Friday, 30 May 2008

You say you don't treasure money?

Make sure you don't.

(HT: Ron)

Returned to my (temporary) home in Sydney

My 38-day long trip has ended as of yesterday.
I came home yesterday. I missed Sydney from the day one of my trip, and it's good to be back. I just wonder how good and wonderful it would be when I finally, by God's grace, reached my permanent home in Heaven. It simply isn't imaginable, let alone describing in mere words.

Anyways, as I find my groove back in Sydney, I will slowly start to blog regularly. It was more difficult to blog while traveling I found, and I need to get into the habit of thinking laterally and logically about things around me. It'll take some time I predict, so if my blog isn't updated as regularly, please be patient with me (although.. it's not like I have great many number of people reading this blog anyways, and those who do would know me enough to give me this much slack that I need. ;-) Oh, by the way, my laptop's broken at the moment unfortunately, and this may impact how soon and often I will blog.

Again, good to be back, good to be with you, friends.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Bits and pieces (with some extras) - 15-May-2008

It's a bit hard to blog while I'm traveling as I discovered recently. Contrast to my initial thinking, it seems as though I have less time to think for myself as I travel. I think I'm too busy seeing things, trying to emerse myself in a different culture. It's not bad, I just hope I won't forget all these new things that I am experiencing so I will be able to think through these and blog about them later.

In the mean time, you can still visit what I read and think about by going to my shared items or looking at the "noteworthy" section on the right of this blog.

Also, I'll try to post "bits and pieces" whenever I see something I really want you to read while I'm traveling.

Here are some of those articles I *really* want you to read. ;-)
Incidently they are all to do with prayer or closely related with it.

1) Dangerous Prayers - Yes, I do have such moments. I acknowledge that what you have said is true, and I shall do my utmost to pray such prayers and not shrink back from it.
2) Loving Jesus like his Father does - Oh, and I want to love Jesus more. I will pray this prayer.
3) Never too late to change - Let us be never become too old for God's transforming grace.

Will you pray with me?

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Need for the Gospel, again and again

Jerry Bridges said we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves continuously. In other words, we need to hear the Gospel over and over again.
He began by saying that we tend to slip into the understanding that the gospel is addressed only to sinners. We can forget that we are practicing sinners—sinners every day in thought, word, deed and motive. Hence we need to continue basing our lives on the gospel and need to continue to preach the gospel to ourselves. This is the foundation on which he will build his messages.

(HT: Tim Challies)

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Need for hearing the Gospel over and over again

I once heard John Piper's sermon in which he argued that a believer is being saved by the Gospel. I hope I remember properly, but as I remember, what he meant was that a believer is not only saved by the Gospel, that is, by hearing it and being converted, but also they are being saved by the Gospel, that is, after the conversion, the believer needs to hear the Gospel over and over again and in so doing, the Gospel will keep the believer continue to believe until he gets to Heaven.
I think that is right, but we often forget what we know, even the most important thing as the Gospel truths, hence the need to hear the Gospel over and over again and be encouraged, corrected, healed, rebuked, and most of all, by seeing Jesus again, we can trust Him despite all circumstances.
John Piper also seems to say the same.

PS. Oh, correct me if I got this wrong please.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Piano during prayer

Just a pet peeve, alright, but when Michael Patton said:
I call it a shameful, fake, and manipulative part of the Christian sub-culture.

I was in an agreement with him, and glad somebody (especially who has some authority over church matters) said so.

The real seeker - Zacchaeus (us) vs. Jesus

My title is kind of a giveaway for some, I suppose. But it is as simple as that, it is either us, represented by Zacchaeus, or Jesus, but not both, not neither.
Read this excellent post over at the new blog from the Matthias Media, The Sola Panel.
By the way, Sola isn't a typo. You will want to bookmark it, or subscribe to its RSS feed.

James Fong Update - 8-May-2008

Update from James Fong.
1) It turns out he was misinformed about an ingredient of the golden pill he ate some time ago.
2) Pray for the Burmese:
As much as our family appreciate prayer for our well being, please join us in praying that the Burmese (Myanmar) military junta would lift their ban so that more international relief effort may help and support those truly facing life and death minute by minute. Above all, let's pray for more gospel workers to go into Burma and show what heaven is like and introduce the Burmese to the king of heaven, particularly under the current hellish circumstances.

3) Continue to pray for James as he will be getting another test which will help the doctor to decide whether he should be on the transplant list.

Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Understanding Sin: Another reason why the faithful preaching of the gospel is essential

Tim Challies posts his thoughts on how Sin is understood by many, possibly most Christians today, and how to counter it.
He recalls in his post:
A couple of years ago I spoke to the administrator of a church in the area. This person had been a Christian for several years and was active as a leader in the church. Discussing a recent and high-profile crime that had been covered by the media, this person told me, "I just don't understand how anyone could do that. I don't understand how anyone could be that bad. I could never be that evil!" As we spoke, I realized that this was a person who knew that he committed sins, and yet one who clearly did not understand his inherently sinful nature. He knew he sinned but refused to believe he was a sinner. Sin is what he did, not what he was.

I'm afraid that this is only too common, and people around me not only do not understand that "The Bible tells us in plain terms that we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.", but they aren't even interested in hearing that. They are too occupied with what they want to improve in their lives. Sometimes, what they pursue aren't that secular but in fact, quite virtuous, like, humility, honesty, generosity, etc. But just as Tim's post points out, "They may never have owned up to their fundamental sinfulness, their natural enmity towards God. They may never feel or acknowledge guilt not only for what they do but for who they are." And in so doing, they increase their false assuarance of salvation by seeing what they have do and achieved, and they forget to depend on and cling to our Redeemer who offerred up Himself as the redeeming sacrifice. This is why Christian-term-coated self-help books like "Your Best Life Now", or "Become a Better You" are both popular and only deceiving many.

He concludes:
"People needed to be properly convinced of their real guilt and sinfulness, in the sight of God, and their deserving of his wrath." Every Christian needs not only to own up to his sin and guilt, but to admit that he is deserving of God's wrath. No one has properly apprehended God's grace until he has understood his own sinfulness and knows that he fully deserves God's just and holy punishment. The evangelical church of our day is a wrathless church - a church that speaks often of God's love and grace, but rarely of the deepest necessity of this love and grace. The church today needs an infusion of the gospel, the whole gospel, which speaks not only of God's love, but first of our desperate need of reconciliation. The gospel portrays us as we really are - as sinners who sin because of our fundamental guilt, our fundamental hatred of God. Only when we see ourselves as sinners can we truly see Christ as Savior. Only when we have identified ourselves as fallen in Adam can we truly and properly identify ourselves as raised up and set apart in Christ.

There's no other way. The gospel, the whole gospel which includes and shows our sinful state and God's righteous, just, and terrible wrath and judgement as its consequences, must be clearly preached in our churches. Without such faithful preaching of the gospel, we will have no hope.

Read the whole thing.

Arrived in the USA

I am now in St. Louis where my sister lives. It's 1:35pm here, and it's very quiet. Apart from occasional noise from the car outside, which is amplified because of the rain by the way, I hear nothing. This area where my sister lives is much queiter than I expected.

Anyways, here's what I wrote and wanted to post before while I was at the LA International airport, but only now am able to.

Los Angeles, California
6th May 2008, 11:20am Localtime
I've landed on the American soil for the first time in my life.
This LA International Airport looks kinda shabby, compared to other airports that I have been to, namely, Sydney and Incheon (Seoul). Interms of size, this place seems huge, but possibly because this is built quite a while ago, everything seems a bit old.
Anyway, that's not that important. I am just a little bit nervous. Even though I can speak English, it's my first time in the States, and with all these security checks, and all the things I've heard on the news and watched on the movies, it seems like a dangerous place. It probably isn't as bad as I imagine right now. I mean, as I look around, there are people, kids, families, girls, old gentleman-looking guys, and no one seems to be alert and alarmed. They are all doing "normal" things that people do, it seems. Maybe it's just that I am in a foreign place that I've never been to before, rather than what I'm actually seeing here at the moment.

I just wanna get to St. Louis as soon as possible and meet up with my sister. Wanna get to her house and rest a bit. It's early morning in Korea/Sydney where I am from. I'm feeling the jet lag for the first time as well. Oh, I just realised, I did not bring my sister's phone number. Dang... If I get lost, I won't be able to contact her. And my flight is delayed one hour too. She'd better find me well. hmm...

The Centrality of Christ

This is good. This is a warning to so-called Christians today.
An excerpt from the new book, 'In My Place Condemned He Stood' by J. I. Packer and Mark Dever, which was posted over at the Sovereign Grace blog:
The cross of Christ is the heart of the apostles’ gospel and of their piety and praise as well; so surely it ought to be central in our own proclamation, catechesis, and devotional practice? True Christ-centeredness is, and ever must be, cross-centeredness. The cross on which the divine-human mediator hung, and from which he rose to reign on the basis and in the power of his atoning death, must become the vantage point from which we survey the whole of human history and human life, the reference point for explaining all that has gone wrong in the world everywhere and all that God has done and will do to put it right, and the center point for fixing the flow of doxology and devotion from our hearts. Healthy, virile, competent Christianity depends on clear-headedness about the cross; otherwise we are always off-key. And clear-headedness about the cross, banishing blurriness of mind, is only attained by facing up to the reality of Christ’s blood-sacrifice of himself in penal substitution for those whom the Father had given him to redeem.

Why then is it that in today's churches, even in some professedly evangelical congregations, this emphasis is rare? Why is it that in seminary classrooms, professional theological guilds, Bible teaching conferences, and regular Sunday preaching, not to mention the devotional books that we write for each other, so little comparatively is said about the heart-stirring, life-transforming reality of penal substitution? Several reasons spring to mind.

First, we forget that the necessity of retribution for sin is an integral expression of the holiness of God, and we sentimentalize his love by thinking and speaking of it without relating it to this necessity. This leaves us with a Christ who certainly embodies divine wisdom and goodwill, who certainly has blazed a trail for us through death into life, and who through the Spirit certainly stands by each of us as friend and helper (all true, so far as it goes), but who is not, strictly speaking, a redeemer and an atoning sacrifice for us at all.

Second, in this age that studies human behavior and psychology with such sustained intensity, knowledge of our sins and sinfulness as seen by God has faded, being overlaid by techniques and routines for self-improvement in terms of society's current ideals of decency and worthwhileness of life. It is all very secular, even when sponsored by churches, as it often is, and it keeps us from awareness of our own deep guilty and shameful alienation from God, which only the Savior, who in his sinlessness literally bore the penalty of our sins in our place, can deal with.

Third, in an age in which historic Christianity in the West is under heavy pressure and is marginalized in our post-Christian communities, we are preoccupied with apologetic battles, doctrinal and ethical, all along the interface of Christian faith and secularity—battles in which we are for the most part forced to play black, responding to the opening gambits of our secular critics. Constant concern to fight and win these battles diverts our attention from thorough study of the central realities of our own faith, of which the atonement is one.

Fourth, heavyweight scholars in our own ranks, as we have seen, line up from time to time with liberal theologians to offer revisionist, under-exegeted accounts of Bible teaching on the atonement, accounts which in the name of Scripture (!) play down or reject entirely the reality of penal substitution as we have been expounding it. The effect is that whereas from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century evangelicals stood solid for penal substitution against unitarianism (Socinianism) and deism, and taught this truth as no less central to the gospel than the incarnation itself, today it is often seen as a disputed and disputable option that we can get on quite well without, as many already are apparently doing.

What in the way of understanding our Savior and our salvation we lose, however, if we slip away from penal substitution, is, we think, incalculable.

Oh, how foolish we are to be deceived by Satan to lose our focus, where the cross of Christ has been shining as a beacon for God's people all along. Thanks be to God who, in His great mercy and patience, raises up His faithful servants again and again to remind His people and draw them back to the saving truth. May we be such people, who stands by the truth and preaches the truth no matter how unpopular we become or ridiculed for our stubbornness. God help us.

(HT: Rebs)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Gossip in church?

I'm as guilty as anyone according to Mr. Spurgeon. I'm afraid if everyone who gossip in our church is to be expelled, our church would be empty. Yikes.

May God help us to be a people worthy of His holiness.

Friday, 2 May 2008

James Fong Update - 2-May-2008

James Fong updated his xanga. As usual, his post is full of praise for God and action-packed for Jesus.
1) He wants to know what we prayed for, so he can report back how God has answered our prayers.
2) He says he can't sleep well thesedays and asks for prayer.
3) He found out that he ate bull semen! (Yes, this is true. Go and read the whole thing.)
4) Prayer request for Zoe's recovery from a flu.
5) Encouragement from James:
May I encourage you all to continue to make the most of the health God has given you while you have it, to fearlessly and confidently share the gospel with all your might until the Lord returns.

Read the whole thing.


I'm overwhelmed. I went for a walk around my home and even to the places where I used to live almost 20 years ago. Last time I've been there was some 15 years ago.
I'm simply overwhelmed with this strange emotion that I am not familiar with.
I'll post up what I thought, felt later on...