Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Coffee, Tea or Me?

Saw this on the net. This will surely make Starbucks shiver.

Liberal Society and the Church

"Indeed it is not possible to learn to be a sinner without a confession and reconciliation. For it is one thing to confess our sin in general, but it is quite another to confess our sin to one in the church who we may well have wronged and to seek reconciliation. Without such confessions, however, I suspect we cannot be a church at all." (Stanley Hauerwas)

Hauerwas made a provocative observation on the current state of the church. We are living in an increasingly liberal society and by that I mean it is acceptable to say: "You have a right to your own opinion and I have mine. You have a right to live your kind of lifestyle and I have mine. So we agree to disagree." This is called liberal. Is liberal thinking for the Church? An example from the book "After Christendom" by Hauerwas helped illustrate the dilemma.

Bill Moyers was discussing a problem in his church where the wife of one member had committed adultery and had confessed it to the church. After much searching and discussion, the church received her back to membership after meting out the appropriate punishment on her. However, the husband refused to receive her back. In response, the pastor said to the husband:

"You do not have the right to reject her, for as a member of our church you too must hold out the same forgiveness that we as a church hold out. Therefore I am not asking you to take her back, I am TELLING you to take her back."

How we respond to the above actions by the pastor, will indicate to what extent our thinking is liberal or not.

Likewise, if the church demands that the husband takes the wife back, the church must stand with them to ensure that the marriage sticks.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Windows getting faster? or Slower

Imagine that:
Windows 95 = 15 million lines of code
Windows 98 = 18 million lines of code
Windows XP = 35 million lines of code
Windows Vista? (50 million?)

No wonder we have to upgrade our computers so frequently. New releases on older computers simply slows down the whole PC. And one shouldn't be surprised that with each Windows release there seemed to be more flaws and vulnerabilities. Kind of reminds me of Proverbs 10:19 "Where words are many, sin is not absent,...".

I suppose if the author had known of Windows then, he might have said something like, where "lines are many, vulnerabilities/viruses are not absent." Hey! 2 'V's makes a W. (W for Windows?)


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sportsmanship! Viva De Rossi! (A Tale of 2 Players)

What a week. Two teams. Two victories. but boils down to a tale of 2 players.

Soccer is known to be the world's most popular sport. It has become increasingly so competitive that players will be unscrupulous just to get the results. Bad tackles, play-acting, diving, cheating with hands are some of the things done. BUT not this week, in the Serie A Soccer League (Italian), one man made the difference in owning up to a handball-aided equalizer, despite his team (AS Roma) being 1-0 down to Messina. Daniele De Rossi promptly confessed to the referee, who did not see that incident and was about to announce the score 1-1. The referee then disallowed the goal to AS Roma. We need more people like De Rossi. Winning games are not everything. For the record, AS Roma came back and won 2-1 eventually, and even their opponents praised them.

Some quotes from an Italian newspaper:
"Viva De Rossi!" read the front-page headline of sports daily, Corriere dello Sport .

"De Rossi has shown that, as well as being worthy of the national team as a player, he is also worthy as a man," said Messina midfielder Salvatore Sullo .

"He did what should be done in these situations," said Roma coach Luciano Spalletti. "He gave an important message to the soccer world, because the referee had not realized (it was handball)". The capital's mayor, Walter Veltroni, reportedly called De Rossi after the game and told him that "your gesture brings honour on Rome and on your team" .

Other links to the sporting incident:
(1) The Star Malaysia

In stark contrast, another handball incident in the EPL game (Chelsea vs Man City) went unnoticed by the referee. Didler Drogba clearly handled the ball with his hands and in the process scored a goal. He kept quiet and celebrated his goal instead. Now one can say that the referee did not see it. But, in true spirit to the game of football, is that sportsmanship?
Follow this link to read the Drogba episode, which to me, sucks and my thumbs down for Chelsea, and in particular Drogba. (It is like cheating in class and getting an A, saying that as long as the teacher did not catch the cheating, the A still stands. For me, that A is no A. Rather an honest B/C than a dishonest A.)

Victory before sportsmanship? or Sportsmanship before victory? For me, we need to eventually say that afterall, it is just a game. So it is far better to be sporting. For De Rossi's team, victory is fair and enriching, even with opponents applauding them. For Drogba's team, victory is suspect and opponents cried foul. Is the price of victory worth it? You tell me.



Friday, March 24, 2006

Theologian with the Head + the Heart (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

I watched an amazing documentary on Dietrich Bonhoeffer on KCTS last night. It was a biography of one of the humblest and courageous theologian who lived and practiced the Christian faith to his death. Born in Germany, he was in the resistance movement against Nazism and in particular, Hitler. The state church then bowed down to political pressure and subsequently failed to champion the rights of the weak and the oppressed. Bonhoeffer and a handful of German Christians were appalled and started their own Confessional Church movement, even to the point of planning the assassination of Hitler. That failed and led to the execution of Bonhoeffer and many others.

The writings below represent a portion of Bonhoeffer's convictions in his book "The Cost of Discipleship". Bonhoeffer was executed at a Nazi concentration camp on 9th April 1945, just before Germany surrendered to the allies in WWII. Theologians with both the head AND the heart. We need more of them.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Cheap Grace vs Costly Grace

"Let the Christian rest content with his worldliness and with this renunciation of any higher standard than the world. He is living for the sake of the world rather than for the sake of grace. Let him be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace - for grace alone does everything. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace!"

That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sins departs.

Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.


Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must then be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.

Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Powerful stuff!
{for more on Bonhoeffer click here}


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'm on googlePages!

I have finally gotten my GooglePages activated today! I have put up some of my published articles on the web. They can be viewable here.

Check out my site here.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

An 'Ah Beng' Hilarious Moment

Ah Beng to a long-distance telephone operator:
"Could you please tell me the time difference between
Taipei and Las Vegas?"
Operator: "Just a minute.."
Ah Beng: "Thank You," and puts down the phone.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Digital Creativity or Marketing Deception?

White circle indicates where marketers and advertisers can use to customize the ad to fit the countries audience are in.

What is society coming to! From simulated entertainment to virtual reality, now we have virtual ads inserted not in advertisement slots in between programme segments, but INSIDE the programme itself!

A Globe and Mail article on March 15th entitled: "No, those Casino Rama ads aren't running in NYC", attention was drawn to the yellow-top cabs each week, ferrying away different people, fired from The Apprentice show by Donald Trump. The cab is real, but the advertisement on top of the taxi is not. In fact, advertisements are digitally inserted into the original cab ad according to the location where the show was being screened. Here in Canada, the CanWest TV network inserted the ad from Casino Rama company based in Ontario.

As I think about it, it gives me the shivers, as TV viewers willingly watch a programme being deceived by what they see. "Things are not what it seems" should be the maxim for every TV viewer. Forrest Gump was the first major movie that employed the art of digitally inserting images into the movie, where Tom Hanks was seen presented a medal by the President Lyndon Johnson. The art of digital creativity or deception?

Avoid TV if you can. If we cannot avoid TV, then always from the start be it news or movies, reality shows or talk shows, our starting point should be a 50% discount of whatever we see or hear from the TV. Isn't it strange when John witnessed to the fact in John 1:14 that Jesus is the truth, yet there are many people who deliberately chose to disregard this?

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14, NIV)

Yet we read how true it is when Paul said: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen." (Rom 1:25, NIV)

Note: More Apprentice phonies can be found at:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A day in Chinatown

Went to Chinatown today. It was a long time since we last went there for lunch and marketing. After lunch, while walking along the sidewalk, I noticed a beggar rushing to a busy spot and knelt down. Cupping his hands, he begged in the most pitiful voice:

"I am so hungry. I have no food to eat. I work the whole day for free in Chinatown. Please help me. Please." Many passers-by ignored him. Some looked on, while others seemed unsure what to do. I walked past, thinking of how I should respond, ever thinking of Jesus's words,
Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done unto me.

In my mind, I was skeptical about the truth of the beggar's words. Work for free? After a couple of minutes, the beggar went across the street, sat down just next to our parked car, and started the same routine. Like a pre-recorded message, in his most pitiful voice, he repeated the memorised words, with pathetic facial expression to anyone that walked past:

"I am so hungry. I have no food to eat. I work the whole day for free in Chinatown. Please help me. Please. You people bought so many things. You got so much food. Look at all the things you have bought. I am so hungry. Please help me."

Despite my thinking of him having Hollywood potential, we decided to give him our pack of crab fried rice just before we left. To our amazement, he shuddered and moved away, not wanting to accept anything. Instead he was pointing to the restaurant in front of us, pointing to the hanging roast duck and BBQ pork. He already knew what he wanted. Ours is not up to his expectation. Eventually, we gave him a $2 coin. As I drove off, my mind was thinking:
"I do not believe you. I do not believe all those crap you mentioned in your sympathy speech. However, we are still willing to give you the little token."

I do not think we have become more righteous, or any less guilty after giving out something. We are indeed like beggars on earth, or like someone said, one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. Our guilt in sin still remains. Sometimes I felt like a beggar asking God to give me things that I want, in my own packaging, according to my own design, rather than God's hand in grace.

Beggars are common. I am not any much different or righteous. So, that is a little glimpse of Vancouver life in Chinatown.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Taking Shelter or Depriving Others of Shelter

Taking Shelter in the Harbour Posted by Picasa This picture was sent to me by a dear brother-in-Christ back home and it triggered some interesting reflections.

1) We are like the ships
I have always thought that studying in a place like Regent, despite its pressure and high expectations, it is still a place of shelter and protection from the rest of the world. It reminded me that after a long journey or period of work, we need to refuel, to stock up our food/essentials, to rest. The preparation must be done with the next goal in mind. The further and harsher the next journey, the more we need to be prepared for it.

2) Purpose of the Ships
This is like the vocation in life. All of us are built specially for unique purposes. A ship is meant to sail, to ferry people on board to their destinations, to bring important shipment from one place to another. I liken it to us being called to travel beyond our comfort zone, to help guide/bring people to their next step in life, to carry the message of the gospel to the other parts of the world, culture or society.

3) What happens if the ships stay put?
Barring adverse weather conditions, if the ships are left parked there, not only will it fail to exercise its use, it also occupies parking slots that will deprive other ships from taking shelter there. If we as Christians simply chose to remain where we are stubbornly refusing to obey our call, we would have failed in our calling. We would have failed in our stewardship of gifts and talents God has given us. We would have deprived other pilgrims a place of rest/refreshment. We would have deprived the mission field the opportunity to hear the good news.

4) The Storms and Dark Clouds are Not in Our Control
As Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunamis have taught us, sometimes, the harbour is not necessarily the safest place to be. Ships that remained inside the harbour can become dangerous objects to be flung at buildings and property in the coastal city.

5) The City Behind
Not everyone of us is called to be a ship. Some might simply be passengers in the ship. For them, the mission field has just begun. The city presents the most challenging mission field for Christians in the current culture.

So it is, one picture, many thoughts. There are more. May the Lord guide.


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