Friday, February 24, 2006

10+1 Things I Like about Life @ Regent College

{Artist Impression of the Future Regent College}

In alphabetical order

1) BOOKSALES like Midnight Madness, RCSA students book sales, BookBag specials

2) BOOKSTORE is indeed a treasure-house; Though a little expensive, it compensates by the depth and breadth of books offered. The best Christian book room in Vancouver!

3) COFFEE, Cinnamon buns and Hot Chocolate at the WELL is superb.

4) FACULTY, highly qualified and whose dedication is not only academic but pastoral in caring for students despite their busy schedule (who says Regent is only Packer, Peterson and Waltke?)

5) LIBRARY a top class research center, with extremely helpful library staff

6) LOCATION in UBC and Vancouver, within beauty scenery and closeness to many places of attraction and amenities

7) MEETING people from all over the world, especially during Summer School

8) SMALLNESS of the building forces one to share and build community

9) SUMMER school courses having top class faculty and interesting subjects

10) THEOLOGICAL training that truly stretches the individual in both breadth and depth

11) WIRELESS access that is free of charge

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ten Things I Dislike about life @ Regent College

In alphabetical order,

1) EXPENSIVE photocopying [esp when journals cannot be checked out]

2) LACK of chairs and tables in the atrium

3) MICROWAVESplutter [people who do not clean up after their food splutters all over the microwave interior]

4) NOISE in the construction [esp when attending lectures in chapel]

5) PEOPLE who do not clear up their mess after spilling or eating

6) PRAYER room being used for other events other than prayer

7) RISING tuition fees

8) TABLE/Chair Monopoly [When one person uses 2 tables and 4 chairs!]

9) UNSAFE to leave things lying around in the building esp laptops

10) UNWASHED Dishes in the Sink

Rank them if you dare! I will be coming up with another list on things I like about life at Regent. Stay tuned.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Liverpool Does It!

Now, that's more like it. After 85 years, Liverpool finally beat Man Utd in an FA Cup match. Crouch scored again in a game that really matters, after a long goal drought. Even Ferguson agreed that his team could not penetrate Liverpool's resolute defense. Congrats Rafa. Well done team! Rejoice scouser fans. Let's get ready for Wednesday's big game with Benfica. [how do you like my scorecard graphic?]

One thing about living in Vancouver is the lack of TV coverage on soccer ('football' here refer to the oval shaped ball game). The other soccer-friendly places are pretty far for me to go to. One of them is the Library Pub cafe downtime at W Georgia which charges a whopping $24.95 per game. If any of you know any soccer cafe or pub in Vancouver near to UBC, let me know, especially when the world cup is round the corner.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Of name Changes + Retribution Theology

Abram was 99 years old when God changed his name to Abraham. Jacob was wrestling with his fear of meeting Esau but met God instead. At Peniel, he wrestled with God and was given the name Israel. Saul was approaching Damascus, armed with plans to persecute the Christians but was blinded by God, being questioned on why he wanted to persecute not the Christians but God himself? He was given the name Paul.

Name changes often come about that marked a significant turn in the lives of people in the Old Testament. It is indeed a big thing, a humbling experience indeed to surrender the name that one has always been called. That is, if there is no significant changes to one's own life, changing the name will be most difficult. That is certainly not true of Abram, Jacob or Saul. Their willingness to accept their names represented a significant openness of heart and desire to obey God. Abram was given a larger promise, from being a father of a great nation to a father of multitudes of nations. Jacob was given a name change after the most incredible wrestling match with God. Saul was struck completely blind until his faith in Christ opens up his eyes, and more importantly his heart to God's purposes.

However, their faith is far from perfect. Abram/Abraham repeatedly doubted God, despite being credited for righteousness the faith he had. Jacob/Israel is a shrewd trickster, trying to scheme his way to achieve his ends. Saul/Paul is a modern persecutor of the faith, but still possess weaknesses in his 'thorn in the flesh'.

Reading the passages in Genesis and Acts, there seemed to be no significant progress in their pre and post-naming accomplishments for God, in the eyes of the people at that time. However, one point is evident. The act is not of themselves. The naming process is from God. It is God who initiated and empowered them to be who they really are. Another significant point was, they did not live long enough to see all the results of their labour and efforts. God is seen as one who is more than willing to bless them, despite their weaknesses. That is GRACE.

In stark contrast, today I read the news that a Pakistani cleric has issued US$1 million bounty to kill the cartoonist of the cartoon caricatures published. Where is grace in that action? Where is peace in that? Does that hurt to their 'feelings' justify them in their continued violence and hurting others in return? Is Islam a religion that is 'tit-for-tat'? Are their actions due to a theological interpretation of Islam? Is grace a part of the Islamic vocabulary? Will there ever be forgiveness? Perhaps their actions ought to be corrected by Muslims in the moderate camp. Otherwise, these people will only serve to tarnish their religion even more.

Another report today indicated that the large violent demonstrations are symptoms of a deeper problem: Poverty and social discontent. For people who have little to lose, any reason is good reason to retaliate against the rich and the establishment. If Christians are under grace, we ought to show grace. Jesus has taught us to put aside 'an eye for an eye' or a 'tooth for a tooth' behaviour. Instead, we should offer the needy any extras we have. Like if we have two coats, keep one and give one away. Christians should begin to act positively in the light of negative situations. That is what being a salt and light is all about. We should be angry at the rising poverty level and the lack of willingness of the rich to help the poor. However, we do not show our anger by breaking windows and throwing stones. We demonstrate our anger by breaking our self-centeredness and throwing messages continually to wake up the conscience of the rich and powerful.

Theology is critical. In Christ, we are under grace of God, not retribution. Because of Christ, we live under grace. 'Vengeance is mine' says the LORD. We should not think it is our right to play God. Take heart brothers and sisters. The Lord our God understands our weaknesses.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Regent "Taste of the World 2006"

Welcome to Taste of the World 2006! Posted by Picasa

Proudly Malaysian. Alas, no other flags or posters were available at the table. Would have been nice to have more posters of the other South East Asian countries. Posted by Picasa

The Malaysian posters and flag prominent at the South-East Asian table. Malaysia Boleh! Posted by Picasa

BEFORE THE EVENT: This Year's Specialty: Hot-pot combo with a choice of TomYum, chicken or vegetable stock. Posted by Picasa

Bowls of hotpot noodles piling up almost like Mt Kinabalu. Posted by Picasa

Nuts and Kachang Puteh on the other end of the table . Some people worked hard, some give directions, some supervise while others simply try to peep into boxes of goodies like a child opening Christmas presents.Posted by Picasa

No singing, no eating. "I'm singing for my food, everywhere I go". Posted by Picasa

Saying grace before the start of the event Posted by Picasa

THE USA table. Long queues too. Full buffet indeed. Posted by Picasa

The Latin American singing event Posted by Picasa

A side view of the packed Chapel. Posted by Picasa

Lots of different choices. Makes choosing which bowl a difficult choice. Posted by Picasa

The Swiss table is empty by now. No more food. Posted by Picasa

So the event came and went. The memories for many of us stayed. It would have been nice if the SEA group have organized an item for everyone. Heard that the highlight was the Korean item. Anyway, I only had one response for the Entertainment item. Even that one response say 'might not be coming.' Guess this year, we just focus on food and makan lah! Let's see what happens for 2007!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Oh Boy, The Media

Sometimes it is hard to understand why the press delights in adding fuel to fire. Now that demonstrations are taking place all over the world about the cartoon caricatures, we have been mostly focused on the West and the Muslim world.

As I begin to notice the way the media is covering the event, apparently it is being used like a body which breeds the virus. Major media tends to cover 'news-worthy' events like violent demonstrations by a minority of people. It is making things look like the WHOLE Muslim world is aflame, or the WHOLE of Denmark is against Islam, or the ENTIRE Western press is at fault when it is only the few vocal minority that is causing all the violence, and also a few mischievous Danish and French press that continues their mischief by RE-printing the offensive cartoons.

This caused us to look at the ethics of news publication. It is one thing to publish the news and say people have a right to know. It is yet another to blindly cover sensational events. I wonder if the situation will be different if these same media covers acts of peace and reconciliation MORE than any other violent events.

I suppose the evergreen saying is still correct: "No news is indeed good news."


Friday, February 10, 2006

Preaching on John 1

After turning on my stopwatch, remembering that I have only 20-25 minutes to speak, I started the Scripture reading. As I read verses 1-14 from my outline, a strange excitement wells up in me. "I am preaching God's Word! What a privilege. Not a normal Toastmasters speech nor a motivation speech. It is pure and simple an exposition of God's Word!"

After verse 14, I prayed that God will prepare all of us to receive God's Word. It was amazing when I spoke the Word, the normal Toastmasters fear do not arise. I had prayed that whatever glory, mine be the smallest and God's be the highest. I believe that was the reason for the lesser fear in me. Thus I spoke going from God as Creator, to God as Community to God as Co-equal. Careful to vary my voice and make sure I am audible, I went ahead verse by verse. After 22 minutes, I ended with 3 exhortations. "Let us shine" "Let us be with the people." "Let us be humble in all we do."

During feedback session, when probed where did the text say it? I kind of forgotten to add in a transitional phrase that "Because God has done so, we should . . ."

That will clarify most of the questions pertaining to "Where did the text say?" The exhortations were indeed truths I had gleaned from the texts but did not explicitly state how it led to my conclusions. I had forgotten again that I had the privilege of living in the text a much longer time than the rest in the room, hence were able to see the deeper implications at that time. By bringing out the conclusions without explaining in detail how I got it, (I was trying to keep within time), the audience were struggling to find the link.

Feedback forms were however very encouraging, and one even said that he can now read John 1 in a new and fresh light. What made me most glad was that people were rekindled to appreciate John 1 even more, a supposedly difficult passage.

I went home, took a quick Lasagne bite and slept from 9.30PM to 8AM the next day. My body needed the rest after a gruelling 4 days of non-stop classes and counselling and stress.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Praying for students

Down. Depressed. Despairing.

The peak of Winter's cold is here and along with it comes the depressing mood all around. Add to it the cold and intense expectations the whole College is brimming with stressful students struggling with writing papers and preparing for exams. I am upset with my first Hebrew test. After so many hours of study, still there are mistakes with my vowel points. My grades are now at an all-time low. After talking to a few fellow students, I realised that depression is a real thing and it is far more distressing to suffer it alone. Here is where theology and doctrine becomes acutely important.

Thankful that the emphasis on community is attributed in a large way to the Trinitarian doctrinal emphasis. Because God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit living and existing in community, if we say we want to be more like God, we need to behave and live in community. Bearing burdens must never be done alone, for the burden can break one down pretty hard. Doing it together becomes a mysterious uplifting experience. We should not be so naive as to think that when God said "It is not good for man to be alone.", God is only thinking of Adam marrying Eve, fullstop. God has a larger purpose. Yes, 'not to be alone' is not only marriage but more importantly community. Especially so when this period, everyone is prone to depression. That is a big prayer item for all at Regent, and for my family, and me.

Two is better than one. Three is even better.

Eccl. 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Regent's Prayer for the World

It was a Regent first and I was glad to have participated in it. I did not go for the introduction, as I needed to make sure my little ones go to bed. The event started at 9PM with worship and confession of sins. Praying for Regent, Vancouver, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe, Middle East and other parts of the world, it is appropriate to start by acknowledging we were all unworthy people and need God's continued forgiveness.

It began on the Saturday 4th Feb 2006 at 9AM but the fun began after midnight. I arrived at 1AM at Regent to participate in the Pray for Malaysia segment at 1.30AM. Doors are only opened at the top of every hour (ie 1AM, 2AM, 3AM, 4AM and 5AM). There were about a hundred people in the building, with numbers going in and out each hour. Different countries were prayed for at different rooms. Coffee is free flow to help us all stay awake.

I went into the room for Zimbabwe. It was a solemn sight, as about 8 of us walked round the room and prayed silently for the prayer items and pictures displayed. At the end of 30 mins, all in the room came together for corporate prayer. At 1.30AM, I went into the Malaysia room. The room was full. About 20 of us squeezed in a tiny room and prayed furiously over Malaysia, the Church and the ethnic situation there.

At 2AM, I was at the chapel, preparing for worship and communion. The Professor of Marketplace Theology was clearly trying to stay awake. I thank God for his earnestness and confession that he was tired. Yet he prodded along purposefully, fully intent to rally everyone to press on. Well done Paul!

At 2.30AM, we went to respective rooms to pray again. I decided to go to the Switzerland room. One of my community group members were there and I thought it would be nice to be there to support. It was a great decision. We had authentic Swiss chocolates to help stay awake while we pray!!!

I planned actually to be there only an hour but the whole environment was so overwhelming (nothing to do with chocolates) that I stay 2.5 hours! Until I remember that I have to serve communion in Church the next day, I decided to go back for an early rest. The Singapore segment is at 3.30AM which some of the other Singaporean students are staying for. Thankfully, different students took turns to come and go for the prayer vigil. It was a comforting sight where different students from different countries showing interest and concern for other countries and cultures.

Well done Regent College. I count myself fortunate to have had the chance to pray together with like-minded brothers and sisters. World vision. We need to grow a heart so big that our love for God and the people in the world will overwhelm all our self-centeredness in life. I am looking forward to the next. Prayer is indeed a priviledge. The biggest mystery is when we prayed, somehow we feel strangely closer together and more united than ever.


On Freedom vs Respect

As the Muslim world continues to protest vehemently over the printing of the cartoon caricatures done in Europe and some other parts of the world, things are appearing to turn for the worse, and there seemed to be no sign of letting up. A brief chronology is as follows (adapted slightly from BBC):

- 30 Sep 2005 Danish paper (Jyllands-Posten) publishes cartoon
- 20 Oct 2005 Muslim complaints to Danish PM
- 10 Jan 2006 Norwegian paper publish cartoon
- 30 Jan 2006 EU office raided by Palestinian gunmen
- 31 Jan 2006 Danish paper apologises
- 1 Feb 2006 Several European nations papers reprint cartoons (France, Germany, Italy, Spain)
- 4 Feb 2006 Violence in various European embassies
- Today Danish PM said that the violent protests has become a world threat

Clash of Cultures?
For countries like Europe and some countries in the West, the freedom and right to do things has become a sacred property. Tarnishing images of religion, leaders and relics is considered a normal thing. Not many violent protests were made when the blasphemy of the cross was done, with Madonna dangling her cross while in promiscuous positions. The disrespectful behaviour has become increasingly a 'normal thing'.

For countries like the Middle East and majority Muslim nations, the respect and reverence they have for their religion has been largely followed. They will have no tolerance for irreverence or disrespect to their religion in ANY way.

For one group, it is freedom of speech. For the other, it is reverence and respect that takes precedence. These two groups' basic values do not coincide, becoming a tussle for superior positioning of one's culture/rights over the other.

If there is ever one phrase to sum up the problems, it would be the phrase 'fighting for cultural supremacy'. The largely Western world still in some ways want to impose their rights over the others. Though they have not been violent (yet!), the decision to reprint the cartoons is an act of mischief. Deaths have occurred. Property has been destroyed. The bridge to peace has been broken again.

For the Muslim world, it would seemed that their only way of being heard is through violence. They might have learnt that the best way to make the West sit up and take notice is none other than violence. They do not have a strong literary impact nor scientific prowess to challenge the West. Moreover, many live in poverty.

The West needs to wake up. The right to practice certain things must done sensitively to others' feelings. The Church needed to be more bold to speak up against blasphemy in any form. We do not need violence to do all that. Use Education and even getting legislation to rein in false forms of 'freedom'. Self-asserted freedom is a bondage to self which does not build community. True freedom is always done within the boundaries of neighbourly love.

For the Muslim world, I guess at this time, the first thing will be to cool down. If Islam stands for peace, it must lead the way to show the world what it means by peace. Otherwise, such violence and radical demonstations can be used to paint the Muslim religion as fundamentally a violent and militarist religion.

We need to pray that there will be hope for peace, and that the situation not degenerate into hatred and more hatred.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Matthew 13:1-43

Today's lecture on Empowering the Church is a great exposition on Matthew 13:1-43. As I reflected on it, I uncovered an even more profound mystery.

1) There are Four parables but 1 message.
2) There are Four parables, but the disciples only asked Jesus to explain one.
3) There are Four parables, and all referred to the kingdom of heaven.

What is the kingdom of heaven? Here are some of my thoughts in the form of WHAT IS NOT.

#1 - The Kingdom is NOT about environment.
The 1st parable talk about the parable of the Sower. The good seed on good soil. We might think of it as environment driven. This is supported by the fact of the rocky terrain that limited the growth of good seed. the same parable also talked about seed that were choked by weeds. All of the three can be related in some way to environment. But the 4th example in the devil stealing away the seed certainly pointed to the statement that the kingdom of heaven is NOT about the environment. Seeing the need for more explanation, Jesus went on to the second parable.

#2 - Parable of the Tares/Weeds (NOT about man's timing)
This parable follows the Sower/seed parable. Now Jesus expounded on the need to let the weeds and seeds grow up together and not pre-judged them. Jesus specifically pointed out the folly of determining events in MAN's own time. It is not about man's timing to cut the weeds.

#3 - Parable of the mustard seed (NOT about size)
The mystery deepens, when Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven as likened to a mustard seed, small but potent. The point I gather is that the kingdom is not about size. I remember the Godzilla advertisement that 'Size Does Matter'. In the kingdom, size does not matter. So it is not about size.

#4 - Parable of the leavened bread (not about size part 2)
Again, a little yeast on a little dough gives us bountiful bread.

In summary, the kingdom of heaven is not about the environment, not about fighting evil forces, not about man's timing, not about size, not about all other shapes/sizes. So what is it about? It is about God.

Look at the Parable of the Sower. Sometimes we get too focused on the seeds that we forget that it is the Sower who can save. Look at the Parable of the Seeds/Weeds. It is the Sower who have the eyes to see when is the best time to harvest and separate the good from the bad. Look at the Parable of the mustard seed. It is the Sower who caused the seed to grow. Remember Paul who said that it is 'God who gave the increase'? Look at the little yeast. Can a yeast work the dough in itself? It is the Lord.

The kingdom of God is not about how man sees things, but how God enters the scene, and that makes all the difference.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Familiar Story

It is an increasingly familiar story. The better team lost. They did most things right, but failed in what that really matter: "Finishing"

Rafa has got a lot to think and work through. Look at the statistics. Starting with a 4-5-1 lineup, it is clear from the start what Rafa thought about the finishing. Since most of the goals has been scored from midfield, Rafa might have thought that beefing up the midfield is a better idea. Perhaps, the reason why goals has been scored from midfield is because the strikers like Crouch has helped distract the opposing defences. Better to stick to a 4-3-3 like Chelsea, or even a 3-4-3.

It is not because Chelsea is a better team, but Liverpool still have some work to do to sharpen their finishing skills. Still it is considered a 50-50 event, where the teams are so tightly matched that goals could have gone either way. Chelsea is not invincible. They are a beatable team, but only if Liverpool can perform on all departments.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Big Game and Prayer for the World

Tomorrow's the big game.

Not Superbowl for me. Not ice hockey for me.

It is the match of the month. Chelsea vs Liverpool!

Guess who I will be rooting for? I will be rooting for two teams. That the home team will fumble and the team with Fowler and Gerrard will hit home with more than 1 goal. But the match will not be covered on a Sunday (grrrr!). That's the thing about Canada. More coverage on superbowls and ice-hockey but soccer? Guess even if Canada wins the soccer world cup, soccer is not going to be a popular sport anyhow.

Saturday's Prayer for the World event is an all-nighter. Beginning from 9PM to midnight, with prayer for a country every hour, it is a great way to start the year with a focus of missional outreach that recognizes only God can change the world. More information can be found here-> []


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hebrew Test - hope to stay afloat

Oh boy.

Nearly crashed my Hebrew. Thank God that my vocabulary is intact. My vowel points still need to be memorised better. Going to be more complicated as I tackle the other 4 stems. Need to memorise Ps23 in Hebrew and I have not started on it yet! If last term's Hebrew was tough, this term's brutal. A plus side is I heard from someone that my current Hebrew teacher is one of the best in the entire North America!

This weekend is PRAYER OF THE WORLD event at Regent. Next weekend is TASTE OF THE WORLD event. Both events are going to eat up two of my Saturdays in a row. We'll see how. Take it one day at a time, one test at a time.

Next week is preaching time for me. I have chosen John 1 to preach. Getting exciting though I will need to rush out my outline by this weekend. Pray for me.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hebrew Test again

The dreadful feeling is back. For the 4th term, I am having at least one test every week, and this week (only the 2nd week!), I have a major grammar test on Hebrew. Imagine having to memorise these!!!! These are just 3 of the 7 major verb stems in Biblical Hebrew.

Doing Hebrew helped me appreciate what Jesus said about every dot and tittle. Each little vowel point on the text is extremely important, as it makes a difference between meanings. This is enough motivation to learn it well. Thank God for computers nowadays, but there is no substitute for memorization.


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