Saturday, November 27, 2004

Elder Philip Cheng : Dalam Kenangan

Pada hari Ahad, pada lewat petang Tuhan Yesus telah memanggilnya pulang untuk bersamaNya selama-lamanya. Elder Philip memasuki ke dalam hadirat Raja kemuliaan yang mendiang telah melayaniNya serta mengasihiNya sewaktu mendiang masih hidup. Walaupun dalam saat-saat yang tidak diduganya yang mendiang dipanggil oleh Tuhan, mendiang masih melayani Tuhan dengan bersungguh-sungguh. Kini mendiang berada di kota Tuhan yang indah.

Sewaktu dalam upacara peringatan yang dilangsungkan selama dua hari, banyak kesaksian telah disampaikan. Kesaksian ini mengingatkan kembali memori di mana mendiang telah membantu ramai orang. Mendiang serta ahli-ahli dalam kumpulan sel (cell group) memenangi jiwa-jiwa untuk Yesus. Mendiang banyak menasihati baik ahli-ahlinya serta anak-anaknya agar mereka memfokuskan diri pada Tuhan. Selain itu, mendiang juga menjaga mereka seperti seorang ayah yang menyayangi anaknya sendiri. Mendiang berusaha dengan sungguh-sungguh untuk melayani Tuhan. Kita dapat melihat banyak kehidupan telah berubah pada kebaikkan. Mendiang memuliakan Tuhan dengan melayani ahli-ahli dalam apa jua cara yang terbaik. Selain itu, mendiang memastikan yang alat penghawa dingin dalam gereja kita itu berfungsi dengan baik agar jemaat-jemaat CDPC dapat menyembah Tuhan dengan selesa. Rasa rendah dirinya serta kasih sayang pada Tuhan Yesus dan orang lain mencerminkan imannya dalam Yesus Kristus yang mengasihinya. Mendiang mengenal Tuhan serta kasihNya. Mendiang berusaha dengan bersungguh-sungguh menggunakan bakatnya serta kerjasama dari ahli-ahli kumpulan selnya untuk memberitakan Injil kepada kawan-kawan mereka yang masih belum kenal atau menerima Yesus sebagai Juruselamat.

Dalam upacara peringatan, ahli-ahli kumpulan selnya menyanyikan lagu dalam Bahasa Inggeris "What A friend we have in Jesus" atau dalam bahasa Melayu, Yesus ada sahabat kita. Lagu ini mengingatkan kita semua bahawa kawan setia kita ialah Yesus. Yesuslah yang mengasihi kita serta berdoa untuk kebaikkan kita. Yesuslah yang menjadi kawan dalam masa kita bergembira dan juga dalam kesusahan. Yesus pun berdoa untuk kita sebagai perantara dengan manusia dengan Tuhan. Ciri-ciri Yesus ini diterap dalam personaliti mendiang. Mendiang mencerminkan sifat-sifat Yesus itu dengan menjadi sahabat yang baik kepada ahl-ahli dalam selnya.

Banyak teladan yang boleh kita mencontohi. Seperti yang dalam Alkitab Roma 12:1 yang berbunyi, "Saudara-saudaraku! Kerana Allah sangat baik kepada kita, aku mengesa kamu supaya mempersembahkan diri sebagai suatu korban yang hidup yang khas untuk Allah dan yang menyenangkan hatiNya. Demikianlah seharusnya kamu beribadat kepada Allah". Jelas ayat ini menyeru agar unat Kristian untuk mepersembah diri kita sebagai korban hidup dengan melayani Tuhan. Nyawa Kritus yang diberikan kepada kita itu, kita berhutang kepadaNya. Oleh itu haruslah kita kerana nyawaNya yang diberikan kepada kita itu dimanfaatkan dengan kerja-kerja yang menyenangkan Tuhan. Kerja-kerja ini untuk Tuhan dan juga untuk jiran-jiran kita. Kita diberi amanat untuk membantu dan mengasihi kawan kita. Itulah ibadat kita. Saya percaya kehidupan mendiang Elder Philip merupakan korban yang hidup yang akan terus bersaksi dalam keluarganya, isterinya, anak-anakya, cucu cicitnya serta jemaat CDPC. Mendiang telah merima pujian dari Tuhannya yang berkata, "Syabas! Kaulah hambaKu yang baik dan setia. Masuklah (ke dalam syurga) dan bersukacitalah bersama-samaKu"

Semoga contoh serta teladan yang ditinggalkan oleh mendiang menjadi dorongan kepada yang masih hidup untuk melayani Tuhan dengan bersungguh. Hanya Tuhan yang tahu tempoh tinggal kita di bumi. Marilah kita berusaha dengan bersungguh untuk kemuliaan Tuhan kerana kasih Tuhan kepada kita itu amatlah besar.

Saya mengakhiri artikel pendek ini dengan sebuah lagu yang digubal oleh Fanny Crosby yang berjudul "To the work". Hayatilah lagu ini dan bacalah isi kandungan ini. Jika anda mengenali Fanny Crosby, anda sudah tentu berasa kagum dengannya. Semoga anda diberkati selalu

To The Work

To the work! To the work! We are servants of God;
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.


Toiling on, toiling on,
Toiling on, toiling on,
Let us hope and trust,
Let us watch and pray,
And labor till the Master comes.

To the work! To the work! Let the hungry be fed;
To the fountain of life let the weary be led;
In the cross and its banner our glory shall be,
While we herald the tidings, “Salvation is free!”


To the work! To the work! There is labor for all;
For the kingdom of darkness and error shall fall;
And the love of our Father exalted shall be,
In the loud swelling chorus, “Salvation is free!”


To the work! To the work! In the strength of the Lord,
And a robe and a crown shall our labor reward,
When the home of the faithful our dwelling shall be,
And we shout with the ransomed, “Salvation is free!”


Thursday, November 25, 2004

We Need Sanctified Thinkers (part 2)

We Need Sanctified Thinkers PART 2

The creative religious thinker is not a daydreamer, not an ivory tower intellectual carrying on his lofty cogitations remote from the rough world. He is more likely to be a troubled, burdened man weighed down by the woes of existence, occupied not with matters academic or theoretical but the practical and personal.

The great religious thinkers of the past were rarely men of leisure; mostly they were men of affairs, close to and very much a part of the troubled world. Neither will the sanctified thinker of our times be a poet gazing at a sunset from some quiet secluded spot, but one who feels himself a traveler lost in a wilderness who must find his way to safety. That others will later follow the path he makes will not be primary in his thinking. Later he will understand this, but for the time being he will be all engaged hunting the way out for himself.

To think well and usefully a man must be endowed with certain indispensable qualifications. He must, for one thing, be completely honest and transparently sincere. The trifler is automatically eliminated. He is weighed in the balance and found too light to be entrusted with the thoughts of God. Let but a breath of levity enter the mind and the power to do creative thinking instantly goes out. And by levity I do not mean wit or even humor; I do mean insincerity, sham, the absence of moral seriousness. Great thoughts require a grace attitude toward life and mankind and Cod.

Another qualification is courage. The timid man dare not think lest he discover himself, an experience to him as shocking as the discovery that he has cancer. The sincere thinker comes to his task with the abandonment of a Saul of Tarsus, crying, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Thinking carries a moral imperative The searcher for truth must be ready to obey truth without reservation or it will elude him. Let him refuse to follow the light and he dooms himself to darkness. The coward may be shrewd or clever but he can never be a wise thinker, for wisdom is at bottom a moral thing and will have no truck with evil.

Again, the effective religious thinker must possess some degree of knowledge. A Chinese saying has it, "Learning without thought is a snare; thought without learning is a danger." I have met Christians with sharp minds but limited outlook who saw one truth and, being unable to relate it to other truths, became narrow extremists, devoutly cultivating their tiny plot, naively believing that their little fence enclosed the whole earth.

An acquaintance with or at least a perception of the significance of what Kant called "the starry heavens above and the moral law within" is necessary to right thinking. Add to this a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, a good historic sense and some intimate contact with the Christian religion as it is practiced currently and you have the raw material for creative thought. Still, this is not enough to make a thinker.

Man is a worshiper and only in the spirit of worship does he find release for all the powers of his amazing intellect. A religious writer has warned us that it may be fatal to "trust to the squirrel-work of the industrious brain rather than to the piercing vision of the desirous heart." The Greek church father, Nicephorus, taught that we should learn to think with our heart. "Force your mind to descend into the heart," he says, "and to remain there… When you thus enter into the place of the heart give thanks to God and, praising His mercy, keep always to this doing, and it will teach you things which in no other way will you ever learn."

It is itself a cliché that the Christian faith is full of apparent self-contradictions commonly called paradoxes. One such paradox is the necessity to repudiate self and depend wholly upon God while at the same time having complete confidence in our own ability to receive and know and understand with the faculties God Himself has given us. That brand of humility which causes a man to distrust his own mentality to the point of moral diffidence and chronic irresolution is but a weak parody on the real thing. It is a serious reflection upon the wisdom and goodness of God to question His handiwork. "Does the clay say to the potter, What are you making?"

A religious mentality characterized by timidity and lack of moral courage has given us today a flabby Christianity, intellectually impoverished, dull, repetitious and, to a great many persons, just plain boresome. This is peddled as the very faith of our fathers in direct lineal descent from Christ and the apostles. We spoon-feed this insipid pabulum to our inquiring youth and, to make it palatable, spice it up with carnal amusements filched from the unbelieving world. It is easier to entertain than to instruct, it is easier to follow degenerate public taste than to think for oneself, so too many of our evangelical leaders let their minds atrophy while they keep their fingers nimble operating religious gimmicks to bring in the curious crowds.

Well, I dare to risk a prophecy: The sheep are soon going to become weary both of the wilted clover we are giving them and the artificial color we are spraying over it to make it look fresh. And when they get sick enough to leave our pastures, Father Divine, Mrs. Eddy and their kind will find them easy victims.

Christianity must embrace the total personality and command every atom of the redeemed being. We cannot withhold our intellects from the blazing altar and still hope to preserve the true faith of Christ.

From the book "God Tells the Man Who Cares" by AW Tozer

We Need Sanctified Thinkers (Part 1)

We Need Sanctified Thinkers

THE CHURCH TODAY IS LANGUISHING for men who can bring to the problems of religion reverent, courageous minds intent upon a solution.

Unfortunately fundamentalism has never produced a great thinker. One may examine the output of the religious press since the turn of the century and not find a single book written by a fundamentalist Christian that gives evidence of any real independent thought. And as for those Christian scholars who, while thoroughly orthodox, yet do not care to be classed with the fundamentalists, they have done little better.

Let it be understood by everyone that I am now and have always been an evangelical. I accept the Bible as the very Word of God and believe with complete and restful confidence that it contains all things necessary to life and godliness. I embrace the tenets of the historical Christian faith without reservation and am conscious of no spiritual sympathy with liberalism in any of its manifestations.

Yet it is my painful duty to record not only that I have not been challenged by the intellectual output of the evangelicals of this generation, but that I have found evidence of genuine religious thinking almost exclusively on the side of those who for one or another reason are in revolt against fundamentalism. We of the gospel churches have sat quietly by and allowed those on the other side to do all the thinking. We have been content to echo the words of other men and to repeat religious clichés ad nauseam.

By this I do not mean to assert that there have been no good or useful books produced in gospel circles in the last fifty years. Undoubtedly there have been. Many good doctrinal books have appeared, mainly expositions of the Pauline Epistles. Some excellent devotional works have also been written, as well as some good Christian biographies and a number of fine books on foreign missions, not to mention a whole raft of books on revival, written usually by persons who never saw a revival of more than local proportions. All these books have served some good end, no doubt, and we may in all sincerity be grateful for them; but the trouble with them is that they are no more than rehashes of other works that have appeared before them. They carry no evidence that they are in any sense original. They were put together out of pieces borrowed from others rather than born out of the anguish and joy of personal experience. They cost the authors nothing beyond the mechanical labor of writing them.

After committing myself to the foregoing sweeping statements I suppose I should provide myself with an escape hatch in case someone drops a depth charge in my vicinity. I admit that I am forced to speak within the framework of my own limited experience, and it could be that some great evangelical thinker has appeared unknown to me and written a masterpiece of which I have not yet heard. If this is so, then I am in error.

Again, if some of my readers should consider such a man as C. S. Lewis an original thinker, I might explain that I would classify Mr. Lewis as an apologist rather than as a creative religious writer. He brings to the defense of historic Christianity a mind as clear as sunlight and an amazing ability to make the faith of our fathers appear reasonable. His weakness, or rather the weakness of his books, lies in an almost total absence of moral urgency. One may read his arguments, admit their soundness and remain completely unmoved by the whole thing. In short, his books persuade the intellect but never get the conscience in trouble. For this reason C· S· Lewis must remain an apologist; he can never be a reformer.

While I am in my spiritual sympathies wholly on the side of the orthodox Christian faith, I am nevertheless forced to acknowledge that evangelicalism as it has been held and taught over the last half century has tended to paralyze the critical faculties and discourage vigorous thinking. Modern gospel Christians are parrots, not eagles, and rather than sail out and up to explore the illimitable ranges of the kingdom of God they are content to sit safe on their familiar perches and repeat in a bright falsetto religious words and phrases the meaning of which they scarcely understand at all. Another generation or two of this and what is now evangelicalism will be liberalism. No living thing can subsist for long on its yesterdays.

The Christians of this generation must see and hear something for themselves if they are to escape religious stultification. Effete catchwords cannot save them. Meanings are expressed in words, but it is one of the misfortunes of life that words tend to persist long after their meanings have departed, with the result that thoughtless men and women believe they have the reality because they have the word for it. That's where we are now.

From the book "God Tells the Man Who Cares" by AW Tozer

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Ilmu Tanpa Amal

Salam Sejahtera dalam Nama Isa AlMasih,

Seperti kata pepatah Melayu Ilmu Tanpa Amal bagaikan Pokok yang cantik tetapi tidak berbuah.

Kita memang kena berusaha dalam mendalami theology kita pasal Tuhan. Memang itu seruanNya. Ajaran dan kehidupan yang berpandukan AlKitab haruslah kita amalkan.

Akan tetapi kita hidup di zaman ini, kenalah mengikuti arus perubahan. Zaman ini memang bukan zaman yang lalu. Dan memang tidak dinafikan perubahan itu memang membawa keburukan daripada kebaikkan.

Kita kenalah bijak dalam menguruskan hal-hal seperti ini, kerana bila kita bertemu dengan Putera Kemuliaan, adakah Dia bertanya sejauh mana ilmu keTuhanan yang kita pelajari atau jiwa-jiwa yang kita bawa padaNya.

Bagi saya, kita kenalah membawa jiwa-jiwa yang sesat ke dalam kerajaanNya, menolong mereka untuk mengubah cara hidup mereka berpandukan dalam AlKitab.

Kita kenalah berdoa untuk Ps Wong, kerana kerja-kerja ini memang sukar dan dia pun kelihatan penat. (burn out) agar dia dapat membawa jemaat CDPC ke arah yang memuliakan Tuhan.

Semoga Tuhan dapat memberikan kita kebijaksanaan dalam mengimbangi amalan dan ilmu keTuhanan (theology).

Saya berasa gembira melihat yang ingin menjadi ahli komuniti CDPC.

Semoga anda berada dalam rahmatNya.

David Ting

p/s : sorrylah BM i memang teruk

Friday, November 19, 2004

Leon's Resources

Soft Copy Library:

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Matrix

Knock, knock.

What about the Matrix trilogy that pulls in the crowds worldwide?

Mega-heartthrob Keanu Reeves in shades, flying like Superman?

Was it the artfully-choreographed butt-kicking, bullet-dodging action?

Or, jaw-dropping Monica Bellucci dressed in latex outfits?

Maybe, it’s all of the above. But there are also some not-so-veiled philosophical themes behind the movies.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

Although the Matrix is no evangelistic tract, here are some of my favorite Matrix themes that seem to be played out rather prominently. (Theists, atheists, postmodernists, Buddhists and Hindus would easily find resonance in some of its themes. Even Osama bin Laden could draw inspiration from the liberation fighters of Zion.)

“There Is No Spoon”

What is the Matrix? It’s a programmed, virtual-reality construct designed to keep human beings docile while their bodies were confined in “battery cells” that fed the Machines with energy. Depending on your worldview, the Matrix could easily be interpreted as naturalism (the idea that life is nothing beyond the molecules and brain signals) or religion as the opium of the masses (Marx) or the illusory samsara etc.

These poor souls have the sensory experience that they eat, work, play and fall in love but in reality, they are enslaved and deceived. How this dark scenario came about was documented in the Animatrix’s ‘spoof’ on biblical creation story.

“In the beginning was Man… And Man created the Machines…” Basically the machines gained artificial intelligence and rebelled against their human masters. Man lost the war and in a desperate attempt, triggered a nuclear holocaust that scorched the skies. Their hope that the machines, deprived of solar power, would shut down was in vain. The Machines found a more grisly source of energy in their former masters’ body heat.

What a grim scenario! It’s only a step away from asking the uncomfortable question:
How do I know what I know is real is real?

Morpheus , the John-the-Baptist-like character, defined reality as “what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see”? Morpheus is name for the Greek god of sleep and dreams.

Is the Real “simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain?” If perception is reality, does a falling tree in the jungle make a sound if nobody is around to hear it? (Philosopher Berkeley would say, “Yes, God is there to perceive it so it’s real”.)

But who would ever deny that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west unless a pesky astronomer called Copernicus told us that it is the earth that revolves around the sun?

Philosophers like Plato and Descartes realized long ago that we could easily be deceived by our sensory perceptions. Descartes began his quest for certainty by doubting everything that can be doubted. Then he realized in order to doubt, he must be a thinking being that exists . This gave rise to the famous air-conditioner ad: “I think therefore I am”.

R.C. Sproul wrote, “Descartes knows he is doubting, because he cannot doubt that he is doubting without establishing doubt. To doubt doubt is to doubt.” (The Consequences of Ideas)

It was the realization that there is no spoon in the illusory Matrix which enabled Neo to perform superhuman feats. The hacker in him could bend its program rules and create his own ‘reality’. Interestingly, it was an insight from the Theravada Buddhist boy-monk.

Looking at it more positively, The Matrix reminds us that life is more than what we can see or touch or feel.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Steven's Khazanah

The Agora gang may contact Steven to borrow these books.

Jack Said's Khazanah

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Movement

There is an emerging consensus and clearer vision of what we want to achieve as a group.

Who are we? The Agora is a learning community that trains ambassadors for Christ to reach out in the marketplace with a biblical worldview.

We are experimenting with the team dynamics using this format:
Each meeting, someone takes turn to share on a relevant topic, while the rest would be free to probe, question and seek clarity in a spirit of humility and respect. There is spontaneity in the flow of ideas, yet we are disciplined and intentional by having a specific topic in mind.

Leon also proposed to have a ‘ministry’ session after each month, which would make use of the research done in the preceding weeks. For example, some members may study a given topic i.e. canon, historical reliability of gospels, historical Jesus. At the end, they would be subject matter experts to give a ‘public’ presentation on Da Vinci Code (ministry).

David Ting, our appointed worship leader, has done a wonderful job with teaching us hymns. We may want to add a musical instrument in the future.

To The Work!

The inaugural presentation was given by Leon, discussing the need for balance (holding truths in tension) and different types of abnormal spirituality in the Church. It was well prepared, delivered with attractive Power point slides.

The activist is busy as a bumble bee, but unreflective about why and wherefores. The ivory-tower scholar is big in the head, but cold in heart and hands. The overfed Christian who lacks exercise or practice is likened to a big belly. We need a biblical vision of spirituality that worships God in both spirit and truth.

The presentation serves as a platform to explore different issues as well.

We had an honest discussion on the difficult doctrine of hell, and the emotional struggle that first-generation Christians often grapple with. Hopefully, Agora would be a safe place to explore our personal doubts. Chee Yen also gave us an informal tour de force on Leo Tolstoy, the novelist and mystic.

Han Meng expressed interest in learning basic Christian doctrines, so that we would know what we believe. It could also be a suitable entry-level for other people in the church.

Pastor Wong suggested teaching materials from All Soul’s Church, which contain topics like the Bible, Jesus, man, eschatology etc. He also shared with us the encouraging development in CWM where evangelicals are becoming bolder to engage the wider body of Christ. There is also a model we can emulate that brings real-life issues in marketplace for theological reflection, and then put these principles to test in the marketplace as a continuous cycle of improvement and learning.

Several things we may want to explore as relevant topics in the future:
• Evangelism
• Share resources
• Basic Christian doctrines
• Training
• Christian worldview
• Share struggles and doubts