Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Article: Attack the messenger...

I have just came back from my mission trip, and am rather tired. Updates would come later, perhps tomorrow. As of now, I would prefer not to post anything, but I have just seen a very interesting article which I will link to entitled: Attack the messenger ... with a smile, which I deemed too intesting not to pass over. This was my experience over in my former church, btw, and have been the way with various people I have interacted with in the past.

Anyway, without further to do, here is the article.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Prayer pointers for Gen12ii trip

This would be last post for quite a while, since I doubt I will have any Internet connection during my mission trip (unless I use the WiFi in Macs). Anyway, for my local Southern Cross trip, if anyone is able to, do pray for us as my team and I bring the Gospel to mainland Chinese, out of the reach of the Chinese authorities, of course. Here are the prayer pointers (edited of course so as that it could be published in public)


  • Pray that our walk with God will be consistent before, during and after this trip.
  • Ask God for all our team members to enjoy good health throughout the trip.
  • Pray for team unity, loving supportive team relationship and oneness in faith (Rom 15:5-7; I Cor 1:10)
  • Pray for humble hearts and submissive attitude before our Lord; that we will always be sensitive to His guiding and leading.
  • Pray that God would prepare our hearts to be ready to meet and co-labor with Him and others during this mission trip
  • Thank God for providing free and comfortable accommodation that is near to our point of bible distribution
  • Pray for daily smooth transport of the materials to and from our distribution point.
  • Pray for God to put a hedge of protection around us and the non-believers to guard against the enemy’s attack (Job 1:10; 2 Tim 4:18).
  • Pray for political stability in Thailand – as it will affect the number of people we could reach out to.
  • Pray that the Lord will prepare the hearts of the people who would be receiving the tracts and bibles, that they would be interested and curious to find out more.
  • Pray for the favor of those in charge, that they would not hinder but instead encourage them to take the packs;
  • Ask God to use each pack powerfully to bring souls into His kingdom.
  • Pray against any distraction/antagonism by people i.e. the Falun Gong cult or others, be they secular or religious.
  • Pray for good weather during the distribution.
    We are trusting God for 12,000 Gospel gift packs to be distributed in the year 2007. For us as a team, we have a faith target of 1,000 gift packs to be given to them during the duration of our trip. Pray for God to enable us to meet this faith target.

Besides the daily distribution of Gospel tracts and bibles to the mainland Chinese, we would also be ministering to some of the Chinese
1) research workers;
2) hotel staff;
3) nursing students who are currently attending an Alpha course; and
4) students who are preparing to enroll in NUS/NTU soon… during the rest of our trip.

  • Thank God for all the various ministry opportunities He has provided!
  • Pray that our Lord would go ahead of us and open the hearts of these people to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Pray for us to have adequate preparation of the Mandarin songs and skits in our outreach to them Pray for a heart of love and compassion for these Chinese friends; that we would love them and desire that they come to the saving grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 22:37-40)
  • Pray for boldness in presenting the Gospel to them in love
  • Pray against any fears or language barriers in presenting His gospel to them.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Knowing God: The adequacy of God

This ime, I will just be posting the excerpts, without comments. I'm sure they will suffice, and I hope they will minister to all of us who read it.


None of this [the call to discipleship], of course, is strange to any of us. We know what kind of life Christ call us to; we often preach and talk to each other about it. But do we live it? Well, look at the churches. Observe the shortage of ministers and missionaries, especially men; the luxury goods in Christian homes; the fund-raising problems of Christian societies; the readiness of Christians in all walks of life to grumble about their salaries; the lack of concern for the old and lonely, or indeed for anyone outside the circle of 'soud believers'.

We are unlike the Christians of New Testament times. Our approach to life is conventional and static; theirs was not. The thought of 'safety first' was not a drag on their enterprise as it is on ours. By being exuberant, unconventional, and uninhibited in living by the Gospel they turned their world upside down, but you could not accuse us twentieth-century [now 21st century] Christians of doing anything like that. Why are we so different? Why, compared with them, do we appear as no more than half-way Christians? Whence comes the nervous, dithery, take-no-risks mood that mars so much of our discipleship? Why are we not free nough from fear and anxiety to allow ourselves to go full stretch in following Christ?

One reason it seems is that our heart of hearts we are afraid of the consequences of going the whole way into the Christian life. We shrink from accepting burdens of responsibilities for others because we fear we should not have strength to bear them. We shrink from accepting a way of life in which we forfeit material security because we are afraid of being left stranded. We shrink from being meek because we are afraid that if we do not stand up for ourselves we shall be among life's casualties and failures. We shrink from following Christ because we fear that if we did, the established structure of our life would collapse all round us, leaving us without a footing anywhere.

It is these half-conscous fear, this dread of insecurity, rather than any deliberate refusal to face the cost of following Christ, which make us hold back. We feel that the risk of out-and-out discipleship are too great for us to take. In other words, we are not persuaded of the adequacy of God to provide for all the needs of those who launch out whole-heartedly on to the deep sea of unconventional living in obedience to the call of Christ. ...

Now, let us call a spade a spade. The name of the game we are playing is unbelief, and Paul's 'He will give us all things' stands as an everlasting rebuke to us. Paul is telling us that there is no ultimate loss or irreparable impoverishment to be feared; if God denies us something, it is only in order to make room for one or other of the things He has in mind. Are we, perhaps still assuming that a person's life consists, partly at any rate, in the things he possesses?

...

Yet, when it comes to cheerful self-abandonment in Christ's service we dither. Why? Out of unbelief, pure and simple.

...

...

Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present. 'No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly' (Ps. 84:11, RSV). 'God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it' (1 Cor. 10:13, RSV). 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor. 12:9). Think on these things! - and let your thoughts drive out your inhibitions in serving your Master.

Photo: Cold Shoulder

Hmmm, nice photo and caption here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Apology

After much prayer, the Lord has revealed that I was not right in how I handled the situation that occurred a couple of days ago. With this, I would like to apologize to Jenson and others who may be hurt by my outburst. I was being attacked spiritually then at my most vulnerable spot, and the harsh words spoken by Jenson was the last straw. I apologize for responding in kind to his comments in anger. Needless to say, I have pulled one of the posts and whatever comments I have made that are less than charitable.

Gen12ii mission trip: SCP2007

Well, I am going for a local mission trip from the 18-27 June 2007, to reach out to primarily mainland Chinese tourists with the Gospel. The whole project is called Southern Cross. Anyway, my team would be staying together in a place without Internet connection, and we wouldn't want to be distracted from our mission anyway, so I won't be blogging during that time period. Since I'm the prayer I/C, I would be able to post our prayer pointers here earlier (slightly), so for those who want to partner with us in reaching out to the mainland Chinese tourists in Singapore, do pray for us.

The 'Ostrich in the sand' phenomenon

After being in the conservative circles for some time, I think I have noticed a discernable phenomenon within Conservatism which I would describe as the 'Ostrich in the sand' phenomenon. Adherents typically refuse to interact with the world, and the Christian world at large, unless forced to do so out of necessity. Rather, they look inwards only within the context of their local church and typically do not try to reach out to those inside and outside the Universal church. Maybe they think a holy huddle is kind of great...

Knowing God: Knowing about God vs. Knowing God

I have been reading a book by formerly-sound Evangelical J.I. Packer entitled Knowing God — yes, his most famous book. Unfortunately, if you do not know it by now, Packer has severely compromised his witness for the Lord by being unequally yoked with the Roman heretics, with the signing of the documents ECT1 & 2. Nevertheless, this book is still an excellent book (a pity Packer does not practice what he preaches), and I have been greatly edified by it, especially during this time when I need to refocus myself on God.

In this post, I would just like to post some excerpts in the book between knowing about God and knowing God, and what are some of the marks of true Christians who truly know their God.

1. One can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of Him.

... interest in theology, and knowledge about God, and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes, is not at all the same thing as knowing Him. We may know as much about God as Calvin knew — indeed, if we study his works diligently, sonner or later we shall — and yet all the time (unlike Calvin, may I say) we may hardly know God at all

2. One can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God.

It depends on the sermons one hears, the books one reads, and the company one keeps. ...

... it certainly makes it possible to learn a great deal at second-hand about the practice of Christianity. Moreover, if one has been given a good bump of common sense one may frequently be able to use this learning to help floundering Christians ..., and in this way one may gain for oneself a reputation for being quite a pastor. Yet one can have all this and hardly know God at all.

EVIDENCE OF KNOWING GOD

... when people know God, losses and 'crosses' cease to matter to them; what they have gained simply banishes these things from their minds. What other effect does knowledge of God have on a person? ... We may summarize.. in four propositions.

1. Those who know God have great energy for God.

In one of the prophetic chapters of Daniel we read: 'the people that know their God shall be strong, an do exploits' (11:32, KJV). RSV renders thus; 'the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.' In the context, this statement is introduced by 'but', and set in contrast to the activity of the 'contemptible person' (verse 21) who sets up 'the abomination that causes desolation', and corrupts by smooth and flattering talk those whose loyalty to God's covenant has failed (verse 31=-2). This shows us that the action taken by those who know God is their reaction to the anti-God trends which they see operating around them. While their God is being defiled or disregarded, they cannot rest; they feel they must do something; the dishonor done to God's name goads them into action.

These were four men [Daniel and his three friends] who knew God, and who in cosequence felt compelled from time to time actively to stand out against the conventions and dictates of irreligion and false religion. ...

Such gestues must not be misunderstood. It is not that Daniel, ..., was an awkward, cross-grained fellow who luxuriated in rebellion and could only be happy when he was squarely 'agin' the government. It is simply that those who know their God are sensitive to situations in which God's truth an honour are being directly or tacitly jeopardised, and rather than let the matter go by default will force the issue on men's attention and seek thereby to compel a change of heart about it — even at personal risk.

2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.

There is not space enough here to gather up all that the book of Daniel tells us about the wisdom, might, and truth of the great God who rules history and shows His sovereignty in acts of judgment and mercy towards individuals and nations according to Hos own good pleasure. Suffice it [is] to say that there is, perhaps, no more vivid or sustained presentation of the many-sided reality of God's sovereignty in the whole Bible.

In face of the might and splendour of theBabylonain empire which had swallowed up Palestine, and the prospect of further great world-empires to follow, dwarfing Israel by every standard of human calculation, the book as a whole forms a dramatic reminder that the God of Israel is King of Kings and Lord or Lords, that 'Heaven rules' (4:26), that God's hand is on history at every point, that history, indeed, is no more 'His story', the unfolding of His eternal plan, and that the kingdom which will triumph in the end is God's.

.... He knows, and foreknows, all things, and His foreknowledge is foreordination; He, therefore, will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man; His kingdom and righteousness will triumph in the end, for neither men nor angels shall be able to thwart Him.

Is this how we think of God? Is this the view of God which our own prayer expresses? Does this tremendous sense of His holy majesty, His moral perfection, and His gracious faithfulness keep us humble and dependent, awed and obedient, as it did Daniel? By this test, too, we may measure how much, or how little we know God.

3. Those who know God show great boldness for God.

Daniel and his friends were men who stuck their necks out. This was not foolhardiness. They knew what they were doing.They had counted the cost. They had measured the risk. They were aware what the outcome of their actions would be unless God miraculously intervened, as in fact He did.

But thse thngs did not move them. Once they were convinced that their stand was right, and that loyalty to their God required them to take it, then, in Oswald Chambers's phrase, they 'smilingly washed their hands of the consequences'. 'We must obey God rather than men!' said the apostles (Acts 5:2). 'Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy,' said Paul (Acts 20:24, KJV)

... It is the spirit of all who know God. They may find the determination of the right course to take agonisingly difficult, but once they are clear on it they embrace it boldly and without hesitation. It does not worry them that others of God's people see the matter differently, and do not stand with them. (Were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the only Jews who declined to worship Nebuchadnezzar's image? Nothing in their recorded words suggest that they either knew, or in the final analysis, cared. They were clear as to what they personally had to do, and that was enough for them.) By this test also we may measure our own knowledge of God.

4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.

There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship gurantees God's favour to them in life, through death, and on for ever.

This is the peace of which Paul speaks in Romans 5:1 .... and whose substance he analyses in full in Romans 8. ...

This is the peace which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew; hence the calm contenment with which they stood their ground in face of Nebuchadnezzar's ultimatum — 'If you do not worship [the image], you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?' Their reply (3:16-18) is classic. 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.' (No panic!) 'If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.' (Courteous, but unanswerable - they knew their God!) 'But even if He does not' — if no deliverance comes — 'we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods.' (It doesn't matter! It makes no difference! Live or die, they are content.)

The comprehensiveness of our contentment is another measure whereby we may judge whether we really know God.

[J. I. Packer (1973), Knowing God, 2nd Ed. with Study Guide (1993), p. 26-33]

Definitely, there is a lot for me personally to improve on. I have already decied earlier that I desired to know God, not primarily to know about God, and thus theological knowledge must be practical in the sense of leading to Christian growth and service (not only in terms of conduct alone, the so-called 'practical applications only, nothing too abstract — after all, what is the point of learning doctrines when you can't practically apply it' unbiblical view).

Anyway, for all of us, here are some truths which we should meditate on. Do we really know God? If so, are we passionate for the honor due to Him alone. If we are not, then can we be said to truly know God? (If p, then q; therefore If ~q, then ~p). Therefore, for those of you who are not interested in contending for the faith, in standing up against heresies, or worse still, attempting to silence those who do in the name of 'love', then I afraid you do not truly know and love God. Why is it that we would not take anyone insulting our parents without being at least upset over it (I hope you would not take such a thing lying down), but when God's name is blasphemed and His honor defiled, we who call ourselves Christians do not even bother to do anything, and sometimes we do not even care?

For the second point, what is our view of God? Do we continue to behold who God is continually day by day? I admit I oftentimes fall short, to my own shame, even though I shoud know better. Do we see God as who He truly is, and us as who we truly are in God's sight? Do we feel awed by the thrice-holy God and know that we cannot stand in front of Him due to our sins? Do we fear God? If we continue to treat God so flippiantly, just like our pal or like our girl/boyfriend, or like a genie who will grant all our wishes, then we do not know God. I'm grieved that this is so in most of the churches, unfortunately: BOTH conservative and charismatic; BOTH reformed and arminian. May God have mercy on us all.

The third point is definitely something which we all need to work on. Years of compromise of having women in leadership positions and in the pulpits have destroyed the churches. Instead of the Church Militant, we have the Church Effeminate, never wanting to offend anyone (well, except her Lord maybe). All the spineless ministers without backbone to stand up against worldliness, the enroachment of heresy into the churches! We have few godly men nowadays who are serious in following Christ whatever the cost. So, for us, do we want to truly know God? Then we must regain what has been lost, the boldness to stand for Christ whatever the cost may be, even though sometimes we might even be opposed by those who call themselves our brethren. Granted, all of us do fail sometimes, but we should work towards having this boldness in Christ, for perfect love cast out all fear (1 Jn. 4:18).

The fourth point is something we all struggle with, especially those of us in developed countries. We are fuller materially, yet empty spiritually. Sometimes I do desire to visit churches undergoing persecution. We have forgotten what it is to be content in our Lord, by and large. Instead, we follow our culture's obsession for new things, new stuff, new discoveries whatever, wich we are soon bored of and replaced with even later stuff. As Christians, we should learn how to be content with what our Lord gives us. Yes, it is not easy, but let us strive towards that end, for this is Christ's will for us who have been regenerated and adopted into His glorious Kingdom of light.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Song: How great You are

Nice song, although I cannot find any recording of the music, yet. (FYI: The chords displayed here are written by me, for guitar.)


How great You are
(© 1993 Maranatha Praise, Inc./ Christ for the Nations Music
Words and Music by Shannon Wexelberg)

G
You are deserving
                C
Of all the praises Lord
                  Em
My heart is yearning
                        Am7                D7
To be in Your presence once more
          Bm                       Em
Deep inside my heart is burning
   Bm                      Em
I want to give You more
        Am                    C             D
And You’re the only one that I adore

Chorus:

                          C C2      C              G   D/F#   Em
How great You are, how great You are
         Am7              G
You are the mighty King
                     C                        D7
And You’ve come to reign in me
                          C C2      C              G   D/F#   Em
How great You are, how great You are
   Am7                  C          D7      G
I give You all the praises of my heart

Monday, June 04, 2007

Book review: Reformation — Europe's House Divided 1490-1700

(UPDATED: Recommandation retracted. See comments for reason. However, for those who can discern, it is a good factual book.)

I have just finished reading a book which I have bought some time back in 2005 while I was in UK for my Student Exchange Program (SEP). The book review for this excellent book (Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700 by the Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch) is here on my website. However, there are some problems with the author, so if you want to read it, do read it with discernment.