Saturday, June 20, 2009

Loving God With All Our Mind

Mark 12:28-34 (sermon audio download available here)

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the dinosaurs? How did those giant lizards become extinct? And did the Bible ever mention anything about them? Have you ever asked these questions before? I suspect quite a number of you have.

I came to know Christ as a 15 year old student in secondary school. That’s not too long ago. As a curious new believer, I began asking how the Genesis account of creation in seven days explains those interesting dinosaurs you’d find watching Jurassic Park or National Geographic. So hoping to get some answers, one fine day I picked up the courage to ask my science teacher who is also a Christian. I asked him: “Why did God create dinosaurs and let all of them die, ah? Were the dinosaurs safe inside Noah’s ark? Did the flood drown all of them?” He gave me “one kind” of look and then asked me another question in return. He said: “Tell me. Does God answer your prayers?”

I was a bit shocked at first. “Er… Don’t blame me la… I didn’t pray for the dinosaur’s extinction ok!” Maybe he sensed that I was confused, so he went on, “Aiya… If God has answered your prayers, why do you need to ask so many things?” So if you have an experience that God is real in your heart, why bother thinking so much?

From that day on, I found out that for many Christians an intellectual understanding of what we believe and why you believe is not important as long as you have an experiential feeling in your heart! The heart is what you used in a relationship with God but the brain is what you used while studying science, computers, economics and history in school. There is a separation of the heart for spiritual stuffs and the mind for secular stuffs like dinosaurs. When that happens, no wonder our faith has so little impact on how we do our work or studies in the world. And no wonder our ‘daily activities’ outside the church has very little to do with God or the gospel.

But the Bible seems to say: “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your minds”. It doesn’t say “Be transformed by the removal of your minds”! So we don’t need to remove our brains in order to be a Christian. In fact, renewing our mind with God’s truth and kingdom values is crucial to our spiritual growth. Last month, I was working in Vietnam and met an American lady on a tour bus who works for a research program, trying to find a cure for cancer. As we talked, she told me that she envies her Christian friends for their faith. She says “It’s so easy for them but it’s hard for me to believe because as a scientist, I’ve been trained to think critically and ask questions first”. So I encouraged her, “Sometimes people ask questions not because of unbelief, but because they are serious about the truth”. Then I recommended her a book by a famous Christian scientist and hope it’s helpful to her.

To a lot of people, when you wish something is true but suspect that it actually doesn’t exist you need faith. And when you know for sure that something isn’t true and you still believe in it, then you must have very great faith indeed. But biblical faith is not like that. True faith involves knowledge, agreement and trust. For example, I can examine that this is a chair, it has four legs. That’s knowledge of the facts. But knowing alone is not enough, I must agree that yes, this chair is strong enough to support my weight. But knowing and agreeing alone won’t do me any good unless I put a personal commitment to rest my weight on that chair. So faith has both objective facts as well as personal trust.

In the passage we read just now, Jesus calls us (his disciples) to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our strength, with all our soul and with all our mind. This is the great and first commandment that sums up the entire law. True Christian spirituality involves our whole being - heart, head and hand. Our feeling, thinking and doing are all involved.

If we do not love God with all our heart, what happens? Our spiritual life will be all head knowledge but there is no real passion, desire or joy in it. We merely analyze God but we don’t worship Him. And if we do not love God with all our strength, then no practical fruit comes out of our beliefs. It’s NATO “No Action Talk Only”. Next Sunday Pastor Aik Khiam will preach on the Great Commandment of Jesus in more detail so…

Today I just want to zoom in on loving God with all our mind and ask 3 questions:
- Now, what happens if we do not love the Lord our God with “all our mind”?
- What are some practical benefits of developing a Christian mind?
- If this is important and practical, what can we do as disciples of Jesus to follow after God’s thoughts? To disciple our minds to love God…

So I hope to suggest why the role of the mind is so crucial to our discipleship, how a renewed Christian mind can be intensely practical (not just theoretical) and how we can go about loving God with “all our mind” as a church.

Many of us know about Billy Graham… he’s a great evangelist who has probably preached the gospel to more people than anyone else through radio and TV broadcasts and mass evangelistic rallies. Almost 30 years ago, the Billy Graham Centre was launched with a mission to help churches to evangelize. At the dedication service, they invited a Lebanese Christian named Charles Malik to deliver a very challenging message. He said: “I must be frank with you: the greatest danger facing American Evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind as to its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough… The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world. Indeed it may turn out you have actually lost the world.” In other words, he’s saying, even if the whole world become Christian in name but their thinking is still captured by worldly patterns, then it may turn out that we have actually lost the world. If he is right and I think he is about a very common neglect to care for the life of the mind not only in America but also in Malaysia, then perhaps it is appropriate for us as a church to spend a bit more time exploring how we may love God with ‘all our mind’. So that’s one reason to devote a whole sermon on this aspect of obeying the Great Commandment. Not because the other areas are not important, but because there is such widespread neglect for such a crucial need today.

So what happens if we do not love the Lord our God with “all our mind”?

Nowadays, information about anything under the sun is just a Google search away. We cannot totally isolate ourselves or our loved ones from ideas… even dangerous ideas or deceptive philosophies out there in the market.

And if we do not submit our thinking to God’s truth, then obviously our minds will be easily influenced by worldly ways of life. We may still call ourselves Christians but we absorb notions about wealth, about sex and about success from MTV, popular movies or Youtube without even knowing it. Our thinking will be shaped by the patterns of the world, all those big words like hedonism that says (Life is short. Grab all the fun you can get), or consumerism (I shop till I drop because my social status depends on what I buy) or pragmatism (Whatever. As long as it works, I don’t care how you do it), and all sorts of other ‘ism or philosophies about life.

If we do not care for our mind, we may also run around with lots of programs and activities (giving an appearance of vibrant spiritual life) but we don’t stop and reflect “Why are we doing this? Is this biblical? We may do things right but are we doing the right things?” Or we may also run the danger of emotionalism – that means, having lots of misguided passion, having lots of zeal but without wisdom. Sad but true, I’ve come across some sincere but seriously misguided people who slither on the floor like snakes, roar like lions, bark like dogs because they mistakenly believed that is what God wanted them to do. Truth without emotion produce dead orthodoxy but emotion without a true vision of the greatness of God produces a shallow frenzy. The Father in heaven looks for worshippers who worship in spirit and in truth. Passionate feelings for God rooted in sound doctrine about God will express itself in songs, shouts, tears, silent awe, confessions and obedient lives. Head and heart and hands…

Last but not least, if we do not know what we believe and why we believe, then our evangelism or our witness of the gospel will suffer. We will lack boldness because we are afraid of the questions people may ask. When I have lunch with some colleagues, we usually talk about work, the economy, Malaysian politics or family stuffs. And there’s a guy who is very shy and has no opinion when it comes to topics like these. But if the conversation suddenly turns to football, then his eyes will light up and he cannot stop talking. Why? Because he knows a lot about football and he can offer expert opinions on anything relating to football like Shebby Singh. So he’s not shy or quiet anymore. It’s the same when it comes to sharing the gospel. That’s why 1 Peter 3:15 says: “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope you have in Christ.” This command to be ready with a reason or defence for frequently-asked questions from sceptics and seekers is not given to an elite group of scholars or intellectuals. No, it’s for the whole church. Be prepared. Be equipped with answers. Then boldness kicks in.

But if it is so important to love God with our mind, why do many Christians often downplay the role of the mind when it comes to spiritual things? When it comes to secular knowledge, we say “Ah Chai: Stop your computer games, study harder, memorize these facts and pass all your exams”. We encourage them to devote much time to read books and use their minds. But when it comes to theological knowledge, we say “Who needs theology? Aiya, don’t think so much la... Just have more faith. Read books ah? Where got time? Busy la…” This common suspicion towards the role of the mind in our spiritual life may sometimes be caused by misunderstanding certain Bible passages. For example: “What’s the use of reason since Jesus says we should have faith like a child? (Matthew 8:13) Didn’t the apostle Paul say Knowledge puffs up our pride (1 Corinthians 8:1) so we should stop pursuing knowledge?”

But actually, a childlike faith refers to a humble, dependent trust in God. It is the humility and dependent trust of a helpless child that Jesus praises. He is not encouraging childish thinking. The apostle Paul wrote, “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (1 Corinthians 14:20) When he wrote that knowledge puffs up, he is warning us against a proud attitude that show off one’s spiritual knowledge for self-promotion instead of using it to build up each another. The real problem he’s getting at is arrogance, not knowledge in itself. So our proper response is humility and love, not ignorance. There are people who are knowledgeable and yet humble just as there are people who are proud and know a lot. But it is also possible to be arrogant and ignorant at the same time. I’m in the consulting line and sometimes people say of consultants: “Know a bit but pretend to know it all”. Gordon Fee: why must we choose between ‘fool on fire’ or a ‘scholar on ice’? Lord, help me to be a “scholar on fire”. Not everyone is called to be a scholar, but we should all be disciples of Jesus whose minds continually grow in knowledge and hearts continually burn with passion.

Q2: OK, fine but is it practical or not? This business about developing a ‘Christian mind’ - Isn’t it just theoretical, head knowledge that does not help us live properly?

When Doctor Wendy and I look at the same skin problem, we “see” radically different things. She can observe more because with years of study, her mind is filled with relevant medical concepts that enable her to look for the right things and tell me whether it’s a basal cell carcinoma or not. Whereas I can stare at the sore all day and not see what she saw. Believe me, this ability to see is something very practical. It can make a difference between life and death. Similarly, if your mind is equipped with biblical concepts like creation, sin and redemption, you are able to look at life and the world and see things that others don’t even notice. You can see beyond surface appearance in world events, culture or people and discern truth from error, right from wrong, beauty from ugliness.

Although there is some truth to the perception that scholars always argue over irrelevant issues, the best theologians actually help us to gain wisdom for life. After all, a good theory is a very practical thing. When I don’t know the way to KLCC, having a good map helps me decide whether to turn left at this junction or right at that traffic light. The map itself is not KLCC but just a theoretical model of the real thing. But if the map is accurate, it can be very useful. In the same way, an accurate mental map of reality guides our navigation through difficult decisions in the world.

Because what we believe to be true has a powerful influence over how we should live. For example, if we view human life as just a biological machine, we won’t be terribly inclined to treat it with much dignity or respect. But if we see human beings as more than biology but also a person made in the image of God with infinite worth, it compels us to treat life as sacred and other people with dignity and respect. Sound theology is practical when it connects to life and flow from the head to the heart and to the hands. True knowledge and living experience should enrich each other.

And if we are serious about our witness for the gospel in a multi religious society like Malaysia, we need to intentionally raise up a generation of confident, informed and winsome ambassadors for Christ. We can preach with all the fervor of a Billy Graham but win only a beggar here and there if we allow the intellectual atmosphere of our society to oppose the gospel by sheer logic. The strategy is not retreat and isolate ourselves in a safe little corner. But to cultivate a robust Christian worldview that understands and engages culture. To do that, we need to provide thinking tools that empower our youths and children, so they will learn how to evaluate what’s true and good on their own. My wife Grace is scheduled to deliver tomorrow. Newborn babies get a vaccination jab which contain some virus or bacteria so that their immune system can be developed. Similarly, we can boost up our spiritual immune system by being informed of what other religious beliefs are first and be equipped to evaluate them from a biblical perspective.

Today, there is an urgent and serious need for us to explore how the church as a redeemed community in the world responds to issues like racism, inter-religious harmony, economic inequality, caring for creation, the spread of infectious diseases, and ethics in medical technology. Since the gospel is public truth (not just private experiences), we have a responsibility to speak sensibly in the public square, through the media, in places where these crucial and practical issues of life are discussed and decided. We cannot address these burning issues in our Malaysian society without faithfully and diligently applying our minds to connect God’s word with God’s world.

Lastly, if the mind is crucial and practical to our spiritual life and witness, how then shall we recover and develop a Christian mind in ourselves and in others? (Q3)

Here are four simple suggestions which are by no means exhaustive:

a) Our mind needs to be fed. You are what you eat. If you eat junk food, your body will be weak or sick. You are what you read also. If you read healthy, solid books, your mind will also develop strong mental muscles or habits. There is no short cut. Let’s start small: Have we read the whole Bible at least once? LT Jeyachandran: If we don’t even know what’s inside this book, why do we believe it is God’s word?

b) Memorizing bible verses and facts alone doesn’t mean that we have developed a Christian mindset. Our minds need exercise. We need to re-imagine creatively and critically how to apply the biblical teachings of creation, sin, and redemption to life issues we face daily in the marketplace as a lawyer, artist, businessperson, teacher, healthcare workers etc. Advertisement: The church library has invested in many interesting helpful resources to equip us to do just that. Start with your own interests and passions.

c) If you are a student, do you think Christianly about the subjects you learn in school or college? I once met a student in church who was studying psychology at HELP Institute. So I encouraged her: “Wow, that’s an interesting field. There are many areas in which psychology overlap to what the Bible teaches about the soul. Some faculty members like Dr Goh Chee Leong are committed Christians”. What she told me next broke my heart: “You know what, most Christians would frown when they hear that I’m doing psychology and you are one of few people who actually encouraged to pursue it”. I know there are some theories in psychology that may be incompatible with the Christian faith. But in every discipline, including law, economics, arts and science, you’d find some theories which do not fit well with our beliefs. If we discourage people from studying and run away then who’s going to get in there and do better psychology, better economics and better science from a biblical outlook? Speak to the pastors and see how you may discern what is true, beautiful and right expressed in these disciplines of your research. They could well be your “fulltime ministry” in future.

d) Volunteer to join or lead evangelism groups like Alpha or Christianity Explored where small groups are trained in the art of giving a reason for our faith in Christ. So you learn to handle frequently asked questions from seekers with humility, confidence and knowledge. When you are stumped once, just say “I don’t know but I’d find out for you” – then go home and do your homework, ask around and get back to them. That way, all of us learn to grow in our journey of faith.

Can you imagine what the transformation of our spirituality and witness in society looks like when our minds are regularly renewed with such practices? It is a lifelong project that requires lots of energy and time, but the effort will be worth your while. And you’ll never know just when a curious young believer may approach you with questions like “Why did God create the dinosaurs?”

You know what, recently, a student in MMU asked me about the dinosaurs and how they fit in Genesis. Ask and you shall be asked in return.

Do you know how I answered him? Basically I gave him a few possible Christian answers to that question, some pros and cons in each theory depending on how you look at the fossils and how you understand the book of Genesis. But in the end, the Bible is not meant to be a biological textbook to tell us everything about dinosaurs. Genesis tells us who created the universe and why everything is created, but its main purpose is not to tell us specifically how it all came about. Then one female student chipped in: “If God didn’t create dinosaurs, we won’t have any petroleum today! Our cars depend on fossil fuel ma...” And I thought “Ya hor… Have you ever thought of becoming a theologian?”

The point is this: Loving God with “all our mind” does not mean that we can understand absolutely everything about God and His ways. Because God is God, and we are finite creatures, there will always be mystery. And some of our questions will only be answered when we meet God one day. That should not be an excuse for us to be lazy in our thinking, but it is a needed reminder that there is a limit to our ability to reason and sometimes, all we can do is save up our questions for heaven… To ask God when we finally meet Him face to face…

Let us pray.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


MaKasih a non-profit community project, serving families with special needs children, specifically children with learning difficulties, irrespective of race & religion. It also provide an avenue for parents to network, share and form support groups among themselves. 'MaKasih' is short for 'Terima Kasih' in appreciation that
every child is unique, fearfully & wonderfully made by God. Makasih is located in CDPC, SS15 Subang Jaya.

Services provided:
1) Monthly Playgroup Activities (July 2009 onwards)
Activities include Gym/Gross Motor, Music & Movement, Songs & Story, Art & Craft, Fun With Sense & free-play. Through play, children learn to interact with one another & develop social & communication skills

2) Loan of toys and books (January 2010 onwards)
Including toys for motor development among others

How to register your child for Makasih's Playgroup and activities:
Call Alicia 03-5621 2844 or email: to register
(We're sorry to inform that registration for Monthly Playgroup is currently full. To be on our waiting list, pls email your details: name, contact no., home area, Child's name, date of birth and condition)

Terms & Conditions of membership:
1) Membership fee is RM30/- for the period July to December 2009. Non refundable.
2) Whilst every precaution is taken to ensure your child’s wellbeing and safety, you agree to absolve CDPC and its associates or staff of any liability or injury that may occur whilst attending our playgroup.
3) If your child is sick the night before or morning of Playgroup, please keep your child at home. No child should be brought to Playgroup if he/she has a temperature, diarrhea or vomiting within 15 hours prior to coming.
4) If your child has an infectious disease such as chicken pox, measles, conjunctivitis etc. please keep your child at home for the appropriate quarantine period. This is to protect babies and pregnant mothers at the Playgroup.
5) If you are unable to attend any of the Playgroup sessions, please inform the coordinator.
6) Every child should be accompanied by a parent during the playgroup activities.
7) There are many on waiting list and if you miss 2 consecutive Playgroup sessions we reserve the right to cancel your membership and to give your place to another family.

Location Map and Address of Makasih Center located in CDPC.

Return to CDPC Homepage:

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Vision for Workplace Ministry

Speaker: Mark Greene, ED of the Institute of Contemporary Christianity

DATE: 17 June 2009 (Wednesday)
TIME: 8-10pm
First Baptist Church
Lot 8, Jalan Pantai 9/7,
46000 Petaling Jaya.

Mark Greene used to work in advertising before his current position as Executive Director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. As an international speaker his pet subjects include Biblical perspectives on contemporary culture, communication, and workplace ministry. He is the author of several highly-acclaimed
books, including Thank God It’s Monday (Scripture Union 2004) and is a regular culture columnist for the UK’s Christianity magazine.

Mark has a broader commitment to seeing God's people envisioned and supported for whatever context they find themselves in - culminating in whole-life discipleship to Christ - and the ongoing vision of LICC to make whole-life discipleship unavoidable and central for the Church.

Mark has degrees in Hebrew from Cambridge, Theology from LBC and Communications and Media from Edinburgh. He is married to Katriina and they have three children.

Biblical Foundations: Your Work in the Big Picture Why work matters to God and how daily work fits into God's purposes for time and eternity. It explores work in the
beginning, work through the lens of Jesus' work on the Cross and in the context of the consummation to come.

'Work = A place of Ministry & Mission' Ministry and evangelism in the workplace. In the West many Christians who know that their work is for God lose any intentional focus on evangelism . Also, how do we glorify God in the workplace.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Be Agents Of Change

From The Star: Christian conservation organisation A Rocha brings people of all religions together in saving the planet. (By Soo Ewe Jin)

Ghillean Prance: ‘We will only achieve the major changes needed in our lifestyle if it is backed up by religions".

FOR prominent British botanist and ecologist Prof Sir Ghillean Prance, nothing excites him more than to be able to get his hands dirty in the field.

He has been even busier since his retirement and was recently in Malaysia to contribute accounts of two plant families (Lecythidaceae and Chrysobalanaceae) to the Flora of Peninsular Malaysia, two species produced by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM).

During his two weeks here, he did field work in the forest reserves of Johor and elsewhere, and also spent considerable time at the FRIM herbarium.

Despite his busy schedule, the former director (1988-1999) of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, Britain, managed to attend Sunday service at a church in Petaling Jaya, which he declared to be one of the highlights of his trip.

Prance, a devout Christian, is currently the president of Christians in Science, a British organisation of scientists, teachers and science students concerned with the dialogue between Christianity and science.

Come October, Prance, who was knighted in 1995 for his contribution to the environment, will be appointed the chairman of A Rocha International.

He speaks passionately about A Rocha, a Christian conservation organisation founded by Peter Harris in 1983 which now has a presence in 18 countries.

“Since A Rocha is growing rapidly I am aware that this will take a major commitment of my time. However, A Rocha’s work is so important, especially in today’s climate of environmental destruction,” says Prance.

Peter Harris, founder of A Rocha, a Christian conservation group.

“An important part of A Rocha’s work and indeed, that of many environmental organisations, is to help people realise the serious nature of the environmental crisis and that it is God’s creation.

“The crisis is hitting hard now as food and fuel prices rise and it will get worse unless we take stronger action soon. An organisation like A Rocha can help because of its firm ethical base based on the teachings of the Bible. I feel that the growth of A Rocha is a sign of hope in a deteriorating world. A Rocha brings Christian hope to the issues in a most positive way.”

Prance feels the environmental crisis is so great “we need people from all religions to respond.”

“The people who have a moral ethical and spiritual dimension to their lives are more likely to approach the enviromental problem in a positive way. We will only achieve the major changes needed in our lifestyle if it is backed up by religions,” he says.

“The growth of interest by the religions of the world (including Islam) is a sign of hope. However the change won’t come easily and we will need to work hard to be agents of change, and be equipped with the necessary ethics and morality needed to make such a change.”

Harris, in a separate e-mail interview, explains that the organisation “is a practical response to the urgent need to reconcile the way we live with a sustainable future for the wider creation.”

Prof Sir Ghillean Prance with Norsham Yaakob from FRIM, with whom he is working on the Barringtonia.

“Through carrying out community-based conservation projects we wanted to encourage the world’s Christian communities to see how caring for the environment is a natural, and indeed central expression of our faith,” he says.

“We also wanted to encourage people concerned about the environment to discuss not just what they do, but why they do it. Missing that discussion has led to many misunderstandings between people who then take different sides on questions that they could agree on. No one actually wants to wreck the planet!”

For Harris, the mission began with a field study centre in Portugal in the early 1980s. The centre was set up for research, education and advocacy work, and it hosts a multi-cultural community of people with a wide variety of environmental interests.

Since the mid-1990s that model has been taken up all around the world, and A Rocha projects appear in towns and rural areas, in very poor communities and some wealthy ones, all striving to show what sustainability can mean through a huge variety of different programmes.

Today, A Rocha has a presence in Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Netherlands, New Zealand/Aotearoa, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, Britain and the United States.

Prof Sir Ghillean Prance crossing the bridge to the entrance of Emergency Trail at Endau Rompin, Johor.
There is a growing awareness of environmental and conservation issues these days. Malaysians have seen An Inconvenient Truth and are now also hit hard by the rising fuel prices.

People are talking about living simply and saving for their future but not many are able to connect conservation issues, the preservation of habitats and wildlife, to the real issues that they face each day.

Harris agrees. “It is the connections that have gone missing. We simply don’t see how our daily choices – what to eat, how to get around, how to design our human communities – impact the world around us directly.

“In many places, biodiversity is rapidly diminishing and people are impoverished because those in the developed world don’t care how we ‘get’ what we believe we ‘need’”.

Harris believes that organisations like A Rocha (the name is Portuguese for The Rock) can help by making those relationships real – through the natural association of the church throughout the world, through understanding that God cares about these things, through education and right living ourselves.

Prof Sir Ghillean Prance with Norsham Yaakob from FRIM, with whom he is working on the Barringtonia.

Like Prance, he also believes in getting people of other faiths involved as well, and cites the work of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation ( as a good initiative.

Although A Rocha is relatively young compared to other conservation organisations, it has done its part to hold back damaging developments on the Alvor estuary in Portugal over the last 20 years; restore some of the Aammiq wetland in the Bekaa valley – one of Lebanon’s last remaining wetlands; and work for the creation of a 28.32ha country park in a particularly polluted and unpromising area of London, not far from Heathrow airport.

“We’ve also been glad to see hundreds of schoolchildren in Kenya get funding for education through our ASSETS (the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Ecotourism Scheme) programme,” says Harris.

For Harris and Prance, there is no denying that environmental consciousness has grown over the years and people understand the significance of protecting the environment.

Their Christian faith propels them forward in this regard.

As Prance, who also worked on The Eden Project puts it, “In all my travels and scientific expeditions, I see God’s handiwork everywhere.”

“The future would be frightening if not for the hope that faith can bring and the change that it could cause in environmental behaviour.”

For more about A Rocha, visit

Saturday, June 13, 2009


ARe Brochure

Biblical Environmental Stewardship Conference
Date: Saturday 18 Jul 2009
Time: 9am - 3pm @ CDPC
Download Brochure
Registration closing date: 13 July 2009
Register here

Peter Harris will be here in Malaysia as a speaker for the conference.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Christian Political Perspective

Political Realities & The Christian Response

Speaker: Richard Yeoh presently serves as Petaling Jaya City Councillor and was a former Executive Director of Transparency International Malaysia. He has 6 years of fulltime civil society involvement which is his passion and calling. He holds an Economics degree from the University of Malaya and has 26 years international corporate and banking experience in Malaysia, Philippines, South Africa and the U.S. Amongst his previous appointments are Group CEO with TA Enterprise Bhd, Managing Director of TA Investment Holdings South Africa Ltd and TA Bank of South Africa Ltd to name a few. Richard has interesting and unique insights into the current political environment.

Hannah Yeoh is a member of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly (ADUN or Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri) from the Democratic Action Party (DAP). Hannah, a former lawyer and event manager, won the N31 Subang Jaya state seat against MCA, a Barisan Nasional component party in the Malaysian General Election, March 2008. She aims to bring Christian faith and service to the public sphere. Amongst her key concerns are better management of state funds, the environment and recreation, development and public transportation.

Brief Programme:
2.15pm-2.30pm : Registration
2.30pm-2.45pm : Announcement and Introduction of Speakers
2.45pm-4.15pm : Forum
4.15pm-4.30pm : Break
4.30pm-5.00pm : Discussions and Q&As

Both Richard and Hannah Yeoh will provide insights into the current political situation in Malaysia especially the ongoings in the Perak and Selangor States. They will also brief us on the recent PAS elections and the philosophies of the Ulamas and the Progressives. They will also give us their perspectives of the ruling Barisan Nasional. Their key aim at the end of the session is to help us respond Christianly and walk through with us what should be our prayer agenda and our involvement as concerned Christian citizens with a Kingdom of God perspective.

Through discussions and questions and answers from the speakers utilising Kingdom principles, we hope to encourage one another to embark on this journey of faith in the “political minefields” of this country so that we can thrive and find meaning in the midst of challenging times.

Do join us for the GCF Halftime Forum on “Political Realities And The Christian Response”.

Date: 20 June 2009 (Saturday) Time: 2.30pm-5.00pm
Venue: People's Park Baptist Church
14, 1st Floor , Jalan SS 4D/14
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Directions: Please click on map
Note : Offering bag will pe pass around and the collection will be use to support GCF ministry

Please RSVP before Saturday 20th June 2009 or contact any of us for more details:
(i) Jimmy Lee at
(ii) Eng Bee at

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Marketplace Seminar

There's some upcoming talks, Marketplace Seminar

1. Ministry and social Engagement by Karin Ramachandra at 8pm, 11th June, FES Office

"Many fulltime workers and also graduates have a keen interest on social engagement but are unable to be invloved due to ministry or work. We are giving Karin time to explain some ways in which we could be involved even with our busy schedule."

2. Women and Leadership by Vinoth and Karin Ramachandra at 8pm, 12 June, FES Office

"We want to have a open discussion on the issue with Vinoth and Karin to give biblical basis on the issue."

3. Evangelising the Post modern student by Vinoth Ramachandra, 9am - 12pm, 13th June at FES Office.

"this is a morning seminar on ways to reach teenagers and also college/university students. What works in evangelism for post modern students?"

Marketplace Seminar: Vinoth and Karin 4. Church and Community by Vinoth and Karin, 8pm, 13th June at People Park Baptist .

"We find that many young graduates are struggling to fit in church and also in their transition in the working world. What are some factors to think about?"

Do come if you can or pass the word around. though they are public meetings,
if you know people who are interested. For the above sessions do ask them to email michael@fes. org. or phone Michael William (FES Church Relations Coordinator) (0122031425)

5. Respecting Persons In a Pluralistic Society by Vinoth and Karin, 3pm-5pm, 12th June at Katha Hall, Pusat Dialog, Univ. Malaya.

“People think about and value life in different ways. Some live for shopping and others seek martyrdom; some believe in human rights while others believe in ecological holism. Why are human persons worthy of respect, and what does it mean, in practice, to respect them? In a culturally and religiously diverse society, do we have to choose between endless conflict or mere co-existence? In this lecture I shall explore such questions. I argue for a way beyond both ‘theocracy’ and ‘secular tolerance’ towards an engaged, mutually interactive pluralism, and outline the personal and political implications for all of us.”

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Malaysia International Christian Artists Show (MICAS)

There will be an international Christian artists gathering in KL 11-26 July. As part of the event, there will be dialogue sessions with international Christian artists, art appreciation talks, art as investment seminars, etc.

Date: 11-26 July 2009.
Curator of the show : Pastor. Chong Kengsen is a highly regarded Malaysian artist and now a pastor of a church in KL. He was a student of Malaysia Bible Seminari.

Please bring along friends and church members to this international show.

May the beauty of God touch our lives and transform it.

Chinese Calvinism flourishes

From Guardian UK: Chinese Calvinism flourishesThe churches that follow Calvin are the third largest Christian grouping in the world. In China they hope to become the religion of the elite

John Calvin was a Frenchman, but he is being remembered in Geneva this week because it was here that he built Calvinism. Invited to reform the city in 1541, almost as what would now be called a management consultant, he formed an alliance with the city fathers. Over the next 20 years of preaching and pastoring they turned this tiny city, with a population then of only 10,000, into a model of church government and theology which has changed the world.

His followers now form the third-largest Christian grouping in the world. The world alliance of reformed churches claims 75 million members, and while this is a lower headline figure than the Anglican Communion's 80 million, it is not inflated by 25 million nominal Anglicans in Britain.

Although Calvinism is shrinking in western Europe and North America, it is experiencing an extraordinary success in China. I spent some time on Monday talking to the Rev May Tan, from Singapore, where the overseas Chinese community has close links with mainland China. The story she told of the spread of Calvinist religion as an elite religion in China was quite extraordinary. There may be some parallels with the growth of Calvinism in South Korea, where the biggest presbyterian churches in the world are to be found, but it's absolutely unlike the pattern in Africa and Latin America. There, the fastest growing forms of Christianity are pentecostal, and they are spreading among the poor.

But in China neither of those things are to be true.

Calvinists despise pentecostalists. They shudder at unbridled emotion. If they are slain in the spirit, it is with a single, decorous thump: there's to be no rolling afterwards. And in China, the place where Calvinism is spreading fastest is the elite universities, fuelled by prodigies of learning and translation. Wang Xiaochao, a philosopher at one of the Beijing universities, has translated the two major works of St Augustine, the Confessions and the City of God, into Chinese directly from Latin. Gradually all the major works of the first centuries of the Christian tradition are being translated directly from the original languages into Chinese.

All of this is happening outside the control of the official body which is supposed to monitor and supervise the churches in China. Instead, it is the philosophy departments at the universities, or the language departments and the departments of literature and western civilisation that are the channel.

"The [officially recognised] churches are not happy with universities, because it is not within their control. And their seminaries are not at the intellectual level of the universities," says Dr Tan. "Chinese Christianity using Chinese to do Christian thinking has become a very interesting movement."

Many of the missionaries who tried to bring Christianity to China before the communists took over where presbyterians, and other sorts of Calvinist. But that does not explain why Calvinism should be the preferred theology of the house churches and the intellectuals now. Dr Tan suggests that this is because it is Protestant: that is to say it can be made much more convincingly native than Roman Catholicism, since presbyterian congregations choose their own pastors. This is, I suspect, enormously important at a time when China is recovering from a century and a half of being the victim of western powers; the pope's insistence on appointing Catholic bishops is unacceptable to the government and perhaps to the people too.

If she goes to preach at an official church, she says, "There will be perhaps 1000 people and 95% of them are over 65. So it's a sunset church. But if I went to house church – there would be 1000 people; perhaps 20 of them in their 50s, and all the rest are youngsters. The older ones will all be professors at the universities. So these are the future of the churches. They have registered pastors, and no access to seminaries: But they have youth, and future, and money."

Calvinism isn't a religion of subservience to any government. The great national myths of Calvinist cultures are all of wars against imperialist oppressors: the Dutch against the Spanish, the Scots against the English; the Americans against the British. So when the Chinese house churches first emerged from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution in the 80s and 90s "They began to search what theology will support and inform [them]. They read Luther and said, 'not him'. So they read Calvin, and they said 'him, because he has a theology of resistance.' Luther can't teach them or inform them how to deal with a government that is opposition."

And, though the communists stigmatised Christianity as a foreign religion, they also and still more thoroughly smashed up the traditional religions of China: "The communist, socialist critique of traditional religion, and of Confucianism has been effective", she says: "The youngsters think it is very cool to be Christian. Communism has removed all the obstacles for them to come to Christianity."

The most conservative estimates of the new converts to Christianity is 500,000; there is a new church built every month. Calvinist Christianity has a culture of phenomenal industry. Calvin himself, in his time in Geneva, preached every day and twice on Sundays: shorthand writers at the foot of his pulpit took down 108 volumes of his sermons, though most of these have been lost and his reputation rests on the books and pamphlets that he wrote himself. In China now, this kind of Christianity is seen as forward-looking, rational, intellectually serious, and favourable to making money.

"Very soon", said Dr Tan, "Christians will become the majority of university students … that could happen."

It would be astonishing if China were to become a great power in the Christian world, as well as in the economic one. But things just as strange have happened in the past. Who could have foreseen, when Augustine was writing those huge books now translated into Chinese, that barbarous Europe would become the centre of Christian civilisation, and his homeland in North Africa would become entirely Muslim?