Sunday, February 26, 2006

Olivia Newton John: Please Mr Please

Please Mr. Please
Olivia Newton-John

In the corner of the bar there stands a jukebox
With the best of country music, old and new
You can hear your five selections for a quarter
And somebody else's songs when yours are through

I got good Kentucky whiskey on the counter
And my friends around to help me ease the pain
'Til some button-pushing cowboy plays that love song
And here I am just missing you again

Please, Mr., please, don't play B-17
It was our song, it was his song, but it's over
Please, Mr., please, if you know what I mean
I don't ever wanna hear that song again

If I had a dime for every time I held you
Though you're far away, you've been so close to me
I could swear I'd be the richest girl in Nashville
Maybe even in the state of Tennessee

But I guess I'd better get myself together
'Cause when you left, you didn't leave too much behind
Just a note that said "I'm sorry" by your picture
And a song that's weighing heavy on my mind

Please, Mr., please, don't play B-17
It was our song, it was his song, but it's over
Please, Mr., please, if you know what I mean
I don't ever wanna hear that song again



John Denver: Country Roads Take Me Home

Almost heaven, west virginia

Blue ridge mountains

Shenandoah river -Life is old there

Older than the trees

Younger than the mountains

Growin like a breeze

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia,

mountain momma

Take me home,

country roads

All my memories gathered round her

Miners lady, stranger to blue water

Dark and dusty, painted on the sky

Misty taste of moonshine

Teardrops in my eye

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia,

mountain momma

Take me home, country roads

I hear her voice

In the mornin hour she calls me

The radio reminds me of my home far away

And drivin down the road I get a feelin

That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain momma

Take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain momma

Take me home, country roads

Take me home, now country roads

Take me home, now country roads

Words and music by bill danoff, taffy nivert and john denver


Monday, February 20, 2006

Olivia Newton John: Have You Never Been Mellow

Have You Never Been Mellow
Olivia Newton-John

There was a time when I was in a hurry as you are
I was like you
There was a day when I just had to tell my point of view
I was like you
Now I don't mean to make you frown
No, I just want you to slow down

Have you never been mellow?
Have you never tried to find a comfort from inside you?
Have you never been happy just to hear your song?
Have you never let someone else be strong?

Running around as you do with your head up in the clouds
I was like you
Never had time to lay back, kick your shoes off, close your eyes
I was like you
Now you're not hard to understand
You need someone to hold your hand

Have you never been mellow?
Have you never tried to find a comfort from inside you?
Have you never been happy just to hear your song?
Have you never let someone else be strong?



Sunday, February 19, 2006

Love in Truth and Action: How Should We Love?

Text: 1 John 3:16-18

Not long before his death, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to the congregation at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church: “If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize; that isn't important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards; that's not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody”

[read complete transcript at]


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sorry, We're Closed

If we are to take a survey of all Protestant churches in the world, I wonder how many of the church doors of the main hall/auditorium/sanctuary are closed, padlocked, electronic locked or chain-locked most of the week. These doors are only opened for church services or other activities which usually last one or two hours. If, for example an average church has two Sunday services (4 hours), a midweek prayer meeting (2 weeks) and a cell group or Saturday activities ( 6 hours). This adds up to 12 hours a week or 0.07% of a week (168 hours). In other words, the church front doors are locked 99.03% of the week. The church’s mandate is to bring people into the Kingdom of God. This may be difficult to do if the church doors are locked. Of course, you may argue that we need to lock the church because thieves may come in and steal things. Again this is interesting because the church is the followers of One who has no place to lay His head. Should there be anything to steal?

Maybe it is not an issue to anyone that our church doors are locked and closed most of the time. What of our minds? Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. For our minds to be renewed, it must be open. Open to new ideas. Open to reviewing our thinking. Open to changes. We are living in a world where changes are the only constant. A closed mind becomes fossilised very fast. A closed mind is like driving a car forward while looking at the rear view mirror all the time. Throughout church history, the Holy Spirit has always worked though people with open minds. The numerous revivals and renewals of the church are spearheaded by people who are open to new ideas, open to reviewing old ideas and discarding them when they are no longer relevant and insisted new ways of seeing and doing things. Origen, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ignatius of Loyola are examples of Christians whose minds are open to the Mind of God.

Inside the safety and security of the Christian faith community, our eyes may be closed to the pain and suffering of the world outside. Continuous exposure to violence, terror and gory images through movies, CNN, news media and novels has desensitised us. We can watch an old woman crying in the ruins of her home after the devastation of a hurricane while eating dinner with no problem. Pictures on TIME magazines of adults and children dying of AIDS in Africa do not move us to tears because our eyes are closed. We look around with our closed eyes and asked, “Where are the poor, the sick, the defenceless and the helpless?” The darkness behind our closed eyelids does not move us to action. Open eyes to the needs of the world lead us to feel the Heart of God. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Dame Cecily Saunders who started the hospice movement and Dorothy Day are Christians who see clearly the needs of the world and do something about it.

A monkey trap is a metal tin with a small hole and has sweets inside. When a greedy monkey reach into the hole and grasp a handful of sweets, he cannot remove his arm from the can because his closed hand grasping sweets is bigger than the hole. That’s how monkeys are caught. We grasp our gifts and our wealth with our closed hands and refused to let go. Instead of blessing others, we deprive others and slow the expansion of the Kingdom of God. God blesses some of His people with acute business sense and abundant wealth so that they can finance the frontline troops who are the missionaries and full time workers. Unfortunately these front-liners are suffering because of the closed hands of the supply lines. Mueller of Bristol was able to tap into the Abundance of God and raised support for orphanages, schools and the China Inland Mission because he had open hands.

We closed our hearts to the pain and hurt on our neighbours’ face because we do not want to get involved. Our time is limited and we do not welcome the interruption to our lives that involvement with others will cost. So we closed our hearts and build walls around it. In time, our closed heart becomes hearts of stone; feeling neither love nor pity. Life becomes a series of goals and objectives. We use people instead of things to achieve these objectives. People are used and discarded. Disposable humans become the norm. Marriage becomes a convenience rather than a covenant. Divorces become common because in a closed heart there is no room for commitment other than to self. Eugene Peterson, Marva Dawn and Dallas Willard try to open us to the Heart of God who is Love. A Christian faith community is a place for open hearts.

May God have mercy. This reflection is inspired by the following prayer.

Spirit of God,
you are the breath of creation,
the wind of change that blows
through our lives,
opening us to new dreams, new hopes,
& new life in Jesus Christ.

Forgive us our closed minds,
which barricade us against new ideas,
preferring the past to what you might
want to do through us tomorrow.

Forgive our closed eyes,
which fail to see the needs
of your world,
blind to opportunities of service & love

Forgive us our closed hands,
which clutch our gifts & our wealth
for our own use alone.

Forgive us our closed hearts,
which limit our affections to ourselves
& our own.

Spirit of new life,
Break down the prison walls
of our selfishness
that we might be open to your love,
& open for the service of your world:
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

[source of prayer unknown]

Soli Deo Gloria


Friday, February 17, 2006

How Should Christians Behave?

· A Christian has faith.
· This faith is based on the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Thus

we are all forgiven of our sins and have eternal life.
· This faith is revealed in our behaviour or works.

An Overview of Book of James in the Bible Giving Seven Behavioural Patterns

1: 1-18 (1) Rejoices in Difficulty
1:1 Salutations
1:2-12 Trials
1:13-18 Temptations

1:19-27 (2) Obey the Bible
1:19-25 Listening, putting away anger, obedience
1:26-27 Controlled speech, compassionate acts, purity

2:1-13 (3) Avoid Favouritism
2:1-4 Don’t discriminate
2:5-7 Wealth don’t last forever
2:8-13 Recognises all equal

2:14-26 (4) Produces Good Works
2:14-17 Meets needs
2:18-26 faith results in works which justified itself to all men.

3 (5) Speaks wisely
3:1-6 Influence of Tongue-small but deadly
3:7-8 Cannot tame tongue
3:9-12 Use tongue for good, not evil
3:13-18 Need wisdom for proper speech

4:1-5:6 (6) Be Humble
4:1-12 no conflict or judging
4;13-5:6 no foretelling of the future but dependence on God

5:7-20 (7) Have Victory
5:7-12 in patient suffering
5:13-18 in believing prayer
5:19-20 in loving confrontation

Soli Deo Gloria


Monday, February 13, 2006

Earth, Wind, Water, Fire

By Dr Alex Tang

Laurie Beth Jones, author of Jesus, CEO and a successful business consultant has written an interesting book on personality profiling, The Four Elements of Success (2005, Thomas Nelson). Personality profiling is not new. Many of us are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators and DISC relational profiling tools. Others will remember Tim Lahaye’s books on transforming our personal temperament such as Spirit-Controlled Temperament and Transformed Temperaments. Another useful personality profiling tool is the enneagram. All these are time tested personality profiling tools.

What is new and distinctive about Jones’ Path Elements Profile (PEP) is her use of the four elements: earth, wind, water and fire to describe the human personality. Under these four elements, there are 16 possible personality blends: earth, earth/wind, earth/water, earth/fire, water, water/wind, water/earth, water/fire, wind, wind/water, wind/earth, wind/fire, fire, fire/wind, fire/earth and fire/water. Each represents a personality type. In her book, Jones has documented the various types.

Generally a person with a fire personality is one whose strengths are being exciting, passionate, intense, and confrontational and but has a tendency to burn out easily. Fire personalities dislike boredom, sameness, routine, boundaries, sharing the spot light and apathy.

Earth personality includes stability, predictability, orderliness and long term planning. The earth personality weaknesses are changes, sudden movement and too much spontaneity.

Water’s strengths include its vitality, people centred, flexibility and team player. Its weaknesses are its need to please people, difficulty in saying no and tendency to lose its identity in others.

Wind personalities are spontaneous, forward movement and the ability to move others. Wind people like changes, new ideas and upward and inspiring things. Their weaknesses are their restlessness, impulsiveness and like the wind, their ability to stir things up and then leave.

The aim of this elemental profiling is to discover how people can work together in teams. For example, teaming a ‘fire’ with ‘water’ will result in confusion while a team full of ‘earths’ will need a ‘fire’. The use of the elements may sound New Age which Jones assures her readers that it is not so. However it will appeal to many in Asia who are familiar with the increasing popularity of Feng Shui. I find it fascinating that Jones uses the four elements not only to explain the various human personalities but also for developing compatible team building. It sounds interesting and may be a powerful tool to understand human beings and human relationships in a community.

Soli Deo Gloria


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Henri Nouwen on Falling in Love with God

If you really want to know God, go to his people. Go to your barber and talk about God. Tell the carpenter about what you're experiencing. Take time to read the lives of the saints . They always knock you off your feet because they tell you the preoccupations you have aren't the ones you should have. Get in touch with those women and men who did crazy things like falling in love with God

Hneri Nouwen

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Shout to the World

Elie Wiesel writes:

“One of the Just Men came to Sodom, determined to save its inhabitants from sin and punishment. Night and day he walked the streets and markets protesting against greed and theft, falsehood and indifference. In the beginning, people listened and smiled ironically. Then they stopped listening: he no longer amused them. The killers went on killing, the wise men kept silent, as if there were no Just Man in their midst.

One day, a child, moved by the compassion for the unfortunate teacher, approached him with these words: ‘Poor stranger, you shout, you scream, don’t you see that it is hopeless?

’‘Yes, I see,’ answered the Just Man.‘Then why do you go on?’‘I’ll tell you why. In the beginning, I thought I could change man. Today, I know I cannot. If I still shout today, if I still scream, it is to prevent man from ultimately changing me.’”

This short story from Wiesel has a powerful message for all of us as we struggle to live a Christian life or a life pleasing to God in the world. The world has a powerful and seduction influence on us. It knows the right buttons to push. Get this mobile phone and it will make you sophiscated, techosavy and well connected. Drive this brand of car and the world will recognise you as a successful man. Don’t leave home without this credit card because you are a well travelled jet setter. It takes a lot of our effort and wisdom to resist the temptations of this world. Satan tempted our Lord Jesus with the satisfaction of fleshy desires (bread from stones), security from harm (angel’s protection) and power and wealth (all the kingdoms on earth). And Satan is still tempting Jesus’ disciples in these areas. Jesus taught us that we, His disciples is not of this world and is destined for another world.

Many of us, when we first became Christians were full of fire, shouting and screaming tried to make the people understand the danger they are in. We are like people standing at the edge of the cliff and shouting to other people: “Don’t walk there. It’s a cliff. You will fall over to your doom. Turn back.” And to our astonishment and dismay, we discovered that nobody is listening to us. Nobody pays attention to our message. Nobody believes us. And they keep on walking and falling off the cliff. And soon, we too stop shouting and screaming. Maybe we whisper a bit here and there. And as soon as we stop fighting the world, we become like the world. We are like a person swimming against the current. The moment we stop swimming, we will be swept back by the current.

I wonder how many of us have stopped swimming against the current and are even now swimming with the current. It would be so easy to stop shouting and be with the crowd. Just relax a bit here and there. A little white lie, a little stealing and cheating here and there. Nobody will know. We become insensitive to the needs of others. We eat, drink and being merry to excess. The Christian life is a life of constant struggle. We struggle against our flesh, the world and Satan. We know that we cannot change man: only God can do that. However, we must always be on guard that the world does not change us. That will happen when we let down our guard and stop struggling against the world. So brothers and sisters, let us continually encourage one another in our struggle. We cannot go it alone. A piece of coal that fall out of the fire cools down very fast. Do not let the world change us.

Soli Deo Gloria


Friday, February 03, 2006

The Rock of Ages Crushed my Kidney Stone.

by Tan Soo Inn

The following sequence of events will be very familiar with those who have been afflicted by painful episodes of kidney stones. (I have since learnt that there are those who have a predilection for stone formation, folks referred to as "stone formers.")
The pain started around 1am in the morning.
It wasn't too bad at first but quickly rose to agony level.
The agony was localized to the lower left part of my abdomen.
At first I thought it was an attack of gas and so began to over dose on carbon tablets. All it did was to cause me to belch a lot and throw up part of my dinner. But no relief.
I tried to sleep in different positions.
No help.
The charismatic side of me said: "spiritual attack."
I was due to give a talk that very evening.
It was to be the first of a number of talks I was to give to a group of final year university students.
I was one of the resource persons at a weekend camp for graduating undergrads from the National University of Singapore.
And here I was tossing around in agony.
My prayer life had improved considerably in the meantime.
But at 6am it was still agony.
OK Lord, no immediate miraculous healing.
An angel of mercy drove me to the emergency department of the nearest hospital where I discovered to my despair that it might take up to three hours before I got a chance to be seen by a doctor.
A jab of a painkiller kept the agony at bay in the meantime.
The attending physician was competent and kind and so were the nurses.
Although it couldn't be confirmed without more definitive investigations, everything pointed to my having a kidney stone. They tried to flush it out by giving me two bags of saline intravenously and they kept the pain under control with painkillers.
In case you thought you were reading a rejected ER script by mistake, let me cut to the chase.
As I lay there in the emergency ward I thought of the talks I was to give that weekend. I knew that if the symptoms worsened I would have to be warded.
I have been around long enough to know that no one is indispensable.
(And there will be one appointment you definitely can't keep. Your last one.)
Yet I figured that it would be very disruptive for the organizers of the camp to be looking for replacement speakers at that late hour. And conventional ministry wisdom said that if you receive a spiritual attack you have to be doing something right.
So I prayed: "Lord, allow this old warrior to rise up and do Your work this weekend. Lord, allow this old warrior to do Your work this one last time." (An attack of kidney stones makes you feel old at any age.) In the meantime, through phone, sms and email, the call for prayer support had gone out.
I rested in the emergency ward the whole morning. Went to the washroom the requisite number of times. Appetite came back a bit.
Observed the many dramas going on around me in the ward.
Slept a little.
The pain didn't come back. I was told to see a urologist as soon as possible. And to come back to the emergency ward if the pain returned.
The old warrior rose and went home.
I rested and gave my first talk that night, speaking on the theology of work.
As the weekend unfolded I spoke on biblical principles for decision-making, relationships after graduation, and a Christian perspective on the quest for excellence. In between the talks I had a number of good conversations with some very special people.
I finished all I had been invited to do.
Fact is I felt a special sense of the presence of the Lord that whole weekend as I spoke and counseled . I was dead tired yet I felt a tangible divine connection.
Indeed, God's power is experienced in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).
God had heard and answered the prayer of His old warrior and the prayers of many friends.
(One of them emailed a prayer that became the inspiration for the title of this ecommentary.)
On further reflection, I thought that what had happened to me was perhaps the most important lesson I had to share with my young friends who were about to start their working lives.
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.
You really can't tell what will happen to you next.
Life will have its share of unexpected joys and pains.
But there is one thing you can always count on.
God will be there.
He is the only constant.
He is the only constant you need.
He is indeed the Rock of Ages and our sure foundation.
With the help of another angel of mercy, I went through a number of comprehensive tests when I returned to Kuala Lumpur.
No sign of the stone.
No more pain.
The Rock of Ages had indeed crushed my kidney stone.
God had had mercy on His old warrior.

"therefore thus says the Lord God,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
'One who trusts will not panic.'"
Isaiah 28:16 NRSV

Your brother,
Soo-Inn Tan
Write me!


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Henri Nouwen on the Spiritual Life

But what I would like to say is that the spiritual life is a life in which you gradually learn to listen to a voice that says something else, that says, "You are the beloved and on you my favour rests."... I want you to hear that voice. It is not a very loud voice because it is an intimate voice. It comes from a very deep place. It is soft and gentle. I want you to gradually hear that voice. We both have to hear that voice and to claim for ourselves that that voice speaks the truth, our truth. It tells us who we are. That is where the spiritual life starts - by claiming the voice that calls us the beloved.

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