Monday, September 26, 2005

Regent Retreat @ WarmBeach 2005

Last weekend, we were at the Regent College Annual Retreat. For me it is a big improvement over last year's. Perhaps I was not as anxious to know as many people as possible, as I decided to take it easy and spend good time with a few instead of short moments with many. Much more meaningful when I am enjoying the conversations instead of trying to meet a certain 'quota'.

Dr Iain Provan was the main speaker. The theme was "Stories of Faith". It was about travelors together in a strange land. The first day, we heard the message about Abraham, who was depicted as a man of faith, that Christians often look up to in terms of a model for building faith. The second day we heard about Jacob, seen like the other extreme of human nature. Jacob was depicted as one who schemes, tricks his brother Esau and of course a wrestler with God. Two seemingly different persons but both under the same God. Despite the flaws of Jacob and Abraham, God's grace was consistent. Finally, Dr Provan presses home a simple message to bring the theme together in Psalm 23. He encouraged all of us as fellow travellors in a strange land of Vancouver, that our God will lead and guide us. Our God knows our needs and we need to learn to trust him. All of us at Regent has a story to tell. A story of personal sacrifice to come to Regent. A story of being a stranger in a strange land. A story of different personalities and cultures coming together to a place called Regent College. It will be God who will hold all things together. Living in Vancouver as strangers reminded us that we are in a real way, strangers to this world.

Our whole family enjoyed the time of rest, play and fellowship. We tented this time, and saved some money. The nights were extremely cold and there was a family who decided to move into a warmer cabin on the second night. Brave people we are, as one of the very few families with children who tented. It was fun (for the kids I mean).


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Stress Steps In

Surely but gradually, the inevitable has to occur. Stress.

I am taking a reasonably heavy load, coupled with other things, it can drag my spirits down at times. The readings I am doing are difficult (correction, VERY difficult). Do pray for me as I attempt to use my available time to focus and not give up easily.

"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." (Ps 27:4)

How am I to focus on that one thing in the midst of all these stress and schedules? Is this seeking of the Lord an attempt at escapism? or is it a distraction from the struggles, as afterall, more likely than not, I will still need to get back to resolving the things to do. So many things to do, so little time. Isn't that familiar?

Focus on the Lord that all these things will be seen in its proper perspectives. What good will there be if one's stress destroys the very joy one could have? What benefit will it be if coping with these stress result in terrible relationships? I think, David has a very clear sense of his relationship with the Lord when he wrote the Psalm 27. He is not merely clear that only in the Lord can he be delivered from his enemies. He is not merely convinced that the Lord can give him the comfort he seeks. He is most convicted and glad to be WITH the Lord. The interesting thing in the above passage is that David did not ask for power, riches or things of this world. He asked not for gifts but for the Giver. He asks not to receive things but to be with his beloved God. He asked for this ONE THING: The Lord. He ask not to look but to GAZE. He ask not to be in momentarily, but to be in the house of the Lord ALL THE DAYS. Isn't it true that this lies one of the secrets of that relationship. Nothing else matters when the relationship is there.

Ask any employee who had a rough project but with understanding bosses and colleagues. Better to climb Mt Everest with people who supports and strengthens you, than to walk up Bukit Timah hill with people who hated and spite you.

Stress will always be there. Let it not distract from the one thing in our lives. Being with the Lord.


Friday, September 09, 2005

What to Preach?

So many things to preach about but how to decide which? That is a strange dilemma. Actually not that strange as after answering the question of 'what to preach', there is another question about what about the "WHAT TO PREACH" am I to preach about. (Get it?)

October 16 is the day. Stay tuned. Any suggestions, let me know. I am open to the Lord to guide and preach to me first before I do.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Intellectualism a bad word?

"The opposite of Intellectualism is Ignorance"

Sometimes, when we try to discuss things and concepts in greater detail, we get slapped with the word "Intellectualism", the latter word often used in a perjorative way. In sermons or discussions, when we fail to understand what was spoken, we merely dismissed the whole attempt as an exercise in Intellectual engagement which does not result in any good practical help at all. "Above the head"; "Too chim (deep)"; "Catch no ball"; "cannot understand" are feedback which the speaker will need to take very seriously. The use of heavy sounding words have to be explained adequately, and after explaining it, it has to be used with lots of examples to illustrate the meaning. The sermon, the message or the speech when seen from an educational view, will certainly help increase one's vocabulary and eventually knowledge for all to edify and be edified.

Suppose we were to see Intellectualism as a bad word, the opposite will certainly be worse. Would one rather be ignorant or being called an intellectual? I guess most people will prefer the intellectual path. There are certain words that is more difficult to understand, but that does not mean it is wrong to use these words. The problem often lies in the understanding between the speaker and the audience; the preacher and the congregation.

Hearers, see each difficult word as an opportunity to learn. Speakers, see each accusation of Intellectualism as a chance to explain, teach and clarify.


About Worship

Read about a useful guide to worship:

"We speak to God before the service
God speaks to us during the service
We speak to each other after the service
As you are seated in the pew, please bow in prayer."

How important it is to recover the worship in our Churches. We come together as a community to worship God, and not to see the worship service as a therapeutic treatment for our stressed lifestyles. Everything in the service must point to God, and that includes not just the outside but inside us.


Latest Posts