Friday, August 31, 2007

Year of the Jubilee

Malaysia is celebrating her 50th year of independence today!
Happy 50th Merdeka!

Leviticus 25:10-15
10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field. 13 "In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. 14 And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. 15 You shall pay your neighbor according to the number of years after the jubilee, and he shall sell to you according to the number of years for crops.

The 50th year is special. God consecrated it as the year of liberty - the year of jubilee. The name "jubilee" is derived fron the Hebrew, jobel, the joyful shout or clangor of trumpets. In the year of jubilee, God commanded the following:

1. Rest for the soil - land is to lie fallow: not sown, not tilled, vineyards and oliveyards not dressed, spontaneous not gathered but left for the poor, the stranger, the cattle.

2. Reversion of landed property to the original owners.

3. Emancipation of Israelites who had become slaves.

The year of the jubilee was a remedy for the evil of human society and human government: to abolish poverty, prevent large and permanent accumulation of wealth, give the poor an opportunity to begin over again with a fair start in life.

What does it mean for us as Malaysian Christians?


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Exegetical-Theological Integration

I need to do an exegtical- theological integration between Galatians 2:16 and James 2:24. I thought it will be challenging and now I think it has proven to be too challenging. What with the New Perspective on Paul and the debate between the subjective genitive and objective genetive of πίστις ' Ιησου Χρίστου (pistis Iesou Christou); subjective being faith that is from Christ, and the objective being our faith in Christ. But since it is meant to be a "brief paper" of 3 to 4 pages, I suppose if I just concentrated on integrating justified by faith and justified by works, it should suffice. Phew!

Picture by Sarah Williams

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kuala Selangor Nature Park

Our firm dedicated this day to the community where almost 900 of us went to various places to do our part for the environment. Last year, we focussed on the less fortunate people whilst this year, it is the environment. I was with the group that went to The Kuala Selangor Nature Park to make the world a little greener by planting some mangrove saplings.

It was about a one and a half hour bus ride to reach the park and we were immediately given black boots to wear - Phua Chu Kang style! It was hard to walk in them and we had to walk a long way in: about half and hour before we reach the second layer mangrove swamp where we were to plant the saplings. It was challenging, but 165 green saplings were planted in about 20 minutes by the 35 of us.

It's a hard day's work and for once my muscles ache instead of my head.

The mangrove swamps are quite rare as they only exist in the tropics and where there are low and high tides. There trees survive in the sea water by relinquishing the salt through their leaves, bark or roots. The way their root system works, the break waves effectively, giving excellent protection from the deadly tsunamis. They also provide sanctuary for all kinds of living things. They are one of the amazing creation of our creative God!


Sunday, August 26, 2007


Rev Christopher Rao shared with us today a sermon for Genesis 12:1-3, the 4 C's of blessings.

Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV)
1 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

This is first of the blessings that God annouced for Abraham, one more time in Gen 22:1-18, reaffirmed and reiterated every now and then as recorded in Genesis.

1. Circumstances
Have you not noticed that God somehow blesses us in the most unexpected circumstances? We may think that God will bless us in our best of times but is it not often that God blesses us in times we didn't think we will be? God blesses Abraham but before he did that, he wanted Abraham to leave the comfort and the security of his home, to a place not yet seen, but promised. Abraham with much faith, obeyed, and was blessed.

2. Challenges
Having a blessed life so to speak does not exempt us from life's challenges. On the other hand, the challenges will be the source of God's blessings for us. God chose someone from Israel to be the bearer of the seed, to be the father of all nations. Logic will have us choose someone young, strong and fruitful, who already has many children and able to bear more. But God chose Abraham and Sarah, old and barren. So that we know that it is God at work.

3. Choice
Abraham needs to make choices that reinforces God's blessings in his life. Almost throughout his whole life story in Genesis, he chose the way of God and looked to God, relying on him for everything.

4. Condition
There is a condition in which the blessing of God operates in. This condition involves the social dimension. The way we relate and interact with others will or will not result in blessings. And God works quite opposite the way of the world. While the world glorifies self-centeredness, always concerned about what's-in-it-for-me, God wants us to deny ourselves, and focus on others, to give and to bless. We are blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. What will it be for us?


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why didn't I think of it?

I am getting along quite satisfactorily with my assignments, with 4 papers for Biblical Interpretation, 1 exegesis and 3 close-book take home exam questions for Introduction to the New Testament. Due in October and November.

I have all my books upstairs in shelves. What I had been doing was to bring down whatever books I needed and work downstairs in the living area. But it has proven to be impractical because the amount of books I needed for just one paper piled up to at least 2 feet in height. With SH complaining about books everywhere and the energy I need to bring them up and down, I finally set up shop upstairs.

I should have done this in the first place!

The "2-foot tall" books I am using, now conveniently standing on my new study table, an old computer table we had wanted to discard for too many times but I held on to it. Notice the support beams for the now missing shelf that was meant for a monitor, serve perfectly as book ends. I am so pleased with it!


Friday, August 24, 2007

A nice day off

Calvin is having a week long break from school and I finally managed to take the day off today to be spent with him. We did not do much but had breakfast together, went to the mall, watched some television (Rowan Atkinson's Black Adder 2 to be precise. By the way, Atkinson is his all-time favourite) and then had dinner together. Oh yes, and lunch too!

I also brought our computer workstation - which the burglars nearly got away with it too, they carried it downstairs but left it at the door - to the store to try to get its RAM upgraded but alas, it could not be done being an older unit. They do not have that kind of RAM in store anymore. But I did get another unit of an external hard disk to replace the one the burglars did get away with.

And of course the day will not be complete without a visit to the bookstore and this time we went to the MPH at Bangsar Shopping Village II.

Both SH and I share only one favourite author, Michael Crichton. His newest book, Next is now in paperback. I am looking forward to reading this one, though I think SH will get to it first.

John Grisham was my favourite author. My favouritest was The Client. He fell out of my list when I read his King of Torts. I did not even finish it, which is quite unusual. I have never left any fiction I picked up unfinished (well, except one: Tom Clancy's Executive Order. Try as I might, several times, I just could not follow the multiple plots going on at the same time). With this new book, The Innocent Man, I am giving him another chance.

Calvin started on this preposterous series by Dav Pilkey, The Adventures of Captain Underpants. He devoured all his 7 books a month ago and he got so excited that he finally got the 8th installment, Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People.

I knew Captain Underpants will not keep him for long as he reads and finishes them by the hour. So I let him have a try at this series I found at MPH and we left the store with two. Jeremy Strong's Beware! Killer Tomatoes and Krazy Kow Saves the World - Well, Almost. Oh boy ... and I wish I had this kind of crazy books when I was young. Life was much more normal back then.

And as I am writing this, he has already finished the Underpants book as well as Enid Blyton's Mr Pink-Whistle Interferes. Ah well, I suppose he has my genes - speed reading?


Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Thousand Words #38

I have just started on a data verification exercise at work, which to me is really the boringest thing to do in the world, but it has to be done.

Picture by Rodolfo Clix

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

100% Natural

In line with what I have been sort of "preaching" - evangelising the Good News of the Lord - I have been praying that I will get opportunities to share the Gospel with someone.

My prayer was answered today. I was having lunch with a colleague and somehow or rather the subject turned up and it was natural that I talk about it; about our sin, how far we are separated from God, how impossible for us to go to him by our own efforts, why and how we can go to God through the cross of Christ.

I will not say that I have made a difference but as the Parable of the Seeds go, I'd just do it. Some will surely fall on rich and fertile ground and it will become a harvest.

And as it is natural for the sower to sow, it should be natural for us to "sow" as well. I am not sure if I can say that if it does not feel natural, then it is not the right time or the right place. You think?

Picture by Mark Morcom

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It is not good for the man to be alone

At the aftermath of the burglary, I pushed away the idea of taking the day off today and thought that going to work and immersing myself in work and being in the company of my colleagues will be good for me, that it will be therapeutic. I was right. I still thought about it, I did talk about it but in good perspective. But now that I am alone at home, Calvin is in bed and SH is out for a late meeting, I feel quite miserable.

This reminded of Gen 2:18: Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."

I know that this verse is usually applied to the constitution of marriage but if you look into the word, man, in Hebrew adam and in the LXX, anthropos, it could well carry the meaning of human being, that is in general, it is just not good for us to be alone, which is why God made us to be companions, to our spouses, to our family, to our friends.

God himself is the Trinitarian God. And we are made in his likeness. We need our community We need to share the love that flows from the Triune God with one another.

Picture by Lorem Ipsum

Monday, August 20, 2007

Black Monday

Today is a bad day for us. Our house got broken into. The house was ransacked and we lost quite a bit of things, including 2 notebook computers, some watches, jewellery and even some valueless but sentimental items.

I keep beating myself over this with many "I should have's" but basically I thank God that we are safe. We have just lost things and nothing more. Though I do sense a loss of security and gained a sense of fear having our lives being violated like this.

O God. Have mercy on us, guard us and keep us safe.
We thank you and praise you for your protection.
We pray that you will regain the peace in us that surpasses all understanding.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

True love

My old church celebrated her 40th anniversary today. We headed there for the occasion, as well as for our choral group's "debut". We just came up with a name for our group and this would be the first time we are appearing as Grace Notes. We did ok - Holy, Holy, Holy for introit and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms for anthem, both in accapella. The introit was a very lovely arrangement by Tom Fettke and the anthem was a very jazzed-up version of the old hymn.

The service was graced by our district superintendant, Rev Yau Kah Fatt and he spoke to us on John 21:15-19, an almost similar sermon to what we had in Life Methodist Church on Jul 15: do we love the Lord? The speaker calls the church to follow the footsteps of Peter - to be mission-minded and to spread the love of God (Jesus' call to Peter to feed the lamb) and to love God to whatever ends (Peter followed Christ till his death on the cross because of of the Gospel).

There was one point he brought up: when Peter and company were not successful in their fishing, Jesus told them to "cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." There may be a lot of talk about this kind of strategies and that kind of strategies to reach the unreached. How simple can it get: just cast the net on the right side of the boat. As important as some of the strategies may be, sometimes it is just as simple as living a life of Christ, sharing the Gospel, and praying for the unreached.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

A full day

We had a full day today. Calvin's school held its Food and Funfair Day to collect funds for a dialysis centre and soup kitchens. We were there early and it was already packed with hoards of people. We bought some food, played some games and headed home. In the evening, I went for choral group practice for our "debut" tomorrow and the evening ended off very nicely with a fellowship gathering at one of our church member's home.


Friday, August 17, 2007

The Marvel of His Name

Psalm 8
For the choir director; on the Gittith.
A Psalm of David.

Prelude: The Marvel of His Name
1 O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,

The Majesty of God
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes
You have established strength because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

The Frailty of Man
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?

The Greatness of Man
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

The Service of Animals
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

Postlude: The Marvel of His Name
9 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8 is a wonderful and beautiful song of praise and worship of our majestic Father. Terrien divided it into 4 stanzas with a prelude and postlude. The postlude repeats the prelude word for word, which brings the singer back to Stanza 1, and the song continues as an eternal rendering of worship to the Almighty God.

The theme of the psalm begins with a prelude, marveling at his wondrous name, his being and his divine nature. His splendour is even far above the heavens, beyond what we can imagine or comprehend. And yet from the mouths of the little ones, the weaklings, his strength is established.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.
~ 1 Cor 1:27

Then the psalmist moves on to denounce himself as miniscule, trivial. But imagine, truth is God has made us just a little, “a grain”, “a thread” lower than God himself. We are made in his likeness, we are made for his glory. We are made for greatness. But first, we must still acknowledge our frailty.

Blaise Pascal wrote a spectacular enigmatic theme of the psalm, which helps put us in perspective: What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy. Judge of all things, stupid worm of the earth; depositary of truth, cloaca of uncertainty and error, glory and refuse of the universe.
(The Pensées, 434)

Our greatness did not come without responsibilities. We are to care for what is put before us, we carry a responsibility to be good stewards of what we have, both the smaller world around us and the bigger world beyond.

Terrien said these words so precisely of the psalm: The psalm situates man on a precise and perilous equilibrium between angelism and bestiality. Yet he dances over emptiness.

What do you make of his statement, “yet he dances over emptiness”? That sentence truly intrigued me, and I am still thinking about what it can mean.

Picture by Liliana Aristizabal

Samuel Terrien, The Psalm, (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 2003): 124-33

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Psalm 97

1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice;
Let the many islands be glad.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
……Righteousness and justice
……...are the foundation of His throne.
……3 Fire goes before Him
………And burns up His adversaries round about.
…………4 His lightnings lit up the world;
……………The earth saw and trembled.
……………5 The mountains melted like wax
………………at the presence of the LORD,
………………At the presence of the Lord
………………of the whole earth.
…………………6 The heavens declare His righteousness,
……………………And all the peoples have seen His glory.
…………………7 Let all those be ashamed
……………………who serve graven images,
…………………...Who boast themselves of idols;
…………………...Worship Him, all you gods.
……………8 Zion heard this and was glad,
………………And the daughters of Judah have rejoiced
………………Because of Your judgments, O LORD.
…………9 For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth;
……………You are exalted far above all gods.
……10 Hate evil, you who love the LORD,
………Who preserves the souls of His godly ones;
………...He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous
……And gladness for the upright in heart.
12 Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How beautiful are the feet

I am doing some pieces in Handel's Messiah for my vocal lessons and I am pretty excited about it. Some months back I was working on "He shall feed his flock" and now I have this aria to work on: "How beautiful are the feet".

Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"


Monday, August 13, 2007

Historical-Cultural Context

I have been sitting on my assignment for too long already. I had been working on the paper on Historical-Cultural Context last night and finally I am back on track and a bit more fired up to get this going. There is not much time left!

We are required to pick up the relevant historical-cultural context from a selection of text and for the life of me, I have no idea why I picked what I picked. It has to do with the trial of Jesus and the trial of Paul. I am not really into politics and administrations, making it so difficult for me to gather my thoughts to tackle this one. But after several hours last night, I think I got it. I hope I got it.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

How are we defined?

Rev Christopher Rao’s sermon today was based on Exodus 5:22-6:12, basically dealing the lesson of looking to God and trust him on his big purposes. Life may not be the way we want it to be, it may go the other way than we have prayed and hoped for, but God knows what he is doing. How he dealt with Moses’ insecurity is case in point. God could have just given up on him, but stuck on with Moses. God would have just given up on the Israelites in their murmurings and complaints but stuck on with them (though not without consequences). God could have given up on us, but he stuck on, and gave his Son to die for us. Continue to hold on to him, no matter how life turns out at the moment. Depend on his grace, it is sufficient for us.

Exodus 6:6-8 (NASB)
6 "Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 'Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 'I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.'"


Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Thousand Words #36

I have been seriously reading the whole day today from morning to night. Started this set of trilogy and was too caught up in it. It's bad for health!

Picture by Fran Priestley

Friday, August 10, 2007

No matter what

I need a word of encouragement today and I looked to the Scriptures. I sometimes feel that the Psalms is somehow situated in the middle of the bible for a reason. When we are down at heart, and wanting to draw ourselves close to God through his word, open up the bible and you will surely set your eyes on a psalm.

The psalm I read this morning is a long one – Psalm 37. I dwelt on verse 3 to 8, summarized, paraphrased and appropriated:

Trust in the Lord and do good,
even though you think it won’t make a difference.
Be at rest where you are now and be faithful,
even though you think you deserve something better.
Delight in the Lord and he will satisfy your heart’s desires.
Commit your ways to the Lord, trust in him and he will act,
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Imperatives piling on top of imperatives. This is a strict call for us to trust in him no matter what, no matter what others say, no matter what life has in a platter for us, no matter how happy or sad or indifferent we feel, no matter what.

Picture by Geo Okretic

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I don't know why but I am extremely exhausted today. I think I have been using too much brain power at work and the fact that I have been trying to cut down on calories, I am cutting down a lot on food.

I am looking forward to go back straight to bed.

Picture by Emma Johansson

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My uncle

My uncle passed away last night because of heart failure. It was unexpected. It caught all of us, including his own family, by surprise. He had been complaining about not feeling well in the beginning of the week. He collapsed late last night, and was gone even before reaching the hospital.

Here I was talking about evangelism and here he was, gone and unreached.

Picture by Janet Goulden

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Book Review: Five festal garments

I mentioned a few days ago that this is a delightful book and I couldn’t be more correct. Being one who for the longest time have been reading but not finishing, completing this book in just two sittings says a lot about it. It was so engaging that I just kept on at it.

Barry G. Webb gives short commentaries, which he so humbly refers to as reflections, on five Old Testament books, traditionally known simply as “The Scrolls”. He calls them the five garments:
  • the Garment of Love (The Song of Songs)
  • the Garment of Kindness (Ruth)
  • the Garment of Suffering (Lamentations)
  • the Garment of Vexation (Ecclesiastes)
  • the Garment of Deliverance (Esther)
In his commentary, he gave a summary of the structure of the books, reflected on their contribution to the Old Testament, its place in the Jewish liturgy, and its importance to the Christian canon, reflecting on its place in the New Testament.

The Garment of Love (The Song of Songs)
The Song of Songs has always mesmerised me. As you would have expected, I just could not make out what it means exactly and why it is there in the canon of Scripture. According to Webb, the book is about the nature of love itself. He touches the topic of marriage and sex, of pure love. I have never dared to read that in the book, being in the Scriptures and all but Webb does give quite a convincing summary of that theme. The Song of Songs he says is to “stop love going out of our relationships, with God and with one another … It is a splendid garment, to be worn not with awkwardness and embarrassment, but festively, with joy and deep thankfulness to him who gave it to us as Holy Scripture.”

The Garment of Kindness (Ruth)
I have always loved reading Ruth. It is a romantic account of how an alien was accepted into the family and more than that, became part of salvation history. As much as she has a place in the story of God’s salvation for his chosen people, we have a place in it too through Christ by whom we are adopted. “Ruth is a gentle book … so gentle that we are first beguiled into thinking of it as heartwarming and reassuring …but if kindness is its theme, it is kindness of a radical and controversial sort; a kindness that makes ripples … Ruth is, supremely, the scroll of kindness … to be worn festively, in celebration of the kindness that has been shown to us. But it is also to be worn quietly, with awe and humility, for to put on kindness is to clothe ourselves with the very character of God himself.”

The Garment of Suffering (Lamentations)
I have not really studied Lamentations more than just giving it a read through. But I know that in the midst of all the intense grief and lament, its gems are in the very heart of the book. Lamentations in its 5 poems is a work in the form of an ordered grief. The mind of a person in grief is unorderly, moving around in circles. The poems written acrostically, the first and last two with 22 verses and the third with 66, provide a shape to the grief it bears, giving it more than an aesthetic value but also a therapeutic and pastoral significance. It is a book about suffering, but not suffering in general. It is a deserved suffering, within the covenant, because of sin, divine anger and righteous judgement. “It is a dark and heavy garment, but with gold worked in it; a penitential robe, terrible and glorious. It is a garment for sinners to wear as they make their way, trembling yet hopeful to the cross of Christ.”

The Garment of Vexation (Ecclesiastes)
I have mentioned here before that Ecclesiastes in one of my most favourite book in the bible. My current theme in life is taken from 12:13. Webb says, “Ecclesiastes is perhaps the most enigmatic book in the Old Testament. Like the desert Sphinx, it teases us with questions, yield its secrets only grudgingly, and will not allow us the luxury of easy answers. In other words, it is thoroughly irritating, but at the same time almost mesmeric in its appeal. It draws us towards it by mirroring the perplexity we all feel as we grapple with life.” Oh how I love those words, well worded and well put. Its motto (1:2) being “all is hebel: breath,vapour, mist, vanity,what is transient, ephemeral, profitless” is responded with an epilogue (12:13) where “the end of the matter, all has been heard: fear God, keep his commandments, this is the essence of being human”. “Ecclesiastes is a garment to wear when we have finished with performance and are ready for work – not with an inflated idea of what we can achieve, but with contentment and confidence, knowing that our times are in God’s hands. A pair of overalls, perhaps. A garment for those who are through, once for all, with triumphalism and cant, and are willing to face life as it really is.”

The Garment of Deliverance (Esther)
The book of Esther has been for me Sunday School lessons and Bible Quiz material. Therefore, reading Webb’s reflection about it gave me new light and understanding of the book, as he highlights various points in the narrative, explained its place in the Jewish liturgy and its place in the Old and New Testament. I have always known that this book is about the only book in the Bible which does not have any explicit reference to God. I have never really thought of that much until I was halfway reading when I realised how similar our situations are to Esther. She functioned in a world alien to the Jews, she was in foreign land. Throughout the book however, God is silently working. We, in the same way, are in foreign land. Our religion and our piety are seen as an intrusion to the lives of people outside the body of Christ, with whom we do spend a lot of time with. We find it hard to speak the language of our belief and hard to act in the way that God expects us to. Nonetheless, in the silence of our world, as in the silence in the world of Esther, God is still at work. My thoughts were confirmed as Webb discusses exactly the same thing at the end of the chapter. “The book of Esther is indeed a festive garment, a garment to put on when we are astonished, once again at some unexpected way God has rescued us, and when we are ready to celebrate. But it is also a garment to put on when the forces arrayed against us seemed all-powerful, when to laugh is only way to stay sane. To put this garment on however, is not to whistle in the dark, or to pretend that things are other than they are. It is to clothe ourselves with the truth that God is sovereign, and to be reminded that he is always with us, even when he seems most absent, and that nothing can ultimately thwart his purposes. To put on Esther is to affirm that God is our deliverer, and to share in the laughter of heaven.”

This is definitely a read-again book for me!


Monday, August 06, 2007

The plot to save Socrates

I have finished reading The Plot to Save Socrates - it was a good read.
SH was amused that I am actually reading science fiction! I can't remember the first science fiction I read - I think I might have read one of the Star Trek Voyager paperbacks. Star Trek Voyager is my all-time favourite Star Trek series, I never missed a single episode.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Releasing the Billy Graham in you

Today’s sermon by Mr Patrick Cheng of NECF to me was not so much of a sermon to the true sense of the word. He shared with us Billy Graham’s call to Christians to bring “the stadium” to the home through his organisation called Celebration Hope. It involves the evangelising of the gospel from the home, inviting family, friends and neighbours to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ, through videos and short testimonies. Training is offered, a structure given.

During my recent Christian Theology 1 lectures, my lecturer, Sherman, had questions about the structurisation, if there is such a word, of the spread of the gospel, through plans, strategies and targets. Is this the right way?

I don’t know. Can something as personal as giving of oneself to Christ be part of a plan, part of a strategy and worse still, part of a target, a number? I am sure Jesus, Paul and Peter had their plans and strategies, albeit not formalised, but I don’t think they have targets set. Do they?

I don’t know. The speaker said that the results of Celebration Hope worldwide over the past 5 years have been good, with every 2 out of 10 ministered to accepting Christ as their personal Saviour. Maybe it can be done this way after all?

I am asking these questions because I need to know the motive of my questioning. Am I justifying my lack of evangelising or are the questions valid?

I don’t know. How do I share the gospel with those around me? I must say that I fare badly. I do not actively share the gospel with non-believers. I only hope that I do passively: through my actions at home, in the family, at work, in public. But is it effective? Once long ago, I had someone asking me if I were a Buddhist. He told me he asked because he noticed my good acts. So maybe Christians need to be more actively involved in witnessing to give our God due credit.

I remember the parable of the seeds: some fell on the path, some on rocky grounds and some on thorns, and those that fell on good soil, became harvest, thirty-fold, sixty-fold and hundred-fold. Now, are these targets?

It looks like I am back to square one.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Midnight sale!

I was at Canaanland yesterday for their 5pm to midnight member sales and grabbed several good books.

The Concise Exegetical Grammar of New Testament Greek by J. Harold Greenlee
I think I picked up the right book - I really need to revise my elementary Greek and seriously don't know where to start. Well, this book may or may not help - it really takes discipline.

Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by William D Mounce
I need this for my 3 Biblical Interpretation assignments and I really, really, really need to get on it already.

Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs by Howard F.Vos
Also needed for my Biblical Interpretation assignment and there are a lot of information in there which I believe will give me a good and general understanding on biblical background.

A Model of Christian Maturity by DA Carson
I have not seen this book by Carson before, and it is not a new one.

City of God by St. Augustine
This is a good find. I had seen this Penguin paperback in MPH but selling at over RM100, which I think is too over-priced. I got this one at less than half the price.

Contagious Holiness, Jesus Meals with Sinners by Craig L. Blomberg
I would like to collect the NSBT series and here I picked up 3. Wish I could pick them all but I have to do it slowly. My resources are limited! This one attracted me because I would like to learn more about Jesus's ministry among those who are rejected and considered evil, e.g. tax collectors like Matthew and Zacchaeus.

Five Festal Garments, Christian Reflections on The Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther by Barry G. Webb
These are among my favourite books of the Old Testament and this is a delightful book. I have started reading it and I finished Song of Songs and Ruth in just one sitting.

Hearing God's Words, Exploring Biblical Spirituality by Peter Adam
I was drawn to this book because in my efforts to be more equipped in the knowledge of God and his word, I need to keep in check my application of the word as well. "Exploring biblical spirituality" is such an apt title.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Well done!

Calvin recently took part in the University of New South Wales, Educational Assessment Australia’s competition in Science, English and Mathematics.

He just got his scores in the Science paper and he did very well, with a High Distinction – the only High Distinction in his school from Primary 3 to 6 – in the top 1 per cent of Primary 3 participants in Malaysia.

His grandparents, SH and I are so proud of him!


Thursday, August 02, 2007

The River of God

I have been thinking and meditating about prayer. Trying to understand what it is, and its place in God’s will and God’s plan. I have a feeling that prayer somehow fits into God’s sovereignty and that we are not automatons. Our prayers do change the course of things. But how?

In my morning devotion today, I think I am beginning to see something. Not visually, like some people do, but an understanding of some sort began to dawn on me.

I thought of the analogy of a river. The river represents the plan of God. It is flowing towards a fixed point, consummating at the very end, where all that God has planned and willed will come to pass. In the meantime, the river is still flowing, at some points fiercely, at some points gently, and some points with lots of twists and turns. To pray or not to pray therefore is to flow or not to flow. You can either jump in the flow or stand by the bank to watch others flow. So whether you choose to pray or not, God’s will will be fulfilled. It’s just a matter of whether you want to be a part of it.

If you decide to be a part of the praying Christians, to be a part of God’s will, to be a part of the struggle and the blessings, jump in. And along the river, at times you may reach a meander. Just imagine, if there are many who are praying, the flow would be so great, the praying so fervent, the rushing flow of prayers will have the river cut straight across bypassing the meander. That is praying in God’s will. God will change the course of the river as we cry out to him, yet it is still heading the same way.

I am not sure if my analogy can be valid but it does give me a better understanding of what prayer is in light of God’s plan and sovereignty.

Picture by Penny Mathews

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The logic of prayer

Again, why bother to pray? I am not against prayer. I am all for it. God has commanded us to pray. It’s just that I need to also understand it, understand its logic if I may, so I can fully participate in it, with my entire being.

I do not have a problem with prayer as a way to seek God. He calls us to pray and to pray fervently. I spend time talking to him, interceding for others. I do not have a problem with opening my heart to him, I bare all in my personal prayers, my doubts, my fears, my longings, my joys. There is even one time when I asked him straight out – “what if you are not real?” His answer to me was clear and simple and plain – “that is what your faith is for.”

So, I am all for prayer and yet I find it hard to understand it. Who am I to ask? Who am I to change his mind? I know I am bought with a price – Christ’s blood – and I know I can ask God for anything in Jesus’ name and it will be given me. But what about the sovereignty of God?

And if we say that all things are already set in its place, God has planned everything out and even before a word is in our mouth, he knows it already; whatever we say and do, when and what and where we pray, he knows; it is all pre-planned and his plan will be carried out. Doesn’t that make us automatons?

What then, is the logic of prayer?

Pray so that God will act? What makes us think that if we don’t pray, God won’t work?