Sunday, March 22, 2015

In Remembrance of Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015)

With gratitude for what you had done for Singapore.

In remembrance of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away Monday, March 23rd, 2015, 3.18am Singapore time, there will be a seven day mourning period for the nation. The picture above showed a flag at half-mast which I feel is a fitting tribute to Mr Lee's passion for the country. After all, he lived, breathed, fought for, and eventually died for the only country he ever loved: Singapore.

Contrary to what many sites I have seen that had shaded their sites in shades of black and white, I prefer to remember Mr Lee with the full bright colours of the Singapore flag and his own photo. This is because his very name is "light and bright" and I feel that a fitting tribute ought to let this light shine on his passion for the country.

As a mark of respect, this week's BookPastor Recommendation and Midweek Meditation will be held over. I wish his family my deepest condolences during this time. Together with my family and many Singaporeans all over the world, I want to say: "Thank you."

conrade

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Midweek Meditation: Christian Meditation (Watson's First Thing)

"Meditation is the soul's retiring of itself. A Christian, when he goes to meditate, must lock up himself from the world. The world spoils meditation; Christ went by himself into the mountainside to pray, Matt. 14:23, so, go into a solitary place when you are to meditate. "Isaac went out to meditate in the field," Gen. 24:63; he sequestered and retired himself that he might take a walk with God by meditation. Zaccheus had a mind to see Christ, and he got out of the crowd, "He ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him," Luke 19:3, 4. So, when we would see God, we must get out of the crowd of worldly business; we must climb up into the tree by retiredness of meditation, and there we shall have the best prospect of heaven. 
The world's music will either play us asleep, or distract us in our meditations. When a mote has gotten into the eye—it hinders the sight. Just so, when worldly thoughts, as motes, are gotten into the mind, which is the eye of the soul—it cannot look up so steadfastly to heaven by contemplation. Therefore, as when Abraham went to sacrifice, "he left his servant and the donkey at the bottom of the hill," Gen. 22:5, so, when a Christian is going up the hill of meditation, he should leave all secular cares at the bottom of the hill, that he may be alone, and take a turn in heaven. If the wings of the bird are full of slime, she cannot fly. Meditation is the wing of the soul; when a Christian is beslimed with earth, he cannot fly to God upon this wing. Bernard when he came to the church-door, used to say, "Stay here all my worldly thoughts, that I may converse with God in the temple." So say to yourself, "I am going now to meditate, O all you vain thoughts stay behind, come not near!" When you are going up the mount of meditation, take heed that the world does not follow you, and throw you down from the top of this pinnacle. This is the first thing, the soul's retiring of itself—lock and bolt the door against the world." (Thomas Watson)
(From: Thomas Watson's A Christian on the Mount, link)

Monday, March 16, 2015

BookPastor >> "Scripture By Heart" (Joshua KANG)

Title: Scripture by Heart: Devotional Practices for Memorizing God's Word
Author: Joshua ChoonMing KANG
Publisher: Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press, 2010, (150 pages)

This book is an easy read, but involves some effort in order to practice it. It invites the reader to begin an age old practice: Memorizing Scripture. The book was first written in Korean. Now translated in the form of 30 short chapters, the author gently guides the reader to begin the long journey of what he calls the 'memorization divina.' Just as the 'lectio divina' implies a slow and intentional reading, the memorization divina implies a perseverance that over time, in short sound bites.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
The author provides 4 reasons for memorizing the Word.

1) For Knowing God;
2) For Imitating Christ;
3) For Worshiping God;
4) For Fulfilling the Will of God.

I will add that the reasons for memorizing God's word is basically for loving God. How I love thy Word, says the Psalmist. Ps 119 alone should motivate us to put the Word of God in our hearts. For this reason alone, you should read this book and learn some memorization skills. This book can also be used as a companion to Spiritual Formation.

BOOK STRUCTURE

The structure of the book is by itself a representation of the book's philosophy. The 30 chapters may seem long (like the Bible is with many books and chapters), the brevity of each chapter shows us the need to pace oneself in the memorization process. The author is deeply aware of the difficulties and pitfalls of such a massive effort to remember Scripture. Thus, he guides te reader with reminders of the 'sweetness' of the effort, and to encourage one toward persevering toward the very end. The practical ideas are distributed throughout the book.

QUOTES I LIKE:
  • We begin memorizing Scripture by taking small steps, then expanding gradually to larger steps. Be patient with yourself, especially whenever you’re tempted to memorize Leviticus in an hour and a half!” (23)
  • A healthy spirituality sends deep roots into a cultivated mind; knowledge is essential to spiritual development. We feel and act upon knowledge because our thoughts affect our feelings. The mind also influences the will because our choices depend on our knowledge.” (32)
  • "A cultivated mind produces more insight, possesses a richer sense of the world and enjoys a more attractive experience of reality. Our minds are influenced by what comes from outside of us. We cannot create our own world, and yet we can create our own worldview. The abundance and vitality of the world we live in depends on how we see it. When our minds are cultivated by the Word of God through Scripture memorization, we can see the world that was created by God in the way that God sees it.” (33)
  • one of the most enjoyable spiritual pastimes is drawing a Scripture verse from memory and meditating on it. Often meditation is a joy of its own, but gaining wisdom while doing so leads to ecstasy.” (34)
  • "Emotion follows motion." (24)

MY COMMENTS
I am intrigued by Kang's description of how some people who attended his seminar on Memorizing Scripture have their interest fizzle out within the first few minutes of his talk. These are the people who perhaps thought that the seminar contains some quick-fix easy to use formula for Bible memorization. Unfortunately, even if such a formula exist, it may enter the head but hardly influence the heart. Kang makes a good observation saying that:

it must be remembered that digesting the word is more important than ingesting it; food itself is of no use until it’s converted into energy.” (18)

Right on. We need to make a distinction between 'ingesting' the word vs 'digesting' the Word. The former involves wholesale swallowing; the latter requires bite-size chewing. The former gobbles quickly; the latter nibbles intentionally. Ingesting focuses on the speed of the memorizing process while digesting requires a concerted effort of the whole person. In other words, ingesting is for spiritual formulation whereas digesting is for spiritual formation. Having done Bible memorization, I find myself agreeing with a lot of what Kang is saying. In fact, one of the rewards of Bible memory is to be able to meditate on it when the lights are turned off before I go to bed.

I recommend this book highly not only for meditation purposes, but for loving God more through intentional spiritual formation. You can purchase the book by clicking here.

conrade
[first published at SabbathWalk at http://www.sabbathwalk.org/Home/book-reviews/review-scripture-by-heart]

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lord, You're My Dearest Friend

This is one of my favourite worship songs in Mandarin. Youtube link.

主你是我最知心的朋友,
主你是我最親愛的伴侶,
我的心在天天追想著你,渴望見到你的面。
在我人生的每一個台階,
在我人生的每一個小站,
你的手總是在攙拉著我,把我帶在你身邊。
告訴我當走的路,沒有滑向死亡線,
你愛何等的長闊深高,我心發出驚嘆。
有了主還要什麼?我心與主心相連,
我已起誓要跟隨主,永不改變。



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Worship Song - I Pray (Mandarin)

This is a meditative song to help one to pray. It is entitled 禱告 I Pray.

conrade

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Midweek Meditation: On the Cross (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

This is one of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's most well-known words.
"The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 2nd edition, NY: Macmillan, 1963, p99)

conrade

Monday, March 09, 2015

BookPastor >> "Churchless" (George Barna and David Kinnaman)

The fastest growing group in Christianity is the unchurched group, where people call themselves Christians but are not attached to any Church. This book publishes a summary of surveys and data done on the reasons why and gives some surprising suggestions. 

This review was first published under Panorama of a Book Saint.

conrade

TITLE: Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them
AUTHOR: George Barna and David Kinnaman
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2014, (224 pages).

As churches in the West continue to shrink, one begins to wonder which group then is growing? Answer: The unchurched person. For every one person who stops attending any church, it adds one more to the growing pool of people called the "unchurched" or according to Barna and Kinnaman, the "churchless." Simply put, a churchless person is one who is not connected at all to any church. The statistics are grim. Out of people who call themselves Christians, only 47% are actively a part of a Church, which means they go to Church on a regular basis on the minimal. A whopping 53% are the unchurched, of which about 35% are de-churched; 12% purely unchurched; and 8% minimally churched. If we analyze the terms closer, the mood is depressing.
  • "Actively churched" are those attending church at least once a month
  • "minimally churched" are those attending church several times a year
  • "de-churched" are those currently taking a break from going to church
  • "purely unchurched" are those who have never gone for a church service.

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