Monday, 31 March 2008

A little annoyed, but kind of in a good way: about counselling.

Although I was laughing by the end of it, at first, I was slightly annoyed by this video posted on Tim Challies's blog. Tim's thoughts following from the video was fair enough. But the video itself annoyed me because not all our life problems are as trivial as this video shows them to be. I believe the pain and suffering of the most of those who seek professional counselling are real and serious. I believe many people do not seek professional counselling at the first sight of a problem. They try to deal with their problems themselves first, and often for a long time before they knock on a counsellor's door. Tragically, some don't even make that far. Many of these people, I believe, had been struggling valiantly with their real and serious, sometimes even life-threating issues. And for them, even making an appointment and showing up to a counselling session in itself is another step they had to take as part of their fight for survival, a humbling confession that only a desperate person can make, yet it requires tremendous strength within, for without the strength, one cannot humble himself enough to admit he needs help. That is why some of those people who really need help do not seek help. I am not intending to say badly of them, I am simply saying that it is incredibly hard to even seek professional help such as counselling when things get really rough.

Having said that, however, this video did have merit, or usefulness, in my opinion. Just for some, this video might prove to be useful as a check-up. Just promise me you will remember, the advice I give in the following is entirely based on my own limited experience only and not on any proper research at all. So you will do well to take this with a grain of salt.

Watch the video:

1) If you watch this video and can laugh, you are probably healthy enough emotionally. Just make sure you do not dismiss real problems some people have to deal with too easily and be sensitive sensible with them.
2) If you are slightly offended or annoyed like myself, you might be a little depressed, so take care of yourself. Whether you need a professional counselling or not is probably up to you at this point.
3) If you are greatly offended and always offended whenever you think about this video, I'm sorry that it offended you, but it might be wise to talk to a professional counsellor.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

I sswear to drrunk, I'm NOT God!

I read a blog post of a friend the other day. Apparently her friend, under the influence of alcohol, uttered a profound statement.
'I sswear to drrunk, I'm NOT God!'

At the first glance, it was funny.
Then it came across as ironic and even profound.

It is obvious what he was trying to say: "I swear to God, I'm not drunk!" While common, it is a silly thing to say. You are clearly drunk, yet you are denying it. It is silly because nobody's going to believe you, and it is a little more than just silly because you are making a false statement. You are swearing to God (at least that was the intention), which on its own a very serious matter and shouldn't be done lightly as to blaspheme His name, yet you are doing that over a trivial fact, whether you are drunk or not. Much more seriously, since you are drunk, you are already blaspheming His name by using His name for a falsehood.
However, the alcohol brought a bitter sweet effect of its own. He mistakenly said 'I swear to (the) drunk, I'm NOT God!' By that, he admitted he wasn't God and he was adamant about it that he even swore to a drunk (possibly another drunk guy next to him or not). Only under the influence of alcohol was he able to make a truthful statement about himself. Tragic.

Now, if this post did not make any sense, I'm sorry, I feel as though I failed miserably with this one.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Thinking about sexual abstinence programs

Michael Spencer at the internetMonk shares his thoughts on sexual sins.
I thought it was an excellent post, faithful to the Scriptures, insightful to the issue, and pastorally compassionate to people.
He concludes:
I support the teaching of abstinence, but I believe the Christian approach to the subject differs considerably from a “pragmatic” emphasis. I do not believe we can talk about abstinence without talking about the entire Gospel. To fail to do so is to continue the perversion of Christianity into a message of moral reform that is far from the Good News of Jesus.

Go and read the whole thing.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Bits and pieces - 26-Mar-2008

Amanda at Shelfari previews the book, "The Panic Years". - Dang... sounds like something I should read.
You might be emerging... - a funny look at emergent/emerging trends (HT: ThinkChristian)

Friendliest annoucement you will hear when on a plane

(HT: Cliomedia)

A really bizarre (and tragic) news I read today, a transgender issue follows.

Warning: Sorry for another warning, but this post requires it. If you follow the link I provided, you'll see a disturbing picture with an equally disturbing story of a transgender. If you think you aren't ready for it, please do not follow the link. If your first impulse at the word, 'transgender' was a personal hatred and despise towards transgenders, don't bother commenting here.

SMH reports: She's pregnant, but she's a man.
This is the most bizarre and disturbing news I've read this year so far. After shaking of my head, and looking into an empty space for a moment, I thought about whether I should post a link to it or not. As I said a few posts ago, I prefer not to post something that doesn't seem helpful or unnecessarily provocative. But this time I thought I'd just simply leave a challenge for the readers and myself. After all, Christians aren't meant to simply hide away from the real issues in the society.

What kind of response should I give if I knew this person? Or rather, will I be able to have compassion on him(her?) as much as God is compassionate, while maintaining the pointed edge of the Gospel and show him the need for repentance and even rebuke him? Will I even try to talk to him?
A friend of mine from church once told me that the transgenders are the most despised people in our society, and he challenged me if I would be able or willing to reach out to such people with the Gospel.

What do you think?

Update: Fixed typo and reformatted paragraphs slightly.

Update 2 (28-Mar-2008): Now I'm hearing that it might've been a hoax. Yikes.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Reading the Bible

Warning: This is a personal rant as I continue to struggle with keeping the balance of giving words of encouragement and rebuke to brothers and sisters in Christ, while trying to expand my own understanding of God at the same time.

A friend of mine told me: The Bible is not meant only for scholars, but it's also for people like us. If you just take it as what it is, if you just read it literally, it's simple and easy to understand. Don't over-complicate it, and also, don't you believe in God? Ask, if you don't understand some parts, He will reveal it to you, and at the same time, don't forget that we will never understand God fully.

I know what you are saying. Really, I do. And I totally agree with at least some bits of what you said. But don't think I am trying to make the Bible more complicated that it actually is. I'm simply trying to understand it, and it isn't always easy as you say because not all parts are to be taken literally, and God doesn't simply give me a crystal clear answer when I pray about it. And you accuse me of over-complicating the Bible, but don't you think you are at the risk of trivialising the Scriptures if you really meant what you said? Or, maybe you didn't know what kind of implications it brought when you said it. I'm fine with misunderstandings and misconceptions here and there as a young believer, but shouldn't we be striving to know God more and more? Don't tell me I'm just talking about "head-knowledge" because I'm absolutely not. If you do, I'll tell you that you are "empty-headed" even though you clearly aren't. Yikes!

So my struggle continues...

God is patient...

What is this...
I normally don't like posting a link to anti-Christian stuff because I'd rather see them just die down without being noticed too much. But I just couldn't help myself this time when I saw that.

God is patient. His patience and endurance is something I'll never fully grasp. And yet, the Day IS coming when there will be no more time for people to repent. No more second chances. The Heaven's gate will be closed and people will be shut out just like the doors on Noah's Ark was not opened once it was closed. Only judgment and destruction will remain for those outside.
That no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. -- Hebrews 12:16-17

Unfortunately, this judgment doesn't only apply to homosexuals, but all of us who reject God.
Don't be like Esau who miscalculated the value of his birthright and sold it. Do not underestimate what is on offer for you by God. If you choose the world and yourself, you will perish with it. If you choose God and His rule, you will find redemption and live. And know this, that there is no middle ground here, you cannot have the best of the both worlds.

Choose life while you can.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Shall He not deliver me?

Oh, God, I don't love you, I don't even want to love you, but I want to want to love you!
-- Teresa of Avila

How do I go on living when all my hopes, as falsely based as they are, fade away from me, and when all my dreams, as selfish as they are, shatter and fall, and when I am left with only despair and terror which, as unreal as they are, petrifies me.
Oh, shall I read my way out of this? Shall I sing my way out of this? Will I even see a way out? Will it be the right way out?
Woe to me who despair. Woe to me who is entrapped in selfish desires. Woe to me who dislikes a cup from God.
Deliver me from fear and regrets for I am tormented, God. When shall I see your face? When shall I find peace?
Oh, will you not rescue me? Will you not shorten the days of suffering? How long will you continue ignoring my plea?
Praise to God the Righteous One. Praise Him who saw me and woven me in my mother's womb. Praise Him who knows my limits and my rotten heart. Praise Him who faced all temptations as I do and yet was without sin. Praise Him who will not lose a sheep of His own. Praise Him who promised to return and restore. Praise Him who shall one day call me home, but until then will guard me and guide me. Praise God the Righteous One.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Bits and pieces - 22-Mar-2008

Friday, 21 March 2008

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Racial? Nah... it's just more sensational this way.

Warning: Since Sydney is a fairly small community as I see it, I want to warn you first. If you are related to the two victims of the recent stabbing/killing in Sydney city area in any way, I suggest you do not proceed to read this post at this time. I have no intention of trivialising the tragedy, nor to increase your pain by being disrespectful to the families and friends of the victims. I don't think this post is offensive in these ways, but when you are distraught, it's easy to take things in a worst way.

The SMH reported a tragic fight(or was it really a fight?) which ended up costing a young man's life.

But... I was surprised at the fact that they had to point out the ethnic background of both victims and suspected killers, or it was when I read it around lunch time anyways. Now it is updated to not have the suspects racial background(maybe the ethnic group pressured the SMH?), but the article still reveals the two victims were Koreans.

At first, I thought whether they were someone I knew. The Korean community in Sydney is still quite small, and with so many of the attending a church or at least having a friend who does, it is possible that it was someone I knew. But the article did not reveal victims names.
Second thought that came to my mind was, whether this news article was biased against the ethic minorities in Sydney. At around 50,000 Koreans living in Sydney, while significant some may say in terms of the number, culturally and socially, we are still a minority here. So I was thinking, hmm, imagine the news article ran something like this:
Two Anglo-Saxon men was attacked by two Greeks in the city last night. One Anglo-Saxon man was taken to the St. George hospital but died shortly after. The other......

Sorry, ok, that might have looked bad and I have to admit, even I struggled to write it down.
Anyways, after giving some more thought(or rather (for)getting the initial reactive mind settled down with another 5 hours of work), I now think it wasn't really a biased/racial mind that produced the article. If it was going to be a racial article, it would've included something like criminal stats of Asians in Sydney or poorly correlated mention of number of immigrants and crime rate, or something of that sort.
I think it was more to do with making the news spread and attracting people to the SMH than the reporter(or perhaps more of the editor) being racists (which I think they aren't). It's just another sign of what a sick state our mass media is in. More you make a news "sensational" without stepping over the line, more people will talk about the news, or rather, the report and SMH more than the news itself, and that's a good business for them, I guess.

Not convinced? Here are two other accounts of the same incident with no specific link to the ethnic backgrounds of the involved.
A police report, and from ABC. How boring are they? I mean, I probably wouldn't have written a blog post for it to start with. Errm... wait.. so... those SMH guys did get me... Dang it!

SMH, I still read you all the time, please don't make the news reports a form of entertainment!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Bits and pieces - 19-Mar-2008

  • Jesus as a failed leader - reconsidering our urge to make Jesus as a model for leadership.
  • Arthur C. Clarke died today
  • A.viary - If you are into design, especially web-related, you should check this out. An online design tools on offer. But even for just a look at their website sure will inspire you.

Monday, 17 March 2008

The Bruised Reed - Book review

I've finally finished reading The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes.

The following is a short book review I posted on the book over at Shelfari.

This book is the very first puritan book I've read and the only one so far. It was at times difficult to understand the language even though they are to some degree edited for the modern readers. But you must take into account the fact that I am not a native English speaker.

When I started reading it, I was rather a bit desperate for God's comfort. I had been feeling down and out for various reasons including church and ministry matters. A quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the back cover was especially inviting for that matter. It reads, 'I shall never cease to be grateful to... Richard Sibbes who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil... I found at that time that Richard Sibbes, who was known in London in the early seventeenth century as "The Heavenly Doctor Sibbes" was an unfailing remedy... The Bruised Reed... quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me.'
Thankfully, I found the similar effects many times while reading the book. The early few chapters and final few chapters were especially helpful for me, while the middle section seemed a bit too complex, but then that may as well be just me.

For better or worse, I cannot say I am fully recovered from and overcame all of the depressive-ness I was going through after reading this book. But this book has given me hope and strengthened me during the hard times and I know it will have a lasting effect on my journey in Christ. And for that, I thank God who raised up such leaders as Richard Sibbes and moved them to write.

I recommend this book for those who are going through a difficult time of their lives and yet trying to hold on to the One "who will not break the bruised reeds nor quench the smoking flax."

PS. You can find quotes and comments I posted on the book here.

Bits and pieces - 17-Mar-2008

Oh, no! The internet is going down! in 30 years... or not.
Turn Signal Jacket for Cyclists. - well... I think this is a good idea, but when I looked at it I just couldn't help myself but laugh.
Vision of God - Luther Style

Sharing the gospel: lessons learned

Apart from giving me much encouragement, here are few lessons I learned from the conversation with a Sikh driver:

1) Building a relationship, even if it's a brief one (I spent less than 10 minutes doing that) before talking about god/religion is probably worth the while. I'm no fan of "seeker-sensitive" strategy of some churches, but on a personal level, as a general rule, I would try to have some casual chat before getting into the gospel.

2) If possible, lead him to talk about his opinion on god and start from asking his point of view and opinion on god, genuinely asking about his god. This is probably not a hard rule I'd follow all the time, but if he/she mentions god or religion before I do, and I hear him out for long enough, he will generally hear me out on the Christian God as well.

3) Avoid talking about "religion" if possible in order to focus on god, rather than the institutions and human failings in presenting god. So often the argument goes like "it is because of the church, I don't believe in God." Sometimes their accusation against the church is legitimate, sometimes they are misinformed and misguided. Rarely they would mention some good works churches do, like charity works. Church should strive for purity and charitable works so that it will not only stop hindering people from believing, but also to positively represent the gospel and the work of God as an effective witness. However, regardless, I think it is more urgent and effective to present the truth of the gospel than to defend the church and attack the other religions when talking to an unbeliever because talking about religion will often distract us from discussing god-matters to people-matters. To do that, I'd try to stay on the topic of god, ie. theology (of both Christian and pagan) until the presentation of gospel and God is done, rather than talk about what kind of practical differences there are, even if they are probably at times result of their underlying theology.

4) Remember to listen carefully so you can "capture and frame" his/her argument (opinion about god) without becoming argumentative. By "capture" I mean that you should understand what his arguments are and what they mean in relation to god. By "frame" I mean that you should bring him to see that his own argument breaks down by another of his own understanding/arguments on the topic of god, ie. theology. This I believe is far better than trying to break his argument with MY arguments. When one sees there is inconsistency within his own understanding, he will have to reconsider and re-construct his own understanding in order to remove the inconsistency. This may lead to change of his worldview in a positive way, and lead him to investigate more and end up trusting in the Lord. However, I am aware that even if one sees an inconsistent element in his worldview, it may not lead him to re-construct his worldview when he is deceived by post-modernism. It's a rotten generation we are living in.

But then of course, above all, if God does not work, all our sweat and labour are in vain. Without Him, it's totally useless and you will never EVER see a lasting effect. So, pray.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

An account of evangelising during a cab ride.

A little chat I had with a cab driver yesterday.

He was a Sikh.
Yet, he wasn't wearing a turban. Instead, when I asked he even had his hair cut which he himself told me you don't do as a Sikh. I was just trying to talk to him, sussin' out what kind of religious background he has, and "building the relationship" even though a brief one. So we were talking about how his shift for the day has been, and he told me he's doing the night shift and I showed him my sympathy for him doing the night shift by saying how hard it was when I had to do it during my air force days. He sounded comforted when he said it is quite bad even though you sleep the same amount in terms of hours, because you are going against the nature and how god made it.
"ooh... he mentioned the word, 'god'!!!", I thought.
Sometime later, after our conversation about doing night shifts had quietened down, I asked him whether he believed in God referring to him mentioning 'god' in our previous conversation. He reiterated that he was a Sikh, and he did believe in god(s). I actually have no idea about god(s) of Sikh, although I knew they wore turbans, so I was genuinely interested when I asked, "tell me about your god." He first told me it's like Hindu but a little bit different in how you practice your belief, eg. wearing a turban and not cutting your hair if you are a Sikh. I insisted, "so, what's your god like?" since his answer was way too general and I didn't feel that he was talking about his own view. I mean, even I noticed that he wasn't wearing the turban! Then he said, it's a bit different to Hindu, but the holy book is the same and in the end, just like all the religions, god tells you to do good and not do bad things. And he added, "god is all same, muslim one, hindu, christian, and no religion tells you to be evil. It's just people who interpret it wrongly and stuff up." At that point, I had to suppress my urge to correct what he just said because I thought by doing so we wouldn't get anywhere since he wouldn't like to be corrected by a stranger like myself. So I took the second line he said, that people misinterpret what god tells them. I reaffirmed what he said first by commenting that "so, god tells us to be good, but people misinterpret god and what god wants them to do?" he said, "yes." I said," do you think people will ever be able to get things right? (hint hint, intro to the doctrine of total depravity ;-)" He answered, after a brief silent moment, "no." I said, "then, don't you think god would know that we are incapable of understanding him correctly nor do the right thing? If I were god, I would stop telling people to be good since I know it's not going to work, and clearly it hasn't been, and isn't working. Instead, I would fix the whole thing myself!" He said, "no, then there'd be nothing happening. I mean... that's impossible. You can't fix everything. That can't happen!" I said, "but it's god we are talking about. I mean, if god is god, then he should be able to do that, no? (hint hint, sovereignty of God/omnipotent ;-)" He thought for a brief moment and asked, "so... which god do you believe in? A Christian one?" I was happy that he did not ask me which "religion" I belong to or believed and get distracted by "religion", but we stayed on theology in its pure sense, answering what god is like. So I said, "yeah, I believe in Christian God."

We finally arrived at the destination, Rhodes shopping centre. I had to asked him to stop and drop me off and got my wallet out. He stopped the car, but he wanted to continue our conversation for a little longer. I was more than happy to continue. So I said, "Christian God says just like other gods, that we should be good and do good, not do bad things, but he also says, that He knows we can't do it, and he fixes things Himself. (I, at this point, knew that I was stretching myself to express my theological understandings in a language that a polytheistic, universalist could understand in the context of what and how we have been talking about god.) Thankfully, he seemed to understand what I'd just said and naturally asked, "he fixes everything? well, then how is this world still like this?" (Oh, he sees that things aren't how they are meant to be!) Then realising my mistake, I said, "oh, ok. what I meant to say was that he will fix everything. He knows that we are incapable of living right, so He will one day return, and fix everything ultimately, so when He comes, you'd better be on His side (bit of eschatology here, but it's the simple, yet powerful statement Jesus Himself made). Then I had to get out of the car and meet awaiting friends of mine. He seemed quite happy about our chat. I don't know if that's a good sign. I felt good that I was able to share what our God is like, but now I think about it, I might have glossed over some tough edges of the Truth. Maybe that's why he was still smiling when I thought I told him that He has set a day to return and judge everyone, including him! hmm...

May God have mercy on his soul.

My Man, Luther, you are da man!

Read this radical example about love and marriage demonstrated by this couple.

To get you interested, here are a couple of lines from Luther expressing his "love" for Katherine.
"If I can manage it, before I die I will still marry my Katie to spite the devil."
"I feel neither passionate love nor burning for my spouse, but I cherish her."

It turns out, though, Katherine was a perfectly suitable helper indicated by this incident.
Both of them took God seriously; and both knew how to correct the other when one of them was ignoring God and taking life too seriously. One day Luther was depressed and despairing. So Katie decided to put on a black dress for the day. Luther asked, "Are you going to a funeral?" "No," she responded, "but since you act as though God is dead, I wanted to join you in the mourning!" Exactly what Luther needed to hear.
Hope that got you interested in the article enough. Go and read the whole thing and think about it.

Thank you for the article Mr. Taylor! :-)

James Fong Update - 14-Mar-2008

Sorry, I was slightly delayed in posting James Fong updates this time around.
Please go over there, and read the update, pray, and leave some encouraging words.

The Bruised Reed - 12 (Our victory in Christ is certain)

In conclusion and as a general application to ourselves of all that has been said, we see the conflicting, but yet sure and hopeful, state of God's people. The victory lies not with us, but with Christ, who has taken on him both to conquer for us and to conquer in us. The victory lies neither in our own strength to get it, nor in our enemies' strength to defeat it. If it lay with us, we might justly fear. But Christ will maintain his own government in us and take our part against our corruptions. They are his enemies as well as ours. Let us therefore be 'strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might' (Eph. 6:10). Let us not look so much at who our enemies are as at who our judge and captain is, nor at what they threaten, but at what he promises. We have more for us than against us. What coward would not fight when he is sure of victory? None is here overcome but he that will not fight. Therefore, when any base fainting seizes on us, let us lay the blame where it ought to be laid.
-- p. 122, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

He continues,
Let us think when we are troubled with our sins that Christ has this in charge from his Father, that he shall not 'quench the smoking flax' until he has subdued all. This puts a shield into our hands to beat back 'all the fiery darts of the wicked' (Eph. 6:16). Satan will object, 'You are a great sinner.' We may answer, 'Christ is a strong Saviour.' But he will object, 'You have no faith, no love.' 'Yes, a spark of faith and love.' 'But Christ will not regard that.' 'Yes, he will not quench the smoking flax.' 'But this is so little and weak that it will vanish and come to nought.' 'Nay, but Christ will cherish it, until he has brought judgment to victory.' And this much we have already for our comfort, that, even when we first believed, we overcame God himself, as it were, by believing the pardon of all our sins, notwithstanding the guilt of our own consciences and his absolute justice. Now, having been prevailers with God, what shall stand against us if we can learn to make use of our faith?
Oh, what a confusion is this to Satan, that he should labour to blow out a poor spark and yet should not be able to quench it; that a grain of mustard seed should be stronger than the gates of hell; that it should be able to remove mountains of oppositions and temptations cast up by Satan and our rebellious hearts between God and us. Abimelech could not endure that it should be said, 'A woman slew him' (judg. 9:54); and it must needs be a torment to Satan that a weak child, a woman, a decrepit old man should, by a spirit of faith, put him to flight.
-- p. 123-124, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

Only, God, strengthen my faith in You, in Your promises, in Your grace, in Your deliverance, in Your forgiveness, in Your coming judgment.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Spitzer scandal and (il)legalization of prostitution

I read a short comment over at Less than the least on the recent Spitzer (now a former NY Governor) scandal.
William Stuntz, a Harvard Law professor, writes:
Unless and until we are prepared to punish poor street hookers and rich "escorts" equally, we should abandon the fiction of prostitution bans. The sexual culture won't be reformed by unenforced—or discriminatorily enforced—laws.

I can't disagree with what he writes there (NOT simply because he's a law professor at the Harvard, but rather because what he says there makes sense to me). But I still want to ask, so should we legalise prostitution in all different forms? Is that the only way? It might be, or at least the best we can do for now, and that makes me sad.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Bits and pieces - 13-Mar-2008

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The Bruised Reed - 11 (when you fall)

It is he alone who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight (Psa. 144:1). Nature, as corrupted, favours its own being, and will maintain itself against Christ's government. Nature, simply considered, cannot raise itself above itself to actions which are spiritual and of a higher order and nature. Therefore the divine power of Christ is necessary to carry us above all our own strength, especially in duties in which we meet with greater opposition; for there, not only nature will fail us, but ordinary grace, unless there is a stronger and a new supply. In taking up a burden that is weightier than ordinary, if there is not a greater proportion of strength than weight, the one who undertakes it will lie under the burden; so for every strong encounter there must be a new supply of strength, as in the case of Peter, who, when he was assaulted with a stronger temptation, being not upheld and shored up with a mightier hand, notwithstanding former strength, foully fell (Matt. 26:69-74). And being fallen, in our risings up again, it is Christ that must do the work, by (1) removing, or (2) weakening, or (3) suspending opposite hindrances; and (4) by advancing the power of his grace in us, to a further degree than we had before we fell. Therefore when we have fallen, and by falls have been bruised, let us go to Christ immediately to bind us up again.
-- p. 113-114, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

O, let me go to You! Lord, help me when I do not feel like going to you, when I feel as if I can't make it through. I know You are the good shepherd who will not abandon a lost sheep. Search me and rescue me through this dark night.

Bits and pieces - 11-Mar-2008

Monday, 10 March 2008

America and war

It's found on YouTube front page so a lot of you probably have seen it already, but I thought it was brilliant and somewhat disturbing.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


A few days ago, I ranted about the word, "Evangelical" and how its meaning has deteriorated. When I wrote the piece, I didn't know there came out an article on the same word in this month's issue of the Briefing.

Kel Richards wrote his Word Watch section on "Evangelical":
It seems to me that we can't go on blithely using 'evangelical' in its 16th century sense without being grossly misunderstood. So what do we do? ... do we abandon 'evangelical' and consciously use another label? If so, what? Could we, perhaps, revive 'Protestant' and make it distinctively our own? Over to you: suggestions please.

Any takers?

You can buy this month's issue at the Matthias Media online store, printed or e-version.

Some photos

Some amazing art works. Fortunately, none of these wonderful creatures were killed in making of these.

Read more about Qiang's art here.

(HT: Environmental Graffiti)

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Bits and pieces - 6-Mar-2008

James Fong Update - 06-Mar-2008

Mrs. Fong gave us an update.
  • Since then he has had an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) which was much the same as the last one - not much improvement (but no deterioration either - praise God) on his ejection fraction (heart pumping) which was 20%. He has also had a CT scan of his head - which was apparently normal. However, during the procedure, he had another black out. We are all unsure what these new symptoms mean but James will be hospital for 4-5 days to have further tests.
  • We ask that at this time, you pray for James - that God would give him peace and strength and comfort despite feeling unwell and the uncertainties of what lies ahead. For myself, please pray that I may be able to juggle looking after Zoe and visiting James.
  • Praise God that Auntie Grace and Grandma Fong and Uncle Stephen (and their dog Rusty) have again offered to look after Jeremiah (who also has a cold - please pray for his healing as well) during this time.

Please continue to pray for them.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

For Christians, there's more that just the "heaven", there is the Resurrection!

Be sure to read this short post at The Gospel Driven Life.
Jesus did not die and rise again so when we die we go to a better place. He died and rose again so that death will be swallowed up, this mortal shall be clothed in immortality, and our parents (and all who fall asleep in Christ) will be re-embodied.

Evangelical? What do you mean by that?

Pyromaniacs had an excellent post regarding Evangelicals. A must read.

As some of you would know, I'm not a native English speaker. (Err... "English native speaker"? or "native English speaker"? Well, you get the point.) And so, I only learned the word, 'Evangelical' about 5 years ago, but when I learned the etymology of it, I instantly liked the word. It was rooted in the word, 'Evangel', which meant the gospel. I thought it was an excellent word that described Christians. What are Christians but a people who are saved by, believe in, and live by the Gospel? At the same time, I thought it slightly strange to have such a word at all, because if you are not "Evangelical", ie. believe in the Gospel, then, you simply aren't Christian, and if you are a Christian, then you believe the Gospel, so why do we need this qualifier, 'Evangelical' to start with? You are either Christian and Evangelical, or you are not Christian nor Evangelical. Full stop.

As time went by, and I learned a little bit more about the historical development of the term, Evangelical (and Evangelicalism). I appreciate those older brothers in Christ who confronted liberals and stood by the truth and I understand now a little bit better about how this term, Evangelical came about. But these days, I am increasingly unhappy with how the term is being used. The term is applied way too broadly nowadays. Too many people profess they are Evangelical Christians while practicing (living out) their lives as if they do not know what this Gospel of Grace means! I esteem that many of these people simply did not want to be singled out as non-Evangelical (may that be liberal, or else) and be left out of the party, but then did not want what the Gospel really preached for themselves or, at least, did not understand what the Gospel truly was.

I mean, if they did understand and believed the Gospel to be true and the only message of salvation, why is their focus so drifted away from Christ and the grace of God? Why so many people, who say they are Evangelical Christians, pursue the healthy and wealthy life-style so fervently? You don't see this? Take a stroll to your nearest (Evangelical) Christian bookshop, and ask for the bestsellers! What are they? I mean, sure, everyone, including Christians is sinful and we, Christians will continue to struggle and stumble over our weaknesses and temptations until the Day of the Lord. But, just among those Evangelicals, just within the people who profess that they are "of the Gospel", don't you think we ought to be a little different? We are going to sin again just like that person sitting next to you, but shouldn't we at least be headed in a different direction and aim for the heavenly things even though our feet are dirty with earthly mud?

These days, I really feel like calling it quits to identify myself as an Evangelical. Maybe this word, Evangelical is too ancient for the current generation to know its real meaning and that is the reason why its original meaning is losing its force. Perhaps we should start using a word more simple, or new. How about "Gospelism" instead of "Evangelicalism" and "Gospelic" instead of "Evangelical"? Would that be better?

Nay, these words may help for a while, but I know all too well, that it is only by Your grace that we are preserved through this wicked generation until our victorious Lord returns. O, come Lord Jesus, come!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Bits and pieces - 4-Mar-2008

From someone else's view point...

It's sometimes helpful to see things from a different viewpoint. Sometimes it is necessary. I'm not saying it is necessary to see the event above from a new viewpoint. It might be. But I just posted it up here so you may be inspired to be willing to listen to many people before passing a judgment. Especially if you are a Christian!

By the way, if you want to know what Pangea Day is, it's basically an international film festival, but be sure to check its website yourself to find out more. Secondly, if you also happened to go to TED website, you'll find an amazing collection of great presentations and resources. Just be warned, a vast majority of things (if not all) you will find there is very humanistic, and is sadly, very much Godless. I go to that site time to time, and I find wonderful people and their brilliant talents and ideas there, but I always finish my little tour with a sad sense of reality of fallen man.

(HT: TED blog)

Monday, 3 March 2008

The Bruised Reed - 10 on Faith (or rather, that which the faith rests on)

What some say of rooted faith, fides radicata, that it continues, while weak faith may come to nothing, seems to be contradicted by this Scripture; for, as the strongest faith may be shaken, so the weakest, where truth is, is so far rooted that it will prevail. Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails. Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect his strength in; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to him in whom our strength lies.
-- p. 96, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

Sorry, I don't know what that "fides radicata" means either, but you get the gist of this paragraph, don't you?

Bits and pieces - 3-Mar-2008

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Symbolism is powerful, so use it carefully - a short comment on the new US Navy ship, USS New York

Firstly, if you have suffered in anyway for the 911 New York terror, I apologise for any offense you may take from this short post, but please know that none were intended. I also think it was a terrible thing that happened, and I am sorry.

I guess this was too good an opportunity to raise the spirits of many Americans, but did they really have to do it? I mean, sure, encourage and help them, but I didn't think it really required this kind of symbolism working in reality.
Using the steel recovered from the ground zero (the place where the Twin Tower used to stand) to build a Navy ship.
Using the name of the city, New York
And it might be just me, but this ship even has a kind of 'twin-tower'!

I just had to cringe, sorry, it's just not my thing! (plus diversion "subtly" working through this whole thing... hmmm)

Coming to terms with sins

Michael Spencer at the internetmonk:

In coming to terms with our own sin, we must come to terms with the sins of others and with the sinfulness of the human race. This is fundamental. There is no other context for the human story. We have sinned. We have been surrounded by sinners. We have been brought up, raised and taught by sinners. Those who love us most are also sinners, and some of them have done terrible things that have affected us.

Read the whole thing. Personally, I thought it was excellent.

Bits and pieces - 1-Mar-2008

It's already March! The cliche line, 'Time flies' doesn't seem to be expressive anymore. Anyways, here's some bits and pieces from web.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

My take on T4G free registration contest - 1

Mark Dever at "Together for the Gospel" is running a series of contests that promises to give out free registrations for the conference. I won't be able to go, but I can give it to some friends in US, so I entered too. You can do so as well of course, if you are interested, although it's probably a little late for the first one. But there'll be two more I think.

The Question was:
If you could have anyone from history join the cast of speakers at T4G, who would it be and why?

My humble take:
The Apostle Paul
3 reasons
1) His clear understanding and preaching of the Gospel
2) His authentic and examplary commitment to the Gospel
3) His willingness to become all things to all men for the sake of the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:22)

What do you think?