Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rojak Spirituality

We (Malaysians) are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Imagine walking into a giant food court where you can find Penang Laksa, Ipoh beansprout chicken, Indian curry, Iranian kebab, Nasi Padang, Western grilled steak, Hong Kong dim sum – almost everything else you can think of under the same roof. You can choose to eat anything you want. You can mix it up – eat a bit of sushi for appetizer, then chicken rice for main course and finish with rojak for dessert. How about that? 

But for a lot of people, making choices about spirituality or religion is also like eating in a food court. It’s all up to your personal tastes or preference. Some like it hot, others like it cold. It can also be a bit like ‘rojak’ – you just mix up all the ingredients and hopefully it tastes good. “Oh, I like my religion with a pinch of Buddhism, a sprinkle of Christianity, two cups of Lillian Too feng shui and a glass of Hinduism – shaken, not stirred.” What’s your personal religious preference?

So… in today’s society, for someone to even claim that a certain religious practice is wrong or that some religious beliefs are untrue, that would sound arrogant and intolerant. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s as if someone say to you, “You are wrong to choose nasi lemak for lunch today” or “You are a bad person if you chose to eat “char koay teow”. You should have chosen Maggi goreng.” That sounds so intolerant (it doesn’t make sense) because we live in a time of “rojak spirituality”. People choose their faith or spirituality or religion based on personal taste or preferences. You like chocolate ice cream, I like strawberry flavor. You like Islam, I like Christianity, she likes Buddhism. It’s based on what we like. There is no right or wrong answer here.

But truth or reality is not like ice cream. It is more like insulin. When my wife Grace was pregnant with Zhen, she was found to have gestational diabetes. Maybe due to hormonal imbalance, her body does not produce enough insulin to break down sugar in her blood. So what did she need to do? Almost everyday she has to give herself an insulin injection to maintain her health. And she cannot say, “I don’t feel like taking insulin anymore. Let’s see… I think I would prefer to take ice cream instead”. If she stopped taking insulin and choose ice cream, it would be very bad for her health and for the baby. In the same way, we are all sin-sick people in need of a cure that is the gospel. We don’t get to decide what is true based on our subjective tastes. That’s make-believe. Reality is like a solid rock. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t make it false. Just because we like something doesn’t make it true either. When it comes to spirituality or faith, the reason we ought to believe something is because it is true… Truth is like insulin to someone who suffers from diabetes, it’s not ice cream.

I will be preaching on how we can be peace makers and gospel heralds in a pluralistic society this coming Sunday @ City Discipleship Presbyterian Church Puchong.
Time: 10 am
Date: 5 Sept (Sunday)

PS: We have just celebrated 53 years of independence as a nation. At such a time as this in Malaysia, we desperately need citizens who are committed to the common good of all and not just the interests of our own race. Perhaps there is no better time for Christians to be peace makers, to intercede for the well being of non-Christian leaders, sacrificially serve those who are different than us and sincerely invite them to our place of worship for fellowship and conversations… Perhaps that’s what it means to be salt and light in our context here in Puchong…

Friday, August 27, 2010

Environment Day

GPM Environment Day (Final)




Churches today that aspire to grow big eagerly seek out strong leaders to lead the way. However, the price of rapid growth seems to be the displacement of pastoral ministry by organizational imperatives that prioritize efficiency and programs over personal relationships.

There is concern that strong leadership without accountability may lead to abuse of power, resulting in problems such as leadership cronyism, misappropriation of finances and sexual impropriety.

How can churches maintain the balance between organizational imperatives and pastoral care that is vital for healthy church growth in contemporary society? What biblical resources may be found to help churches and Christian leaders address the problems and challenges confronting church leadership, spiritual authority and pastoral ministry today?

These are some of the important issues that will be discussed at the Forum.

Who Should Attend?
Pastors, Church Leaders and Lay Leaders

TIME: 9.30AM – 12.00 NOON

(Research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois, USA).

(Methodist Church Malaysia)

(Research Director, Kairos Research Centre)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Project Timothy's The New Testament You Thought You Knew

Hello folks,

My new book is now available in both hard cover and paperback. This is the textbook for Project Timothy with live sessions in New York, San Diego, Basel and Petaling Jaya. For details, please write to pt@actministry.org

Click to check out the site for a preview.
This is Project Timothy's Guide to the New Testament. Each book of the NT is introduced according to the chronology of its publication. So we start with the Epistle of James. It covers the different genres of writing and features biblical exegesis and hermeneutics in engagement with archaeology, the sciences, philosophy and historiography. This is an ideal book for Christians and unbelievers who seek a no nonsense examination of the New Testament for the 21st century. Written by an evangelical independent scholar, the contents are not beholden to any hidden agenda or denominational requirements. The only affirmation of the author is that the Bible is an inspired writing to guide the confessional follower of Jesus, the Christ. Visit us at www.actministry.org

God bless,

Ron Choong
Academy for Christian Thought

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Change Your World

Change Your World (CYW) started in 2009 and it goes from city to city to create awareness; presenting real issues and practical solutions towards JUSTICE, MERCY & FAITHFULNESS.
We hope to journey our generations towards CITY, NATION OWNERSHIP & WORLD IN CRISIS AWARENESS.

In order for all this to happen, we need to PRAY, ACT and LEAD.

Who is involved in Change Your World?

CYW targets the millennial generation (15 – 25 years old).

However, we need working adults and families to rise up to be the MENTORS & FATHERS to this generation.

How do we do it?

CYW is not a one-time event but a journey:

1. CYW Quest (Pre-Event) – interactive one-hour sessions that takes place 2 months before the Tour to create awareness and inspire change

2. CYW Tour (Event) - an energetic concert interlaced with challenging messages and compelling calls to initiate change

3. CYW Venture (Post-Event) – practical solutions to bring change starting with “I Love (My City)” projects and/or trainings.

Reflections: Jeremiah

Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet” for good reasons. In the royal courts, Jeremiah functioned as the magisterial enforcer of the covenant with primarily tragic laments and warnings of divine retribution (chapter 10 - 11). He reminded the people of the terms of the covenant God made at Sinai with their forefathers when He delivered them out of Egypt and the blessings and curses spelled out in Deuteronomy. His ministry lasted for about 40 years, which spanned the reign of Josiah and his reforms (2 Kings). But these reforms were not radical even for idolatry was still rampant in the land (Jeremiah 3:6). He called the faithless nation to return to the Lord (3:11-13) but Judah has not learnt from the lesson of northern kingdom’s fall. Even the leaders, priests and prophets were corrupted and worshipped Malak and the gods of the stars (chapter 7-8). Therefore the time of repentance was over and renewal would only come after the exile. Only judgment awaited the nation. Such unpopular message caused Jehoiakim and other leaders to threaten to persecute and kill him.

Jeremiah 7 tells us of the social injustices perpetrated in the land. The leaders were complacently thinking that just because the temple was in Jerusalem, the city would never fall. They were focused on the external appearance of the temple without obeying the Mosaic covenant to deal justly with the marginalized. Jeremiah cried out: “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless, or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place and do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers.’” (7:1)

Jeremiah was told not to marry or to father children because the threat of invasion and exile were looming. Jeremiah 16 tells of the horrifying aftermath of wars and starvation as seen from the perspective of an eyewitness to the siege and fall of Jerusalem. The prophet himself was carried off at the end of the book to Egypt into exile and died there. No wonder the book of Jeremiah was filled with complaints and laments as he carried out such a difficult calling (Jeremiah 1:17-19). The Lord reassures him that he will be sustained and strengthened like a wall of bronze so he will not be overcome by opposition (15:15).

Yet there is a message of hope and comfort in Jeremiah 30 – 33. The prophet explained to the exilic community the reasons for God’s severe punishment. Upon repentance in 70 years God will return them to Judah and establish a new covenant. The new covenant will be different because God will put His law in the hearts and minds of the people instead of putting it on stone tablets. God will forgive their sins and the knowledge of God will be widespread (31:31). God is not finished with the Davidic dynasty yet despite the failure of his descendants. Jeremiah 23 explains, “The days are coming when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called, the LORD Our Righteousness.”

His message to the exiles in a foreign land was to settle down and seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which they has been deported (29:4).

Preaching At Klang Presbyterian Church

Thanks to the kind invitation of Elder Chew, I will be preaching at Klang Presbyterian Church on apologetics (yesterday) and cultural engagement this coming Sunday. Some past issues of Kairos magazine will be distributed for free. Say hi! if you happen to drop by.
Date: 15 August 2010 (Sunday)
Time: 11 am
Venue: 103, Jalan Batu Tiga
41300 Klang

Tel: 03-33417392/03-33446505

Fax: 03-33417392
E-mail: klang@gpm.org.my