Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Roxanne's Law

In matters pertaining to abortion, there has been two major camps. The first is the Pro-Choice camp, where advocates will argue that pregnant women have the right to terminate or to keep their unborn child. This is also the group that supports abortion. The second group is the PRO-LIFE camp, where advocates support the sanctity of life, and the right of the unborn child to live. Abortion is absolutely prohibited, unless there are extenuating circumstances like the mother's life is endangered.

What about pregnant females being forced against their will, and forced to abort their unborn? This is the reason why Roxanne's Law is being introduced. Bill C-150 is a bill introduced by Canadian Member of Parliament, Rod Bruinooge in April 2010. Once it becomes law, it protects women's right to keep their unborn babies, and make it a criminal offence for anybody forcing or attempt to coerce such women to abort their child.

On February 2007 in Manitoba, a pregnant Roxanne Fernando was forced by her boyfriend to terminate her pregnancy. Roxanne refused and was beaten to death. This caused an uproar. Thus the bill is introduced to make sure there is another level of deterrent for anyone trying to hurt women who have chosen to keep their babies. This calls for respect of life, both women and their children.

My Comments
I think such a law is more symbolic and provides an additional level of protection for women to be protected. It is something which I believe Canadians at large will support. It may not eliminate totally all violence against pregnant women, but it can serve as an additional step to warn prospective people against bullying pregnant women into submission. If you want to support this bill, download this form and get signatures. You can also write to your local Member of Parliament representative and ask them to support Bill C-150. You can also share this message of Roxanne's law in your social circles.

For more on what you can do, you can click here for more details.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Testimony of a Hindu

This is a touching testimony on how God works.  The writer is anonymous.

Article Credit: Challenger, Jul-Sep 2010. CCMUSA.


The Ways of God in My Hindu Family
For generations my Indian family had followed the Hindu religion. Our home in Singapore had a special room adorned with statues of Hindu gods. I never really wondered why there were so many; I just accepted that there were. My family would go to the holy room twice a day to pray, and on Fridays we would go for prayers at the temples. On Fridays and Tuesdays, we’d eat no meat, only lentils and beans. And on Hindu holidays, we’d celebrate.

Besides being Indian and Hindu, our family was also typically Asian. The thinking was: Do well in school— and the money will come in. Study hard and you’ll become a doctor, an engineer, a teacher. During exam times in school, we’d go to the temple more frequently. Instead of studying more, we’d seek the favor of the gods more. Dad brought the money in for our family of eight children—six boys and two girls. Mom ran the home. If I had to buy a book, I’d go to Mom. If I needed to make a decision, I wouldn’t go to Dad, I’d go to Mom.

A Secret Shared
One day Raj, my elder brother who is two years older than I, told me a secret he had kept for two years—he believed in Jesus Christ. This upset me and I threatened to tell Mom. Then Raj asked if he might tell me about Christ. Curious, and admiring my older brother, I listened. Raj told me things like, there’s a God out there that loves me, that he died for me, and that he has the best interest in his heart for me. And…if I’d believe in Christ, I’d go to heaven. He said something about “sin,” too. These were ideas I had never heard of. But there was something attractive about them—something tantalizing about the whole thing.

From the time I heard these words from Raj, my life was set on a different path. There was Hinduism (which I continued to practice for several years) but now there was this other guy—Jesus. I wanted to check him out. In Hinduism it would be easy to add one more god.

Mom threatened to break my leg if I went to church, and at age 13 that was something I didn’t want to happen. Raj gave me a Living Bible, a translation that was just right for me—easy to read. At home, I would have my regular history book, and then I’d have my Bible hidden inside. I read all the easy-to-follow stories in the Bible. Anything that was difficult to understand I just skipped and kept going. During this time there was nobody monitoring me. It was just me, God, and the Bible…and Hinduism was over there.

Unstoppable Faith
By the time I was 16 or 17, I was leaning more toward Christ. The Bible was appealing. I liked what I was reading. It made sense. About this same time the Navigators (Navs), a Christian organization that emphasizes Bible study and scripture memory, came to Singapore. Raj connected with the Navs, and the Navs offered Bible studies any day of the week, not just on Sunday. For Mom, church was something that happened on Sunday—at a church building. So it was no big deal for her that Raj and I went out on Thursday evenings. She had no idea we were going to a Bible study.

In Singapore, after high school, young men have to do two years of military training. While living in the camp, doing Bible studies in the evenings, I came to know Christ more fully. John 14:6 was the verse that became the turning point for me. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” I realized I needed only Jesus…not Hindu gods and Jesus.

By this time Mom knew that I had come to know Christ, and that several of my other brothers had also prayed to receive Jesus and put their faith in God—mainly a result of Raj. He lived out his faith before those of us who were younger. Mom leaned on him, and he was the one who helped the rest of us achieve good grades in school. A plus point for him was that he was the most brilliant child in the family. Along with brilliance came the feeling my parents had that he was going to make it big and would bring in lots of money. That meant he sort of got a pass when it came to being allowed to go to church. But for the rest of us, Mom was determined to keep us in the Hindu fold. She feared what she saw happening to her children. She went to the Hindu and Buddhist priests to ask their help to get her children back. In desperation she visited a Bomoh—a person who connects with spirits—and pleaded for his help in getting her children back from what she considered the white man’s god. Nothing worked.

The Witness of Serving
After all of us finished our military training, as adults, Mom could not tell us we couldn’t go to church. Slowly, one by one, Mom’s children, who had always been a source of pride, did not go to the temple with her any more. People asked, “Where’s your family?” Her identity as a Hindu with her Indian culture was being threatened. It was like she felt all alone. At this time , God also began to get our attention.

In our home, the custom on Sundays was that Mom and our two sisters would wash the whole house and cook a huge meal for the entire family. Mom was a perfectionist and a great cook, so much so that other Indian women came to her to learn how to make special dishes. She and my sisters worked very hard to put the tastiest food on the table. And we guys, the six of us, would eat first, then sleep in the nice afternoon sun, get up at about 4:00 o’clock for tea time—which again was prepared by Mom and my sisters—before going out to play soccer.

God began to speak to us about how we as His followers were to serve, especially our own family. So we agreed the right thing to do was not to go to church, but instead to help Mom and my sisters with the Sunday meal. We got on our knees and scrubbed the floor, insisted that Mom and my sisters sit and eat with us… and then we did the dishes. Mom was impressed. She said, “Oh, I like this. Who is teaching you all this?”

About once a month Mom would have 30 or 40 people in our home for a Hindu prayer meeting. Mom was working so hard serving 40 meals, preparing the banana leaves, cooking the curry and rice, setting up the tables, cleaning up the whole place. Again God showed us that we could serve. He didn’t ask us to worship the Hindu gods—just to serve. Mom liked what she saw. She really fell in love with the changed lives she saw in all of us.

When my older sister turned 30 and had received no proposals for marriage, Mom thought my sister had absolutely no future. Suitors would come, but when they found out that half the family were believers and the other half were Hindu, they would come back later and say they didn’t want the arrangement. Mom was angry about this and cried a lot about her daughters’ future. Then my sister became a believer, and God brought into our lives a wonderful young man who was just one year older than my sister, who had become a believer from a Hindu background, and was an elder in a church. We brought him to Mom and Dad and they approved my sister’s marriage. At her wedding, she received both Mom and Dad’s blessing.

Ways of Honor
One aspect of witnessing to our parents was just our life. The other one, for Mom, was every once in a while, she would say in a very coarse way, “So, you say Jesus is the way, is that what you’re saying?” We knew she was asking for a conversation. Of course she was using the power and authority as a mother, and we were older at that time and we were able to deal with that kind of approach. We’d say, “Yes, Mom,” and then we’d talk about it. In just natural conversation we dropped information about Jesus.

Once we faced an issue that was critical for our testimony before our parents. Mom had made a vow to carry a Hindu statue in a particular festival for seven years—and my youngest brother was to carry it. The first three years my brother wasn’t a believer, but during the fourth year, he came to know Christ. So what was he to do? Mom was very concerned because she was going to lose face. So we all talked about it and decided my brother should carry the statue as my Mom had promised. We knew the Bible teaches to honor your father and mother, and we acknowledged these festivals were part of our Indian culture. We had Indian Hindu parents, and God had put us in this Indian family. It was a sovereign thing. We were Indian. We enjoyed Indian food. We ate with our hands. It was cultural. So, we honored our Mom, and our brother completed the seven years.

Working Out Her Salvation
Dad actually came to know Christ first, and then it was Mom. For her it was a journey. And it was a beautiful journey. She liked what she saw every time in her children who followed Christ. So the natural thing was belief. A turning point for her was the year she spent in the U.S. living with my youngest brother. It was a hard year for her, but one she really needed. In Singapore she had a big network of friends. Being a warm, friendly person who loved to cook and invite people over, she was known by lots of people. The year in the States gave her time to ponder all she had witnessed and heard and experienced. She spent the year reading her Tamil Bible and seeking God in prayer. She had to figure out how to deal with being a believer in Christ when she got back to Singapore. It was a window of time that she needed.

Her first step of faith was wrapping up her Hindu statues and putting them in the cupboard—out of sight, she said. Then four years later, she asked us to help her throw them away. Before she died a stroke in 2006, I had the joy of visiting her in Singapore. One day as I took Mom out in her wheelchair for a stroll in the park, two Indian ladies began waving at us from a distance. So we went over, and one lady looked at me and said, “You must be a son.” Then she said something I will always cherish, “Your mother always encourages us to study the scriptures. Every time we have Bible study, your mom is the one to call everyone and say we need to come.” How happy I was to know that as a follower of Jesus, Mom had developed a community among believers that she could identify with—a community within her Indian culture that was like her, that she could be comfortable with.

The Journey
God places us in families, not just physical families but also in families of faith. All my brothers except one and both my sisters are in this family of faith. The brother who is not yet a Christian says a lot of good things about Jesus, but he is still on the journey. For all of us, the ways of God put us on a journey. And the journey is always beautiful.

(The author is a grateful member of the family of faith who spreads the love and light of Jesus everywhere he goes. Though his name has been omitted to preserve his privacy, the accuracy of the details of his story has been maintained.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Cultures Collide

Are western campuses becoming too 'Asian' for anybody's comfort?

This is a provocative question that the article, "Too Asian?" poses. The reports suggest that there is a trend of cultural segregation in top campuses in North America. Asians tend to be those who are high achievers.

"That Asian students work harder is a fact born out by hard data. They tend to be strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university." (Maclean's)

In contrast, white students tend to be:

"White students, by contrast, are more likely to choose universities and build their school lives around social interaction, athletics and self-actualization—and, yes, alcohol. When the two styles collide, the result is separation rather than integration." (Maclean's)
Already, the University of British Columbia is addressing this racially sensitive topic, by holding a forum for students to express their views. The student body at UBC published this report in response to the anonymity of sources used in the Maclean's report.

How Cultures Clash
I can understand the negative sentiments posed in the controversial report in Macleans. There are complaints about Asian students sticking together and not integrating with the rest of the student body. They speak their own languages instead of the local language. Volunteerism is extremely low, that does not reflect student body representation. For example, in one campus, it was reported:

"there is little Asian representation on student government, campus newspapers or college radio stations. At UBC, where the student body is roughly 40 per cent Asian, not one Asian sits on the student executive."
Unfortunately, the furor the article has created is beckoning those who opened the pandora's box of race and culture, to quickly shut it again.

My Comments
I think the issue is more of a cultural difference and a set of mismatched (and misplaced expectation more than anything else.) "Too Asian?" article is clearly written from the White perspective. It stereotypes Asians as those who work harder and get better grades. It places the onus on Asians to make the first move toward integration. If two cultures are already different, it will be wrong to place one expectation over the other. In fact, the mood written in the article is already divisive and segregating people in the first place.

  • Why can't one regardless of culture make the initiative to integrate?
  • Isn't it better to promote integration via education and cultural representatives? 
  • Integration is not just the responsibility of any one group. All groups need to participate, though some may feel it stronger than others.
  • There are both hardworking students from ALL ethnic groups;
  • There are also lazy students from ALL groups;
  • Hear both sides of the story before attempting to make sweeping generalizations.
That said, the article does have certain benefits. It boldly brings up a taboo topic that society tends to shy away from. Race may be a taboo topic, but it is very much a part of our identity. If people do not talk about it upfront, they will talk about it behind each other's back. Truth is: they will talk about it, in some way.

I have had the benefit of studying in both Asian and non-Asian campuses. Segregation exists more often because it can be a very lonely environment. Even among same ethnic groups, there are pockets of subcultures within. In other words, people regardless of skin colour will always have a tendency to segregate rather than integrate. Look at China or India. Every province, every town, and every village will have different subgroups within a group. It could be differences due to dialects, to faculty groups, to food choices, even to which football team we support. 

When I was studying in Singapore, there was a huge problem in attracting volunteers in various clubs and in house societies. The administration soon learned to incorporate a points system. For example, points could be earned by volunteering a certain number of hours and be members of committees so that one could get better chances at getting a hostel room. It was a win-win scenario, albeit the stress and complaints they generate.

In the West like the UK, I notice that Asian students tend to be 'out-segregated' by the White students. While some earnestly attempt to invite Asian students out, a large number chose to mingle among themselves. We all speak English, but we are too different for them to mix with.

At Regent-College (Canada) on the UBC campus, the administration and student body emphasizes community so much that many programs are planned for integrative purposes. Still, there are pockets of ethnically specific enclaves that apply to all groups, both Asians and non-Asians.

When cultures collide, people feel funny, even threatened. Yet, I think a mature society needs to learn to talk openly with different cultures. First, seek first to understand than to be understood. Second, be slow to impose expectations, but quick to listen to alternative views. Third, do not be stymied into stereotyping any group, regardless of language, race or religion.

Due to the fallen nature of human being, there is a natural tendency toward segregation rather than integration. Let me state that again. Segregation is a part of human nature. All groups, must take note and take initiative to work toward integration. Such a responsibility must be shared. Such a movement must be valued. Then and only then, we we break away from a sinful segregational disposition, toward a community building integration.

It is better not to label anyone or any group too 'Asian' or too 'white, or too 'black.' Throw these words out of our vocabulary. There are hard working Asians, as well as non-hardworking Asians. There are boisterous whites, as well as quieter caucasians. All seek a common goal. Let that common goal unite us. Let cultures collaborate, not collide.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in America. Here's a lovely Moravian thanksgiving prayer I like.

Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be
And bless these gifts
Bestowed by Thee.
And bless our loved ones everywhere,
And keep them in Your loving care.


Snowing in November

It's beginning to look a lot like White Christmas.
Trees simply take them all in. No complaints from them.

Local Safeway. Nice place to be inside on a snowy day. Just don't overspend.

Key to safe driving: Slow and Steady.

One lady driver got stuck on a slope.

It's nice to just watch the snow fall. For drivers, it can be a nightmare. For all my American friends down South, Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jolt Quote XXVIII

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."
(Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude, Ave Maria Press, 1974, p34)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book: "The Love Dare"

AUTHORS: Stephen & Alex Kendrick
PUBLISHED: Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2008.

The Love DareIf you have seen the movie "Fireproof," you will be familiar with the authors as well as the idea behind this book. Just like the hit movie, which focuses on marriage, this book enlarges the treatment by challenging readers to take the 40 days of building up one's spouse. Each day for 40 days, a specific dare will be issued. Based on a particular Bible reference, the book leads the reader through 3 stages of daily dare. First, there is a short reading to describe the area of loving. It is about 2-3 pages long on average. Based on some aspect of love, the reading summarizes brief talk about love, as expressed throughout the Old and New Testaments. Second, the dare will be issued. It challenges one to love his/her spouse in unconditional ways. Third, at the end of the day, one is invited to record down what has happened, and the learning experience from working out the dare. Each chapter begins and ends with Scripture references for the reader to hone his/her thoughts on.

My Comments
In general, this book is simple and very practical. Anyone can pick this book and read it quickly. There are no heavy theological discussions. The instructions are easy and immediately applicable. I like the way the dare is being worded: Unconditional loving. It challenges one to take the initiative to love, to care and to demonstrate his/her commitment to the marital partner. It reminds the reader that it is not about self. It is all about the spouse. This is a much needed correction in our society that gears toward individualistic choices and personal needs. Everywhere we go, people are bombarded by "I am most important" messages. In marriage, one is reminded to treat one's spouse as more important. After all, marriage is never really about oneself. True love is always about the other person. Marriage is a covenant and a commitment; not a convenience or a shallow insistence on the other to meet one's need.

I want to highlight three positive things to learn from the book. I coin it IGO.

1) INITIATING: Love begins with self toward the other, not the reverse.

2) GIVING: The book refers to marriage as a giving of oneself to the other.

3) OBEYING: The multiple Scriptural references show us that we love out of obedience to the Word of God. If there is a single largest reason why we loe our spouses, we should resolve to love out of love for God, out of a response to God's love in Christ.

If there is one criticism I have, it will be the hasty references to Scripture without much explanation of the contexts behind the Bible references. After all, when the Bible was written, the focus was toward specific backgrounds and issues. In this book, it appears to be drawing out biblical references for the sake of the 40-days dare. For example, 1 Corinthians 13 is not written to talk about marriage or romantic love. It is about Church unity within the Corinth parishes.

That said, this book is a welcome addition to a world of lopsided marriages where people tend to see themselves as more important than their spouses. This book tries to reverse this.


Other Resources:
a) Official 40-day Love Dare website

b) Love Dare Book

c) Sample of Book here

Friday, November 19, 2010

Giving Thanks Over Meals

Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 19 November 2010

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess 5:18)

Dressed in a suit, the man purchases his food at the cafeteria. As colleagues gather around the lunch table, some dig in immediately into their piping hot food. Others wait. A woman and a man sitting across each other pause. Even as the hungry ones munches away the food, the two persons bow their heads. After a short silence, they whisper an ‘Amen,’ and life suddenly goes back to normal. Now everybody eats.

So you’re a Christian?” asks the man with food still in his mouth.

How does anyone know that a person is a Christian? In our secular society, believers giving thanks before food is one of the most evident signs of demonstrating our Christian faith. It is a time when their world stops to remember the Creator. It is that sacred moment when believers acknowledge all good things come from above. If God had not enabled, feasting is not possible. In this article, I will suggest that giving thanks is not simply the literal words uttered, but the graciousness displayed that comes from a grateful heart.


A joke that I do not like is how people manipulate the spirit of thanksgiving. When a parent asks a child to ‘say grace,’ the child can mischievously say: “Grace!” and consider his job done. After all, he is literally correct. A discerning parent will gently rebuke the kid, and gives the child another chance to say it the right way. It is not mouthing the words that matter. Grace must be from the heart. It is the attitude of the heart that makes ‘grace’ truly grace.

One reason why Christians give thanks is in obedience to 1 Thess 5:18. Paul exhorts us to give thanks in everything. The city of Thessalonica is a large city in Macedonia at that time. Much like the capital cities in many countries, there are lots of people and commerce. Thessalonica is a busy port for business and is a major hive of activity. People who live in cities generally live faster and busier lifestyles. They may have a greater exposure to the ‘best things’ money can buy. I doubt their claim to any ‘higher’ quality of living. On the other hand, those living in the countryside exhibits more grace and patience with one another.

I remember how some villagers from a rural place treat my group with honour and graciousness. Knowing us as city dwellers, they reserve the best for us. They slaughter their choice animals and serve them to us first. Their own family eats the leftovers. We were touched by their hospitality, that despite them having so little, they served us with so much grace. When they gave thanks, we were touched by their deep sense of gratitude to God.

I believe learning to give thanks remain a critical practice for anyone seeking to grow in Christian love and spirituality. Saying grace sets the tone for a meaningful and gracious meal together. You do not need a lot of food to provide a good meal. You simply need a lot of heart.


A second aspect of giving thanks is to invite graciousness to flood the dinner table.
  • “Please pass the soup, thank you.”
  • “Yummy, I certainly enjoy the vegetables.”
  • “Would you like a glass of water, mum?”
  • “Can I get you a scoop of ice-cream, dad?”
  • “The fish is a little overcooked. Perhaps, next time, you can reduce the baking by 5 minutes?"

I think being gracious is an important second step after the initial act of giving thanks. Otherwise, offering thanks to God is mere paying lip service. Eating with graciousness is an act of divine service and gratitude first and foremost to God. When we forget that, we can easily fail to treat one another gently and kindly. Without gratitude, we can take one another for granted.


If we are animals, all of our life will be centered on hunting and getting food. Lions like to sleep during the day when the sun is hot. They hunt at night when they are least visible to their prey. For most animals, they live to eat. When they are not eating, it is simply because they are not hungry yet.

Human beings are not animals. They are spiritual beings. Humans treat eating only as a part of living, and not the only reason for living. Animals live to eat. Humans eat to live. Humans consume food to stay nourished, and to continue to do their other works and activities. They work in the office or in the home. They work on the computers or out in the field. When we say grace, we remind ourselves that we do not see life as mainly eating and drinking. We see eating and drinking as an extension to doing God’s will. Note Paul’s instruction to Timothy that giving thanks is in effect God’s will for us in Christ.

In summary, when we give thanks, we pause to remember that all good things come from God. When we start our meals, we demonstrate our thankfulness to God by being gracious to one another at the meal table. When we leave the table, we remind ourselves again that we eat in order to live and do God’s will.

A Simple Grace

“Lord, as we gather around this table;
Nourish us with Your goodness;
Fill us with Your food;
Quench our Thirst with Your living waters;
Fill our hearts with thanksgiving;
Give us graciousness to accept one another.
Above all, may Your love nourish us in Your grace as we thank You for everything. For Jesus' sake, Amen.”

Thought: It is not the words of giving thanks before the meal, but the acts that come after that matters.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Losing Their Properties; but Keeping the Faith

The news is out. The dissident Churches in the Anglican Church in Canada have all lost their court cases. The mainstream liberal Anglican Church of Canada has asserted their rights and won the case to occupy the properties of the conservative churches. It all started back in 2002 when the gay Bishop issues a rite to all in the Anglican Church to perform same-sex marriages and ordination of gay clergy. Bishop Michael Ingham argues that the new gay practices is in line with Jesus' teachings on 'love and welcoming the stranger.' Trouble is, is performing same-sex practices the 'only' way to love and welcome strangers?

As expected, not all agreed. Such a practice was actively debated within the Church, and after much talk internally, some Churches decided that they could not conscientiously follow the leadership of Ingham. Thus they left the Anglican Church (ACC) to join the Anglican Network in Canada (ANIC).

This is a landmark case that garner media coverage from the Vancouver Sun, National Post, as well as the CTV. From a legal standpoint, there is indeed not much that the judges can do, as the documents clearly support the primary owner of such properties, being the ACC. They claim that the dissidents left the Church, and not the other way round. ANIC on the other hand, believed in the spirit of the faith, not the law of ownership. They would rather, in the words of their spokesman, that they will:
"The congregations have always said that if they are forced to choose between their buildings and their faith, they will choose their faith"
That said, it is quite remarkable that the secular courts would make the following statements, even though the ACC has won their legal cases. Quote from the National Post:
“[The] Bishop and the Diocesan Synod of New Westminster have chosen to pursue the matter to the extent they have — despite the opposition of many of their parishioners,” the judges wrote. “Presumably [they] have chosen to take the risk that the policy allowing same-sex blessings will indeed prove to be ‘schismatic’; or that clergy in the Diocese will for the foreseeable future find themselves ministering to vastly reduced or non-existent congregations. That, however, is their decision to make.”

Read more: http://life.nationalpost.com/2010/11/15/dissident-anglicans-cant-keep-churches-court-rules/#ixzz15XCxRSrU

Losing the Properties
Now that the courts have passed down their ruling, the four churches concerned will have to make plans to seek new properties. While it is sad that the valuable estate will have to be surrendered, it is a landmark decision that puts faith above worldly possessions. This decision is not easy. Yet, what needs to be done must be done. It is better to trust and obey God, to be faithful to the Biblical texts, than to let properties dictate one's behaviour and direct one's conscience.

For that matter, whether we agree with these dissident churches and how they went about handling the legal cases, it is accurate to say that they have been faithful to their positions. We ought to respect their choices, and their way of faith. People may criticize and measure them negatively. What they need to admit is their courage to fight the good fight, and not let properties decide their faith. It should be faithfulness to the biblical truth that guides them.

Keeping the Faith
I think Churches that practice what they preach need to be applauded for their actions. We need to support and recognize their right to believe and practice their faith. This is what freedom of religion is about. This case is a sign that the end times is near. As the world tries to force the church into its secular mold, it is important to remain faithful. Faithful to the Scriptures. Faithful to Christ. Faithful to be the light and salt of the world. We will know who the winners are: By their fruits.

Pray for the ANIC as they look to relocate and move to new locations. Pray MORE for the ACC, as even the courts have determined that their 'non-existent congregations' are near. I suspect that as their winning party continues to shrink in numbers, the additional properties they have won, will eventually be sold off to other commercial enterprises. The Anglican clergy in the ACC might ultimately end up ministering to themselves.

One more thing. Sometimes it seems like gays and lesbians paint themselves as the victims of the theological debates over homosexuality. There are signs that they are becoming more aggressive, even oppressive especially to those who have come out of the gay movement. According to McDonald who is an ex-gay, she finds herself under a "lot of pressure to shut up!" Interesting.


- Note to Anglican Delegates (link)
- Article on 2 different views on the gay issue (link)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Review: "The Grace of God" (Andy Stanley)

TITLE: The Grace of God
Author: Andy Stanley
Published: Thomas-Nelson, 2010.
Reviewed by: Conrade Yap

The Grace of GodThis is by far one of the best books on the subject of grace. Arguably, it can be even be ranked together with Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" Deeply biblical, highly applicable and wonderfully quotable, Stanley has given the Christian public a wonderful and important gift with insights on God's grace in the Old Testament and the New Testament. He starts off well by addressing the position of grace.

"When we are on the receiving end, grace is refreshing. When it is required of us, it is often disturbing. But when correctly applied, it seems to solve just about everything. Contrary to what is sometimes taught, the opposite of grace is not law. As we will discover, God's law is actually an extension of grace. The opposite of grace is simply the absence of grace. " (xiii)

What the Book is About

Grace acknowledges both the seriousness of sin, as well as the magnaminity of grace and mercy. The whole Bible is in itself a Tour de France of grace. Stanley highlights the essence of grace through the biblical characters of Adam, Abraham, Judah, Joshua, Rahab, David, Jonah, Nicodemus, Samaritans, Paul and others. He packs his insights by allowing the reader to walk their doubts alongside. Gently, like popping the lid of a coffee can, he acknowledges the hard Mosaic laws God seems to demand out of the Israelites. Then he guides us to appreciate the aroma of grace coming off the laws of God, to reveal the heart of the law: God's grace. One of my favourite quotes deal with the purpose of discipline, and how God's law is an extension of grace.
"To a child all discipline feels like a curse, but to the parent, it's a way to teach two important lessons: disobedience has consequences, and obedience leads to freedom." (15)
My Comments
I love the way Stanley weaves in his interpretation of the Old Testament narratives through the lens of grace. He makes the ancient Old Testament books come alive with fresh and modern new applications. One of my favourites is the way he expounds the Ten Commandments.

"... the Ten Commandments do no stand in contrast to grace; they are introduced within the story of God's grace." (53)
For those who sees the Old Testament as a rigid rule book, it will be important to remember that the Israel of old does not have any laws like we do in modern times. In other words, at a time when Israel is in disarray and without law and order, God by his grace and mercy gave them laws to keep their own house in order. Giving the law is an act of grace.

Personally, I think that while Stanley does well in the Old Testament exposition on grace, the part from the New Testament is not as strong, except for the final chapter on the parable of the Prodigal Son. This last chapter, "How Sweet the Sound" is worth the price of the book. Now I learn to read that parable as the parable of the two sons instead.

This book is definitely my book of the month for November.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, IncAvailable October 2010 at your favourite bookseller."

Monday, November 08, 2010

Remembering Reformation Day - Oct 31st, 1517

Last Sunday was Reformation Sunday. Here is a cute video on what 'actually happened,' when Martin Luther pinned the 95 theses on the doors of Wittenburg on October 31st, 1517. This landmark day spawned the famous Reformation in the 16th Century.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

How to Help the Grieving

TITLE: How To Help the Grieving
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 4 Nov 2010

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
MAIN POINT: Three precious verbs to comfort the grieving. Use the LUV paradigm. Listen to them. Understand them. Value them that they are loved.

This week has been a challenge. One of my Church members are grieving right now, having lost their daughter. It is a time to grieve. It is a time to cry and mourn together. In times like these, sometimes we would like to help. We like to do some comforting, and maybe offer a word of encouragement. Despite our best intentions, we can fumble in our various ways. Clumsy words. Inappropriate actions. It happens. A popular question pops up regularly: How do we grieve and mourn with those who mourn?

Short answer: "If in doubt, shut up!"

I have gone through mourning. I mourn over the loss of my dad. I mourn over the deaths of dear friends. I mourn the loss of my peers. Mourning is a part of life. It represents a down moment for me. Sometimes, it makes me uncomfortable. I would rather get up and running, leaping in joyful deeds than to be stuck in the rut of helpless situations. Yet, grief and mournful times is a deep part of what it means to be human. Let me try to offer some tips for those of us wanting to help. I call it LUV.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Enjoying my Kindle

I'm enjoying my Kindle. I have visited the Amazon site more often than usual because of the ever increasing range of ebooks available. One of the coolest things is the availability of newly published books, both fiction and non-fiction that I can download, read like a book, and pay no postage! I'd thought that purchasing used books on the Amazon marketplace is the cheapest possible. However, the rapid download and not having to pay for delivery is simply irresistible. Here are some of my favourite links which I like to share with you.

1) Bestselling lists (including free ones) on Amazon Kindle - here

2) Direct Kindle Books Search on Amazon - here

3) Free eBook classics - here

4) New releases on Kindle - here

5) Free Books on Amazon Kindle - here

6) Free Books on "Religion & Spirituality" - here

7) Free Books on "Christianity" - here

8) Bibles - here

9) Books on the Knob (**Great resource for newly released books)

10) Free Christian-themed books on Kindle (updated regularly here)

With all the wonders of technology like the Kindle, all its capability, there is one problem: I think I am more fascinated with what the Kindle can do, than the actual content per se. Blah!


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