Monday, January 31, 2011

Benjamin Spock Versus Tiger Mum

It is surprising that a parenting memoirs would stimulate such an uproar that does justice to the roar of the tiger itself. The debate and name calling is still roaring across the social media; facebook, twitter, television and blogsosphere. I am sure that it will not be long before the movie about a "tiger mum" will be out soon. The choice on who will act as "tiger mum" will be a tussle between Julia Roberts and Angelina Jodie.

In another sense, the uproar over the memoirs a "tiger mum" is long overdue because it points to a deeper root cause. It is due to a clash of civilisations. Northern Americans are rudely awakened to the fact that there is another ancient civilisation existing amongst them. It is a clash of worldviews. It is the Confucian way of nurturing the "perfect man" versus Dr Benjamin Spock's way of "permissive" parenting. It is parental enforced discipline versus "allowing children to be children." It is a clash of socio-cultural construct of what childhood (and a child) is - whether something to be moulded or something that is hidden inside and be allowed to emerge on the own. It is the developing of cultured pearls by irritating the oyster versus allowing the crysalid to reveal the butterfly within. It may even be, as the author of the Time magazine article suggests that Americans feel threatened by the Chinese (read the article here)

The Chinese or Confucian way of parenting may look harsh and rigid from someone looking in from outside the Chinese or Confucian worldview. The photos in the Time magazine article is telling. Yet generations of Chinese adults are by and large fairly well adjusted individuals. They were not traumatised by the parents. Their self-esteems are fairly intact. In a community-based culture of shame, Chinese or Confucian upbringing nurtures children to take their rightful place in such society. The American way of parenting can only be understood from the worldview of individualism, self-esteem and autonomy. Yale law professor and self styled "tiger mum," Amy Chua is in a unique position to evaluate both types of parenting.

Her comment that American parents go to great length is insulate their children from suffering, discomfort and pain is insightful. This has a tendency to create individuals who are self-indulgent and self-centered. Another comment is that American parents lavish too much praise for too little efforts exerted. In other words, American parents tend to overpraise. This may be for what the child should have done in the first place such as doing their chores or keeping their rooms clean. Overpraise may be given for mediocre efforts. Unfortunately, this have of way of positive reinforcement that being mediocre is okay. The teachings of Dr Benjamin Spock which have influenced generations of American on parenting need to be reviewed.

The 'drill. drill, drill' aspect in Chinese parenting is often decried as cruel and deforming to the child. It is the Confucian way of learning. Yet in any aspect of life, it is the repetition of certain actions that helps us to master that activity. We learn to write by repeatedly tracing the alphabets on paper. Recently Malcolm Caldwell points out in Outliers, that exceptional people are exceptional in their various endeavors because they have already repeated that action at least 10,000 times.

A point that is often missed or not highlighted in a critique of Chinese parenting is a timeline. Critics often see the shaming (name calling) and the drilling aspects. What they do not realise is that this is done only when the child is very young (about 2-6 years by my estimate). As the child grows older he or she are given the opportunities to act responsibly, and the shaming and drilling aspects are reduced. I believe that it is an important aspect of Chinese parenting that must be highlighted. It is not that we Chinese are cruel and uncompassionate toward our children. In parenting, we Chinese have tough love. We love our children so much that we are willing to put them through a difficult period when they are young in order that they will grow up to be responsible and disciplined people when they are older.


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Bear Grylls Did Alpha

Started in London in 1979 as a brush-up course for rusty churchgoers, the Alpha Course has become a worldwide phenomenon and is now held in 163 countries. It is estimated that more than 13 million people worldwide have attended an Alpha Course.

The Alpha Course comprises 15 sessions held over 10 weeks and is free and open to everyone. No question is out of bounds, and participants are free to say as much or as little as they wish as they make up their own minds about the teachings of Jesus. Spirited discussions often ensue on topics ranging from Who is God? and Why am I here? to Why is there suffering? and Is God a delusion?

To learn more about Alpha or to find an Alpha course near you, visit

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Grit of True Grit

There are some thing you do not try to change in the cinematic world. Certain actors are born for their roles such as Charleston Heston as Moses in the epic The Ten Commandments and these cannot be changed. Another is John Wayne as overweight, hard drinking, foul mouthed U.S.Marshall Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn in True Grit (1969). It will be a sacrilege to have another actor play that role. This was my opinion when I watched True Grit (2010) staring Jeff Bridges as Cogburn.

from Wiki

True Grit is a 2010 American Western film written and directed by the Coen brothers. It is the second adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name, which was previously adapted for film in 1969 starring John Wayne. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, and Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn along with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper

It was startling when the movie started with a verse from the Bible (Proverbs 28:1a)
"The wicked flee when none pursueth"

The second part of the verse is not mentioned "but the righteous are as bold as a lion"(KJV).

Then softly the strains of an old hymn is heard, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." The melodious music of the hymns are heard throughout the movie, each repeat with more instruments until the climax when the whole orchestra is heard. Throughout the movie other hymns are also heard including "What a friend we have in Jesus." Christian symbolism abound in the movie. The train that carried Mattie Ross, a fourteen year old girl whose father was murdered carry the number 316  (likeness to John 3:16). The trinity of Mattie, Rooster and a Texas ranger chasing and killing the evil men.

Is this a "Christian" movie? If it is, then it is unlike any Christian movie I have every seen. Yet it should be what every Christian movie should be like. This movie carries a message about justice but is not preachy and shoddy filmed as most Christian movies are.

That the movie is about vengeance is no doubt as the voiceover of the adult Matties (25 years after the incident) tells of the man who murdered her father.

“No doubt Chaney fancied himself scot-free, but he was wrong. You must pay for everything in this life, one way and another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God.“
The movie is about character or grit. What is the true character of a person beyond the outside appearance?It is also about vengeance and its consequences. Vengeance may appear under the thin guise of justice. A young innocent fourteen year old Mattie seek the help of the U.S.Marshall Rooster to hunt down and capture the man who killed her father. In fact, she employed the Marshall to track her father's killer. Beneath the youth and innocence is a character much older than her fourteen years. Her quest for vengeance will cause her an arm as another quote, this time from Confucius "those who seek vengeance must first dig two graves" reminds us. Vengeance belongs solely to God.

U.S.Marshall Rooster Cogburn appeared a loser in both appearance and attitude. A killer, overweight drunkard and braggart, he is the antihero. Yet somehow he had the strength of character to face down four horsemen in the famous scene as he charged with his reins in his mouth with both guns blazing. When Mattie was bitten by a rattler snake, he rushed her to the nearest doctor for help. He rode Mattie's horse until the horse died of exhaustion and then he carried her on the run until his legs too gave out.

Texas Ranger La Boeuf is portrayed by Matt Damon who looked so different from Jason Bourne that I hardly recognise him. La Boeuf too has been tracking Chaney, Mattie's father killer. Chaney had killed a U.S.senator in Texas. However La Boeuf is a mercenary, tracking Chaney more for the bounty money than doing his duty as a Ranger. Appearance-wise, he was in contrast to Rooster. La Boeuf was slim, well dressed, proud of being a Texas Ranger and appear a bit self-righteous.

Appearance may be deceiving as is masterfully portrayed by Mattie, Rooster and La Boeuf in this Western which is based on a book by Charles Portis. Our true character or grit often shows through in our actions. A great movie to watch. However, I still prefer John Wayne....


Ken Robinson on Reimagining Education

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award.

For more information on Sir Ken's work visit:

Also see my post here on a talk he gave for TEDS and my review on his book, The Element.


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Children, Inhalers and Spacers

The use of inhalers for treatment of asthma is becoming increasingly popular in children. However there is no standardised technique for maximum efficacy in the use of these inhalers. A recent Australian study of 2-7 years old children (Aerosol Inhalation From Spacers and Valved Holding Chambers Requires Few Tidal Breaths for Children. Pediatrics 2010;126;e1493-e1498) gives the following conclusions

· that normal breathing (tidal breathing) is best – in fact the tidal breaths taken were quite large compared to predicted tidal ventilation, probably influenced by the spacer itself.

· Single strong breathing in (maximal inhalation) was no better than normal breathing.

· There was little difference between the spacers tested (Aerochamber, Funhaler, Volumatic, or modified soft drink bottle)...(not even Coca Cola or Pespsi)

· There was no increase in drug delivery beyond that achieved with 2 tidal breaths for a small volume spacer, and 3 for a large volume spacer.

My recommendation still remains at a single puff from the inhaler into the spacer followed by 6-8 normal breathing (what to do, I am kiasu), followed by another puff and 6-8 breaths using a spacer.


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Review on Milner's The Malays

Anthony Milner (2008, 2011), The Malays, Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

Anthony Milner is Basham Professor of Asian History at the Australian National University and was Visiting Professor at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (Tokyo) in 2007. He was also a Raffles Visiting Professor of History at the National University of Singapore. In this book, Milner explores the Malay distinctiveness or "Malayness" as he terms it, tracing it though the ages. He shows its prehistoric origins and its influence by colonialism and its present various manifestations. It is an excellent anthropological, linguistic and socio-cultural studies of a group of distinctively different people who are often mistakenly collectively called Malays.


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Sarong Baby Hammock

A bassinet or bassinette is a bed specifically for babies from birth to about four months. A bassinet is also the term for a baby bouncing device used to relax a baby when it is going to sleep. After four months, when the baby has begun to start to turn, an infant bed is recommended (known as a cot in the United Kingdom and a crib in the States). A cot or a crib is a small bed specifically for infants and very young children, generally up to 3 years old. It should have a firm mattress to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and should not have pillows, bolsters or soft toys. Pillows, bolsters or soft toys in the bassinet or cot increase the risk of the baby suffocating on them.

In Asia, the sarong is a piece of cloth that is used to wrap around the body as an item of dressing for both men and women. The sarong can  be used as a baby hammock. It is cheap and simple to set up. Sometimes it is attached to a spring which moves the hammock up and down providing a rocking movement which is soothing to the young infant. Usually used for babies from one to six months, I have seen it being used for children up to six years! These kids enjoy the rocking movement and the ‘cocooning’ effect of the hammock.
The question I have always been asked about the sarong hammock is whether it is safe for use for babies. I believe that it is safe for use in older infants but not in newborns. It should be safe for infants above one to two months depending on their maturity (not premature babies) and size. Always place the baby on his or her back, not the front. Pillows and soft toys should not be used in the sarong hammock. Even if the baby turns and get stuck, the thin sarong fabric should not suffocate the baby.

Another common question is whether it will cause curvature of the backbone. It is unlikely as there are many specific causes of curvature of the backbone and a bend posture is not one of them.

One danger of the sarong hammock is that of babies falling out of them. Though there have been many such patients seen at the Emergency Department of hospitals, no serious injuries have been recorded. A step parents can take to prevent injuries is to place a pillow or mattress below the sarong hammock and adjust the hammock so that it is not too high above the ground. Some doctors also caution that the rocking movement may cause bleeding in the brain. This is unlikely as it require very vigorous rocking of the head to cause such injuries, not the gentle rocking of the sarong hammock.
There has been a recent report of two babies suffocated in baby hammock (more here). We need to take note that in the American baby hammock, the designers have introduced some mattress at the bottom and the sides. These are different from sarong hammock.

The sarong hammock should be introduced to the rest of the world as an Asian innovation for safe parenting.



KOINOS online

This is what I like. A lay-person centered training made freely available online. Do we have something like this in Malaysian and Singapore?

KOINOS online - A Certificate in Christian Education

101: Bible OT NT Ethics Theology Worship Spirituality Ministry History Mission
201: OT Theology Doctrine of the Trinity Letters of John Sermon on the Mount Varieties of Evangelical Theology Jesus and Chinese Culture Christianity in Asia Today The Church in the City Ten Commandments for Today Christian Discernment
KOINOS is a program developed by Pacific Association for Theological Studies (Seattle), an association of churches and educational institutions linked together to make theological education accessible. Several thousand lay men and women (plus several dozen clergy) have participated. The curriculum was developed by asking, 'If one were to create a MA degree, what would be the 10 basic subjects that would be included?' In this way, certain subjects were identified as fundamental, and these are offered in the form of one-day seminars (each consisting of about five lectures), once a month. The world-class faculty are all scholar-teachers who teach regularly in graduate degree programs. KOINOS is facilitated by the generous support of Richmond Chinese Alliance Church, B.C. Canada.



Monday, January 24, 2011

King James Bible: Old Words New Meaning

I am sure we are all aware of how some English words change their meaning over time. One such example that instantly come to mind is "gay." When I was learning English as a child, I was taught that it means happy or merry. Now obviously it does not have that meaning. Chris Armstrong (Dr.Christian History) over in his blog Grateful to the dead have some interesting experiences with the King James Bible. I especially like the original meaning of flagons.

The following are just a few of the more than 500 words that could trip up modern readers of the King James Version, because they now mean something different—often very different!—than they did in the early 1600s when the KJV was being translated.

accursed devoted, Josh 6:17, 18; 7:1, 11–13, 15; 22:20; 1 Chr 2:7. This one shocked me!

addicted devoted, 1 Cor 16:15. And this one, though more understandable, could also cause considerable confusion in the modern reader.

allow (1) approve, Luke 11:48; Rom 14:22; 1 Thess 2:4. (2) accept, Acts 24:15. (3) know, Rom 7:15. Just as with modern English, KJV terms can have two, three, or even more meanings. And all of them can be remote from our modern understandings.

amazement terror, 1 Pet 3:6. A much stronger and more negative meaning. We’ve sort of domesticated this word, haven’t we?

bowels (1) heart(s) (metaphorically, as the seat of emotion), Gen 43:30; 1 Kgs 3:26; Ps 109:18; Isa 16:11; 63:15; Jer 31:20; Lam 1:20; 2:11; Phlm 7, 12, 20. (2) compassion, Isa 63:15; Phil 1:8; 2:1; Col 3:12. (3) affections, 2 Cor 6:12. (4) anguish, Jer 4:19. (5) innermost self, Song 5:4. A difficult image for us to appreciate today; seems to derive from an ancient Hebrew understanding of the “guts” as the seat of compassionate emotion. The closest we have now is in phrases like “go with your gut” and “gut check,” which refers more to intuition than love.

bruit report, Jer 10:22; Nah 3:19. This is a fun archaism still used in the jocular “schoolboy English” of 20th-century British literature, often in the phrase “bruited about,” referring to a widely disseminated piece of gossip or other information; as in, “it was bruited about that the bishop kept a secret mistress.”

by and by immediately, Matt 13:21; Mark 6:25; Luke 17:7; 21:9. Today, “by and by” seems to have the opposite meaning—something that will happen eventually.

careful anxious, Luke 10:41; Phil 4:6. So, in the Sermon on the Mount, “Be careful for nothing” means, “don’t let anything make you full of care,” that is, “make you anxious.”

charity love, 1 Cor 8:1; 13:1–4, 8, 13; 14:1; 16:14; Col 3:14; 1 Thess 3:6; 2 Thess 1:3; 1 Tim 1:5; 2:15; 4:12; 2 Tim 2:22; 3:10; Titus 2:2; 1 Pet 4:8; 5:14; 2 Pet 1:7; 3 John 6; Jude 12; Rev 2:19.In other words, “charity” in the King James Version does not have the limited meaning it holds today, of giving something to someone less fortunate than yourself.

closet(s) private room(s), Joel 2:16; Matt 6:6; Luke 12:3. Hence the odd English term still used today, “prayer closet,” which has nothing to do with a clothes-closet.

conversation (1) way of life, 2 Cor 1:12; Gal 1:13; Eph 2:3; 4:22; Phil 1:27; 1 Tim 4:12; Heb 13:5, 7; Jas 3:13; 1 Pet 1:8; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16; 2 Pet 2:7; 3:11. (2) life, 1 Pet 1:15. (3) in the way, Ps 37:14; 50:23. (4) citizenship, Phil 3:20. This is another 17th-century word whose modern meaning has taken, in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, a significant “left turn at Albuquerque.”
discover(ed) (eth) (ing) (1) uncover(ed) (ing), Lev 20:18; Deut 22:30; 2 Sam 22:16; Ps 18:15; Isa 3:17; 57:8; Jer 13:26; Ezek 13:14; 16:57; 23:10, 18, 29; Hos 2:10; Nah 3:5; Hab 3:13. (2) reveal, Prov 18:2. (3) disclose(d), 1 Sam 14:8, 11. (4) strip, Ps 29:9. (5) removed, Isa 22:8. Five meanings, and not one of them “found,” the common modern meaning.

dragons (1) jackals, Job 30:29; Ps 44:19; Isa 13:22; 34:13; 35:7; 43:20; Jer 9:11; 10:22; 14:6; 49:33; 51:37; Mic 1:8; Mal 1:3. (2) sea monsters, Ps 148:7. I’d like to know how this first meaning relates to our meaning of “dragons” today: the wild dog doesn’t bear much resemblance to the mythical creature!

flagons cakes of raisins, Song 2:5. flagon(s) of wine cake(s) of raisins, 2 Sam 6:19; 1 Chr 16:3; Hos 3:1. Wow! Almost as bad a mix-up here as the one revealed in 2001 by Quranic scholar Christoph Luxemberg, who concluded that the “seventy virgins” promised in paradise to Muslim men martyred for their cause were actually, owing to an unfortunate misunderstanding, raisins. Imagine the disappointment.

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Images and Our Nous

An interesting article published by The BioLogos Forum.

Good Nous
Andrei Rublev, "The Holy Trinity,” ca. 1411. Tempera, gold leaf on panel, 56” x 45”. (Collection of the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.)
Today's essay was written by Frederica Matthews-Greene, a prolific writer and speaker, especially on the applicability of the most ancient modes of Christian faith to the modern world. As an adult convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, she came only reluctantly to an Eastern understanding of the way icons represent the connection and overlap between the material and spiritual facets of reality. But that understanding may be very helpful as we consider how and why we “know” the world through both science and Scripture, for, as she has said, “the world is evangelizing you in images constantly” (Christianity Today interview with Dick Staub. September, 2003). In other words, a fully human, deeply Christ-centered approach to the creation will recognize that the world as we find it will speak to us of the Lord, but not in the same, explicit way that the Bible speaks to us of Him. As you read her explanation of the way icons in the Eastern Church tune our attention to God, consider that nature may be seen to work in exactly the same way—neither the object of worship or a direct “picture” of God, but a revelation of His presence, nonetheless.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Praying the Jesus Way

read more
download sermon transcript (pdf) here
download sermon (mp3) here
download powerpoint (pdf) here

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Stethoscope

HT: Chris Gillespie


Friday, January 21, 2011

Leadership Journal's Golden Canon

One of the tasks that no leader can delegate is to make sure he or she continues learning, continues growing spiritually and professionally. That's why Leadership created The Golden Canon, the year's books of most value to church leaders. The winners were selected by a diverse group, our contributing editors, who selected the best in two categories: The Leader's Inner Life and The Leader's Outer Life. We commend this list to you as you continue to develop your leadership, inside and out.

The Leader's Inner life

Best of the Best:
Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
by Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson)
"Like all good Christian biography ought to, this book breathes new life into you as you encounter a powerful example of a life given over to Christ."—David Swanson

Our very short list:
Giving Church Another Chance
Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices
by Todd D. Hunter (IVP)
"No matter how messy it can be, the church is central in God's ongoing mission to the world. We work out our salvation in the context of the church. The spiritual practices of the community of faith are essential to our formation."—Mike Lueken

Rescuing Ambition
by Dave Harvey (Crossway)
"I'm grateful for this book that helps us gain a healthy and biblical understanding of how ambition can and cannot fit in a godly life."—Kathryn Callahan-Howell

Whole Life Transformation
Becoming the Change Your Church Needs
by Keith Meyer (IVP)
"Like the author, I suffered my own 'transformation gap,' that chasm between what we know and teach and what we actually live. Most ministers—and Christians—have one too. This is a great guide to identify your gaps and start closing them."—Matt Woodley

The Power of a Whisper
Hearing God and Having the Guts to Respond by Bill Hybels (Zondervan)
"How dare anyone claim to have heard from God? How dare we not when God speaks through Scripture, events, people, and the Holy Spirit? Hybels helps us listen, discern, and hear fresh the power of a Whisper."—Charles Kyker

The Leader's Outer life

Best of the Best:
Sticky Teams
Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osborne (Zondervan)
"Sharing from his mistakes and his wisdom, Larry Osborne offers a helpful tool for creating a culture of both leadership and unity."—Paul Atwater

our very short list:
Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship
by Alan Hirsch and Debra Hirsch (Baker)
"Alan and Debra Hirsch are prophets to a church imprisoned by domesticated, consumer values. Untamed is a vision of life with Jesus that goes beyond what other authors have covered."—Skye Jethani

The Strategically Small Church
Intimate, Nimble, Authentic, and Effective
by Brandon O'Brien (Bethany House)
"As pastor of a small church, this was very apropos and gave me clear direction on how to leverage our strengths."—Lee Eclov

Transformational Church
Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations
by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer (B&H Books)
"Based on research, the book offers some good indicators and clues for missionality." —Alan Hirsch

Top recent releases:
One Life
Jesus Calls, We Follow
by Scot McKnight (Zondervan)

The Next Christians
The Good News about
the End of Christian America
by Gabe Lyons (Doubleday Religion)

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maggie Q as Nikita

Maggie Q stars as Nikita in this television action series about black opts and rogue agents. I am impressed by her acting and am proud that finally an Asian has a leading role in an American television series. Well half Asian anyway as her mother is Vietnamese and father is Irish and Polish. I can still remember when all Asians in movies and televisions were portrayed by Caucasians. Remember David Carradine as a Shaolin monk in Kung Fu?

From wiki on Nikita
Nikita is an American television drama for The CW Television Network. It is based on the French film Nikita (1990), the remake Point of No Return (1993), and a previous series La Femme Nikita (1997). Nikita premiered on September 9, 2010.
The series stars Maggie Q as Nikita, a spy and assassin who has gone rogue. She is now working to bring down Division, the secret government agency that recruited her. Meanwhile, Division trains its next crop of young killers.

Nikita is worth watching and Maggie Q wardrobe change is interesting reminding us that she is also a professional model. The series is like Alias + 24.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rebirthing the Christian History magazine

The title page to the 1611 first edition of th...
1611 King James Version - title page

Here it is! You can now go here, put in your address and email info, and get a free copy of the forthcoming issue #100 of (the reborn) Christian History magazine, on the history of the King James Bible. 

To keep mailing costs reasonable, this offer is restricted to USA mailing addresses.


Review on Yancey's What is Good is God?

Philip Yancey, (2010), What Good is God? (New York, NY: Faith Works)

Philip Yancey, journalist turned best seller author, is not one who is afraid to ask hard questions about the question of evil, why God allows suffering and why the church is failing its members. It is noticable that Yancey has matured in his thinking and beliefs since the days when he first wrote about Dr Paul Brand and then begins to ask searching questions about suffering, and describe his recovery from the trauma of his early church experiences.

In this, his latest book, Yancey not only ask questions but begins to provide some answers. "What Good is God" may also be rephrased as what "God is good for" as he searched for this God in a series of ten different scenerios. Each scenerios is followed by a talk which he gave to the people involved in these respective scenerios. Essentially this is a book about redemption. Redemption in the way people seek to redeem themselves out of bad situations, and redemption as a work of God. This may be found in his interviews and observations about victims of random violence in Columbine, sex workers in Wisconsin, the underground church in China, and reconciliation in South Africa.

I cannot help but feel that there is a sense of calmness and self acceptance in Yancey that is not so obvious in his earlier books. Whether it is due to his accident and near death experience or other reasons, only the author will know and I hope one day he will descibe his own faith journey.

This is a good book to read for those of us who dare to ask difficult questions about God and His Church, dare to admit our doubts, and question our sufferings.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review on McDermott's The Great Theologians

Gerald R. McDermott, (2010), The Great Theologians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press)

Gerald McDermott is professor of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia and a teaching pastor at St. John Lutheran Church.  In this brief survey he introduces eleven theologians which he considers to have contributed significantly to the development of theology. These theologians are Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Friedrich Schleiermacher, John Henry Newman, Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

His approach is very useful. He first introduces them by giving a short theological biography about them, then highlights several main features of their theological contributions and then focuses on their main contribution. I find this very useful as a primer for non theologians and for people who wants to know more about theology but are afraid to ask.


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Monday, January 17, 2011

Review on Piper's Think

John Piper, (2010), Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway)

This book by pastor-theologian John Piper reminds me of books on similar theme such as Mark Noll's Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Os Guinness' Fit Bodies, Fat Minds, J.P. Moreland's Love Your God with All Your Mind and Gene Veith's Loving God with All Your Mind. These scholars and thinkers have written these excellent books (all of which are worth reading) based on their exposure to different worldviews and their effort to create or instill biblical worldviews.

Piper's approach is different in that he draws solely from the Bible and in that he limits himself mainly to Proverbs 2:3-5 and 1 Timothy 2:7. He writes that his approach is that of a Bible expositor and in that he has succeeded because the book read like a series of sermons. Thinking is a serious aspect of discipleship, Piper suggests and that such thinking "is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all thing."

This book seems to be seeking a balance between the "anti-intellectualism" of some churches and "over-intellectualism" of the academia, However unlike his other books, I find it difficult to decipher what Piper is really trying to say in this book. While I agree with his emphasis on reading and understanding the Bible (which he equate to thinking) and his asserting that thinking is loving God, I find it difficult to apply his conclusion to the rest of the world who are mostly illiterate, do not have access to the Bible, and to the category of people who are intellectually impaired. And also in most of Africa, Asia and South America, most pastors and Bible teachers are not theologically trained. I refuse to accept that because of these handicaps, the Christians in these regions are defective in their thinking and hence not able to love God with their minds. I believe the power of the Holy Spirit transcend the inability of believers to read and write and that these inabilities do not handicap their relationship with the Triune God.


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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Free eBook from Logos about Robert McCheyne

Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne Logos Bible Software has partnered with Desiring God to provide you with a free book to help you prepare for the 2011 Desiring God National Conference, January 31–February 2, 2011 in Minneapolis, MN.
John Piper’s session will focus on Robert Murray McCheyne. McCheyne (sometimes spelled M’Cheyne) was an influential nineteenth-century Scottish Presbyterian minister and missionary. Although he died of typhus at 29, McCheyne left behind a legacy of writings which revealed a depth and piety beyond his years.
McCheyne is also known for the creation of a Bible reading system that is still in use today. The McCheyne Bible reading plan walks you through the New Testament and the Psalms twice over the course of a year, while leading you through the Old Testament once. You can access the McCheyne Reading Plan in Logos 4 and keep track of it online at or on your iPhone and iPad.

To help you prepare for Pastor Piper’s session, and to familiarize yourself with McCheyne, we are giving away a free copy of Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne. You can begin reading it now, or on your iPhone or iPad on your flight or drive to MN.
This biography, written a year after McCheyne’s death, includes a detailed and insightful portrayal of McCheyne’s youth and ministry, providing personal anecdotes, as well as quotes and poems from McCheyne. Written by Andrew Bonar, a close, personal friend of McCheyne’s, this book will enhance your understanding and appreciation of this devoted man of God.


Changing Trends of Medical Practice in Malaysia

A very interesting article by a senior doctor in Malaysia published in the Sunday Star (Malaysia)

Sunday January 16, 2011

Modern docs


Changing trends of medical practice in Malaysia.
AFTER graduating in medicine from Australia, I started medical practice at the beginning of 1969. I have witnessed vast changes in medical practice. I came home to Malaysia at the end of 1971 before completing my postgraduate training in teaching hospitals in Sydney when my father took ill.
Back home, I joined the government service in Taiping Hospital and then University Hospital in KL for nearly five years. Then I went for post-graduate studies in Edinburgh before returning to Malaysia to start my own private practice.
I have therefore been through and seen the changes of medical practice in Malaysia for over 40 years. Recently, there have been many changes affecting medical practice and therefore I feel this will be an interesting topic, which I am qualified to write on, especially being a past president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and a council member of the Malaysian medical Council (MMC).

In the past, the doctor could just concentrate on his role as a healer. A doctor now has got to be a good administrator as well . – AFPRelaxnews

read more

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Friday, January 14, 2011

More on Anti-Aging and Cosmetic Surgery

More links to discussions about aging.

The Joy of Aging
What faith looks like when it's dangerous to sing and walk at the same time.

Man Up, Christians
Resisting the health and longevity gospel.

Always Dying, Always Reborn
Exploring the new horizons—and limits—of our perpetual chase for immortality.

and the discussion is closely linked to
Cosmetic Surgery

Q: Is Cosmetic Surgery Immoral?

Answer by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway

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Should we as Christians give money to beggars?

Should we as Christians give money to beggars? This is a question that has troubled me for some time. Apparently others are bothered by it too as shown in these diverse views given by these contributors to Christianity Today.

Top Story
Illustration by Amanda Duffy
Should Christians Give Money to People on the Street?
Gary Hoag: Give Freely
Andy Bales: Only as a Last Resort
Ron Sider: Don't Give Money to Street People

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Journal of Spiritual Formation on Dallas Willard

This Fall 2010 issue is a special theme issue on Dallas Willard and Spiritual Formation.


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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Should Christian take Anti-Aging Treatments?

Last night I was in a meeting when a Christian brother told me that he wants to live to 120 years old. His former target was 65 years old. I have often wondered about the Christian ethics of the anti-aging movement. Is it permissible for Christians to try to prolong their active lifespans?

Todd Daly, assistant professor of theology and ethics from Urbana Theological Seminary wrote an interesting article in Christianity Today entitled: Chasing Methuselah: Exercise, technology and diet help us to live longer. Should those who look to eternal life care?

In On the Incarnation, the 4th-century bishop Athanasius describes Adam's original state as one in which his soul was submitted to God. Thus, his body was perfectly submitted to his soul. Adam's body was always tending toward decay, but his soul slowed aging so long as his soul was submitted to God. However, when Adam sinned by turning his attention away from God to material creation, his body and soul were thrown into disorder. His bodily desires began to rule his soul. This brought God's pronouncement of death, and hastened the decay of Adam's body. It's this condition, said Athanasius, that Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, came to rectify.
Based in part on 2 Peter 1:4, which speaks of our participation in the divine nature, Athanasius repeats a well-known formula: "Christ was made man that we might be made God." Athanasius argued that part of this transformation involves the human body. He did not blur the distinction between God and the human creature. Christians hold to the promise that one day we will be like Christ (1 John 3:2). Athanasius, like many in his day, was suspicious of the material and favored the spiritual. Still, he affirmed that the way to redemption, opened up by the Incarnation of Christ, begins by attending to the body.

read more

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Spiritus-10th Anniversary Issue Fall 2010

Spiritus is the official journal of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (SSCS) which was founded in 1991. While there are the expected reflections of its ten year existence, this issue is noteworthy for its many essays on Ignatian spirituality. A must read for those who are interested in Ignatian spirituality.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review on The Emperor's Tomb

There are not many novelists who can skilfully blend facts and fiction and come out with a storyline that is like a story and not a lecture. For historical military fiction, Steven Pressfield will be my choice. For contemporary thrillers, Michael Crichton is my favourite and since he is no longer around, Steve Berry moves up the list.

This 2010 novel has the usual clock and daggers stuff with violence that so saturate our reading and watching (television, movies, news). However, Berry makes the attempt to link the archaeology of the First Emperor of China, the eunuchs and the aspirations of modern day China. While dealing with men with power and political agendas, Berry makes some side comments about the history of China and its present day problems. And he also presented certain theories about the present China economy highlighting the unique Chinese tension with Confucianism and Legalism.

Oil is the reason countries goes to war today. Actually it is the fear of the running out of oil that leads to war. Biotic oil or fossil oil is what comes from dead dinosaurs crushed under high pressure. It has always been assumed that is the only source of oil and hence it can only be found in areas where dinosaurs used to roam. What if there is another source of oil, an abiotic oil than does not come from fossils but from the earth itself? The supply of abiotic oil will then be limitless and all countries do not have to depend on OPEC for their supplies of biotic oil. If abiotic oil exists, how is one to prove it?

This is another adventure involving Cotton Malone, a former Justice department field agent who retired to be a bookseller in Copenhagen. Booksellers live interesting lives in Coperhagen if Malone is an example.

A very good four star read.

To know more about Steve Berry, visit his website

The Emperors TombThe Balkan EscapeThe Paris VendettaCharlemagne Pursuit

The Venetian Betrayal
The Alexandria LinkThe Templar LegacyThe Third SecretThe Romanov ProphecyThe Amber Room

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Free eBook on Cathecism

This is the second edition of my eight study series on catechism or beginning Christian life study(BCLS) which I am using in my church. I am offering it as a free eBook for download and use. It should be used in conjunction with the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

download BCLS (2ed) here(pdf)
download Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English here

Soli Deo Gloria

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Rainbow of Prayer

The Rainbow of Prayer
The Dynamic Activities of the Lord’s Prayer
“Pray then like this…”

Text: Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11: 2-4
Sermon Statement

Praying the Lord’s Prayer is approaching God in a direct and intimate way; adoring the Creator and the Almighty; acknowledging His work and worth in praise and worship; accepting from God’s one’s own situation as He has shaped it; admitting sin and seeking pardon; asking that needs be met, for ourselves and others; and adhering to God in faithfulness through thick and thin.

read more


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Friday, January 07, 2011

Making a Cardboard Table or Stool

Here's something only a biblioholic will like. A DIY cardboard table or stool.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

My IPhone Failed Me!

My iPhone alarm did not activate and wake me up for the New Year. So I have missed a new year!