Thursday, May 31, 2007
A Malaysian Chinese perspective on the Resurrection: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3
Division in the Corinth Church: Part I and Part II
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
We would be very eager to invite him to do an Agora forum later this year, and I found these Reflections by Lai Wan Chung fascinating: (Read in full)
The pertinent question is, how did the Tao come to be perceived? It certainly wasn’t through revelational propositions and neither did God send prophets as in the biblical accounts. It was a different way that the Tao came to be perceived — through an astute observation of speechless nature and its attributes. Paul affirmed this manner of perceiving God when he wrote in Romans (1:20) “… since the beginning of the world, the invisible attributes of God — his eternal power and divinity — have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving men without any excuse of not knowing Him....” In other words, the Taoists simply had no chance of missing God as they contemplated His handiwork! Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it this way,
“Earth's crammed with Heaven,
And every bush aflame with God.
But only those who see take off their shoes,
The rest stand around and pick blackberries.”
The ultimate activity and goal of Taoism is the practice of seeking after and abandoning oneself to the Truth, or Tao. Thomas Merton, in drawing a parallel to Jesus’ radical call to deny oneself and take up the cross, defines the man of Tao as ‘one in and through whom the Tao acts without impediment’. It seems a reasonable, even compelling, speculation that the Taoist mystics would have very much identified with the mystics of our faith. Their lives and convictions beckon us to seek a deeper walk with God.
Gene Edwards, beloved Christian storyteller and foremost translator of Madame Guyon’s spiritual classics, laments the present state of spiritual experience in the Church in the following candid terms — “Since the end of the first century, no century has excelled in spiritual depth. In fact, most centuries since then have been very, very shallow indeed with only a handful of gloriously shining lights to illumine the darkness. This era — the one you and I live in — has proven to be unquestionably, the most-Bible-centered age since the days of the Pharisees; it also rivals their age for being one of the least in emphasizing spiritual depth! From a purely historical viewpoint, we must be categorized as the most universally shallow believers ever to cross the pages of church history”.
For me, what started off as a noble quest to discover and recover harmonies between our Christian faith and our Chinese roots for the glorious purpose of winning the Chinese for Christ, became a humbling call to re-examine my own spirituality, and then, to accept an invitation to ‘come away’ on a most amazing journey to experience the depths of Jesus Christ.
The Chinese soul longs for its Maker, and the ancient sages’ utter pursuit of the Tao is the ultimate testimony. The heartcry of the Taoist is a very touching one, and is perhaps best expressed in the following verse of the Tao Te Jing — “Before the world exists, there is mystery - silent, depthless, alone, unchanging, ubiquitous and ever moving - the mother of the world. I do not know its name, so I call it Tao…"
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
"I understood the meaning of “web of life” in the many instances that I had caught glimpses of how every thing, down to the cockroach and guano, has a purpose and a place beyond its sole existence that is designed to proliferate and support the life of other living beings. I had spent many moments marvelling incredulously at the intelligent design that is built into every biological system in the jungle and I promise myself that the next time that I come to Mulu, I will not bother to climb any mountains but will just devote time to discovering the thinly veiled secret designs of this abundant, amazing web of life.
And I am feeling absolutely proud that Malaysia has safeguarded this wonderful
showcase of creation so well."
Do check out the useful resources on understanding 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and principles of bible interpretation.
Finally he succumbed to intense peer pressure and decided to join blogdom at The Homilia
Kam Weng: "I have decided to make available excerpts from historical documents related to the framing of the Federal Constitution so that readers can judge for themselves the relationship between Islam and other religions in the original intent of the Social-Legal Contract (1957 and 1963) which envisaged a new democratic nation that grants equal citizenship to members from all communities within a secular polity.
I trust you will find excerpts from the documents given in Social Contract (part 2) helpful".
Check out the full story in Part 1 and Part 2 of Social Contract: Religion and Equal Citizenship. Also some thots on the recent cancellation of Christian-Muslim bridge building dialog entitled: “Humanity in Context: Christian Muslim Perspectives on Being Human.”
Monday, May 28, 2007
"The Reformed perspective is primarily engaged in Malaysia via The Agora, a ministry initiated by City Discipleship Presbyterian Church in Subang Jaya. I still am on the fringes of The Agora although my direct involvement in the discussions have essentially been zero for quite a few months. I do find myself agreeing and in sympathy with a lot of what is discussed despite not being convinced about the comprehensiveness of Reformed theology."
The blog post was really about the Gospel Coalition, and of course, the usual concern that anything with Carson and Driscoll or Tim Keller in there would be automatic suspects to "degenerate into another partisan holy huddle", "exclusive" and "pedestalic", rejecting "newer forms" of churches and believers who dun think like them. And needless to say, when it comes to Brian McLaren's projects, the coast is clear.
Dunno about this, but it does seem charitable if we would speak personally with Carson first at the KVBC to clarify if these concerns are genuine or imagined before giving the poor guy such bad press though. Have we called Carson up personally to check, Bob? Maybe we need to wait till October :)
But never mind, it's always 'nice' for the Agora to be associated with these supposedly "exclusive" folks, though we never asked for it.
There's nothing fresh or ground-breaking here actually. I am reminded of a similar conversation with Alwyn which covered the same misperceptions on the Convergence, Divergence and Submergence back in 2005! (So if you have been out of the loop, maybe those would help)
But I think some short reclarifications are in order.
1) Just because some folks in Emergent Malaysia are open theists doesn't mean that open theism is primarily engaged in Emergent Malaysia. Similarly, if "Reformed theology" refers to a full-blown TULIP soteriology, then neither CDPC nor the Agora are explicitly Reformed even though some of our blog contributors (including yours truly!) are. That doesn't mean we are relativists or postmodernists either.
We are basically evangelicals who believe in the supreme authority of Bible as fully trustworthy rule of faith and conduct, and that by Christ's substitutionary atonement on the cross, sinners could to be graciously reconciled with God through faith.(Vision Statement). In that sense, the perspectives in the AGora are about as inclusive and diverse as the evangelical family in Malaysia, with friends and contributors from EFC, Baptist, Anglican, Brethren, Assembly of God, independent charismatics and Presbyterians too. The invitation to all to come and see, bring along some "siew pao" remains wide open!
2) There is an Agora Online Forum, where we discussed about issues affecting the Malaysian church in general and some theological issues as well. Much personal contact and "providential" collaboration for ministry has sprung up from there. Are we a holy huddle? Our track record speaks for itself, we've been in partnership and supported projects from friends at GCF, OHMSI, Real Love ministry, RZIM, iBridge, Kairos, Mercy Malaysia, MCCC and other churches as well. And I could probably count with three fingers, how many times "reformed theology" (TULIP) was discussed in the Agora Googlegroup. It doesn't mean we're ashamed of it, but simply that we have much bigger fish to fry most of the times. Dun believe, ka? Join us and see la! Hehe...
We're very concerned about connecting God's word with the younger generation (the rakyat) using simple, practical and understandable language. Echoing C.S. Lewis,
I have come to the conclusion that if you cannot translate your own thoughts into uneducated language, then your thoughts are confused. Power to translate is the test of having really understood your own meaning.
3) Just because some of us dun feel too 'restricted' by some touchstones of Christian orthodoxy like the supreme authority of Scripture, substitutionary atonement, Deity of Christ doesn't make us 'exclusive' in a bad sense. Bob probably has his own 'bottom line' somewhere too. Perhaps, short creeds like "truth is personal!"
Although I'm personally not convinced that McLarenism or post-foundationalism is the best way of being missional either, I feel that it is somewhat unfair for us to label others as exclusive or guilty of partisanship, when in fact we believe that they are simply wrong. Dead wrong, perhaps. But the former labels suggests a character defect while the latter suggests a convictional error. It doesn't help to confuse the two.
Whatever it is, I wish Bob and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat all the best in the upcoming general election! Bigger fish to fry? Soli Deo Gloria!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The price of almost everything is going in only one direction: UP. Things are getting more expensive these days, from food items to petrol and even to ASTRO bills (ASTRO has become almost a basic necessity for some of us). If only Christians can buy lottery tickets and have a shot at the jackpot. All of us can use some extra cash (just kidding).
The Bible has a lot to say about money matters. In 1 Timothy 6 v 6, the Bible says that "godliness with contentment is great gain".
Contentment is a famous lost word. In a culture where novelty has become a norm, all of us have to struggle against the lie that "bigger, newer and faster are better!" We are bombarded with constant advertising from all over the place telling us that our life is not complete unless we live in a bigger house and drive a fancier
car and invest in that high yielding portfolio. Contentment? That is something reserved for mystics who spend their days meditating in caves, not for urban dwellers like us who have a "modern standard of living" to maintain. Yet, we all know the well worn phrase, "things cannot buy happiness". Still, we yearn for more stuff that this world can offer, always chasing that elusive fulfillment that the next purchase may bring.
This quote from Herbert Schlossberg stopped me in my tracks recently: "All true needs, such as food, drink, and companionship, are satiable.Illegitima te wants - pride, envy, greed - are insatiable. By their very nature they cannot be satisfied. In that sense, materialism is the opium of the people. Enough is never
enough. Greater quantities are required for satisfaction and each increment proves inadequate the next time."
After reflecting on this quote, I resolved to be a more contented person and focus on legitimate needs. I realized afresh that I do not really need much stuff to get by in this life. True needs are satiable. I can eat a simple plate of "chap fan" and be truly satisfied. I can drink local "kopi O" instead of splurging on a RM10
coffee to quench my thirst. I can drive my wife's Kelisa and reach my destination (since when does transportation become a symbol of success?). When life is simple and we are freed from the tentacles of materialism, we can focus on finding true fulfilment and satisfaction in a growing and vibrant relationship with Christ. It's true that money is not enough. All the money in the world is not enough to give
us a sense of purpose and direction in life. Only Christ can do that.
When we have Christ and we learn to live simply and contently, that is great gain!
Christ is Enough,
Wong Fook Meng
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Saya masih ingat peristiwa di sebuah kedai buku pada musim luruh tahun 1968, di mana saya telah membaca muka surat pertama buku The Weight of Glory karya C.S. Lewis. Jika saya tidak teruskan bacaan sekali pun, hidup saya telah mengalami perubahan yang abadi. Hanya sepatah dua tulisan beliau di sini:
“Kita makhluk yang separuh hati, hanya bermain-main dengan arak dan seks dan cita-cita sendiri sedangkan kegirangan tidak terbatas telah ditawarkan kepada kita, seperti seorang budak jahil yang beria-ia dengan mainan lumpur di tepi longkang kerana dia tidak dapat membayangkan apa ertinya diajak bercuti di tepi laut yang jernih. Terlalu mudah sekali kita berpuas hati.”
Hampir 30 tahun telah berlalu, namun masih teruja saya memikirkan cahaya penemuan yang menyerbu sanubari. Segalanya tidak akan seperti dahulu lagi. Hanya satu paragraf ayat dalam buku sudah mampu mengecapi perubahan yang muktamad.
Fenomena ini bukanlah luar biasa. 1600 tahun terlebih dahulu pada August tahun 386, jiwa Augustine dilanda kekecohan. Dalam sebuah taman di Milan, Italy, beliau menghempaskan tubuh sendiri di bawah pokok ara dengan air tangisan yang membasahi pipi. Katanya, “Saya mencengkam rambut dan menghantuk dahi dengan genggaman buku lima; saya mendakap lutut dengan kuncian jari sendiri.”
Kemudian dia terdengar “nyanyian suara seorang kanak-kanak lelaki atau perempuan, saya kurang pasti, tapi berkali-kali ia mengulang rangkap lagu, “Angkat dan baca, angkat dan baca”. (Tolle Legge) Augustine pun menerima nasihat ini sebagai “perintah Tuhan untuk membuka Alkitab dan membaca petikan pertama yang dilihat matanya.” Beliau buka dan baca, “Jangan dalam pesta pora dan kemabukan, jangan dalam percabulan dan hawa nafsu, jangan dalam perselisihan dan iri hati. Tetapi kenakanlah Tuhan Yesus Kristus sebagai perlengkapan senjata terang dan janganlah merawat tubuhmu untuk memuaskan keinginannya.” (Roma 13:13-14)
Dua kalimat Alkitab ini serta-merta menghurai simpulan hatinya. “Saya tidak ingin meneruskan bacaan kerana tiada lagi keperluan untuk berbuat demikian. Dalam sekelip mata, apabila sampai di penghujung ayat, jiwa saya seakan dibanjiri cahaya keyakinan dan segala kegelapan rasa sangsi langsung lenyap.”
Bagi Martin Luther, pengalaman yang serupa berlaku kepadanya setelah membaca satu lagi petikan surat Paulus, Roma 1:16-17. Bagi Jonathan Edwards, ia berdasarkan 1 Timotius 1:17. Bagi John Wesley, beliau terasa hatinya diselubungi kehangatan yang luar biasa setelah membaca kata pendahuluan dalam Komentar Buku Roma, karya Luther. Dan senarai nama ini boleh digandakan.
Yang penting, tabiat membaca buku (atau laman web!) itu seumpama mengumpul kayu api, tetapi nyalaan marak tercetus daripada serangkai dua perkataan sahaja. Jejak mendalam yang tertera di minda bukanlah hasil timpunan naskhah-naskhah, tetapi kesan sekata dua yang hangat dalam bakaran api Tuhan.
Saya berdoa agar Tuhan berkenan untuk menyemarakkan petikan-petikan singkat ini dalam fikiran anda. Bahan bacaan di sini hanyalah dua tiga muka surat. Ia tidak mengikut mana-mana sistem susunan topik. Hanya satu hasrat demi menikmati keunggulan Tuhan dalam setiap aspek kehidupan yang menghubungi artikel-artikel terkandung di laman web ini. Semoga matlamat tercapai demi membangkit dan memuaskan rasa dahaga umat Kristen terhadap kemuliaan Tuhan.
Petikan buku A Godward Life karya John Piper, muka surat 13-14
"We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own. We demand windows."  We demand stories. It’s how we make sense of the world. Narratives grip us, for good or bad: witness the heartbreaking drama of Madeleine McCann’s kidnapping currently unfolding in the British press. Negatively, it’s why gossip holds so much appeal. The windows are shut, we want them pried open. It’s Gnosticism all over again – “secret knowledge” only known to the elite.
But surely the realm of the imagination has no bearing on reality? They’re fun, they’re entertaining, great for a Saturday night out. But the world of the fictive isn’t so easily separated from what we call the “real world”. They reflect something we already know – we already have an image of New York in our minds, regardless of whether it’s accurate or not, or whether we’ve actually been to the Big Apple – before going to watch Spiderman 3. Even fantastic creations – talking animals and extraterrestrials, have something fundamentally human about them that help make them identifiable in some way to us. But they can shape us too. Fables, fairy tales, morality plays all recognise this. In Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Briony witnesses something which she can’t make heads or tails of, and, not being in possession of all sides of the story, allows her imagination to see things that aren’t quite there which ends up having real consequences.  "In works of fiction, we explore the possibilities of understanding and living in this world." 
Imagination is often thought of as that belonging to the special few – the artist, the inventor, the musician. But we all have imagination, it simply is that faculty which helps us explain life as it is and it ought to be. It’s part of being human, and it also is not exempt from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Read on...
Monday, May 14, 2007
The air was teeming with anticipation as Stuart begun his presentation. The many views sat unseen in the mind of the audience, a fundamentalist viewer or two perplexed that CDPC would even host such an event as this, many post modern youth curios to hear another X-file's like conspiracy theory and the average CDPC thinking Christian, wondering if he is going to call it all a hoax or blame it on the devil.
Stuart begin by taking us down memory lane recalling the 1960's when Gene Roddenberry launched the popular series 'Star Trek' that begin the worldwide interest in this phenomenon. But the interest in the phenomenon had begin earlier. Most people narrow the beginning of the modern rash of UFO sightings down to a day in 1947, on June 24 to Kenneth Arnold who observed, from his private plane, nine disk-like, silver objects flying in formation over Mount Rainier, Washington and he described them as "flying saucers". Later as Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt coins the phrase "UFO" to replace the term "flying saucers" to try and diffuse the sensationalism on this matter, but despite his efforts the media in the US hype it up and he gets almost 40 reports of sightings a day.
Stuart then proposes that popularity of ET's and UFO's because they carry with them some profound questions like;
"Are these our ancient ancestor's coming to visit us?"
"Does this mean that we are not alone in the universe?"
"Is the answer to humanity's meaning and purpose found in this phenomena?"
Read the rest of the discussions here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Oleh Collin Hansen : 6 April 2006 4.30 petang
Diterjemahkan Oleh "10Sen"
Terjemahan artikel Christianity Today
Injil Yudas itu muncul kembali ke dunia moden buat kali pertamanya pada hari Khamis di Washington D.C. Apakah kandungan Injil Yudas itu? Pertama sekali, ianya jelas bukan sebuah Injil. Ia juga bukan dikarang oleh Yudas. Tetapi ia memang penting, malah ia merupakan penemuan teks luar-alkitabiah yang terpenting dalam 60 tahun yang belakang ini, sepertimana seorang eksekutif National Geographic Society telah memberitahu The New York Times
Teks ini, iaitu satu salinan dokumen yang tertulis semasa kurun kedua selepas Masihi, menampakkan beberapa berita yang besar. Rupa-rupanya, Yudas bukanlah pengikut jahat yang mengkhianati Yesus dan telah membunuh diri kerana kesal. Tidak, Yudas ini hanya menurut kehendak Yesus. Kononnya, Yesus telah menerangkan kepada Yudas bahawa dia akan “melebihi semua [pengikut-pengikut Yesus]” sekiranya dia menyebabkan Yesus disalib.
Ini tentu akan mengubah beberapa perkara, sekiranya benar. Tetapi “berita” ini bukanlah sebab Injil Yudas itu bernilai. Sebaliknya, kerana teks ini, kita dapat mengesahkan dengan lanjut apa yang telahpun diketahui umum mengenai kaum Gnostik – orang yang mempunyai kefahaman menyeleweng yang dikutuk oleh ketua-ketua gereja awal seperti Irenaeus. Jangan keliru dengan kemunculan nama Yesus dan Yudas. Ini bukan teks Kristian. Injil Yudas tidak tersebar sehingga 150 tahun selepas Yesus mangkat. Dalam erti kata lain: Teks baru ini tidak memberi maklumat baru mengenai hubungan Yesus dengan Yudas lebih daripada wayang “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
Sehingga penerbitan Injil Yudas dan teks kaum Gnostik yang ditemui beberapa dekad dulu berhampiran Nag Hammadi di Mesir, kita banyak mempelajari mengenai fahaman Gnostik melalui penulisan apologis Kristian. Kerana Injil Yudas, kita sekarang dapat menentusahkan dua ajaran Gnostik yang utama. Menurut ramai tokoh ajaran Gnostik, Yesus tidak menjelma dalam tubuh manusia, atau dia mahu meninggalkan tubuh jasmaniahnya secepat mungkin. Yesus amat mahu kembali ke dunia roh. Dan Yudas telah menolong dalam pencapaian hasrat itu.
(“Engkau akan mengorbankan manusia yang menjadi jubah aku”, Yesus yang “rohaniah” memberitahu Yudas di dalam dokumen ini). Tambahan, kaum Gnostik percaya bahawa hanya segelintir yang terpilih sahaja yang akan benar-benar menghayati pengetahuan khas mengenai syurga. Injil Yudas mengandungi ajaran bahawa hanya Yudas, pengikut kesayangan Yesus, memahami sepenuhnya.
Kepercayaan Kristian jauh berbeza dengan ajaran Gnostik. Yesus, sebenarnya Tuhan dan sebenarnya manusia, telah mengalami kelahiran di bangsal dan kematian pada salib. Dia telah berkongsi dalam kemanusiaan kita, “supaya dengan kematiannya, ia dapat menghancurkan Iblis yang menguasai kematian” (Ibrani 2:24). Khabar ini bukan terbatas kepada segolongan kecil yang akan mencapai gnosis (pengetahuan khas) sahaja. Injil itu adalah “… kekuatan Allah untuk menyelamatkan semua orang yang percaya; pertamanya orang Yahudi, dan bangsa lain juga.” (Rom 1:16)
Walau bagaimanapun, ada yang mendakwa bahawa Injil Yudas dan teks-teks Gnostik yang lain membawa kesangsian terhadap kefahaman Kristian ortodoks. “Apabila penemuan-penemuan ini beransur-ansur tersebar ke gereja-gereja dan universiti-universiti,” pemberita New York Times John Noble Wilford dan Laurie Goodstein menulis, “terbentuklah generasi Kristian baru yang menganggap kitab Bible bukan Firman Tuhan, tetapi adalah hasil ciptaan angkatan kuasa politik dan sejarah yang telah memutuskan apakah teks yang sepatutnya dikanonkan,  dan mana yang patut disunting keluar. Kerana sebab ini, penemuan-penemuan tersebut telah terbukti amat merisaukan kepada ramai penganut Kristian.”
Siapakah penganut-penganut agama Kristian yang amat risau itu? Kita kurang pasti kerana nampaknya, Wilford dan Goodstein tidak menemubual seseorang daripada mereka pun. Karen King dan Elaine Pagels membangkitkan kembali lakonan Gnostik mereka. Kita juga bertemu dengan James Robinson, seorang cendekiawan tersisih yang telah mengarang sebuah buku tentang Injil Yudas tanpa melihat sendiri teks tersebut. Namun, Akhbar New York Times tidak menyebut bahawa Robinson percaya Injil Yudas itu tidak memberi maklumat apa-apa pun mengenai sejarah Yudas atau Yesus.
Saya telah berbincang dengan Darrell Bock daripada Dallas Theological Seminary beberapa jam sebelum beliau dijadualkan untuk bersyarah di Princeton, iaitu majikan Pagels. Dia menerangkan beberapa kepelikan mengenai kumpulan yang telah memberi kita Injil Yudas itu. Nampaknya, kumpulan “Cainite Gnostics” memperoleh nama julukan mereka daripada usaha mereka cuba ‘memulihkan’ orang yang aib dalam kitab Bible seperti Kain, orang Sodom dan Yudas.
Bock juga menunjukkan bahawa Al-kitab (kitab Bible) memang mengandungi pelbagai perspektif yang menarik berkenaan Yudas. Markus menggambarkan Yudas sebagai seorang yang terhuyung-hayang, sama seperti pengikut-pengikut Yesus yang menyalahfahami ajarannya. Yohanes yang menulis selepas Markus, menerangkan Yudas dengan cara lain. Yudas mengeksploitasikan kedudukannya sebagai bendahari untuk mencuri dari laci duit, dan Yesus memanggilnya “syaitan”. (Yohanes 6:70)
Menurut Bock, ajaran kitab Bible menunjukkan bahawa Yudas telah mengharapkan Al-Masih yang berlainan. Dengan perasaan yang hampa, dia telah menyerahkan Yesus yang dianggapnya sebagai ancaman kepada negara Yahudi. “Yudas mencerminkan seseorang yang telah menolak Yesus pada akhirnya,” kata Bock. “Ia adalah satu kisah yang tragik – bukannya sesuatu yang dikutuk semata-mata, tetapi kita harus berasa kesal dan sedih mengenainya.”
Ianya lebih tragik dan sedih daripada perolahan semula pendebatan lama mengenai kesahihan kepercayaan Kristian yang ortodoks.
 "Kanon" dalam agama Kristian ialah daftar kitab rasmi yang diterima sebagai sebahagian Alkitab, dianggap ilham dari Tuhan. (Sumber: Karya.net )
Apakah Itu Injil Yudas? (Gnostik)
Yudas Yang Mana Ni? (Gnostik)
Apakah Itu Injil Thomas?
Juga di sini
Apakah Itu Injil Barnabas? (Islam)
Apakah Itu Injil Barnabas? (II)
Apakah Itu Septuaginta?
Apakah Itu Da Vinci Code?
Apakah Itu Injil Filipus?
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The programme for 2007 anticipates a series of 6 monthly meetings beginning in June, where small groups engage in energizing discussions and share reflections on issues pertinent to Halftime. The meetings will be facilitated by Professor Living Lee of University Malaya (PhD Geology), Mr Foo Chee Tiew, Managing Director of Agathae, Mr Cheong Seng Gee, Executive Director of P.O.D. and others.
Contact any of us for more details:
(i) Doris Oh at firstname.lastname@example.org
(ii) Living Lee at email@example.com
Saturday, May 05, 2007
"Why are Christians so indecisive in practice?
The answer is due, in no small part, to the belief that God has a wonderful plan for every Christian. Like an archer targeting the bull’s-eye, the Christian aims to walk in the “centre of God’s will.” If such is the case, the onus of decision-making lies with God. In fact, decisions would have already been cast-in-stone in God’s plan. The task of the Christian, then, is to find God’s will and act on it. Thus the energy of the Christian is diverted from facing the decision to discovering God’s will. Instead of daring to decide, the Christian holds back, frozen in indecisiveness.
Does the Bible present God as having a fixed, inflexible blueprint or a directed, yet fluid purpose? According to R. Paul Stevens: “It is a myth and misunderstanding that God has a wonderful plan for your life; God has something better—a wonderful purpose (Eph 1:9) … The difference between a plan and a purpose is like the difference between a blueprint and a stream that carries people along even though they may make adjustments along the way.”
Adam and Eve were given the freedom to eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Ge 2:16-17). They were given the freedom to choose within the bounds of God’s revealed will. According to Luther, the will of God is found in loving God and one’s neighbour. These are the two greatest commandments and we can think of them as the two banks of the stream of God’s will. As long as our decisions lie within the bounds of these two commandments, we are flowing with God’s purposes." READ ON
~ ron.day.voo - activities for christian singles aged 25 and above ~
Details are as follows:
Date: Saturday, 12 May 2007
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Venue: Latter Rain Church, SS2 AND Cathay Cineleisure Damansara
Cost: RM25 (includes snacks, games and movie ticket)
CLOSING DATE: 7th May 2007. Book now as spaces are limited. Book online or get more information at http://www.rendezvous.com.my
Alex Lam, The Rendezvous Crew
Friday, May 04, 2007
Yet, I’m being drawn to grow in encouragement. I know of the power of encouragement because I have felt its effects. I know how a word of encouragement can carry me through tough times. I’ve felt renewed strength from someone thanking me for my relatively minor contribution. I’ve benefited from a reminder of a biblical truth applied to my circumstance.
So, I'd like to grow in this grace of encouragement – to be applied at home, at work, at church and in my community.
Here’s what I’m realizing as I’m pondering this area in my life –
Genuine encouragement isn’t just a technique, a set of platitudes or even a mindset – it’s a grace from God. It’s not easy being an encouraging person if you’re not encouraged in your heart. Our encouragement is rooted in God and ultimately comes from Him.
Here’s how Paul prayed for the Thessalonians –
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thess 2:16)
We should be purposeful about growing in encouragement but we should begin by looking to God who by His grace, gave us eternal encouragement and hope. If I reduce encouragement primarily to a set of techniques, I’ve clearly missed the mark.
Also, encouragement isn’t just about making others feel better about themselves. True encouragement infuses hope and strength. In the above passage, Paul’s prayer for encouragement was to result in strengthened believers.
That said, here are simple steps I’m pursuing to be more encouraging.
1. Slowing down to take an interest in those around me. I’m often so single minded and goal oriented that I fail to notice people around me, much less take an interest in them. Yet, when someone extends the genuine courtesy of inquiring about how my family is doing, I deeply appreciate the care. Especially at work, we are reminding people that they are more than the sum of their production. Our interest expresses our belief that they are created in the image of God
2. Saying thanks. Taking the time to say thanks for small gestures of work or effort is important. It expresses to the individual that their contribution, though small is not insignificant. It reaffirms that their efforts did not go unnoticed by you, nor by their Creator.
3. Be gracious to others when they fail. We all make mistakes but it is one of the blind spots in my life that I am more aware of the mistakes of others than I am of my own. May I learn to extend the grace, I’ve received from God and others.
4. Be generous to others when they don’t expect it. What an opportunity to reflect God who overwhelms us with His generosity. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32. Enough said on this point.
5. Remind others of God’s truth. Nothing is more encouraging than unfailing truth. In the toughest of times, our pithy sayings and axioms may fall short but God’s word will never fail us. I want to learn to incorporate this at home, at church but also at work.
6. Communicate observed evidences of grace. Even when we think there is little to encourage in others, it may simply mean that we're not looking in the right way. We need God's help to see the evidences of His grace at work in their lives. It may be observing how someone demonstrates patience in a difficult situation. It may involve the use of a particular gift or skill.
Needless to say, there are more ways to be encouraging but I’m just starting this journey…
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
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