Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book: "Christian Basics" - (John Stott)

TITLE: CHRISTIAN BASICS - An Invitation to Discipleship
Christian Basics: An Invitation to DiscipleshipAUTHOR: John Stott
PUBLISHER: Baker Book House, 2003.

John Stott is one of the best known names in the evangelical world. A gifted teacher and a passionate preacher, this London-based scholar continues to make an impact for the Church through his writings. This book is one example of how his gifts have been so effective in equipping the Church in terms of discipleship.

Discipleship is not an option for anyone who calls himself a Christian. Basic Christianity is essentially about discipleship. In this book, Stott tackles three core basics:

1) Christian Beginnings;

2) Christian Beliefs;

3) Christian Behaviour.

In any vocation, one needs to start somewhere. Before one can grow, one needs to be born. Stott begins by showing readers how to become a Christian, how to be sure about our faith, and how to grow. Secondly, one needs to learn more about the Christian faith, and what Christians believe. He then goes on to describe the basic doctrines centered around God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, clearly mentioning the Triune God. God is One, in three Persons. Thirdly, any beliefs cannot simply be for the head. It needs to be demonstrated in behaviour and action. Here, Stott points out the moral standards, the basic spiritual disciplines to enable the believer to grow strong.

If you are a new believer, or one who needs to be reminded again about the basics of the Christian faith, this book is an excellent resource.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Inspiring Football Story

This is a moving short film about the humble beginnings of one of Thailand's most successful football teams. I like it for its sheer inspiration amid adverse circumstances. It teaches us that one does not need to have a lot of money in order to have a good enjoyable life. Simply lots of heart and determination. When a small ragtag group of boys come together and persevere, soon the whole community supports them. You can see the clip here, or below.

[credit to Eck for sharing this].


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book: "The Blessing of Adversity"

TITLE: The Blessing of Adversity: Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's Troubles
AUTHOR: Barry C. Black
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011, (256 pages).

This book is gentle, encouraging, and a pleasure to read. What strikes me is the steadfastly persuasive way in which the author overcomes trials and tribulations; pain and suffering. Backed by more than 27 years as a military chaplain, and the current chaplain of the US Senate, Black serves up dish after dish of encouragement. Using brilliant stories to illustrate his points, Black's style is like a devotional. It is also inviting, not forceful. Firm and not fiery.

The thrust of the book is easy to follow. This book is not about positive thinking. It is about keeping our focus on God despite the negativity. The Blessing of Adversity does not mean constantly needing to stay positive in a journey peppered with one adversity after another. Far from that. It prepares one for adversity. It equips one before adversity. It encourages one during adversity.

There are three key audiences Black wants to address. The first audience is for those currently going through adversity. He helps them to see hopeful possibilities in the midst of impossible hopeless situations. For example, he says that there are benefits when one learns from suffering and brokenness. Similarly, suffering should not be 'wasted.'  Secondly, he writes to those yet to encounter adversity. By 'Avoiding the Sources of Trouble' one can avoid piling unnecessary hot coals upon one's own head. Thirdly, he addresses to those who are able to turn things around, to turn adversity into advantage. This last part is possible when one learns to 'supersize' one's faith and to build a 'storm-proofed' life.

My Comments
I appreciate the way Black harnesses his own life struggles to illustrate faith, hope and lessons for the purpose of teaching others to endure and to learn from adversity. This reflects an authenticity that modern readers deeply appreciate. He supports his points strongly with his wide repertoire of Old and New Testament examples from the Bible. He points a way out for those who seems lost and discouraged.

I like the structure of this book. Beginning with a big idea, the author explains the reason for the need to cling on to God. At the end of every chapter, he summarizes his main points with a 'action plan.' The chapters are short, and easy enough for anyone to finish a chapter in between meetings in the office, during lunch breaks, or pockets of spare time throughout the day. If adversity is your struggle right now, along with the Bible, the Blessing of Adversity can accompany your daily bread.


Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. This review is freely offered without any obligation to give a positive reply.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bethany Hamilton: "Soul Surfer, "I Am Second"

I have heard people saying that Christian movies are poor in quality. That is no longer true. With the recent Narnia series and movies like Fireproof, faith films are getting better in both quality and quantity. Based on a story of teenager Bethany Hamilton's story of surviving a shark attack, Soul Surfer tells about the tragedy, the recovery and her victory. Behind her amazing transformation is a quiet intentional faith in God.

This upcoming movie promises to be filled with quality actors and actresses (Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid..,;). The story is simple but is profoundly rich in inspiration and faith. You can see the trailer of SOUL SURFER here. There is also a touching clip from the movie here.

This is a movie which I'll be keeping an eye on. It's set to be released on April 8th, 2011. It has all the promises of faith-filled moments of hope and love. The genre is the touching hero-to-zero-hero-again. Will be a tear-jerker. Comprising an amazing all-star cast of familiar faces, this unabashedly movie about a teenage girl's faith in Jesus, will certainly encourage many Christians. Bethany Hamilton has a personal blog here. A flyer is available also for churches. See how Bethany describes her story here.

Why is Bethany saying "I am second?" It is because Jesus is first.

The information below is adapted from the I have made minor adjustments to make it more readable.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: "Amish Grace"

TITLE: AMISH GRACE - how forgiveness transcended tragedy
AUTHORS: Donald B Kraybill, Steven M Nolt, and David L Weaver-Zercher
PUBLISHER: San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended TragedyThis is an extraordinary book that gives the world a valuable insight into the Amish community. What the world sees as impossible, the Amish demonstrates as possible. What the world views as out of this world, the Amish proves it in a matter of fact way. What the world deems as extraordinary, the Amish dishes them out effortlessly in their ordinary lives.

What the Book is About
The authors, led by an expert in Amish studies, Donald Kraybill, has given the world a precious insight into the daily lives, beliefs, practices, spirituality and background to the intentional level of forgiveness after a major tragedy. On October 2nd, 2006, the Amish community in Pennsylvania experienced their own version of 9/11. A shooting spree by a disturbed gunman, led to 5 deaths, 5 critically injured, and evoked multitudes of emotional shockwaves. What is shocking is not the shooting incident. The world is astonished by the speed, the consistency, the earnestness and the honesty of forgiveness extended to the family of the gunman, who killed himself eventually.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Regent Summer School 2011

Picture taken from Regent website
One of the reasons why Regent-College has been famous is the Summer School offerings. Like the chocolate chip cookies that made 'Famous Amos' popular, Regent's Summer School is among the best that North American theological institutions can offer.  Some of the famous names have included Alistair McGrath, Mark Noll, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Tremper Longman, Vinoth Ramachandra, George Marsden, and others on top of the regular world class faculty. This year, there will be familiar names like Susan Philips, Marva Dawn, Chris Hall, Bernd Wannenwetsch, Bruce Waltke, Christopher Wright and many others on the Regent full-time professors.

I have attended many of these classes during Spring and Summer each year when I was a full-time student. The courses were so good that I will choose the least number of credits required just to attend as many courses as possible. For example, for a 3-credit INDS requirement for my degree program, I will try to choose three individual 1-credit INDS courses just to enrich my learning. While it is a lot more work on my part, the privilege of listening to a wider variety of professors is invaluable. What makes it even more fun is the very informal environment at the college. Just sit down at the coffee table in the atrium, and you will most likely experience a wide variety of exposure and experience of students who come from all over the world. Remarkably, at Regent's summer school, you do not need to venture outside to see the world. The world arrives at your door step. Don't forget. The weekly evening public lectures are free!

My favourite parts of the Spring/Summer school each year are:

  • Huge variety of world class courses to choose from;
  • More casual atmosphere to engage the world and tap the rich theological minds;
  • Great sunshine and cheerfulness throughout the college;
  • Opportunities to audit many courses, esp those on 1-credit;
  • Lots of fun tours, exhibitions, walks;
  • Getting to meet friends and working professionals who do not have time to do theology full-time;
  • Coffee chats with famous professors;
  • A Regent experience that brings Evergreen memories;
  • Enjoying Vancouver at its best!

You may find the following links helpful:

  2. YOUTUBE VIDEO (link)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Doctrinal Earthquake - Rob Bell's controversial book: 'Love Wins'

Rob Bell asked for it. In a subtle departure from orthodox Christianity, Bell's latest book has caused a doctrinal earthquake last week. While the rest of the world are shocked at what is happening in Japan, the theological world is spooked when a famous pastor of a mega-church starts to bend traditional interpretations. Essentially, his book is subtitled, "Love Wins - a book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.' In the book, Bell questions several doctrines held by orthodox evangelicals.
  • Is God's salvation only for the elect few?
  • Is hell for the rest of the people who do not profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
  • Is it really God's will for sinners to burn in hell and punishment for eternity?

In a nutshell, Rob Bell declares that the above are 'misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus's message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book - "First Comes Love?"

TITLE: First Comes Love? - the ever changing face of marriage
AUTHOR: John C Morris
PUBLISHER: OH: Pilgrim Press, 2007.
First Comes Love?: The Ever-Changing Face of Marriage

BEWARE: This book is a veiled attempt to attack the traditional marriage between one-man-one-woman.

This book attempts to outline the history of marriage, and to highlight how marriage 'changes' its face according to the era and the contexts people are in. The constant refrain by the author is that marriage 'has changed and changed and changed again' (9). By exploring 21 different 'layers and traditions,' Morris attempts to change us, in particular, those who hold to the 'traditional marriage' of one man and one woman.

Under the guise of an objective, scientific, factual, and a rationale explanation of marriage customs and traditions throughout the ages, Morris is essentially telling us not to be too defensive about the traditional one-man-one-woman form of marriage. Here is why Morris insists that marriages are ever changing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Natural Disasters

TITLE: On Natural Disasters
WRITTEN BY: Conrade Yap
Date: 18 March 2011

MAIN IDEA: Must the presence of suffering necessitate the extinguishing of the existence of God? It is a sign of the peak of human arrogance that declares either God is dead, or there is no such thing as God. We should not clench our fists in anger when we do not know the answer to suffering. We should open our hands to help in spite of the mystery of suffering. It is not answers to tickle the curious mind, but how we comfort the human soul in times of disasters that means more. We are not computers needing data to fill in the information gaps. We are human beings needing love to be fulfilled as human people.

This week, the world has been horrified with images of destruction and despair from the tsunami-devastated land of Japan. Though only the North-Eastern coastline of Japan is affected, the media coverage makes it appear like the whole country has shut down. World attention is now fixated on Japan's efforts to contain the nuclear meltdown. For the past few days, it has been one bad news after another.  Psychologists are now warning people of a danger of a 'secondary trauma' that affects those who watch too much of the disaster news. With the Internet, Youtube, and live TV coverage, viewers can visually see the terrible scenes of destruction in Japan, and elsewhere. Coupled with threats of the next big one going to hit North America soon, while there are fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan, there are fears of a huge anxiety panic all around the world. Fears such as:
  • Food and oil prices will go up;
  • Air travel will be expensive and even dangerous;
  • Hoarding of basic amenities will increase;
  • Doomsday predictions continue to rise;
  • Life will never be 'normal again.' 
The question: Why do natural disasters happen? If God is in control, why does He allow natural disasters to destroy the earth?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review - "Christianity the First Three Thousand Years" (Diarmaid MacCulloch)

TITLE: CHRISTIANITY - the First Three Thousand Years
AUTHOR: Diarmaid MacCulloch
PUBLISHER: NY: Viking, 2009, (1161pp).

Christianity: The First Three Thousand YearsIf this book can be made into a film, it will be an epic. Comprehensive, scholarly, and thoroughly captivating, I cannot put this book down.

The Book
This is a book of history, in particular, the story of Christianity as told from the knowledge of an Oxford professor of the History of the Church. The author describes himself as a 'candid friend' of Christianity rather than a dogmatic believer of the Christian faith. At the same time, he does not actively assert the existence of God, positioning himself more like a seeker rather than a know-it-all.

His scholarly prowess is demonstrated in 7 parts, multiple illustrations and maps, an extensive chapter by chapter bibliography, over 1161 pages of content.  The title of each part of the book gives a useful summary to inform the reader where the author is going with his story-telling.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Left Behind by Technology

Microsoft has just released its latest reincarnation of its flagship browser: Internet Explorer 9 (IE9). With my trusty old desktop, I go to the download site. The website is spanky. It looks tempting. It even has a new name (beautyoftheweb). The site itself reminds you of the best of the web, with Youtube-like pictures, scrolling photo album, simple layout, and of course that tempting DOWNLOAD NOW button. Eagerly I click on the orange button. I got this:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Top 5 iPad2 Parodies (Ha Ha!)

The iPad 2 is going to be launched soon, March 11th, 2011 in the US, and March 25th, 2011 in Canada, UK and others. With all the hype going on, here is a list of 5 iPad parodies. My favourite is the first one. I like Apple, but sometimes, we need videos like these to remind us to distinguish between reality and hype.

#1 - My Favourite [This is tops!]

#2 - Parody: "Truth about the iPad2" [funny]

#3 - The eiAPP

- I am curious how they 'cook' the egg on the iPad.

#4 - Bigger is Better?

#5 - Parody
- One part contains bad language, which relegates this to last.



Monday, March 07, 2011

Book: "Live Like You Mean It" (TJ Addington)

TITLE: Live Like You Mean It
AUTHOR: T J Addington
PUBLISHER: NavPress, 2010.

Live Like You Mean It: The 10 Crucial Questions That Will Help You Clarify Your Purpose / Live Intentionally / Make the Most of the Rest of Your LifeThree words describe my thoughts about this book: 'Practical, Personal, and Pastoral.' Addington, a survivor of a serious illness, writes this book in a very introspective manner. Having struggled through multiple medical treatments in hospital from Dec 2007 to January 2008, there is a sense of urgency in him, to share what is most important not just for him, but for people in general. (read more on his medical journey here) This is made real not via answers but questions. Through 10 penetrating life questions, Addington guides the reader to consider putting one's life into perspective, and to practically make it count. The purpose is to help the reader 'who desires to understand his or her life in a new way' (14).

The 10 questions are worded in very PRACTICAL ways. Each points to an objective. For example, the first questions focuses one on the pinpointing the purpose in life. The second makes one recognize how one is 'wired.' The third urges the reader to leave a legacy, and so on.

  1. Why am I here?
  2. What is my sweet spot?
  3. What will I leave behind?
  4. What really matters?
  5. What is my plan?
  6. How do I best recharge?
  7. How can my life have a ripple effect?
  8. How do I relate to God?
  9. Will I say yes to God?
  10. What shall I do next?
Somewhere through the middle of the book, Addington becomes more PERSONAL, with deeper sharing about his illness and his hospitalization period of ups and downs. He talks about recognizing our most valuable resources (66-7). He probes the need for relationships (82). He makes a strong case for relationship with God, to be 'recharged' (chapter 6). He encourages us to grow in community by becoming a 'ripple for Christ' (chapter 7). He even shares about his personal letdown after a frustrating 3-year role as a pastor in a church. Despite his apparent short-lived stint as a minister, he remains very much pastoral at heart. 

Addington brings this PASTORAL heart into the book as well. This is most evident in the way he approaches the tough matters of life. Addington relates the tragic story of Zach, and how the parents Shawn and Sally responded. Writes the author:

"The question is not whether we will suffer but how we will respond to it when it happens. A proper view of suffering requires a proper view of God and His work in our lives." (145)

Chapter 9 may very well be worth the price of this book. Addington challenges the reader not with scholastic references, or statistical numbers. This book deserves to be on the bookshelf of 'life guides.' The practical tips in the book gives the reader a ready-made reference to guide the reader to plan his own life more intentionally. The personal sharing gives the book a strong flavour of authenticity. The pastoral stance provides a comforting touch to the needs of a world of ups and downs. Praise God for people like T J Addington. I look forward to his next book.

4 stars of 5 


I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Learn to Laugh: at Rejection Letter

This is a hilarious video of a little baby. The father has just received a job rejection letter. Look what happens when dad rips the letter..... (link)

Sometimes, when we are down and discouraged, little children has that magical ability to lift us up. For more on the family, go to here.


Friday, March 04, 2011

Praying Clicklessly

TITLE: Praying Clicklessly
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 4 March 2011

MAIN POINT: We can click others to fame, but we cannot click ourselves to God.

The current singing sensation is a young Canadian-born girl, whose parents hail from the Philippines. Maria Aragon.Like Justin Bieber and Susan Boyles, thanks to Youtube, this 10-year old girl shoots to fame like Superman. A faster path to Hollywood; A more powerful reach than traditional means of fame; and able to leap tall expectations in a single video clip. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, clicks for fame!

In the age of the Internet, clicks are the currency of fame. Call it blog hits. Call it web shares. The numbers of clicks are the latest definitions of success and fame. Susan Boyles reached the million mark in less than a day after her performance on Britain’s Got Talent was posted. Justin Bieber’s bathroom singing was discovered and cleverly publicized by a shrewd talent scout. Now, Maria Aragon’s shot to fame was given a helping hand not only by Youtube, but Lady Gaga. The latter recently invited little Aragon to her concert! Talk about publicity. You can never get something more dramatic.

It’s the millions of clicks by ordinary people like you and me that transform ordinary people to become extraordinary stars. Faster than Superman feats. The route to fame is now laden with voluminous votes in an American Idol singing contest, or clicks on a Youtube video.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New Feeds to Old Needs

TITLE: New Feeds to Old Needs - beware of new feeds that do not satisfy
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 3 April 2011
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:8-9)

In 7 days, there will be a familiar new face to an old electronic tablet idea that has developed a cult following. Apple’s iPAD 2 will be launched in the US on 11th March 2011. Filled with ‘new’ features like video cameras, improved graphics, an updated processor, newer software, and a seductive spectrum of eye-candy covers, the new tablet device is not just lighter and faster, it is also sexier. Like hockey players who sleep with the Stanley Cup after winning it, I suppose many who get the coveted IPAD 2 next week will rather surrender their pillows to snuggle up with their new digital darling. The new has come. The old will fade away. In this article, I shall argue that, what looks new is essentially nothing new.

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