Monday, September 27, 2010

StruggLing THrough the BookS I haVe bEEn...

trying to finish David Jeremiah's  Captured by Grace and I  still have two other books to read.
Trying to figure why I haven't been able to clear the book. Maybe I have just been too busy doing other stuff. Time to get back to the books. 

Too many distractions...
Too many other things to do...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson

Permission to speak freely is Anne Jackson's narrative about her own life of brokeness and wrestling with rejection and addiction. Her rejection of the Christian faith after experiencing and witnessing the way church politics destroyed her father’s life. Her wanderings in the “wilderness” of addiction and substance abuse.  Her restoration and return to the heavenly Father.  
To be honest it’s not what I expected. I thought the book will be a bunch of theoretical (read boring) essays addressing issue the church (universal) has to face and talk about but isn’t doing so. Instead, What it is is a series of narrative essays taking us through the author's life andher experience with taboos in Conservative Christian Church life in America. However, it is not only America but around the world both East and West. 
The book was well designed crafted and chapters punctuated with poems and prose that fit the theme of the chapter. It made the reading interesting and easier.
I have never finished a book so quickly in such a long time. There was no rush to submit the review,  what motivated me to read so intently was the subject matter.  It was a breath of fresh air, as Anne spoke freely about her broken life and her struggles. Something close to my heart now. Anne addresses a very serious issue in the church today. That is: The Christian church ought to be a community of grace, safe place where it’s members can share freely, the broken and the beautiful in their lives.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews

Andy Andrew's The Butterfly Effect is gift book. The book has a clear message not just for older children and teens but even adults. That message is: we were created to make a difference. Whatever you do no matter how insignificant it may seem can have an impact on in the lives of other people on the other side of the world.

The books was an easy read as all gift books are. The book design and graphics were excellent and visually pleasing, supporting the text on each page well. Its layout done in a way it compelled us to keep turning the pages find out the story ends. Andrews brings us through almost 200 years of American history. He does this by relating two seemingly unrelated stories about two seemingly insignificant people and the global effect their lives had on the world as we know it today.

Though Andy Andrews wrote this book with primarily American readers in mind, his message is clearly universal. Even as an asian reader, I felt a sense of gratitude to the Joshua and Moses for their lives and actions did affect the history of my nation too. As a father, I realize I am raising history makers in my home. This is the kind of gift book that is worth getting.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Boy Who Changed The World by Andy Andrews, illustrated by Philip Hurst

If anything, this children’s book is the kid’s version of The Butterfly Effect, a gift book by the same author. Written for children of reading age but more suitable for those between the ages of six to nine, it tells the story not one, not two but four boys and their impact they made on the world as we know it today.

The large children’s story book is colorfully illustrated by Philip Hurst. The art pleasant to the eye and done in a manner that adds to the mood of the story at the turn of each page. The story is paced well. Language simple to understand.

I was worried about the part that had some mention of slavery and racism I had read in The Butterfly Effect. The author avoids mention of it all together (which is good, if you don’t want to have to explain these matters to a nine year old). He does so without affecting the essence of the story and the truth he wanted to convey. That truth is: Everything you do matters. It doesn’t matter what you do it will have an impact on someone somewhere some time. The spiritual message was not strong but subtle, God is only mention at the end. I recommend this book to all parents. Get it for your child read it with them.
PS: Look out for the butterflies on every page ;-D
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Remembering Dad ... and Mom...

I have been reading the book by Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham, Great Parents Lousy Lovers. One thing it speaks of is the different generations and how they impacted the next. 
It has cause me to think back about my folks. How they raised us two boys. How we knew that they loved us or not. There are several images and events that remain so vivid in my mind. 
One of the most vivid is one when I was younger. One night my folks were 'slugging' it out in the dining room, while we boys were upstairs hall. I remember running on the stairwell and shout at them something amounted to not liking them arguing. It stun them silent. I remember them retreating to their bedroom. 
Later, I think was, Dad me called me out from my room. I popped out off my room and there they were, in the upstair hall, hugging each other with BIG grins on their faces. I knew what they were trying to communicate to me, that things were settled. I knew better. I don't remember them argue in front of us after that, or at least they brought it into the room when we were around. I'm guessing here, of course. 
For sure what I learned was never to have visible disagreements in front of the kids.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Parables and Proverbs - Looking at the Prodigal Son

The parable of the Prodigal Son likely one of the most known and popular parables.
In the past, a lot of focus was on the prodigal and his straying and returning home: We are all lost and gone a stray.
In more recent times the focus has turn to the remaining 'obedient' son and how we can be obedient and doing "the right things" yet not enjoying fully the privilege as children. Some have shared that the "obedient" son was a prodigal as well and just as bad because he did or said nothing when the inheritance was divided. He took his share too. He just didn't take off.
But there are three main characters in the parable:
The Runaway Son
The Resentful Brother
The Running Father
These days the focus is on the Running Father as the loving father to both the runaway returning (repenting?)and restored son and his resentful brother. The Father representing God in the parable is portrayed as longing waiting looking out for and running out to meet the son whom he restores and reinstates as opposed to a father who stands and waits for the young man to come crawling but and then give him the "I told you so" and "this is what you get for not listening to me" comebacks. God  ran out to meet us and embrace us when we return to Him. He didn't judge us. We had already judged ourselves. We were judged by our own conscience.

The  parable of the prodigal son was taught by Jesus as a last in a series of three parables in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 15, sometimes subtitled as the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and son.
Someone mention when Jesus said: "I say to you" you sit up to to listen. When He says "verily I say to you" you better pay attention. But when He says  "verily verily I say to you" you better start taking notes.
Jesus told three similar parables in a row and it must be to underscore one truth. It's not about the numbers; 1 of 100, 1 of 10 or 1 of 2. It's about a God who actively seeks you out.
You were important enough to launch a search and rescue mission
You were precious enough to turn the world upside-down to find
You were always his child and His been waiting for you to return or to ask of Him.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Five "ologies" that a Christian should know ...

There are five possible "ologies" that every christian should know, six that they should understand:
1. Theology Proper
2. Christology
3. Pneumatology
4. Harmartiology
5. Soteriology
6. Anthrophology
Confused? No sweat! That okay. Just pick up the book DUG DOWN DEEP by Joshua Harris (Yeah he's the guy that  wrote: "I Kiss Dating Goodbye" and "Boy Meets Girl"). He puts all in simple terms using "layman's" language.
It's not one of the books I receive to review. I picked it up at the bookstore, first book I bought in months.It's a good book to start your way into the "frightening" realm of theology and doctrines. I only halfway through the book and I am thinking of reviewing it just because...

Friday, August 6, 2010

I received a letter from the national director of a youth outreach organisation which I support. In it he cites two instances he encountered that seems to reflect a growing new atheism among students.
It seems to me this new atheism is more like  an old anti-theism. These are not just people that don't believe that there is a god, they seem to be against god or anything with the mystical or metaphysical for that matter. They are out to wage war against what they call a myth. There are apparently four horsemen of our  apocalypse among them charging their attack. The attack seem to be directed at the christian religion more than any other religion. I suspect it is more because the "turn-the-other-cheek" community is an easy target - large, visible and clumsy for the most part.
I don't think we feel their effects so much in the local church especially the church here in the country of my origin. This is largely because we are among a populace that is ethnically asians and most asian cultures have a meta-narrative and asian tend towards believing in the mystical if not mythical.  However, this is fast changing as the education of our nation's young focus on math and science along with its influences that chiefly come from the West, challenging those perspectives The two instants the national director mention only goes to show that this mood is growing. 
I think it was Alister McGrath in his chapter in Beyond Opinion, who made an interesting observation: This new atheism is almost like a fundamental movement of modernity that had its birth in the Enlightenment worldview. Yet the mood of the times we are in (globally) is one of post-modernity.
The take-away for the christian as we a bombarded from one side by anti-theistic atheists and from the other side by exclusive post modern inclusivist.  Are we able to give a reasonable answer to why we believe what we believe. How competent are we when we are faced with questions or indictments from those quarters? We don't have to go to theological grads school to do so, but we do have to study some and read some. At some point even ask the difficult questions to ourselves. We have to do something.

Book Review: Beyond Opinion ---with Postscript

The book is in three parts: Part One deal with the major challenges faced by Christians and the response to those challenges. Part Two talks of internalizing the questions and answers. Part Three address living out our apologetic.
Ravi Zacharias makes it clear that this not just another book on apologetic or a book with answers to the questions people have. His goal is to equip the lay believer to able to give a reason for their belief. That means not just training their minds but building their convictions. For the best argument for the faith one has is the life that one lives.
With this he gathers his team and crafted out this book. The chapters of Part one read like mini-thesis with thesis statements and topic statements. Which means that this book can be read slowly at across a long period of time without losing track of the flow as long as you complete a chapter each time.
To be honest, I had a hard time reading the book.It can be dry and lacks imagery. In fact, I gave up on going through it in detail (ie reading it cover to cover). It is not the kind of book you would pick up and read like you would read a paperback novel. If anything, this could be the textbook for:- Christian Apologetics 101 - An introduction to Apologetics for the Layman, if such a course of study exist.

(Postscript: The book I received was a paperback. The print was small and my "old flower eyes" found it difficulty focusing. That could have been a factor that made this book difficult reading. The RZIM team was definitely trying to squeeze a lot into the book and give us as much as possible.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Prayer: More Than Just mechanical A.C.T.S?

I think that when a Christian frowns at or objects to the mystical, they are forgetting that all christians are mystics.

I was raised in an liturgical church where most of our prayers were read out from the Book of Common Prayer or some other service book.  Personal prayer was done in silence and no one ever taught me to pray out loud. 

Then, after receiving Christ, I was taught the mechanics of prayer by way of the ACTS model:
Adoration Confession Thanksgiving Supplication
That gave me a framework of how to pray. Yet there was still that something that was missing. 
Not too long later, I was introduced charismatic revival and began to speak in tongues. It was during this time that an oomph! was added to my prayer life. I was also told (and not formally taught) that when we didn't know what to pray we should pray in tongues.
At the same time, I was taught that prayer is like a conversation/talking with God. Yet most of the time it seem more like a monologue with us presenting a long shopping list to God. if talking with God was a dialogue then how do we hear him. I was taught that He speaks to us through the bible, His Word. Doesn't he speak to us directly like Paul and Peter?

All this time, I have had a attraction to the medieval and with my renewed faith, medieval christianity. The monks like Francis of Assisi and Brother Lawrence in particular. I was drawn to the life of contemplation. I wanted to learn meditation but the westernize christian traditions which I was brought up and trained by may frown at the mention of the word.

What's more, these past couple of years, my church has been going into the whole soaking in the Lord thingie. Which a pastor friend called a "fad." Truth be told it's actually waiting on the Lord for Him for a "download" aka meditation. However, I suspect if you were to use meditate instead of "soaking," there will be an adverse reaction from the anglicized modernist christians in the asian church. Those have forgotten that Christianity is from Israel which is in the Near East or West Asia. 

Much of the reaction to meditation is because it is very much associated with Buddhism or Hinduism; and also related to going into a trance.

Bottom line:  A mystic is someone who believes in the existence of a reality beyond the physical realm. Christians believe that in an existence beyond the physical or nature. Therefore, a christian is a mystic.
A Christian who does not believe in the supra-natural (I prefer this term over supernatural) is oxymoronic: believing in God and not believe in that which is above and beyond the natural. They must as well not pray. For prayer is the one activity in which a christian reaches out from the nature into the mystical. If you don't believe in the mystical then why bother to pray.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Random Thot: what's the difference between Harmony and Equality?

Harmony : pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts
Equality : the quality or state of being equal.

So what's the diff between racial harmony and equality. Someone said to have harmony there must be equality. I tend to disagree with that. I believe that Equality can only come if there is harmony.

If Harmony as defined by the dictionary is a "pleasing and congruent arrangement of parts" then those parts need not be equal in state, stature, size or standing. Harmony is then a choice made to get along others regardless if the parts are equal.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mystics are we all

A first glance of the title may lead you to think that this was another new age book. However, Ken Wilson’s Mystically Wire is about prayer and how to bring one’s life of prayer beyond the norm of the few-words-before-you-eat or grocery-shopping-list kind of prayer. The book is divided into two parts. In the first, the author takes us through his journey and understanding of prayer. In the second and more practical part, he guides the reader into steps to take to build a life of prayer.
I found the book enriching as a whole, though I was rather bored reading through part one.  Ken Wilson attempts to persuade us that we are created with the desire for the mystical in us. Perhaps his target audience are the Christians of the western world. I have for a long time, known that Christianity is originally an eastern religion and therefore didn't need convincing. The second part of the book was enriching as I found myself almost immediately trying to put into practice his practical advice. 
Mystically Wired is a practical guide for those who find it difficult to get started in prayer and those who want to put some "oomph!" back into their prayer life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Twelve Lies You Hear in Church

Tim Riter, the author of the book states that there are lies that are reinforced in churches either intentionally or ignorantly. Here’s the list of twelve:

1.  I Believe in Jesus and that's Enough
2.  We must be Perfect
3.  We can't be Perfect
4.  Little Sins aren't really aren't that bad
5.  One Sin does destroy us
6.  I'm not perfect, but compared to ...., I'm a saint
7.  I married the wrong person
8.  I'll never be a Billy Graham
9.  Christianity is Great on Sundays
10. I'm like this because my mom was a nag
11. Only good things happen to good people
12. We have the Truth

What do you think? 
Do you agree that these are lies. 
If yes, what is the truth? 
If not, why?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Manifest Manifold Majesty and Mystery of Christ

CHRIST in us, the hope of Glory! Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola seek to remind us that being a Christian means following Christ not a set of values or regulations. Christianity is a relationship not a religion. This they do by declaring that Christ is the centre of the human history. The focus of the Old Testament and the highlight of the New Testament. Everything the Father and the Spirit did was for the Son. Christ as the focus.  We who call ourselves Christians, have Christ in us. That the life we live is not our own. We live Jesus. 
Jesus Manifesto got my attention from the start. I felt the opening statement were strong for my liking but I decided to give them a hearing. It turned out to be an enlightening experience. Backed with quotes from the Scripture to support their thesis, the authors brought a fresh way to Look and the Book (Bible). 
I finished the book convinced that indeed many churches have bought into the culture of performance and many christians are missing out on abundant life while trying to live the right way.
I want to eat of fruit of the forgotten tree. You would too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prodigal Prince -Thinking Out Loud

Who am I? That is probably the most perplexing question that I have to answer. Most times when most people are asked: "What do you do?", their answer seems to be something like : "I am a teacher." or "I am an architect."
However, "I am ...." seems to be more of a statement of a person's identity (of being) rather than a person's occupation (of doing). 
Most people would find their identity in what they do. Who they are seem so wrapped up in what they do and how well they are at what they do. What happens when they are no longer doing that job or vocation? What happens to them then? Do they lose their identity? No longer knowing who they are. Losing meaning and purpose in life?
I, myself, have placed my identity in being a youth worker, youth pastor and more recently a "IT officer." What happens when I am no longer any of these? Who am I then? That is the question I now must ask.  
I know in my head that I'm a child of God. My heart for many years didn't see things that way. I was taught  that we were servants of God. So God was more of a nice Master rather than a Father. Perhaps my past 25 plus years I have been trying to keep in His good books. Seeing myself more as a servant as in the context of the parable of the talents. Living like a pauper when I am actually a prince. Choosing to sleep in the swine pen when I have a place in the palace.
Reminds me of the Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The First Love ...

What does First Love have to do with my previous post? Well perhaps nothing or perhaps everything? We can only give what we have received.  He who is forgiven little loves little. He who forgiven much, loves much.

So what is the first love that is mentioned in Rev 2?
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. - Rev 2:4(NKJ)
Does it refer to our first love for God or God's Love for us? Maybe both, after all:
We love ... because He first loved us.1 John 4:19(NKJ)
When these words were spoken to the church of Ephesus, the church was commended for their fervency in upholding doctrinal truth. However it was doctrinal truth without compassion. They had become a loveless church. They had forgot the love they first received from God.- He first loved us.  In forgetting that they forgot how to love. Only in remembering and returning to that first love we experienced can we love him and other.

Remember the love God had shown you.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Fellowship of Flops - The woman who washed Jesus' Feet

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
 - Luke 7:47.
The woman of questionable repute had received much forgiveness. She knew she needed much forgiveness. And thus was given it. She was desperate to have forgiveness. It showed in how far she was willing to go. Walking into the "lion's den" of a Pharisee's home with the possibility of be thrown out and public humiliation, washing the feet of Jesus with perfume that like cost her much.

You cannot give what you don't already have. Some things you don't just have, you have to be given. More so you have to receive these. LOVE MERCY GRACE FORGIVENESS are such things. 

These gifts are such that you can't give them unless you have already received them. These gifts cannot just be owned but also  experienced.

The pharisee did not think he needed forgiveness and therefore did not receive and experience the same.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fellowship of Flops- Levi/Matthew the public tax collector

Levi/Matthew the public tax collector was one of the original twelve. What's interesting is among the twelve he was likely the least liked. I wonder what went through the others' minds when Jesus said to Matthew: "Follow me!"  The Word of God (The Bible) is silent about it, perhaps it's because God wants us to focus what was said and recorded.

Tax collectors in those times were hated and probably the only thing worse than that was a Samaritan (a half-breed). I wonder how the other disciple felt initially about the inclusion of Matthew into their midst. I figure that they were plenty uncomfortable about it. On the top of having a publican added to them now they had to go to his place for dinner. They likely very uncomfortable at the dinner... cause there was all this low life sinners around them. I'm guessing that when Jesus responded to the Pharisees, He was not just addressing them but also the disciples who were silent.

It is also interesting to note that, in both Matthew and Luke's accounts, this event takes place BEFORE Jesus selected the twelve.  This would mean then that the disciples referred to in Luke 5 and Matthew 9 were not just the twelve but a whole bunch of people. Perhaps the incident at Matthew's banquet had something to do with how and who Jesus eventually choose as the twelve.

Was Jesus also watching how the disciples treated Matthew and the others? Did the other disciples shun him or avoid talking to him. How did they respond to the other "rift-raft" of society at that banquet?

Whatever the case, Matthew a  flop and outcast of society, was called and chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve. Matthew who was likely shun by his family and peers was asked to be part of what would be the world-changing movement.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thinking about Joseph...

Not Joseph Prince pastor of New Creation Church. Not Joseph the Dreamer. But Joseph the Carpenter, Husband of Mary mother of Jesus.

Max Lucado in his book Cast of Characters he writes of Joseph and what he(Joseph) might have been going through the night Jesus was born, wondering if he ever prayed a particular prayer.

My thoughts about Joseph are more of what went through him. When he decided not to quietly divorce Mary and go through with the marriage. There must have been a lot of whispers going around. Questions about who the real father was, comments about her being a "loose" women. Or worst, whispers that Joseph was not great guy himself and his lack of self control had led to this set of circumstances. I mean the amount of shame and dishonor he had bear, the questioning looks and stares. Maybe it was a good thing that he had to go out of town with Mary - to Bethlehem- foe the census, it would have taken a lot of heat off him, heat that wasn't even his to bear.

For the unfamiliar, perhaps it be good for you to read this for background.

There isn't much said about Joseph the carpenter. There are only two mentions in the bible I know of the first be at the birth of Jesus which includes the escape to and return from Egypt. The other when the family when to Jerusalem for the Passover when Jesus was twelve. There Jesus is "lost" for three days. I wonder what he felt. I mean did he think: "Oh NO! I lost God's Son?"

In all this Joseph doesn't "speak," he is not quoted in saying anything nor are his thoughts and emotions recorded except that he was afraid to return to Judah after Herod died. Perhaps it's because he was no longer around to bear witness to the writers of the accounts unlike Mary.

I wonder what went through his head more so whether like Mary he hid all these things in his heart. I suspect he did.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A book I could not put down...

A Book I could not put down ……

Friendship for grown-ups is Lisa Whelchel’s story of healing. In it she chronicles her journey of discovering and defining what friendship is for a grown-up. The journey is not without it’s bumps on the road. There are twist and turns, crossroads and heartbreaks along the way. Yet it has been a journey worth taking because it has led her into the heart of God the Father and into knowing God in a deeper more intimate manner. Ultimately, you cannot touch the heart of God and come out a changed person which is what happened to Lisa. It is a journey that is still ongoing even as she writes the book.
I started reading the book on Saturday morning and third way through it by mid-morning. I would have finished it by the end of the day if not for other responsibilities to attend to. I was done reading by Monday Lunchtime. Is the book easy reading? No not really, it is compelling. The writer drew me into the story of her current life not some distant past.
What got my attention was the title of the book. Friendship for Grown-ups. Something in me clicked. I had to have the book. You see unlike two significant people in my life (my brother and my wife) who have friendship that have lasted since their childhood and schooldays, I have none that have lasted. Even the bonds I’ve built as an adult done last beyond the change of job or relocation.
So I just had to have the book. I desperately needed to connect with people. This book would help me. I was to be disappointed and not.
For one, Friendship for Grown-ups was a book written for women. (I am a guy) Two, it is not your quick-fix book or some 12 steps to success in your personal life.   There are no formulas and solutions that you could magically pull out and use. There wasn’t even a section the guys to use to help their wives who may be going what Lisa went through. There’s not even a mention of her husband (and Lisa makes it clear there will not be from the start) of what he did or how he helped her through it all)
But men can take a few pages out this book too. If anything men and shame don’t mix well. The worst thing that can happen to a guy is to be put to shame.
Guys tend not to have deep friendship or be vulnerable and open about they weakness. There are things in this book that men can learn too. Open, authentic relationship with other men and with God.
Lisa present to
If there are any key words that I find in this book they are:
Vulnerable, safe friends(place), The grace of God, authentic

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Life Change

Some time between July/September 09 and 12 Feb 2010 my life took a change. My blood pressure went from normal to mild/moderate hypertension. One would ask what have bern the changes during this time:
Well last year my dept lost its manager in Oct last year.
My Division head in our organisation resigned in Jan and a new one came in. The transition was tense to say the least.
But it no point about pointing the cause now. It would not change my BP.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I remember Grandma...

A friend's maternal grandma passed on just the other day. I was thinking of what I could say to her. That brought mr to the passing of my own maternal grandma. I remember the day almost as clear as if it were yesterday.
It was a Friday, my grandma had been running a fever. I had gone in to her room and prayed for her for the fever to go away. It didn't. The next morning as I was coming down from my room, mom ran out from where granny's room wad saying : You granny is dead! I ran into the room and saw granny lying on the floor - stiff. That image remains in my mind. I don't know how she died. Just that it was so sudden I was in a state of shock therest of the day. I actually reported for work that morning. Just to let them know what happened and I was going to be taking leave.
Never got the chance to say goodbye to my granny. ...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Remembering Dad (expanded)

Dad has been my marker for many aspects of my life. The age he got married. The age difference with his bride. When he had his first child. They all were guidelines as how my life should play out.

A quiet man whose world is filled primarily by books, he managed to influence both his sons and at least half of his grandchildren to be readers. The artist in him has at least produced a "creative nut" in each of the following generations.

But there a two images of dad that are firmly etched in my mind:
The first is that of him at the door of our old flat in Kampong Java, he had just return from Ceylon / Sri Lanka. with him at the threshold of the door was this large basket looking like it came from the cave of the 40 thieves. I was almost expecting a genie to come out of it. What excited me most was dad coming back from the trip.
The other time was dad coming into my room, drawing the curtains and saying that he was glad I didn't go for the interview that day because the job didn't suit me. That day I was to go for the 2nd interview for the sales position in a company that sells encyclopaedias. It was a great feeling that dad affirmed my decision as being the right one.

I have always said that dad raised us (my bro and I) using a long leash. Allowing us freedom and room to roam but pulling us in when we tried to go too far off.

It's a pity that I have two girls to raise. There's not a lot of "take-aways" I can use from my experience with dad. What I have is just bringing them to the library, book store and music shop. And of course there's Asterix. Now that's another dad story ....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Simple Life?

What constitutes a simple life or a life of simplicity?

The Simple life is :
No Cable TV ... Okay I can live with free-to-air... and DVDs
No Internet ... Errr maybe
No Computer Games ok
No Computer as in no PCs but a Mac's not a PC right?
No expensive hobby
No Starbucks ... what no Starbucks!! I need my coffee at least my neighbourhood kopi tiam.

But seriously, how can we live a simple life in the 21st Century? Cutting out expenses?

For one, life would be simpler if we were debt free and loan free. Although here in Singapore it kinda hard to be loan free and with that debt free. Most Singaporeans will have at least a housing loan if not also car loan - the two most expensive things in Singapore to own. And to some two of the most necessary things to have.

One can choose to be credit card free.

Life would be Simpler if there was less to worry about and paying the bills is the one BIG worry most have.

So a simple life would include (but noy only):
No loans
No credit cards therefore no debt. (Unless you pay up your credit card bill each time)
No cable tv
A vocation you love and enjoy doing
Income enough for the month ... argh!!

In the end a simple ife is not a list of things you have or don't have, but what you can do without?

That is to say is there a difference between leading a simple life and having a simple lifestyle? Can one's life be simple if one's lifestyle is inundated with complexities (usually those of the material kind)?

Simplify! I guess all I want is a roof over my head, food on the table and time for God, family and self. What that translates to in "real" terms I don't know.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reflecting the past 25 years Pt 2

After my last post I received an encouragement through a comment on facebook. At the same time the sermon on Sunday was faithfulness with a focus on Matthew 25 "Parable of the Talents."

The passage that got me was: "His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will ... Matt 25:23

It told me that fruitfulness mattered but not the size of the fruit. So all the small stuff from the years that passed. Jia You (加油).

I guess my rambling in the last post boils down to having anything visible (big) to show for the years I have spent in His service. I may not have much to show but I have used my talent however small that I know.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

A Reflection on the last 25 years

This year of 2010 will mark 25 years in full time ministry service for me. That's more than half my life. From 1985-2009!!! With the exception of one year (1991), it has been continuously serving the Lord first as a youth worker, then youth pastor, followed by a technical specialist.
Serving with fringe youth, secondary school students, in performing arts and support ministries.

As I reflect on this past, I wonder to myself: "What have I accomplished? What do I have to show for all this?" What have been my successes so far?

It seems that all I manage to accomplish (by the "normal" standards) is nothing:
  • There was a young man I led to Christ. He went full-time. I don't know where he is now.
  • There was smallband of youth in the performing arts. Don't know where they are now. Just know one of the girls is a teacher and with the GB.
  • There were two Thai girls who came to the Lord through an English camp I was involved with in Thailand.One was a daughter of an govt official then and the other from a working class family. I don't know where they are now.
  • There are the youth from my Sunday School. 
All small things nothing major or earth shaking. One would think that after 25 years of full-time ministry, I would be heading some organisation or something. Yet it is not so. I guess it a choice I made: "sweating" the small stuff. Not doing anything "big" but focusing on small groups and individuals. Hey it's not that I didn't or don't think "BIG" but rather that inside of me (and sometimes forgotten) I believe in "going BIG in a small way."

Sometimes I feel I have accomplished nothing. One day, someday, maybe all the small things will crawl out of the woodwork and the multitude of them will amaze me.

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