Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Beloved Disciple


I have always being taught that the beloved disciple that Jesus referred to in Jn 13:23 is John, son of Zebedee and writer of the Gospels of John, the Johannine epistles and the book of Revelation.

Ben Witherington in a lecture given last year identified the beloved disciple to be…. Lazarus!

It was to Lazarus, his beloved disciple that Jesus entrusted the care of his mother when he hung on the cross.

In addition, Witherington thinks that Lazarus was the son of Simon the Leper and Lazarus himself died of leprosy. When Jesus resurrected Lazarus, he also cured him of his leprosy. That will make Mary, Martha and Lazarus lepers as they are of the household of Simon the Leper. Read more here

The Beloved Disciple


I have always being taught that the beloved disciple that Jesus referred to in Jn 13:23 is John, son of Zebedee and writer of the Gospels of John, the Johannine epistles and the book of Revelation.

Ben Witherington in a lecture given last year identified the beloved disciple to be…. Lazarus!

It was to Lazarus, his beloved disciple that Jesus entrusted the care of his mother when he hung on the cross.

In addition, Witherington thinks that Lazarus was the son of Simon the Leper and Lazarus himself died of leprosy. When Jesus resurrected Lazarus, he also cured him of his leprosy. That will make Mary, Martha and Lazarus lepers as they are of the household of Simon the Leper. Read more here

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis



The Indiana Jones trilogy is among one of my all time favourite movies. Harrison Ford will forever imprint in my mind an idealistic adventurous archaecologist named Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. (Indiana is the name of his dog).

Of the three movies in the trilogy, the one I love the most is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Sean Connery, another of my favourite actor, appeared as Henry Jones, Sr. I must have watched it at least 10 times. I have the DVD so I will be watching it again. The chemistry between the two were fantastic. Rumours had it that a fourth Indiana Jones movie is in the works.

After the movies, there was a number of novels and graphic comics published. I have read and enjoyed them all. There was also a television series, Young Indiana Jones which I did not like.

There were also a couple of Indiana Jones computer games which I have enjoyed playing.

The best graphic novel is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis published by Dark Horse Comics in June 1992. It was written by William Messner-Loebs, Dan Barry and Mike Richardson based on the storyline by Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein from Luscasfilm Games.

The graphic novel was well written with non stop action like in the movies. The storyline was predictable with mixture of elements which were similar in a later animated Disney movie about Atlantis.

Atlantis always was a fascination of mine. Did it exist? Did Plato really described it? What was it like? Where is it? Endless questions but no answers. Another mystery to be added to the other mysteries in the Universe.

.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis



The Indiana Jones trilogy is among one of my all time favourite movies. Harrison Ford will forever imprint in my mind an idealistic adventurous archaecologist named Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. (Indiana is the name of his dog).

Of the three movies in the trilogy, the one I love the most is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Sean Connery, another of my favourite actor, appeared as Henry Jones, Sr. I must have watched it at least 10 times. I have the DVD so I will be watching it again. The chemistry between the two were fantastic. Rumours had it that a fourth Indiana Jones movie is in the works.

After the movies, there was a number of novels and graphic comics published. I have read and enjoyed them all. There was also a television series, Young Indiana Jones which I did not like.

There were also a couple of Indiana Jones computer games which I have enjoyed playing.

The best graphic novel is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis published by Dark Horse Comics in June 1992. It was written by William Messner-Loebs, Dan Barry and Mike Richardson based on the storyline by Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein from Luscasfilm Games.

The graphic novel was well written with non stop action like in the movies. The storyline was predictable with mixture of elements which were similar in a later animated Disney movie about Atlantis.

Atlantis always was a fascination of mine. Did it exist? Did Plato really described it? What was it like? Where is it? Endless questions but no answers. Another mystery to be added to the other mysteries in the Universe.

.

The State of the Gospel in 2006





The January-February 2007 issue of Mission Frontiers features a report from Jason Mandryk.

Jason Mandryk is the co-author of the sixth edition of Operation World (2001). In September 2006, Jason presented the State of the Gospel in 2006 to the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization's Younger Leaders Gathering.

Here are two key points:


Percentage of the World Unevangelized 2006



Percentage of Growth of Various Religions 2006



The powerpoint of the presentation can be downloaded here. Text here

The State of the Gospel in 2006





The January-February 2007 issue of Mission Frontiers features a report from Jason Mandryk.

Jason Mandryk is the co-author of the sixth edition of Operation World (2001). In September 2006, Jason presented the State of the Gospel in 2006 to the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization's Younger Leaders Gathering.

Here are two key points:


Percentage of the World Unevangelized 2006



Percentage of Growth of Various Religions 2006



The powerpoint of the presentation can be downloaded here. Text here

Monday, January 29, 2007

Praying in the Labyrinth


All of us adopt different postures when we pray. Some of us prefer to pray kneeling, some prostrate, while others either sit, stand or walk. Prayer walk has become commonplace as we adopt the spiritual warfare teachings.
However contemplative prayer walk is not common. Walking and praying the labyrinth is a structured form of contemplative prayer walk.

The labyrinth has its roots in antiquity. However the Christian Church Fathers and Mothers had adopted it as a prayer form. The labyrinth is like a maze. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth does not have blind ends. One can follow the pathway of a labyrinth easily to the centre and then out again.

There are no fixed rules in how anyone is to pray in the labyrinth. We can imagine walking the labyrinth as a pilgrimage. We move slowly and prayerfully towards the heart of our worship. There we spend as much time as we want in His presence. After that, we retrace our steps slowly back into the world. We can stop as frequently as we want to stop, pray, meditate or read the Scriptures or some spiritual books. People normally stop at bends and curves of the labyrinth. The labyrinth is especially suited for praying the Stations of the Cross at Lent. Those who contemplatively prayer walk the labyrinth found it a profound spiritual experience.

There are many designs of the labyrinth. The most well known is the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. The Chartres labyrinth is an intrinsic design measuring 12.9 m (42.3 ft) in diameter. It has 11 concentric circuits which leads to a rose petal shaped centre. There are 34 turns as one journey in.











However, we are free to design smaller ones in our gardens or retreat centers. Many other religious traditions also use the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. There are also people interested for health and other reasons.

The labyrinth can be a powerful means for contemplative prayer walk.

Soli deo gloria

Praying in the Labyrinth


All of us adopt different postures when we pray. Some of us prefer to pray kneeling, some prostrate, while others either sit, stand or walk. Prayer walk has become commonplace as we adopt the spiritual warfare teachings.
However contemplative prayer walk is not common. Walking and praying the labyrinth is a structured form of contemplative prayer walk.

The labyrinth has its roots in antiquity. However the Christian Church Fathers and Mothers had adopted it as a prayer form. The labyrinth is like a maze. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth does not have blind ends. One can follow the pathway of a labyrinth easily to the centre and then out again.

There are no fixed rules in how anyone is to pray in the labyrinth. We can imagine walking the labyrinth as a pilgrimage. We move slowly and prayerfully towards the heart of our worship. There we spend as much time as we want in His presence. After that, we retrace our steps slowly back into the world. We can stop as frequently as we want to stop, pray, meditate or read the Scriptures or some spiritual books. People normally stop at bends and curves of the labyrinth. The labyrinth is especially suited for praying the Stations of the Cross at Lent. Those who contemplatively prayer walk the labyrinth found it a profound spiritual experience.

There are many designs of the labyrinth. The most well known is the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. The Chartres labyrinth is an intrinsic design measuring 12.9 m (42.3 ft) in diameter. It has 11 concentric circuits which leads to a rose petal shaped centre. There are 34 turns as one journey in.











However, we are free to design smaller ones in our gardens or retreat centers. Many other religious traditions also use the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. There are also people interested for health and other reasons.

The labyrinth can be a powerful means for contemplative prayer walk.

Soli deo gloria

A Fragile Stone


Matthew 16:18, John 1:42


Michael Card and Scott Roley wrote this song after after a long afternoon discussion on who Simon was and what discipleship meant to him. They saw that Simon's new title, "rock" was not meant to signify strength but simply something to build with. Peter will be the first stone to be laid of the holy house Jesus had come to build, of which he is the foundation.


You bore the burden of a name
Along a road that would lead to the
cross
Bold and broken, upside down
A light for the least and the lost


He called you the rock, the foundation
Of a temple formed from God's love
His robe of forgiveness wrapping you up
Meant trusting in Him was enough


His love called you out on the water
And held you when you were alone
For you were the rock that was
Broken by love, forever the fragile stone


His love was the hammer that broke you
By His gentle and powerful hand
The mystery of mercy undid your denials
At last you could finally stand


The door that He opened was freedom
The door that He closed was your fear
Simply to rest in the arms of His love
Made all your doubts disappear
A stone that is dropped in the water
Will vanish and soon disappear
But the waves that move out from the center
In time they will reach everywhere

A Fragile Stone


Matthew 16:18, John 1:42


Michael Card and Scott Roley wrote this song after after a long afternoon discussion on who Simon was and what discipleship meant to him. They saw that Simon's new title, "rock" was not meant to signify strength but simply something to build with. Peter will be the first stone to be laid of the holy house Jesus had come to build, of which he is the foundation.


You bore the burden of a name
Along a road that would lead to the
cross
Bold and broken, upside down
A light for the least and the lost


He called you the rock, the foundation
Of a temple formed from God's love
His robe of forgiveness wrapping you up
Meant trusting in Him was enough


His love called you out on the water
And held you when you were alone
For you were the rock that was
Broken by love, forever the fragile stone


His love was the hammer that broke you
By His gentle and powerful hand
The mystery of mercy undid your denials
At last you could finally stand


The door that He opened was freedom
The door that He closed was your fear
Simply to rest in the arms of His love
Made all your doubts disappear
A stone that is dropped in the water
Will vanish and soon disappear
But the waves that move out from the center
In time they will reach everywhere

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Cycle of Light, A Cycle of Life

Do you get the feeling that time is moving faster and faster? Didn’t we just finish Christmas? And now it is coming to the end of January. How do we mark time? We all mark time with the minutes and hours by our watch, and the days by our calendars. Our calendars show us the months. We used to have paper calendars but now they are electronic on our PDA and computers. They even beep to remind us of important appointments. What other ways do we mark time?

We all mark time in various ways: birthdays, anniversaries or cultural festivals. The Old Testament Israelites have their religious festivals. Christians too have a way to mark time: the Christian calendar. We should return to our roots and use the Christian calendar to mark time with Jesus...read more

A Cycle of Light, A Cycle of Life

Do you get the feeling that time is moving faster and faster? Didn’t we just finish Christmas? And now it is coming to the end of January. How do we mark time? We all mark time with the minutes and hours by our watch, and the days by our calendars. Our calendars show us the months. We used to have paper calendars but now they are electronic on our PDA and computers. They even beep to remind us of important appointments. What other ways do we mark time?

We all mark time in various ways: birthdays, anniversaries or cultural festivals. The Old Testament Israelites have their religious festivals. Christians too have a way to mark time: the Christian calendar. We should return to our roots and use the Christian calendar to mark time with Jesus...read more

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Prayer of the Day

Dear Lord, show me your kindness and your gentleness, you who are meek and humble of heart. So often I say to myself, "The Lord loves me," but very often this truth does not enter into the center of my heart. The fact that I get so easily upset because of disappointment, so easily angered because of a slight criticism, and so easily depressed because of slight rejection, shows that your love does not yet fill me. Why, otherwise, would I be so easily thrown off balance? What can people do to me, when I really know that you love me, care for me, protect me, defend me, guide me and support me? What does a small-or even great-failure mean, when I know that you are with me in all my sorrows and turmoil? Yet time and again I have confessed that I have not let your love descend fully from my mind into my heart, and that I have not let my knowing grow into a real, full knowledge that pervades all my being.

In the coming weeks, O Lord, I will be able to see again how much you indeed love me. Let these weeks become an opportunity for me to let go of all my resistances to your love and an occasion for you to call me closer to you.

Amen

Henri Nouwen
Prayers from Genesse

Prayer of the Day

Dear Lord, show me your kindness and your gentleness, you who are meek and humble of heart. So often I say to myself, "The Lord loves me," but very often this truth does not enter into the center of my heart. The fact that I get so easily upset because of disappointment, so easily angered because of a slight criticism, and so easily depressed because of slight rejection, shows that your love does not yet fill me. Why, otherwise, would I be so easily thrown off balance? What can people do to me, when I really know that you love me, care for me, protect me, defend me, guide me and support me? What does a small-or even great-failure mean, when I know that you are with me in all my sorrows and turmoil? Yet time and again I have confessed that I have not let your love descend fully from my mind into my heart, and that I have not let my knowing grow into a real, full knowledge that pervades all my being.

In the coming weeks, O Lord, I will be able to see again how much you indeed love me. Let these weeks become an opportunity for me to let go of all my resistances to your love and an occasion for you to call me closer to you.

Amen

Henri Nouwen
Prayers from Genesse

The Secret Message of Jesus


Brian D. McLaren, 2006, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group)


I must admit I approached this latest book by Brian McLaren with a little apprehension. When the title denotes that the author has a secret message of Jesus Christ, one cannot but think of the many heretic, Gnostics books that hit the bookstores lately-each claiming to have discovered a long lost message of Jesus.

McLaren was writing about Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God. In an attempt to translate ‘kingdom of God’ into contemporary terms, McLaren suggested the following six metaphors:
(1) The dream of God
(2) The revolution of God
(3) The mission of God
(4) The party of God
(5) The network of God
(6) The dance of God

Each of these metaphors has much to offer but personally I feel it does not give the same dimensions as the kingdom of God. The key to the kingdom, was as McLaren puts it, is interactive relationship. Other metaphors offered by Dallas Willard (divine conspiracy) and Tom Sine (mustard seed conspiracy) are also inadequate.

What I read in McLaren me surprised me.

I consider myself as a
brethren
charismatic-brethren
pentecostal
baptist
reformed/presbyterian
missional
catholic (small c)
english educated
malaysian chinese
unfinished
Christian

My understanding of the Kingdom of God is that it is the rule of God in our lives, starting now and extending into eternity, involving all spheres and dimensions of our lives as we follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Basically, McLaren said the same thing. What surprised me is that from the way the book was written, it was assumed that other Christians who will be reading his book do not share the same understanding of the kingdom of God as I do. How do these other Christians understand the term, kingdom of God, I wonder? Would I have understood the kingdom of God differently if I am not who I described above. Would it be a secret message then?
soli deo gloria

The Secret Message of Jesus


Brian D. McLaren, 2006, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group)


I must admit I approached this latest book by Brian McLaren with a little apprehension. When the title denotes that the author has a secret message of Jesus Christ, one cannot but think of the many heretic, Gnostics books that hit the bookstores lately-each claiming to have discovered a long lost message of Jesus.

McLaren was writing about Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God. In an attempt to translate ‘kingdom of God’ into contemporary terms, McLaren suggested the following six metaphors:
(1) The dream of God
(2) The revolution of God
(3) The mission of God
(4) The party of God
(5) The network of God
(6) The dance of God

Each of these metaphors has much to offer but personally I feel it does not give the same dimensions as the kingdom of God. The key to the kingdom, was as McLaren puts it, is interactive relationship. Other metaphors offered by Dallas Willard (divine conspiracy) and Tom Sine (mustard seed conspiracy) are also inadequate.

What I read in McLaren me surprised me.

I consider myself as a
brethren
charismatic-brethren
pentecostal
baptist
reformed/presbyterian
missional
catholic (small c)
english educated
malaysian chinese
unfinished
Christian

My understanding of the Kingdom of God is that it is the rule of God in our lives, starting now and extending into eternity, involving all spheres and dimensions of our lives as we follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Basically, McLaren said the same thing. What surprised me is that from the way the book was written, it was assumed that other Christians who will be reading his book do not share the same understanding of the kingdom of God as I do. How do these other Christians understand the term, kingdom of God, I wonder? Would I have understood the kingdom of God differently if I am not who I described above. Would it be a secret message then?
soli deo gloria

Friday, January 26, 2007

Boasting of Our Weaknesses


Commentary: Boasting of our Weaknesses
by Dr Tan Soo Inn

GRACE@WORK MAIL 4/07 [January 26, 2007 Edition]

"'Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord who rules over all." (Zechariah 4:6)



There were those who questioned my spirituality when my first wife died. Word came to me that there were those who were saying that if indeed I was a leader called and empowered by God, I would have been able to have prayed for my wife's healing successfully. (She died of cancer.)

There are those who believe that if you were right with God you would be free from the pains of this life, or, if afflicted, you would be able to get out of them quickly. I suspect that some of Paul's opponents in Corinth thought the same.

They had called Paul's apostolic pedigree into question. These rivals had embraced the values of the world. They valued strength and power and looked down on human weakness.

A famous non-Christian orator of the day said, "the greatest defect in a person is to show his or her humanness, for then a person ceases to be held divine" (David A. de Silva, An Introduction to the New Testament, p.586). With his catalogue of sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:23-29) Paul's humanity was only too evident.

In response to these rivals writes 2 Corinthians. He makes a number of points we need to hear again.

First he reminds the Corinthians that we live in a fallen world and that brokenness of various kinds are part and parcel of life this side of heaven. It is only in the eschaton that we will trade in this body with all its vulnerability for the perfect, free-of-pain body. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10) The pain of our fallen humanity is a given in this life.

In the meantime God redeems the pains of a fallen world by using them to teach us the deepest lessons. In our pain and helplessness we receive the empowering comfort of God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). It is that same comfort that enables us to minister to others. Here is irony indeed. The very wounds that Paul's opponents used as evidence to question his leadership were the very things that qualified him to minister.

And the toughest circumstances teach the most important lesson --- we mustn't depend on ourselves. We must depend on God alone. And someone like Paul who had experienced God in
such profound ways, who had been used by God so effectively, needed to learn and relearn this lesson. (2 Corinthians 1:9; 12: 1-10)

Christianity is no masochistic faith. We look forward to that day when this earthly life will be swallowed up in glory and pain will be no more. When stricken by a 'thorn in the flesh" Paul asks for it to be removed. We do not pursue pain as an end in itself.

But pain is a given in this fallen world. And a God of the Cross uses pain to enable us to receive His grace and to teach us His ways. He uses the pains of this life to enable us to receive His empowerment.

Therefore Paul does not play the game that his rivals at Corinth are playing. He does not get drawn into a game of spiritual one-upmanship. Instead he continues to show his humanity. He tells them of desperate times when he had give up hope (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). He recounts a thorn in the flesh that brought him considerable pain, a thorn that God chose not to remove (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

Indeed he boasts of his sufferings because he knows that they humble him and put him in a position where he is able to receive divine power. Here indeed is a faithful follower of a Lord who brings life out of death and power out of weakness.

Recently I watched the movie 'Gladiator (2000)' again and I was reminded of how much I had wanted Maximus to have connected with his army so that he could beat the stuffing out of Commodus. Yet the director Ridley Scott, in an echo of the Cross, lets Maximus win by "losing", effecting change through his death rather then through worldly strength and power. I was reminded that my heart remained far from the way of the Cross.

It seems that the more gifted we are, the more we tend to trust in our gifts rather than in the Giver. If a church is big, the more the temptation to say "see how big we are, how rich we are, how much political clout we have. Now we can do great things for God."

The more gifted we are the more we tend to hide our weaknesses and push our strengths. (Check out the websites of our more "successful" churches and organizations.) Yet it is the against he backdrop of our weaknesses that God's grace shines brightest.

If we have been blessed personally or corporately we should be grateful, and be good stewards of our gifts. And be doubly vigilant to ensure that our trust remain firmly rooted in the Giver and not in His gifts.

The world has tried shock and awe. It didn't work during the time of the Romans. It doesn't work today. The life that the world needs comes from the "foolishness" of a Saviour who died and rose again. It comes through those willing to walk the path of the Cross, those willing to allow their weaknesses to be conduits of God's life.

We are not divine. We are only too human. But when we embrace our humanity we allow the Divine to shine through.

"My grace is enough for you for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NET)
.

Boasting of Our Weaknesses


Commentary: Boasting of our Weaknesses
by Dr Tan Soo Inn

GRACE@WORK MAIL 4/07 [January 26, 2007 Edition]

"'Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord who rules over all." (Zechariah 4:6)



There were those who questioned my spirituality when my first wife died. Word came to me that there were those who were saying that if indeed I was a leader called and empowered by God, I would have been able to have prayed for my wife's healing successfully. (She died of cancer.)

There are those who believe that if you were right with God you would be free from the pains of this life, or, if afflicted, you would be able to get out of them quickly. I suspect that some of Paul's opponents in Corinth thought the same.

They had called Paul's apostolic pedigree into question. These rivals had embraced the values of the world. They valued strength and power and looked down on human weakness.

A famous non-Christian orator of the day said, "the greatest defect in a person is to show his or her humanness, for then a person ceases to be held divine" (David A. de Silva, An Introduction to the New Testament, p.586). With his catalogue of sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:23-29) Paul's humanity was only too evident.

In response to these rivals writes 2 Corinthians. He makes a number of points we need to hear again.

First he reminds the Corinthians that we live in a fallen world and that brokenness of various kinds are part and parcel of life this side of heaven. It is only in the eschaton that we will trade in this body with all its vulnerability for the perfect, free-of-pain body. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10) The pain of our fallen humanity is a given in this life.

In the meantime God redeems the pains of a fallen world by using them to teach us the deepest lessons. In our pain and helplessness we receive the empowering comfort of God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). It is that same comfort that enables us to minister to others. Here is irony indeed. The very wounds that Paul's opponents used as evidence to question his leadership were the very things that qualified him to minister.

And the toughest circumstances teach the most important lesson --- we mustn't depend on ourselves. We must depend on God alone. And someone like Paul who had experienced God in
such profound ways, who had been used by God so effectively, needed to learn and relearn this lesson. (2 Corinthians 1:9; 12: 1-10)

Christianity is no masochistic faith. We look forward to that day when this earthly life will be swallowed up in glory and pain will be no more. When stricken by a 'thorn in the flesh" Paul asks for it to be removed. We do not pursue pain as an end in itself.

But pain is a given in this fallen world. And a God of the Cross uses pain to enable us to receive His grace and to teach us His ways. He uses the pains of this life to enable us to receive His empowerment.

Therefore Paul does not play the game that his rivals at Corinth are playing. He does not get drawn into a game of spiritual one-upmanship. Instead he continues to show his humanity. He tells them of desperate times when he had give up hope (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). He recounts a thorn in the flesh that brought him considerable pain, a thorn that God chose not to remove (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

Indeed he boasts of his sufferings because he knows that they humble him and put him in a position where he is able to receive divine power. Here indeed is a faithful follower of a Lord who brings life out of death and power out of weakness.

Recently I watched the movie 'Gladiator (2000)' again and I was reminded of how much I had wanted Maximus to have connected with his army so that he could beat the stuffing out of Commodus. Yet the director Ridley Scott, in an echo of the Cross, lets Maximus win by "losing", effecting change through his death rather then through worldly strength and power. I was reminded that my heart remained far from the way of the Cross.

It seems that the more gifted we are, the more we tend to trust in our gifts rather than in the Giver. If a church is big, the more the temptation to say "see how big we are, how rich we are, how much political clout we have. Now we can do great things for God."

The more gifted we are the more we tend to hide our weaknesses and push our strengths. (Check out the websites of our more "successful" churches and organizations.) Yet it is the against he backdrop of our weaknesses that God's grace shines brightest.

If we have been blessed personally or corporately we should be grateful, and be good stewards of our gifts. And be doubly vigilant to ensure that our trust remain firmly rooted in the Giver and not in His gifts.

The world has tried shock and awe. It didn't work during the time of the Romans. It doesn't work today. The life that the world needs comes from the "foolishness" of a Saviour who died and rose again. It comes through those willing to walk the path of the Cross, those willing to allow their weaknesses to be conduits of God's life.

We are not divine. We are only too human. But when we embrace our humanity we allow the Divine to shine through.

"My grace is enough for you for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NET)
.

Prayer of the Day

Dear Lord, I will remain restless, tense, and dissatisfied until I can be totally at peace in your house. But I am still on the road, still journeying, still tired and weary, and still wondering if I will ever make it to the city on the hill. With Vincent van Gogh, I keep asking your angel, whom I meet on the road, "Does the road go uphill then all the way?" And the answer is, "Yes to the very end." And I ask again: "And will the journey take all day long?" And the answer is, "From morning until night my friend."

So I go on, Lord, tired, often frustrated, irritated, but always hopeful to reach one day the eternal city far away, respondent in the evening sun.

There is no certainty that my life will be any easier in the years ahead, or that my heart will be any calmer. But there is the certainty that you will be waiting for me and will welcome me home when I have persevered in my long journey to your house.

O Lord, give me courage, hope, and confidence.


Amen

Henri Nouwen, Prayers from the Genesse

Prayer of the Day

Dear Lord, I will remain restless, tense, and dissatisfied until I can be totally at peace in your house. But I am still on the road, still journeying, still tired and weary, and still wondering if I will ever make it to the city on the hill. With Vincent van Gogh, I keep asking your angel, whom I meet on the road, "Does the road go uphill then all the way?" And the answer is, "Yes to the very end." And I ask again: "And will the journey take all day long?" And the answer is, "From morning until night my friend."

So I go on, Lord, tired, often frustrated, irritated, but always hopeful to reach one day the eternal city far away, respondent in the evening sun.

There is no certainty that my life will be any easier in the years ahead, or that my heart will be any calmer. But there is the certainty that you will be waiting for me and will welcome me home when I have persevered in my long journey to your house.

O Lord, give me courage, hope, and confidence.


Amen

Henri Nouwen, Prayers from the Genesse

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Anyone Wants a New Uterus?

A US team of transplant surgeons are planning for a uterus transplant. This procedure, though will be the first in the US had been performed successfully in other parts of the world. The reason for the transplant is that some women will like to experience childbearing but are unable to because of certain reasons. So a uterine transplant will be performed and an embryo produced by IVF inserted into the transplanted uterus. After one or two pregnancies, the uterus will be removed. While there are no moral or ethical issues involved with uterine transplantation, it shows the length some women will go to get pregnant even though adoption is still available as an alternative.

Uterine transplant how joins the ranks of face and hand transplants that are not life saving, like liver, kidney and heart transplants, but for improving quality of life.

Another connected issue are the organ donors. Many organ donors sign up in the hope that their organ save someone’s lives when theirs are over. I wonder what they will think if their organs are used to improve other people’s “quality of life’?

Closely related is the issue of the source of transplant organs. China has finally admitted that it is selling organs from executed condemned prisoners. What is also revealed is the extent of sale of organs and organs trafficking in China. “Transplant Tourism” is becoming common in China. One effect of this is that it deprives a local Chinese from getting a transplant because these “transplant tourist” tend to jump ahead of the very long queue.

We must ensure that the rights of Chinese prisoners are not violated and that local Chinese are not unjustly affected by these “transplant tourists”


Soli deo Gloria

Anyone Wants a New Uterus?

A US team of transplant surgeons are planning for a uterus transplant. This procedure, though will be the first in the US had been performed successfully in other parts of the world. The reason for the transplant is that some women will like to experience childbearing but are unable to because of certain reasons. So a uterine transplant will be performed and an embryo produced by IVF inserted into the transplanted uterus. After one or two pregnancies, the uterus will be removed. While there are no moral or ethical issues involved with uterine transplantation, it shows the length some women will go to get pregnant even though adoption is still available as an alternative.

Uterine transplant how joins the ranks of face and hand transplants that are not life saving, like liver, kidney and heart transplants, but for improving quality of life.

Another connected issue are the organ donors. Many organ donors sign up in the hope that their organ save someone’s lives when theirs are over. I wonder what they will think if their organs are used to improve other people’s “quality of life’?

Closely related is the issue of the source of transplant organs. China has finally admitted that it is selling organs from executed condemned prisoners. What is also revealed is the extent of sale of organs and organs trafficking in China. “Transplant Tourism” is becoming common in China. One effect of this is that it deprives a local Chinese from getting a transplant because these “transplant tourist” tend to jump ahead of the very long queue.

We must ensure that the rights of Chinese prisoners are not violated and that local Chinese are not unjustly affected by these “transplant tourists”


Soli deo Gloria

Subjective Spiritual Experiences

I was thinking about posting about subjective spiritual experiences when the internet Monk beat me to it by posting Thoughts on Spiritual Experiences He wrote on the area of subjective spiritual experiences and even has a case study. I am not complaining. He is such a good writer and quite comprehensive in his coverage of the subject.

Spiritual experiences has always been treated with suspicion by the church. The experiences of Teresa of Avila is one good example. However John Wesley named ‘experience’ as one of his four pillars in building a theological system. The other three pillars are Scripture, Tradition and Reason. This is known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral

What I would like to comment on subjective spiritual experience is this statement. Christians will come to me and say, “I am having such a great personal experience with Christ.” And I will go, “Aha…” I mean, there is nothing wrong with having a great personal experience. And with Christ too. Most people will happy accept that statement. Somehow, it makes me uncomfortable.

Shouldn’t one say, “I have a great Christ in my personal experience.” Here the emphasis is on Christ rather than the experience. Maybe it is just me. Somehow I feel that many Christians are more focused on their spiritual experiences than on the Giver of their experience.


Soli deo gloria

Subjective Spiritual Experiences

I was thinking about posting about subjective spiritual experiences when the internet Monk beat me to it by posting Thoughts on Spiritual Experiences He wrote on the area of subjective spiritual experiences and even has a case study. I am not complaining. He is such a good writer and quite comprehensive in his coverage of the subject.

Spiritual experiences has always been treated with suspicion by the church. The experiences of Teresa of Avila is one good example. However John Wesley named ‘experience’ as one of his four pillars in building a theological system. The other three pillars are Scripture, Tradition and Reason. This is known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral

What I would like to comment on subjective spiritual experience is this statement. Christians will come to me and say, “I am having such a great personal experience with Christ.” And I will go, “Aha…” I mean, there is nothing wrong with having a great personal experience. And with Christ too. Most people will happy accept that statement. Somehow, it makes me uncomfortable.

Shouldn’t one say, “I have a great Christ in my personal experience.” Here the emphasis is on Christ rather than the experience. Maybe it is just me. Somehow I feel that many Christians are more focused on their spiritual experiences than on the Giver of their experience.


Soli deo gloria

A Life of Faith and Church Practices

In an earlier posting we were enlightened by Craig Dykstra’s explanation of a life of faith in his book Growing in the Life of Faith.

He wrote about the church practices (or what we also called spiritual disciplines) that helps to develop a life of faith. Normally we would think of a life of faith as being an individual enterprise between a person and his or her God. We then build up this life of faith by developing in our lives personalized spiritual disciplines. Dykstra, however, made a bold statement that he thinks it is the practices (spiritual disciplines) of the community of faith or church that builds a life of faith in its individual members.

Some of the practices he mentioned are:
(1) worshipping God together-praising God, giving thanks for God’s creative and redemptive work in the world, hearing God’s word preached, and receiving the sacraments given to us in Christ;
(2) telling the Christian story to one another-reading and hearing the Scriptures and also the stories of the church’s experience throughout its history;
(3) interpreting together the Scriptures and the history of the church’s experience, particularly in relation to their meaning for our own lives in the world;
(4) praying-together and by ourselves, not only in formal services of worship but in all times and places;
(5) confessing our sin to one another, and forgiving and becoming reconciled with one another;
(6) tolerating one another’s failures and encouraging one another in the work each must do and the vocation each must live;
(7) carrying out specific faithful acts of service and witness together;
(8) giving generously of one’s means and receiving gratefully gifts others have to give;
(9) suffering with and for one another and all whom Jesus showed us to be our neighbors;
(10) providing hospitality and care, not only to one another but also to strangers and even enemies;
(11) listening and talking attentively to one another about our particular experiences in life;
(12) struggling together to become conscious of and to understand the the nature of the context in which we live;
(13) criticizing and resisting all those powers and patterns (both within the church and in the world as a whole) that destroy human beings, corrode human community, and injure God’s creation;
(14) working together to maintain and create social structures and institutions that will sustain life in the world in ways that accord with God’s will.

Dykstra did make the point that the practices by themselves would not be effective and just practicing them will not develop a life of faith. However these practices are tools that will help us develop the life of faith. He notes, “These practices, when engaged in deep interrelation with one another have the effect of turning the flow of power in a new direction. After a time, the primary point about the practices is no longer that they are something we do. Instead, they become arenas in which something is done to us, in us and through us that we could not of ourselves do, that is beyond what we do.”

This is an interesting concept. Would our modality of spiritual formation be too individualistic because we are influenced by modernity and secular individualism? Many of us have this impression of the early church being too legalistic because of its emphasis on corporate disciplines and catechumenate.


Maybe it is time for us to relook at the modality of the early church where the emphasis was on corporate spiritual formation rather than individualized spiritual formation.


soli deo gloria

A Life of Faith and Church Practices

In an earlier posting we were enlightened by Craig Dykstra’s explanation of a life of faith in his book Growing in the Life of Faith.

He wrote about the church practices (or what we also called spiritual disciplines) that helps to develop a life of faith. Normally we would think of a life of faith as being an individual enterprise between a person and his or her God. We then build up this life of faith by developing in our lives personalized spiritual disciplines. Dykstra, however, made a bold statement that he thinks it is the practices (spiritual disciplines) of the community of faith or church that builds a life of faith in its individual members.

Some of the practices he mentioned are:
(1) worshipping God together-praising God, giving thanks for God’s creative and redemptive work in the world, hearing God’s word preached, and receiving the sacraments given to us in Christ;
(2) telling the Christian story to one another-reading and hearing the Scriptures and also the stories of the church’s experience throughout its history;
(3) interpreting together the Scriptures and the history of the church’s experience, particularly in relation to their meaning for our own lives in the world;
(4) praying-together and by ourselves, not only in formal services of worship but in all times and places;
(5) confessing our sin to one another, and forgiving and becoming reconciled with one another;
(6) tolerating one another’s failures and encouraging one another in the work each must do and the vocation each must live;
(7) carrying out specific faithful acts of service and witness together;
(8) giving generously of one’s means and receiving gratefully gifts others have to give;
(9) suffering with and for one another and all whom Jesus showed us to be our neighbors;
(10) providing hospitality and care, not only to one another but also to strangers and even enemies;
(11) listening and talking attentively to one another about our particular experiences in life;
(12) struggling together to become conscious of and to understand the the nature of the context in which we live;
(13) criticizing and resisting all those powers and patterns (both within the church and in the world as a whole) that destroy human beings, corrode human community, and injure God’s creation;
(14) working together to maintain and create social structures and institutions that will sustain life in the world in ways that accord with God’s will.

Dykstra did make the point that the practices by themselves would not be effective and just practicing them will not develop a life of faith. However these practices are tools that will help us develop the life of faith. He notes, “These practices, when engaged in deep interrelation with one another have the effect of turning the flow of power in a new direction. After a time, the primary point about the practices is no longer that they are something we do. Instead, they become arenas in which something is done to us, in us and through us that we could not of ourselves do, that is beyond what we do.”

This is an interesting concept. Would our modality of spiritual formation be too individualistic because we are influenced by modernity and secular individualism? Many of us have this impression of the early church being too legalistic because of its emphasis on corporate disciplines and catechumenate.


Maybe it is time for us to relook at the modality of the early church where the emphasis was on corporate spiritual formation rather than individualized spiritual formation.


soli deo gloria

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Interview on Euthanasia

I was interviewed by a secondary school student from Singapore for his school project on euthanasia
___________________________________________________________________

Interviewer: I'll be asking you ten questions regarding both medical and religious aspects of Euthanasia of which your most frank and honest answers, coupled with your never-ending words of wisdom would be highly appreciated!

1. Have you ever, in your career as a doctor, ever witnessed or heard of any cases in which a patient, who was deemed incurable before, later managed to be cured due to the discovery of a new kind of medicine?


Yes and no. Yes, if we take into consideration medical history. Syphilis was once considered incurable until the discovery of penicillin in the 1920s. Syphilis has been around since the beginning of human history.

No, if your question is in the context of euthanasia. New medicines take time to be developed. First they have to have to be tested on animal, then human trials and finally FDA (Federal Drug Authority) approval. These take a few years. Most of the time, doctors are aware of these new trials and new medicine coming into the market. Hence we are not taken by surprise at the availability of any new drugs for incurable diseases.


2. Have you ever issued any natural-death directive to any of your patients before? If so, under what circumstances did you decide to do so?

No, it is not the right of a doctor to issue a natural-death directive. This directive can only come from the patient and if he or she is incapable of making such a decision, from their spouse or someone with given authority (letter of attorney).

3. Have you heard of or known of doctors who have given a natural death directive due to a wrong diagnosis and later realized that it was a mistake?

No

4. Are there any medicines currently in use today that are able to relieve pain, even to those in a coma, without bringing about negative side effects like in cases such as morphine and other drugs of that genre? Have they been tested and deemed effective yet?

NSAID (Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) and COX-2 inhibitors are two classes of drugs that are effective for pain control without the sedative effect of the morphia class of drugs. They have been tested to be effective and are now in common use.

5. Do you think the Hippocratic Oath still applies to doctors today as pivotally as it did before, even though some think it as no longer relevant in the world of today? Please elaborate.

The principles behind the Hippocratic Oath is still followed by all doctors, for example, first do not harm; do not abuse your privilege and take advantage of your patients; do not kill; and respect your teachers. I do not think any doctor will think that these principles are not relevant today. However, many will have problems with the actually wording of the Hippocratic Oath which was culturally and linguistically bound to a different era. For example, the Oath starts with an invocation to a Greek god.

6. Passive Euthanasia is defined as the withholding or refusal of treatment to sustain life or the withdrawing of treatment already begun. So, if a person who is sick and has the ability to but refuses to take his medicine which will heal him and in the long run dies due to that, is it considered passive Euthanasia or active Euthanasia (suicide)? Is it wrong?

If a person decides not to accept any treatment or further treatment for his or her medical condition that is not considered euthanasia. Is it wrong for someone to decide not to accept treatment? That is a moral question. And in some cultic groups also religious question.

7. As a pediatrician, you deal with pregnancies everyday. In the case of severely deformed or marginally viable newborns, do you follow the American Heart Association and National Neonatal Resuscitation Program 2000 consensus statement for international guidelines stating that the “non-initiation of resuscitation in the delivery room is appropriate for infants with confirmed gestation less than 23 weeks or birth weight less than 400g”? If so, have you ever intentionally not resuscitated a baby under these conditions? But isn’t this considered Passive Euthanasia?

No. I always consult with the parents first. I will point out to them that infant with gestation less than 23 weeks or birth weight less than 400g will unlikely to survive even if we institute treatment. I will also emphasis the fact that even if we do save the infant, the infant will likely to be mentally retarded and blind. Then I will let them make the decision whether we should start treatment. As much as possible, we try to have this discussion with the parents before the infant is born. This is informed consent. We will then abide by their decision. Saying that, I once treated a 400g baby that survived and is now a normal healthy 15 years old! If I intentionally unilaterally decide not to resuscitate the baby without the parents’ inform consent, it will be considered passive euthanasia.

8. Since our time of death is in God’s hands, then wouldn’t the presence of someone to extend a person’s life endlessly regardless of the patient’s condition, beyond his or her supposed designated time of death, be God’s will too? Thus, is prolonging a life endlessly really a sin?

This is a religious question and I can only answer from my own religious background which is Christianity. Our time of death is in God’s hands and God does not let us know when that time is. Without this knowledge, there is not way to know whether ‘prolonging a life endlessly’ is acting against God’s timing.

9. In arguing Euthanasia, many Christians would use the 6th commandment which states that “Thou shalt not kill”. However, many say that this commandment is not absolute. If it were really absolute, then shouldn't people also absolutize what Jesus said about giving to those who beg from you (Matt 6:2-4) and give to every beggar on the streets? Thus, how do we know which teachings to absolutize and which not?

In the 6th commandment, the word kill is ‘ratsach’ in Hebrew and ‘phoneuo’ in Greek which means murder. Correctly rendered, it should be “Thou shall not commit murder”. Thus, it is not that the commandment is not absolute but that it allows for killing in wars, self-defence, martyrdom and capital punishment. Hence obeying this commandment cannot be compared with giving alms to beggars.

10. Paul Ramsey states that we should not talk of the beauty of death or even death with dignity. Death is the final indignity to man, and Scripture presents it that way. Do you agree with him? If so, how are we then supposed to die with dignity and what does death with dignity really mean?

I am surprised that Paul Ramsey was quoted to having said that. I believe need to understand the context in which he stated that. My understanding in Christianity is that Jesus Christ defeated death when he died on the cross and was resurrected. St.Paul wrote that he would prefer to die but would stay alive for the sake of other Christians. The general teaching in Christianity is that death is nothing to be afraid of but to be embraced when our time comes.

Death with dignity means to die as a person rather than an object. A person has rights and freedom. Modern medicine with its technology has a tendency to dehumanize a person to an object.


__________________________________________________________________

Wow. Don't they ask simple questions anymore?

.

An Interview on Euthanasia

I was interviewed by a secondary school student from Singapore for his school project on euthanasia
___________________________________________________________________

Interviewer: I'll be asking you ten questions regarding both medical and religious aspects of Euthanasia of which your most frank and honest answers, coupled with your never-ending words of wisdom would be highly appreciated!

1. Have you ever, in your career as a doctor, ever witnessed or heard of any cases in which a patient, who was deemed incurable before, later managed to be cured due to the discovery of a new kind of medicine?


Yes and no. Yes, if we take into consideration medical history. Syphilis was once considered incurable until the discovery of penicillin in the 1920s. Syphilis has been around since the beginning of human history.

No, if your question is in the context of euthanasia. New medicines take time to be developed. First they have to have to be tested on animal, then human trials and finally FDA (Federal Drug Authority) approval. These take a few years. Most of the time, doctors are aware of these new trials and new medicine coming into the market. Hence we are not taken by surprise at the availability of any new drugs for incurable diseases.


2. Have you ever issued any natural-death directive to any of your patients before? If so, under what circumstances did you decide to do so?

No, it is not the right of a doctor to issue a natural-death directive. This directive can only come from the patient and if he or she is incapable of making such a decision, from their spouse or someone with given authority (letter of attorney).

3. Have you heard of or known of doctors who have given a natural death directive due to a wrong diagnosis and later realized that it was a mistake?

No

4. Are there any medicines currently in use today that are able to relieve pain, even to those in a coma, without bringing about negative side effects like in cases such as morphine and other drugs of that genre? Have they been tested and deemed effective yet?

NSAID (Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) and COX-2 inhibitors are two classes of drugs that are effective for pain control without the sedative effect of the morphia class of drugs. They have been tested to be effective and are now in common use.

5. Do you think the Hippocratic Oath still applies to doctors today as pivotally as it did before, even though some think it as no longer relevant in the world of today? Please elaborate.

The principles behind the Hippocratic Oath is still followed by all doctors, for example, first do not harm; do not abuse your privilege and take advantage of your patients; do not kill; and respect your teachers. I do not think any doctor will think that these principles are not relevant today. However, many will have problems with the actually wording of the Hippocratic Oath which was culturally and linguistically bound to a different era. For example, the Oath starts with an invocation to a Greek god.

6. Passive Euthanasia is defined as the withholding or refusal of treatment to sustain life or the withdrawing of treatment already begun. So, if a person who is sick and has the ability to but refuses to take his medicine which will heal him and in the long run dies due to that, is it considered passive Euthanasia or active Euthanasia (suicide)? Is it wrong?

If a person decides not to accept any treatment or further treatment for his or her medical condition that is not considered euthanasia. Is it wrong for someone to decide not to accept treatment? That is a moral question. And in some cultic groups also religious question.

7. As a pediatrician, you deal with pregnancies everyday. In the case of severely deformed or marginally viable newborns, do you follow the American Heart Association and National Neonatal Resuscitation Program 2000 consensus statement for international guidelines stating that the “non-initiation of resuscitation in the delivery room is appropriate for infants with confirmed gestation less than 23 weeks or birth weight less than 400g”? If so, have you ever intentionally not resuscitated a baby under these conditions? But isn’t this considered Passive Euthanasia?

No. I always consult with the parents first. I will point out to them that infant with gestation less than 23 weeks or birth weight less than 400g will unlikely to survive even if we institute treatment. I will also emphasis the fact that even if we do save the infant, the infant will likely to be mentally retarded and blind. Then I will let them make the decision whether we should start treatment. As much as possible, we try to have this discussion with the parents before the infant is born. This is informed consent. We will then abide by their decision. Saying that, I once treated a 400g baby that survived and is now a normal healthy 15 years old! If I intentionally unilaterally decide not to resuscitate the baby without the parents’ inform consent, it will be considered passive euthanasia.

8. Since our time of death is in God’s hands, then wouldn’t the presence of someone to extend a person’s life endlessly regardless of the patient’s condition, beyond his or her supposed designated time of death, be God’s will too? Thus, is prolonging a life endlessly really a sin?

This is a religious question and I can only answer from my own religious background which is Christianity. Our time of death is in God’s hands and God does not let us know when that time is. Without this knowledge, there is not way to know whether ‘prolonging a life endlessly’ is acting against God’s timing.

9. In arguing Euthanasia, many Christians would use the 6th commandment which states that “Thou shalt not kill”. However, many say that this commandment is not absolute. If it were really absolute, then shouldn't people also absolutize what Jesus said about giving to those who beg from you (Matt 6:2-4) and give to every beggar on the streets? Thus, how do we know which teachings to absolutize and which not?

In the 6th commandment, the word kill is ‘ratsach’ in Hebrew and ‘phoneuo’ in Greek which means murder. Correctly rendered, it should be “Thou shall not commit murder”. Thus, it is not that the commandment is not absolute but that it allows for killing in wars, self-defence, martyrdom and capital punishment. Hence obeying this commandment cannot be compared with giving alms to beggars.

10. Paul Ramsey states that we should not talk of the beauty of death or even death with dignity. Death is the final indignity to man, and Scripture presents it that way. Do you agree with him? If so, how are we then supposed to die with dignity and what does death with dignity really mean?

I am surprised that Paul Ramsey was quoted to having said that. I believe need to understand the context in which he stated that. My understanding in Christianity is that Jesus Christ defeated death when he died on the cross and was resurrected. St.Paul wrote that he would prefer to die but would stay alive for the sake of other Christians. The general teaching in Christianity is that death is nothing to be afraid of but to be embraced when our time comes.

Death with dignity means to die as a person rather than an object. A person has rights and freedom. Modern medicine with its technology has a tendency to dehumanize a person to an object.


__________________________________________________________________

Wow. Don't they ask simple questions anymore?

.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Friends in Conversation 2007 Banners



Here are some excellent banners from the good folks at emergent Malaysia









Friends in Conversation 2007 Banners



Here are some excellent banners from the good folks at emergent Malaysia









Love is LOVE

If I had earned a strings of theological degrees, is a tenured professor in an world renowned seminary and has mastered the intricacies of ancient Hebrew and the various tenses of ancient Greek but do not care for the illiterate manual worker with a struggling family, I am like a bag of hot air or the static caused by the feedback of a MP3 soundtrack. If I can look into the future and discern the winds of change in economies, social and political arenas and if I am a spiritual master who has a large following who believe that I am the Voice of God yet if I do not lift a single finger to help a stranger in need I am as plain useless to one who is hungry and lonely as an empty used chicken rice styrofoam container. If I am a great philanthropist and give my billions as aid relief to poverty stricken Africa and if I sacrifice my health by burning out in ministry work for the church but did it to achieve a reputation and a name for myself, I have already have my reward which is my 15 minutes of fame. My ulterior motives, the need to please people and other hidden agenda will eventually be revealed for all to see. If I see a person and not see an irritation, an interruption (to my busy schedule), a burden or a lesser being, and if I feel compassion and the need to connect with this person and maybe offer some help, I may have love.



Love has the capacity to stand outside time and wait for the right moment to come along. It is not rushed, dictated by the clock nor hurried by the tyranny of the urgent. Love has time to understand and walk a mile in another’s shoes. Love is gentle and does not carry concealed weapons. It does not see the need to cut someone down to size or make mincemeat of someone else’s ego. Love does not demand to have what others have. It does not need to prop itself up by stepping on others and stand on them to appear more beautiful, more powerful, more rich or more honored in society. Love does not need to show off, wearing masks and be putting on performances all the time. Love reveals its true face. Love speaks softly and politely because its words are words of encouragement. Words to build up and not to tear down. Love uses its words to help others to find and fulfill their full God-given potential. Love has good anger management and does not let the sun goes down on its anger. Love knows anger is but a symptom and will seek the root cause of the anger. It seeks to heal these inner hurts and understand the inner thoughts that lead people to do evil deeds. Love does not bear a grudge nor seek to get even. Love learns to forgive. Love returns good for bad. Love gathers all into its protective arms, believing that there is some good in all mankind. Love has marched with others in Alabama against racism, being beaten by batons in the salt march in India and stood before a tank in Tiananmen Square. Love believes that justice should be available to all. Love believes that there is always hope in this Vail of tears. Love knows that we are living in the shadowlands and that somewhere there is our true home and that one day, Someone will lead us there by our hands. Love sees that in the darkest night, there is always a ray of light.

Love is the energy that drives the universe. It never runs out, tires or loses its power. Love is for eternity. We have begun to realize that knowledge has its limitations. Quantum theory robs us of certainty and Chaos-Fractal theory robs us of control. The only constant in our lives is change. We have not being able to develop a Unified Theory of the Universe. Hence we see in part and we understand very little. Coming to the realization that there is nothing certain in this universe and the ability to control our destiny is an illusion, we begin to understand that we have been thinking like a child. It is time to grow up and see the world as it really is. To see through the illusions that Satan has deceived us for so long. To realize that we had spent large portions of our lives chasing after the non-essential and neglecting the relationships with other people that we should have nurtured and developed. Adult thinking will help us to focus on things that are eternal. These eternal are our souls and the souls of other and the need now on earth to purify and nurture our souls. In the process we develop faith and acquire hope. But most important of all, we see and experience Love. And in the end, it is only LOVE that matters.



Soli Deo Gloria

Love is LOVE

If I had earned a strings of theological degrees, is a tenured professor in an world renowned seminary and has mastered the intricacies of ancient Hebrew and the various tenses of ancient Greek but do not care for the illiterate manual worker with a struggling family, I am like a bag of hot air or the static caused by the feedback of a MP3 soundtrack. If I can look into the future and discern the winds of change in economies, social and political arenas and if I am a spiritual master who has a large following who believe that I am the Voice of God yet if I do not lift a single finger to help a stranger in need I am as plain useless to one who is hungry and lonely as an empty used chicken rice styrofoam container. If I am a great philanthropist and give my billions as aid relief to poverty stricken Africa and if I sacrifice my health by burning out in ministry work for the church but did it to achieve a reputation and a name for myself, I have already have my reward which is my 15 minutes of fame. My ulterior motives, the need to please people and other hidden agenda will eventually be revealed for all to see. If I see a person and not see an irritation, an interruption (to my busy schedule), a burden or a lesser being, and if I feel compassion and the need to connect with this person and maybe offer some help, I may have love.



Love has the capacity to stand outside time and wait for the right moment to come along. It is not rushed, dictated by the clock nor hurried by the tyranny of the urgent. Love has time to understand and walk a mile in another’s shoes. Love is gentle and does not carry concealed weapons. It does not see the need to cut someone down to size or make mincemeat of someone else’s ego. Love does not demand to have what others have. It does not need to prop itself up by stepping on others and stand on them to appear more beautiful, more powerful, more rich or more honored in society. Love does not need to show off, wearing masks and be putting on performances all the time. Love reveals its true face. Love speaks softly and politely because its words are words of encouragement. Words to build up and not to tear down. Love uses its words to help others to find and fulfill their full God-given potential. Love has good anger management and does not let the sun goes down on its anger. Love knows anger is but a symptom and will seek the root cause of the anger. It seeks to heal these inner hurts and understand the inner thoughts that lead people to do evil deeds. Love does not bear a grudge nor seek to get even. Love learns to forgive. Love returns good for bad. Love gathers all into its protective arms, believing that there is some good in all mankind. Love has marched with others in Alabama against racism, being beaten by batons in the salt march in India and stood before a tank in Tiananmen Square. Love believes that justice should be available to all. Love believes that there is always hope in this Vail of tears. Love knows that we are living in the shadowlands and that somewhere there is our true home and that one day, Someone will lead us there by our hands. Love sees that in the darkest night, there is always a ray of light.

Love is the energy that drives the universe. It never runs out, tires or loses its power. Love is for eternity. We have begun to realize that knowledge has its limitations. Quantum theory robs us of certainty and Chaos-Fractal theory robs us of control. The only constant in our lives is change. We have not being able to develop a Unified Theory of the Universe. Hence we see in part and we understand very little. Coming to the realization that there is nothing certain in this universe and the ability to control our destiny is an illusion, we begin to understand that we have been thinking like a child. It is time to grow up and see the world as it really is. To see through the illusions that Satan has deceived us for so long. To realize that we had spent large portions of our lives chasing after the non-essential and neglecting the relationships with other people that we should have nurtured and developed. Adult thinking will help us to focus on things that are eternal. These eternal are our souls and the souls of other and the need now on earth to purify and nurture our souls. In the process we develop faith and acquire hope. But most important of all, we see and experience Love. And in the end, it is only LOVE that matters.



Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, January 22, 2007

Understanding Spiritual Formation

The Ooze published my article on spiritual formation under FAITH on 19 January 2007


Spiritual formation has become a buzz word in evangelical circles in the last decades. However, like the word "spirituality," spiritual formation has different meaning to different people. An evangelical pastor may understand it differently from an ecumenical pastor. A theologian in a seminary may define it differently from a worker in a church. Spiritual formation may have different connotations to those from the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox traditions. A dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation (2003,107) defines it as “the dynamics of shaping the human spirit towards maturity and consonance."

read more

Understanding Spiritual Formation

The Ooze published my article on spiritual formation under FAITH on 19 January 2007


Spiritual formation has become a buzz word in evangelical circles in the last decades. However, like the word "spirituality," spiritual formation has different meaning to different people. An evangelical pastor may understand it differently from an ecumenical pastor. A theologian in a seminary may define it differently from a worker in a church. Spiritual formation may have different connotations to those from the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox traditions. A dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation (2003,107) defines it as “the dynamics of shaping the human spirit towards maturity and consonance."

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Celtic Prayer on New House and Home

Be Christ's cross on your new dwelling,
Be Christ's cross on your new hearth,
Be Christ's cross on your new abode,
Upon your new fire blazing,
Be Christ's cross on your means and portion,
Be Christ's cross on your kin and people,
Be Christ's cross on you each light and darkness,
Each day and each night of your lives,
Each day and each night of your lives.



amen

Celtic Prayer on New House and Home

Be Christ's cross on your new dwelling,
Be Christ's cross on your new hearth,
Be Christ's cross on your new abode,
Upon your new fire blazing,
Be Christ's cross on your means and portion,
Be Christ's cross on your kin and people,
Be Christ's cross on you each light and darkness,
Each day and each night of your lives,
Each day and each night of your lives.



amen

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Five Streams of the Emerging Church

Scot McKnight, writing in Christianity Today describes Five Streams of the Emerging Church which flows into the emerging lake.


These streams ( 5 Ps) are
(1) prophetic rhethorics
(2) postmodernism
(3) praxis-oriented-how faith is lived out
(4) post-evangelical
(5) political

This can also be described as the 5 themes of the emerging movement. McKnight acknowledges that it is a movement.

To define a movement, we must, as a courtesy, let it say what it is. Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, in their book, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Baker Academic, 2005) define emerging in this way:

Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.

This definition is both descriptive and analytical. D. A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (Zondervan, 2005) is not alone in pointing to the problems in the emerging movement, and I shall point out a few myself in what follows. But as a description of the movement, Carson's book lacks firsthand awareness and suffers from an overly narrow focus—on Brian McLaren and postmodern epistemology.

In this article, McKnight did us a great service in categorising the emerging movement thus enabling us to have a better overview of the whole movement. He believes at "its core, the emerging movement is an attempt to fashion a new ecclesiology (doctrine of the church)".

I love his conclusion,

All in all, it is unlikely that the emerging movement will disappear anytime soon. If I were a prophet, I'd say that it will influence most of evangelicalism in its chastened epistemology (if it hasn't already), its emphasis on praxis, and its missional orientation. I see the emerging movement much like the Jesus and charismatic movements of the 1960s, which undoubtedly have found a place in the quilt called evangelicalism.
Scot McKnight also wrote Jesus Creed, a book worth reading.





soli deo gloria

Five Streams of the Emerging Church

Scot McKnight, writing in Christianity Today describes Five Streams of the Emerging Church which flows into the emerging lake.


These streams ( 5 Ps) are
(1) prophetic rhethorics
(2) postmodernism
(3) praxis-oriented-how faith is lived out
(4) post-evangelical
(5) political

This can also be described as the 5 themes of the emerging movement. McKnight acknowledges that it is a movement.

To define a movement, we must, as a courtesy, let it say what it is. Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, in their book, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Baker Academic, 2005) define emerging in this way:

Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.

This definition is both descriptive and analytical. D. A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (Zondervan, 2005) is not alone in pointing to the problems in the emerging movement, and I shall point out a few myself in what follows. But as a description of the movement, Carson's book lacks firsthand awareness and suffers from an overly narrow focus—on Brian McLaren and postmodern epistemology.

In this article, McKnight did us a great service in categorising the emerging movement thus enabling us to have a better overview of the whole movement. He believes at "its core, the emerging movement is an attempt to fashion a new ecclesiology (doctrine of the church)".

I love his conclusion,

All in all, it is unlikely that the emerging movement will disappear anytime soon. If I were a prophet, I'd say that it will influence most of evangelicalism in its chastened epistemology (if it hasn't already), its emphasis on praxis, and its missional orientation. I see the emerging movement much like the Jesus and charismatic movements of the 1960s, which undoubtedly have found a place in the quilt called evangelicalism.
Scot McKnight also wrote Jesus Creed, a book worth reading.





soli deo gloria