Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Taking Your Soul to Work

A three-part sermon series on prayer and work
July 11, 18 and 25

City Discipleship Presbyterian Church, Puchong
Speaker: Alvin Ung

Hi! How's your work coming along?

Quick. What's the first thought that comes to mind? ___________.

Many people find work to be stressful, busy, tedious, and meaningless. For example:

a) Work = traffic jam, back-to-back meetings, endless projects, office politics, meaningless KPIs.

b) Work = cooking, washing, feeding, keeping the house neat, ferrying the kids to tuition.

c) Work = homework, more stupid homework. And trying to stay awake during boring classes.

Do you hope for meaningful work? Do you think it's possible for your work to help you become more Christ-like in the way you think and act? Do you desire to be more attentive to God's presence while you work? Do you long for Christ's presence? Do you want to take your soul to work?

If you identify with any of the challenges and questions above...

We invite you to attend a three-part series on Taking your Soul to Work. The sermons will be interactive, reflective and practical. Each sermon will feature a 10-minute conversation with a "mystery guest." After the Sunday morning service, there will be Q&A opportunities to interact with the guests.

Details as follows.
July 11: Prayer as Work.

To take our souls to work, we prioritize private prayer as work. Jesus will serve as our mentor in choosing silence and solitude as life became increasingly busy. A lecturer/counselor at a large private university will share her experiences of what led her to spend eight days of silence in prayer -- and why prayer became so important for her as she faced the tyranny of the urgent.

What to expect: we will reflect and seek creative ways to practice prioritizing prayer as work.

July 18: Praying and Working.

To take our souls to work, we pray intentionally while we work. The Lord's Prayer will serve as our model and approach in praying regularly throughout the day. A senior business executive at a large corporation will share his experiences of what led him to pray before work, during work and after work -- and why he has found this practice to be so life-giving amid the stresses of daily work.

What to expect: we will reflect and seek creative ways to practice being attentive to God while we work.

July 25: Work as Prayer

To take our souls to work, we bring our whole selves to work. The Apostle Paul will serve as our mentor in transforming the fruits of his labor into prayer. A mother, counselor and CEO of a thriving restaurant and boutique business will share her experiences of what led her to place her life and work in God's hands -- to trust that all will be well amid the tough leadership decisions of daily life.

What to expect: we will reflect and seek creative ways to practice becoming 'prayer-full' workers.

Dates: July 11, 18 and 25 (Sundays)
Time: Worship service starts at 10am
Venue: City Discipleship Presbyterian Church (CDPC) Puchong

1-13 and 1-15 (1st floor)
Jalan Merbah 1, Bandar Puchong Jaya
47100 Puchong

Directions: CDPC Puchong is next to IOI Mall's new wing, on the first floor above Puchong Lakeview Cafe.


About the speaker:

Alvin Ung sees himself as a beginner in prayer. He regrets not being attentive to the life of prayer while he worked as a counselor, analyst, journalist and telecommunications executive. He's grateful that his subsequent work in theology, philanthropy, leadership development, fatherhood and marriage have become a training ground and playground for integrating prayer and work.

Alvin is currently a Fellow at Khazanah Nasional, where is he is writing a book on the mindsets and methodologies of breakthrough leaders in Malaysia. His other book, Taking Your Soul to Work: Overcoming the Nine Deadly Sins of the Workplace, will be released by Eerdmans in September 2010. He is undergoing training in a three-year program as a Spiritual Companion in Ignatian spirituality. He's married to Huey Fern. They have a son, Andrew.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Biblical Environmental Stewardship

Question: Shouldn't we spend our time and resources helping poor people rather than animals or plants?

Vinoth Ramachandran once remarked that the question is like asking a poor mother not to bother about her child’s education because feeding him is more important. Of course, both basic needs should be our concern although in some contexts, saving lives would have higher priority than environmental conservation.

In most situations, however, it’s not an either/or choice. The well-being of rural poor is often dependent on a sustainable ecosystem. The natural resources are their ‘pharmacy’ (from which they gather medicinal herbs) and ‘local supermarket’ (from which they are supplied daily needs) and water supply system. Environmental degradation disproportionately affects the poor. Since there is close interdependence in the ecosystem, animal and plant extinctions would ultimately be unhealthy to people as well. Helping people to manage and develop their natural resources in a sustainable manner would in turn alleviate poverty.

Therefore, we must care for both people and for non-human elements of God’s creation.

Obeying God’s commandment to be responsible stewards of His world is also an expression of love for the Creator and for people, especially the rural poor.

The main challenge to creation care is to start with ourselves. None of us likes to change our lifestyle if it involves perceived inconvenience. If each of us care enough to act in the light of what we discover, we can begin to live a simpler lifestyle, reduce pollution load and free up more resources for those really in need.

Dean Ohlman wrote, “We must not prioritize our ethical obligations to such an extent that we excuse the plight of animals made to suffer unnecessarily by our neglect or cruelty.”

Question: Isn't this business about ‘saving the earth’ a distraction to the church’s task of ‘saving souls’?

This question is best addressed by asking a similar question – “Is parenting a distraction from our Christian task of evangelism?”

For those of us with children, parenting is a time-consuming responsibility we carry out daily. It’s part and parcel of living in obedience to God. We rarely need to choose between caring for our children and witnessing for Christ. We perform each duty when it is required and doing either one does not contradict the other.

In the same way, Dean Ohlman observed that “earth-keeping is a natural and integral aspect of our day-to-day decision-making regarding spending, work, consumption, transportation, waste management, and so forth. The problem is that not until recently have we come to understand how irresponsible we have been regarding this foundational aspect of daily living.”

A Christian analysis of environmental degradation sees its primary cause in our broken relationship with God which leads us on a futile quest for fulfillment at the expense of the earth. Instead of purveying more gloomy news and passing more laws, lasting progress can only come about when people have a radical change of heart. And the fruit of gospel witness should result in transformed hearts and reordered lifestyles towards God, other people and the creation as part of our discipleship.

The conservation movement today is in dire need of hope that the good news has to offer.

Not only that. Every time we care for creation, we are really witnessing to the Creator.

We are demonstrating to the community the practical outworking of the gospel with our lives.

For instance, A Rocha, a Christian conservation movement, took a piece of unkempt land in West London and turned it into an oasis for wildlife called Minet Country Park. It raised questions among the neighboring people, “Why are they doing this?” It gives opportunities for them to find out that our ecology is based on the gospel and our gospel is centered on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Question: What’s the point? The ecological problems are so huge. What I do won't make any difference.”

Environmental stewardship is a loving response to God and turning away from consumerist lifestyles. As Christians, we can do what is right not primarily because of the perceived usefulness, but as an act of worship. This perspective frees us from the despair that secular environmentalists face – to act rightly while trusting in the sovereignty of God for the results even when the circumstances look bleak.

Suggested Resources:


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Influence of Globalisation on Spiritual Formation

The Influence of Globalisation on Christian Spiritual Formation in Churches in Malaysia and Singapore

The technological advances in telecommunication and the Internet have shrunk the world into a global village. Malaysia and Singapore are actively involved in the globalisation process and its subset glocalisation. While there is no agreed definition of globalisation, it is often understood to have the following characteristics: increasing speed in communication, the interconnected world become smaller, the blurring of national borders, reciprocity, manageable risk, and presence of trust. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the influence of globalisation on Christian spiritual formation in the churches in Malaysia and Singapore, and suggest some possible measures for these churches to enhance the positive effects while limiting the negative ones.

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more of my articles on Glocalisation and Spiritual Formation

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