Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Superlatively bookalicious!

Yesterday, my good and dear friend Susan of Penless Writer gave me a challenge:

"My challenge to my blog friends is this: write 8 of your blog friends names in a unique way and post them. Then come back over and let me know. You must write the blogger's name that tagged you, then add 7 others. Be creative and if possible use the natural wonders of the world!"

I am to tag 7 bloggers on top of Susan. I told Susan that my blogger friends aren’t really the taggable type and that I most probably would not be able to tag 7. I thought about it and decided to bless, not tag. Therefore you do not need to carry this on if you do not want to.

Susan tagged me, using stones. She wrote our names on stones she collected from her travels. I choose to use the books I have collected through the years. I dedicate these books to these special people. I may not have read all these books yet but I chose them for you for a special reason.

Susan of Penless Writer
Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
Susan is the sweetest of all my blogger friends. I chose this for her because she both reminds me of Elisabeth Elliot and in her simplicity encourages me to keep a quiet heart and just marvel at the hugeness of God.

Kevin of The Familyhood Church
Table Talk by Martin Luther
Kevin is the most “prolific” of all my blogger friend and for this reason, I dedicate to him Martin Luther’s Table Talk. I look forward to just sit at a table and talk God with Kevin, and highly probable that I will be dwarfed by him (as he will be dwarfed by Luther).

DugALug of Weapons of Mass Deduction
Now My Eyes Have Seen You by Robert S. Fyall

Doug is my first blogger friend. He has not been in bloggerland for awhile though he still pops in once in awhile, and I am always glad to see him. I dedicated this book to him as he struggles on for Christ.

Julia of Kingdom Jewels
Love in Hard Places by DA Carson
Julia is my dearest blogger friend. We have been together through slow days and good days, bloggerly speaking. I see in her a love for God, for her family, for what she does at work and at home, for the people around her. So I dedicated this book to her as I see in her much love, even in the hard places.

Milly of The Milly Times
Keep in Step with the Spirit by JI Packer
Milly is the most matter-of-fact blogger friend. She speaks her mind, she says her piece, she shares her thoughts. With this I dedicated this book to her: as she continues to keep in step and step on with the Spirit of God.

Missy of Texas Chilly
Joy Unspeakable by D.Martin Lloyd Jones

Missy is the most energetic of my blogger friends. I dedicate this book to her as she continues to spark off the joy of Christ to all around her.

Karen of TSSO!
Showing the Spirit by DA Carson
Karen is the most artistic of my blogger friend, in words and thoughts as well. I dedicate this book to her as she shows to other her spirit in Christ through her work and her words.

Alex of Random Musings from a Doctor’s Chair
Between Two Worlds by John Stott

Alex is my first blogger partner-in-crime as far as books are concerned, but I would not for the life of me be able to match his monthly book frenzy where he buys them by the dozens. I dedicated this book to him as he continues to shine for Christ between the two worlds. (Hmm… Augustine’s City of God would also be a good choice, but I have not yet got that one on my shelves.)

There, eight! Seriously, you do not have to carry on with the tag. Like what Susan said to me, "I just wanted you on mine".

Thanks for being a blessing to me and God bless y'all!


Monday, July 30, 2007

Why bother to pray?

Elisabeth Elliot in Keep a Quiet Heart asks "Why Bother to Pray?" I have asked and still ask the same question. Because if God is sovereign and eternal, would I make a difference?

Up to this point of time, what I can make out is that prayer is truly mysterious. However I try to understand prayer, it escapes me. But I will continue to do so and not be satisfied by it just being mysterious.

Meanwhile, I am going to pray anyway because God told us to. Jesus prays, Paul prays, and so should I.

Picture by Markus Biehal

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Missionary Atheism

We have Mr Joshua Synder from Youth With a Mission (YWAM) to speak to us today. His sermon is entitled “Missionary Atheism: Removing the Blocks to Fulfilling God’s Vision for the Global Church”. The text he has chosen is from Revelations 7:9-10.

Rev 7:9-10 (ESV)
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
The message he brought to us is basically that the church globally is not complete. It is not complete because it is not yet complete with people from every nation, every tribe and every people and every language. This is why we must not be what Joshua termed, a missionary atheist.

Personally, I felt the word “atheist” a bit too strong but I do understand why he used it. There some of us who feels that it’d be okay for me to believe in Christ but for that particular group of people, maybe not. If an atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or gods, I would then explain missionary atheist as a person who does not believe in a God who has mission and evangelism as part of his plan. Well, as far as I am concern, I do believe in a God who is a missionary God but how much I would, or would not for that matter, engage myself in it would be my form of “missionary atheism”.

Joshua gave some compelling reasons why being missionary atheistic is not an option for us Christians. If we refer to the bible, it is obvious and clear cut. God is a missionary God. Right from the beginning in Genesis up to Revelations, we read about God reaching out to the people and leading his people to reach out to more people. If we look at how Christianity has reached our shores, we must be thankful for the missionaries who sacrificed so much to bring us the Good News. Missionary atheism is not an option. It is a requirement for us to be missionaries.

We must then be transformed in 3 ways: in the mind, in the heart and in the will. We must change our old way of thinking, remove our ethnocentricity and ask for the grace to be a missionary – in Jerusalem, in our own home; in all Judaea and Samaria, among our neighbours, geographically or categorically; and to the ends of the world.

There are a few ways we can be involved in mission work. We can ourselves by God’s calling, be missionaries. We can get involved in short-term mission work, whether a week or a year. We can release our children to do mission work. We can support mission workers financially and spiritually. There’s YWAM, Wycliffe, World Vision.

I had a word with Joshua after the service to ask him about his thoughts on short-term mission. I had my reservations. I felt that short-term mission if not done properly may not be beneficial to the receiving party. Joshua agrees and gave me an analogy: it could be like the monkey on a tree pulling a fish out of the water to “save” it, because to the monkey, life is better on a tree. However, he says that short-term mission is good. If done well, it can bring the needed help and relief to the people who need them. He says that if the language and culture are similar between two parties, the time needed for the work to bear fruit is shorter: which is why how “short” a short-term mission trip should be, depends on a lot of factors.

In small ways,
I don’t think I am a missionary atheist.
In bigger ways,
I just might be one.
Lord, I believe,
help my unbelief.

Picture by Felipe Daniel Reis

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Autobots, fromage and fiction

We have our weekend planned out perfectly.

SH had his round of golf today.

Calvin and I stayed at home. We cleaned and I did the laundry.

My brother had got us tickets and we went to watch Transformers. The movie was a blast, to the true sense of the word.

We had Italian for dinner: fromage and pizza, crème brulee and tiramisu.

We went to the bookstore. I bought Paul Levinson’s The Plot to Save Socrates and SH got the remainder 2 books of the Age of the Five trilogy by Trudi Canavan, Last of the Wilds and Voice of the Gods.

I thank God, for his blessings, for family.


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Lowly Virtue by Carol Zaleski

I was scouring through the ATLAS series of journals on humility when I found Carol Zaleski's "The Lowly Virtue" in Christian Century (May 16, 2000). It was such a good read that I planned to post some quotes from the article but instead, I wrote to her asking permission to post the entire article here. I am glad I asked. She was so kind and gracious, and she gave me permission.

I was trying to understand humility within the working world. Humility is not a virtue that is sought after, not at all. On the contrary pride is: be proud of yourself, be proud of what you can do, be proud of what you know, showcase your skills, flaunt your know-how, you can do it, etc.

The article "The Lowly Virtue" therefore, was a breath of fresh air for me.

Ms Zaleski in her reply said that it is so true, that so many of the words used to represent vices have had their meaning subtly (or not so subtly) altered so that they come out as virtues: pride, ambition, and curiosity.

Here is her article:

The lowly virtue
by Carol Zaleski

The other day my class was discussing George Herbert's Humilitie, a poetic dream-vision in which the virtues, personified as court officials, accept "tokens of submission" from beasts and fowls who allegorically represent the vices. Spoiled by the tribute, the virtues fall to squabbling:

... as they beheld the grace
Of that brave gift, each one began to fume,
And challenge it, as proper to his place,
Till they fell out: which when the beasts espied,
They leapt upon the throne ...

Anarchy ensues until Humilitie, stationed beneath the azure throne of the virtues, intervenes to restore order. Why, my students wondered, is humility set apart from the other virtues? Why does humility persevere when the other virtues fail? Come to think of it, why does the well-known list of cardinal and theological virtues (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude; faith, hope and love) omit humility, vanquisher of the chief deadly sin of pride?

Perhaps it’s because humility has no use for tokens of submission. Humility's job is not to crown the virtues but to serve them and infuse them with the spirit of the beatitudes ("Blessed are the meek"). Always taking the lower place, humility is unskilled in public relations. Hence the rumor persists of a disreputable liaison between humility and obsequiousness. Strange rumor indeed, since genuine humility is difficult to fake. One quickly sees through the mock-humility of Shakespeare's Gloucester or Dickens's Uriah Heep. Nor is the self-abnegation that turns wounded girls into cutters and anorexics a friend of true humility. Humiliation is an affliction; humility is a gift. Genuine humility orders the soul, bestowing clarity, calmness and competence. "He is humble," writes Walter Hilton, "that truly knows himself as he is."

The best advertisement for humility, the best way to set the record straight, is to meet a saint or a saint-in-progress; and the best way to find one—at the grocery store, in the pew, in the monastic cloister or in line at the post office— is to smell out humility.

We all know that smell. We may even take it for granted when it graces our friends and neighbors. Occasionally, though, it takes a startling form, as my husband and I discovered many years ago. We had just begun a nine-month sojourn in a studio apartment in Paris, where I was working on my dissertation. Early one morning my husband answered a knock at the door, thinking it might be the plumber our landlady had promised to send to fix the heating system. As I emerged from the bathroom I saw something that stopped me in my tracks: Dom Jean Leclercq, the famous Benedictine medievalist, was crouching alongside my husband, peering at the pipes and trying to be helpful. He had received a letter of inquiry from me and decided to answer it in person. Here was a world-class scholar, a legend in his own lifetime, the most famous living monk next to Thomas Merton—and my husband took him for a plumber! The embarrassment faded, however, as soon as it became clear that Jean Leclercq was perfectly comfortable being taken for a plumber, perfectly willing to fix our pipes if he could, perfectly willing to sit in our homely surroundings, share a baguette and discuss 12th-century thought. This is not the way distinguished medievalists, generally speaking, comport themselves with their inferiors. But it is the most characteristic of monastic traits.

In my decidedly unmonastic town there are lots of cars with bumper stickers of the "I am woman, hear me roar" variety. An especially popular one is "Well-behaved women rarely make history." The source for this slogan, improbably enough, is a remark made by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a historian of colonial American life who has devoted her scholarly career to studying the lives of ordinary unheralded women—midwives, weavers, healers, housewives—by means of their diaries and household artifacts. Ulrich's books (A Midwifes Tale, The Age of Homespun, Good Wives) reveal the complexity, depth and essential goodness of countless women who rarely made history because they rarely made scenes, instead turning their attention, like Jean Leclercq, to the task at hand.

Humility may not be the most prestigious of the virtues; it lacks the supremacy of the theological virtues and the "manliness" of the classical virtues. It lays a foundation in the soil (humus, whence humilitas) for the edifice of the virtues. It makes a ladder, according to St. Benedict and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, with the strange property that whoever descends its steps will rise. Well-behaved women who rarely make history know this ladder, and so do medievalist monks who try to fix the pipes. Our friends who are using all the money they earn from their housecleaning business to start a school in a nomadic region of eastern Tibet know this ladder; so does our mail carrier, who has been sidelined by an injured Achilles tendon; so does the shopkeeper downtown who is showing signs of Parkinson's disease; so does the librarian who is legally blind but devoted to tracking down (with the aid of a massive magnifying glass) any minute reference that might be helpful to a young scholar; so does a beloved teacher of mine, now struggling to recover from a stroke.

The plumbers union in heaven, to which Jean Leclercq ascended 13 years ago, must be crowded with people who never attracted renown for their heroic virtues or achievements but who in attentive, loving obedience to their given tasks plumbed the depths of humility while on earth.

Carol Zaleski teaches at Smith College.

Zaleski, Carol. "The lowly virtue." Christian Century 123 no 10 (My 16 2006): 33. (posted with permission)

Picture by Elke Rohn

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I give you thanks

Psalm 138 (ESV)
1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
........before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
........and give thanks to your name
........for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
........for you have exalted above all things
........your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
........my strength of soul you increased.
4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
........for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
........for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
........but the haughty he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
........you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
........and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
........your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
........Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Neither go back in fear and misgiving to the past,
nor in anxiety and forecasting to the future;
but lie quiet under His hand, having no will but His.

~ H.E. Manning

Picture by Nick Benjaminsz

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Several ways to make yourself miserable

Elisabeth Elliot's take on being miserable:

1. Count your troubles, name them one by one – at the breakfast table, if anybody will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.

2. Worry everyday about something. Don't let yourself get out of practice. It won't add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.

3. Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.

4. Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon. After all, a man’s gotta live.

5. Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they’re going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do it.

6. Stay away from the absolutes. It’s what’s right for you that matters. Be your own person and do not allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.

7. Make sure you get your rights. Never mind other people’s. You have your life to live, they have theirs.

8. Don’t fall into any compassion traps – the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people’s troubles, you may neglect your own.

9. Don’t let the Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what’s really relevant – things like TV and newspapers. Invisible things are eternal. You want to stick with the visible ones – they’re where it’s at now.

Source: Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart, 1995.

Picture by Steve Ford Elliot

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

HP and the Deathly Hallows

I have been reading the last installment of the Harry Potter series for 3 nights. I refused to read anything relating to it for fear of spoilers.

I finished it. I enjoyed it. It was a good read.

Now is the time to check out the latest news about the craze. Alex has posted some links. Meanwhile, this was what happened in the Malaysian front. I got my copy from Carrefour. My set is now complete.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Religious freedom

I found this at The Economist website. The Hudson Institute's Centre for Religious Freedom has provided some comparisons on measures of religious freedom, political rights and civil liberties using rankings from other sources.

What do you make out of it?

source: The Economist

The full survey files from Hudson is found here.
The full list of the above measures is found here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Church Camp, Port Dickson: Day 2

It is my birthday today, 22 Jul. The group celebrated the July babies, and I found another sharing the same birthday! Check out the possibility of that happening here. I have read before somewhere that the probability of a group filled with 23 people with at least two of them having the same birthday is more than half. So it was intriguing that I found my “twin”.

The session we had this morning was very special. We continued with our sharing and celebrating one another by blessing each other with a passage from the bible and a picture that represents our blessing for them. We were randomly given a person to bless. I had to double-up since Calvin was also involved and all he did was cut up pictures of food for the other person! The kids were all in a playful mood and they did have a blast of a time during this camp.

Therefore I blessed 2 people, one with Colossians 1:9-14 and the other Hebrews 12:1-17. The Hebrews one, by God’s leading hand, was spot on and I was grateful I was able to bless someone in such a special way.

I, on the other hand was being blessed with a passage in Exodus which is about the midwives when Pharaoh wanted to kill all the Hebrew babies (I was not given the verses, I must check them out soon). I know that it will be relevant, though it is still somewhere out there. I will look for it.

And I got this picture! SH and I had a good laugh over it.

Camp pictures!

The youth: the brazen bunch. This is the result of one of the ice-breaking game we had the day before. My "twin" is second from right, Addison.

The kids at the pool. By the way, it was raining the whole 2 days during the camp. But rain or no rain, the kids had to go for a swim, at least once! Not a good shot, I know, but it was raining.

Church service today was informal and different but it was great nonetheless. We did not follow the usual liturgy but had a great bonding time of blessing one another.

Calvin with the girls! The other boys were in Transformer mode running all over the place.

It is now usual that while the photographers are taking a group photo, they get a shot of themselves as well.

All go home! See you next Sunday!

We were back home by 3pm and I made plans to have a nice dinner with family: my mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece, SH and Calvin.

And we went to Delicious in Bangsar for dinner. Delicious!

Here's to a great day, a great church, a great family, and a great birthday!

Thank you Lord for your overflowing blessings. You are generous, you are good. I thank you, I love you, I praise you.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Church Camp, Port Dickson: Day 1

The theme for our church’s first camp is:
Celebrating Life:
- celebrating God
- celebrating one another
- serving one another

The camp did not turn out to be a learning camp for me as it was with all my previous camps but it does have a good purpose. Its main purpose is for member bonding and it has done just that.

The camp started with me leading them in an ice-breaking session (as far as I can remember, I have been doing that for the past 4 to 5 church camps, so you can say that I am an old-hand at that). I found a great source for cell-group based activities here and helped myself. By God’s grace, the ice-breaking session went well and it gave everyone a good starting point to connect with one another.

The evening was spent with 3 church leaders sharing with us their thoughts on the theme: celebrating God, celebrating one another and serving one another. It was a meaningful time to remember who God is, who we are as a church and how we can serve one another.


Friday, July 20, 2007

ID/Evolution Chuckles

Alex posted cartoons on the evolution-intelligent design topic and Codepoke talked about Teaching Evolution. I find it so interesting that three people can be at the same topic at the same time (both of them on Jul 17 and I on Jul 18).

Here are some of the cartoons which gave me chuckles.

"Getting Crafty"

Family Trip

Science is great!

Independent Thinking

Weak Teaching

Literally Open for Business

Cartoons from After Eden

note: I will not be posting on time tomorrow and Sunday as we will be off to a church camp in Port Dickson. I had wanted to bring along Pearcey's Total Truth to fill in the free time but I just got reminded that I have Three Views on Creation and Evolution! Looking forward to digging in.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

BibleReader in Java

I have changed my mobile phone into a Java-based one not long ago, the Sony W850i. I was not too happy when I discovered that I have to give up using the NKJV in the BibleReader, something I have been doing all this while in my Palm Zire and subsequently the Nokia 6680, a Symbian phone.

I received an update from OliveTree.com today announcing that they have updates for BibleReader in Java.

Hip-hip-hurrah! Check it out here. I still would not be able to use the NKJV but at least now I have the bible with me almost all the time.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The disambiguation of "Intelligent Design"

SH once told me that he did not agree with the intelligent design movement.

To try to understand where he is coming from, I felt that there could be some disambiguation about the term intelligent design itself that needs clarification.

The term may refer to different philisophical or human activity domains. It can refer to either the teleological argument or the intelligent design movement.

The teleological argument, also referred to as the argument from design, is an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design and direction in nature. It supposes that there is a purpose or directive principle in the works and processes of nature. The argument basically states that X is too complex, orderly, adaptive, purposeful and beautiful to have occurred randomly or accidently. Therefore X must have been created by a sentient, intelligent, wise and purposeful being. God is a sentient, intelligent, wise and purposeful being. Therefore, God exists.

The intelligent design movement on the other hand is a neo-creationist campaign that calls for broad social, academic and political changes derived from the concept of intelligent design. The movement seeks to defeat a materialistic worldview through discreditting evolution by emphasising "flaws" in the theory of evolution. The movement is a product of The Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think-tank.

I have not even begin to touch on the issue, which I realise, is huge. For me though, this would suffice for the time being.

What I can see now is: the teleological argument and the intelligent design movement is really 2 different animals altogether; I can agree on the first and refute the latter.

Or can I?


Source: wikipedia.org

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Total Truth

I had misplaced Pearcey's Total Truth, and I have been looking for it for a couple of months already. I finally found it stashed away somewhere in the shelves. I had started reading it some months ago but as it has been happening lately, I get distracted and stopped after several chapters.

I look forward to starting on it again.

The book scored a 4½ stars in Amazon.com and the following 10 books cite it:
The book consists of the following chapters:

I. What's in a Worldview?
1. Breaking Out of the Grid
2. Rediscovering Joy
3. Keeping Religion in its Place
4. Surviving the Spiritual Wasteland

II. Starting at the Beginning
5. Darwin Meets the Berenstain Bears
6. The Science of Common Sense
7. Today Biology, Tomorrow the World
8. Darwins of the Mind

III. How We Lost Our Minds
9. What's So Good about Evangalicalism?
10. When America Meet Christianity - Guess Who Won?
11. Evangelical's Two-Story Truth
12. How Women Started the Culture War

IV. What Next? Living it Out
13. True Spirituality and Christian Worldview


Monday, July 16, 2007

What is love?

Ask anyone to define love, and you will have all kinds of answers. I used to have feelings as the perimeter to experience love. Not anymore. Love is not feeling it. Love it giving it, offering it, willing it, with patience, with kindness, with gentleness, with humility, with quietness, with truthfulness, firmly, surely.

The very definition of love is still found in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Cor 13 (NIV)

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Do you really love Jesus?

After missing one Sunday service last week, I am glad to be back this Sunday in my faith community again. SH told me that the sermon I missed last week was good. I got the recorded version of it and he was right. I have posted it here.

The speaker for this Sunday is Peter Desmond Wee and he shared with us God's word from John 21:15-17. His message calls us to reevaluate our love for our Lord. Do we really love or are we merely paying lip service?

John 21:15-17 (NASB)
15So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You " He said to him, "Tend My lambs."
16He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep."
17He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You " Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep.

These verses are among the lot of Jesus accounts that amazes me. Everytime I read them, I am reminded of the wonderful love and grace of our Lord, and I'd end up in repentance and in worship.

Unless otherwise indicated, I refer to Leon Morris's The Gospel According to John (NICNT) (1995), p.767-72.

This passage is to be taken in conjunction with Peter's threefold denial of his Lord. Just as he has just a short while ago denied all connection with the Lord in the presence of the enemies, now in the presence of his friends after the meal, he restores and affirms his love for the Lord. After the denial, Peter must have been in a bad position with his fellow disciples and this triple affirmation and triple commission gave him almost an "official" sanction to his restoration. Oh, how wonderful is the love of God!

Jesus was having a meal with the disciples and at the conclusion of the meal, Jesus addressed a question to Peter. There is an air of solemnity: John used Simon's full name, Simon Peter and reported that Jesus used the expanded form, Simon of John. (Even though Jesus gave Simon the name Peter, his habit is to call him Simon.) The question is therefore serious: "Do you love me more than these?"

The term "these" is undefined. It can mean:
(1) Do you love me more than these men love me?
(2) Do you love me more than you love these men?
(3) Do you love me more than you love these things?

All three are possible:
(1) Peter has explicitly professed a devotion to Jesus that exceeded that of the other disciples. Jesus may therefore be asking him in the light what has happened, does he still thinks his love for Christ exceeds that of the others?
(2) Peter has denied Jesus three times. His devotion to him now must be held in suspect. But Peter has remained with his fellows and gone fishing with them. So where did his supreme affection now lie? With his companion with whom he resorted or Jesus whom he denied?
(3) Peter's fishing equipment is his livelihood, his future. Does he love Christ more than his life?

Peter in answering Jesus dropped the comparison. If it is against the things he hold in life, it would not matter but it does if it has to do with the people.

Peter has to face up to this one very important question and his reply is an ungrudging affirmative. "Yes, Lord. You know that I love you." "You" is emphatic, appealing to the all-knowing Lord.

A problem is posed by the use of different words for "love". Peter uses the same verb throughout, phileo, but Jesus uses a different verb in his first 2 questions, agapao.

Jesus's Question...........Peter's Response

Some have maintain that the word Jesus uses in the first 2 questions denotes a higher kind of love while Peter's word points to a lower form of love, perhaps no more than a liking. If seen in this way, Jesus questions Peter as to whether he has a profound love for him and Peter not daring to claim or commit so much, replies that he is fond of Jesus. Then in the third question, Jesus descends to Peter's level. Other commentators reverse the meaning of the 2 words: Jesus asking if Peter's love is a cool affection and Peter answers that it is more than cool, that he has a warm love. Then in the last question, Jesus rises to Peter's level. These 2 interpretations cancels each other out!

Keener, in The Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (p.319), states that the 2 Greek words here are used interchangeably elsewhere in John and generally in the literature of this period. The point here is not the different terms but that the love for Jesus must be demonstrated by obedience.

Carson, in Exegetical Fallacies (p.28-33, 47-53), discusses about "theroot fallacy" and "problems surrounding synonyms and componential analysis". He felt that there is no intended distinction in the use of the 2 different Greek verbs. For one, agapao does not always refer to a "good" love or a sacrificial love or a divine love, and certainly there is nothing in the root to convey such a meaning. For example, in 2 Sam 13 (LXX), both the agapao and the agape cognate can refer to Amnon's incestuous rape of his half sister Tamar; in 2 Tim 4:10, when Demas forsook Paul, it was because he agapao the world; John 3:35 records the Father's love for the Son using the verb agapao, John 5:20 repeats the thought but uses phileo without any discernible shift in meaning. Carson therefore concluded that "there is nothing intrinsic to the verb agapao or the noun agape to prove its real meaning or hidden meaning refers to some special kind of love."

John has this habit of introducing slight variations in all sorts of places without real difference of meaning. Morris says "there is no reason, on the grounds of Johannine usage, for seeing difference in meaning between the 2 verbs." More Jesus and Peter would have been speaking in Aramaic with John rendering it in Greek when he wrote the Gospel.

When it comes to the commissioning on the other hand, some have drawn from this an indication that Peter is charged to do more things than one and to do them both to the lamb and sheep. But most people take the variation as no more than stylistic.

Whatever it is, Peter has denied Christ 3 times, he has now affirmed his love 3 times and been given the commission 3 times. His position of leadership is now completely restored. This shows that whatever mistakes of the past we may have done, Jesus is willing to restore us. Just that the basic qualification for Christian service is love. Other qualities may be desirable but love is completely indispensible.


Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.
Carson, D.A. Exegetical Fallacies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book, 1996.
Keener, C. S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Picture from The Salvation Army

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bagai rajawali

Aku ingin selalu berada dihadiratmu
Aku ingin selalu berlindung dalam naunganmu
Di bawah kepak sayapmu
Kau bawaku terbang tinggi
Melintasi langit biru
Bagai rajawali

Bagai rajawali
Melintasi gunung tinggi
Bagai rajawali
Melintasi badai hidup
Dibawah kepak sayapmu
Kau bawaku terbang tinggi
Melintasi langit biru
Bagaikan rajawali

I desire to always be in your presence
I desire to always be in your refuge
Under your wings
You bring me to fly high
Across the blue skies
As an eagle

As an eagle
Across the high mountains
As an eagle
Across the hurricanes of life
Under your wings
You bring me to fly high
Across the blue skies
As an eagle


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Slow going

My blogging is going on quite slowly lately and a migraine today certainly didn't help. I hope to have a come back soon.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oh, is it?

I was editting someone's writing today. At the conclusion, he ended his piece with a quotation he took from Martin Luther King Jr.'s book: And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

Do you know where this was taken from? I asked him.

Martin Luther King Jr., he said.

No, I replied. He was quoting Jesus.

Oh, is it?


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Both now and forevermore

My sister-in-law was involved in a car accident this morning.

She was driving with my niece to my parent's house in the morning when the car in front of hers stopped abruptly. She managed to stop her car in time and so did the Toyota behind hers. But the third car, a Matrix could not and rammed into the Toyota and the Toyota rammed into hers.

When I got the call from my mom, her first few words made my heart stop. But thankfully, my sis-in-law and niece was unhurt. Thank you God.

Psalm 113
1 Praise the LORD.
.........Praise, O servants of the LORD,
.........praise the name of the LORD.
2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,
.........both now and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
.........the name of the LORD is to be praised.
4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
.........his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
.........the One who sits enthroned on high,
6 who stoops down to look
.........on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
.........and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
8 he seats them with princes,
.........with the princes of their people.
9 He settles the barren woman in her home
.........as a happy mother of children.
.........Praise the LORD.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Phuket: Day 3

We are to head home today. We have not set foot onto the beach yet in the past two days and so we had to do it. The beach was glorious. I thank the Lord for a good rest, a good holiday, good weather and good company.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Phuket: Day 2

This will be my first time in 7 months missing church on a Sunday. I don't see any churches here in Phuket. Temples yes, churches no. Well, at least I spent the day in rest.

Up the hill ...

Down the hill ...

Onto the beach.

At the elephant sanctuary.
Elephants are sacred to the people in Thailand. This is a baby elephant. He's one adorable baby. It gave me a kiss on the cheek ... it was ewww! but still awesome! haha ... I was also offered a massage courtesy of the baby ellie, but uhuh ... I gave that a pass.

We paid 700baht each for an elephant ride.

The elephants eat 200kg of food a day: bananas, pineapples ... That's a lot of food. There aren't many elephants left nowadays, the numbers has dwindled to the thousands.

Into an old rubber plantation with the elephants pooping as they go along.

From my vantage point.

At the cashew nut factory.

The streets in Patong.

View from a tuk-tuk.

Where we would love to spend the whole day in. But a 2-hour stay is just as good.

The view from my hotel room. The sky was downcast. Weather in Phuket? Extremely hot and humid.

Another view. The hotel is 2 streets away from the beach.

Nightlife in Patong, in Bangla Road. I went shopping but got nothing. Shopping is much, much better in Bangkok.


"A Delayed Telecast"
I missed the sermon for today and one week later, I got the recorded copy of it, hence here is a "delayed telecast". The sermon was by Rev Christopher Rao entitled Who We Are?

Do we know who we are? Important to know because who we are determine what we do and say. It is a question of identify.

Why is it so important to know our identity? Because it will influence how we behave, how we respond to others, what we say, how we look at ourselves. Therefore as Christians, it is important to know what we are.

As Christians we do not have to look at any other than our Lord as our model. What does the Word of God tells us who we are?

2 Chro 7:14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Deut 14:2 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth

1 Pet 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Cor 6:20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Exo 33:15-16 Then he said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. 16"For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?"

Who are we? We are God's people. We are His people, called by His name. We bear the name of God in our lives.

4 Things that we have
as the People of God

1. Election
We are called and elected by God to be his children. We did not choose him but He chose us. Not because we are talented or gifted. God chooses the more insignificant, the irrelevant, the nothings. He has brought us to be part and parcel of this community.

2. Revelation
No matter how hard we try to know, we still fall short of how God requires of us. But God reveal himself to us. So that the more we see God and gaze at His face and enjoy His presence, the more our lives will be transformed to be like Him. People can see His glory resides in us. Even in our trials and difficulties, we constant look to Him,

3. Identification
We are people who are set apart. We are called to be different from all people. He calls us to be holy and set apart for Him. Anyone who claims to know God must walk in the light. When we identify ourselves with God, we must walk in what He requires of us. We do not just follow or do what other people are doing, we are different, we are aliens, we are foreigners.

4. Empowerment
The presence of God in our lives distinct us from others. Even our gathering in the church is different because of the presence of God. The Holy Spirit resides in us and we become His witnesses.

Why does God do all these to us?
Because He loves us.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Our identity does not come from what we do but who we are, the adopted children of God, a people belonging to God. It is in crisis that we reveal who we are. One of the failures of the Israelites was that they failed to realise who they were. In 1 Sam 8:6, there was a leadership crisis in Israel. Up to Samuel, Israel did not have a king. They receive directions from God through judges. Samuel was getting old. At this point of crisis, the Israelites wanted a king. God said to Samuel, "they have rejected Me as their king". They failed to realise who they were, they wanted to be like the other nations.

Who are we?
We are the people of God.