Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Midweek Meditation: "Listening to the Other Voice" (CS Lewis)

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963)
"The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day.  Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

 (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Harper Collins, NY: 2001, p198-199)

Monday, June 27, 2016

BookPastor >> "Expository Apologetics" (Voddie Baucham Jr)

TITLE: Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word
AUTHOR: Voddie Baucham Jr
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015, (208 pages).

What are Apologetics? Should every Christian learn about it? If so, how then do we go about learning and doing apologetics? As far as author and dean of African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, is concerned, the answer is Yes! Progressing from expository preaching of the Word, Baucham brings his conviction of the Word into the defense of the Word, to give the reasons for faith. Anchored in the passage from 1 Peter 3 about contending for the faith and to give everyone a reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ, the author seeks to help us discover a defense for the gospel using the Word of God. In contrast to the normal ways in which apologetics are done, this book is about the "nature and practice of apologetics."

For Voddie Baucham Jr, "expository apologetics" is about applying the principles of Bible exposition to the "art and science of apologetics." It is a method that is anchored on the "inerrancy, infallibility, sufficiency, and authority of the Bible." The barriers to faith are many. For believers, there is the threat of biblical illiteracy which means not only are such believers unable to defend their faith, they are susceptible to being influenced by all other spiritual forces. Then there is the threat of postmodern thinking that throws out any views that are perceived as absolute. Written for three groups of people, this book aims to equip the evangelist, the preacher-teacher, and the disciple. Not only that, in order for us to be a credible apologist, we need to be established in our character for Christ; that we live in righteousness, that we behave in a way that is congruent with our faith. Expository apologetics essentially aim to do three things:
  1. Being biblical
  2. Intuitively easy to remember
  3. Being conversational.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Euro 2016 - Knockout Round

Here is the updated schedule of knockout round.

For schedule in Singapore/Malaysia/HK/China times, click below.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Midweek Meditation: "Father Hear the Prayer We Offer" (Love Maria Whitcomb Willis)

"Father, hear the prayer we offer:
Nor for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength, that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.

Not forever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be,
But the steep and rugged pathway
May we tread rejoicingly.

Not forever by still waters
Would we idly, quiet stay;
But would smite the living fountains
From the rocks along our way.

Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our Guide;
Through endeavor, failure, danger,
Father, be Thou at our side.

Let our path be bright or dreary,
Storm or sunshine be our share;
May our souls in hope unweary
Make Thy work our ceaseless prayer." (Love Maria Whitcomb Willis, 1824-1908)

Monday, June 20, 2016

BookPastor >> "The Most Excellent Way to Lead" (Perry Noble)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Jan 25th, 2016


TITLE: The Most Excellent Way to Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership
AUTHOR: Perry Noble
PUBLISHER: Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2016, (288 pages)

What defines good leadership? If you have attended one of the many leadership conferences, courses, or classes, you might have heard about traits such as vision, influence, confidence, courage, and other impressive characteristics that make the leader looking like some hero from the movies. While many of these leadership gurus are not necessarily wrong in highlighting these leadership features, the questions for us are: Are they the most excellent things for leaders to have? What is the heart of great leadership? Is there a more excellent way? What should be the biblical approach? What makes leadership Christlike?

Perry Noble is pastor of Newspring Church, one of America's fastest growing churches. Beginning with a group of 15 individuals with no budget, no employees, and no buildings, the Church has grown tremendously to 19 campus locations, with an average attendance of 35000 people, and a $50 million annual budget! Having experienced humble beginnings, he leads with conviction with the following principles:
  1. It is not titles but voices people want to listen to that matters
  2. The most excellent way is also the most difficult way
  3. Leaders do not make declarations but are servants through and through
  4. Leaders will do whatever it takes to turn a vision into reality.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Father's Day 2016 - Scene from the Movie Courageous

Fathers' Day is here! While most people will be talking about buying stuff, getting treats, and dining out with their fathers, I thought it is also a good opportunity to remind all fathers and fathers-to-be about the responsibility of fatherhood. Here is a clip from the popular movie, "Courageous." It's one of the best productions from Sherwood Pictures and also very educational. In this moving scene, four police officers step out to make a resolution to be the father that God has called them to be.

A gentle reminder to all. Just because a father does not say out the resolution verbally does not mean he is exempt from practicing all of it. As far as believers in Christ are concerned, it is a very normal thing to be a father that does things that honour God. The resolution honours God.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Updated Euro 2016 Schedules and Tables (June 17th, 2016)

Here is an updated results and schedule for Euro 2016 games.

North American Pacific Time

Singapore/Malaysia/HK/China Time (click to expand)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Midweek Meditation: "The Habit of Holy Thought" (AW Tozer)

"Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn where it would? When the bird of thought was let go did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses or did it like the dove circle and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are but what we are going to become. We'll soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts...."

"The best way to control our thoughts is to offer the mind to God in complete surrender. The Holy Spirit will accept it and take control of it immediately. Then it will be relatively easy to think on spiritual things, especially if we train our thought by long periods of daily prayer. Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is, talking to God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of holy thought." (A.W. Tozer, Born After Midnight, 44,46-47.

Monday, June 13, 2016

BookPastor >> "Faith That Does Not Falter" (Elisabeth Elliot)

TITLE: Faith That Does Not Falter
AUTHOR: Elisabeth Elliot (selections)
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishers, 2003, (90 pages).

The late Elisabeth Elliot was a tall figure in the missionary world. She passed away on June 15th, 2015. She maintained her last name of her first marriage to the martyr Jim Elliot, who was speared to death in Ecuador by the very natives he was trying to reach. Upon her return to North America, Elisabeth honed her writing and speaking skills to become one of leading advocates for world missions and renewed faith in God's providence. She showed us what it means to trust God, why we need to grow and how we can make a difference in this world. This gift booklet contains selections of her writings, culled from seven books:
  1. All that was ever ours
  2. Discipline: The Glad Surrender
  3. God's Guidance
  4. On Asking God Why
  5. Passion and Purity
  6. Quest for Love
  7. The Mark of a Man
She begins with a passionate plea to believers, especially when terrible things happened. Do we trust God or do we defy Him? There is no middle. Based on this premise, the selections are arranged according to three themes. The first theme is about "Following God." There is no point in saying that we are followers of God when our actions demonstrate otherwise. When we say that God is sovereign, how do our choices reflect that? We are given the promise that we can become the children of God if we obey. She writes:

"The Bible does not explain everything necessary for our intellectual satisfaction, but it explains everything necessary for our obedience and hence for God's satisfaction." (14)

Following God means meeting God face on by reading His Word. Do we read with a desire to obey or are we content with picking and choosing which to obey? For God is looking for worshipers who are willing to trust God instead of thrusting God with our whims, our wishes, and our wants, with no regard for the things that matter to God. It means recognizing who God is through our lifetime, not just a moment in time. God will guide and we must trust God to show up according to His time, not ours. The more consistent we are in walking with God regardless of his speaking or his silence, we can better sense the divine whispers and holy groans the Spirit utters. As we follow God, we become familiar with how God works. We learn that when God calls us, he calls us within the framework of him knowing our exact frame.

"Jesus does not by any means disregard the sort of person we are when He calls us to do His will. He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He knows the weaknesses and strengths, the tastes and fears and prejudices and ignorance and experience of each of us. What he wants to make of us, if we are willing to be made over, is sure to bear a relationship to what we are when we first come to Him. It is within His power to transform. It is for us to submit to the transformation." (20-21)

About God's calling, instead of asking "How do we know that we are called?" learn to ask: "How do I know I am NOT called?" This paradigm shift is a needed nudge for those of us who prefer to sit on our laurels and wait indefinitely to delay doing the good that we ought to do, when we are fully able to. Taking a risk is essentially a step of faith. As we follow after God, we learn to recognize God's voice, like Mary who responded to the angel's voice. We learn to be responsive and not be too busy with our own things till we forget God's gentle movement in our hearts. God are sensitive to God's timing. Many of us need to remember that God's timing is God's to decide, not ours. Very perceptively, Elliot asserts that "We will know when we need to know, not before." Those of us with difficult struggles will start to question God. There is a proper way to do that. God does not forbid us from asking questions. There is a difference between asking questions of God and questioning God. The former is a desire to know the reasons behind certain circumstances while the latter comes from an accusatory spirit. Beware. The devil has another nickname: Accuser. Even in moments of loneliness, we can still follow after God. We can do the following:

  • Remember that God is with us. We are not alone
  • Learning to give thanks curb our focus on self
  • Refuse to give in to self-pity
  • Accept our loneliness at stages of our lives
  • Offer our lonely moments to God
  • Do something for others
The second theme is on Life's Mysteries. Faith is a mystery. It is a gift. It is less about reasoning but about responding. 

"If we believe that God is God, our faith is not a deduction from the facts around us. It is not an instinct. It is not inferred from the happy way things work. Faith is a gift from God, and we must respond to Him with a decision: The God of the universe has spoken, we believe what He says, and we will obey. We must make a decision that we will hold in the face of all opposition and apparent contradiction." (38)

Change is also a mystery. Many people are creatures of habit but screamers against change. We like monotony and routine even when it is boring. We life to do the same things over again because it is safe and comfortable. The fact is, change is something that can refresh and rejuvenate us. With change, we are offered a chance to dig deep into our inner beings to depart from the familiar ways of the world and to arrive at the unfamiliar workings of the Spirit. Evil is also a mystery. Why must there be darkness? Why didn't God make everything sinless and perfect? In fact, God is showing us something greater. When one chooses goodness and holiness in spite of sin and darkness, one would have become totally free indeed. The Incarnation is a mystery. Why would God come down from heaven and to suffer with us? The truth is, He invites us to share in the fellowship of His suffering, that we may testify that God is with us in both good times and bad times.

"We cannot know Christ and the power of His Resurrection without the fellowship of His suffering." (47)

When we take up our cross, we begin to appreciate what Christ Himself had personally experienced. No longer will we be content to say to God, "Do you understand me?" but to confess before God, "Lord, you have already understood. It's I who still do not even understand myself!" Elliot equates discipline with obedience. She writes that "Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the Call of God."

When our hearts are broken, we can be shaped into the likeness of Christ (Rom 8:29); learn to trust Christ (2 Cor 1:8-9); learn to obey Christ (Ps 119:67,71); bear fruit for Christ (John 15:2); be mature in Christ (James 1:4). As we wait upon the LORD, we realize that God is there in the waiting.

"Waiting is a form of suffering - the difficulty of self-restraint, the anguish of unfulfilled longing, the bewilderment of unanswered prayer, flesh and heart failing, soul breaking. These are indeed tribulations, and tribulation is the curriculum if we are to learn patience. We want answers now, right now, but we are required at times to walk in darkness. Nevertheless, God is in the darkness." (59)

The third theme is "Making Right Choices." It requires us to overcome our deepest fears. The paths of dark valleys and dangerous places must be seen in context of the journey toward the kingdom. Our final destination is the House of the Lord. Elliot writes:

"Never for a second does God lose sight of his objective. It is we who forget what it is. We are distracted by immediate circumstances, and it is no wonder we want to give up the whole thing. It was the 'joy that was set before Him' that enabled Jesus to endure the cross. Without a clear understanding of the ultimate objective, the intermediate objectives make no sense to us. 'Why this, Lord?' we keep asking. But if we bear in mind that we shall, beyond any doubt whatsoever, finally dwell in the house of the Lord, settle down to stay in His presence, then the intermediate pastures and waters, even the valley of the shadow or the place of dragons, are understood. They are stations and landings along the journey, and they will not last long." (65)

Overcoming worry helps us make right choices. In fact, the opposite of trust is worry. She gives us six reasons why we should not worry:
  1. Worry is completely useless.
  2. Worry is disobedience
  3. Worry is trapping ourselves in tomorrow's affairs
  4. Worry refuses the gift of today
  5. Worry is the antithesis of trust
  6. Worry wastes time and energy
Then there is doubt which can be debilitating to faith matters. Learn to concentrate on God. Reflect on Isaiah 43. When we are in doubt, open up the Word of God and meditate. "The best kind of beginning, when we are wanting to know the will of God, is to concentrate first on God himself." (69)

Risk taking is a step toward making right choices. There is no such thing as a guaranteed result especially in spiritual matters. When we deny ourselves, we are essentially denying ourselves from grasping at the straws of man's strengths and human confidence. If Christ is the Truth, grab hold of Him. Witnessing is a risk. Can we witness in spite of troubles? Yes. For witnessing is obedience in action. Making right choices sometimes mean we take the road less traveled, the harder path. The only comfort in such choices is this: God will be with us. Perhaps, in the making of the hard choices f life, we learn to depend only on God. Nothing else.

This one little book is full of precious thoughts. It makes a gift that can usher in many more gifts.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Music for Meditation

This is one of my favourite classical melodies. Written by a French musician named Erik Satie (1866-1925) at the age of 22, the "Trois Gymnopedies" is a series of three piano pieces that have a slow, intentional, and melodious manner that aids reflection and careful thinking.

Here is a Youtube rendition.

Here is a shorter version.


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Euro 2016 TV Schedule (Canada TSN - Group Stage)

Here is the tentative list of TSN Schedule. For updates, click here. All times North America Pacific.


(Picture Credit:
Click here to see times in Asia-Pacific.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Midweek Meditation: "Our Deepest Fear"

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are  powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others." (Marianne Williamson)

Monday, June 06, 2016

BookPastor >> "A Vision for Preaching" (Abraham Kuruvilla)

This review was first published on Jan 4th, 2016 at Panorama of a Book Saint. 


TITLE: A Vision for Preaching: Understanding the Heart of Pastoral Ministry
AUTHOR: Abraham Kuruvilla
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015, (214 pages).

Three words anchor this book: "Preach the Word." The purpose is to let the Word shine in this world biblically, pastorally, amid an "alchemical and distillatory tendencies of this generation." This means not submitting to humanistic desires for newness but to re-tell God's story faithfully regardless of old or new. This means not succumbing to tendencies to reduce to Word to what it is not, but let the Word speak clearly, insightfully, and powerfully. As far as the author is concerned, it involves eight questions based on eight preaching thrusts:
  1. Whose words were these words originally? (Biblical)
  2. Who said it? (Pastoral)
  3. In what context? (Ecclesial)
  4. What should these words convey? (Communicational)
  5. What is the general thrust of the text? (Theological)
  6. Who was the audience? (Applicational)
  7. Why was it said? (Conformational)
  8. To what ultimate end? (Doxological)
  9. By whose power? (Spiritual)
All of these are summarized in one vision statement: "Preaching is biblical (Biblical) - by a leader of the church (Pastoral) - in a gathering of Christians for worship (Ecclesial) - is the communication of the thrust of a pericope of Scripture (Communicational) - discerned by theological exegesis, (Theological) - and of its application to that specific body of believers, (Applicational) - that they may be conformed to the image of Christ, (Conformational) - for the glory of God (Doxological) - all in the power of the Holy Spirit (Spiritual)."

Saturday, June 04, 2016

"Lord Have Mercy" (Slater Armstrong)

This is a beautiful meditative song from Slater Armstrong.

LORD HAVE MERCY (G)Words by: Steve Merkel
Sung by: Slater Armstrong
Verse 1:
Jesus, I've forgotten the words that You have spoken
Promises that burned within my heart have now grown dim
With a doubting heart I follow the paths of earthly wisdom
Forgive me for my unbelief
Renew the fire again
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy on me
Verse 2:
I have built an altar where I worship things of men
I have taken journeys that have drawn me far from You
Now I am returning to Your mercies ever flowing
Pardon my transgressions
Help me love You again
Repeat Chorus
Verse 3:
I have longed to know You and Your tender mercies
Like a river of forgiveness ever flowing without end
I bow my heart before You in the goodness of Your presence
Your grace forever shining
Like a beacon in the night
Repeat Chorus 2x


Friday, June 03, 2016

A Child's Changing Perceptions of Their Dads Over the Years

This is a delightful chart that shows the changing perceptions of dads from the eyes of their child at different ages. It's adapted from an article here.


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Midweek Meditation: "God's Love Letter For You"

This is a well made video based on Ps 139 and other Bible verses. It's a nice slide by slide reflection of God's Word.


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