Friday, January 30, 2015

Spiritual Formation is...(Alex Tang)

Christian spiritual formation is the intentional and ongoing process of inner transformation to become like Jesus Christ, become a people of God, and be God’s agents for his redemptive purposes.


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Doubts and Knowing God's Will

Doubts and Knowing God’s Will
“How I wish God will tell me exactly what He wants me to do.” “I want to do His will but how do I know what His will is?” “I know I am supposed to see what God is doing and go along with Him, but how do I know what is He doing?” “How do I know it is God’s will for me to change job/ marry this girl/ train for this career?” Do these questions sound familiar? It should because it has been asked by millions of Christian everyday as they seek to live their lives in obedience to Him. Don’t you ever wish God will come out directly and tell us what He wants? Life would be so much easier.
There are times when I wish God will talk to me in an audible voice, “Alex, I want you to do this…” So much easier. No more doubts. No need for decision making. No need for seeking the counsel of friends and church leaders. No need to look for confirmation in the Bible. “Is that what you want me to do? Okay.” Of course, for many of us, when God calls, we are often not at home.
But God does not lead us that way. Often He will leave us to make the decisions on our own. He provides the information for decision making in His Word, in the wise counsel of friends and more mature Christians, in circumstances and in the peace (shalom) of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Even as we made the decision and commit to it, we are never 100 % sure that this is the correct decision. That this decision is God’s will. No matter how many years you have been a Christian, how mature you are in Christ and how skilled you are in discernment, there is always doubt. So be encouraged when you have doubts. You have lots of company. Finally, you need to launch forth in faith, trusting that you have made the right decision and trusting that even if you have made the wrong decision, God is there with you and He will help you to correct your mistakes if you continue to seek to obey Him. It is obedience that He seeks. God is more interested in your attitude toward Him than in what you do.
As Hannah Hurnard wrote in her book, Hind’s Feet on High Places, “When you continue your journey there may be much mist and cloud. Perhaps it may even seem as though everything you have seen here of the high places was just a dream, or the work of your own imagination…But you have seen reality, and the mist which seems to swallow it up is the illusion. Believe steadfastly in what you have seen. Even if the way up to the high places appears to be obscured and you are led to doubt whether you are following the right path, remember the promise, ‘Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.’ Always go forward along the path of obedience as far as you know it until I intervene, even if it seems to be leading you where you fear I could never mean you to go.”
So, my brothers and sisters. Put your trust in the Lord. Make your decision in accordance to His Word, godly counsel and circumstances. Then trust in Him to look after you. God’s purpose is greater and wider than we would even appreciate. It is like a big river flowing to the sea. We are like a leaf fallen from a tree into the river. As we float on the water, we may be bobbing up and down, the eddy current may carry us in the wrong direction for a short while but in the end, the energy of the flowing water in the river will carry us to the sea. Just trust that He will take care of all things. Make your decision and go forth in faith.

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How Long A Creation Day?

Justin Taylor in an excellent article Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods notes.

Contrary to what is often implied or claimed by young-earth creationists, the Bible nowhere directly teaches the age of the earth.
Rather, it is a deduction from a combination of beliefs, such as (1) Genesis 1:1 is not the actual act of creation but rather a summary of or title over Genesis 1:2-2:3; (2) the creation week of Genesis 1:2-2:3 is referring to the act of creation itself; (3) each “day” (Heb. yom) of the creation week is referring to an 24-hour period of time (reinforced by the statement in Exodus 20:11); (4) an old-earth geology would necessarily entail microevolution, hominids, and animal death before the Fall—each of which contradicts what Scripture tells us; and (5) the approximate age of the earth can be reconstructed backward from the genealogical time-markers in Genesis.

His main argument is that the creation days may be liken to God's workday and there is no hint in the bible on how long each of these days are.He also named a few heavy weight theologians who did not believe that the said day is a 24-hour period. Named theologians are Augustine, J. Gresham Machen, Edward J. Young, and Gleason Archer.

I have written from a similar perspective in A Critical Evaluation of Genesis One. Recently I have been listening to an audio book The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert while walking on my treadmill (yes to you skeptics, I do get get some exercise). What strike me is the long history of events on earth that dates back billions of years involving the previous five extinctions of numerous species. Many of these extinctions are associated with global catastrophes, for example a meteor smashing into earth. I find it hard to grasp if all these happened in a 24-hour day period or God will deliberately fool us by embedding all this history into the rocks as suggested in Young Earth creationism.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lead Kindly Light

LEAD, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile
John Henry Newman.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spiritual Formation is...(James Wilhoit)

Christian spiritual formation is growing in Christ through community (James Wilhoit)

Christian spiritual formation is living in a Christian faith community that receives, remembers, responds and relates. This community forms the crucible where the formative elements, the lived elements, and the ethical elements of the faith are being worked out in the daily interactions between Christian disciples, their culture and the people they interact with.

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Death in Paradise

Death in Paradise

Is there death in the Garden of Eden? We always assume to death entered the world because of the Original Sin (The Original Sin happened when Eve and Adam disobeyed God thus breaking their communion Gen.3). If death only enter the world through the Original Sin, how will the ecosystem of the Garden of Eden be sustained before Eve and Adam sinned? If there is no death, then are the animals in the Garden of Eden vegetarians?
Death is an important part of our present day ecosystem. Dead plants and animals are broken down into the essential minerals and organic components which form the substrate on which new plants and animals develop. It will be impossible for an ecosystem to sustain itself without death and decay.
Death that is part of the curse is directed to Adam and Eve rather than the animals (Gen. 3:19; 1 Cor. 15). It is likely to be spiritual death rather than physical death. Spiritual death is separation from God and this death in the curse is mentioned as the direct result of the Original Sin. It is unlikely that Adam and Eve are immortal because if they are, then there is no reason for the Tree of Life to be a temptation. The Tree of Life is already in the Garden well before the Fall (Gen.2:9). Therefore it is likely that Adam and Eve have limited but long lifespan (Isa. 65:20-24). Even after the curse, Adam lived for 930 years (Gen.5:5).
Are there carnivorous animals in the Garden of Eden? The fangs and muscles of lions and wolves suggest that there were. Before the Fall, Adam’s job was to look after the Garden (Gen.1:28). We assume that his job was gardening but what if it is to control the animals too; something like that of a park ranger? If there were no death, overpopulation will be a major problem for human, animals and plants. There is also a hint that the Garden is a walled area with angels guarding the gateways.
In the new creation, the wolf lying down beside the lamb (and not eating it) and the lions have become reformed vegetarians may suggest that the new creation is truly better than the Garden of Eden (Isa. 65:25).

Interesting, both Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin thinks that animals die in the Garden of Eden.


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Spiritual Formation is...(Dallas Willard)

Christian spiritual formation is renovation of the heart (Dallas Willard)


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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Prosperity Bible


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review: Face to Face


Face to Face: Meeting God in the Quite Places 
Monte Kline (2010) [Kindle edition]

 Kline's main thesis is the importance of meeting God "face to face" through Personal Retreat [capitalise 'P' for personal, author's]. The concept of personal retreats as a part of spiritual growth is well known. Kline expends on this concept of Personal Retreat by giving his definition, motivation, biblical examples, types of prayer, fasting, and specific ways to do it.

 This is a good book for those who wants to take 'time out' for a personal retreat but do not know how. What is powerful about this book is in Chapter 10 where Kline shared one of his own Personal Retreat at Steens Mountain in south-eastern Oregon in 2003. It was a humbling personal sharing about the circumstances that led him there and extracts from his personal journal on his meeting "face to face" experiences with God. Reading that allows the reader an insight on how powerful a Personal Retreat can be.

 Disclosure: I received a request to review this book by email and the kindle version.


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Friday, January 16, 2015

New and Old Websites

I started the Kairos Spiritual Formation website in 2006, starting from a scratch using Microsoft FrontPage and a couple of website building guide books. It was an exciting challenge for me to learn programming language and website design. That is almost 10 years ago.

I have been continuing updating the website on a weekly basis, adding all my writings, reflections and other stuff. In these years, website designs and language has changed tremendously. Microsoft Frontpage has been discontinued by Microsoft when better and more user friendly website builders became available. Many nowadays do not require the knowledge of any language.

I find my Kairos Spiritual Formation website very useful. Though it has an aged look to it, it still serves me well as a resource and hopefully to others out there. The original purpose of this website is to serve as a free resource on spiritual formation, spiritual direction, engaging culture, spiritual nurture and other areas I am interested and is researching in.

I have considered updating it but the website has ballooned to about 9,800 files! I once consulted a website designer to upgrade the website but the poor guy turned pale and ran out of the room. I guess it will not be easy to upgrade such a large website. Since it is difficult to upgrade, I have decided to maintain it as long as possible. Microsoft has since stopped servicing and updating its Frontpage.

I am still keen to have a fresh look. I cannot do anything more to my present Kairos Spiritual Formation landing page (front page). I have twitched the software so much that I fear it will just die on me. So I decided to start another website which will link to my Kairos Spiritual Formation website. This new website will have all the frills and bells of  new website designs. It also gives me the opportunity to update my skills on website designs. So here it is, Alex Tang, Seeing God in all things

I know the title is a bit Kuyperian and Ignatian. Will I be transferring all my files to this new website? I am not too sure I want to do that for two reasons. One is that it will involve a lot of work and time to manually transfer the files. I know there are programs to do that but so far these program do a reasonable transfer but often mess up the files. The second reason is that I am afraid that by the time I have finished updating the new website, a new generation of website will have arrived with more bells and frills. I know how that feels. I still have old cartridge tapes, LD, VCD, DVD, HDVDV and now Bluray of the same movies!

Do come and visit my new website at while my old website is still open for business. Shalom and welcome.


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Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Making of a Cylon Raider In Discernment

I find that making model spaceship helps in me in my discernment process. Recently I have to make a major decision in my career and ministry. As an aid to my discernment process, I started assembling this plastic spaceship model by Moebius.

I find that model making helps me in my discernment process for two reasons. Firstly, the slow and tedious painting and assembling slow me down and allow me to catch up with myself. It also slows me down so that I can listen to God, Secondly, the focus and working with my hands helps to free up my conscious thoughts and allows me to listen to my subconscious and my heart. It also allow room for prayers.

first layer

second layer

third layer-filling in the lines

fourth layer


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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Definition of Life

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