Monday, March 31, 2008

An Icon of the Holy Trinity


The Icon of the Holy Trinity was painted in 1425 by a Russian monk, Andrei Rublev.




Based on the story in Genesis 18, on one level, it depicts the three angels who ate the meal Abraham and Sarah prepared for them. Later they will announce the unexpected birth of their son, Isaac.

On a deeper level, the three angels represent the three persons of the Trinity. Although their heads are tilted at different angles towards one another, their faces are identical, and each holds a staff suggesting they possess equal authority. (click on picture for a larger view) Each of the figures wear blue, showing their oneness, yet they also have different coloured garments showing their distinctiveness. Their faces, bent towards one another show their love for one another while their gleaming eyes show their enjoyment. A silent intimate conversation seem to be going on.

The central focus of the icon seem to be the chalice which contain a lamb sitting at the centre of the table. In distinct ways, the figure point to the significance of the lamb. The central figure who is the Son points with two fingers directly to the lamb, acknowledging his mission of being "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

The hand of the Father, the figure on the left, is raised in blessing over the chalice, thus encouraging the Son in his work. The Holy Spirit, the figure on the right is pointing to a rectangular opening in front of the table which signify the world.

The Son comes and offers himself for the world, through the Holy Spirit the world is brought to the Son and the Father.

Take a while to look at the icon and meditate and pray before you read the comments below




Henri Nouwen comments, "we come to experience a gentle invitation to participate in the intimate conversation that is taking place among the three angels and to join them around the table. The movement from the Father towards the Son and the movement of both Son and Spirit towards the Father becomes the movement in which the one who prays is lifted up and held secure"

Rublev's icon beckons us to enter the circle of love, the divine life of the blessed Trinity.

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Greece Study Tour 2008

From Kar Yong's blog


In collaboration with World Discovery Travel (M) Sdn Bhd, Seminari Theoloji Malaysia invites you to join Dr Lim Kar Yong, Lecturer in New Testament Studies, on a specially designed 11-day guided tour to Greece from 18 - 28 May 2008.

Take an unforgettable trip by following part of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16:1-18:22). Come and see, feel, and take a walk with Paul in the cities he visited. Listen to the special on-site lectures and investigate the connection between the archeological evidence and social-political settings of the ancient cities evangelised by Paul and his fascinating correspondence with the churches he founded.

Discover the biblical significance of these cities and read the letters of Paul with new and fresh insights.Some of the highlights of the tour include:

  • Places with biblical significance including Kavala (biblical Neapolis – Acts 16:11), Philippi (Acts 16:12-40), Thessaloniki (biblical Thessalonica – Acts 17:1-9), Veria (biblical Berea – Acts 17:10-15), Athens (Acts 17:16-34), Corinth (Acts 18:1-17) and Cenchrea (Acts 18:18).
  • Kalambaka and the spectacular Byzantine monasteries.
  • Delphi.
  • Thermopylae, Tempi.
  • 1-day cruise to the lovely islands of Aegina, Poros and Hydra.
    1-day free time in Athens with options to explore the historical sites and museums, take a day-trip, or to shop!


This study tour is also offered as a 3-credit hour elective course for STM programme. Further information on the fees, reading and course requirements will be provided upon request.

A detailed itinerary and further information can be downloaded here.

For further information on the tour, please contact:Sarah Yap (sarahyap@stm.edu.my) or Ruth Tee (ruthtee@stm.edu.my)
Seminari Theoloji Malaysia
Lot 3011 Taman South East
Jalan Tampin Lama Batu
370100 Seremban
Tel: 06-6322815 Fax: 06-6329766
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Some Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts I received by email. I have no way of ascertaining whether they are true or false.


In ancient England, people could not have sex without consent from the King.
When people wanted to have a child, they had to solicit a permission to the monarchy, in turn they would supply a plaque to hang on their door when they had sexual relations.
The plaque read … "Fornication Under Consent of the King" (F.U.C.K.).
This is the origin of the word.


When the English settlers landed in Australia, they noticed a strange animal that jumped extremely high and far. They asked the aboriginal people using body language and signs trying to ask them about this animal. They responded with ’’Kan Ghu Ru’’ the English then adopted the word kangaroo. What the aboriginal people were really trying to say was
‘’we don’t understand you’’, ‘’ Kan Ghu Ru’’.


During historic civil wars, when troops returned without any casualties, a writing was put up so all can see which read
"0 Killed".
From here we get the expression "O.K." which means all is good

A cockroach can live 9 days without it’s head. It only dies when it cannot eat

Each King on playing cards represent a King in real history:
Spades: King David.

Clubs: Alexander The Great.
Hearts: Charlemagne.
Diamonds: Julius Cesar.


A statue in a park with a soldier on a horse with it’s 2 feet in the air means
the soldier died in combat.
If the horse has only 1 foot in the air,
the soldier died of injuries from combat.
If the horse has all 4 feet on the ground, the soldier died of natural causes.



HT: Loukas

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Two Tasks of a Christian Scholar


On September 13, 1980, the great Lebanese ambassador and Christian statesman Charles Malik (1906-19870) joined Billy Graham and ten thousands others for the dedication of the new Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.
With passion and prophectic vision, Malik implored Evangelical Christians in American to engage in two great tasks:
"task of saving the soul, and that of saving the mind."
"The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world. Indeed, it may turn out that you have actually lost the world."
William Lane Craig, Paul M. Gould, (eds)(2007), The Two Task for the Christian Scholar : Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Re-examining the Enneagram


The Dynamic Enneagram-Introduction-Tom Condon





The Dynamic Enneagram-Tom Condon on the Enneagram and NL




The Dynamic Enneagram-Tom Condon on Fives, Sixes, and Sevens




The Dynamic Enneagram-Tom Condon on Eights, Nines and Ones




The Dynamic Enneagram-Tom Condon on Twos, Threes, and Fours




The Dynamic Enneagram-What’s my Style




The Dynamic Enneagram-Secondary Gains




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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Cross of the Plains


The Cross of the Plains

Rising 190 feet above the vast Texas panhandle plain east of Amarillo stands this monument to the suffering and sacrifice of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Lifesize bronze sculptures depicting the twelve stations of the cross circle the base of the monument.

Complete set here

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jesus Camp


Movie Synopsis

A growing number of Evangelical Christians believe there is a revival underway in America whereby Christian youth must take up the leadership of the conservative Christian movement. JESUS CAMP, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (The Boys of Baraka), follows Levi, Rachael, Tory and a number of other young children to Pastor Becky Fischer's Kids on Fire summer camp in Devil's Lake, North Dakota, where kids as young as 6 years-old are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God's army. The film follows these children at camp as they hone their prophetic gifts and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ. The film is a first-ever look into an intense training ground that recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America's political future. -- © Loki Films
I watched this 2006 documentary last weekend. This documentary is about a Pentecostal youth ministry run by Pastor Becky Fisher.
I am both exhilarated and disturbed by watching the documentary. It is not about youth from 6-10 years being filled the Spirit and speaking in tongues, slain by the Spirit, and other manifestations. That is exhilarating.
What is disturbing is that there is a hidden agenda in the camp. The agenda is the teaching that the United States is a Christian country and President Bush is leading the country in a Christian way. I am not against the United States but I will fall short of calling the United States a Christian nation. I have nothing against anyone especially children being patriotic about their own countries. I will encourage parents to teach their children to be patriotic. However I will draw the line when Christianity and patriotism to the USA are merged.
What is horrifying is the way the children are being manipulated and indoctrinated into patriotism under guise of Christianity. It is heart breaking to see footage of the children standing outside the Supreme court building in Washington DC in the bitter cold, claiming the appointment of a pro-life Supreme court Judge in Jesus' name.
An interesting feature in the film is the children visiting Ted Haggard's church and hearing him preach. This was before the scandal. Much of Ted Haggard's sermon can be found in the deleted section of the DVD under special features where he spoke out against gays.
Well, to be honest, I was exhilarated, disturbed and a bit confused after watching the documentary.
What do you think?



"kids..they are so open, they are so usable for Christianity." Pastor Becky Fisher

What others say
Center for American Progress: What I Learned at Jesus Camp

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N.T.Wright on Resurection

This is an interesting interview from PreachingToday blog


At the National Pastors Conference in San Diego, PreachingToday.com's Brian Lowery got to interview N. T. Wright about his latest book—Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church—and how it relates to preaching. Since we are all in the midst of the Easter journey, his words are timely, challenging, and above all else, hopeful.

Preaching Today: In your book Surprised by Hope, you talk about a deeper understanding of hope "that provides a coherent and energizing basis for work in today's world." How has that deeper understanding influenced your preaching through the years?

Bishop N. T. Wright: [Studying] the Resurrection for an earlier book, Resurrection of the Son of God … ended up rubbing my nose in the New Testament theology of new creation, and the fact that the new creation has begun with Easter. I discovered that when we do new creation—when we encourage one another in the church to be active in projects of new creation, of healing, of hope for communities—we are standing on the ground that Jesus has won in his resurrection.

New creation is not just "whistling in the dark." It's not a kind of social Pelagianism, where we try to improve things by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps. Because Jesus is raised from the dead, God's new world has begun. We are not only the beneficiaries of new creation; we are the agents of it. I just can't stop preaching about that, because that is where we're going with Easter.

For me, therefore, there's no disjunction between preaching about the salvation which is ours in God's new age—the new heavens and new earth—and preaching about what that means for the present. The two go very closely together. If you have an eschatology that is nonmaterial, why bother with this present world? But if God intends to renew the world, then what we do in the present matters. That's 1 Corinthians 15:58! This understanding has made my preaching more challenging to me, and hopefully to my hearers, to actually get off our backsides and do something in the local community—things that are signs of new creation.

What themes emerged in your preaching after having been surprised by hope?

I've found myself addressing current issues—what you might call "God in public life"—and I've been doing so from a wide variety of points of view. If you start taking hope seriously, you begin to ask, "What does this mean for our public life?" You begin to wrestle with how this actually impacts education policy or what we do with those who seek asylum. These themes have crept into my preaching.

At this last year's Christmas Eve service, I talked about the problems the hill farmers in my diocese were facing because of foot-and-mouth disease. I noted how the government's attitude toward that issue was like the government's attitude toward those who seek asylum. It's the church's responsibility to stand up for those who have nobody to stand up for them. Somebody approached me on the way out the door and said, "You should stick to the Scriptures. There's nothing in Christmas about those who seek asylum!" I was so astonished, that the person had gone before I could say, "What about Matthew 2? What was Jesus doing in Egypt? Weren't they seeking asylum?"

I have found that my preaching is touching on some of the key issues of the times, presenting a Christian response and not just a political response for the sake of political response. I keep asking myself, How is one to think Christianly about these big things?

Many people still cling to older or limited versions of hope, resurrection, and heaven. How can today's preacher contend with some of those limited viewpoints in such a way that the listener is pleasantly surprised, but not offended?

Some people are always going to be offended when you actually teach them what's in the Bible as opposed to what they assume is in the Bible. The preacher can try to say it a number of ways, and sometimes people just won't get it. They will continue to hear what they want to hear. But if you soft-pedal matters, they will think, Oh, he's taking us down the old familiar paths. There is a time for walking in and just saying what needs to be said. Sometimes you just need to find a good line. The line I often use—which makes people laugh—is: "Heaven is important, but it's not the end of the world." In other words, resurrection means the new earth continues after people have gone to heaven.

I put it this way for my audiences: "there is life after life after death." People are very puzzled by that, so I begin to explain it to them. There's life after death. That was Jesus between Good Friday and Easter. He was dead, but he was in whatever life after death is—in paradise without his resurrected body. But that wasn't his final destination. Here I introduce the idea of a two-stage postmortem reality. Most Western Christians have only heard about a two-stage postmortem reality in the Catholic idea of purgatory. That's wrong! A person goes to heaven first and then to the new heavens and new earth. People stare at you like you've just invented some odd heresy, but sorry—this is what the New Testament teaches. The New Testament doesn't have much to say about what happens to people immediately after they die. It's much more interested in the anticipation of the ultimate new world within this one. If you concentrate on preaching life after death, you devalue the present world. Life after life after death, however, reaffirms the value of this present world.

Early in the book, you write: "Our task…is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and the foretaste of the second." What role does the preacher play in that good work? In other words, what does it look like to live as resurrection preachers?

So many people think preaching the Resurrection means doing a little bit of apologetics in the pulpit to prove it really is true. Others simply say, "Jesus is raised, therefore there is a life after death." This isn't the point! Those types of sermons may be necessary, but there's more to it than that. To preach the Resurrection is to announce the fact that the world is a different place, and that we have to live in that "different-ness." The Resurrection is not just God doing a wacky miracle at one time. We have to preach it in a way that says this was the turning point in world history.

To take preaching seriously, you need a high theology of the Word of God. When your preaching announces that Jesus is the crucified and risen Lord of the world, things happen. The principalities and powers are called into account. Human beings who once thought the message of someone rising from the dead is ridiculous, actually find that the message of resurrection can transform their lives.

Finally, there must be a relationship between what you say and who you are. Preaching is the personality, infused by the Spirit, communicating the Word of God to people. If there's a mismatch—if you're not being a resurrection person—you may say the right words, but something radical is missing.

At the end of Surprised by Hope, you offer a short but potent appendix entitled "Two Easter Sermons." Both sermons, to each their own degree, miss the point of the Resurrection. Thousands of preachers are climbing into studies, libraries, and offices to put together a message for Easter morning. If you were to give them a word of encouragement and a word of exhortation as they prepare, what would you share with them?

I would tell them to take very seriously the connection between what happens on Easter Day in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and what happened before Good Friday. In other words, the Gospel writers seemed to think that the resurrection of Jesus is somehow the fulfillment of his announcement of the Kingdom of God. We have tended to read the Gospels in such a way that the death and resurrection fall off one end, and then there's all that neat stuff about Jesus healing people and telling parables. But what on earth do they have to do with each other? Preachers must think and pray about how that message of the kingdom is the thing which resurrection is really all about—and, conversely, how resurrection is what the message of the kingdom is all about. When we put the Gospels together like that, then we are really in business! But that's tough. We're not trained to often think like that.

N. T. Wright is Bishop of Durham for the Church of England, and author of Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (HarperOne, 2008).


read more here

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Abdullah's Bible

The Other Malaysia
Written by Farish A. Noor
Thursday, 20 March 2008


All this talk of ‘dangerous’ texts and potentially dangerous Bibles in particular reminds me of one particular edition of the Bible that caused quite a stir when it first came out. In fact so controversial was this particular edition that it almost never came out at all. For here I am talking about Abdullah’s Bible; or rather the translation of the Bible by none other than Munshi Abdullah Abdul Kadir, who is universally regarded as one of the forefathers of modern Malay literature.

Now those of you who remember what you were taught at school (and believe me, as an academic I am all too familiar with the phenomenon of selective amnesia among students), will also remember the name of Munshi Abdullah. He was the Peranakan Muslim scholar and translator who served both the early British colonial administrators in Singapore and Malacca as well as the various Malay courts during the opening stages of the 19th century.

Abdullah wrote his ‘Hikayat Abdullah’ which stands until today as one of the most honest accounts of the state of the Malay world at that crucial juncture in the history of this region. Abdullah was of course a key figure in the exchange of letters between British colonial administrators like Raffles, Farquhar, Minto, et al. and the Malay nobles and kings. The Hikayat of Abdullah was unique for its pointedly frank observations about all that was wrong with the world he lived in then, though perhaps one of the most interesting and touching episodes in the Hikayat is where Abdullah describes his quarrel with his father, who was afraid that his son might be tempted off the right path by the ‘deviant teachings’ of the English missionaries he was working with.

The thorny issue that was being debated between Abdullah and his peers at the moment was his role as translator for a particular text that many of them were reluctant to touch: The New Testament.

Abdullah had been approached by some English missionaries and commissioned by them to translate the New Testament into vernacular Malay, which was to be used at Church as well as the modest missionary efforts among the colonial subjects of the Crown Colonies. As Malay was the lingua franca of everyone who lived in the straits then (including the Peranakan Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and even the British and Dutch), it was deemed appropriate to have the Bible translated into Malay as well.

Munshi Abdullah who regarded himself primarily as a professional translator was prepared to do the job that scared off all other contenders; until his father came into the picture, spewing steam and hot curses, and swearing that his son would never be converted by the heathen missionaries. In a touching passage of the Hikayat Abdullah describes how he appealed to his father’s own sense of values, and in particular to his father’s own love for knowledge and languages in general. His father was further persuaded by the appeals of the priests Milner and Thomson, who promised that they would respect his father’s wishes and refrain from offering any religious instruction to Abdullah. In the end, Abdullah notes how the appeals eventually won over his father’s consent and he was allowed to continue his study of this foreign language called English. The result of Abdullah’s efforts came in the form of one of the first vernacular Malay translations of the New Testament, the Kitab Injil al-Kudus daripada Tuhan Esa al-Masihi.

Now contrary to the fears and doubts of his friends, Munshi Abdullah was not secretly converted to Christianity as a result of translating the Kitab Injil al-Kudus. No magic Christian pills were plopped into his tea behind his back while he was working in the missionaries’ quarters; nor were there any reported attempts to lure him to the Church by offers of money, promotions or package holidays. As he stated from the outset, he was professional through and through and he carried out his translation work in a scrupulous and objective manner, to the satisfaction of all.

Today one can only wonder aloud about the fate of such a text, should it find itself before the customs officials or immigration desk at KLIA or the Golok crossing up North. If Bibles from the Philippines can be detained upon arrival, what then would be the fate of Abdullah’s Bible, born and bred (or translated and bound) right here, in our dear ‘ol Malaysia? And how would be take to Munshi Abdullah, ‘father’ of modern vernacular Malay literature, pioneer of the vernacular autobiography and realist writing; who also happens to be one of the first translators of the Bible? Or have we, in denying the religious complexity and pluralism of Malaysia today, also closed the door to Malaysia’s past where Muslims seemed less easily spooked by books of whichever tongue?

read complete article

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Sculpture for the Cross (15)

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Light in the Darkness





A Light in the Darkness

15 years old Tee Hui Yee made headlines last year when she received two heart transplants within a week. Prior to that, in 2006, she was on a mechanical heart for one year in IJN (Institute Jantung Negara), making a record for the longest period anyone is on a mechanical heart. Her own heart was too weak to work. It would not have been comfortable as the mechanic heart need a battery that weighs 9 kilograms.

In October 2007, she received a suitable donor heart from a man in Perak. Unfortunately, her body rejected the donor heart within one week. On 3 October, a 20 year old mechanic was killed in an accident in Johor. The parents agreed to donate their son’s heart and Hui Yee received a second heart transplant. This time, her body accepted the new heart and she was able to be discharged in time for Christmas last year.

Finding a suitable heart for transplantation is very difficult because the heart must match our bodies. If it does not match, our bodies will reject the foreign organ. This is like kidney transplant. For Hui Yee to find and receive 2 hearts within a week is nothing short of a miracle. The down side is that for a heart transplant to occur, someone has to die. No one can give away their heart and yet live.

read complete sermon here

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Sculpture for the Cross (14)


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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Michael Card: Why



Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
Why did he use a kiss to show them?
That's not what a kiss is for.

Only a friend can betray a friend,
A stranger has nothing to gain.
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain.

And why did there have to be a thorny
Crown pressed upon His head?
It should have been a royal one
Made of jewels and gold instead.

It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live
For all who seek to love, A thorn
is all the world has to give.

And why did it have to be
A heavy cross He was made to bear?
And why did they nail His feet and hands?
When his love would have held Him there.

It was a cross for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay.
And Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away.

Yes, Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away.

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Visual Presentation of The Last Supper

Christianity Today's slideshow on Art depicting the Last Supper.

Last Supper
The Upper Room in art.
Compiled by Katelyn Beaty posted 3/20/2008 09:22AM


Believers who grew up hearing the stories of Holy Week find that its familiarity can rob it of its force. At our worst, we treat the events in Jesus' last week as mere chapters in a book we've grown to consider a comfort rather than a disturbance.

One way Christians make afresh the events of Holy Week is through art. Visuals of Jesus washing Peter's feet, or of Judas walking away from the Last Supper, money bag in hand, remind us of all the complex experiences and motives real people have. They also allow us to experience the heightened emotions of such events, as we imagine, for example, the shock of Jesus' announcement that his followers would desert him in his final hours. The following images, a collection of art spanning time, geography, and culture, allow viewers to have a seat around the table in the Upper Room, listening and watching as Jesus reveals what's to come in the hours leading up to his death.

see slideshow here
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Ignatian Spirituality: Hope for our Times

Creighton University (A Jesuit Catholic University) in Omaha, Nebraska has excellent online resources

They have been doing a series of talks on Ignatian's Two Standards and Culture

Ignatian Spirituality: A Way of Hope for Our Times
A Special Evening of Reflection on The Two Standards and Our Culture Today

A talk by Peter Byrne, S.J. and Marilyn Kirvin-Quamme
at Creighton University on November 8th, 2001



video



Transcript of lecture here

Peter has served as a parish pastor and religious superior of a formation program for Jesuits, while Marilyn has been a campus minister, psychotherapist, and retreat house director.
In their ministry they offer retreats to church ministers, parishes, social services agencies and individuals around the Northwest.

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Sculpture for the Cross (13)

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Easter Eggs and Bunnies

Today's Christian, March/April 1998

Where'd the Eggs and Bunnies Come From?
Stories behind the many symbols of Easter
by Martha R. Fehl and Randy Bishop

read more

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

read more

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Sculpture for the Cross (12)


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

The Maundy Thursday is one of endings and beginnings. What was begun on Ash Wednesday is brought to a close here tonight. What begins tonight does not end until the resurrection of Easter. It is the ancient Triduum, "The Three Sacred Days," which lead us to Easter: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday with its Vigil of Easter.


Fellow servants of Christ, on this night Jesus set an example for the disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service. Therefore, I invite you to come forward. As your feet are washed remember that strength and growth in God's reign come by lowly service such as this.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Goodbye Sir, Arthur C Clarke


I discover that Arthur C. Clarke passed away yesterday from Sharon Bakar’s blog. His passing marks the closing of an era of the grandmasters of science fiction which include Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Stanislaw Lem and Cordwainer Smith. Theirs was the frontier era of science fiction. Science fiction was then pulp fiction, not worthy of attention of more serious readers. However, theirs was a romantic era; of rocketships, Mars, aliens, ray guns and damsels-in-distress. There was not much science but plenty of fiction. Often it was cowboys and Indians among the stars, written by young men struck by a “sense of wonder.” This “sense of wonder" is the addiction of all science fiction fans.

Of the few science fiction authors I mentioned, Arthur C. Clarke was the only one that have a scientific grounding to all of his stories. He is well known for his prediction of satellites, space elevators, computers and telecommunications. However, it was his skill in mixing his science with fiction that captivated me from the start. I have read all his novels which starts with The Sands of Mars (1952). I just bought his latest novel, written with Stephen Baxter, Firstborn (2007) five days ago, and was looking forward to read it over the Easter weekend. Little do I know that it is his swan song.

Clarke was a humanist, believing that technology will benefit humanity, yet warning us that humanity is also capable of both great good and evil. He was also interested in exploring situations where we meet aliens of higher technological capabilities. That is the basis of his 2001 series, his Rama series, The Songs of Distant Earth and Childhood’s End. Not all his novels were in space. He also explored the seas in The Deep Range and Dolphin Island, reflecting his love of the sea.

I never forget the impact of Childhood’s End when I first read it. It deals with an alien race, racial memory and the next stage of human evolution. I remember dumbstruck by it. The other great Clarke book that I love is his short story collection, Tales from the White Hart.

I have read one or two of his non-fiction but what I enjoyed most was his The Snows of Olympus-A Garden on Mars (1994) which was a collection of Martian photos with his commentary. What impressed me from his non-fiction writings is his formulation of the three laws from his Profiles of the Future (1999)

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


Arthur Clarke passing is like a loss of an old friend even if I have not met him in person. I do however have a few autographed copies of his novels...and is a lapsed member of the Interplanetary Society.

Some biography data here and here
The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation


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Sculpture for the Cross (11)


more here

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Meditation

It is in our brokenness that we meet God. We have no place for God when we are standing tall and defiant. As we pick among the shards of our broken ego, we discover the delusions that enslaves us, the lust that chains us and the lies that blinds us. It is with these broken shards that God rebuilds us. Only if we allow him to. There are some who clings to their brokenness, reviling in their pain. Others remain broken, afraid to move on for fear of more breakings. God picks up our brokenness and fashions our wholeness where the egg of his son will be born, in the ground of our being.

It is in our needfulness that we touch God. In our innermost self, where we are vulnerable, scared and naked, do we realise our need for God. A need than can only be satisfied by him alone. As a drowning man clings to the hand that can draw him to safety, we cling to the hand of God. As Peter realise from the depth of his soul, “where do we go? Only you have the word of life.” In our needfulness, God fills us with his Spirit.

It is in our trust that we experience God. Trust is not easy to give because we have been hurt so often. The pain of wounded trust does not heal easily. The greatest pain comes from those whom we love the most. We must have enough faith to launch into the unknown. As a child leapt from a height, trusting her father will catch her, we too must trust to jump, confident that we too will be caught. Trust is giving up control to another. As an innocent infant rests in the arms of his mother, we too rest in the trust of our loving father in heaven.

It is in our living that we enjoy God. Some will stand on mountains and experience the awesome power of his greatness. Others may labour in valleys, tilling the soil. Yet, most growth occurs in valleys, where transforming moments occurs. Our life is a succession of moments. We must live only in these moments, only in the present. If we are really present to the moment, we shall experience joy. Many of us miss joy because we are too busy with the future moments or the past. Joy is the here and now; as your eyes scan the written text, the sensation of your body, the background noise and your emotional state. And with these moments, you will see God smiling. No moments too insignificant or too great for God for in him we move, live and have our being.

soli deo gloria

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The Path to a Crown of Thorns

T’is a lonely path you walk, my Lord,
on rocky soil that no plants grows,
Hot, sweating, you trod, my God,
a vital mission that no one knows.

A path that leads to a crown of thorns,
showing people the true way home.
Bearing humiliation and people’s scorns,
that religion comes not from a tome.

It’s on the same path I met you there,
idling, wondering why you care.
Watching you lift the cross you bear,
the answer to the world’s snares.

I’m self-made, good, honest is my boast,
not noticing the trail of the cross on the sand.
Doing good deeds from coast to coast,
not realising I hammered nails into your hands.

Through pain filled eyes you looked at me,
I’ve nailed my Lord, my God onto a cross!
Behind his eyes is love, how could it be?
I’ve killed my God yet he forgives, t’is not loss.

It’s your path I now seek to walk, my Lord,
a path now overgrown, choked with thorns.
Following your Way, you’re shalom, my God,
into the darkness, a single bright light has shone.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Sculpture for the Cross (10)


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Monday, March 17, 2008

Here Comes the King

HT: jasonsilver

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Sculpture for the Cross (9)



More here
and here

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

HT: pastrojeffcc

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How Jesus Taught Prayer

Notice that not once did Jesus makes His disciples pray. He just kept praying until at last they could not contain their hunger no longer and asked Him to teach them how to pray. The question came from the twelve, indicating that they were now ready to listen and to hear. Jesus must have jumped at this opportunity of holding before them His model of prayer. It is interesting to note that He gave them a formula, neat and tidy. It was almost as if he was getting them into practice so that later on their own prayer life could develop. It is also interesting to note that in this first prayer taught by Jesus there is no sentimentality, piousness or rhetoric. It is simple, direct and filled with nobility an sureness. It contains simple praise and intercession.


Pat Lynch
Awakening the Giant

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Sculpture for the Cross (8)


more here, here, and here.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

If God Exists, Why Doesn't He Prove It?

Modern Reformation: Issue: "The New Atheism" March/April Vol. 17 No. 2 2008


If God Exists, Why Doesn't He Prove It?
David R. Bickel

The author of The End of Faith asked, "How is it fair for God to have designed a world which gives such ambiguous testimony to his existence? How is it fair to have created a system where belief is the crucial piece, rather than being a good person?" (4) Christians often respond to the new atheists with answers from the Intelligent Design movement or from other developments of Thomas Aquinas's "proofs" of God's existence. By contrast, orthodox Christians of the first century, far from advancing philosophical arguments for the existence of God, maintained that those who deny his existence suppress the knowledge they already have of him from the things he created (Rom. 1). (5) Assuming for the sake of discussion that the church has correctly characterized unbelief as wishful thinking, why does God allow such suppression of knowledge? Why does he not make his existence obvious even to those who would prefer to believe they have no divine judge, especially if believing in him is absolutely necessary for their eternal happiness? It would seem as if he is hiding himself, needlessly requiring that we carefully weigh the evidence for and against his existence. In fact, some have argued that the prevalence of such evils as hypocrisy and religiously motivated violence testify against the existence of any being who is both almighty and loving. (6) Others hold that it is impossible in principle for finite minds to know whether or not an infinite being exists, quite apart from the question of whether corrupted human minds have an inherent bias against any deity not made in their own image. The conflicting voices caution against dogmatically insisting on the existence of a divine creator and especially against claiming to know the only true God.

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God Gives Happy Surprises


Count Your Surprises
The high spots of my life have been anything but expected.
J.I. Packer posted 3/14/2008 09:04AM

It has been a full quarter-century since the long-haired clergyman with the ukulele drilled the church's children in singing, "God is a surprise, right before your eyes, God is a surprise." But the words stayed with me because, now as then, they match my own vivid experience.

The high spots of my life present themselves in retrospect as a series of surprises —happy surprises, from the hand of a very gracious God. Is that unusual? I doubt it. But I also doubt that we dwell on the happy surprises as often and as thoughtfully as we should. There is great wisdom in the elderly children's chorus, "Count your blessings—name them one by one—and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."

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Sculpture for the Cross (7)


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Friday, March 14, 2008

Sculpture for the Cross (6)

more here, here, and here.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Than We Can Do

We are all asked to do more than we can do. Every hero and heroine in the Bible does more than he would have thought possible to do, from Gideon to Esther to Mary. Jacob, one of my favourite characters, certainly wasn't qualified. He was a liar and a cheat; and yet he was given the extraordinary vision of angels and archangels ascending and descending a ladder which reached from earth to heaven.

In the first chapter of John's Gospel, Nathaniel is given a glimpse of what Jacob saw, or a promise of it, and he wasn't qualified either. He was narrow minded and unimaginative, and when Philip told him that Jesus of Nazareth was the one they sought, his rather cynical response was, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' And yet it was to Nathaniel that Jesus promised the vision of angels and archangels ascending and descending upon the son of man.

Madeleine L'Engle
Walking on Water

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Sculpture of the Cross (5)


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Don't Quit Poem

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Sculpture of the Cross (4)


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spiritual Formation Corollaries



Community Spiritual Formation Corollaries

1. “All persons are formed spiritually. It may be in either a positive or negative direction. This formation may involve the cultivation of virtues that promote trust in God and foster social compassion or may leave persons wary, self-protective, and unable to promote the welfare of society.” (p.17)

2. “Christian spiritual formation; (1) is intentional; (2) is communal; (3) requires our engagement; (4) is accomplished by the Holy Spirit; (5) is for the glory of God and the service of others; and (6) has as its means and end the imitation of Christ. (p.23)

3. “The gospel is the power of God for the beginning, middle, and end of salvation. It is not merely what we need to proclaim to unbelievers; the gospel also needs to permeate our entire Christian experience.” (p.29)

4. “Christian spiritual formation seeks to foster a joyful apprenticeship in which we learn to live out the great invitations of Jesus, especially those concerning the life of prayer and love.” (p.45)

5. “The fertile field for formation is a community genuinely aware of the depth of their sin and the reality of their spiritual trust. True formation requires that the community deeply understands that they cannot cure the sickness of their souls through will power alone.” (p.63)

6. “Our soul-thirst is powerful, and it makes all of us idolaters. The Bible sees idolatry as a universal problem. Communities have a unique way of embodying a corporate pride that blinds us to the forms of idolatry. Also, faith communities can challenge idolatries practices like racism in ways an isolated Christian seldom will.” (p.76)

7. “Worship filled with prayer and praise and opportunities for confession, repentance, receiving the sacraments, hearing and giving testimonies of God’s activity, and learning/challenge is the most important context of community formation.” (p.86)

8. “‘Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ’ (Eph. 5:20). Submission, restorative disciplines, and accountable spiritual leadership are ancient formative practices that mark healthy formative churches.” (p.90)

9. “Christian spiritual formation should always be more than the teaching ministry of the church, but never less. True formational teaching is compressive, deeply orthodox, healthy, and anointed by the Spirit of God.” (p.139)

10. “True Christian spiritual formation forms Christians with a deep identity and engagement with the church worldwide.” (p.156)

11. “Evangelism is an essential part of spiritual formation. Evangelism, as people are called to faith in Christ, is the initial act of Christian formation. The act of evangelism is a powerful means of formation for the believer who reaches out of love to share the good news.” (p.167)

12. “Conflict has a unique way of forming us. In conflict, our natural patterns of defensiveness arise, and in this vulnerable place, we can experience much growth as we learn that Jesus’ teachings are so sensible.” (p.174)

more here
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Worship Gestures

“What are you doing? Sign language?” asked disciple junior grade Ah Beng of disciple senior grade Ah Kong. “Making the sign of the cross,” replied Ah Kong knowingly.

“Why?" Ah Beng asked again, reaching out for the last piece of bread on the table. They were having dinner in a large wooden shed. The simple wooden shed is the site for the Annual Conference of Desert Fathers, Mothers, and Hermits. Usually the hermits attend by proxy.

“Abba Isaac is doing it, that’s why” replied Ah Kong with an air of superiority. “I saw him making the sign of the cross over his bread just before he eats it.”

“Does that make it holy bread?” asked Ah Beng with an air of innocence. “You trying to be funny,” Ah Kong asked suspiciously, rolling up his sleeves.

“No fighting,” said Abba Isaac to his disciples, “What are you two arguing about?”

“It’s this sign,” Ah Kong answered making a motion of his hand over his body, up down, then side to side.

“What sign?” asked Abba Isaac with a surprised look on his face, “why are you waving your hand like that?”

“I am doing the sign of the cross like you did before you say grace” replied Ah Kong.

“Ah so,” nodded Abba Isaac understanding. “first, stop waving your hand when you make the sign. Watch me.”

Holding three fingers together - thumb, forefinger, and middle finger - Abba Isaac demonstrated to his disciples how to make the sign of the cross.

“The three fingers symbols the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The two fingers on your palms represent the two natures of Christ, human and divine. When you drop your hand from your forehead to waist, it represents Christ’s descend to earth. The upward movement is the resurrection. I do this to remind myself of Our Lord”

“But Abba Mathenius uses two fingers only,” said Ah Kong, “I saw him.”

“Abba Mathenius’ uses two fingers to signify the two natures of Christ and the three fingers on his palm, the Trinity. Notice how he makes the large cross over his whole body,” explains Abba Isaac. “He said it reminds him of God’s vastness.”

“How about Abba Rinardo?” chipped in Ah Beng, not wanting to be left out. “He crosses himself from left to right. Or Abba Andropus. He crosses himself from right to left.”

“Maybe Abba Andropus is left handed.” Ah Kong said.

“Abba Rinardo is from Rome. The Roman Catholics uses the left to right movement which is the left cross. With that gesture, his followers signify that they do not wish to be on Christ’s left but rather be at Christ’s right side. Remember Christ’s parable on the goat and sheep? The goats will be on Christ’s left and the sheep on Christ’s right on the day of judgement. You do not want to be a goat on the day of judgement. Understand?”

“Ai yah, there is no sheep in China, only goats!” exclaimed Ah Beng.

“Stupid!” shouted Ah Kong, whacking Ah Beng on the head. “Jesus is speaking figuratively.”

“Oh,” Ah Beng whispered sheepishly.

“Abba Andropus,” continued Abba Isaac as if nothing has happened, “is from Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church’s gesture from right to left symbolises Christ descended from heaven to earth and to the Jews on the right and he now have passed to the Gentiles on the left.”

“We don’t do that,” said Ah Kong smugly, “we are Protestants!” “What are we protesting against...” Ah Beng started to say. “That’s a misconception,” Abba Isaac interrupted, “Abba Martin Luther prescribe using the sign of the cross. The Anglicans and Lutherans are still using it today.”

“Shall we cross left to right or right to left?” wondered Ah Beng, “Ah, I know-lah, left cross one day, right cross another day. Left, right, left, right.”

And Abba Isaac sighed.

**

For many of us, worship is the section of Sunday service where we sing hymns or songs to the accompaniment of musical instruments and PowerPoint sceneries. Worship is more than that and should encompass the whole of our lives. It is more than using our mouths to sing. It should involve our mind, heart, spirit and body. Not many of us realise how our bodies are also involved in worship. It may be as simple as closing our eyes while we sing, or opening our hands, or lifting our arms. During prayers, we lean forward and close our eyes. When we feel the Lord’s presence, we may have an intense desire to kneel, or even lie prostrate on the ground. All these are indications that our physical bodies are involved in the act of worship. These are our body language of worship. And consciously or unconsciously it may help us to worship better.

During its long history, the Church understands that our bodies worship together with our mind, spirit and soul. That is why Church developed liturgy in the worship services and certain practices. These practice or action reminds our body of their language of worship. In other words, it primes our body for worship. Making the sign of the cross is one. Nobody knows when and how it originates. It does, however, help some people to recall their body language of worship. The great Church Father John Chrysostom said, “You should not just trace the cross with your finger, but you should do it in faith.”

Reflection Questions

1. What is your body language of worship? To identify it, think of what posture is most helpful in your worship. Is it sitting, walking, kneeling, lying prostate or on your back? Does lighting a candle or incense helps? Discover your body language of worship and experiment with other postures too.

2. Which aspect of your church worship service reminds your body of worship? Is it during the singing, listening to the sermon, taking part in the Holy Communion, or reading the Bible during scripture reading? How will you use this to enhance your worship encounter?

3. The body language of worship connects thinking and doing. Which liturgy or parts of your church’s worship service reminds you of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Using the sign of the cross is one of the ways some Christians use to remind themselves of the Trinity. What practices or rituals do you use to remind yourself of the presence of the Trinity?


Father God,

We thank you for creating us as body and spirit. We thank you for our bodies-whatever shape, size and colour. As the psalmist said, our bodies are beautifully and wonderfully made. We thank you for this fantastic creation. Teach us to worship you in spirit and in truth. Teach us to worship you with our bodies as well as our minds, souls and spirits.

Amen


Soli Deo Gloria

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Sculpture of the Cross (3)


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Monday, March 10, 2008

10 Reasons Why the Internet Monk Don't Read Your Blog

Internet Monk here gives Ten Reasons Why I Don't Read Your Blog.
I hope he is not talking about me.


.

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Statistics Don't Lie

A very important President of a local Bible Seminary came to my church to preach last Sunday.

He said he has two very important points he wanted to deliver to us.

"First, the focus of Christianity has shifted from North to South. The major growth centres are in Africa, Asia and Latin America. For the first time in history, there are more Christians south of the equator than north! "

"Second, there are about 2 million full time workers in the whole world. Out of this 2 million full time workers, only about 10% has any form of theological education, some only rudimentary."

"Isn't it a challenge for us to build more theological seminaries so that more full time workers can be theologically trained?" That was his challenge.

Me thinks,

10% of 2 million is 200,000 theologically trained full time workers. Yet, the church is growing exponentially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Obviously these 200,000 is too small a number to influence about 2 billions Christians.

Could it be that theologically trained full time workers are not necessary?

And that God is doing well without them?


What do you think?

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Role of Education and Discipleship in Spiritual Formation

Educational activities in Christian faith communities and discipleship are the means in which the dynamic processes are harness for holistic Christian spiritual formation. Educational activities and discipleship provides the framework of the matrix for the dynamic processes to work.

All educational activities in Christian faith communities should recognize that everyone is different and has different learning styles (LeFever 2004). Adult learning is different from the way a child learns (Vella 1995; Vella, Berardinelli et al. 1998; Knowles, F.Holton III et al. 2005). This form of learning recognizes the different developmental stage theories. Activities planned for children should be different than those for adults. Even adult learning activities should be customised. Educational activities in Christian faith communities also recognizes that all learning is life-long.

Johnson identified the education process as,
First we must decide to become Christian. Next we must submit ourselves to prolonged instruction and initiation. We must give ourselves over to the Story, begin to participate in it; only then do we really begin to understand! Credo ut intelligam: I participate fully in order that I might understand.” (Johnson 1989, 149)

Educator Thomas Groome has a similar approach in his “Shared Praxis” which has as its components: (1) present action, (2) critical reflection, (3) dialogue, (4) the Christian story, and (5) the Vision. (Groome 1980,207-208). Concerning vision as the final component, Groome writes, “ I intend the metaphor Vision to be a comprehensive representation of the lived response which the Christian Story invites and of the promise God makes in that Story.”(Groome 1980,193). Both Johnson and Groome envisage the role of learning is to incorporate the learner’s own story into the Christian story.

Religious educator Andrew Grannell queries about the need of having formative activities such as education and discipleship if transformation is by the Holy Spirit (1985). His query arises out of a revolution in educational theorising brought on by Fowler’s “Stages of Life” and Loder’s “Transforming Moments.” Fowler’s faith development theory fits in with formation. Though Johnson rejects faith development theories, her formative schema is based on some staging or growth structure (1989). Loder’s transforming moment fits in with Groome’s vision metaphor.

I believe that the issue about formation and transformation can be reconciled by understanding the way Johnson and Groome understand time. Johnson approaches learning in linear (kronos) time while Groome’s emphasis is kairos time. (Groome 1980, 5-17). It will be difficult to compartmentalise learning into past, present, and future learning in a linear fashion. The only linear aspect of our lives is our chronological age. Groome is correct in placing learning in the present. For him, present means “present of things present, the present of things past, and the present of things future.” (Groome 1980, 5-17, 185; Augustine 1963, 219). This is important because though we must not forget the past nor ignore the future, learning belongs solidly in the present. Formation activities are linear (chronos) but are punctuated by transformation events (kairos). Both are necessary because formation activities produce the context for transformation to occur. This is what Grannell called a “paradox” for both continuing formation activities and instantaneous transformational moments are essential to spiritual formation (Grannell 1985,397-398).

Educational activities in Christian faith communities is not just classroom or seminar based but learning that takes place in communities of faith that meet regularly for the studying of the bible, for sharing, mentoring, modelling, hospitality, crises management, and reflection. It involves full participation of all members.

This type of learning is full commitment, full involvement and “getting our hands dirty” type of learning. It is also involve opening our eyes to the wider perspective of the Christian Story. It also happens during crisis and other events when Loder’s transforming moment occurs (Loder 1989).

Discipleship training and discipling should be conducted concurrently with other educational activities in Christian faith communities. Discipling, as is shown by Collinson involves smaller groups of people and its curriculum is more focused on disciple making (Collinson 2004). Frequently as Hull has done, it is for a limited period of time until a certain learning objective is achieved (Hull 2006).

Both educational activities and discipling will be the venues where the dynamic process elements of story telling, heart commitment, incarnational living, liturgical worship, community oneness, and transformational learning are taught, reflected upon, contextualise, and incorporate into the Christian formation of individuals and Christian faith communities.

Bibliography

Augustine (1963). The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Norwalk, CN, The Easton Press.
Augustine, S. (1997). The Confessions. London, Hodder & Stoughton.
Collinson, S. W. (2004). Making Disciples: The Significance of Jesus' Educational Methods for Today's Church. Carlisle, Cumbria, Paternoster Press.
Fowler, J. W. (1995). Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. New York, HarperCollins.
Grannell, A. (1985). "The Paradox of Formation and Transformation." Religious Education 80(3): 384-397.
Groome, T. H. (1980). Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass.
Hull, B. (2006). The Complete Book of Discipleship: On being and making followers of Christ. Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress.
Johnson, S. (1989). Christian Spiritual Formation in the Church and Classroom. Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press.
Knowles, M. S., E. F.Holton III, et al. (2005). The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. London, Elsevier.
LeFever, M. D. (2004). Learning Styles: Reaching Everyone God Gave You to Teach. Eastbourne, England, NexGen.
Loder, J. E. (1989). The Transforming Moment. Colorado Springs, Helmers and Howard.
Moltmann (1995). The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. Minneapolis, Fortress.
Saunders, S. (2002). ""Learning"; Eschatology and Spiritual Formation in New Testament Christianity." Interpretation 56(2): 155-167.
Vella, J. (1995). Training Through Dialogue: Promoting Effective Learning and Change with Adults. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Vella, J., P. Berardinelli, et al. (1998). How do They Know They Know? : Evaluating Adult Learning. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Ware, B. K. (2000). The Inner Kingdom. New York, St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

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Sculpture of the Cross (2)

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Celtic Woman Sings



You Raise Me Up

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.
(repeat)

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
(stormy seas)
I am strong,(strong....)
When I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be
(repeat)

You raise me up: To more than I can be.




Chaledonia



the Voice




Scaborough Fair



Ave Marria

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Roy Orbison: Only the Lonely



Only the Lonely (Know How I Feel)

Words and Music by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson

(Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah, ooh yay, yay, yay, yeah)
(Oh, oh oh oh oh ooh-ah-ah, only the lonely, only the lonely)


Only the lonely (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)
Know the way I feel tonight (Ooh yay, yay, yay, yeah)
Only the lonely (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)
Know this feeling ain't right (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)

There goes my baby, there goes my heart
They're gone forever, so far apart
But only the lonely know wh-y-y I cry--only the lonely
(Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah, ooh yay, yay, yay, yeah)
(Oh, oh oh oh oh ooh-ah-ah, only the lonely, only the lonely)

Only the lonely (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)
Know the heartaches I've been through (Ooh yay, yay, yay, yeah
Only the lonely (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)
Know I cry and cry for you (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)

Maybe tomorrow a new romance
No-o-o more sorrow, but that's the chance
You've got to ta-a-a-ake, if your lonely heart breaks
Only the lonely (Dum-dum-dummy doo-wah)

.


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Linda Ronstadt : Desperado



written by Don Henley & Glenn Frey

Desperado
Why don't you come to your senses
You've been out riding fences for so long now
Oh you're a hard one
But I know that you've got your reasons
These things that are pleasing you will hurt you somehow

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds boy
She'll beat you if she's able
The queen of hearts is always your best bet
Well it seems to me some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the things that you can't get

Desperado
you know you ain't getting younger
Your pain and your hunger are driving you home
And freedom, oh freedom
Well that's just some people talking
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don't your feet get cold in the wintertime
Sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
It's hard to tell the night time from the day
You're losing all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away

Desperado
Why don't you come to your senses
Come down from your fences
Open the gate
It may be raining
But there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you
Let somebody love you
Before it's too late

.


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Transformational Learning

Transformational learning occurs through the processes of formation and transformation. Formation is the ordinary educational and discipleship activities we use in churches. Formation consists of the catechumenate process that leads to baptism followed by the discipleship process after.

Transformation occurs through what Loder calls “the logic of transformation” and consists of five steps: (1) a conflict arises and persisted in spite of what the human spirit do to try to resolve it, (2) an interlude for scanning for solution involving both conscious and subconscious searching, (3) an insight arises and is felt powerfully, (4) there is a release of psychic energy built up during the search (an “aha” or moment), and (5) interpretation and a reality check of the insight. When the Holy Spirit is behind the transformation, Loder named the process “convictional knowing.” (Loder 1981, 217-220; 1989, 93-122) and transforming moments. Convictional knowing is when the self meets the Holy and is transformed[1]. Convictional knowing is the work of the Holy Spirit (Loder 1989,93-122).

First, Parker Palmer in a lecture, The Violence of our Knowledge, a “transformed understanding of knowing” involving four components:
(1) All learning is personal.
(2) All learning is communal because truth can only come out of conflict as we interact and conflict with one another in all aspects of our lives.
(3) All learning is reciprocal because while we are seeking truth, truth is also seeking us. Palmer describes it as a “reciprocal dance between the knower and the knowing.”
(4) All learning is transformation because knowing truth will transform us. (Palmer 1993)

Palmer’s transformed understanding of knowing is not transformational. The two disciples on the Emmaus road had the law and the prophets explained to them. They were told the truth but were not transformed. They did not recognise Jesus until he revealed himself to them (Luke 24:13-35). True transformational learning involves an encounter with God. Knowing truth is not enough, encountering Truth is. This will be in agreement with Kenneth Leech’s thinking when applied to theology that “all true theology is about transformation, about changing human beings and changing the world, in and through the encounter with the true God.” (Leech 2002)

Second, for transformation learning to take place, there must be appropriate intentional teaching or instruction. Educator Wenger argues that “learning cannot be designed” but accepts that learning takes place in appropriate environments that fosters learning (Wenger 1999,225). Therefore teaching or instruction must be given in a suitable learning environment, age appropriate, sensitive to life’s crises, stages of faith, clear to understand, and have its foundation in the bible. The Bible must be central in transformational learning. Walter Bruegemann insists that “the educational process, faithfully carried out, can be performed by those who submit to the canonical process.”(Brueggemann 1982 ,7 (italics author’s). By the canonical process, Bruegemann means that Bible interprets Bible in a hermeneutical move that breathe fresh life into biblical theological knowledge. Steve Kang coming from the same direction adds that this reading must be done from the perspective of the kingdom of God. He notes that “it is through such careful reading of the Bible, in the context of such a kingdom in the church, that spiritual formation of believers must take place.” (Kang 2002, 138). Both Brueggemann and Kang agree that it is only as we understand the interactions of the Christian story and our stories that we come to the true understanding of the text.

Finally, transformational learning is not only cognitive but encompasses the whole person. Transformational learning fulfils the goals of Christian spiritual formation which is the growth of Christ life in us, the formation of a people of God, and our partnership in the redemptive work of God (Loder 1981,93-122). This learning interconnects with the other dynamic process elements of spiritual formation as a holistic approach to learning.

Bibliography

Brueggemann, W. (1982). The Creative Word: Cannon as a Model for Biblical Education. Philadelphia, Fortress Press.




Endnote
[1] James Loder postulates a human being has four dimensions: self, world, void and the Holy. Loder, J. E. (1989). The Transforming Moment. Colorado Springs, Helmers and Howard. p.68-92)

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Scupture of the Cross (1)

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Malaysian Election 2008

From Tricia's blog, Egalitaria

Her pre-election comments



Her post-election comments

Here are some of my comments that I’ve been giving to journalists over the last couple of hours on the recent victory.

What led to this “political tsunami” as Kit Siang has put it? The tsunami has hit mainly amongst the urban mixed seats, and it has been due to a number of reasons. First, the growing disquiet over recent years over the inability of the Pak Lah administration to address corruption, the very promise for which he was sworn into power four years ago. Second, the disillusionment with ethnic-based affirmative action amongst these seats, the solution for which lay within factor number three i.e. the Anwar factor, attempting to cater to members of all ethnic groups through one of the more comprehensive economic policy proposals since the inception of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Where traditionally, rapid urbanisation led to the enmasse of Malays into urban centres, thereby creating more mixed seats acting in favour of the Barisan Nasional, this has changed today. Some of the urban Malays were willing to do one of the following: choose PKR, choose DAP (due to the alliance between DAP and PKR), or choose not to attend/spoil their votes, in order to punish the incumbent BN. This marks a shift in urban Malays’ sentiments towards the BN, and augurs well for the country since these have voted according to principle and not necessarily ethnicity alone. A possibility is even the Malays’ disillusionment with regards to the NEP, and if trends read correctly, this may indicate the gradual removal of NEP-ridden policies as frequently discussed.

What are some immediate implications? MIC having contested 9 Parliamentary seats and won only three, is considered literally shattered to bits - he being the one sole representative of MIC. Gerakan is in an equal position, having lost all of its contested State and Parliamentary seats in Penang, conceding defeat to DAP. The remaining leg on the increasingly shaky stool of BN is MCA, also weakened significantly. The raison d’etre - or reason for existence - of the BN coalition, which is power sharing amongst all ethnic groups, has also been made a mockery of. The BN will see UMNO as the sole “big brother” within the coalition, where component parties need to renegotiate their roles and responsibilities sufficient for an effective Government. Peoples’ representation of Chinese and Indians will predominantly lie within its Opposition leaders.

The people are fed up with the Government, an understatement - they have established a protest vote in the Elections, punishing Government for their lacklustre performance in managing the nation’s wealth, integrity and interests of the people. For opposition to maintain its power over next years, it has to live up to its electoral promises, making good its commitment to implementing particular concrete measures such as putting local council elections into place.

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