We posed this question to eight theologians: Suppose someone who hasn't been keeping up with theology for the past 25 years now wants to read the most important books written during that time. What five titles would you suggest?
Here are their responses:
Random Musings from a Doctor's Chair
My adventures with God,life and all these stuff.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
A Reformation Sunday Musing
Today in church, while preaching in a Presbyterian church, I mentioned Reformation Sunday. It is not a tradition in this church to celebrate Reformation Sunday (more hereand here). I mentioned that oft repeated joke that we are Protestants and are still protesting.
During refreshments after the service, I get to talk to some of the members. One of them said that Protestants should not longer mean protesting. Protestants should mean professing and testifying. I like that thought.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Mark Galli on Search for Significance
Insignificant Is Beautiful
Why exactly do we want to make a difference in the world?
...the search for significance, especially if it requires changing the world, can blind us to the everyday tasks, the mundane duties, and the dirty work that is part and parcel of the life of discipleship.
Os Guiness on the Thinking Man's Quest for Meaning
Send me Your Song
"Send Me A Song"
Take the wave now and know that you're free,
Turn your back on the land face the sea,
Face the wind now so wild and so strong,
When you think of me,
Wave to me and send me a song.
Don't look back when you reach the new shore,
Don't forget what you're leaving me for,
Don't forget when you're missing me so,
Love must never hold,
Never hold tight but let go.
Oh the nights will be long,
When I'm not in your arms,
But I'll be in your song, That you sing to me, across the sea.
Somehow, someday, you will be far away,
So far from me and maybe one day,
I will follow you,
And all you do,
'Til then, send me a song.
When the sun sets the water on fire,
When the wind swells the sails of your hire,
Let the call of the bird on the wind,
Calm your sadness and loneliness,
And then start to sing to me,
I will sing to you,
If you promise to send me a song.
I walk by the shore and I hear,
Hear your song come so faint,
And so clear,
And I catch it, a breath on the wind,
And I smile and I sing you a song,
I will send you a song...
I will sing you a song,
I will sing to you...
If you promise to send me a song.
Labels: Really Random Music
Friday, October 29, 2010
What You Leave Behind
- When we think of legacies to leave behind we usually think of physical legacies such as properties and wealth. What are the other types of legacies we can leave behind?
- What are some of the spiritual legacies we can leave behind?
- How can we ensure that the legacies we leave behind will endure and have eternal value?
Thursday, October 28, 2010
A Fishy Story
The atmosphere was heavy with heat and excitement as the disciples were on two boats, helping the local fishermen to pull in their nets. It was Abba Ah Beng’s new spiritual formation project to get his disciples involved with the local communities in the villages surrounding Sow-Lin Monastery. Whether the local communities wanted to be ‘involved with’ is another matter. It was late afternoon and the reflection of sunlight on the surface of the sea was dazzling.
“Watch it!” shouted disciple Ah Lek as he avoided the elbow of disciple Ah Kow which was on a collision course with his nose. “Ouch!” yelled exchange disciple Iskandar from the Middle East as the netting rope burned his fingers. This is the first time disciple Iskander was on a boat. The land he came from was mostly desert. “There must be a lot of fish in the net. It is so heavy,” panted another exchange disciple Muthu who was more skilled in fishing as he slowly pulled the net into boat. “Jiayou! Jiayou!” cheered disciple Ah Lian from the shade of the cabin as she urged her fellow disciples to work harder. “Careful, the floor is wet and slippery,” warned disciple Ah Lek as he turned, slipped and fell overboard. “Monk overboard!” shrieked disciple Ah Lian in her high-pitched voice. There was a commotion as the disciples rushed to the aid of their fallen comrade which nearly overturned the boat and ended with disciple Ah Lek entangled in the net along with the fish.
It was a while before the local fishermen were able to rescue disciple Ah Lek and brought the fishing boats with their catch to the shore. “So many fish! So many fish!” chanted the happy fishermen. Abba Ah Beng beamed and said, “God is good and has blessed us with a bountiful harvest.” “How many fish are here, I wonder?” mused disciple Ah Lek who did not seem worse for wear despite his dip in the ocean except for a distinctive fishy pong that seem to surround him. His fellow disciples were trying to hold their breath and turning blue, or breathing into small linen that were dabbed with fragrant medicated oil. “153!” exclaimed disciple Ah Lian triumphantly. “What?” shouted all the disciples and Abba Ah Beng simultaneously. “How do you know the exact number of fish caught?” asked Abba Ah Beng after they have all recovered from their initial surprise.
“Gospel of John, chapter 21,” replied disciple Ah Lian with a smug smile on her face, “read it in my Quiet Time this morning.” “Ooo…,” said the disciples as their contorted expressions reveal their inner struggle to remember the chapter.
“Ah, now I remember,” said disciple Ah Kow. “It is about the time when the disciples went fishing after Jesus died. They caught nothing until the resurrected Jesus came along and told them to throw the net to the right side of the boat. They obeyed and they caught…caught…153 fish.” “Clever!” “Actsy!” “Show off!” were some of the comments from his fellow disciples.
“Very good, Ah Kow,” said Abba Ah Beng with a gleam in his eye. “Now, tell me why the number of fish caught is exactly 153?” Suddenly the disciples were looking everywhere except at Abba Ah Beng as they tried to avoid eye contact with their teacher. “Remember that they were not catching any fish and were about to give up until Jesus came along and they obeyed him,” continued Abba Ah Beng.
“Remember, my disciple,” said Abba Ah Beng switching to his teaching mode and even the sound of his voice became modulated, “that success and bountiful harvest come from obedience to the commands of Christ.
“God loves all of us and wants us to love Him. He wants to bring more people into His church. The number 153 is his code for His intention to grow the church,” said Abba Ah Beng.
“Hmm?” grunted disciple Ah Lek as he suddenly realized that he was sitting alone and his fellow disciples were keeping a discrete distance and were standing upwind from him.
“In the book of Genesis, God opened Rachel’s barren womb and she gave birth. Rachel named her newborn Joseph (Gen. 30:24). Joseph means ‘May the Lord add to me another son’ showing her desire for another son. As you know, Rachel and Leah were in a reproductive competition to see who will give birth to more sons. When Joseph came of age at 17 years old and was kidnapped (Gen. 37:2), he became symbolic of God’s ‘increase another son’ who was Benjamin.
“God uses the same symbolism to show that he will ‘increase another son’ to Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection. The other ‘son’ will be the Gentile nations who will come to follow Jesus through the actions of Jesus’ disciples in obeying His Word and spreading the Gospel. If you add 1+2+3+4+5+ all the way to 17, you get?”
“153!” shouted Ah Kow who was very adept at working with an abacus. “Exactly! In letting Jesus’ disciples catching exactly 153 large fish, God was revealing to them that a new ‘son’ will soon be joining them. All He required of them is their obedience.” Abba Ah Beng stopped as the mouth watering aroma of freshly BBQ fish replaced the fishy smell of disciple Ah Lek. “Remember, it is in obedience to Christ that the disciples were successful in catching fish. Now, let’s eat!” said Abba Ah Beng to the cheers of his disciples.
1. The key to success and abundant harvest in John 21 is obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ. Why do you think to be obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ is so important?
2. God has left many clues in the Bible of His intention to save all people, not just the Jews. What are some of the examples of these clues that you can think of?
3. Being obedient means sharing the Gospel. What are some of the ways you can think of to share the Gospel with your friends, neighbors or colleagues at work?
Thank you for your love for all the people. It is wonderful that you have hidden the clues to your redemption plan in the Bible showing us that it is your purpose all along to save all people. Help us to read the Bible carefully so that we can understand your master plan. Equip us too so that we can become agents of yours and serve you in this plan of redemption.
Thanks to Dr Tony Siew for his post on 153.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
TEDS: Seth Godin on Tribes
About this talk
About Seth GodinSeth Godin is an entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age. His newest interest: the tribes we lead.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Steven Pressfield on a Professional Attitude
Steven Pressfield is one of my favourite authors whose books I always look forward to reading. In this wonderful post My Life as a Mad Man on his website, he offers a great advice on professionalism,
A pro turns up his nose at nothing. A pro respects everyone and everything, however humble. A pro keeps his eyes and ears open. All things are fascinating to the professional, because he understands how much thought and effort go into even the most unassuming articles (and jobs and concepts and people, including ourselves) in our lives.
My review on his book, Killing Rommel
The Proper Approach to CPR
Chest compressions should be the first step in addressing cardiac arrest. Therefore, the American Heart Association (AHA) now recommends that the A-B-Cs (Airway-Breathing-Compressions) of cardiorespiratory resuscitation (CPR) be changed to C-A-B (Compressions-Airway-Breathing).
The changes were documented in the 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, published in the November 2 supplemental issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, and represent an update to previous guidelines issued in 2005.
at the rhythm...
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The Best Way to Learn
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Random Glimpses of My Desktop (17)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The City of the Word
“There he is,” shouted disciple Ah Lian, as Abba Ah Beng walked wearily through the Sow-lin Monastery gate. “Abba, how was your journey?” Abba Ah Beng smiled lovingly as his excited disciples clustered around him, shouting and dancing with joy at his return. “You have been away for six whole months!” exclaimed disciple Ah Kow who was jumping energetically. “Yes, tell us what you saw,” inquired exchange disciple Iskandar. “What did you bring me?” asked disciple Ah Lek eagerly.
Monday, October 18, 2010
A People Apart
Friday, October 15, 2010
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessings
This Sunday I am planning to preach on Jeremiah chapter 35 and this hymn comes to mind. I will use this as my closing hymn. Always have tears in my eyes and a choke in my throat whenever I sing this hymn.
Available at http://www.TantaraRecords.com The BYU Combined Choruses sing "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" arranged by Mack Wilberg from the album "A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns" (© Tantara Records)
Wonderful arrangement and orchestration. Can see the deep emotion on the faces of the musicians.
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
By: Robert Robinson, 1735-90 Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
While the hope of endless glory
Fills my heart with joy and love,
Teach me ever to adore Thee;
May I still Thy goodness prove.
Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Oh, that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in the blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy wondrous grace!
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send Thine angels soon to carry
Me to realms of endless day.
Labels: Really Random Music
Let It Rain
Michael W Smith
Let it Rain
Worship Video with Lyrics
Made by Kareem Maylah
Labels: Really Random Music
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Cover of 4 Oct 2010 Time Magazine Asia Edition
This is the cover of the 4 October 2010 issue of Time Magazine, Asia Edition.
And this is the cover of the 4 October 2010 issue of Time Magazine, Asia Edition in Malaysia which I received today, about 2 weeks after its publication date.
I wish to thank the workers of the Censorship Board of Malaysia for their hard work with black markers.
Anyway, it is a good article.
A House of Worship
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Up the Next Level in my Gameplay
I have been playing first, second and third person shooter games on my xBox and PS3 and I am kinda proud that I am gradually improving as a shooter in these games.Recently I was playing Halo: Reach
Personally I do not think so. I am not ready to give up yet. I still think you can teach old dogs new tricks.
Labels: Computer games
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Essential Theology Books of the last 25 Years
From the current issue of The Christian Century
Essential theology books of the past 25 years
I am amazed at some of their choices. Have a look and let me know what you think.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Daniel Kirk referees John Piper and N.T.Wright (3)
And now the conclusion (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3a, Part 3b)
Several years ago, fall of 2007, I was part of planning a conference on Paul for Emergent-like people. As the New Testament scholars sat around chatting with more church and theology oriented people, we were talking through what we wanted to cover, how we wanted to approach Paul. Just batting around ideas, someone said, “What is the angle? New Perspective?” To this, one of the Paul scholars said, “No, I think we’re pretty much post-New Perspective now.”
Three years ago, New Testament scholarship had already moved on. And that doesn’t mean that 2007 was the year we decided to leave it behind. It means that Sanders had broached the issues in the late 70s, Jimmy Dunn had codified them in an early 80s lecture followed by his late 80s Romans commentary; Wright had written Climax of the Covenant that worked through some of the key texts, and so by the end of the 90s scholars had worked through the issues taken what they were going to take left what they were going to leave and moved on.
Enter the church (bless its heart) 15-30 years later, all excited and agitated over these new developments.
In some ways this makes sense. People outside the academy are often unaware of the programmatic nature of an argument being advanced in a 1,000+ page commentary, for example. But when Wright publishes a 120 page book on Paul in his accessible prose, and directly challenging many long-held ideas about justification, imputation, righteousness, and the like, then it is much easier for the ideas to spread broadly.
and I leave you my dear readers to draw your own conclusions.
Spiritual Formation Seminar at PJEFC
Saturday, Oct 9, 2010, at PJEFC.
Venue: Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church
It is appropriate that we use the children's chapel for the seminar because spiritual formation has much in common with children than many of us realise ( I am sure Jesus did).
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Groundbreaking Celebration for Worship Hall HLCE
After 20 eventful years (read why here), Holy Light Church (English), a Presbyterian church in Johor Bahru, Malaysia today celebrated the ground-breaking of their new Faith Worship Hall.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Random Glimpses of my Desktop (16)
Friday, October 08, 2010
Johor Bahru Churches Collaborate on Community Project
This article was published in the September/October 2010 issues of the National Evangelical Council Fellowship (NECF) newsletter.
JB Churches Collaborate on Community ProjectMost churches prefer to carry out community projects on their own than to collaborate with other churches as it is easier to coordinate the work.
So, when news got around that Johor Baru churches have come together to do a joint community project, it raised more than a few eyebrows.
Called CRS, or Crisis Relief Store, the project has the participation of several churches whose pastors are members of the Johor Baru Pastors' Fellowship (JBPF).
Pr Sonny, JPPF spokesman, tells Berita NECF what the ministry is about.
Tell us about CRSThe store was set up as a collection centre for goods, such as clothing, electrical goods and foodstuff that are required in times of need. We mooted this idea when we conducted two rounds of "HELPING HANDS", first to help the Karen Refugees in North East Thailand, and then to communities in and around Johor Baru (such as the poor or less privileged), NGOs who are involved in running social homes (such as orphanages, old folks' homes and homes for the "orang kurang upaya" or physically disabled).
We received all kinds of goods from people and we realised that we can do this on a more organised basis to respond to disasters which are beset-ting many countries.
We envision that in peace times, churches which are already helping the poor in the community can have access to this store to requisite goods for the needy.
In times of crisis, CRS store will be the first to be emptied to send relief supplies to the affected area.
CRS is started by the JB Pastors' Fellowship. How did you manage to come together to do a joint project?Some pastors in the fellowship were already active in this particular area and we decided to come together to go forth from another platform - that of partnership and networking.
Over the years of fellowshiping in JBPF, our relationship has become strong enough for us to come together. Remember an old song called "Pass It On?" The first line says, ""It only takes a spark to get the fire going." We are just the spark in the hands of God who will get this fire of the church reaching out to the community going.
What are the benefits of churches working together on a project compared with a church doing it alone, as in the case of CRS?There's a verse in the Bible which says, "If one of us can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand..." This is God's multiplier effect. We believe strongly that this will be the impetus to reach the community in a more effective way.
The Anthropology of Christianity
An excellent review by Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Noll notes that "Biblicism" is not used disparagingly here, but as a word trying to encompass beliefs about the Bible, strategies of interpreting the Bible, ways of putting biblical words to use, and treatment of Bibles as physical objects.
The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism.The premise of the book is well-stated by one of its contributors: Although "the Bible is often said to be the most influential book in history, … how and why the Bible has had such influence is as yet rather poorly understood." The authors realize, of course, that much theological discourse has addressed the question of influence. They, by contrast, are suggesting that "the social and psychological processes affecting the way these texts are perceived, understood, and deployed have not been much investigated."
he also highlights a new movement of which many of the contributors are part of,
Second is the association of several of the book's authors with a relatively new movement called "the anthropology of Christianity." As exemplified best in a book series under that name from the University of California Press, the effort tries to study the world's newer expressions of Christianity with the same empathy and non-judgmental curiosity that anthropologists have historically brought to their examination of primal or indigenous religions. Joel Robbins, who edits the California series, has demonstrated the potential of this approach with his own book on a newer Christian community in Papua New Guinea and defended it in a number of programmatic statementsThis is the first I heard of this new movement.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Good Story Telling
Something about story telling and community from the conference Catalyst from Learnings@Leadership Network
Jon began by posing the question, "Why don't we use our best creativity to celebrate the Creator?" In his talk, he outlined seven things that a good story needs in order to create community. Here's a brief rundown:
SPACE - every story needs space to let others tell their story within it. Give your audience a chance to step into your story and fill in the gaps.
BRIDGES - every story has a hook and a core message. A good story keeps those close together (bad stories have a disconnect between the two).
SURPRISE - we are an overcommunicated society, so you need to break through the clutter by being surprising, otherwise your brain will file something away as, "oh, I know what this is..."
HONESTY - in a world where we are obsessed with talent, people are looking for honesty. It's really easy to find talent on the Internet. Honesty is scary, and it's our job as Christians to go first.
PATIENCE - a following doesn't happen overnight. Instead of asking, "How can I get more readers/followers?" ask "How can I give more of me to more of them? How can I lead generously?"
COMPASSION - Jon uses humor in his writing, but he said there's a fine line between mockery and satire. Satire has a purpose. Seed conversation for ideas - but don't chum the water for sharks.
MEANING - if you don't have something that matters, people won't stick aroudn to build community. Something can be viral, but that's not the same - to change the world, you have to be bigger than yourself.
Is it an Unforgivable Sin to Commit Suicide? (2)
Pastor/Theologian John Piper defines this “unforgivable sin” as “the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an act of resistance which belittles the Holy Spirit so grievously that he withdraws for ever with his convicting power so that we are never able to repent and be forgiven.” Listen or read his excellent sermon, Beyond Forgiveness: Blasphemy against the Spirit here.
Related articles by me
Down and Out and Suicidal
"Please Let Me Die" - Mercy Killing
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Is it an Unforgivable Sin to Commit Suicide? (1)
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality
Spiritual Formation Seminar in PJEFC
Saturday, Oct 9, 2010, at PJEFC.
Venue: Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church
Registration Fee (incl refreshment, lunch and notes): RM20
|address||Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church |
No. 3, Jalan 13/6
46200 Petaling Jaya
|phone||+60 (3) 7957 4341|
|fax||+60 (3) 7957 4560|
|map||please click here to download a printable A4 copy of the map|
Labels: Conference Information
Monday, October 04, 2010
Daniel Kirk referees John Piper and N.T.Wright (2)
This the followup of Daniel's previous post
Some time ago, I came to the conclusion that the fracas over the righteousness of God could not be separated from another favorite perennial NT question: the meaning of pistis, and the pistis Christou debate in particular.
Romans 1:17 reads: “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed by faith unto faith as it is written, ‘But the one who is righteous by faith will live.”
Somehow, the good news reveals God’s righteousness “by faith”, as it is written, “But the one who is righteous ‘by faith’ will live.”
The ideas are brought together again at the end of Romans 3:
But now, without law, the righteousness of God has been made manifest (being witnessed by the law and the prophets), the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ (or, through faith in Jesus Christ) unto all who exercise faith. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being righteoused freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement through faith, by his blood, in order to show forth his righteousness, because in his forbearance he passed over the previously committed sins, to show forth his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who is of the faith of Jesus.
This is where attempting to dissociate “righteousness” from God’s work on behalf of God’s people starts to fall apart. It’s not that there is a quality of God that needs to be lived up to. Romans 3 tells us that God reveals his righteousness when he makes a way to vindicate/acquit people who affiliate with Jesus.
It’s not just that God has to live up to a standard. It’s that the standard to which God desires to live up is the one in which people are vindicated before him. When we talk about righteousness, we are talking about God’s ability to vindicate people who are not worthy of vindication.
And here’s where the surprise comes into the Jewish story: the act that God judged worthy of vindication was Jesus’ death on the cross. And, acquittal looks like being associated with that death so as to be joined to that resurrection-vindication.