Thursday, 28 February 2008

James Fong Update - 28-Feb-2008

Latest from James Fong:
1. Jeremiah and Zoe getting along well.
[Jeremiah] has woken up every morning and rushed to the bassinet to give Zoe a little cuddle and kiss.

2. James soldiering on as a witness of Jesus
Today (Thursday Feb28th) I met up with the Centrelink job assessor at 830am, who was determining whether I would qualify for disability pension. She told me that she was a registered nurse and that she was sorry to read the bad news of my heart condition from the medical report written by my doctor. Like many other people, she assumed I would be despairing of life itself and was about to recommend that I get some more support. I told her that God had given me peace and that He is in control, even though things seem bleak. Praise God, I was given the opportunity to tell her that many friends from church and family have been praying for me and have been a great support to me. She was surprised that I already had a ready made network of relational support through this difficult time. I was reminded that this community support, indeed is one of the great blessings of a community of people knowing and loving Christ. At the end of the interview, the assessor indicated to me that she was a practising Catholic and affirmed to me that God is great and has the power to heal me. She also told me that she would be recommending that I get the disability pension and that I would find out in the next few days whether in fact I would be approved or not (through this end stage bureaucratic process). I was moved to ask her if I could pray for her, and she graciously accepted.

3. Priceless gift
I know I'm not supposed to mention specific people who have been generous with us, so that they can store up their treasures in heaven, however recently Janet and I were particularly, and deeply touched by a collective gift of $245 given by street people living in the Surry Hills area, passed on by a local chaplain. [...]They gave generously to us out of their poverty, [...]

James, you are just about the most authentic, encouraging, and challenging witness of our Lord Jesus Christ I've ever met!

Toys... security toys... toys, really? What on earth?

Airport Theme!!!

bonus - from the reviews on the second item:
I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger's shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger's scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that's the worst security ever!". But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.
The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillence society. My son said he wants the Playmobil Neighborhood Surveillence System set for Christmas. I've heard that the CC TV cameras on that thing are pretty worthless in terms of quality and motion detection, so I think I'll get him the Playmobil Abu-Gharib Interogation Set instead (it comes with a cute little memo from George Bush).


(HT: The venerable Bruce Schneier)

Gospel: forgiveness, acceptance, repentance, faith... complicated? Well, what does the Bible say?

This is another MatthiasMedia related post.

A few days ago, I posted in response to Tim Challies' blog post titled, "Is forgiveness conditional or unconditional?" My response was a very short and brief one, mainly because I didn't know how to articulate my understanding of such themes as forgiveness and repentance clearly.

A week later, a CHN article caught my attention. It was not referring to Tim's post, in fact, it was totally unrelated as the CHN article was a response to the Newcastle bishop Brian Farran's public statement regarding GAFCON. Now, I don't really know about GAFCON, but that wasn't what interested me. The Wollongong bishop Sandy Grant's open letter included an explanation of the relationship between repentance and forgiveness/acceptance by God. It reminded me of the prior post by Tim, and I thought Grant's open letter was helpful, even though, it was too short and brief to satisfy me yet. But it wasn't intended as a thesis on the topic anyways.

Read it at The Briefing:Couldn't Help Noticing.

Knowing Good and evil from Genesis 3

Tony Payne writes in 'Freighting in the meaning':
Now, theologically, I love this. To say that ‘knowing good and evil’ means making up my own rules and declaring moral autonomy from God—this is exactly what sin is all about. But even if ‘knowing good and evil’ means this in 1 Kings 3:9 (and it might), is that what the phrase means in Genesis 3?

Serious? I thought it made the perfect sense in interpreting it that way too! It's a powerful illustration of sin as an act of autonomy before God! No?

Ah... another of my mistake exposed and destroyed along with my confidence in handling of the Biblical text. What to do.. what to do...

Read the whole thing at The Briefing: Couldn't Help Noticing.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Bits and pieces - 27-Feb-2008


Today's is somewhat more personal than usual. Oh, well...

The Bruised Reed - 9 (How to understand unbelievers' good works, Richard Sibbes' way)

God, indeed, uses carnal men to very good service, but without a thorough altering and conviction of their judgment. He works by them, but not in them. Therefore they do neither approve the good they do nor hate the evil they abstain from.
-- p.87, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

It makes sense...

Thoughts?

The Bruised Reed - 8 (to the post-modernists... sort of...)

Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not. God has put an eternal difference between light and darkness, good and ill, which no creature's conceit can alter; and therefore no man's judgment is the measure of things further than it agrees to truth stamped upon things themselves by God. For this reason, because a wise man's judgment agrees to the truth of things, a wise man may in some sense be said to be the measure of things, and the judgment of one holy wise man to be preferred before a thousand others. Such men usually are immovable as the sun in its course, because they think, and speak and live by rule. A Joshua and his house will serve God (Josh. 24:15), whatsoever others do, and will run a course contrary to the world, because their judgments lead them a contrary way. Hence it is that Satan has a spite at the eye of the soul, the judgment, to put it out by ignorance and false reason, for he cannot rule in any until either he has taken away or perverted judgment. He is a prince of darkness, and rules in darkness of the understanding.
-- p. 84-85, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

This reminded me Tim Challies' book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. Richard Sibbes couldn't have had the post-modernists who are plagued by relativism when he preached/penned this since he's from 17th century, but this little text sounds very timely for a culture like ours.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Learning (to cope with) Ubuntu (quirks)

This is possibly not a Ubuntu issue, but the Open Office, but it was just weirdly funny.
I was just writing down some thoughts I had, using Open Office Writer. And after a bit of writing, I was going to save it as a draft, and huh? I realised the application was all in Greek fonts!
I took a screenshot of it:

A close up:

I must have fiddled with some settings somewhere, but I sure didn't intend to! Now I have to find a way to revert the change... hmm...

But... I'm wondering... is this a sign from God that I should hurry up and go to a Bible College? eh... probs not. ;-)

By the way, I recommend the Open Office Writer which is able to read MS Word documents and write in that format too. I just did that for my church related stuff before it was infected with Greek fonts. ... oh, did I mention that Open Office is free?

Monday, 25 February 2008

Bits and pieces - 25-Feb-2008

  • Depraved - from the pyromaniacs
  • "Conditional" of the Gospel - This is a response to the Newcastle Anglican bishop, Brian Farran. While the background may be foreign to you, you will do well to consider what this Wollongong bishop, Sandy Grant is saying about the repentance and faith that the Gospel demands.
  • Youtube vs. Pakistan - from the article: "The leadership of Pakistan just created a massive Denial of Service on their own country." This has got to become the funniest IT news of the week.
Update (25-Feb-2008): Typo fixed.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Coming home

Sorry.
With that kind of title, I think I should write something insightful, inspiring, and heart-warming. My apologies if you expected such a thing too. Maybe one day I will be able to write one, at the moment, I just feel that I am not ready to tackle such a theme introduced by the title like 'coming home'. But maybe one day...

For now, I just have a couple of photos I wanted to post. They are taken using my phone camera again just like before. They were taken on my way home after work, hence the title.
Here you are, let me know if you like them.

At the Meadowbank station:
















Started moving again:


















Update (24-Feb-2008): I just realised that this post may turn out very ugly for RSS/Atom feed subscribers. Sorry about that. I need to learn more.

Bits and pieces - 24-Feb-2008

Google Reader Search Plugin for Firefox

Ok, another technical post, so those not interested can move right along. ;-)

A few days ago, I started learning about Search Engine plugin for Firefox as I was exploring ideas for searching functionality in a project I'm working on. Filled with curiosity,
I couldn't resist but look up the relevant documentation and build one myself.
It turns out, it is really easy (well, ok, relatively speaking, of course!) to build my own search engine.

The following is what I did to build a Google Reader search engine, but first, pre-requisites:
1) Need some understanding of HTML and Javascript. (minimal)
2) Need a web server (eg. Apache Httpd which I used).
3) Used the Firefox web browser before (Internet Explorer 7 should also work very similarly, but I have not tried it myself. If you feel brave, do try it yourself, and let me know how you went.)
4) A Google Reader Account (without this, you won't be able to use the search engine you'll have created by the end of this errr.. humble tutorial.)

To build Google Reader Search plugin:
1) Create a file named installer.html and save to a folder under web server's document root (eg. in my case, I saved it as: C:\servers\Apache2.2.6\htdocs\installer.html).
installer.html:
<html>
<head><title>Install a custom search engine</title></head>
<body>
<a href="#" onClick="window.external
.AddSearchProvider('http://localhost/googleReaderSearch.xml')">
Install Google Reader SearchEngine</a>
</body>
</html>

The key here is of course that one liner: onClick="window.external.AddSearchProvider('http://localhost/googleReaderSearch.xml')"
That will cause Firefox to install the search engine when you click on the link.

2) Create googleReaderSearch.xml which is essentially a description file that tells the Firefox what to do.

Save it in document root of your web server next to your installer.html.
googleReaderSearch.xml:
<OpenSearchDescription xmlns="http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearch/1.1/"
xmlns:moz="http://www.mozilla.org/2006/browser/search/">
<ShortName>Google Reader</ShortName>
<Description>Search for items in your Google Reader</Description>
<Tags>internet web search rss atom reader google</Tags>
<Image height="16" width="16" type="image/x-icon">http://www.google.com/reader/ui/favicon.ico</Image>
<Url type="text/html" method="GET" template="http://www.google.com/reader/view/#search/{searchTerms}/"/>
<InputEncoding>UTF-8</InputEncoding>
<AdultContent>false</AdultContent>
</OpenSearchDescription>


3) Start up your web server if it's not running already, and browse to http://localhost/installer.html

4) Click on the link and install it. That's it!

Of course, the meaty part is the step 2.

I was actually going to upload to Mozilla site if it wasn't available, but it was already there.

references:
a) Creating OpenSearch Plugins for Firefox
b) OpenSearch.org

Update (24-Feb-2008): Added some links which should've been included in the first place.

Friday, 22 February 2008

James Fong Update - 22-Feb-2008

Updates on James Fong.
Summary:
- in his own words:
Since Jeremiah has been staying at my sister's place, I've become much sadder since both Janet and I missed him terribly. I know God gave me a very small taste of the pain, it must have cost God the Father, to have His Son- the Lord Jesus, to leave the heavenly home to be here with us on earth.

- Janet had a baby girl (Zoe Fong):
On Wednesday Feb 20th, [...] at 1104am, Zoe Fong came into the world weighing 3.4 kg and 52cm length.

Please join me in thanksgiving and prayer for James and his family

Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Bruised Reed - 7 (chapter 10: Quench Not the Spirit)

After such a sweet series of encouragements, Richard Sibbes looks at different ways of "offending deeply against this merciful disposition of Christ" to borrow his own words in Chapter 10 of the book.
I'll simply list the titles of the small sections (these might possibly be added by the editor, but they form a short summary after all, so hopefully this will be helpful), and a short sentence to help understanding.

1) False despair of Christ' mercy - Do not fail to go to Christ thinking you won't be accepted by the merciful Saviour.
2) False hope of Christ's mercy - Do not be deceived by your own fancy imagination that Christ does not care about your unholy (unrepentant) way of life
3) Resisting Christ's mercy - Do not resist Christ's mercy by hating the light that comes from God and refusing to be handled by Him.
4) Presuming on Christ's mercy - Quench not the Holy Spirit (by continuing to live a life according to the flesh, abusing the liberty one gains from Christ).
5) Seeking another source of mercy - There's no other source of mercy but Christ, so refuse to find mercy in any other places, it is an offense to God, and you'll find none but His wrath.
6) Mistreating the heirs of mercy - Be gracious to other Christians just as Christ Himself is gracious to you.
7) Strife among the heris of mercy - Do not fight over insignificant things among the believers causing divisions.
8) Taking advantage of the bruised - Do not abuse other believers who are in need or in a sorrowful condition (more generally, in a bruised state).
9) Despising the simple means of mercy - Do not despise how the church or an individual believer is sustained and expanded (or grows into maturity) by God even if the means He uses seem very simple to you who are very sophisticated.

The last one kinda stood out for me as I didn't think about this one before.
Quotation follows:
Lastly, they carry themselves very unkindly towards Christ who stumble at his low stooping to us in his government and ordinances, that are ashaemd of the simplicity of the gospel, that count preaching foolishness. They, out of the pride of their heart, think that they may do well enough without the help of the Word and sacraments, and think Christ did not take enough dignity upon him; and therefore they will mend the matter with their own devices so that they may give beter satisfaction to flesh and blood, as in popery. What greater unthankfulness can there be than to despise any help that Christ in mercy has provided for us?
-- p. 76, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

Links to share - 21-Feb-2008

My computer is still not fixed yet. Now I'm quite strongly tempted to install Ubuntu only without Vista and Dell Media Direct. Hmm...
Anyways, here's some links I want to share for now.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Format and reinstall, failed...

oh dang.
Stayed up past 4:00AM. Formatting and reinstalling Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux (7.10) took much longer than I expected. Worst part of all is that some of my laptop's functions aren't working as well as before, eg. wireless switch, media buttons, etc. I'm going to try again tonight, and that may mean that I wipe out the whole HD and start all over again.

Monday, 18 February 2008

So I decided to go and format my laptop

It's been overdue. I was meant to do it as soon as I got my new laptop months ago, but I never got around to do it. I was not used to laptop at first and was afraid of stuffing up the install process by forgetting something.

But now I think I'm ready to take a risk. The Dell's pre-configured settings are making me waste too much space and time.

Anyways, I'm using my desktop computer at the moment which is running on Ubuntu 7.10. I'm going to install Ubuntu on my laptop as well as Vista though so I can do some development work on it a bit easier. Provided everything goes well, I should be done by... hmm... 1:00AM? Doh!

New title for "links to share"

I've been posting some links I thought interesting and worth reading, or simply something funny I wanted to share all under the title called "links to share". I thought the title was too boring, and thinking of changing it. (Tim Challies' "La Carte" was an inspiration.)

For the moment, I have:
1) Bits and pieces
2) Daily Reader
3) Hopping the web

I'm leaning towards "Bits and pieces" at the moment.

Any other suggestions?

links to share - 18-Feb-2008

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Tim Challies asks, "Is forgiveness conditional or unconditional?"

Tim Challies asked an important question, "Is forgiveness conditional or unconditional?"
This kind of questions are often used to start off a discussion which helps us think through some of the difficult/obscure theological arguments, and it often requires defining the terms and contexts.

I think it's worth while reading his post, but I found that this time his post left me a little unsatisfied (as he predicted in the conclusion). I think he did not expand the idea far enough nor defined the terms used in his post tightly enough that some people will read into it too much and make a wrong conclusion about the Christian faith, or Tim himself.

I left a little comment on it in an attempt to express my view on "repentance" but I think I missed the point of the post as whole...

Playing with my phone camera

A look from my bed looking up to the window...









Another shot, a bit out of focus, but I liked this one too. It feels like as if it captured the moment I wake up from sleep in the morning.












Which one do you like better and why?

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Links to share - 16-Feb-2008

The Bruised Reed - 6 (of the Source of our Comfort)

God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which his Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what his Son's love was. But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will succour us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of his displeasure which we may feel. He became not only a man but a curse, a man of sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; he was troubled, that we should not be desperately troubled; he became a curse, that we should not be accursed. Whatever may be wished for in an all-sufficient comforter is all to be found in Christ:
1. Authority from the Father. All power was given to him (Matt. 28:18).
2. Strength in himself. His name is 'The mighty God' (Isa. 9:6).
3. Wisdom, and that from his own experience, how and when to help (Heb. 2:18).
4. Willingness, as being bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh (Gen. 2:23; Eph. 5:30)
-- p. 66, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

This was from the concluding paragraph of a little (at mere 5 pages), yet sweet chapter in the book, The Bruised Reed. I was so encouraged by this particular chapter called 'Believe Christ, Not Satan' as whole, I didn't know what to quote from it at first.

Friday, 15 February 2008

James Fong Update

James posted another update on his xanga.
Two prayer requests from him:
1) Please pray that an opportunity may arise to meet up with Daniel and that he may come to accept God's free gift of eternal life. (To find out more about who Daniel is, read his post on xanga)
2) Today, Friday Feb15th Janet started getting contractions 330am. [...]we would value your prayers for safe arrival of bub, but more importantly, that both bub and Jeremiah will grow up to love and serve God all the days of their lives.

Read the whole thing at his xanga page.

Bonus: A tip for evangelising to a muslim
I learnt from an evangelist to Muslims that it is important to not defend the Bible with apologetic answers, rather just indicate that you are offended since you consider the Bible to be the word of God. I found that after I told him that I was offended by his comments that the word of God is corrupt, he showed me more respect.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Tiny book review - Preaching and Preachers


Written a tiny book review at Shelfari:
It has been a few months since I read this book, and the details are becoming more and more sketchy. However, this one thing I can say about this book: it made my heart burn with greater desire for God's Word and my soul yearn for, dare I say, speak for God. But at the same time, it guided me illuminating the difficult path of a preacher must face.

I am greatly thankful for this book and would recommend to anyone who aspires to be a preacher one day.
Currently, it's out of stock at Koorong, and it may be out of print as well, but you can still find new and second-hand copies of this book at Amazon or at Alibris.

The Bruised Reed - 5 (Our gracious Lord and the riches in Christ)

We see that God did not only pardon David but, after much bruising, gave him wise Solomon to succeed him in the kingdom. We see in Song of Solomon 6:4 that, after the church has been humbled for her slighting of Christ, he sweetly entertains her again, and begins to commend her beauty. We must know for our comfort that Christ was not anointed to this great work of Mediator for lesser sins only, but for the greatest, if we have but a spark of true faith to lay hold on him. Therefore, if there be any bruised reed, let him not make an exception of himself, when Christ does not make an exception of him. 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' (Matt. 11:28). Why should we not make use of so gracious a disposition? We are only poor for this reason, that we do not know our riches in Christ. In time of temptation, believe Christ rather than the devil. Believe truth from truth itself. Hearken not to a liar, an enemy and a murderer.
-- p. 61, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

God forbid that I despair and dishonour Christ by acting as if there's not enough riches in Him! God help me to trust You not the liar, enemy, the murderer.

My cousin had a baby this morning!

Welcome to the world, Daniel Ji!
May God keep you and bless you as you live in this mixed world of God's goodness and sin's corruption.

Didst thou know?

Ok, fine, it's the "V day" today. But did you know this day had a much more solemn and sober origin than the current mainstream culture portrays it as?

Monthly give away at Challies.com

This month's give away at Challies.com:
First prize: Five Films Gift Pack: Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story, Inherit the Land: Adventures on the Agrarian Journey, The Eden String Quartet: A Bountiful Blessing, A Journey Home, The Peasall Sisters: Family Harmony.
Second prize: New Films Pack: Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story, Inherit the Land: Adventures on the Agrarian Journey.
Third Prize: Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story.

Enter the draw to win a prize by clicking on the DVD image on the side or right here (and increase my chance of winning too in the process! Yes, my conscience would've been burning if I didn't tell you that).

Update: FYI, the DVD's on the giveaway prize list are from Franklin Springs Family Media.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

My Engrish - 12-Feb-2008

During my cell meeting:
Me: I don't know... it's hard... some people just knows me too well.
Everyone: (Brief and silent look at each other)
Andrew: (Avoiding eye contact with me) Some people knows... ah ha ha
Me: (thinking: Ah... dang... I know, I know... it's meant to be 'Some people know', not 'knows') Oh, dang... alright alright..

'S' has got to be one of the most difficult thing to get right in the English grammar!

The Bruised Reed - 4 (Our weaknesses do not disqualify us being His people)

1. Weaknesses do not break covenant with God. They do not break the covenant between husband and wife, and shall we make ourselves more pitiful than Christ who makes himself a pattern of love to all other husbands?
2. Weaknesses do not debar us from mercy; rather they incline God to us the more (Psa. 78:39). Mercy is a part of the church's marriage inheritance. Christ betroths her to him 'in mercy' (Hos. 2:19). The husband is bound to bear with the wife, as being the 'weaker vessel' (1 Pet. 3:7), and shall we think Christ will exempt himself from his own rule, and not bear with his weak spouse?
3. If Christ should not be merciful to our weaknesses, he should not have a people to serve him. Suppose therefore we are very weak, yet so long as we are not found amongst malicious opposers and underminers of God's truth, let us not give way to despairing thoughts; we have a merciful Saviour.
-- p. 58, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

Yes, we have a merciful Saviour! No lies of discouragement will quench my faith as feeble as it may be.

Nam Dae Moon Burnt to the ground...

Why o why!

I didn't know I'd feel this upset about it. I guess I still have Korean blood in me more than I knew.

Update(12-Feb-2008): A man confessed setting ablaze

Links to share - 12-Feb-2008

These are a few days old, but still...

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Life At Its Best - 13 on Blessing

The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is 'What is the chief end of man?' What is the final purpose? What is the main thing about us? Where are we going, and what will we do when we get there? The answer is, 'To glorify God and enjoy him forever.'
Glorify. Enjoy. There are other things involved in Christian discipleship. There Psalm of Ascents have shown some of them. But it is extremely important to know the one thing that overrides everything else. The main thing is not work for the Lord; it is not suffering in the name of the Lord; it is not witnessing to the Lord; it is not teaching Sunday School for the Lord; it is not being responsible for the sake of the Lord in the community; it is not keeping the Ten Commandments; not loving your neighbour; not observing the golden rule. 'The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.' Or, in the vocabulary of Psalm 134, 'Bless the Lord.'
-- p. 172-173, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

I didn't expect this, but it was a nice surprise. Sounds very familiar with Piper's emphasis on joy in the Lord. Our Lord is good, and there's much joy to be experienced and lived in. We can enjoy Him!
This is the end of the part 1 of Life At Its Best (and hence, the end of the book, The Long Obedience as well). How great it is to know that our Lord is a God who blesses us and who is able to receive blessings from us for He has granted us with His blessings first.

Life At Its Best - 12 on Joy (from the chapter on Blessing)

Because [Karl Barth] refused to take himself seriously and decided to take God seriously he burdened neither himself nor those around him with the gloomy, heavy seriousness of ambition or pride or sin or self-righteousness. Instead, the lifting up of hands, the brightness of blessing.
-- p. 171-172, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

Maybe I am too serious, and maybe it's because I take myself too seriously instead of taking God seriously as Peterson describes of Barth. ... maybe...

Something about the often-used phrase, "do church"

Carl Trueman shares his thoughts on a current trend of using the phrase, "do church":
There is, however, another, more serious, problem I have with the phrase, "do church." This is the fact that it is the active voice that is used. Church, according to this linguistic phrase, is something we do. Thus, my concern is not simply that this phrase is not just another trendy clich̩ Рwe can all fall prey to such silliness Рbut that it represents defective theology.

Read the whole thing.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Happiness and Grief

I haven't read whole of the original article at the Newsweek, but this sounds quite interesting and relevant. Most of all though, I can empathise with those who said:
Rather than "listening to Prozac," they want to listen to their hearts, not have them chemically silenced.

Because that's how I feel too.

(HT: ThinkChristian and TitusOneNine)

Friday, 8 February 2008

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce

I've always been wanting to read this book about William Wilberfoce since I learned its release at the Desiring God website. I still haven't got around to read it, but I'd recommend it for anyone. Here's a helpful review from the discerning readers.

You can get it at here or here, or get a free online version.

A modern day Da Vinci?

Nah... he doesn't seem crazy enough to be compared to Leonardo Da Vinci. But his inventions reminded me of him so much.
Here's an ad featuring him and his "creatures":


At first I thought it was all done by computer graphics, but then, I listened to his talk.

My thoughts?
It really blew my mind at first. I never thought this kind of mechanical moving structure that does not rely on human intervention was possible.
And then, I sensed somewhat eerie feeling about these creatures, as I started imagining a world where these mindless creatures roam all over the places.
Another thing that came to my mind was Magic: The Gathering, the card game, in which various mechanical artifacts feature. You don't know what they are? urm... never mind...

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Galileo Galilei myth: the untold story

An excellent article about Galileo and some lessons from it at the evangelical outpost.
For scientists it shows that if you are in agreement with most of your colleagues, you will most likely be forgotten while history remembers some crank. For advocates of Intelligent Design theory it teaches that claiming your theory is correct is no substitute for backing it up with experiments and data (even if you are right). For aggressively self-confident people the lesson is that sometimes being persistent and believing in yourself will just get you into trouble. For Catholics it provides an example of why you shouldn't insult the Pope.


(HT: Justin Taylor)

A display of such confidence and reasonable belief

A quote from a short letter which I thought was brilliant
I believe that a man rose from the dead, and one of my great delights in life is when people try to prove that this belief is stupid.

I can sense Gordon's strenuous effort to present Gospel at every opportunity.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

O Lord, save me, I drown!

A couple of nights ago, I was kneeling down next to my bed to pray before sleep. I don’t pray like this often, but that night I was drawn to kneel and pray. As I closed my eyes and tried to pray, I suddenly became aware of emotional burdens I had been under, and I could not pray but only cry out: ‘O Lord, save me, I drown!’
At first, it was a surprise to myself that I spoke those words to God in prayer. Not that I was uncomfortable to pray like that, but because those words described my soul condition so accurately. As soon as the words left my mouth, as soon as I heard my own prayer, the picture popped into my mind, the picture of Peter sinking in water and crying out to Jesus who was walking on water. And quickly identifying with sinking Peter, under the waves of water in his case, and under the waves of emotional stress and worries in my case, I repeated the prayer several times and asked the Lord to rescue me from all these turmoil and distractions going on within my soul.

My prayer did not last long, but it was an honest and sincere prayer in quite a while.

I looked up the passage today which shows Jesus walking on water and Peter who jumped out of the boat to walk on water in zeal, but soon found himself starting to sink and asked for help desperately. From Matthew 14:22-33 (only quoting from the verse 28 below):
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:28-33, ESV)
As I looked at this scene more clearly (than the other night when I had to rely on my memory), I noticed:

1) Jesus granted what Peter asked (twice), even though Peter sounded almost as if he was commanding Jesus here, or at least very demanding. And when Peter cried out for help, Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of sinking Peter.
It showed me how merciful Jesus is. The Lord of the universe humbling Himself and listening to a demanding, hot-headed disciple. And while He told Peter to have faith, His hand reached out immediately and took hold of Peter. How willing is our Lord to help us in our weak moments!

2) Peter did walk on water at first, but it was when he saw the wind that he became afraid and started sinking. And Jesus told him ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’
Peter, being distracted and overwhelmed by the wind (and hence waves), lost his confidence in Jesus’ power. He was no longer able to trust in Jesus’ word “Come” even though it was what Peter himself requested. No sooner he lost the sight of Jesus by distraction than he lost his trust in Jesus, and no sooner he lost his trust in Jesus than he became afraid and his fear became real (drowning). Could all these overwhelming worries and desires that pierce me through be a sign that I am losing the sight of Jesus and being distracted? The striking fact is that, contrary to what many secular psychologists may suggest, my worries can come true and my desires can be denied just like Peter’s fear of drowning was very much a possibility and did happen (although he was saved by Jesus). But knowing Jesus who is able and willing to sustain me to bring me safely home, why am I still so full of worries and doubts?

3) After this incident, the people in the boat worshipped Jesus and recognised and proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God.
I can’t remember when was the last time I struggled with fear and doubt and overwhelming worries as much as I do these days. Maybe I simply don’t want to remember that time. But whenever that was, I was sustained by God who is gracious beyond my imagination and I can say that I am still alive and deeply grateful that I am still in Christ. But I just wonder how much of Jesus did I learn through that experience, and what did I do when it was over? I can say I learned this and that through such experience, but did it make me to worship Jesus and proclaim Him? Well, enough of looking back, what about this time around, when He hears my cry and rescues me from the crashing waves, will I bow before Him and worship Him confessing that He truly is the Son of God?

O God, help me not to lose my focus on Jesus, hence becoming fearful of the world and drowned by it. But my merciful Lord, rescue me from my own crashing waves of worries and worldly desires so I may once again recognise your face and worship you.
O Lord, save me, I drown!

Vista Service Pack 1 arriving soon

Arstechnica reports:
[Windows Vista Service Pack 1] will address many of the issues bugging users since the release of Vista. Microsoft says it includes more than 300 hot fixes covering everything from data protection to video performance. In particular, copying and moving files should be up to 50 percent faster, and waking a Vista PC from sleep should be much faster.

Up to 50% faster copying and moving files? I thought it would improve more than that. To think that I'll still be waiting for more than 5 minutes copying ~200Mb of files... hmmm...
Aye, how easy it is to complain and blame than to count the blessings and thank God, perhaps, especially when it comes to technology.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The Bruised Reed - 3: (the grace of God)

A few grapes will show that the plant is a vine, and not a thorn. It is one thing to be deficient in grace, and another thing to lack grace altogether. God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requires no more than he gives, but gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives: 'If she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtle doves' (Lev. 12:8). What is the gospel itself but a merciful moderation, in which Christ's obedience is esteemed ours, and our sins laid upon him, wherein God, from being a judge, becomes our Father, pardoning our sins and accepting our obedience, though feeble and blemished? We are now brought to heaven under the covenant of grace by a way of love and mercy.
-- p. 36, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

O indeed He provides all things we need, and all things He demands of us.
Thanks be to God our Father, the only true God, the Almighty, the Provider, the Righteous One, the Redeemer, for His mercy, for His grace, for sending Jesus, His only Son, who gladly stooped down and gave us forgiveness and freedom even as we were nailing Him alive on the tree.

If you haven't yet, meet this God today!

What the REAL programmers use

I don't think most of my readers here would get this, but it was really funny for me.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Life At Its Best - 11 on Obedience

A Christian who stays put is no better than a statue. A person who leaps about constantly is under suspicion of being not a man but a jumping jack. What we require is obedience - the strength to stand and the willingness to leap, and the sense to know when to do which. Which is exactly what we get when an accurate memory of God's ways is combined with a lively hope in his promises.
-- p. 150, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

My paraphrase of/commentary on the last line above is the following:
You become discerningly obedient by reading the Bible as to find out and refresh our minds about what God has done, what God promised, how God deals with His people, what God demands of His people, and seeing all these goodness in Him and His work, have an active and decisive faith in God.

Life At Its Best - 10 on Experience (from the chapter on Obedience)

What would we think of a pollster who issued a definitive report on how the American people felt about a new television special, only to discover later that he had interviewed only one person who had seen only ten minutes of the programme? We would dismiss the conclusions as frivolous. Yet that is exactly the kind of evidence that too many Christians accept as the final truth about many much more important matters - matters such as answered prayer, God's judgement, Christ's forgiveness, eternal salvation. The only person they consult is themselves and the only experience they evaluate is the most recent ten minutes. But we need other experiences, the community of experience of brothers and sisters in the church, the centuries of experience provided by our biblical ancestors. A Christian who has David in his bones, Jeremiah in his bloodstream, Paul in his fingertips and Christ in his heart will know how much and how little value to put on his own momentary feelings and the experience of the past week.
-- p. 146, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

Some days, you just wake up and you feel down cast. I experience that time to time, and I often have no idea where that gloomy mornings come from. Perhaps I was too tired from the late night, or maybe some hormonal imbalance happened during my sleep. Or it could be resulting from some kind of subconscious guilty feeling about my actions yesterday, or it could be a direct attack from a devil. Whatever it is, I experience this gloomy moments, and it doesn't only happen in the morning, but it also happens during the day or evening. Some may say it's a sign of depression, and maybe it is.
It is surprisingly hard to get out of such feeling and be ready to meet other people. When it's bad, I become very grumpy and don't even want to face people, and even become afraid of talking to God, and that grumpy mood at times gets a bit worse than just an aggressive and defensive mood and becomes a venomously attacking or blindingly depressive.
So, what do I do in such situations?
Sometimes I just let the time take care of it, and often, thank God for His providence, there are enough good people around me who will cheer me up and get me out of the grumpy mood. But one thing that gets me out of such situation especially when I can't seem to find courage to pray and face God myself is nothing else but the Gospel. It is the gospel truth that tells me that God knows how weak, lost and confused I am. It is the gospel truth that tells me that no matter what I have done (even when I can't remember them), how much I sinned, how often I've rebelled and rejected God, Jesus has quenched God's righteous anger against me on the cross, hence I have no reason to fear God any more, only if I would trust Him and remain in Him, and oh, He would keep me in Christ for His sake!

So, no matter how bad you feel, how tangled and mangled you feel at the moment, by God's grace and truth, may you also find comfort and freedom in Christ.