Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dr Quentin Schultze (Listening - Texting)

Title: Listening for God's Call in a World of Instant Messages
Attended a wonderful lecture on Wednesday evening. Another worthwhile hour spent.Dr Schultze started off with St John Chrysostom. I hear and read about Chrysostom increasingly nowadays. He is christened the 'golden-mouthed' for his great oratory skills. Essentially, Dr Schultze sees himself as in the same department as Chrysostom called Communications, together with Augustine who trained as a rhetoric. He posed the problem of modern communications whereby communications among people have taken a beating.

The act of listening has to do with the act of obedience, according to the Hebrew word שׁמע (shama). To listen imply obeying. Some of the problems of modern communications:
1) We listen selectively
2) We see freedom as 'getting away' rather than getting intimate
3) We are more multi-tasking but less multi-loving
4) Instead of doing 1 thing well, we do many things mediocre
5) We miss out on the beauty of nature by being busy with things, especially communications (check email, Internet, yak on cell phones, TV etc)

A very insightful observation from Quentin was on the depth of literature written by people who have been imprisoned. People like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr, and Václav Havel (1st President of Czech Republic). These people during their imprisonment did not have the freedom to access communication devices like we do. Yet their writings are very powerful. They are imprisoned in their physical cells. We are imprisoned in our electronic world of distraction. They are deprived of basic freedoms. We, living in an environment of many things, are deprived of the capacity to focus on that one thing.

Things are not going to get any better in our modern lives unless we start focussing on the Transcendent God. What are the 2 things to take away?

A) Care for others. (intimacy)
B) Pay attention. (intimacy)

The purpose of communications in the eye of the world is to get a message across. However, in the eyes of God, the purpose of communications is to build intimacy, as an expression of loving God and loving neighbour.

We need it in order to remain sane and human in this world.


Happy Belated 80th Birthday, Dr Packer!

Happy belated Birthday to Dr Packer

Dr JI Packer turned 80 this month, last Sunday to be more precise. A belated birthday to him. Heard from that he preached 2 sermons that day. What a man!

He is a well known proponent of what we have come to regard as Evangelicals. For his explanation on the theory and practice of evangelicalism, click here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Accordance 7.0.2 Bible software

I did not plan to shell out any more $$ for Accordance Bible software. However, version 7 really blew me away. I gave in and upgraded it on the spot!

The new version practically made the search of the Greek and Hebrew so much easier. Plus the highlighting feature and the additional graphing capabilities, it is worth it. What's more, they even allow me to credit the upgrade price towards a future purchase!

Check out this link and you will see why it is so exciting!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A dream wrt Regent College

Today I worked in the library for about 2 hours, doing regular maintenance of the computers. Someone shared with me a dream about driving his motorcycle into a gas station, welcomed by a group of eager school boys. These boys appeared skilled and ready to take apart anything. After he paid for the gas inside the store, he found his motorcycle all fully taken apart and no one knows how to put it back. He shared with me that somehow he felt the whole dream was about Regent College.

The boys at the petrol kiosk = Professors at Regent
The motorcycle = Regent students
The taking apart of the motorcycle = the taking apart of the theological precepts of students.

I thought that is an insightful reflection of theological training. Many people thought that studying theology is a way to help them find the answers to life. Little did they know that the more one studies, the more one uncovers greater questions. In fact, one may discover there are more that one does not know than ever perceived.

I have been thinking about this a lot, especially the part about taking things apart and not being able to put it back together again. Sometimes, theological students get trained so well in analyzing the verse and Bible, that after breaking them down into simpler parts, we stumble to put them back together in a meaningful manner. Moreover, theological education is dangerous if the mind is not matured. Worse, there are students coming into theology as if theology is the answer to all their spiritual puzzles.

May the Lord continue to show theological students and academics, that it is not the theological infrastructure nor the efforts spent in studying the Word that matters. It is still the Holy Spirit that illuminates every tittle and every dot. It is still the Holy Spirit that guides and prepares our hearts for the seed of the Word. It is only the Holy Spirit that shows us that the purpose of all study is to lead us to God. Any study of the Word that does not lead us towards God in Christ, we must beware!


Monday, July 24, 2006

Preaching this Sunday - Choices

Will be preaching this Sunday. Passage taken will be Luke 10:36-11:1. It will be entitled: "Choices we make. Choice make us." May change the title as the days draw near as I need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

May the LORD prepare the hearts of hearers and preacher continually.

Told my wife that my sermon this Sunday is 90% complete. Simply needed to warm it up by this weekend. The other sermons in August is still under slow cooker mode. Taking a long time. Pray that the fragrance of the Word will come through powerfully. May it be a testimony that the Power is truly in the Word, as the preacher is but a mere imperfect mortal.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Contemplative Prayer begets service which begets Praying in Contemplative Love

This past 24 hours, I have been touched by the need to go to God in prayer, from the start, the during and the end. Several people have touched me with their love and concern for the needy. Through self-sacrificial service and having a heart to reach out to the unfortunate and needy, they gave of themselves in love and service in the name of the Lord. The quote below is an acknowledgment of their service.

"For in the silence of the heart God will speak. Give Jesus these five silences as a token of your gratitude. You will never learn to pray until you keep silence.
- The fruit of silence is faith
- The fruit of faith is prayer
- The fruit of prayer is love
- The fruit of love is service
- The fruit of service is silence." (Mother Teresa)

In the midst of this desire to serve, it is timely to remind one and all, that whatever we do, we not only do it for Christ. We do not forget that Christ desires more, not from what we do, but our presence and our person with Him. Would Christ die for us just that we can do good works? No! Christ died for us that we can have a relationship with Him again. Eternal bliss.


Affective Spirituality

Reading Chapter 17 of Julian's Showings is not easy for a contemporary reader like me. The graphic depiction of the suffering of Christ and His Passion is hard on the soul. Julian regretted praying to receive Christ's pain. Some of the images she depicted are below. Be forewarned. It is graphic.

------Begin quote------

To begin with, while the flesh was still fresh and bleeding, the continual pressure of the thorns made the wounds open wide. And then I began to see that the sweet skin and tender flesh, mixed with the hair and blood, was raised and had become loosened from the bones by the thorns, for they cut through and jagged it into many pieces. (C.17 Julian's Showings)

------End quote------

The deepest and greatest pain is to see your love suffer.

I learnt that such affective spirituality is a common practice during the time of Julian in the 13th-14th Century. This visualization of the suffering of Christ actually spur one to share in the Passion and spiritual depth of despair. In the midst of this image, I learn that not only do I see Christ coming from the heights of heaven, I saw the depths of sin in me and that Christ's love is death unto life. Spirituality is not only being able to see the highest forms of holiness in God, it is also to utterly detest the sins and temptation that lurks to stumble many of God's chosen people. Holiness is not only about pursuing God. It is about resisting and hating sin utterly. This resonates with John Owen's insightful treatise on Triumph over Temptation. He wrote:

"To gain spiritual strength, we must weaken sin, disentangle our hearts from false ambitions, and cleanse our thoughts. We must also mortify our affections so that we become more engaged in the worship of God than in the worship of our own idols. Mortification prunes indwelling sin and allows the graces of God to grow with vigour in our life." (John Owen)

Another affective spirituality prayer is below:
"O Jesus, most profound abyss of mercy: I beseech you by the depth of your wounds, which pierced your flesh to the heart and very marrow of your bones, draw me from the depths of sin into which I have sunk, and hide me deep in the holes of your wounds from the face of your anger, Lord, until judgment is past." (Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, pp 248-56)


Friday, July 14, 2006

Summary of Mother Teresa's Life

Do not expect a full essay or full book.

Below is a apt and crisp representation of Mother Teresa's life, encapsulated with a plea to cling and adhere to Christ.

"Know the word of God
Love the word of God
Live the word of God
Give the word of God
And the word of God will make you holy.
(Mother Teresa, in her letter to the Brothers of the Word)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Spiritual Life in the 21st Century (JI Packer)

Attended another of Regent's famous public lecture series. The whole chapel is packed to the brim. Half and hour before the start, even the parking lots were filled. Additional chairs were arranged. Unusual? No. Dr JI Packer was the speaker.

After a brief introduction by the Dean of Summer School, Thena Ayres, Packer started his delightful lecture. I am still impressed with his theological depth, sprinkled with his sense of British dry and witty humour. He started by asking what evangelicals need in the culture of secularism, post-Christian generation, alienated atheism, synchretism, Self-ism, challenge of Islam and people who prides in masquerading intellectual perplexity. His simple solution for spirituality --> Back to Holiness. Calling himself a cathechist, he attempts to orthodoxy with vitality.

Be holy for I am holy. Basing his text on 1 Peter 1:15-16, Packer exhorted us to have a renewed focus on holiness, that it should come roaring back into the 21st Century. We need it. The Church need it. The society needs it. The whole world needs it. Barna's recent survey of the modern US mindset is that only one-third of US professed Christians believes that they are called to be holy. That is appalling.

Packer goes on to list 5 points.
1) Holiness means separation and contrast
2) Holiness starts in the heart
3) Holiness grows downwards
4) Holiness looks ahead
5) Holiness anticipates a life full of suffering

I like Packer's phrase: "Suffering is when you don't get what you like and do get what you don't like." It humoured us.

The final word of wisdom from Packer was on holiness is that holiiness = Habit becoming character. Packer is considerably older but his talk and passion smacks of youthful vitality. Praise God for such a man of God. He is such a blessing to Regent College.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Quote from Julian's Showings

Julian of Norwich continues to marvel me with the depth of desire for the Lord, commencing with that sheer confidence that God cares, and because God cares, we can take comfort that all manner of things shall be well.

"All manner of things shall be well. God takes heed of noble things and the greatest,but he also attends to little and small, to low and simple, as much to one as to the other. ...He wants us to know that the least thing will not be forgotten."

(adapted from Julian of Norwich's Showings chapter 32)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Quote from Mother Teresa

Kindness has converted more people than zeal, science and eloquence. (Mother Teresa)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fifa World Cup 2006 - an anticlimax

Today is another shocker.

Host Germany is knocked out 2-0 by Italy. Without Argentina, Brazil, England and now Germany, the FIFA World Cup Soccer appears less colourful as before. After all the initial euphoria, the samba flamboyance of the South Americans, the delight cum colour of exciting Africans, the hard-working Asians, and the ever popular England with Spain and Germany have now given way to a few unfancied countries. Italy is of course the strongest contender for the World Cup now, seeing how they played against Germany. France will be the next. The biggest surprise no doubt will be Portugal.

Somehow, without Brazil, Argentina or Germany in the finals, I am wondering if I should even watch the final game live this Sunday? Maybe I will ask my pastor for permission to watch the game, which starts 1030AM on Sunday morning here.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sad Day for Brazil, for England

It is a sad day. Both teams I had hoped will go through to the semi-finals are out, on the same day. First, England bungled and did not play well. Rooney did a stupid push on his fellow Man-Utd club mate, Christiano Ronaldo and got a red card. That changed the whole England game. The penalties was the heartbreaker. Lampard was a goner for sure. He had wasted more opportunities to score than any other England player, so when he walked up to take the penalty, I know he will miss. What was unexpected was both Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher missed too! England deserve to go out.

Brazil was another unfortunate case. They were basically a shadow of their former selves. World Cup 2006 does not belong to either England or Brazil. So now 4 teams remain. I will pick Germany to go through. Firstly because of their home ground advantage. Secondly, I think they play fair soccer. Finally, none of the other three teams fancy me at all. It used to be Italy, but seeing how they play-act, I think the team that wins by pure skills and honest sportsmanship should win.


Latest Posts