiah 33 (NASB)

I must admit I have not been reading and meditating much on God's word lately. I made myself do so today and the reading was on Isaiah 33. The chapter relates to what happened in Isaiah 32, the distress suffered by Judah and Jerusalem by the invasion of Sennacherib.

It can be divided into these sections:

I. "Woe to you" (v.1-4)
1 Woe to you, O destroyer,
While you were not destroyed;
And he who is treacherous,
while others did not deal treacherously with him.
As soon as you finish destroying,
you will be destroyed;
As soon as you cease to deal treacherously,
others will deal treacherously with you.
2 O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You.
Be their strength every morning,
Our salvation also in the time of distress.
3 At the sound of the tumult peoples flee;
At the lifting up of Yourself nations disperse.
4 Your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers;
As locusts rushing about men rush about on it.

II. The mercy and power of God (v.5-6)
5 The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high;
He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
6 And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the LORD is his treasure.

III. Distress and despair (v.7-9)
7 Behold, their brave men cry in the streets,
The ambassadors of peace weep bitterly.
8 The highways are desolate, the traveler has ceased,
He has broken the covenant, he has despised the cities,
He has no regard for man.
9 The land mourns and pines away,
Lebanon is shamed and withers;
Sharon is like a desert plain,
And Bashan and Carmel lose their foliage.

IV. Promise of deliverance (v.10-13)
10 "Now I will arise," says the LORD,
"Now I will be exalted, now I will be lifted up.
11 "You have conceived chaff, you will give birth to stubble;
My breath will consume you like a fire.
12 "The peoples will be burned to lime,
Like cut thorns which are burned in the fire.
13 "You who are far away, hear what I have done;
And you who are near, acknowledge My might."

V. Apprehension of the wicked (v.14-19)
14 Sinners in Zion are terrified;
Trembling has seized the godless.
"Who among us can live with the consuming fire?
Who among us can live with continual burning?"
15 He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity,
He who rejects unjust gain
And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe;
He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed
And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil;
16 He will dwell on the heights,
His refuge will be the impregnable rock;
His bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.
17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
They will behold a far-distant land.

18 Your heart will meditate on terror:
"Where is he who counts? Where is he who weighs?
Where is he who counts the towers?"

19 You will no longer see a fierce people,
A people of unintelligible speech which no one comprehends,
Of a stammering tongue which no one understands.

V. The righteous is secure (v.20-24)
20 Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts;
Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an undisturbed habitation,
A tent which will not be folded;
Its stakes will never be pulled up,
Nor any of its cords be torn apart.
21 But there the majestic One, the LORD, will be for us
A place of rivers and wide canals
On which no boat with oars will go,
And on which no mighty ship will pass--
22 For the LORD is our judge,

The LORD is our lawgiver,
The LORD is our king;
He will save us--
23 Your tackle hangs slack;
It cannot hold the base of its mast firmly,
Nor spread out the sail.
Then the prey of an abundant spoil will be divided;
The lame will take the plunder.
24 And no resident will say, "I am sick";
The people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

What caught my eye was v.6: And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the LORD is his treasure.

This is certainly God's promise to us. He is our stability no matter how violently our world rocks. He is our foundation, our salvation, our wisdom and our knowledge. What is required of us is fear. To fear God is to give him reverence, obedience, worship, adoration and submission. And indeed, the fear of the Lord is our treasure.

Picture by Adrian Yee