Sunday, 28 September 2008

Church Camp

I'll be away on a church camp till Thursday.
It's been very busy preparing for it, and also with work commitment lately, hence, sparse posts.
I hope to get back to it from this coming weekend.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
-- Psalm 73:23-24

By Him, into glory. O, joy! All credit and gratitude to Him!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

God still speaks, even if you don't understand the ancient culture

Gordon says:
A current pet peeve of mine is people who want to insist that we be culturally savvy in our understanding of our own culture and the culture of the Bible, and that this needs to happen before we can really get the message from the text. It seems to me a subtle attempt to deaden and dull the immediacy of God's living word.

I haven't looked at the issue of cultural understanding of the biblical times and our time in this way, and I think it's worth pondering about.

Book (p)review: A Grief Observed

I'm reading "A Grief Observed" by C. S. Lewis.
It's a short book, only 76 pages in total and that with generous spacing on each page.
Because I haven't got much time for reading lately, I chose this book, so I can get through it without too much delay.
I'll probably give a longer review on the book sometime later, but all I can say, or need to say about the book at the moment is that in this book, C. S. Lewis is brutally honest. He articulates his wandering thoughts and grieving love for his wife in very much detail, that I am discovering a Lewis that I never knew before.

You can get this book from Amazon.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The most spectacular sin and God's sovereign grace

I haven't been listening to John Piper's sermons for a while, but when I listened to his sermon yesterday, it was very refreshing and greatly encouraging.
I thank God for him and his ministries.
Here's the sermon I listened to yesterday.
I recommend it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Reality Check: Hell, the eternal torment

Many people don't like hearing about hell. Few people talk about hell nowadays.
But let's do some reality check here.

As with any time when you consider the reality, what you want to think or want to believe is not what is important. The truth matters, the reality matters.

So, if indeed as some suppose, hell does not exist, or the biblical description of hell is not real, or put another way, the people who reject Jesus does not end up in hell, then sure, why would you have to live for Jesus?
But, if hell is real, and all who reject Jesus will be condemned to hell, and there will be eternal punishment for them, then you ought to come and reconcile with Jesus. You may not have thought about this issue much before, or ignored it purposely for a while, but I challenge you to think about it, before it's too late. If hell is indeed real, then it doesn't matter what you think, you will end up there unless you turn, put your trust in Jesus and follow Him.

What really matters is the reality of hell. Whether you think you will end up there (or not) isn't much of an issue, what really matters is whether you will end up there or not. What you think, or wish to believe has no significance in the face of reality. Reality matters.

So, do you believe in hell? Don't you think this issue is significant enough for you to pause what you were doing and investigate further into what the Bible says?

James Fong Update - 17-Sep-2008

James has recovered a lot, although he is still very sick compared to someone with a normal, healthy heart.
Let's continue to pray for him and his family as they seek God's guidance in how they should serve Him and what capacity.

Sunday, 14 September 2008


I am not over-worked, or overly tired.
Physically anyways.
Yet, I have been struggling to find joy.
For some reason, the joy I had a couple of weeks ago totally disappeared.
My heart is restless, I am easily agitated, annoyed, and frustrated.

I'm fighting for joy.
Joy that comes from beholding my risen, victorious, glorious Lord.
I'm battling for peace.
Peace that springs from knowing the good God who is sovereign over all things.
I am finding it difficult to keep myself focused and be at rest.
My vision is so clouded that I lose the sight of the hope that is laid in heaven.

Remember me in your prayers.

(image credit: Simon Koopmann)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Religious Affections - ?: Apologies

I was reading The Religious Affections with Tim Challies and other blogging friends few weeks ago, but I have not been able to get back to that book for a month.
Although I don't think there were many people who were following my comments and thoughts on the book, I still see some clicks on my previous posts on The Religious Affections, probably due to the fame of Tim Challies' blog. For those people who might have been expecting my comments on the book, I offer my apologies. I failed to keep my words.
I hope to pick up the book again from this week, and continue on at my own pace.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Reality Check: Jesus, the Eternal King

Think for a moment.
If indeed Jesus is the eternal victorious King of the universe as the Bible tells us, then there's really only one of the two choices for all of us.
Either you surrender to Him and live under His rule happily, OR you rebel against Him and be crushed by Him.
There's no middle ground.
You are either in His Kingdom, or Satan's Kingdom.
You are either His joyful servant, or His miserable enemy.
Ultimately, as a friend of mine wisely pointed out, there's only one way to live, and the other way is to die.

Now, there would be plenty of people who don't think this is a serious issue they need to face, because they do not believe Jesus is King.
Here's the problem for those of you in this camp. Whether you believe Jesus is the King or not, does not affect the reality of Him being the King (or not). What really matters is whether Jesus really is the King or not.
To say that whatever you believe is the reality for you is as foolish as saying that Gandhi didn't exist in history because I don't believe that He existed.
So, what you want to do, or rather, need to, is to investigate thoroughly whether this Man who claimed to be God was telling the truth.

Listen to Keller's talk if you find God too hard to believe.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Reason for God: Tim Keller's talk at Google

I can't say I've heard many apologetic talks before, but among those few talks and debates I've heard so far, this is the best.
This video is a little long, just over one hour, so get yourself a drink and get into the mood for intelligent, serious, yet fun (that is, not boring) mental engagement.
It's my pleasure to introduce Tim Keller, who is the pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and the author of The Reason for God.
Watch his talk at Google.

You can get his book, the Reason for God at Koorong or Amazon.
(HT: The Resurgence)

About joy

Here's a great, spot-on post about Christian joy from Jean in all honesty.
One that I recently realised and continue to learn about Christian joy was on the list, no. 3.
3. True joy is joy in God and his glory.
When I was a teenager, my Christian friend and I used to compare our "experiences" of God when we prayed. Until one day I realised it wasn't an experience of joy I was seeking: it was God himself. In one sense, we don't seek joy at all. We seek Jesus, and in him we find our highest joy, for he is the desire and delight of all believers. We gladly become nothing, that he may be all in all.

Be sure to read the whole thing. It'll do good to your soul.

Friday, 5 September 2008

No fan-fair

There are some preachers, theologians, pastors whom I appreciate very much for their faithful and effective ministry. There are some that I love very dearly.
But I am against making too much deal out of them for two reasons.
One is because I fear to rob God of His glory by making much fuss about His servants.
The other is because I love those faithful Gospel ministers and I do not want them to be brought down, even be destroyed by my idolisation of them.

Read this post by Carl Trueman and be careful how you love your favourite preacher.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Mark Driscoll talks about us

Gordon helpfully posted the summary notes of Mark's talk.
Three things that caught my eyes:

1) One generation preaches, next generation assumes, third generation denies.
4 horsemen of the evangelical apocalypse = Jim Packer, John Stott, Billy Graham, Francis Schaeffer. They preached the message of the gospel with great effect.
Next generation after these men assumes this and has its basic message not the gospel (which is assumed) but rather “you can have your best life now.”
Now, there is a whole generation who deny. Sin, Jesus, hell, preaching, penal substitionary atonement. They are only doing contextualization.
We should be Seeker-sensible, not seeker-sensitive. Our doctrine is not flexible, our methods are. You need to explain what you are talking about, and assume nothing.

I think I'm in a complete agreement with him here. We must preach the gospel all the time, never assume that the hearers heard the gospel message enough and need to move on to some other topic. We need sermons that touch on various topics, but they must connect the topics to the gospel and the hearers brought back to and grounded firmly on the gospel.

2) Point 18. Movements have become institutions and museums. A movement is where God does what he always does, only more so. Greater sense of urgency. Puritans. Methodists. Charismatics. Not all movements are good. Every movement has its strengths and weaknesses. Young people are the key. I’m an old guy, but around here I’m a young guy. The puritans were roundly criticized for just being children. Jonathon Edwards, 19 years old. D.L. Moody was 21. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was 19. Billy Graham was 19. Statistically it takes 25 years or more to build a megachurch. If you don’t even give the leader the keys until he’s 40, he’ll run out of gas before he gets there.

I think we really need to think differently about our youth. Young men and women can be mature and strong in the Lord. We often dismiss even the possibility of them being so and enforce their immaturity.

3) It is suicide for a single man to plant a church. In the US, I can’t remember a single case where they haven’t fornicated and gotten fired. Single people, like Jesus and Paul, should be in high-risk of death ministry.

Funny, yet, I think it's probably wise to listen to his opinion here.

God and His Son

Is it legitimate for Christians to say, "God asked His Son to die for us?"

God sent His Son to die for sins of the world, His Son obeyed, voluntarily.
But it feels a bit iffy to say God "asked" Jesus.
What do you think?

Gospel Connection: Worship

What is worship?
A friend of mine posed this question some time ago in a cell group meeting.
It was hard for me to define what worship was. I could think of many different ways to worship but I couldn't finish the sentence, "Worship is..."
I think it was the same with most of us who were there. Many of us knew worship descriptively, that is, we knew when we were worshipping. We know we are worshipping when we live under God's rule in Christ, we know we are worshipping when we sing songs to Him out of the joy He gives us, we know we are worshipping when we praying an honest prayer of adoration that He only deserves, and so on.

After that night of cell meeting, I thought about the nature of worship a bit more and especially in connection with the gospel. Here are two of my findings.

1) One must know and believe the gospel before he can worship God.
Why? Because without knowing Jesus and belonging to Him, one can never worship God in a way that God will accept. All that come from ourselves when we are not yet Christians are nothing but a filthy and stinking garbage heap, offensive to God. In addition, even if we could offer a pure worthip to God, we wouldn't have offered to Him, until we were awakened by the Spirit of God, who enables us to see the glory of Christ.
Hence, unless one hears and comes to know Jesus, and throws himself to the Judge who can forgive him, and indeed be transformed to love Him from the heart, he can never worship God.

2) Conversely, the fact that one can worship God is the gospel.
Men and women are created in image of God, created to be in fellowship with the Triune God. And our joy and pleasure were to flow out from beholding the beauty, majesty, and glory of the Creator who so amazingly befriends us. Worshipping God is the fulfillment of the highest human aspiration which completes our deepest yearning for joy. Yet, since Adam sinned and since we all sin, we cannot and will not worship this God, nor He will accept our pseudo-worship, for He is holy. This is bad news for us. None of us were to experience the greatest joy that we were made for.
But, God, rich in mercy, gave Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ, so we may worship Him again. That is the good news. If you sang a song to God out of overflowing joy of seeing Jesus in faith, if you offered up service to our Servant King out of sheer thankfulness, if any of these were accepted by God today, it was only by God's grace, only through Jesus. This is the good news, Evangel, gospel for us.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Gospel Connection: Intro

I am going to think through some issues or topics in view of and in connection with the Gospel. This series will be called "Gospel Connection". I hope this exercise will not only help myself to seriously think about why we do what we do, and why some theological issues are more divisive yet right to be so, and some are not worth dividing over. I also hope that this will engage, help, and encourage the readers to think critically about some of the important issues in a gospel centred way.

I also hope that as I consider various topics in this way, you and I will be able to sharpen our focus on the gospel rather than focusing on other issues more than the gospel itself, as it seems to happen with some around me.
As an effort to keep ourselves grounded, centred around, and focused at the gospel, I will also post the gospel message time to time, using various methods.

First up, here's one, concise, yet accurate gospel message, straight from the Book.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
- 1 Cor 15:3-4 (ESV)

One warning and one disclaimer.
Warning: In this series, I hope to express my thoughts and convictions in a most honest way as this online space allows, which may expose you to controversial topics and/or make you uncomfortable.
Disclaimer: In many of the posts in this series, I may not explain the topic I am considering very well, or have the arguments concrete enough. It will be mostly because I don't intend to write essays about them in this space, but also often because I am yet to learn more about the topic. I will be learning more about them as I write, I hope, but what I write will at least be set on my heart with strong enough conviction.

May God guide all of us.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Suffering and prayer

Even though I already shared this post using Google Reader's shared items a few days ago, this powerful testimony of a Christ-follower is worth mentioning multiple times.
One that especially caught my attention is this:
That’s fourteen years of communication with God. Fourteen years of pleading with Him to work. Fourteen years of Him saying no. Fourteen years of Him increasing and His creatures decreasing.

My God gave my earthly father disability and cancer when I was too young to remember, and my God finally took him when I was 13 years old. While I do not claim to be a worst sufferer of God's rough hand, let my testimony of God from the whole experience be known that God is just, righteous, merciful, gracious, and above all, love.
May God, who alone is righteous, receive all glory for all things.


There will be moments in the life of a Christian when he will feel a great anguish and hurt and pain. There will be times when you will cry out the words of Psalms and feel as though you are suffering worse than Job.

But if you are constantly filled with bitterness against God, it means you do not know God. It means you do not know what gospel means. You do not know what grace means. You have not seen what has happened on that wretched cross. You have not tasted and seen that the LORD is good.

May you humble yourself before the Righteous God and may He fill your heart with His grace.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Gospel at work

I have been purposely putting my bible on my desk for the past 5 weeks, right next to my team leader who is a Muslim.
He is a devout Muslim, goes to pray at lunch time, and just before he goes home, and he does not eat pork or anything that has been contaminated by pork meat/fat. It has been my desire to engage him in gospel talk since I started working at this new job.

This morning, he looked at my bible, opened it, and flipped through some pages. Then, he asked me if I knew what the differences were between Islam and Christianity. He seemed to have his own answers, and without waiting for me to give him my answers, he asked me if I read Koran. I said, no, I've seen it, but not read it. He asked me if I wanted to read it. I said, yes, because I didn't want to turn down his religious initiative so that when I approach him with the gospel, he will at least accept my initiative and hear the gospel. The rest would be God's. Then my team leader looked through my eyes, and took out a book and handed to me. It was a Koran. Yes, that holy book of Islam. A fresh new legit copy of it, albeit in English.

He said, "have a read" with a grin on his face. He seemed happy.
I told him, "oooh.. it's gonna take a while, but.. are you giving this to me? Is this for me?"
He said, "yeah, I just keep a few copies of it, 'cause sometimes people want to read it, and I just give them out."
So I said, "oh, thanks. it's gonna take a while but I'll read it. Have you read through it (Koran) all?"
He said, "yes."
Then I said, "would you read the Bible?"
He said, "yeah"
So I told him that I'll get him a copy of the Bible, and asked, "so what are the differences between Islam and Christianity?"
He said, "nah, actually, there aren't that many differences."
This was when I thought was THE MOMENT to tell him the greatest truth in the universe that Jesus is God which makes Christianity distinct from Islam (and any other religion for that matter).
But before I could continue, he said, "hmm. but we'll talk about it sometime later."

I am yet to learn how to better engage people in workplace with the gospel (it's been only 5 weeks since I started working in a real secular environment), but I pray that my weak personality or stiff tongue will not come as a hindrance to people hearing the gospel, but God may overcome and show Himself regardless of my weaknesses.

I'll be getting a Bible for him sometime soon, but please pray for me and more so for these people working next to me today.

Pray for persecuted Christians

I was struck by the sheer reality of persecution towards Christians once again.
As I was installing and configuring a free Bible software today, I was shown this screen.

In case it is hard to read, the warning says:
Warning: If you live in a persecuted country and do not wish to risk detection you should NOT use the remote installation feature!

Then, there was a prayer request for a recent development in India, and a news about Somali Christians.

Take a moment to pray for persecuted Christians all over the world.

Against abortion: the best explanation I heard so far

(HT: Between Two Worlds)