Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Midweek Meditation: EHC Principle 3 of 6

In Peter Scazzero's "The Emotionally Healthy Church," the third principle to cultivate emotional health is to move away from "proud and defensive" behaviour toward a "broken and vulnerable" posture. Often, for those of us who are insecure, we either flee, take flight, or hide when we are criticized. We need a theology of weakness.

"Everyone is broken, damaged, cracked, and imperfect. It is a common thread of all humanity - even for those who deny its reality in their life." (Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church, Zondervan, 2003, p114)

"When I attempt to exercise control and power, I have strayed from the embrace of the Father.
" (127)

#3 - LIVE IN BROKENNESS AND VULNERABILITY (1-Very / 2-Sometimes / 3-Not Sure / 4-Never)
  1. Do you find it easy to admit you're wrong and readily seek forgiveness? (  )
  2. Are you free to speak about your shortcomings without fear? (  )
  3. Are you approachable and not easily provoked? (  )
  4. Do you easily give others the benefit of the doubt? (  )
  5. Are you open for feedback, and willing to receive criticisms? (  )
  6. Are you quick to listen, and slow to be critical of others? (  )
  7. You are often ready to encourage rather than to put people down. (  )
Note that the lower your score, the better you are able to honestly deal with your own brokenness and weakness, and not be afraid to admit you are very human.


Monday, January 26, 2015

BookPastor >> "Taking Your Soul to Work" (R. Paul Stevens and Alvin Ung)

TITLE: Taking Your Soul to Work: Overcoming the Nine Deadly Sins of the Workplace
AUTHOR: R. Paul Stevens and Alvin Ung
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010, (206 pages).

In the past two decades, the topic of faith in the workplace has been talked about in Christian circles. How can we live not only as Sunday Christians but all-day Christians? What can we do to be Christian not only in Church but also be in the office? Is it possible to be a Christian in the workplace? The dichotomy between faith and work has become so sharp that many believers need help on how to bridge the two to avoid becoming Christian only on Sundays and less so on the other days. In this book, Paul Stevens, author of The Other Six Days, and Alvin Ung, author of Barefoot Leadership have come together to speak wisely into the situation. As far as they are concerned, there is no dichotomy between faith, work, Christian living, and worship. With Stevens from the West and Ung from the East, they have tried to make this book as contextually sensitive and culturally relevant to both West and East. Their key concerns:
  • Handling the frustrations, challenges, and ambiguities of the complex workplace
  • Letting work be an opportunity for spiritual growth
  • Allowing work as a way to draw us closer to God
  • Keeping God in mind while working
  • Finding our God's will in our workplace
  • Sensing the presence of God in our ups and downs
  • Seeing the work context as ways to overcome our "hidden compulsions" and "discover new strengths"
  • and many more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Midweek Meditation: EHC Principle 2 of 6

In Peter Scazzero's "The Emotionally Healthy Church," the second principle to cultivate emotional health is to learn to leave the past behind us, so that we could become the person we are created to be. The past can shape us or refine, but they do not define us.

"Events and people have impacted who I am today and will help me understand 'what makes me tick.'" (Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church, Zondervan, 2003, p96)

"When I was young, I set out to change the world. When I grew older, I perceived that this was too ambitious so I set out to change my state. This, too, I realized as I grew older was too ambitious, so I set out to change my town. When I realized I could not even do this, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man, I know that I should have started by changing myself. If I had started with myself, maybe then I would have succeeded in changing my family, the town, or even the state - and who knows, maybe even the world.
" (Words of an old Hasidic rabbi)

#2 - BREAK THE POWER OF THE PAST (1-Very / 2-Sometimes / 3-Not Sure / 4-Never)
  1. Do you resolve conflicts in a charitable and respectful way? (  )
  2. Are you willing to work through unresolved hurts and emotional wounds in the past? (  )
  3. Are you able to give thanks for your past? (  )
  4. Are you aware of healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with a troubled past? (  )
  5. Do you need approval from others to feel good about yourself? (  )
  6. Are you able to take responsibility for your own faults? (  )
  7. Are you willing to discern the major influences of your past? (  )
Note that the lower your score, the better you are able to honestly deal with your past.


Monday, January 19, 2015

BookPastor >> "Spiritual Leadership" (J. Oswald Sanders)

This review was first published on March 26th, 2012 at my old blog at


TITLE: Spiritual Leadership (Commitment To Spiritual Growth)
AUTHOR: J. Oswald Sanders
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1994, (192 pages).
ISBN: 0-8024-6799-7

This book is a classic work on spiritual leadership. First released in 1967, it has been republished several times and remains one of the key references for learning about spiritual leadership. Initially given as a series of lectures for the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) in Singapore in 1964 and 1966, this book has been updated and revised for the new generation.

One look at the way the book has been setup is a clue that this book was not meant to be published as a book in the first place. Sanders has prepared the work to be spoken rather than written. That is why there are no neat categorizations or broad structural flows in the texts. Moreover, some of the chapters appear to end abruptly, just like how some preachers cut short their sermon endings when they run out of time. Nevertheless, the value of the book lies in its constant assertion that Christian leadership is spiritual in nature. It is an honourable ambition. It is designed with Christ as our Model and our Leader. Sanders compares natural and spiritual leadership in terms of flesh vs spirit. He brings out biblical insights from Paul and Peter, as well as many examples from the Old Testament.

Some essential qualities of leadership include the fundamental aspects such as discipline, vision, wisdom, decision, courage, humility, integrity, and sincerity. He also deals with the challenges to leadership like how to deal with anger, leading with humour and friendship, tactful, inspirational, and one who communicates well. Most importantly, Spiritual Leadership is to be led by the Spirit.

Other aspects of leadership includes how the leader prays, the use of time, reading, and the courage to face suffering and persecutions. One of the most important aspects of leadership is the readiness to deal with the challenges to spiritual leadership.
  • Counting the costs in self-sacrifice, always mindful of Christ's greatest sacrifice.
  • Temptation of loneliness that weighs leaders down.
  • Threat of criticisms
  • How rejections can bring a leader down
  • About the pressures and perplexities of life
Sanders ends with an exhortation on the prophet Nehemiah, saying that the primary task of spiritual leadership is to 'build the faith of others.' Indeed, a leader can lead by example, and to live through his own life challenges. In order to strengthen the faith of others, the leader needs to strengthen his own faith. In order to encourage others, leaders need to find encouragement in God and how to deal with their own discouragement. In order to make disciples of Christ, leaders need to be disciples themselves. In order to be spiritual leaders, they need to be led by the Spirit.

Be warned. This book may be easy to read, but practicing it requires us to be led by the Spirit.  Interestingly, note the subtitle on the front page of the book, 'principles of excellence for every believer.'  This book is not just for leaders. It is for ALL believers.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Midweek Meditation: EHC Principle 1 of 6

In Peter Scazzero's "The Emotionally Healthy Church," the first principle to cultivate emotional health is to learn to take a healthy and honest look inside ourselves. It is like a regular health checkup. It helps us develop a connection between our being and our doing; and how our activities are coherent with our motivations.

"Because of Christ's life, death, and resurrection for me, I can actually be free to be me. I can come out of hiding." (Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church, Zondervan, 2003, p82)

Knowing that I stand before God as His beloved has freed me to explore some of the disturbing and dark aspects of who I am.
" (83)

LOOK BENEATH THE SURFACE (1-Very / 2-Sometimes / 3-Not Sure / 4-Never)
  1. How easy can you identify your own feelings? (  )
  2. Are you willing to explore yourself deeper in areas you are afraid of? (  )
  3. Are you comfortable in spending honest, quiet time with God? (  )
  4. Are you able to share freely about yourself? (  )
  5. How well do you deal with your own anger and frustrations? (  )
  6. Can you be honest with others about your true feelings? (  )
  7. Are you aware of yourself and knows the difference between self-awareness and "self-absorbed introspection"? (  )
Note that the lower your score, the better you are able to honestly deal with your inner person.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Valuable Resource for Learning Greek: Singing Grammarian FREE!

During my days as a student learning Greek, one of the challenges is in trying to memorize the Greek alphabet, various word endings, and to be familiar with the grammar of Koine Greek. For students in the English speaking world, it can be a weird experience speaking a different language. A helpful tool for me was music and singing. By letting the melodies guide our memorization, we can not only learn the grammar faster, we can also have some fun in it to loosen up. The list of 17 videos covers:
  1. Articles
  2. Greek Alphabet 
  3. Aorist Active and Middle
  4. Future Active and Middle
  5. First Declension
  6. Second Declension
  7. Third Declension
  8. Imperatives
  9. Infinitives
  10. Liquid Verbs
  11. Participles
  12. Passives
  13. Present Active Indicative
  14. PluPerfect
  15. Present, Middle and Passive
  16. Secondary Endings
  17. Subjunctive
When this grammar resource was launched in the first quarter of 2013, I was among the first to review the songs. Due to some recent changes, the author, Danny Zacharias has decided to make his whole work available for free on Youtube. If you want to support their work, you can download/purchase a high-quality video here.


Monday, January 12, 2015

BookPastor >> "Slow Church" (C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison)

TITLE: Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus
AUTHOR: C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2014, (247 pages).

Our society is infatuated with all things fast and furious. Faster is better they say. Quicker is preferred. From queue lines to traffic congestions, waiting is detested. People want rapid service. They demand express responses. They desire prompt answering of phone calls or timely replies to emails. Speed is king. Really? Authors Smith and Pattison seek to buck this trend by arguing that there are many things in this life that cannot be straitjacketed into a fast-food paradigm. We need to avoid becoming victims of McDonaldization that forces us to be squeezed into a one-size-fits-all mold. The Church needs to be transformed into the image of Christ and not conformed to the world.  Inspired by the Slow Food movement, the authors seek to instill a sense of normalcy to our crazy, fast-paced society that prizes efficiency over effectiveness; calculability over quality; predictability over natural ability; and control over freedom. In true food service fashion, Smith and Pattison offers us a three course meal. The first course is ETHICS (Be Good), which reminds us about the importance of quality over quantity, and how one can cultivate this over the world's infatuation with quantity and speed. It is like saying it's better to do a few things well than to do many things mediocre. The second course is ECOLOGY (Be Clean), which points us toward God's care and concern for the reconciliation with the world. This is the mission we are all called to participate in. The third course is ECONOMY (Be Fair), where we learn about God's abundant provision to us as a Church and how doing God's work requires all of God's providence.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Midweek Meditation: Emotional/Spiritual Health Inventory (1)

Starting this week and for the next 7 weeks, I will be posting snippets of an inventory list to help us note our personal emotional/spiritual health. The lists are adapted and where necessary, paraphrased from Peter Scazzero's "The Emotionally Healthy Church."

THINKING ABOUT OUR OWN DISCIPLESHIP (1-Very / 2-Sometimes / 3-Not Sure / 4-Never)
  1. How certain are you with regards to being a child of God? (  )
  2. Are you able to worship God on your own? (  )
  3. Do you do your Quiet Time regularly? (  )
  4. Do you know your spiritual gifts and actively use them? (  )
  5. Are you certain that your gifts, talents and possessions are God's providence and all belong to God? (  )
  6. Are you participating actively with other believers in your community? (  )
  7. Are you living as a 24x7 Christian? (  )
Note that the lower your score, the closer you are to a good discipleship model.

Monday, January 05, 2015

BookPastor >> "The Emotionally Healthy Church" (Peter Scazzero)

TITLE: The Emotionally Healthy Church, Expanded Edition: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives
AUTHOR: Peter Scazzero
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003, (226 pages).

This book is a needed emotional flu shot in preparation for any forms of ministry. Many well-intentioned individuals rush into ministry with big goals and impressive plans but inside them, their emotional tanks run dangerously low. What is needed is a good diagnosis, a healthy sense of mental awareness, and according to Scazzero, a "new paradigm of discipleship" via six principles.  In diagnosis, one needs to remember that emotional health is not any less important than spiritual health. Four levels of emotional maturity are described. The first is the "emotional infant" who need others to care for them, driven by need for instant gratification, and who are unaware of how others are hurt because of their behaviour. The second is "emotional children" who behaves well in good times, but throw tantrums in bad times. They are difficult to engage in good balanced discussions and tend to be one-sided. The third is "emotional adolescents" who know what are the right things to do but feels insecure when challenged. These people have trouble listening to others and tend to be defensive. The fourth level is the "emotional adult" who can love and respect others without becoming defensive, who knows themselves, and are ready to contribute to the general good of the community. This book is essentially about how one can move toward this fourth level.

Scazzero, founder of New Life Fellowship in Queens, NYC, proposes six principles on how to cultivate a healthy emotional church. This is simply because in the Church, far too much attention has been given to the spiritual and ignoring the importance of emotional which is a part of our whole being. For Jesus is both divine and human.

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