Wednesday, 31 December 2008

No secret anymore, I'm unemployed.

Yes, as the title of this post goes, it is no longer a secret. I am unemployed.
It's been three weeks since I suddenly joined the rank of the unemployed by the force of the global economic downturn. My role at work was made redundant, and I was given a sudden and unexpected notice of termination of employment. On the 11th of December, I was given the notice, and that was the last day I worked.

Shock! Confusion! Frustration!
These are the three words that would explain the feelings I had for the past three weeks.
Shock, because it was simply so unexpected and sudden for me.
Confusion, because I was confused as to what I was to do next and wasn't sure what to do with my to-do list which seemed out-of-reach because of the financial uncertainty I was faced with.
Frustration, because of the sheer uncertainty, although, now I come to think of it, certainty is an illusive or even imaginary thing always, except when it is about God's truths.

Now three weeks have passed, the initially upset dust is mostly settled, yet, I still do not have a clear vision of what I will be doing, or need to do. It's as though the dust has set on my pair of glasses, that even though I am not choking on the dust, my sight is no better than before.

For those of you who know me, please pray for me that I may cling to God more strongly than before. I have had this strange sense of hiding from God for a while, especially since I was out of job. I sense some kind of resentment and fear brewing in myself. Please pray for God's healing hand over my pricked heart.
Also, please pray that God will show me a clearer path for me to follow, a picture if you like, that includes my job and/or ministry, study, and even relationships and marriage.

May the grace of God rest on you as well.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

ESV Bible: Translation of Mark 1:38

I'm reading Mark and I quite accidentally discovered a difference between my older ESV bible and the newer ESV Study Bible.
Mark 1:38 in my older ESV:
And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is what I came for." (bold mine)

The same passage in my newer ESV:
And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." (again, bold mine)

I noticed it because I didn't recognise "I came out" bit that Jesus said. I'm guessing that the change was made because it's a more accurate translation, but I don't seem to have any way of finding it out myself. I don't know Greek, yet!

Compare against these other translations of the same passage if you are interested.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Too many books... I need a reading plan!

Okay, this is not looking good.
I just found out that I have in my possession 73 books that I haven't read yet. Some on my bookshelf, some in boxes (due lack of space on my bookshelf).

Seventy three books!

In the past couple of years, I've been hoarding books, but I think it's about time I stop buying more books, and do some serious reading. I mean, what good is having all those wonderful books if I never read them?

I need a reading plan!

Book Review: Living Sacrifice by Dr. Helen Roseveare

One sentence blurb by Noel Piper (the wife of John Piper whom I find helpful time and again through his writings and sermons), "Each time I read one of her accounts, I want to be like her, I want to know God as she does." undeniably helped in making my decision to purchase this book, Living Sacrifice by Dr. Helen Roseveare. I expected that I would learn a bit about "living sacrifice" by reading this book, and I would benefit from it. No surprise there. But I honestly did not expect the book to be so piercing and relevant. When I started reading the book, I started sensing my heart wrenching. The stories and the message Dr. Roseveare was delivering in the book were more challenging and confronting than I had been faced by any other authors I read recently. Sure, it probably has something to do with my current circumstances and my late discontentment too, but again, I cannot deny it was God's doing that I had read this book just so recently during my attempt at hiding from God because of building resentment toward Him and even some other people.

Dr. Helen Roseveare first draws the reader's attention, in prologue, to the fact that we can never talk about sacrifice before we first consider Jesus' sacrifice, the ultimate, once-for-all, complete, perfect sacrifice. Then through four chapters, drawn from the famous command of Jesus, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30)", she tells us what it is like to love God with all our hearts, souls, mind, and strength, through her own experiences, often her failures and learned lessons. She often tells of seemingly small things she learned to sacrifice for God, and yet, those small things were in fact showing what was in her heart as clearly as when bigger things were at stake, if not clearer, and those stories challenged and pierced me deeply.

In the epilogue, she summarises the lessons she learned and concludes that she had none of her own rights to claim before God, and she could not in clear conscience demand anything from Him.

Rather than me talking more about the book, let me just present you a section from the epilogue, which convicted me greatly. I hope you find it helpful and challenging that leads to transformation of your attitude, world-view, and life. (Excuse the long quote.)

Some today, in an apparent attempt at greater honesty, would substitute the word "obedience" for the word "sacrifice," saying that there is no sacrifice that we can make; and the only way we can show our love is by our obedience.
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me" (John 14:21; see also verses 15 and 23).
How much we should lose of challenge by such a change! Obedience tends to be a cold, legal word of calculated action: sacrifice throbs with life and passion. Certainly the one will inevitably involve the other. Sacrifice can only be worked out by obedience, but obedience will need sacrifice to give it fire and momentum.
Today it would appear that we Christians prefer to talk of a measure of commitment, the length to which we are willing to become involved, rather than the depths of God's immeasurable love in which we long to become immersed. There is abroad an atmosphere of careful calculation, "thus far and no further," maintaining certain reasonable limits. The carefree abandonment of love that marks the sacrifices of Paul, of second-century Christians, of nineteenth-century missionaries, seems sadly lacking. Today we weigh up what we can afford to give Him: in those days, they knew that they could not afford to give Him less than all!
Oh, that we Christians today might be set ablaze with love for our Lord andn Master so that we too must give Him all, as did the poor widow, who coming to the treasury "put in tow small copper coins, which amount to a cent" - she of who Jesus said to His disciples: "This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on" (Mark 12:41-44)
What do I today consider to be my most precious possession? The woman in the home of Lazarus had a long-necked flask of pure ointment, worth a workman's annual wage. To her, it was precious. She broke the flask, and anointed the head of Jesus with the ointment, and the fragrance filled the whole house. She gave what she prized, and He accepted it as a love gift, calling her action a beautiful thing (Mark 14:3-9).
Ointment would not be very precious to me, whatever it cost. But at the present time, when the great stress is on human rights, how many of us have got caught up in the language and attitude of our day, so that our "rights" really are the most precious thing we possess? My right to be heard, to voice my opinion, to be consulted; my right to make my own choices and decisions as to what I'll do and where I'll do it; my right to be myself, and to be considered as a human being. Can there be anything wrong with such attitude?
(A little break for you to ponder and meditate while you give your eyes a bit of rest away from the screen.

Now, ready for the last paragraph?)

There is nothing wrong with an appreciation of individual human rights, but perhaps God is asking us to be willing to have a different attitude with regard to ourselves.
"'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isa. 55:8-9)
"I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Rom 12:1)

I recommend Living Sacrifice by Dr. Helen Roseveare to all my brothers and sisters in Christ. You can get it from Koorong or Amazon.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

May God's grace be with you all this Christmas, and this festive season be more meaningful and spiritual than what secular world tries to make it to be. Of course, you cannot apprehend the true meaning of Christmas unless you are a Christian who knows the Lord. So, grace to you and grace be with you.

Please don't try jumping on to a moving train

I might complain about the cityrail more than I should, but this person didn't make it any better.
The doors had shut so he attempted to board the train by jumping between two carriages but fell on to the rail track.
Witnesses immediately notified station staff and the train was stopped, but part of the man's arm had already been severed.

Assuming the news report is accurate, sounds like this man really needs to learn something here.

Please don't try to do everything you see on TV, movies, games, or YouTube. Seriously.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Jesus is different, a.k.a. holy.

I sin. Yet I always want to escape God's wrath by any means possible.
Jesus never sinned. Yet He was willing to bear God's wrath for others.

Thanks and praise to Him who is gracious, loving, and just.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Tiny Book Review: Gang Leader for a Day

Just finished reading this book called, Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh. My tiny book review, no, just a short comment after reading the book (originally posted over at Shelfari).
Not for its literary style, although it is very readable, nor for the fame of the author, although in his field it is very well established, but for the sheer fact that all those things described in the book had happened in real life, the book is worth reading. It informed and reminded me about the reality of the poor around me, even though I live far away from Chicago, in Sydney, Australia. May I never forget or ignore the people who need help.

I think it is a good book to read, and I recommend it especially if you are a Christian.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Should the parents be held responsible for their child's crime?

I'm sorry to talk about this sad and terrible rape/paedophilia incident, so, if you are easily offended, please move on. Also, I am not a parent, so you might think I'm not qualified to comment on this kind of issues at all, but I am certainly a child of my parents, so I think I have at least some say in this.

In South Korea, an 18 year old with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) raped a 7 year old girl in 2006. He now is serving in prison his 10 year sentence. But then, the court also ruled that his parents were liable for his crime as well, not that they were involved in his crime directly, but by not bringing up their child properly.
The court said the boy had grown up watching pornography and had imitated a film he had seen during the attack.
It said his parents could have prevented the crime with appropriate education, but neglected their duty.
A court statement said: "The parents could have prevented the crime with appropriate education but failed to show enough attention to their child.

At first, I thought it was so bizarre to fine the parents for their son's crime. I still find it very strange. I am not sure if it is ever right to penalise the parents directly for their child's crime, especially the child is reasonably old, say, 16 years old or older. But at the same time, I can't help but agree that the parents should be held responsible or accountable for their child's behaviour to some extent, somehow. Or, if not for the behaviour of the child, then at least for the way they are taught and brought up in that household. No?

On a side note, I gasped when I read that the victim was a 7 year old girl. But I also found myself appalled at the fact that a monetary value was put to the "damage".
The girl's parents were seeking 225m won ($165,000; £111,000) in damages.
I am not so naive to assume that this kind of economic valuation does not happen, in fact, I know full well that these happen all the time. But, it is still quite upsetting to think that it does happen.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Young drivers

Traffic police have taken a swipe at reckless young drivers after arresting one clocked at 237km/h in Sydney's west.
Police allege a 27-year-old driver sped away when officers tried to pull him over on the Hume Highway near Ingleburn about 2am (AEDT) on Sunday.
His licence was confiscated and he's due to appear in Liverpool Local Court on January 15, 2009.
"I'm disappointed that the safe driving message isn't getting through to some young drivers and they are of the mistaken belief that they can drive at high speed without getting caught," Traffic Services Commander, Chief Superintendent John Hartley, said in the statement.

Says the SMH.

So apparently, this 27 year old driver is classified as a "young driver". Plus, this connects with a dangerous and reckless driving by young people. The details are sketchy, but to me, it seems that it was more of a car chase that took place than a simple case of dangerous driving. Isn't it unfair to use this incident as a basis for saying that the safe driving message isn't getting through to some young drivers? Is it a safe driving matter, or is it a matter of running away from the police? Is it a young driver issue, or is it an issue of refusing to cooperate with police?
I'm ok with calling a 27 year old a young person. Why, I'm 29 and I consider myself young. But I think they (whether the SMH or the police) are making a deliberate and unfair connection between this 27 year old case with other younger drivers, as young as teenager drivers. Why? Who knows, to increase the age limit for higher insurance premium? To double up the L-plater hours?

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Jesus is better

I've been using "Jesus is better" as part of my email signature for a while.
It's a reminder for myself than anything else, but here's a series of sermons by Don Carson that talks about Jesus being better than anything or anyone else.

Jesus is indeed better, and you must acknowledge it.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A bible verse for yesterday

I might be sharing what has happened to me yesterday sometime later, but I the following was the bible verse that kept on ringing in my head yesterday.

What shall I render to the Lord
for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,

- Psalm 116:12-13

God is good.

Even if you aren't a Charismatic...

Michael Patton describes Charismatic/Cessationist view. I think you should read this whether you are a Charismatic or not, as I see this issue of being a Charismatic or not is becoming a divisive issue among some of us.
A very important points need to be made. (If you don’t get this, don’t ever bother engaging in this conversation.) Whether one is a charismatic or a cessationist, all Christians believe in God’s supernatural intervention. Only a deist would claim that God has a “hand-off” approach to history and our lives. It is not that the cessationist does not believe in healings or miracles, it is that they don’t believe in the gifts of healing, miracles, etc. being given to a certain people. Both charismatics and cessationists (should) pray for God’s supernatural intervention, can believe in stories of healings, and can expect God to direct their lives through some sort of divine guidance. In other words, just because someone prayed for healing and believes it happended, this does not make one a charismatic (properly speaking).

However, there does seem to be a higher level of expectation for divine intervention among charismatics than from cessationists. I am not saying whether this is good or bad. Expectation of the power of God can both motivate a Christian’s life or be a cause for great disillusionment. More on that later.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Gospel remorse

“Legalistic remorse says, ‘I broke God’s rules,’ while real repentance says, ‘I broke God’s heart.’ Legalistic repentance takes sin to Mt. Sinai, gospel repentance to Mt. Calvary. Legalistic repentance is convicted by punishment, gospel repentance becomes convicted by mercy.”
-- Tim Keller, from Church Planting Manuals

I thought I'd simply re-iterate what was on the blog called "Of First Importance" today. Pause and think, pray and thank God.

(HT: Of First Importance)