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 BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”