Sunday, 29 June 2008

James Fong Update - 29-Jun-2008

James Fong has been seeing doctors, toasting to Jesus, catching urine with his hands, and is preparing for a short Bible talk. It seems like he's been quite busy and active. But please continue to pray that his health would improve. I'd like to see him being able to attend church on Sundays as a start.

Suffering Christians in Iraq

Suffering Christians in Iraq. I don't know what more to say than to throw this at those smiling faces of prosperity gospel preachers. Please pray for them, both Christians in Iraq and prosperity Gospel preachers, and also, please pray for me that I may also be watchful about myself as well and be loving and praying for all of God's people.

(HT: Andy at ThinkChristian)

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Former-Korn member Brian Welch shares how he became a Christian

A friend of mine told me about this video.

Here's how CNN reported his conversion.

Did you notice the reporter making a comment at the end saying, "now Brian Welsh has saved himself"?

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Reading Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

I decided to join Tim Challies and others in reading the classic, Religious Affections.
It's going to be quite tough for me to keep up with others I think. I'm such a slow reader! But it's definitely worth reading and trying to keep up with others will provide me an extra motivation as well. Anyone wish to join the gang?

You can get it from Koorong (although it seems we are out of stock at the moment...), Moore Books, or other usual places.
If you really wanted to, you can get a free electronic copy of it from CCEL.

Read the details over at

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Be a man, do the right thing.

Grow up. Be a Man.

Personal reflections: God who is above and beyond another god called Me

Sometimes comforting words of my friends are not exactly what I need to hear. And I do not express what I think at times either because I couldn't articulate it at the time, or because I didn't think it was wise to dwell on the differences at the time. But here's what I really want to say about what some of my well-meaning friends told me yesterday. Sorry for not explaining the whole context, though.

I'm sorry, but my God is greater than that. It is true that He is all satisfying and comforting, yes, He is no less than that. But He is so much more than that. He will not simply bend His will for my puny, selfish desires, but He will bend my will to express and proclaim His glory. He will transform my worldly desire and make it a heavenly one, even if that may mean that I will suffer pain and discomfort. When God promised that He will be our comforter, He did not mean that He will always make me feel comfy and easy. The Bible testifies so, the history of the church testifies so, and the story of Christians around the world testifies so. And I love my God whose will is stronger than mine. I love my God who overrides my self-obsessed prayers.

Oh, may He keep me humble and holy.

Book Review: Freakonomics

I finished reading Freakonomics. It was a fun and informational read. Here's a brief book review from me (copied from my review over at Shelfari).

I enjoyed this book. I can understand how some people may criticise and even hate this book, but I think many people would agree that this book gives you a helpful insight into something they haven't thought about before. The authors, especially Steven Levitt who actually did all the research and presented the various cases, never seemed to enjoyed those controversial and perhaps grim findings at the end of the research. The authors, in my view, only tried to present the case, with a reasonable amount of humility without compromising their findings and convictions.

It reads really easily too. Easy reading doesn't necessarily equate to a great quality of the writing, but the style of the writing in this book delivered its content exceptionally well, and it was pleasant to read.
Also, as I knew almost nothing about the science of economics, it served me by sparking some interest about the subject.

Now, as a Christian, I would recommend that you read this book, not because I endorse the way of thinking in this book, or because I want you to take on the worldview presented in this book. In fact, the book, apart from some presumptions that were required to study various subject from the economic perspectives, merely presents economical findings without suggesting that you need to buy in with a different worldview. I think it is helpful for Christians to consider how non-Christians see the world, ie. to try to understand the secular worldview, and reading this book will help you with that. Ultimately, we already know the secular worldview, because the Bible gives us pretty clear and detailed picture of it, but you will be able to see how it actually plays out in different and modern situations.

Now, here on my blog, I just want to add that I didn't think it was necessary to tell you that you don't have to buy all the ideas Levitt puts forward in the book. I think it's obvious.
See the book over at Shelfari.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Saved by Christ

It was about three years ago, during a discussion with a friend of mine, my pastor at one point said, "you are not saved by faith, but by Christ!" I was a little bit shaken by that statement at first to say the least. It took me some time to understand that statement and now I believe that to be true. Understanding that statement was to understand the true and deeper meaning of the Gospel, that I am saved by God's grace and His grace alone. I could not claim any merit and that includes my faith in Christ even. It is Christ who saves me through the means of faith. My faith is not the bases of why I am saved, but Christ. Hence all credit goes to Christ and Him alone be praised and receive my thanks.

Today, over at the blog, Of First Importance, this quote reminded me of this real meaning of the Gospel again.
“It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ… It is not, strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith. The saving power resides exclusively, not in the act of faith or the attitude of faith or in the nature of faith, but in the object of faith.”

- B. B. Warfield quoted by Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2007), 43.

Read it, think about it, pray, and may that result you in praising, thanking, trusting, submitting, and yielding to God more than ever before.

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Righteous Anger

A helpful blog post I read on anger issues.

I think it was a great article on two accounts.
Firstly for distinguishing and defining the righteous anger and unrighteous anger.
There are two types of anger: God-centered and self-centered. God-centered anger is when you get angry because God has been dishonored and his ways have been maligned. Self-centered anger is when you’re angry because you have been dishonored or your ways have been maligned.

Secondly for further explanation of God-centered anger by showing how it manifests with grief.
God’s anger is a grieving anger. It grieves because it sees the devastation sin has on human life. ... The world so often senses our anger — but do they ever sense our grief? They think we’re angry simply because we’re not getting our way, but I’m afraid they don’t feel our sorrow over sin’s negative, de-humanizing effects. Our anger is not communicated in a “You were made for so much more than this” type manner. They hear our anger without grief and conclude, “They’re not angry because they want what’s best for us; they’re angry because they only want what’s best for them and they’re not getting it.” No wonder they tune us out.

Read the whole thing.

(HT: Chris Brauns)

Christianity 'could die out within a century': I think I heard that line before...

The UK Telegraph reported:
More than half of Britons think Christianity is likely to have disappeared from the country within a century, according to a survey.

That should not surprise us, Christians really. If anything, the real, Gospel believing Christianity is meant to be scorned at and disliked, or even down-right hated by people, until the Holy Spirit awakens them from their deadness. Only when they are moved by God, who makes them see the wretchedness of themselves and be terrified by the coming wrath of God and behold Christ and the saving Grace in Him, only then, they will throw themselves at Jesus, holding on to His promises and have faith in Him, forsaking their old ways.
Oh, in His grace, may God bring up more of the authentic, sacrificial, and powerful Christians in a generation where such a thing is least expected, just like He has done in the past numerous times.

Violence against women

The BBC reports:
The UN Security Council has voted unanimously in favour of a resolution classifying rape as a weapon of war.

The document describes the deliberate use of rape as a tactic in war and a threat to international security.

Something to think, ponder on, and most of all, pray about.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Try Wordle

Wordle, a free "word-cloud" making tool even made to TED website now. I couldn't resist but try it myself.

Here's what I got with my sermon at the High School Ministry at church on Luke 19:1-10.

(Click for a bigger view)

Do you understand what it means to live in a kingdom?

Joe Carter posted some thoughts related to Jesus. Here's one that I liked a lot. Ponder on this.
"Jesus is not a Republican or a Democrat," said John Mark Reynolds, "He's probably a monarchist." When I first heard that at GodBlogCon several years ago I thought it was clever; now I find it to be a profound insight. Jesus constantly talked about the Kingdom of Heaven. So why do so few Christians talk about it? One reason, I believe, is that we are now all republicans and democrats (small-R, small-D) and simply don't understand what Jesus is talking about. We may use the term "Lord" and "King of Kings" but--unlike the vast majority of people throughout history--we do not comprehend what it means to live under the reign of a king. We need some remedial training on how to live as subjects in a kingdom. We may be justified in rejecting the divine right of kings to rule but we cannot be justified if we reject the rule of our divine king.

(HT: Michael Spencer at his new blog, Jesus Shaped Spirituality)

Pray for me

I just read a post over at Ron's blog. It was a good reminder that I must know Christ and His incomparable value more deeply than before and submit to Him completely and absolutely. I have not been in my best shape in recent days, spiritually speaking, for various reasons. I ask for your prayer.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Introducing SlideRocket

This post isn't a typical one you'll see here, but I just discovered this new web tool that looks really good and promising to be useful. It's called SlideRocket. It's a web based presentation tool, just like MS PowerPoint or Keynote for Mac, but promises more than that. From their website:

SlideRocket is a web application that provides everything you need to design professional quality presentations, manage and share libraries of slides and assets, and to deliver presentations in person or remotely over the web.

I've played around with it for only few minutes, but it looked fantastic! Just using one of the default themes, I could create a presentation that looks much more professional and beautiful than when I used, let's say, a MS PowerPoint. It seems to be very feature-rich, yet intuitively designed as well so that it is easy to learn and use. When I need to prepare a presentation for my church activities (or else), I am going to try this one out for sure.

If you want to try it for yourself, you will need to request for an account since it isn't fully released yet, but in a private beta phase.

"Amazing" is probably a better word, but still...

As I often do, I made a bigger deal out of somebody else's passing comment.
Here's what I said:
This post was quite random, Gordon, but I think I understand what you are trying to say. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think when we tell ourselves (let alone the young ones), that we need to be excited and stimulated by the sudden and the unexpected, we will only grow to be rather shallower and shallower. Am I reading into your simple comment too much?

However, I wouldn't be so sure and quick to say that God is so predictable (I am referring to John's comment above now, more specifically the line: "The fact that God should pour his love onto an undeserving sinner like me is exactly what I expected.") I think when a person understands the Gospel for the first time, it always captures him by surprise, that a holy God, as He truly is, should look upon a sinner like me, and have mercy and offer forgiveness in Christ.
We may say that after becoming a Christian, and after living and learning as a Christian for a while, that "it is such a God-thing to love an undeserving sinner and forgive him" since we now understand so much more about God's character. But I think it pays to check ourselves whether we, as "seasoned Christians" are still amazed, if not surprised, by the fact that the Lord of lords should have died for sinners such as us.

Now, I might have stretched the meaning of the word, surprise and amazement and blurred the boundary a little here, and if you are annoyed by that, I apologise. But I really think, that an element of surprise is still there as you walk and stumble as a Christian and experience His goodness and grace over and over again.

Read the whole thing (including comments) in context.

[Update: oops, fixed the typo in the title.)

Monday, 16 June 2008

James Fong Update (and more) - 16-Jun-2008

It's been a while since James posted a new entry on his xanga site. It's been even longer while since I posted about him and his prayer requests.

I simply direct to his entry this time, and ask you to pray for him and his family.

While you are at it, for those who know me and the situation (I know who you are!), please also pray for Steve who used to be the pastor at my church and his wife Alice, who is fighting a cancer. And also pray for Cecily Moar for those who know her for her health, although I won't go into the details about it here.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Who can or should participate in Lord's Supper?

Gordon posted on Sola Panel about his thoughts on who should be allowed to participate in Lord's Supper. I have posted my response as a comment, although it was a bit long and might have been better to respond it here. I reproduce my response here nevertheless.

I think having a full meal seems more consistent to the Biblical description of Lord's Supper, somewhat like what you have described in your last paragraph.

But I am not so certain about the idea of extending the invitation to participate in the Lord's Supper to unbelievers (incidentally, I come from a denomination that has the same tradition on the issue). On one hand, I agree with what you said here. Seeing how Jesus dealt with sinners, and also as the Lord's Supper being a symbolic proclamation of the Gospel, it seems we actually should invite the unbelievers to participate. But, I think there's more to think through about the Lord's Supper.

Firstly, I am not sure if the meals Jesus shared with sinners were the same as when Jesus explicitly told His disciples about the Lord's Supper. Having fellowship with and not becoming segregated from sinners (but not all sinners to be sure, since Paul tells us to not even associate with a certain kinds of sinners, and Jesus also did not associate with all types of sinners all the time) is, I think, important and what Christians should be doing. But I think we should be careful when/if we extend the invitation to all, because the Gospel must be displayed clearly even as to discern and divide the hearts of men just like when we preach the Gospel with our mouths.

To illustrate this, I can think of baptism. Just like a man who was baptised without proper understanding of the Gospel may go on living in a false assurance of salvation, relying on the fact that he is baptised, rather than on the work of Christ, unbelievers who come to share in the Lord's Supper may go on living in their unbelief having a wrong sense and view of salvation, thinking that they are saved because they participate in church's sacraments.

This confusion may not have set in the lives and faith of early Christians, because when they did get baptised, and shared in Lord's Supper, they did so in the face of a real and visible persecution. The threat and danger that they'd have to face as a result of joining the Christian sect was clearly seen by a potential believer. So people who did not have the real conviction, wouldn't have risked it. But in this society where tolerance and relativism has deeply affected people's minds, when we let unbelievers to participate in the Lord's Supper, they may simply take it as an insurance for their ticket to heaven, and not because they are compelled and captivated by our Redeemer.

Of course, one may say that, we run this risk all the time. I think we do too. Whenever we meet at church, whenever we participate in ministry, we are running the risk of giving others and ourselves a false sense of security about salvation. But there are different degrees of the risk (as far as human responsibility goes under God's sovereignty), and the ministers and preachers of churches and ministries will have to gauge this risk carefully before making any drastic changes.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Pierced by the Word - Book Review

I am not too familiar with this type of books, namely, "devotionals". I think it was Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said, "I do not want someone else to do the devotional (meditation on the Word) for me" and warned about relying on someone else's meditation and neglecting to do his own.
However, that does not mean that this type of books is useless altogether, I don't think. This particular book, "Pierced by the Word" contains a collection of thoughts and meditations from one of the best preachers in the world, and it shows that. The chapters contained in the book isn't always a direct meditation on a particular passage from the Bible, and some may say that is not a good model to be given in a devotional book. I agree with that. But the book as a whole and each individual chapter gives a great encouragement for the reader to live more faithfully, courageously, and passionately for God; it certainly did for me.

The challenge it gives is Piper classic. Biblically and theologically sound trail of thoughts does not simply die in the theological arena, nor it is buried in the pages of the Bible. Piper always shows, in each chapter of the book, practical ways to reform our minds and outward actions into more faithful and God-honouring ways.

This book has 31 short chapters, and it can be used for a month to help you deepen your understanding of the over-arching theme of the Bible and Christian living by reading one chapter a day. Each chapter also ends with a short prayer that you may choose to make it your own. I think you would still want to do your own devotion, QT, meditation, whatever it's called with the Bible passages yourself while you are reading this book, but over all, I highly recommend this book for those who want to give a month hearing a godly brother and learn from him.

(This review is also posted over at Shelfari for those interested.)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Euthansia, death, life, and the author of life

While some secular thinkers debate the moral and ethical legitimacy of euthanasia in favour of legalisation of euthanasia, forcing the biblically faithful thinkers to defend life and challenge secular man-centred thoughts, a man who was thought to be dead beyond revival comes back alive just before his organs were about to be removed for donation. He is now talking and walking.

Science continues to do its best, namely, proving to ourselves how little we really know about things that we (or at least some) think we've nailed down. In the meantime, God has spoken on these matters clearly, and His Spirit continues to convict people as to recognise Jesus as the author of life, and God as the only one who has the authority over life and death at His pleasure and good and gracious will.

Monday, 9 June 2008

What kind of action is God calling me to?

Gordon posted Andrew Moody's comment about the recent female bishop issue in Melbourne. All I need to say about that issue is that I agree with Gordon and Andrew. I am a complementarian if you like to label me. But what really challenged me from his post was the following lines.

Okay lookee here. It's not for me or Gordo or anyone to say that YOU, yes YOU are a coward for not getting up and having a go. Clearly not everyone needs to get up and fight every battle (Tim's point), and not everyone needs to make synodical (okay, I think I just made that word up) activism their top priority (your point, Jason). But here's the general observation – when nobody makes a stand shouldn't someone feel guilty? Is God really calling everybody to be Obadiah and nobody to be Elijah? Or Daniel? Or Phinehas (okay too graphic)?

I often resort to quietly sighing by myself and maybe just putting up a sad face when I hear a unbiblical preaching or see ungodliness eg. actions of bigotry in Christian ministry as my way of stomaching unfaithfulness in my church. Many times, even when I felt the urge to speak up, when I was faced with the person(s) involved, I was not able to speak up what I thought was necessary and just avoided the awkward confrontation with manufactured smiles.
I mean, it isn't that no one is speaking up in my church when something isn't right. Thankfully, there are many faithful people who are more capable and trust-worthy than myself who, in fact, speak up when necessary. But it isn't always the case, and I think I shy away from such confrontations too often when I am presented with one.

Oh, when ever will I have guts to tell my brothers with all seriousness and sincerity that they've got to break their stiff necks humble themselves and pray, and have a heart of flesh that can love others? Oh, when ever will I have such conviction to tell my sisters with all my passion and boldness that they have to fill up their heads with more solid spiritual food in order to stop thinking of God lightly nor they should pursue the power to control their brothers in Christ?

The biggest stumbling block is, however, I myself am the first one to hear this and take action accordingly. What a hypocrite I am, what shall I do?

Update: The quoted words above were Andrew Moody's, not Gordon's, and this post is modified accordingly. Thank you for letting me know, Gordon!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

A beautiful day

After a week of beautiful rainy days (not being sarcastic here, I not only thank God for the rain we had, but I actually love the rain), the sky is exceptionally beautiful today.
Thank You God, for a beautiful weather.

Photos from my trip - 2

More photos from my trip to the USA.
These are from St. Louis, MO.

My sister and I went to the Budweiser Brewery, St. Louis. MO USA. A collection of beers from the Budweiser.

Then we went to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Inside the Ridgway Center.

With my sister.

A piece of exhibition (Niki in the garden).

A large leaf.

In the Japanese garden within the Missouri Botanical Garden.

For more photos like these, or to see them in higher resolution, go to my Picasa web album.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Photos from my trip - 1

I'll be posting some photos I took during my trip.
They won't be chronologically ordered. I sometimes may not even post up captions for the photos. But I do hope that they will be giving more information about myself, about the world, and at times visually pleasing, well, hopefully.
This is the first of many more to come. Oh, and I have no idea how many of these will be.

The Gateway Arch, St. Louis MO

The Gateway Arch, St. Louis MO

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

For more photos like these, or to see them in higher resolution, go to my Picasa web album.

Settling back

Since I came back from my overseas trip, I haven't had any strong urge to write a blog post about pretty much anything. While I was traveling, I wanted to write about many different things, and had few ideas about what I'd post first and what I'd be saying in them, but strangely, the desire has quietened down a lot.

Or... maybe I'm just not as depressed as before and require less "venting" than before. I don't wish to give up writing, and in fact, I've registered to attend "The Faithful Writer" conference the other day, so I should get back into writing habit again, just like I am doing right now.

I should remember that I don't have to post up the good stuff all the time, but relax a bit more. I hope you as a reader would also understand my lax attitude about blogging from now on.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Impacting the society and culture

I was reading this old post over at "Between Two Worlds" by Justin Taylor where he posted some responses of the Gospel Coalition council members to the question, "What Is the Most Crying Need of the Church in America Today?"

All of the answers had their merits I suppose and what am I to make any significant comments about them, but one response that really gripped me and gave me a great insight was Tim Keller's.

Tim Keller:
I’m throwing in with Jim Boice on this one (cf. his Two Cities: Two Loves.)

The evangelical church must stay true to its biblical foundations, and it must maintain and enhance the effectiveness of its expository preaching, the holiness of its members, the ‘thickness’ of its counter-cultural community, the fervor of its evangelism. But if it doesn’t learn how to do this in our biggest cities then we don’t have much hope for our culture.

If our cities are largely pagan while our countryside is largely Christian, then our society and culture will continue to slide into paganism. And that is exactly what is happening. Christians strengthen somewhat away from the cities and they have made some political gains, but that is not effecting cultural products much. It is because in the center cities (NYC, Boston, LA, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC) the percentages of people living and working there who are Christians are minuscule.

Jim Boice proposed that evangelical Christians need to live in the major cities at a higher percentage than the population at large (See Two Cities, p.163ff.) Currently 50% of the U.S. population live in urban areas (and 25% lives in just the 10 largest urban areas.) Boice proposes that evangelicals should be living in cities in at least the same percentages or more. As confirmation of Boice’s belief consider how much impact both the Jewish and the gay communities have had on our culture. Why? Though neither is more than 3-4% of the total population, they each comprise over 20% of the population of Manhattan (and in other center cities. )

So we have two problems. First, evangelicals (especially Anglos) in general are quite negative about U.S. cities and city living. Second, you can’t ‘do church’ in exactly the same way in a city as you do it elsewhere, not if you want to actually convert hard-core secular people to Christianity. There are churches that set up in cities without adapting to their environment. Ironically, they can grow rather well anyway in cities by just gathering in the young already-evangelicals who are temporarily living in the city after college. But that is not the way to make the cities heavily Christian—which is the crying need today.

I agree with what he said here and I think it applies not only to America but also Australia and many other Westernised countries.

Tim Keller is the pastor at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He recently authored an excellent book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.

Be gay today!

A nice quote I found today. If you are a Christian, be gay. If you aren't, become a Christian to be gay.