Thursday, 31 December 2009

rest on the death of Christ

What a year it has been.

Come what may next year, for I have a Redeemer who has been and will be holding me securely for ever.

"The true looking of faith, I say, is placing Christ before one's eyes and beholding in Him the heart of God poured out in love. Our firm and substantial support is to rest on the death of Christ as its only pledge." - John Calvin

(HT: Of first importance)

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

every word I say...

to follow through with every word I say, help me God. and be gracious to me.

[edit: fixed Engrish error. thanks John.]

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Wishful thinking is not faith

The SMH posted this article today: We believe in miracles and UFOs.
Faith, or being religious described in the article didn't sound like faith at all though, it was more like wishful thinking. And that's how people generally think of Christian faith as well I suppose.
The following paragraph from the report shows clearly that what most people hold as faith is nothing but a wishful thinking.
Some beliefs seem to be contradictory. While 56 per cent of people believe in heaven, only 38 per cent believe in hell, and belief in God is much more popular than faith in the devil, with only 37 per cent of respondents believing in Satan.


One should mark the Archbishop Peter Jensen's comment on the findings.
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, said the poll results showed the religious instinct was universal.

"That faith is important or very important to at least half of the population is what we have always suspected - an 'iceberg effect' that people may not necessarily speak up about their faith but it is very significant to their lives," he said.

The fact that the Christian faith was in the clear majority among believers was "no cause for triumphalism".

"I would reflect rather on why this is not translating into church membership."

There was no denying that increased numbers of people described themselves as non-believers, but this was no boon to the atheist cause, he said.

"The decline of Christian faith does not lead to lack of religious belief; it just opens the way for superstition."


Read the article here.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Lines I like from 'Out of the Silent Planet'

'What are you so afraid of, Ransom of Thulcandra?' [Oyarsa of Malacandra] said. - p.152

Men are fearful beings until they come to know and trust Lord Jesus Christ. But not many of them know the reason for their fear or even the fact that they are fearful.

We think that Meleldil would not give it up utterly to the Bent One, and there are stories among us that He has taken strange counsel and dared terrible things, wrestling with the Bent One in Thulcandra. But of this we know less than you; it is a thing we desire to look into. - p.154
I wish to hear of Thulcandra and of Meleldil's strange wars there with the Bent One; for that, as I have said, is a thing we desire to look into. -p.156
[After Ransom answered the question above from Oyarsa] 'You have shown me more wonders than are known in the whole of heaven.' -p.182

Indeed the deeds, love, grace of Lord Jesus is more wonderful than anything else, everything else altogether in this whole universe. I love the way it is described and praised here.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Sermon on the Mount: Nice words from Jesus?

The worst tragedy would be to turn the Sermon on the Mount into another form of legalism; it should rather put an end to all legalism. Legalism like the Pharisees' will always fail, not because it is too strict but because it is not strict enough. Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace.
- Philip Yancey, from The Jesus I never knew, p.144

Friday, 4 December 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #44

44. Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

I suppose that word "religion" or "religious" ought to be translated to our modern phrase, "devotion to God"?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases...

Lamentations has got to be the most bleak, depressing book in the whole of the bible. Yet, right in the middle of the book, God is described as below.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
-- Lam 3:22-23

This is unbelievable! If you think this statement about God is not amazing, read the rest of the book, and ponder on it.
May God grant you an unshakable ground to stand on, and give you an indestructible hope in Him.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

My salvation, my God!

The exam is done now. But the test of my faith continues under the ever faithful God.

Oh, how I love my Lord. May all glory be to Him!

Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43:3-5

Monday, 16 November 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #43

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in. Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

I keep trying to live as though I am mine, even as while I am singing, "I am Yours," and "I am His," etc. God help me.

Friday, 13 November 2009

God saved us according to his own mercy

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:3-7


Thank You.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

O LORD, be gracious to me

John Owen said "be killing sin, or it will be killing you."
How true it is. It has been a tough couple of days for me. I almost wished that God wouldn't have revealed this sin in my life, for it is so painful to me. Yet, how can I wish that when I know that it is because God is working on me that I now see this sin as it is. God is not only working in me, but also on me. And as long as He is working on me, I will not lose hope.

"O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!"
- Psalm 41:4


Forgive me, O Lord, be merciful to me. Purify me of my sins and restore me.

Friday, 6 November 2009

This brief, mementary affliction on earth...


There is suffering in this world. To deny that is to lie.
But it is only for a little while. Be strengthened and do not lose hope, our King will return.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees
-- Heb 12:12


(HT: Desiring God)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

O Nebuchadnezzar!

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
- Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV)
Confessions from people of God don't get much better than that.

Friday, 30 October 2009

If Jesus is...

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
-- St. Paul to Timothy, from 1 Timothy 6:13-16


Keep the commandment of Jesus until He returns!

Although these words were initially given by Paul to Timothy, it's hard to ignore the high emotion here, nor is it easy to escape the charge as a general command to all Christians. That is, if you believe what Paul says about Jesus and God.

Jesus will return, or in the language here, appear.
God will (re-)send Him.
And God is the blessed and only Sovereign.
God is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
He alone has immortality.
He dwells in unapproachable light.

These statements are true, and not believing in those statements will not make them untrue. Hence, whether you keep the commandment of Jesus or not will have ever lasting consequences.

Two questions, then.

If you doubt the objective, eternal truthfulness of these statements, why do you try to imitate Jesus?

If you do believe the statements to be true as they are, then why are you content with your feeble attempt, nay, failure to keep Jesus' commandment?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #42

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

How often do you look back on the day you were baptised, or declared your faith and accepted by a church as a member? Why not re-dedicate yourself today to the One who is worthy of your all?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #41

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.


When overdone, it may cause you depression, but without reflection or retrospection, how can anyone learn anything or improve?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Monday, 12 October 2009

30 years

I wrote 29 years last year today.
Today is my 30th birthday.

As I was reflecting on my past, I was again reminded of how gracious God has been all my life. I just cannot believe how merciful He is.

Why does this perfectly good God love me, a wicked sinner?
Why is He so patient with me, an ignorant rebel?
Why did God pay such a high cost for such a lowly being like me?

O, what shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Book Review: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

I think one could brush this book off as a mere collection of weird stories.
The fact that they are grounded in real clinical cases may cause some others to ponder on the stories a little bit longer.
For others, these real life cases and the deeply thoughtful and sometimes even hopeful analysis of them would provide a rich source of extraordinary human lives, from which humanists may glean much that supports their ideals.

As a Christian, I saw much brokenness in all of the cases, even though some may protest against such labelling. I hope they don't misunderstand me. I think Dr. Sacks himself would understand me saying that all people in the book, Dr. Sacks included, are one way or another "broken" beings. When one acknowledges his brokenness, a Christian redemption can be explained in a way that is especially charged with hope. In this view, I think I can recommend this book to all.

You can buy this book from Borders or Amazon.

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #40

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

I would benefit from this resolution. Almost all people who live in the developed country would.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #39

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.


This one is a little confusing. I think here's what Edwards is saying.
When the lawfulness of an action is questionable in my mind, and would lead me to re-examine the situation again afterwards, I will not commit to that action. One exception to this rule, however, is that if I would also question the lawfulness of inaction as well, then I cannot be bound by this resolution.

Did I parse Jonathan Edwards' words correctly? Anyone care to correct me if I'm wrong?

But if I did understood his words rightly, then, I think this would be a good model for me when I am faced with dilemmas.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Maximum Joy Guaranteed

I know many people would not get this message. But if you are one of those few who wonder what Christian faith is about or why I am so excited about Jesus, it is partly because knowing and trusting Him guarantees the absolute maximum joy a human being can ever have.

Do NOT waste your life.


(HT: Rebs Kim)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Concluding my trip to Korea 2009


[I'm not angry, I've just never done this self-photo-taking before!]

I'm at the Incheon International Airport. This trip has been beneficial and I would even say, successful, by God's grace. For those around me, I will be sharing more about the trip in a personal conversational setting.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The goal of the Christian life

The goal of the Christian life is not external conformity or mindless action, but a passionate love for God informed by the mind and embraced by the will. ... Do not seek to empty your cup as a way to avoid sin, but rather seek to fill it up with the Spirit of life, so there is no longer room for sin.
- Kelly M. Kapic, p. 28 "Introduction" for "Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen" (edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor)

This sounds awfully similar to what I was gathering from Jonathan Edwards or John Piper and the likes. But then, why should this be a surprise?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Friday, 11 September 2009

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #36, #37, #38

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

This sounds familiar. See #16. Apparently, I didn't understand what 'speak evil of' meant. I now think it simply means to speak something bad about someone. To be sure, that "bad" thing about someone would not be unfounded in truth. It's probably referring to some kind of flaws, or even sins that person has. Edwards is resolved not to speak of such flaws and sins of others unless it is necessary in order to bring some good out of it.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.

Not because I am working to gain or sustain my salvation, but to work out my salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in me, both to will and to work for God's pleasure. (see Phil 2:12-13)

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

Okay, I'm a serious guy, but not as serious as Mr. Edwards. Is this really necessary?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #34, #35

34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

Mmm. I'll be honest. I don't quite get this one.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

Remembering or journaling your spiritual walk can be helpful. Phil 2:12-13 comes to my mind, where it says:
"... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."


[edit: Oh... verity is a synonym for truth! The resolution #34 is making sense now. -3rd Sep. 2009]

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

On Richard Dawkins

If you have some friends who are "new atheists" or being influenced by them, this may be helpful. All the same though, if you are a militant or dare I say, ignorant(?!) type of creationist (not all creationists are like that), you may need to be careful here too, and hear what Ruse says about Dawkins and learn to have "intellectual integrity." In other words, be a humble truth seeker.

The trouble with Richard Dawkins from CPX on Vimeo.



(HT: Justin Taylor)

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #33

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

Peace is good. But it is not ultimate. Promote what is good, but do not make it ultimate if it is not ultimate. God alone is ultimate, and there needs be wisdom in "making, maintaining, establishing and preserving" anything that is good but not ultimate.

Back to peace itself though, it's easy to look at the world news and think well, at least there isn't war going on in this country, or near my close group of people. But peace is more than an opposite of war. Are people around me finding peace and learning to live in peace among others? And, is "tolerance" the way for peace?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Friday, 21 August 2009

Best in life


from Conan, the Barbarian,
Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
[I'm thinking, mmm... meh.]
Mongol General: Wrong! [oooh, thank you for rebuking him.] Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
[RRAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!]
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.


To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Cool. But it's only cool in movies. In real life, nobody's going to say cool when your village has just been pillaged and burned down.

You can crush your enemies and hear the lamentation of their women, Conan, but as for me, best in life is this: To know, to love, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Image Source: Photobucket]

Thursday, 20 August 2009

"justice be served but mercy be shown"

SMH reports:
The Libyan jailed for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing was granted release on compassionate grounds in Scotland on Thursday, despite fierce US opposition to freeing him.

In a move likely to be hailed by Libya as a new sign of its return to global respectability, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi -- who has terminal prostate cancer -- was given his freedom by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

MacAskill said Megrahi, who medics say has less than three months to live, could return to Libya to die because Scottish law required that "justice be served but mercy be shown".

Justice be served but mercy be shown.
I like that. Since the day I watched Braveheart, I always liked the Scots. :-)

SMH article continues:
The 57-year-old "now faces justice from a higher power... he is going to die", MacAskill added.


That is solemnly true. Megrahi will face God's judgement. Only God can judge him with perfect justice, and only God can have mercy on him. Even Mergrahi, who was behind the bombing of a commercial airplane, which killed hundreds of human lives, if he would place his faith in Jesus and turn to God, there is no way God will reject Mergrahi. Christ's sacrifice is sufficient to cover anyone's sin. And only His sacrifice is sufficient to cover anyone's sin. Do you believe this?

On the cross where Jesus died, God's justice was perfectly fulfilled and His mercy was majestically poured out. Justice be served, but mercy be shown? As I've already said, I like those Scots, but at best, our ways are mere imitation, or reflection of God's way of executing justice and showing mercy, which was gloriously declared and served at the cross of Christ.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. -- 1 John 4:10

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #32

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

Would others think of me as trust-worthy? Would God think of me as a faithful servant whom He has confidence to entrust with His treasures?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Stiff-necked

I slept funny, and now I have a neck pain. Usually, it's just an annoyance. But this is nothing like those other times I had this. I'm in quite a lot of pain. I even took an early leave from work to see a physio.

Using this opportunity, I'm trying to think about what it really means to be "stiff-necked".

Friday, 31 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #31

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

It may seem complicated, but break it down, little by little, and read it again slowly. Understand it. And apply it to ... well, ok, I'll apply it to myself.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Book Review: Sophie's World


Just done with reading Sophie's World.
An unusual way of showing my appreciation for this wonderful book follows.

One word: Excellent!
Two words: Great read!
Three words: Fun and informative.
Four words: You should read it.
Five words: It will broaden your views.
Six words: A little strange ending, I thought.
Seven words: I will be reading more about philosophy.

You can get Sophie's World from err... Amazon or almost any respectable bookshops.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #30

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

And each day!

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Friday, 17 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #29

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

How many times have I prayed to God without really expecting Him to answer or accept my prayer? How easily did my prayer become un-genuine with so little faith in Him?
Edwards even refuses to call that a prayer.
Faithless prayer is indeed not a prayer at all. Do I really believe that God is gracious and merciful Father as He revealed through the scriptures? If so, praying without hoping God would listen to my prayer is dishonouring to Him, for I am no longer trusting His words. May God's graciousness and sovereign power be displayed through faith of His people.

"I believe; help my unbelief!"

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Correlation and causality

I didn't realise it from the beginning. I am almost certain that I only became aware of this since last year. But since then, I feel that my thought-process has become much sharper.
What am I talking about?
I'm talking about the fact that the causality and correlation are totally different.
It is one thing to say that A is somehow related to B, and completely another to say that A is the cause of B.

Let's think of an example. Meet Lucy.
Lucy is 6 year old girl, who was the flower girl at her aunty, Julie's wedding, just about a year ago. Since then, Lucy saw Julie only a few times, but each time, Julie's belly was getting bigger and bigger, until just yesterday, when Lucy visited Julie with mum. Lucy was told that Julie gave a birth to a baby boy. Lucy wasn't sure what was happening, but when she saw the little red baby sleeping in the cot, Lucy somehow knew what her mum said about "giving birth".
Having seen a peaceful and cuddly looking baby cousin for the first time in her life, Lucy wished that she would have her own baby one day. And seeing that it all started with Julie getting married about a year ago, Lucy wished that one day she'll get married so she will have a baby, just like this little baby cousin.

Now, pause and think about that last sentence.

What is happening in Lucy's mind here?
Lucy have seen the correlation between Julie's marriage and the baby cousin. There is no doubt about that, and there is no mistake in that.
But Lucy went further and concluded that "getting married" is the cause of "having a baby".
We "grown-ups" know that this conclusion is a mistake. While there is no need to deny the correlation between the marriage and having a baby, it is obvious to us that the marriage does not necessarily result in having a baby. Also, we see many people having a baby without getting married. (Please reserve your moral, ethical, and religious position induced comments here. I'm merely pointing out what I, nay, we all observe today.) So, making a connection, (ie. correlation) between marriage and giving a birth is fine, but to conclude that marriage makes (ie. causality) one to give birth is wrong.

Unfortunately, I see this kind of foggy thinking way too prevalent.
People get confused about correlation and causality all the time, making incorrect judgement of situation and comments. Media people, whom I expect (or, after seeing so much junk, should I say that I just hope? wish?) to have a clear(er) view on this thing don't fare better at all.
Here's just one example of that in the SMH: Dump the toy boy for a lasting union. (Ok, I admit, it's in the Life & Style section, not a fair place for the SMH some may say.)
It tries to convince the reader that their advice is reliable by saying, "The advice comes not from an agony aunt in a women's magazine but from some of the country's top demographers." But all the conclusion they seem to make is purely from statistical data, and statistical data alone, not logical thinking on top of the statistical data. You saw that there was a correlation between a demographical condition to a lasting marriage, but you cannot simply say that you've got to keep that that condition in order to have a lasting marriage. You must first prove that the condition is the cause of the lasting marriage before you can give such advice. And I hope that the readers will look for the logical proof before trusting their advice.

Anyway, I don't know why I wrote this much about that silly "tabloid-like" article. Maybe it was my passion for this understanding about marriage that did it. Or was it my passion for understanding the difference between the correlation and causality? See, figuring out the cause is quite difficult.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #27, #28

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

This reminds me that not doing the right thing is pretty much the same as doing a wrong thing. The only difference is whether you did the wrong thing actively, or passively. They both are evil.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Steadily, constantly, and frequently. Ok. Simple. Gotta do this. Do I want to do this? If I have seen and tasted that the Lord is good, why don't I desire to know Him more and more through His Word?

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Are you a patriot?

Can a Christian be patriotic? I think so. But how much can a Christian love his earthly country, when he ultimately belongs to the Kingdom of Heaven? And in what way should a Christian love his earthly country?

Ray Ortlund gives a good example, as an American Christian.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #26

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

If you think about it, why would you do anything to make yourself feel miserable by shaking your assurance?
Be careful here though, that I do not think Edwards is talking about your feeling of assurance only, as if he would avoid thinking about whether he was saved or not in case he would feel nervous about his salvation. That is not what Edwards would say or do. If in doubt, read the Religious Affections. He would think hard about whether he was saved or not quite a lot even knowing that he might feel nervous about his salvation and abate his assurance. But that's the point. He will figure out what is making him feel nervous about his salvation, usually some kind of repeating sins I bet, and he will do his utmost to get rid of those sins. See, it's about feelings, but not just feelings, it's a logical self assessment that he is trying to do, so that he can be more assured of God's salvation, not only in his feelings, but more importantly to be sure of with his mind, that he is standing on the solid Rock, whether he feels it or not right at that moment.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

[Note: blogspot's scheduled posting doesn't seem to be working properly. I planned to post this up last week, but didn't get posted automatically, so I'm doing it now.]

[Edit: added the source.]

Friday, 19 June 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #24, #25

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

It would be profitable for us to fight our sins. But fighting them at a wrong level will get us nowhere. Worse still, it can even deceive us to build up our pride while outwardly actions can be morally acceptable in everyone's view.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #23

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

I'm feeling light-hearted today, and so, this resolution seems a bit too fierce for me. But then, maybe there's something I need to learn from it precisely because it's so fierce. Why would I not give my whole even when I feel less inclined to, if my Lord is indeed worthy of my all, everything?

For resolution #4, see it here.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Book Review: Unpacking Forgiveness

Finished reading "Unpacking Forgiveness" by Chris Brauns. I'm not going to write a book review on this even though my title says Book Review. I cannot simply "review" this book for I am too deeply affected by it. As I read through the book, there were moments where my heart cried out to God for justice. No, more like vengeance. I argued with Him that it was too much not to seek revenge on at least some of the offences committed in this world. I argued that the only thing evil needs to thrive is the idleness and silence of the good. But deep down, I had to agree with what the author was saying, for he was merely reflecting what God had said in His word. (And by the way, the author was not saying that we should let the evil have its way, nor does the bible says so. But that's another blog post for another time.)

Eventually I realised how unforgiving I was, how much I was brooding inside with vengeance, and I still am. So I realised how much more I needed God's forgiveness and reforming of my mind and heart. And as I lift my eyes off my sinful self to the holy and righteous God, I am comforted and strengthened. I can hope in God whose words are sure and whose works are perfect. My cry for justice is silenced by the hope I have in God's vengeance. My petition for mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation is overwhelmed by the hope I have in God's sovereign grace. God is sufficient.


I am searching for a better phrase, but I can't, so I'm just going to use the cliché. This book is a must read.

You can get this book from Amazon, or Koorong.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Whatever God laid out for our lives

"Whatever God laid out for our lives, we were taking it," she told the Sunday Express newspaper.
- "Sextuplets 'are a gift from God'" from BBC news

I don't know if she's a Christian, but I sure do want that line to be my confession too.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #22

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

Comment #1: Okay, I'm returning to reading through the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.

Comment #2: I want to be like Edwards. Giving everything, fighting violently and fiercely, because of the eternity in view.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

Saturday, 6 June 2009

God, my exceeding joy.

Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!

The I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43:3-5

God doesn't just give me joy, He IS my joy, my exceeding joy.

God is not just the saviour who saves me, but He IS the salvation.

Being saved does not just mean that you are forgiven of hating and ignoring God, but it also means that you are now given a new heart that loves and honours God.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Another TED talk

I have previously posted a couple of links from TED.
Here's another one, a very short one.

This talk reminded me of Genesis 11 event where God confused all the languages of the earth, and Acts 2 where people from different languages were able to communicate freely of God's truths among themselves.

I'm not opposed of learning English, or working together to address world-wide problems. But to believe that we can solve those problems ultimately by our efforts? Somebody's forgetting the real cause of the problems, sin. And those sinners, us, people, and yes, you.

I will continue to work and be useful for others. I will participate in improving the quality of human lives, and help those in need. Yet, my heart's confession is, I desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. (Heb. 11:16 part)

Monday, 18 May 2009

I am poor and needy, but God is great!

Psalm 70
Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonour who delight in my hurt!
Let them turn back because of their shame who say, "Aha, Aha!"
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"
But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Immortals

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
- by C. S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory, p.45

We have many myths about immortal beings who are above and beyond us. But do you realise that we, humans are, in fact, immortals? The only difference among us will be whether we will be one day like Jesus the one and true God, the most glorious, or eternally judged and condemned to be separated from Him and remain as the most damned creature of all for eternity.

Friday, 8 May 2009

I love the LORD.

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,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

- Psalm 116:12-14

Friday, 24 April 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #21

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

Two thoughts spring from this.
1) Watch yourself, and do not be a hypocrite. And when I say, "don't be a hypocrite", I don't just mean that we all should stop judging each other, lest we found guilty of the same sin. But rather, as Jonathan Edwards says here, as soon as I realise that I am guilty of any sin, misbehaviour, wrong, I will strive my utmost to get rid of it.
2) As much as it depends on me, I shall not give any stumbling block for others, giving an opportunity for them to pass judgement. Rather, I will live up to the highest standard I can think of.

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

What it means to say that God is sovereign.

I think there are three aspects to it.

1) God has every right to rule the world according to His free will.
There is no higher authority God has to report to about how He rules the world. God is not wrong in ruling the world as He pleases, in fact, it is right for Him to rule it according to His will, for God is the Creator, the Owner, and the King over the creation.

2) God has enough power to rule the world according to His free will.
He is not lacking power in anyway to rule the world as He pleases. He is powerful enough to create, hold, and move every particle and every galaxy in the universe. He is wise enough to rule every moving creature including human beings according to His pleasure.

3) The creation is in fact ruled by God according to His free will in every way.
God, not only has the right and power to rule, but in fact rule the creation as He pleases and wills. He doesn't simply have a potential to rule over the world, He actually does rule the world exactly the way He wants. If the world is not run the way He wants, then God is still not sovereign, but only has potential to run it sovereignly.

Some may disagree with me here with my take on God's sovereignty, but I tried to keep this short and to the point. Any thoughts?

Friday, 17 April 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #20

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
This may sound too restrictive to a modern (or a post-modern) mind, but I think it is a good displine to watch how much I eat. I should and want to be more displined in this way, not to become simply a thinner and healthier person, but to be more self-controlled, and sober-minded.

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Why are you a Christian? (or not?)

I am a Christian. And I wish, no one will ever think that I am a Christian because I am a good person. If you thought we, Christians were Christians because we were good, put this in the record, we are never Christians because we are good people.
No, we are not good, in fact, many of us would be seen as worse than non-Christians if you have to rate us. But we recognised that we need Jesus precisely because we are bad people.
So, let me reiterate.
I am not a Christian because I am good, I am a Christian because I need Jesus.
How about you?

Sunday, 12 April 2009

It's Easter Sunday! Resurrection!

Resurrection!

In Jesus, God was satisfied. So Jesus lives again!
Because of Jesus's perfect obedience and sacrifice, God is no longer angry with His people.
God is no longer angry with me, no more angry at me. Jesus completed my salvation. When God looks at me, there is only the everlasting love and good will towards me.
How can this be?
The perfect King died the death of the worst rebel.
The holy Son of God was counted as the filthiest and the ugliest sinner.
And God's righteousness was upheld and vindicated.
God's justice and mercy weaved such a mystery.
Oh, how rich is His mercy? How great is His grace?

So come, repent and believe in Him.
Trust in Jesus Christ, the triumphant King over all.
He will return and receive all who loves Him.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #17, #18, #19

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

Life without regrets.

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Jesus for sinners

I'm feeling somewhat emotional and sad today. It's not like I'm feeling sad for Jesus who died. I think God has impressed upon my heart to realise that there are so many people who do not know the wonder, beauty, grace and mercy in Jesus who died in our place. This Easter, what kind of message will the world, our neighbour, our friends and family hear from us?

Easter weekend ahead. Do you love Jesus?

Easter.

It's not about chocolates.
It's not about Easter bunnys or the chocolate eggs.
It's not about having great meals together with family and friends.
It's not about you tyring to help other people on this occasion.
It's not even about feeling sorry for the guy called Jesus who died.

It's about God keeping His promise.
It's about God triumphing over sin and rebellion of people.
It's about God showing to the world His righteousness.
It's about God having immeasureable mercy.
It's about God being glorified and making His great name known to the whole universe.

Of course the world will tell you otherwise and make this day as trivial as eating sweets and making ourselves feel better.
No, it's much more than that.
It's about God and you must deal with Him.
Don't just tell me you believe in God.
Don't just tell me you believe in Jesus who saves.
Don't just tell me you believe in death and the ressurection of Jesus.
Sure you need to believe all that above, but in the end, believing about facts aren't enough. The real question is, "Do you love Jesus?"

Saturday, 4 April 2009

A sermon series on repentance

I heard a sermon series on the topic of Repentance. It's by Matt Chandler.
Very good.
The best sermon series on repentance I ever heard so far. I highly recommend you to go over there, download them, and listen to them.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Blogging

This has happened too many times too often, but I'm sorry about inconsistent blogposting. Readjusting to a fulltime work lifestyle with a new job, and my internet connection being capped to the slow 56Kbps prevented me from posting up some new blogposts. My internet connection seems to be still slow, so I don't think I can post up my usual Jonathan Edwards Resolutions Friday posts this week (again!).

I will be back soon though!

Monday, 23 March 2009

My 500th blogpost

This is my 500th blogpost here. I started blogging on the 18th July 2007 (not counting my earlier days with xanga or even earlier-er days!). That's almost two years ago. This space has been a place where I can express my rather random thoughts. I often meant good for the readers. But this blog lives on the internet, and the internet has its dangerous pits. Pornography is one of them. Godless and instant sexual gratification without the real intimacy and commitment is only a click away. I am exposed to this danger as much as any other, and I confess that I had indulged in this sin many times before. I can still feel the temptation time to time, so I must rest and rely on God's joy and grace to save me. I have not given up the fight, for God has not given up on me.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #16

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

No comment on this one!
Why?
I don't think I fully understand what the phrase, "speak evil of anyone" means.
Anyone care to explain this to me?

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Reading 2009: an update

It's the middle of March now.
Just reporting my progress so far...
From the 26 books on the list, I have finished reading 9 books, they are:

According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy
Knowing God by J. I. Packer
Seeing and Savouring Jesus Christ by John Piper
The Doctrines of Grace by James Boice and Philip Ryken
True Blue? by Peter Goldsworthy
Everything you want to know about Jesus by Peter Downey and Ben Shaw
가난한 자는 복이 있나니
애통하는 자는 복이 있나니
내려놓음
It might sound like I read so many books, but most of these are thin or easy-to-read books. And of those harder books, like Knowing God, I had been reading it for a long time beforehand.

I read a few books that were not on my initial reading list, though. They are:
The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels by Gordon Fee
Humility by C. J. Mahaney
Prayer and the voice of God by Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne

I will sometimes write a book review about the book I read, sometimes not. Whether I write a review or not isn't an indication of how good the book was, it's rather how much impact it made to me.

Anyway, I think this list has been helpful. If you have books stacked up at home, and yet, haven't been able to read them, why don't you create a reading list as well? It will help your motivation.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

More on the Atonement

I meant to post this a couple of days ago, but somehow I forgot about it. Go over to Dave's blog to read the helpful words from Carson about the Atonement.
In the book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, Carson writes:
I argue, then, that both Arminians and Calvinists should rightly affirm that Christ died for all, in the sense that Christ’s death was sufficient for all and that Scripture portrays God as inviting, commanding, and desiring the salvation of all, out of love (in the third sense developed in the first chapter). Further, all Christians ought also to confess that, in a slightly different sense, Christ Jesus, in the intent of God, died effectively for the elect alone, in line with the way the Bible speaks of God’s special selecting love for the elect (in the fourth sense developed in the first chapter).

If you are really interested about the extent of Jesus' Atonement, you really should read the whole book, or at least read the excerpt Dave posted.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Firefox and the Shelfari widget

A friend of mine just let me know that my blog made his Firefox crash when it was loading the Shelfari widget on the blog. When I checked it out myself, it did crash my Firefox too. It was fine till yesterday, so I think something must've changed. It showed fine on Safari. I took down the Shelfari widget for now, and hopefully it will be fixed and when I know it's fixed, the widget will be put back up here. Till then, you can simply visit my shelfari page to see what I am reading and what other books I read or plan to read.

PS. If you are here, thanks, Andy!

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #14, #15

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

Our God said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay (or revenge)." I must remember God's promise that He will repay and make all things right, and trust in that promise. Not a word of all His promises has failed come true. Why should I now doubt Him?

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

As fallen sinners, we can feel angry and react in a selfish and sinful way when we are dealt with someone or something that didn't intend to harm us. If we are indeed a believer in the gospel of grace, we ought to live graciously, and that will eliminate us from reacting badly to every thing that we suffer (even if it is a real suffering).

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Book Review: The Doctrines of Grace

I didn't know this book was going to go through the five points of Calvinism and show the importance and relevance of the Calvinistic or Reformed theology in current age of Evangelicalism. I simply thought, initially, that, "ah, I was hoping to learn more about Grace, but I'm going to learn more about Calvinism." I was half wrong. I did learn more about Calvinism, but I also learned much more about grace. After reading the book, I am more thankful to the God of grace, and feel much more secure in our great God who is sovereign over all.
The book opens with some rationale for the book itself, then shows "the five points" of Arminianism (which is kind of on the opposite end of the table to the Calvinism). At this point of my reading, I was surprised to find myself thinking, "so these are the five points of Arminianism... hmm... what's wrong with it?" I thought I knew what Arminianism was in its essence, but I was not able to discern what the issue was at first. Then the book went through explaining what these really meant, that is, its implications and how those implications magnified human-efforts and status, rather than attributing all glory and grace to God Himself.
The book progressed into the famous five points of Calvinism, often remembered by the acronym, TULIP. The book helpfully explained that the traditional phrases and acronym is good for remembering them, but not so helpful in explaining what each point actually meant. I will not go into details here, but if you are curious, you should really read this book. It's excellent.
After the five points, it concludes with two chapters, showing how a true Calvinist should act, think, and live, and how often we fail to live out our theology of grace, then how this theology of grace can and should impact the whole of the society and culture through politics, arts, science, and in fact, any and every sphere of our lives.
It is an excellent treatment on the Calvinistic theology that is grounded on the grace of God to bring all glory to God. While touching on such weighty matter, I found it very readable and helpful that any layperson should be able to read through and benefit from it greatly.

On a little more personal note, I was not sure how to articulate my Reformed faith, and in my limited knowledge, I had some objections towards some parts of the five points of the Calvinism, especially the Limited Atonement. After reading this book, even with some lingering questions, neverthelss, I am persuaded to be a "five-pointer" Calvinist.

I would like to recommend this book I enjoyed thoroughly, and learned much from.
You can buy it from Koorong or Amazon.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Book Review: The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels

A friend of mine recommended this book, The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels by Gordon Fee. It's only 45 pages long, and it's more like a booklet than a real book, but the content of the book is definitely worth a read. The downside would be its brivety perhaps, but it is also its strength since anyone can read this short book and understand where and why those "Health and Wealth Gospel preachers" have got wrong. I personally found Gordon's treatment on the "wealth" part of the false gospel particularly helpful and compelling.
A long time ago, I used to think how you earn the money was the issue we have to deal with if you are a Christian. Then, I started thinking that how you spend the money you have was more important than how you earned it. But more recenly, I figured the whole focus on one's wealth is a symptom to a deeper and greater issue in a Christian. And with this book, it is now clear to me that a Christian would or should treat money and his own wealth (or poverty) with such indifference. In other words, Christians would have a care-free attitude towards wealth because they have realised that the wealth and possessions are of zero value. Gordon Fee writes:
This carefree attitude toward wealth and possessions, for which neither prosperity nor poverty is a value, is thoroughgoing in the New Testament. According to Jesus, the good news of the inbreaking of the Kingdom frees us from all those pagan concerns (Matt. 6:32) [p.14]

All of this is true because for Jesus wealth and possessions were a zero value. In the new age they simply do not count. The standard is sufficiency: and surplus is called into question. [p.44]

Authors words about those "Health and Wealth Gospels" are forceful and accurate. I recommend this book with a sense of urgency and sadness because such false gospels are at rampant in this generation.

You can get this book from Koorong or Amazon.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

You are right about me, I am a sinner.

You are right when you tell me that I am a sinner. Praise God that I am told of the accurate condition of myself.
But there's an encouraging way of telling it, and there's a discouraging way of telling it. One will point me to my Saviour, the other will hide the Saviour from me and leave me to despair.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Logical thinking: correlation and causality

Correlation and causality are different things. Look at this xkcd comic strip about it. If you understand this, you understood the difference between correlation and causality. This may even help for those theologically thinking people out there. Maybe... ;-)

NOTE: xkcd is one of my favourite comic strips you can find online. Its nerd-like intellectual ideas and presentation is almost irresistable to this nerd. But be warned, its content is highly un-Christian, and some may even get offended about some of the comic strips there. You have been warned!

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #12, #13

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

#12 is about watching and guarding yourself from sins. If anything provokes or stirs up a sin in your life, the only rational thing to do as a Christian would be to give up the very thing that makes you feel sin so pleasurable. Does this apply to every single situation in life? It may not. But it's a good mind-set to have all the time.

#13 is a positive flip-side of #12. By actively seeking out things or persons to pour your love (charity) and exercise your freedom (in Christ) is not only good in inself, but also will help to counteract the things that #12 is trying to address.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A couple of posts I want to share

1) I am a Calvinist. Even though I have a lot more to learn and think through, I consider myself as someone who is of the reformed faith/theology. So these words from Ray Ortlund Jr. came very close to my own heart and probed into it. I hope it does for you too.

2) I don't drive. I don't have a car. I don't even have a driver's license yet. (I'm working on it though!) But this blog post from Tony Payne is very easy to relate to and I think you will find it helpful and challenging.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Getting back to blogging again?

My computer broke down on me a few days ago, and the internet connection was capped to the slow pre-broadband era for the last week of February.
Now I have a new laptop, thanks for my mum for lending me money until I get a new job, and the internet speed should also be restored in a day or two, I should be able to blog more frequently again.

Friday, 27 February 2009

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #11

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.
Edwards is saying that he wishes not to waste any time in finding out more about God (so he says immediately), yet, learning in theology is not the end in itself, nor is the highest priority (so he says if circumstances don't hinder). I think it is a helpful one, especially as we try to serve and minister to each other, that put theology as a priority, but not of the highest priority.

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Computer breakdown

I've been trying to read a lot recently. Since I started studying part-time at the SMBC, I doubly tried to read more than before, the Bible, study-related texts, and other books that I planned to read as well.

That was probably the main reason why my updates have become more sparse these days, but last week, my computer broke down as well. So, until I buy a new one, I think I won't be posting new snippets of my thoughts as often as before.

Friday, 20 February 2009

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #9, #10

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
Well, I am not sure what to make of these, except that I can kind of see some usefulness of these two. At the risk of being quite wrong about the interpretation and reasons behind these two, I will make short comments on them.
I am guessing that #9 was to serve him as a reminder that he is a mortal being and he is trying to be ready for death and not be afraid of it. This could be a helpful thing for some of us if done with care, eg. we don't want to be suicidal.
#10 probably has more to do with making use of an opportunity to meditate on certain things at a given situation, ie. when he experienced pain, he would think of martyrs and be encouraged, and also the pain would remind him of how awful hell would be.

Ok, that's all I can say about these two.

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Howt to catch a spider bare-handed

There's this huge spider in my bathroom. I hate spiders. They are my worst enemies. But this wiki-how article made me laugh. Look at the warning section.

(Since that is a wiki-like page, I suppose it can change any time. I thought it was funny because the warning section simply says some spiders are deadly after telling you to catch a spider by covering it with your bare-hand.)

But... hmm.. what to do with that giant spider?! I think it's a huntsman...

(Update: Ah, this is better.)

Monday, 16 February 2009

I love pork.

Pork is my favourite meat. I can eat "samgyupsal" (a type of cut of pork, it's like bacon) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and for desert as well. But just by reading and looking at these photos, I feel my blood pressure rise and my major arteries clogging up. Still, I hope I will taste this one day.

(HT: Gordon Cheng, Soli Deo Honoria)

Friday, 13 February 2009

In the dark hour of John the Baptist... Jesus!

Jon Bloom over at the Desiring God wrote:
"The Savior does not break the bruised reed. He hears our pleas for help and is patient with our doubts. He does not condemn us. He has paid completely for any sin that is exposed in our pain.

He does not always answer with the speed we desire, nor is his answer always the deliverance we hope for. But he will always send the help that is needed. His grace will always be sufficient for those who trust him. The hope we taste in the promises we trust will often be the sweetest thing we experience in this age. And his reward will be beyond our imagination.

In John's darkness and pain Jesus sent a promise to sustain John's faith. He will do the same for you."

Do read the whole thing, it will do good to your soul.

(HT: Ron Click)

Tiny Book Review: True Blue?

It took me longer than I intended initially, but I finished reading "True Blue? : on being Australian".
It's a collection of many short-articles, poems, even photos that depict the Australians. The diversity and inconclusiveness as to what exactly makes an Australian is probably the conclusion of the book. Australia as a nation is still young, with great majority of its people being recent migrants (within the last 200 years or so), this book about Australians is by and large a collection of conversations. Authors of short articles give differing views. You yourself may as well disagree with what you read on a page and then agree on the next page.
All in all, I found this book a wonderful collection of thoughts, opinions, humour, reflection, which deepened my understanding and appreciation of Australian culture. I highly recommend this book for my friends.

You can get your own copy from Allen & Unwin, the ABC shop, or Amazon.

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #8

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

It would be helpful to keep this resolution in my own mind if I want to battle my own sins. It will help me not to think of myself as any holier than others, and will stop myself from gossiping, and hopefully will lead me to pray. I should at the same time, however, not to think too strongly about these sins and despair.

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Religious Affections - 9: Certainty

The only certain foundation which any person has to believe that he is invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel, is, that the Word of God declares that persons so qualified as he is, are invited, and that God, who declares it, is true, and cannot lie. If a sinner be once convinced of the veracity of God, and that the Scriptures are His word, he will need no more to convince and satisfy him that he is invited; for the Scriptures are full of invitations to sinners, to the chief of sinners, to come and partake of the benefits of the gospel; he will not want any new speaking of God to him; what he hath spoken already will be enough with him.
- p. 151, The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

After spending a lot (and I mean A LOT) on the unreliable signs, and particularly in this section regarding scriptures popping into one's head unintended by the person, Jonathan Edwards forcibly says that the gospel conviction only requires the Scriptures as the foundation. In other words, he is saying rightly that one need not and must not rely on the (extraordinary)* way that the scripture came into his mind, but the scripture itself. In my estimation, this is an extremely important distinction. I have seen my friends seemingly trusting what the scripture says not solely because it is God's Word, but because the words of the scriptures came to them in a special way.** Whether that be through a random opening of the bible and pointing a random verse with one's finger, or by a sudden unintended-flowing-in of verses to her own mind, or even a very passionate and charismatic(not necessarily theologically charismatic) preacher shouting out verses that seem to be relevant to the hearer, there's no difference. One must base his convictions on God's Word alone. This is essentially Sola Scriptura. This really should be Christian Faith 101, but so many people seem to get this wrong around me. Am I alone in feeling this way?

End notes:
* extraordinary is in brackets because some ways can be seen as extraordinary to some people, but to others it may as well be very ordinary. And yet, the most commonly-seen-as-ordinary way, that is, you reading the Bible for yourself is extraordinary in every way if you really think about it.
** This could be a bit of side tracking, but I will say it here briefly anyway. Of course, I am not saying that God cannot speak in an extraordinary way. God has in the past spoken to His people in ways that can only be seen as supernatural by us. And God can still do so whenever He chooses to. But the greatest miracle of all and at the same time the clearest revelation from God came 2000 years ago. Jesus, Word made flesh, God-man, Lord and Saviour, our eternal Priest-King is the supreme revelation above all else including your craziest visions and dreams. That Jesus affirmed, confirmed, and fulfilled the Scriptures. Hence, since Jesus' ascension and until His return, there's absolutely no better revelation than the Scriptures.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Pray for Chris Miles

My friend from church, Chris Miles was diagnosed with cancer few months ago. After undergoing a surgery, he now is going through the chemotherapy.
Please pray for his speedy recovery, his growth in faith through this difficult time, for the comfort of his family, and above all, God to be glorified in the Miles.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #5 - 7

Three resolutions coming your way.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

These three seem to be all concerning the time and its preciousness. Resolution #6 might be a little different, but it still deals with how intentionally, forcefully, purposefully, and carefully we should spend every moment of our lives.

If only I could remember all these always, and put into practice all the time...
I have not read the book, but these resolutions remind me of Don't Waste Your Life. In fact, these resolutions would mean nothing and achieve nothing if one did not understand what it means to make use of time in the most profitable way with all his might as if it were the last hour of his life. It will only be meaningful and not wasted if it is used for the glory of God by trusting in Jesus and following Him.

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Religious Affections - 8: Assuarance

I picked up The Religious Affections again.

Here's a paragraph from what I read the other day.
It is not God's design that men should obtain assurance in any other way than by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, and obtaining the lively exercises of it. And although self-examination be a duty of great use and importance, and by no means to be neglected, yet it is not the principal means by which the saints do get satisfaction of their good estate. Assurance is not to be obtained so much by self-examination as by action. The Apostle Paul sought assurance chiefly this way, even by "forgetting the things that were behind, and reaching forth unto those things that were before, pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; if by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." And it was by this means chiefly that he obtained assurance: 1 Cor. 9:26, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly." He obtained assurance of winning the prize, more by running than by considering. The swiftness of his pace did more towards his assurance of a conquest than the strictness of his examination.
-- Jonathan Edwards, from The Religious Affections p. 123 (italics original)

Something I would do well to remember.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Great photo works

Smashing Magazine has great articles about design and web. I just saw a great examples of beautiful city photos. Enjoy!

Grace Abounding

Truly, God pours out His grace abundantly, and His grace overcomes what resistance you may exert against Him. If you are doubtful of this, get to know a Christian, and listen to her as she tells you how she came to know the Lord. Most often, I hear Christians telling me how they continuously failed to keep their promises to God, or even stopped acknowledging His Lordship. It's not described in the bible only; the triumph of God's grace over rebelliousness and ignorance of people are still found near and among us.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
-- Eph. 2:1-9


All glory and praise to Him who loves us.

Problems at Google?

Ok, it's really late night here in Sydney (or early, depending on how you look at it), but here's something strange I noticed.
When I search for anything on google, every link it shows comes up with a threat warning. Like below:
When I try to go to the link, it displays a warning page, then, when I try to look at the actual threat diagnostic page, it shows there's a server error.
A server error at Google?!

I've got a couple of theory.
1) A simple one. A human mistake, or error in judgement. Engineers at Google failed to keep the diagnostic servers up, or the search result displaying servers have failed for some human mistakes.
2) Google is being attacked by crackers. They don't like Google's threat analysis, and have succeeded in executing a DoS (Denial of Service) attack.

Hmm... I wonder how long it's going to take Google to fix this issue. I bet they'd be pretty quick!

(Update: Gee, looks like they've already fixed it, while I was writing up this post!)

(Update 2: Ars reports the Google glitch.)

Saturday, 31 January 2009

The same message as Jesus

Over at the "Of First Importance" blog, Tim Keller's quoted:
If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.

It is a helpful suggestion, but I think it's important to guard ourselves against trying to be people-pleasers at the same time. The fact that our preaching is not drawing the type of people Jesus drew to Himself may be used as an indicator that we may need to review what kind of message we are preaching. However, it mustn't drive us to plan out our outreach only to those particular type of people. It is also important to note that simply because we draw the same type of people that Jesus drew to Himself, does not necessarily authenticate our message to be consistent with Jesus's teaching. People gather and come for all sorts of reasons, so our measuring stick must be the bible itself, not the effect of our preaching or ministry that we can visibly see.

SMBC

It has been a long time coming.
I finally enrolled at a bible college (or a seminary as it is known in some other parts of the world).
Which college? It's SMBC.
Starting as a part-timer for now, hopefully I will be studying full-time in near future.
Pray for me that I may be faithful in and through my studies.

Scoring own goals

Some of us heard about the advertisement campaign the atheists ran over in the UK recently. They say:
"THERE IS PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE."
Some Christians among us found it annoying, some found it silly. And some of us considered it as an opportunity.

Here's one critique about it that I found very insightful. It's slightly long, but do read the whole thing! I'm waiting for the part 2.

(HT: Gordon Cheng)

Friday, 30 January 2009

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #4

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

A classic Edwards. The construct of the sentence is a bit complicated, but he is basically committing himself to do and be everything only to the glory of God.
Questions for myself (feel free to apply these to yourselves too).
Will I ever say a word that does not constitutes towards the glory of God?
Will I ever participate in a work that does not serve the glory of God?

(Source: A Puritan Mind)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Seeing and Savouring Jesus Christ

In my previous post, I reviewed the book, Seeing and Savouring Jesus Christ. In it, I said:
I would even recommend this book to non-Christians since the book in fact has an evangelistic edge to it (it even includes a section at the end specifically aimed at a non-Christian).

However, I realised the one I read was a different edition to what is most commonly available nowadays. My copy looks more like the following:

It's published by IVP, and the newer edition is from Crossway. The newer edition does not have the evangelistic message section at the back, and its closing chapter was in fact the preface in the IVP edition. I may have to think twice about the evangelistic value of the newer edition, and may not use it as an evangelistic tool.