Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free eBook on Spiritual Formation of a People of God

This is an ebook based on reflections on 1 Chronicles

Please download here

This is offered free in the hope that you will be edified by reading it. Please accept this gift and also send it to your friends.




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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.

picture source


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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mark Galli on Search for Significance

Top Story
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.

read more


Os Guiness on the Thinking Man's Quest for Meaning

Os Guiness gave a great talk at the Veritas Forum. The Journey: A Thinking Person's Quest for Meaning
Os Guinness
University of California, Los Angeles
7 April 2010

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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.


Friday, October 29, 2010

What You Leave Behind

Rumours were spreading that Abba Isaac is dying. His disciples gathered from far and wide to bid farewell to their teacher who have enriched their lives. They gathered inside the same old thatched hut beneath the great sand dune in the Egyptian desert where Abba Isaac had lived most of his life alone as a hermit before he started to spiritually form his disciples. A well which supplied life giving water was still there near the hut.  The arriving disciples drank deep of the cool water which also brought back memories of their time with Abba Isaac. The hut is actually a simple lean-to. There was no furniture as long as the disciples could remember. Abba Isaac sat on a piece of cloth which serves as his seating mat in the daytime and his bed at night. The only other thing in the hut aside from the body of Abba Isaac was his well thumbed and dog-eared Bible.

“Your holiness,” one disciple greeted another, “I did not know that you are a disciple of Abba Isaac. I heard you are building another palace in Rome. What is the news from the Vatican?” “Your eminence, the news from Rome is good,” replied the other disciple, “congratulations to your promotion to the Most Right Canon of the Church of the Cold and Rainy Isles.” “It is God’s will that I take over leadership of the church. Ah, here’s Ah Beng. How are you dear brother?” The disciples embraced each other, the finery of the clothing and accessories of the first two disciples contrasted sharply with the simple garb of Abba Ah Beng’s monk robe. Another disciple appeared and was greeted joyfully even though he was wearing only a loin cloth. It is Abba Anthony who chose to live as a hermit in a tomb. “How is Abba Isaac?” asked Abba Anthony looking at the still frail figure on the mat. “Not good. The doctors said he could go anytime” answered one of the disciples. “I am going miss him,” whispered Abba Ah Beng watching the gradually slowing breathing of the man on the mat. “Without him, I will not be who I am today,” continued Abba Ah Beng thinking of his loin cloth and Sow Lin Monastery.

“Which of his disciples do you think Abba Isaac will consider his most successful disciple?” asked the disciple who was addressed as his holiness. “You, of course,” promptly answer the disciple who is the Most Right Canon. “Must be both of you,” commented Abba Ah Beng, “for you are both powerful, rich and famous.” “Obviously, not me as I have renounced the world and survived on alms given by the villagers,” said Abba Anthony. There was silence as the impact of what they have said sunk into them. As one, they look at Abba Isaac.

The old man had a sallow pale complexion and was extremely emaciated. They could make out the outline of his ribcage. As they watched each breath became shallower and shallower. At times the disciples could not see any breathing movement.

“I shall build a cathedral in his name,” declares the disciple who was addressed as his holiness. “Abba Isaac’s legacy will be in churches and feasts observed in his name.”

“I shall establish a seminary in his name and build a statue of him in the courtyard. Future generations of theological students will walk pass him everyday on their way to classes,” said the Most Right Canon. “We will publish all his teachings so that scholars can study them.” Abba Anthony said, “I am the most sorry of this great man’s legacy because I have nothing but myself. Even then, I am a sorry example of manhood, being beset by guilt, unholy desires and attachment to things. My only consolation is that I am a sinner saved by grace.”

“I want to have a relic from Abba Isaac for my monastery. I shall enclose it in a golden receptacle and place it on an altar in the main worship hall,” said Abba Ah Beng thoughtfully. “Maybe I should take his right forefinger as that was what he frequently used to wag at me,” thought Abba Ah Beng as he reached instinctively to touch Abba Isaac’s hand.

“Aahhh!” shouted Abba Isaac suddenly, jumping up into a sitting position. “Wah!” yelled the disciples simultaneously. “We thought you were dead!” said Abba Anthony breathlessly.

“Dead!” glared Abba Isaac, “can’t a man sleep in peace without his disciples burying him?”

Reflection Questions
  1. 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?
  2. What are some of the spiritual legacies we can leave behind?
  3. How can we ensure that the legacies we leave behind will endure and have eternal value?

Dear God,
We confess that we are much too attached to this world and the things of this world. Often when we think of legacies, we think only of physical ones. Help us now to invest in and develop spiritual legacies that will be of value eternally. May we devote all our mind, might, passion, energy and emotions to pursuing these spiritual legacies.


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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.

Reflection Questions

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?

Dear God,

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.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TEDS: Seth Godin on Tribes

About this talk

Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so.

About Seth Godin

Seth 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

Pleasing God

Abba Ah Teng has been standing on one leg on top of the Banyan tree in the marketplace for the last ten years. He stood there under the hot sun in summer and the bitter cold in winter. He has to brace himself against the strong monsoon winds that lash the tree. At night he has to sleep while keeping his balance.

“Why does he do that, torturing himself so?” asked the people in the marketplace. “Abba believes that God will be pleased and glorified by his sufferings,” his disciples explained. 

“What a holy man,” the people will think, “and God will so pleased!”

God smiled and rolled his eyes.


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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Internet Addiction

How much is too much Internet use? When you feel more comfortable with your online friends than your real ones, or you can’t stop yourself from playing games, gambling, or compulsively surfing, than you may be using the Internet too much. Or even worse, are an Internet addict.

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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.

read more

My review on his book, Killing Rommel

Killing RommelLast of the AmazonsThe Afghan Campaign
Gates of Fire
The War of Art
Tides of War
The Virtues of War
The Legend of Bagger Vance

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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...

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Best Way to Learn

The reputation of Abba Ah Beng as a spiritual master with great wisdom, skilled knowledge and mastery of the Bible spread far and wide. One day, there came to the gates of Sow-lin monastery, a young man who has been searching for truth, happiness, joy, and the right way of living. After many years of travelling, many diverse experiences, and many hardships, he realised that he had not found any answers and that he needed a teacher. So he came to Abba Ah Beng. On seeing Abba Ah Beng, the young man immediately he went to him, threw himself at his feet, and said, “Please, Master, be my teacher.”

“Well, you can join my disciples in their classes,” Abba Ah Beng began but was rudely interrupted by the young man. “No! I do not want to be taught in class like your disciples. I want to be taught by you directly.” “I am sorry then because you will have to seek your guidance elsewhere,” Abba Ah Beng dismissed the young man.

The young man is still determined to be taught by Abba Ah Beng so he knelt just outside the front gate of the monastery, refusing to move until Abba Ah Beng acceded to his request. It was during the winter season and the disciples from the monastery helped the young man by passing him bowls of hot porridge and occasionally digging him out of the snow. After about 10 days the young man fainted and there was a commotion as the excited disciples wondered whether they should do CPR and volunteered disciple Ah Lian to do the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

With Abba Ah Beng’s permission, the young man was brought into the monastery and nursed back to health. One day, Abba Ah Beng sent for him. “So are you still keen to learn from me?” asked Abba Ah Beng stroking the few strands of salt and pepper coloured hairs that make up his beard. “Yes, I do” said the young man. Abba Ah Beng thought deep and long. Then he looked up at the young man with a gleam in his eyes.

“I normally teach and spiritually form my disciples following my monastery’s curriculum for Christlikeness. However I will make an exception in your case and make you my personal assistant. You will make appointments for me on my iPhone diary which I do not know how to use and remind me of them.”
Happily the young man accepted the post, thinking that the great spiritual master will give him extra teaching in between his busy schedule.

Wherever Abba Ah Beng went, his new personal assistant went with him. But although the Abba spoke to many people who came to him for advice and counsel, he never spoke to his personal assistant. And he continued to teach his disciples but the young man was not invited to the teaching sessions. After three years, the young man was so disappointed and frustrated that he could no longer restrain himself. One day he burst out in anger, saying to Abba Ah Beng: “I have sacrificed everything, given away all I had, and followed you. Why haven’t you taught me?” Abba Ah Beng looked at the young man with great compassion and said: “Don’t you understand that I have been teaching you every moment you have been with me? When you bring me a cup of tea, don’t I drink it? When you clean my desk, don’t I say: ‘Thank you very much’?”

The young man could not grasp what his Abba was saying and became very confused. Then suddenly Abba Ah Beng shouted at the top of his voice: “When you see, you see it direct.” At that moment the young man whose name is Augustine realised that he had received the best teaching in the monastery.


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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.

Abba Ah Beng lowered himself onto his favourite stool underneath the Frangipani tree. The tree was in bloom and the fragrance of the flowers embraced them like a warm comforter on a cold winter’s night. The Abba looked frail and exhausted. His winkles seem to have deepened with age in the past six months he had been away and his eyes have a haunted look which his disciples had not seen before.

“Thank you,” Abba Ah Beng said as he accepted a cup of cool water from the spring in the back gardens. “It is good to see you again, my beloved disciples.” Abba Ah Beng has a distinctive way of speaking that comes from reading too much of the King James Bible in its first edition.

“As you know I have been on a long quest to seek the famous City of the Word. I have tracked the foothills of the Himalayas and braved the jungles of Sarawak to track down this elusive city. After many adventures, hardships and dangers, I finally found the fabled city. It lay in the East from which much wisdom has been arisen.

“It was a bright cool morning when I finally entered the city gates. There was a cool breeze and the sky was bright blue. In the background, I can hear the beautiful singing of the thorn birds. The people of the city came out to greet me. They are extremely friendly and gracious. I was welcomed with food and drinks and a place of rest. The people are happy and they have a peaceful look on their faces. However I noticed that all the adults have only their left eyes and their left hands. I also noticed that they all discretely gazed at my right eye and right hand.

“ ‘Is this the City of the Word where the people are blessed by their obedience to the Scriptures?’ I asked them. ‘Oh, yes,’ they replied happily, ‘we are that city and in our obedience to Scripture, we are not longer cursed by evil. We are happy and God has blessed us abundantly.’ ‘Then what happened to your right eyes and right hands?’ I asked the Chief Priest who was among the first to welcome me. ‘Don’t you know, Abba?’ answered the man in surprised.

The Chief Priest then led me to their temple which was built in the exact centre of the city over a river which flowed through the city. The people were following us and soon it became a big procession. There was a hush as we entered the temple. Ahead at the front of the temple on the altar was an opened Scripture. The Chief Priest led me to the open book and asked me to read. I read, ‘And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.’

Then I understood. ‘You plucked out your right eyes and cut off your right hands yourself!’ ‘Yes,’ answered the Chief Priest proudly, ‘All of us are now safe from evil except for the children who are too young to know better. What about you, Abba? Will you like to save your soul from hell by the way the Scripture taught?’

“I told them that I would like to pray and meditate before my commitment to that course of action as the sky was darkening towards evening. After a simple meal, they directed me to a simple cell which is to be my lodging for the night. I waited for them to fall asleep, then crept out of the cell through the window, climbed over the city wall and ran as fast and as far as I can from this City of the Word. I am so happy to finally see the walls of the monastery and your faces,” concluded Abba Ah Beng. There was silence after that as the young disciples tried to understand the horror of what they have heard.

“I thought that the City of the Word is a holy city and the people who lived there are blessed,” mused disciple Ah Kow.

“Yes,” said Abba Ah Beng wearily, “the City of the Word is a holy and blessed city. But you see, I went to the wrong city!”

“I went to the City of the Literal Word.”

picture source

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Monday, October 18, 2010

A People Apart

A People Apart (Jer. 35:14)

Sermon Statement

Christians are a people called apart for God because they are a people who are saved by God, who knows the Word of God, who loves the people of God, who loves those who do not know God, who lives their lives with integrity, who experiences joy, and who are free.

Text (Jeremiah 35:14)

Jonadab son of Recab ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather's command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. (NIV)

Background (Jeremiah 35:1- 18)

JER 35:1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: 2 "Go to the Recabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the house of the LORD and give them wine to drink."

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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 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.



Let It Rain

Michael W Smith
Let it Rain
Worship Video with Lyrics
Made by Kareem Maylah


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.

How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life

Pregnant Woman
Heide Benser / Corbis

What makes us the way we are? Why are some people predisposed to be anxious, overweight or asthmatic? How is it that some of us are prone to heart attacks, diabetes or high blood pressure?
There's a list of conventional answers to these questions. We are the way we are because it's in our genes: the DNA we inherited at conception. We turn out the way we do because of our childhood experiences: how we were treated and what we took in, especially during those crucial first three years. Or our health and well-being stem from the lifestyle choices we make as adults: what kind of diet we consume, how much exercise we get.

But there's another powerful source of influence you may not have considered: your life as a fetus. The kind and quantity of nutrition you received in the womb; the pollutants, drugs and infections you were exposed to during gestation; your mother's health, stress level and state of mind while she was pregnant with you — all these factors shaped you as a baby and a child and continue to affect you to this day.

Read more:,8599,2020815,00.html#ixzz12KWFRSar

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A House of Worship

I sat in the dust,
sores and boils on my skin,
organs malfunctioning, synapses misfiring,
deep wounds festering in my soul,
outside a house of worship.

Come to me,
said the owner of the house of worship,
and I offer you,
balms for your sores and boils,
healing for your organs and mind,
salvation for your soul.

I sat in the dust,
and peer into the dim interior,
of the house of worship,
at the workers whom the owner has engaged
to run his house of worship.

Come to me,
but I recoil at what I have seen within,
self-righteousness that coat like a second skin,
false smile that hide the mind of ambition,
starvation for my soul.

I sat in the dust,
and wait and wait and wait,
come home, oh owner of the house,
come home to fulfil your promises
maranatha, come home.



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

 After finishing Halo: Reach, I thought I will play another type of game and selected a shooting game using airplanes.

 H.A.W.X.2 is a really challenging game for me to play because it demands much more hand -eyes coordination than the people shooters. Flying planes at high speed and shooting is much more difficult and challenging.

Playing H.A.W.K.2 is difficult. I am struggling and only managed to complete Mission Ten so far. Have I reached the limit of my ability to play this type of games because my reaction time due to my age is too slow? Have I reached my limits in terms of reaction time and hands-eyes coordination?

Personally I do not think so. I am not ready to give up yet. I still think you can teach old dogs new tricks.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Essential Theology Books of the last 25 Years

From the current issue of The Christian Century

Theological Hall
Theological Hall, Strahov Monastery Library, Prague. Image by Flickr user Jametiks, licensed under Creative Commons.

Essential theology books of the past 25 years

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:

I am amazed at some of their choices. Have a look and let me know what you think.


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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.

read more

and I leave you my dear readers to draw your own conclusions.

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Spiritual Formation Seminar at PJEFC

Saturday, Oct 9, 2010, at PJEFC.
Time: 9.30am-4.30pm
Venue: Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church

I had a wonderful time sharing Christian spiritual formation with members of the Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church and also a few from other churches last Saturday. The people are warm, friendly and responsive. It is delightful to share insights about our experiences with spiritual formation and explore the areas of Christian spirituality. Many are surprised to learn that there are more to prayer than just verbal prayers and to are eager know more about Christian meditations.

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).

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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.

the congregation standing on the site of the new worship hall

Pastor Chuah breaking ground

yours truly giving the benediction prayer

leadership of Holy Light Church (English)

Soli Deo Gloria


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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 Project

Most 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 CRS

The 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.

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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.

[This]collection of essays edited by James Bielo, a visiting professor of anthropology at Miami University in Ohio, and gathered under the title 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 statements
This is the first I heard of this new movement.

read more

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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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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..."
  4. 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.
  5. 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?"
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

read more

picture source

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Is it an Unforgivable Sin to Commit Suicide? (2)

Previously we looked at the Biblical record concerning suicide. Read more here.

Is there so grave a sin that God cannot forgive? The Bible notes that God has forgiven all our sins--past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13-14). Paul says in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. The Bible does not use the phrase “unforgivable sin” but however there are some verses which are frequently associated with the “unforgivable sin.” These are Mark 3: 22-30, Matthew 12:31-32, Luke 12: 8-10, Hebrews 6: 4-8, and Hebrews 10: 26-29.

Mark 3:22-30
    "And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, 'He has Beelzebub,' and, 'By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.' …'Assuredly, I [Jesus] say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation;' because they said, 'He has an unclean spirit'" (NKJV).

Matthew 12:31-32
"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (NKJV).

Note that in the above two passages and in Luke 12:8-10, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees who had set themselves against believing that Jesus is the Messiah. The driving out of demons by Jesus is a demonstration of His being the Messiah. Instead the Pharisees attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the work of Satan!

Obviously, this “unforgivable sin” has nothing to do with committing suicide. Suicide is the last thing on these Pharisees’ minds as they planned to resist Jesus which ultimately let them to plot Jesus’ murder. So what does Jesus means when he mentions a sin that cannot be forgiven?

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.

In summary, suicide is not the unforgivable sin. It is however a sin against God who created us in his own image. It is also sin against our spouses, families and communities because of the tremendous emotional and psychological scars a suicide leaves behind.

Related articles by me

Down and Out and Suicidal

"Please Let Me Die" - Mercy Killing

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Is it an Unforgivable Sin to Commit Suicide? (1)

We shall consider this statement in by searching the Bible to see what was written about suicide and an unforgivable sin. There are seven incidents of suicides in the Scriptures.

1. Suicide of Abimelech
The first chronologically mentioned is Abimelech. After capturing the city of Thebez, he attacked a fortified tower in the centre of the city. The Old Testament noted “ Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him’.” So his servant ran him through, and he died.” (Judges 9:52-54). Scripture neither approves nor disapproves of this act of assisted suicide. It was noted as a fitting end to an evil man. “Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech has done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.” (Judges 9:56).

2. Suicide of Samson
The next suicide though arguably as there was a good cause and with divine sanction, was that of Samson. “Then Samson reached towards the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived” (Judges 16: 29-30) Scripture passed no judgement on his act of suicide.

3. Suicide of Saul and his armour bearer
The suicide of Saul and his armour bearer elicit more comment.

‘The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor-bearer, Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me”. But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer  saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his own sword and died with him.’  (1Samuel 31: 3-5).

Saul is condemned in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Even though Saul killed himself by his own sword, the chronicler noted that God himself killed Saul for his unfaithfulness. His armor-bearer chooses to die with his king, an example of suicide by identification. There was no comment on it in the Scriptures.

4. Suicide of Ahithopel
Ahithophel was King David’s counsellor. He became Absalom’s when Absalom rebelled against his father. David prayed that God would turn Ahithphel’s counsel into foolishness (2 Samuel 15:31b). When Ahithophel found that his advice was ignored by Absalom, he hanged himself.(2 Sam 17:23). Again, there was no comment in the Scriptures about his actions.

5. Suicide of Zimri
Zimri came to the throne of Israel by assassination. The Israelites rebelled and besieged his city of Tirzah. “When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, because the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and walking in the ways of Jeroboam and in the sin he has committed and had caused Israel to commit.” (1Kings 16:18-20). Here it was noted that his death was judgment for his sins.

6. Suicide of Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot was the only suicide mentioned in the New Testament. When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he was filled with remorse and tried to return the money. Then he went and hanged himself. (Matt 27:3-5) There was no further comment on Judas in the Scripture, except that his apostleship was given to Matthias (Acts 1: 23-26).

It is interesting to note that in this brief survey of the seven suicides recorded in the Scriptures; the suicides of Abimelech, Saul and Zimri were recorded as direct judgment of God on their sins, even going as far as to say God killed Saul. The Scriptures were silent on the other four suicides, although the silence of Scripture is not the basis for positive argument, especially when the ignoble context in each case speaks for themselves.

we shall consider the unforgivable sin tomorrow

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