Monday, December 25, 2006

Met Up With John

Heavenly Harmony and Praise Band went to Barker Road Methodist Church today for an outreach. The last time i stepped into the headquarter of the Methodist Church in Singapore was more than 1 year ago. I remember attended the youth congregation in a posh hall that look like a cinema. Yup, this is the head office of the Methodist churches in Singapore, where Bishop Robert Solomon's punch-card lies.

Upon this second visit, i grabbed the opportunity to meet, not the bishop nor any of the pastoral staffs, but John. I met him during my last visit but didn't get to take picture with him. So this time, with my mobile camera phone, I snatched some.

Besides that, i snatched also a few of his aphorisms. Reading them is refreshing and reassuring yet guilt-invoking. He is a man after God's own heart. And when a man like me reading such stuffs is like a convicted criminal staring into the criminal law statutes. Knowing full well that there are things that ought not to do and there are things that ought to do, and one does the exact opposite for both.

Besides these two guilt-invoking plates, there are still other two that worth mentioning. The first one is very interesting. I smiled wittily when i saw it. It's like an amulet that keeps exclusive reformed souls, who believe their life-calling is to rid off every Arminians from the surface of this part of heaven, and Roman Catholics, who believe they are the one and true apostolic church, from wandering into the holy road (Barker Road, that is).

"Methodism is THE old religion, THE religion of the Bible, ,THE religion of the Early Church" *tremble*

Well, i think John and his brother, Charles are great men who fine-tuned their own heartbeat to go accordingly with God's own beat. The denomination that they found gives the world a foretaste of what is it like when the kingdom is fully inaugurated by Jesus. The hymns they wrote have been touching and inspiring millions of generations of Christians around the world. The social service committees that are being set up under the Wesleys have been meeting the needs of the needy. Their global schools brought literacy to many parts of the world (Malaysia and Singapore owe the current standard of literacy of the nations to them). Their biblical scholars' (Ben Witherington III, Joel Green, McKnight, Olson etc) contribution to the studies of the Bible is abundant. Hence, here, i shall leave this last plate to remember one that was raised, whose life has shaken the world for the last 3 centuries and many more still to come.

"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas 2006

Christmas = Unusual busyness

Been my 3rd year seeing Christmas through in Singapore. It's amazing to think back how was i like in the first year. Though nothing much, but definitely very different.

I was thinking about Christmas greetings this afternoon. Thought of using N.T Wright's 'Jesus is YHWH with his sleeves rolled up'. Because that is taken out directly from the Message (Isaiah 52.10), it would had been unoriginal. So i tried to think of some powerful yet simplistic way of describing Christmas in its essence. After a few analogies, i've decided to use this:

"Blessed Christmas! Symbol of the historical advent of Emmanuel. Jesus is YHWH wearing his armor, went to the frontline to fight for his people the losing war."

Simple and powerful, i hope. Best is that it is the length of one SMS!

But such simplification is inevitably misunderstanding-inviting. After sending to those in my mobile, i got 2 worth-noting replies; one direct rejection of the message while the other wondering what it really means.

Reply from Herman: I don't think christmas symbolises the advent of christ. I only know that it is pagan. And it is not a losing war. God is in control from all eternity. We are losers but not God.

Reply from Stephen: Wait a minute! Why the losing war?!

I ignored the first one.

This is my reply to Stephen: God fought the war for his people. A losing war for his people. Jesus was at the frontline and was killed. And the cross is the victory of god but that would make this an Easter greeting.

Blessed Christmas to everyone, especially to all my family, friends and their families! Many blessings of peace, joy, and love to each and every soul.

God has comforted his people!
He's redeemed Jerusalem!
God has rolled up his sleeves.
All the nations can see his holy, muscled arm.
Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other,
sees him at work, doing his salvation work.
Isaiah 52.10

And we saw it through a man hanging on the bloody cross, with his flesh being torn, with his arms and legs being nailed. We saw it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Molly Was Here

'Moh ni de tou, hao wen ru...' (Mandarin super-beng song) came to mind when i saw Molly's sms on Wednesday that she will be coming down to Singapore on Thursday. Cant help but to smile when fun memories flashed thro and fro. Chew Loh's cunning voice rang as it used to, singing that super-beng discotique track.

The last time i met Molly was during Chinese New Year earlier this year. She, Steven and myself were car-pooling back to Penang from KL. And it is as if with a blink that Molly and I were hanging out at Cosmopolitan Bar.

That picture was taken by her camera phone. One of the latest Samsung slim 'push-up' phone. The quality is not bad. This one, on the left is taken by my stupid Sony Ericsson K610i. Molly knew her aesthetics. While posing for the picture she deliberately strike it by slanting from one side so that her chubbiness trims down. Cool.

While drinking and chit-chating, Cecilia walked pass in front of me with her friends. Shouted at her but my voice was being buried by the massive crowd.

On Friday night, right after my shift, i met up with Molly at Causeway Point. Surprisingly Penny was there too. But she has to leave early to finish her work. After that, i sent Molly back to Karen's aunty's place. Met Karen and her parents there. At first we were chatting, tried to catch up with one another. Then Karen's dad joined in and start talking about theology. He is in his final year at Penang Baptist Seminary. I'm grateful for his sharing. He shared about his struggles, the importance of servanthood, Roman Catholicism view on Chinese ancestral worship, Joseph Prince, and many other stuff. Besides that he commends Watchman Nee's Spiritual Authority to me.

In the end we talked until 1.45am. We prayed and hugged (never cross my mind to hug Karen's dad but i thought that is an appropriate gesture). Both Karen and Molly already sound asleep in the room! So i had to leave them without saying goodbye.

MOLLY! KAREN! I miss you!

Reach home at 2.30am. Slept at 3am. Woke up at 6.30am to start another day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pass Down The Love/ Leave A Little Love Behind

In the weekend, Heavenly Harmony (one of our company's voluntary choir group) was priviledged to witness to the pedestrians at Orchard Road through musical skit and songs. They prepared a short skit with the message of giving love away is the way to have more love.

After the skit, they sang Heavenly Melody's "Ba Ai Liu Xia" (Mandarin: Pass Down The Love/ Leave A Little Love Behind) which was based on the Chinese author Ms. Liu Xia, whose work with the disabled gained nation wide sympathy and recognition.

The song is so distinct from Black Eye Pea's "Where is the Love?", though both songs centred on the theme Love. The Pea's is not constructive and lead no one to no where except inspiring people to shove out more complain about the world.

I've translated the lyrics here:

A day will come when my brain wears out;
O, please allow my wisdom stay;
A day will come when my arms lose their strength;
O, please allow my experience stay;
A day will come when my limbs failed to carry me;
O, please allow my determination stay;
A day will come when my heart stop beating;
O, please allow my love to stay.

Leave a little love behind to shower the world with exuberance,
Leave a little love behind to make the world more livable.

Oh Beng Kee, The Heartlander Evangelist

Last Sunday i was involved in one of the neighbourhood outreach organised by Bethany Emmanuel Mission Church and my company. Right before the event starts, as i was warming my seat at the first row because was managing the powerpoint slides, Rev. Oh Beng Kee walked past infront of me and seated 2 chairs away at my right.

I didn't know the church had invited him.

Once the hymns were sang and the introduction had been given by the church's pastor, Rev. Oh went up to the stage, holding his mic and started to preach.

He started talking about the significance of Christmas. He told us the story of a grandpa whose birthday party has been celebrated and attended by everyone else except himself. He paralleled this story with the current Christmas celebration with many people all over the world celebrating the birthday of Christ without his presence. He further made his point that not only Christ wasn't invited to his own birthday party but people marred this festive season with sinful reasons.

Then he went on talking about the sinfulness of humans. He told a story of how a durian seller feels triumphant for cheating money from a couple of tourists. His own experiences weren't denied being shared with the congregation. Some time ago a person rebuked him after one of his evangelistic rally. The person asked him to stop accusing people that they are sinful and in need of Jesus Christ. How could one be sinful when one didn't "sar ren fang hou" (Mandarin-commit any murder or burn any houses)? Rev. Oh responded calmly by first calming the emotional man down. He then responded by asking him "Have you hated anyone before? When you hate someone, didn't you wish to have him killed? The difference between you and a murderer is that the murderer has enough gut to carry out the murder."

Rev. Oh then told a story of a lady who found out about her husband's unfaithfulness to her. Since then she hadn't stop cursing for her own husband to die. And when her husband died, she consulted a Taoist spiritual medium of her husband's whereabout. The medium told her that due to her husband's bad deeds, he has been reincarnated into a cockroach. And thence onwards, she kills cockcroaches that she sees.

This is the real state of 'hatred'. The Bible plainly states that hating someone is the same as commiting murder. The only difference is that in this world, most people are gutless to carry out what they most wanted to do because of the legal punishment.

Then Rev. Oh tripped on expounding biblical truth by relating sexual offences with lust, untamed tongues with burning flames, and theft and robbery with coveteouness.

Then comes the limelight.

He told a story of two identical twin brothers. The only unindentifiable feature between the two is their behaviour. One is a disdain crook while the other is an ideal gentlemen. The crook brother is of no good to anyone. Every imaginable bad things have been done by him. Then came a day when a loanshark approached the crook brother for payment while he was playing mahjong. As a taboo, the crook brother hates to be sought payment during mahjong matches because it brings bad luck. Add to the fact that he was already losing money, in that frenetic mood, the crook grabbed the steal chair beneath him and slammed it at the face of the loanshark. As the chair smacked, plashed his blood onto the crook's garment. Everyone around shouting for the cops. The crook realized that he had just commited a crime and everybody is witnessing agaisnt him. At the moment when the world seems to be crumbling down on him, he suddenly remembered that there is a brother that he could still seek for help. And with such hope he ran out from the mahjong centre to his brother's place. As he ran, the witnesses accompanied the just-arrived cops chase after him from the back.

When he reached his brother's house, he knocked on the door as hard as he could. His brother was awaken by the noise and went to open the door. When he saw the blood stain on his crook brother's shirt, without a second guess, he knew probably what had just took place. Promptly, he asked the crook to take off his shirt while he, himself, taking off his own. Then he passed his clean shirt to his brother, asking him to put it on, while he was tugging on the blood-stained one.

When the cops arrived with all the witnesses, the one who is wearing the blood-stained shirt walked out from the house and surrendered himself. He was being led away handcuffed. At the court of justice the eye-witnesses were testifying agaisnt him, accusing him for the crime that he hadn't done. Eventually the court and all the world pointing their fingers at him saying that he is guilty. But in the midst of all these people, there is one person who knows that he is not. That is the crook brother.

A simplistic and beautiful narrative that brings out the gist of the doctrine of the atonement.

From there, Rev. Oh continued to explain the pardon from the highest authority over crime, and in our case, sin. Then the altar call.

That day, several heartlanders came to received Jesus as their Saviour. Soli Deo Gloria

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The God-Driven Life

Agora supposed to have an evangelistic pot-luck yesternight but all agorians (so Christians) turned up and non non-Christian was there. Though a little disappointed yet the fellowship was none the less edifying. In fact it's under God's sovereign ordination that the event turned out to be what it is; an Agora fellowship. And under the same providence the management of the room mis-managed can caused double-booking, so we get to used the function room free of charge. And to think about it, it would be purpose-defeating if money still were to be collected for what it turned out to be not what the money was meant for.... providence! hahaha

Benjamin facilitated the fellowship last night. He did well. Relevant questions were raised concerning our vocation and our life as Christians. Everyone shared. Thus everyone got to know a bit more about everyone in what we do or going to do and the REAL struggles that Bible-believers face.

The one main struggle that most of us share is money. We are weak when it comes to this. The power of money and its guarantees seem overwhelming. Some of us are thinking of how to get rich, some are struggling with wealth, some are looking forward for better paying job etc. As for me, i'm born to love riches, as i told them. Thus it's a big struggle for me especially when there is a calling for a humble lifestyle, not only as someone going for theological training, but as a Christian.

I shared with them a conversation i had with one of my client that embarassed me. He asked me when am i going for 'full-time' ministry. As i didnt want to talk about it with him, i simply tried to avoid the topic with a reluctant answer, 'Full-time' ministry doesn't guarantee wealth.

And so, I thought, the topic has been avoided. But he stared at me sympathetically and said, "You disgraced God and your brother and sister in Christ..." I was speechless at once. It hadn't dawn to me so explicitly that each decision and respond that we make reflect on who God really is to us and how do we really worship him.

Repent, repent~

Besides i shared about my application for sponsorship for theological training. It started with realizing the passion of doing what God wants me to do through stages of discovery and providential situations. As things keep moving, unconsciously, i've shifted my passion to do what i believe to be God's will for me to solely my passion to be doing what i wanted and hope to do. It's slippery and i fell.

Pr. Joseph Teng corrected me by redirecting me back to God. He reminds me that i shouldn't place my hope on people but rather on God. Sometimes tangilbility appears to be more reliable than things that cannot be seen. I dont deny its truthfulness but when it comes to God, it is a different category altogether. God is one tangilbility that cannot be seen yet demands some degree of faith in him.

Life should be driven neither by purpose nor reason, but God Himself.

To say that it's driven by purpose is too slippery (purpose is god), to say that it's by reason is too positivistic and arrogant (reason is god). Life itself is ever-living and not meant to be monotonous. It's dynamic. Thus Life drives life. YHWH being the God of the living drives the lives of his ever-living covenantal people whom he called through and for the ever-living Christ.

Repent, repent~