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!
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
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.