Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My fav Cyril stage magic Act

Ever since I saw his magic hamburger trick on youtube years ago, I have been a great Cyril fan.
I love the fact that he is so cool on stage too. I can only dream of being 1% as cool :-(

I thought I'd look up his stage act on youtube as I really loved the way he choreographed his act to his selected music.

Sadly the original music has been removed due to some possible copyright concerns and another piece of something else dubbed in. Glad I downloaded the video with the original long ago.
Anyway I am sure you will still enjoy his act even without the extra beauty of the nuances of his moves to the original music.



I searched a little more to see if there might be another video of his award winning stage act with the original music and found this video entitled "Cyril vs. SG Cyril". It has Cyril's act with the orginal music but placed side by side with a copy cat act by a "Cyril wannabe" from Singapore.

Nice for a change that the butt of the jokes is not that of a "so called top" Malaysian magician. But for me it is educational to see the difference in quality and how low the standard is in Singapore and Malaysia and how so many fool themselves into thinking they are great magicians when they are really poor. Some of us Malaysian magicians in the club I belong to are currently discussing how low the standard of magic in Malaysia has dropped and how sub standard acts win "self proclaimed top level local competitions" with typical Malaysian overhype and then claim the titles proclaiming they are the "best in Malaysia" etc

Made me think of spiritual counterfeits and how easily we can allow ourselves to be deceived and accept as genuine and good junk. Look at the huge difference in Cyril's act and the Singapore copy cat (which is pretty unethical in the magic world) who won 2nd place in a Singapore competition.

Monday, March 30, 2009

only in NZ

My Kiwi buddy Ken send this to me ...

Being a New Zealander is about driving in a European car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, whilst travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows, on a Japanese TV, through a Chinese Sky decoder.


And the most NZ thing of all? Suspicion of all things foreign!


Only in NZ
can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in NZ
do supermarkets make sick people walk all the way to the back of the shop to get their panadol, lemsip etc while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in NZ
do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries and a DIET coke.

Only in
NZ do banks leave both doors open and chain the pens to the counters.

Only in NZ
do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars on the drive and lock our junk and cheap lawn mower in the garage.

Only in NZ
do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won't miss a call from someone we didn't want to talk to in the first place.

Only in NZ
are there disabled parking places in front of a skating rink.

NOT TO MENTION...


1
New Zealander dies each year testing if a 9v battery works on their tongue.

42 New Zealanders
were injured in 1999 by not removing all pins from new shirts.

22 New Zealanders
are injured each year by using sharp knives instead of screwdrivers.

5
New Zealanders have died since 1994 by watering their Christmas tree while the fairy lights were plugged in.

New Zealand Hospitals
reported 2 broken or dislocated arms last year after Xmas cracker-pulling accidents.

Around
50 New Zealanders are burnt each year ironing their clothes while still wearing them

9 New Zealanders
had serious burns in 2000 trying on a new top with a lit cigarette in their mouth.

A massive
143 New Zealanders were admitted to A&E in the last two years after trying to open bottles of beer with their teeth

And finally...


In 2003---
14 New Zealanders were admitted to hospital with fractured skulls incurred whilst throwing up into the toilet.


If you're proud to be a Kiwi send this on
!!!


Permanent residence permit - indefinite

This morning I went to the Immigration office and in half an hour I got my Indefinite Permanent residence permit. This means I can stay in NZ as long as I want (and can leave for as long as I want and can still return). Praise God for this!!

Another milestone. ...

Yesterday I had the privilege of leading someone to Christ, supported by my wife and two church members. So another milestone! This one is not just permanent residence in the new heaven and earth but alos for heavenly citizenship. All glory to God!!

And now I prepare to go out for lunch to celebrate the occasion and hopefully will get to share the gospel message with another person over lunch!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Have we become over PC? The "moustache controversy"

A couple of days ago on "The Breakfast Show", TV presented Paul Henry joked about a female guest's (live but she was not in the studio) "moustache". Now there's a small debate on it.
Interestingly while I was watching the show, I was thinking "does she know she has a very obvious moustache?" It was a bit distracting. But I doubt I would have made jokes about it. But I can't deny that I thought about it (not the joke part but the fact that she had a moustache).

Anyway the link has loads of comments both vilifying him and supporting him. Makes me wonder where the line is between "saying things as they are, and being sensitive to people's feelings". I guess that some people are more sensitve than others about their looks etc. I know that for some people going bald is nothing to worry about but for others it would be a major trauma.

The Bible reminds us to "speak the truth in love" . So how do we do this without being ridiculoulsy PC? Hmm....

Even the report below uses the term "implied she had a moustache." ....

Do you think Paul Henry's 'moustache' comments were amusing or offensive?
2:15PM Friday March 27, 2009
Updated: 8:32AM Saturday March 28, 2009

Paul Henry angered TVNZ viewers with his antics on Breakfast this week when he insulted a guest speaker and implied that she had a moustache.

Anti-nuclear campaigner Stephanie Mills appeared on the show to speak about the compensation awarded to victims of French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Do you think Paul Henry's 'moustache' comments were amusing or offensive?

Some examples of contrasting comments :

What disturbed me was Paul's complete unwillingness to take advice from Ali Mau and others in the newsroom about sharing such insensitive comments. He didn't get it. Smacks of narcissism. Although Ali made strenuous efforts to curb Paul at the time, she unfortunately tried to rescue the situation the next day by saying that Paul was only repeating readers' e-mails. I found that disappointing.The clip shows that he added a few of his own.
-------

Is there no place in our "modern" society for manners and respect? She made the effort to be a "guest" on the show and he humiliates her on national tv.
The "we're too pc brigade" bemoan the breakdown of core society values and then applauds this idiots insensitivity as humour. They obviously don't see anything wrong with being crass and rude to their house guests.
His trivial dismissal of PCOS, ovarian cancer as causes for excessive hair growth just shows his class.
No doubt he laughs at cancer sufferers with bald heads.
Save some money and close the show down.

----------

i love paul henry for the fact he speaks his mind. most of us folks in the normal world would have probably thought what he said anyway - plus . didn't he read out a letter from somebody else regarding the matter?
--------

Amusing. Yes, he's a bit of a pompous git, but he's the only thing 'Breakfast' has going for it, and TVNZ for that matter. Frankly, he makes a nice change from the everywhere of personality-free presenters and their humourless viewers, who have been rendered brain dead by the tripe that TVNZ passes off as "quality television".
------

We complain about NZ being too PC, yet when someone tells it like it is we're all up in arms. You can't have it both ways people.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The power of a quick, simple question ...

This is a business cum "magic" related free resource article from a blog by Julian Franklin. I found it interesting not because I am thinking of moonlighting as a part time magician but for the insight on the numerous possibilities / huge potential a simple question can have.

It got me thinking of how "conversations" naturally develop and how a well thought question can change the "quality" or direction of a conversation. I thought about the the classic EE question that was so powerful in its heyday ... "If you were to die today and ....."

I also thought about the way preachers / evangelists end their messages / presentations with that one final question / challenge...

I thought about how some questions can be manipulative and am wondering about good honest, sincere and important questions that need to be asked but are often (?) not asked?

Then of course I began to think about how Jesus loved to ask questions ... and how insightful his questions were....

So now I have questions about questions! LOL ... and I am wondering what important question (s) I should be seeking to answer in 2009 (though the first quarter is almost over).

Anyway ... enough rambling, here's Julian's article ....

-------------------

The other day I went into a fast food restaurant that will remain nameless just because some people will probably take this article the wrong way and I don’t want a good business to suffer because of it.

I ordered a simple combo-meal that included a drink and fries. The clerk, who happened to be a manager named Julienne asked me “Medium or Large?” It was such a quick and innocent sounding question that I almost answered before thinking.

“No, a small will be fine, thank you”. She completed my order and as she handed me my receipt and tray of food I asked her a question that she clearly didn’t feel comfortable answering.

I asked her how many of the people accepted one of her two options and went with either medium or large. She said she didn’t know. I pushed until she admitted that it was at least 85-90%.

This simple upsell adds either 59 or 99 cents to each meal ordered. As each combo normally runs about $5-6 that’s a 10-20% markup on EACH meal sold. The best part is that it costs the restaurant almost NOTHING to fulfill delivery. A slightly larger soda costs them a penny or two in syrup and fractions of a cent for a larger cup. The difference between a small and medium sized fries is non-existent. Only the cardboard box changes size. Basically the same amount of product fits in each size box. The large holds a little more than the small but even then, you’re talking about potatoes: just about the cheapest food product on the planet.

So for virtually no cost at all they are able to increase their revenue by 10-20% just by asking one single, very simple and almost automatic question. The secret is to ask the question systematically, to EVERYONE who orders a combo meal and to ask it EVERY single time.

I’m still trying to work out exactly how this principle can be applied in my business. There is something about the assumptive quality of the question and something also about the two-options format. But basically it is a simple question.

Do you do birthday parties? Are you willing to do Goodie bags? (I do the former, but not the latter). Maybe you could add a simple question like “Do you want us to handle the goodie bags for everyone or are you going to put all those together yourself?”

Not as clean as “Medium or Large?” but it gets that conversation started. I’ll bet that’s got to be worth a few thousand dollars a year for the right performers.

Or, if you do awards banquets you might ask “Do you want to include enough magic tricks for every seat at each table or just one trick per table and let everyone kind of share it?” Most event planners might not have even thought about the idea of including magic tricks for the guests, and when they find out that you can provide quality, PRE-SELECTED tricks for less than $2 per person you might just be able to bump up your revenue for the night by a pretty significant amount.

I welcome your thoughts on this. Remember, I’m not just talking about ways to increase revenue. There are countless thousands of ways to do that. I’m talking about doing it with a question. A single, very simple, question that is asked near the end of each transaction.

What is YOUR question for 2009?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fun magic workshop a blessing to children

Newspaper report involving Anslem Roy :-) It was an encouragement for me to read this story.


Taken from Thestar Online.

A fun and fruitful break for kids

By OH ING YEEN

ABOUT 30 children from Compassion Home in Subang and Rumah Kids in Klang made good use of the recent school mid-semester break to build their confidence and discover their talents through fun activities.

The youngsters took part in a three-day Young Ambassador programme that was organised by PJ Live Arts and held at its studio in Jaya One, Petaling Jaya. For the programme, the foundation collaborated with master illusionist Anslem Roy, actress Ida Mariana, volunteers from Palmspring Educentre and Elken Foundation, which was the sponsor.

In his speech during the graduation ceremony at the end of the three-day programme, PJ Live Arts artistic director Datuk Zahim Albakri said the aim was to build confidence and instil positive self-esteem in the children through creative activities such as acting, singing, social etiquette, as well as magic and illusion workshops.

“As an art practitioner, I understand the power of the arts on character development, especially in children. In fact, recent studies have shown that children exposed to drama, music and dance do a better job at mastering academics,” he said.

Actor-performer-jazz singer Ida Mariana felt that the children had given her so much and that, instead of her teaching them, it was the other way around.

“It’s not just about acting and opening up, but also teaching them things like how to receive a hug,” she added.

Anslem Roy, who has been in the industry for 30 years, said that magic was one of the best hobbies for children.

“It forces you to be confident, think with your head, and learn about other things (related to performing magic), such as music, lights, and craftsmanship,” he explained.

He was impressed that the kids were confident enough to present the magic and illusion tricks that they had learnt in the two-hour workshop, which he himself had taken more than two months to master.

The children roared with laughter as they watched a video presentation that featured interesting footages of the programme.

Nine-year-old David Danaraj’s favourite session was the magic workshop and his favourite trick was the one linking two paper clips using a banknote as a prop.

On the other hand, 13-year-old Veronica loved the acting classes. “I love dancing,” she said.

Both are from Rumah Kids.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My 2 cents on the ban on non Muslims usage of Allah

For the sake of a few who ask me questions related to this ...

My understanding is that basically "God"(Elohim) is translated TUHAN and "The LORD" (YHWH) is translated Allah.

The church in Malaysia is divided on this issue.

I think that Christians in Malaysia (in relation to this issue) fall into four main categories. (Hey these categories are not scientific ok? So cut me some slack on this) :-)

The first are those who are not sure what the big deal is. They are basically uninformed or misinformed. This is for you! :-)

The second are those who hold that we should just not use the word Allah, and instead use YHWH (Yahewh) as they either identify "Allah" as an incompatible / inappropriate word for God (due to its association with Islam)

The third are those who simply do not want to get involved and "rock the political boat". For them, this has nothing to do with "us".

The fourth (of which I belong) are those who feel strongly that we should not give way as first and foremost "Allah" is an Arabic word that has been used hundreds of years by Christians before Islam was founded. The fact is Allah is the only word used by Arabic Christians. Indonesian Christians too use no other word. I will give other reasons in a while.

I disagree with the second group of Christians but I do respect their position (I have good friends who are in this group) as they have their reasons and they are thinking of "alternatives".

I however do not think very highly of the third group of Christians because I think that they are simply being selfish. Sorry if I sound judgmental but read on and you might well agree with me. If not ... you can always boycott my blog :-)

To me this BN UMNO led government ban is not just related to taking away basic religious freedom but is being used for devious political purposes, among them to attempt to divide the opposition by creating religious and racial hatred among Malaysians.

Anyone following this "ban thingy" can see that the BN government keeps changing its ruling and rationale behind this "ban". It's a common and totally irresponsible political strategy to keep bringing up the racial and/or religious card to stir up fear and hatred. It angers me for example that they can even make this ruling under the ISA!! As if Christians have ever used the word "Allah" to incite violence and create instability in the country! I posted a response to this in Teresa Kok's blog.

And the latest (which I posted yesterday) is to openly hint that even to discuss this matter could result in violence.

Better and more knowledgeable people can give more details (just have to google) on the the constitution as well as the many inconsistencies etc. I won't get into that but rather bring up something more personal.

In Malaysia, many people (including Christians) forget or ignore the fact that a large number of Christians (perhaps the majority?) mainly or even only use Bahasa Malaysia as their primary language (which includes their church life). BTW, there are other key religious words that have been banned years ago but at least they gave the allowance that Christians were allowed to use these words. Now even this is being taken away. (If I remember correctly, that was in the 80's even words like "Wahyu" and "Firman" among other things were banned -can't recall now)

For any Malaysian Christian to say "it is not our concern and it has nothing to do with us" is to be pretty selfish. Especially to us English speaking Christians - do we actually think we are the majority? Have we forgotten the huge number of Christians in Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia and other people groups?

To ban the use of Allah is to effectively make illegal every single Bible and practically every Christian publication in the Malay and Indonesian languages. Have we ever thought what this ban implies?

I occasionally still sing (i.e. worship) and even pray in Bahasa Malaysia (or is it now known as Bahasa Melayu? - again another related political thing?) and I personally I can't divorce "Allah" from "THE LORD" my God. How much more the hundreds of thousands who only use Bahasa Malaysia? It's like telling me I now have to call my father or mother or wife by another name!

Check out these articles by The Nut Graph if you have the time.

The problem with the Allah ban.

The handling of the Allah usage disappointing

Monday, March 23, 2009

Non Muslims not allowed to discuss the usage of the word Allah?

The latest in the ban of the use of the word "Allah" by non Muslims. Now you can't even discuss the ban?

It is amazing to me that Malaysia is the only country that has this ban ... and now again a "veiled" threat of violence? A very sad situation indeed.

----------

Monday March 23, 2009

Zahid warns Bar to end ‘unwise’ online poll

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has told the Bar Council to stop its online poll on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.

He said it was “unwise” to carry out such a survey, as the move was seen by some quarters as a challenge to Muslims.

“If they (Bar Council) continue to play up the issue, the Muslims may rise and if they do, the Bar should not be angry but be willing to accept the consequences.

“This is the final warning for the Bar Council. Islamic religious matters come under the jurisdiction of the Malay Rulers and if they continue to dispute the authority’s decision on the issue (use of the word “Allah” in non-Islamic religious publications), it means they are disputing the power of the Rulers,” he told reporters after launching the ground-breaking ceremony of Sekolah Menengah Imtiaz here.

“I hope that as lawyers, they respect what has been brought to court. In fact, the Cabinet has decided to put a stop to discussing this issue, and in Parliament, I have put a full stop in having this issue being debated,” he said.

There is a pending judicial review challenging the ban on the use of the term “Allah” in non-Muslim publications.

On Alcohol consumption

I no longer subscribe to Leadership Journal so the Out of Ur blog does keep me in touch with some current clergy issues (at least in the USA context). It was interesting to read that more US clergy are more "open" in their position on alcohol consumption. I wonder if the article will have statistics of any survey done.

On a side note, looks like NZ's legal drinking age is lower than US :-(

From CTi's Out of Ur blog.

March 17, 2009

Trouble Brewing

The shifting views about alcohol among clergy.

In the upcoming issue of Leadership (in print mid April), we’ll hear from a number of pastors—including Craig Gross, John Burke, and Matt Russell—who are committed to taking the gospel to people with addictions.

beer.jpg

We’re also featuring a couple of articles about how pastors can and should deal with their own addictions.

One article I suspect will get people talking is Eric Reed’s report on clergy alcohol use. Here’s a preview: Some younger pastors in traditionally teetotalling denominations are beginning to view bans on alcohol use as out of date. Is their so-called liberty in Christ simply an excuse for bad behavior? Or are the old timers adding laws to the gospel?

Mark Driscoll has thought the issue through (probably because the Pacific Northwest has more breweries than people) and argues that responsible alcohol use is thoroughly biblical.

John Piper disagrees. “I choose to oppose the carnage of alcohol abuse by boycotting the product. Is it really so prudish to renounce a highway killer, a home destroyer, and a business wrecker?”

No, I suppose not. But others see the issue as less cut-and-dried. More on that in April.

Our twin concerns of alcohol and addiction come together in a new online resource from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Rethinking Drinking is an interaction diagnostic tool that helps users determine whether they have a drinking problem. It presents lots of useful information in plain language and with pictures and graphs—information about the signs of alcohol abuse, resources for help, and even a “pros and cons” chart to help you decide whether to change your drinking habits. So if you’re an imbiber, check it out here.

brandon1.JPG

Brandon O'Brien is Leadership's assistant editor.

Posted by UrL Scaramanga on March 17, 2009


There is a link in the article to an interesting website: rethinking drinking. Lots of interesting information.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Puteri Gunung Ledang Musical interview with Anselm Roy

PGLM3 Ida Mariana Interview at Istana Budaya with Roy Anslem, the founder of the magic club (Malaysia) that I belong to (The Magic Annexe!) Congrats Roy!!

If you are not interested in magic, don't bother watching.



Church picnic - 8 March 09

We had a wonderful church picnics. More photos (better ones probably :-)) are posted at my church website.

I found some that Andrew took and most importantly, Jennifer remembered to ask someone to take a photo of us as a family. Finally ... a couple of photos of us together ...
We had it at one of the nearby local parks. This is one of many great things about living in New Zealand, the lovely wide open green space. Interested to see where we went, click... Cornwallis Park. It was a BYO lunch to share event which was great as there was so much variety of food and members friends and family who would normally not come for church events would join us for a time fo relaxation and some organized fun games. Did not go swimming though ... brrrr... am amazed how some of the children can take the cold water...
Games was fun as we had another "Youngies" versus "Oldies"competition - this tome a FEAR FACTOR style competition and the OLDIIES won!!























Nice to know that we were evenly matched till Lye Chye and myself won hands down with the goldfish in your mouth transfer. We Church Elders have got surprising skills :-)


Our first BBQ at our NZ home

Been a long time coming. We enjoyed numerous BBQs but never hosted one ourselves. We decided to wait till we got our own place. Then we decided to wait till year 2 for a good deal on a BBQ pit. We finally bought one in Nov 08 which we thought was a good deal. $240 for a 4 burner with a hood. Then we deiced we should put up a pergola for our deck (either back or front) as our house seemed pretty small for a BBQ crowd - of the weather turns rainy.

Then after a couple of months of research we felt we should wait and not spend the money to build a pergola.... and finally after so much procrastinating, and lots of creative ideas and advice from friends as to how to do it with limited space and weather contingency plans we decided to just "DO IT!" ...And of course that was over a month ago and I am only now finally finding the time to look at the photos Andrew took and posting some up...


But with a nice overflow of younger ones hanging out in the rooms and the sitting room, and the older ones outside on the deck, using the dining and kitchen area as a walkway, it went well.





The weather especially nice and cooling so the back deck was ideal espe since it was shaed from the evening sun.

It was nice too to be able to celebrate Jin's birthday with a huge durian cake :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Magic duo's hilarious act

New blog ... so thought I'd embed some of my favourite youtube magic videos.
I love this duo's act.... I think it is destined to become a classic.

Lazy e-mail financial scams?

Every month or so, a financial scam e-mail sneaks out of the spam box into my in box. This one was the laziest I have ever seen!! They did not even bother to spin a good yarn... Are these "scammers" getting lazy?

---------------

You have just been awarded,the sum of £950.000.00 GBP in the Global Online Promotion, held March. For Claims email your details to:edmund.clive2@btinternet.com

Names:............
Address:..............
Country:.................
Age:..........
Sex:..............
Phone/cellphone........
regard
Mrs Joan Thomas

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Marriage celebrant


Today it becomes official :-) May not be a big deal here in NZ ... but for me especially from Malaysia when the government makes it sooooo hard for church leaders to be an assistant registrar of marriage, it is a big deal.

Now who wants to get married? LOL!!

Coming Together in Poverty (Nouwen)

Another nice devotional thought by Henri Nouwen ... I think it is especially appropriate in view of the current economic downturn. Opportunities abound for true community to grow.

Coming Together in Poverty

There are many forms of poverty: economic poverty, physical poverty, emotional poverty, mental poverty, and spiritual poverty. As long as we relate primarily to each other's wealth, health, stability, intelligence, and soul strength, we cannot develop true community. Community is not a talent show in which we dazzle the world with our combined gifts. Community is the place where our poverty is acknowledged and accepted, not as something we have to learn to cope with as best as we can but as a true source of new life.

Living community in whatever form - family, parish, twelve-step program, or intentional community - challenges us to come together at the place of our poverty, believing that there we can reveal our richness.

2 legged dog "Faith"

"Dr. Haiwan" sent me this via e-mail. Thought it was a "jolly good yarn" (this seems to be a common Kiwi phrase :-) ) and would pass it on. Nice "feel good" motivational story though I think the concept of using this dog to "preach that even without a perfect body, one can have a perfect soul' (???) is overdoing things.

-----------

This is 'Faith'

This dog was born on Christmas Eve in the year 2002. He was born with 3 legs - 2 healthy hind legs and 1 abnormal front leg which need to be amputated. He of course could not walk when he was born. Even his mother did not want him.


His first owner also did not think that he can survive. Therefore, he was thinking of 'putting him to sleep'. By this time, his present owner, Jude Stringfellow, met him and wanted to take care of him.
She was determined to teach and train this dog to walk by himself. Therefore she named him 'Faith'.


In the beginning, she put Faith on a surfing board to let him feel the movements. Later she used peanut butter on a spoon as a lure and reward for him to stand up and jump around. Even the other dog at home also helped to encourage him to walk. Amazingly, only after 6 months, like a miracle, Faith learned to balance on his 2 hind legs and jumped to move forward. After further training in the snow, he now can walk like a human being.


Faith loves to walk around now. No matter where he goes, he just attracts all the people around him. He is now becoming famous on the international scene. He has appeared on various newspapers and TV shows.

There is even one book entitled 'With a little faith' being published about him. He was even considered to appear in one of Harry Potter movies.



His present owner Jude Stringfellew has given up her teaching post and plans to take him around the world to preach that even without a perfect body, one can have a perfect soul'.







Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Backsliders" have a "network"? "What?!"

I don't know how to respond to this news article I just got. It's not April 1st is it? It's an actual book on sale at Amazon.com. ... Is this meant to be serious? My only response so far has been a poor imitation of David Letterman doing his .... "What?!" "What?!""What?!" and again ... "What?!"


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Christian 'Bounty Hunters' Generate Income by Exposing Backsliders

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

IRVINE, CA (ANS) -- For many years churches around the world have been drained morally, spiritually and financially from the internal decays caused by backsliders lurking within their congregations. (Backsliders are 'believers' who have lost their initial zeal for the more sanctified lifestyle, have perhaps fallen back into some old sinful behaviors or maybe have even gone so far as to renounce their faith altogether.)

Fred Popke

But now, there's a unique opportunity for Christians to actually benefit financially from exposing backsliders - whether those backsliders reside within their congregations or not.

For numerous years, investigative journalist, Fred Popke, went under-cover to understand the heart and the mind of the backslider. To his astonishment, he discovered that most backsliders actually belong to a very well-organized network.

"They are considered the fastest growing 'religious' sect out there right now," Mr. Popke noted. "They even regularly share their insights, tips and techniques with one another on how to become, and continue to live as, 'efficient' backsliders."

His "exposé", entitled My Utmost for Mediocrity - The Backslider's Devotional Handbook (available at www.Amazon.com, www.AbeBooks.com, www.Alibris.com and other retail channels), is a collection of the "devotionals", or hidden secrets and strategies, that backsliders use to thwart the good intentions of any loved ones trying to bring the backslider "back into the fold".

"I initially published this work so that Christians could understand what's taking place in the hearts and minds of the backsliders," Popke added. "I also meant for it to be a tool for those interested in reaching out to someone who was backsliding. Maybe a reason or a justification contained in the Backslider's Handbook, shared with a wayward son, daughter, husband or friend would spark some dialogue and ultimately lead to some significantly positive results."

However, he claimed, as soon as the "Backsliding Community" (www.BackslidingInfo.com) learned of his exposé, they were "outraged and moved to block the book's sale and public distribution."

Cover of Popke's book

The organization cited that Mr. Popke had not given proper credit to any backsliding individuals, listing all of the contributors as "Anonymous". The group also charged that Mr. Popke was not making any share of the royalties available to any contributing authors.

As a result of arbitration/mediation, Mr. Popke has been instructed to publish ongoing versions/releases of the work and incorporate new submissions from additional contributors. He has also agreed to enable contributing authors to receive compensation from future edition book sales.

"And therein lies the opportunity for Christians," Mr. Popke pointed out. "I don't believe that 'backsliders' are really going to make significant contributions to future editions of this work. So, any church, or Christian individual, who can write a paragraph or two, capturing an insight or a tactic that backsliders use, can earn a 'bounty' by 'turning in' these backsliders' stories."

Anyone wishing to contribute to the next edition, already being compiled, can find all of the pertinent information at www.MyUtmostForMediocrity.com.


Dan Wooding, 68, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 45 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS); and US Bureau Chief for the Missionaries News Service (www.missionariesnews.tv) and Safe Worlds IPTV's Faith, Hope and Charity channel. He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC., and now hosts the weekly "Front Page Radio" show on KWVE in Southern California and which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on UCB UK and Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloid totruth.com. E-mail: danjuma1@aol.com.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gout attack!!

Aaaahhhhh! Gout attack. Been trying to stave it off for a few days but I seem to now be losing :-( Aiyoyo, foot hurting. Think I aggravated it when I went hospital visitation. Maybe a wee bit too much walking.

The good part of course is, its my left foot so I still can drive :-) And I can worknow barefoot :-) Wonderful advantage of having my own office. it is still not full blown so I am hopeful my flooding my system with lots of fluids might still work.

What is gout?

Gout is a common type of arthritis (joint inflammation). It causes sudden bouts of pain and swelling, usually in just one or two joints (the ball of the foot is commonly involved), and which, left untreated, last from days to weeks. These bouts of acute gouty arthritis are also called gout attacks.

Gout affects men (middle-aged generally) much more often than women. Gout is closely linked with the body's level of uric acid - a normal breakdown product of digesting certain foods. High uric acid levels and gout attacks can be treated by your doctor. ....


Food and gout ...

Table 1: High or low purine food sources

Food Sources of Purine

Total purine content

(mg of purine/100 g food)

Liver
286.4
Kidney
230.8
Poultry
130.7
lamb, roasted, chop
127.5
Pork, roasted, chop
119.0
Fish, white, fresh
115.9
Mushroom, fresh
46.9
Bread, crusted
15.7
Bread, white
12.2
Wheat flour
11.5
Cottage cheese
8.0
Plain yogurt
7.0
Rice, cooked
5.9

Table 2: Purine content in meat organs, seafoods (fresh and canned), and vegetables (legumes).

Purine food sources Total purine content (mg/100 gram food)
Organ meats Total purines
Pork liver 289
Chicken liver 243
Chicken heart 223
Beef kidney 213
Beef liver 197
Beef heart 171
Lamb heart 171
Beef brain 162
Lamb liver 147
Fresh seafoods
Anchovies 411
Sardines 345
Salmon 250
Mackerel 194
Clams 136
Squid 135
Canned seafoods
Sardines 399
Herring 378
Anchovies 321
Mackerel 246
Shrimp 234
Tuna 142
Oysters 107
Salmon 88
Clams 62
Dried legumes
Blackeye peas 230
Lentils 222
Great northern bean 213
Small white bean 202
Split peas 195
Pinto bean 171
Red bean 162
Large lima bean 149
Baby lima bean 144
Cranberry bean 75
Garbanza bean 56

According to a study that compared free and total purine bases content in meat products (steak, beef liver and haddock fillets) before and after cooking, cooking appears to increase the level of free and total purine bases in a diet. Total purine content is based on the sum of all the four purine bases.

Table 3: Purine content in raw and cooked foods.

Meat products

Total purine content

(mg of purine/food)

Liver, raw
202.2
liver, boiled
237.0
liver, broiled
236.1
Steak, raw
105.9
Steak, boiled
107.8
Steak, broiled
121.0
Haddock, raw
101.7
Haddock, boiled
94.7
Haddock, broiled
118.7

Table 4: Purine content in chicken parts (listed high to low).

Purine sources

Total purine content

(mg of purine/food)

Liver, chicken
236.1
Drumstick, chicken
132.3
Breast, chicken
130.7
Gizzard, chicken
130.5
Thigh, chicken
126.5
Skin, chicken
104.6

Alcohol drinks also contain purines. There is strong association between high consumption of alcoholic drinks and uric acid levels in the blood, and consequently gout. Below are estimates of purine content in alcoholic drinks analysed by British researchers.

Table 5: Purine content in alcoholic drinks (beer).

Alcohol drink

Total purine content

(mg of purine/Litre)

Traditional British beers 20.3 - 27.5
Guinness 23.8
Lager beer 17.7
Home-brewed beer 3.9
Cider 0.4

"A burning bush" - some reflections and "ramblings"

I just posted the "article" below is as part of my church's "Pastor's Notes" column. Thought I might as well also re-post it here ... and add in a few more of my reflections and "ramblings". I do find this "lectio divina" exercise (even if it is "on the run") very helpful.

--------------------

One book I am currently reading (about a chapter a week) is "Spiritual Formation on the Run" by Dr. Alex Tang. The reason for the "slow reading" is deliberate. It is to help me learn to apply an ancient spiritual discipline practiced in the early church called "Lectio divina". It is basically something that comprises four parts or movements.

1. Reading / listening (lectio)

2. Meditating (meditatio)

3. Praying (oration)

4. Contemplation (contemplatio)


Here's an interesting chapter that has been a challenge and blessing to me. I have only ever so slightly "Kiwinized"a few words. (Note to Dr. Alex - I have put in bold the two "changed words" :-) ) Why not take your time with this "devotion" and try the "lectio divina" approach?


A Burning Bush

If you are driving along the motorway and see a bush that is burning, yet is not consumed by the fire, what would you do?

1. Whip out your mobile and call the fire department;

2. Ignore it and drive by to your next appointment;

3. Slow down, get out of the car, join the rest of the crowd to see the spectacular free show;

4. Recognise the presence of God?

While knowing our civic duty to call the fire department, most of us will not do so. We do not want to get "involved." Someone else will call, that is our justification. However, that may not stop us from calling our friends to tell them about the fire. Many of us will ignore the burning bush and just drive on. We are always in a hurry, and there is so much to do and so little time to do it. Some will get out to look at the burning bush. "How do they create this special effect?" — they may wonder. "Are they making a movie?" Very few will recognize the presence of God and even fewer will move close enough to hear the voice of God, as Moses did (Exodus 3:4).

What we choose to do is a reflection of our spirituality. Many of us have the "do not get involved" attitude. Let someone else do it. We know we are to love our neighbours (Mark 12:31), but let us not get too involved. Many too suffer from the "hurry" syndrome. We spend our days rushing from one task to another, filling our lives with stressful hurry. We forget the one thing needful (Luke 10:41). There are also those among us who love the spectacular and like to be entertained. A burning bush. Wow. What a spectacular pyrotechnic show. Very few of us will notice the presence of God. Why? Because we are so attuned to the natural world, so centered on our own lives, that we are not open to the presence of God around us. What the mind does not think of, the eyes do not see. That is why Paul urged us to train our minds (Romans 12:2).

There is a story of two fish in an ocean. They set off on a quest to find water, which is said to have special qualities. Water gives life and can exist in three states: liquid, solid and vapour. The fish spent many years searching, yet they could not find this water. One day, they asked a wise fish, "Where can we find water?" The wise fish replied, "Water? It is everywhere. You are swimming in it!" Are we like these two fish? We are living in the presence of God, yet we are not aware of him. We see a burning bush and disregard it, not realizing God wants to speak to us. Let us be mindful of the presence of God in our everyday lives and not miss "a burning bush."

-------------
Okay ... additional reflections and ramblings ...

I have been listening over the last couple of week's Juwita Suwito's CD, "Brand New World". I really like the music and some of the songs in particular have no overt Christian terminology. But they have been a blessing to me. I find that "interesting". Does a song have to be "Christian" to be "spiritual"?....

I think too of how strange it is that on Saturday I was "jamming" and "harmonizing" with a friend (2 guitars) and singing some "oldies" with some friends and someone I had just met (half of them non Christians) and there was so much "soul" in our simple singing. There was a strange connection among a group of people whose relationships range from close friends, friends, acquaintances and practically strangers! In a weird way it was almost a "holy moment" where it was as if God was helping me connect with others through "secular music".... Makes sense in a way as it was a natural way to connect and build friendships ...

And I think too of how some "secular songs" (even some with not so great themes) bring about in me an awareness of God and some of the pains in the world so much greater than most "worship songs".

I think in particular of two "suicide songs" that never fail to move me and make me reflect on life and my calling, always ending with a prayer to God - (and it makes me think of Markus too as we both love these 2 songs) - "Vincent" and "Alone again (naturally)". How strange ... but then again God is always present and is very real in the least expected places ....

Anyway, I had better end here ... maybe more reflections next time ... this chapter is taking a very long time .... :-)

But here's the lyrics of the above mentioned songs (Do note that is so much more meaningful when listened to or sung). AND I MUST ADD THAT I FIND THAT THE ANSWER TO LIFE'S SADNESS IS THE REALITY OF KNOWING THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST!!

ONLY IN THE DARK
The raindrops fall incessantly / Each time I think the sky's letting up / There seems to be another cloud / Bringing the dark / Coming right at me

So often I can't see the road ahead / The blinding headlights loom then go out again / But suddenly I find that I don't need to strife /'Cause I realize I am rising, I'm flying and...

Chorus: Only in the dark when I can't seem to see / Ilearn to hear Your whisper that's been guiding me / Reach out for the hand that bears the light / So my step is right / Only in the dark

Now each day's a step that's lighted up / And the ' questions asked won't make me stop / 'Cause I know no matter how I feel / That this is real / And I'm slowly getting to a place where its not...

Bridge: So let the shadows come / And let me run into Your arms where / I can feel the warmth of Your touch - unmistakable / Leading me on, loving me on, turning me on / Though now it seems to be that...

VINCENT

Starry starry night
paint your palette blue and grey

look out on a summer's day
with eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills sketch the trees and the daffodils
catch the breeze and the winter chills
in colors on the snowy linen land.

And now I understand what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen they did not know how
perhaps they'll listen now.

Starry starry night
flaming fllowers that brightly blaze
swirling clouds in violet haze reflect in
Vincent's eyes of China blue.
Colors changing hue
morning fields of amber grain
weathered faces lined in pain
are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

And now I understand what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
perhaps they'll listen now.

For they could not love you
but still your love was true
and when no hope was left in sight on that starry starry night.
You took your life as lovers often do;
But I could have told you Vincent
this world was never meant for one
as beautiful as you.

Starry starry night
portraits hung in empty halls
frameless heads on nameless walls
with eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the stranger that you've met
the ragged men in ragged clothes
the silver thorn of bloddy rose
lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

And now I think I know what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen they're not list'ning still
perhaps they never will.


ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY)

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to who
Ever what it’s like when you’re shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a church
Where people saying: "My God, that’s tough She's stood him up"
No point in us remaining
We may as well go home As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to well wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much, as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God and His mercy
Or if He really does exist
Why did He desert me in my hour of need
I truly am indeed Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
broken in the world that can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

Alone again, naturally
Now looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul,
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baptism photos 15 March 09


Baptism service on Sunday 15th march. Photos are all mixed up and in the wrong order :-) I guess next time I need to upload the last photos first ...

Thanks to Ken who took these great photos and lots more.

Matt gave a special item / dedication. Max preached a very insightful sermon on baptism.

Jamie read Scripture in public for the first time after his baptism.

Jin Guo gave a very moving testimony of her journey towards baptism.

Aalekha sang a beatiful song on being born again as a testimony, accompanied by her father Gladwyn.

Various parents and friends gave testimonies, insights into the candidates and prayed for them before they entered the pool.

The technical and support team prepared the sound systems /special video feed, got the pool water nice and warm, organized the smooth changing out of wet clothes into dry clothes in super time ... and practically everyone chipped in with great food for the occasion.

And I had the joy of being the baptizer!