Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today's Malaysian newspaper links

In the STAR Malaysia news today ....

Kartika's whipping upheld by the Syariah court. So now what happens next? How will it be done? When will it be done?

Country must bring back its talents says Najib. And I wonder what exactly are these incentives that the government will offer to keep the talents at home?

MIC will not allow any other Indian parties to join BN. Because they are the only ones who can bring in the Indian votes for BN?

Indian parties advised by Najib to back BN. Whether or not they are in BN. I am confused. If they are not allowed to join BN, then could someone explain again to me why should they support BN?

Oooh ... more interesting is the NST ... Lat cartoon gallery!!! I miss Lat cartoons! Now this is one aspect of Malaysia at its best

Thank you for giving to the LORD (Pastor's Notes)

Just posted up my latest Pastor's Notes which is basically the lyrics of a song and a youtube video!
It's a great song that when I first heard it in the 90s made me cry ... rediscovering it again in video form was a blessing. But I know that despite how powerful the song may be, posting about it now might open up a huge can of worms ... But hey, it is a great song so I will take the risk ...

Here's another youtube video of another song by this singer / writer. I have this song on CD and it is very moving. Nice to find a youtube version. Hmm... it seems you can find almost anything on youtube nowadays ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mental block?











Boy, can I identify with these two comic strips ...

Half full (in my mind because I know I need to be optimistic) but still full of backwash :-( * In reference to politics in the world ...


Now when it comes to my sermon preparation .... it's all over the place ... so much but wrong time! :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1 Malaysia all the way?

Interesting article full of sacrasm but I doubt the current Malaysian government will ever go the way of the Taliban simply because it's all about MONEY, SEX AND POWER.

What troubles me the most is the thought of all the scandals eventually becoming old news and swept under the carpet. Anyway, the article from Malaysia Today

1MALAYSIA. PRINCIPLES NOW!PDFPrint
Posted by admin
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 21:57

By Hakim Joe

It is a sad day indeed when the government and religious organizations start to turn one cheek but forget to turn the other cheek.

Malaysia is after all a multiracial and secular nation. The federal constitution does not state that Muslims cannot do this or that but the government itself is trying to regulate their lives en masse and henceforth affecting the lives of the other one-third population of Malaysia who are not Muslims. (Read article by RPK “Go all the way or no way” athttp://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/26055/84/.)

When the government initially (but later rescinded) banned Muslims from attending the concert by Black Eyed Peas at Sunway, what was it trying to say? Shouldn’t it be a case of “going all the way” and not being selective? If that is the case, please consider these six proposals as well.

One. Disengage all Muslims from the evils of alcohol and their related mechanisms. This can be achieved by issuing a law that no Malaysian of the Muslim faith can work in a distillery. Mind you, not only the main complex where alcoholic drinks are being produced but the marketing, administration, bottling, labeling, packing, distribution and retailing as well. We must also not forget the financial sectors that do the financing and the taking of deposits from these breweries and distilleries, the advertising sector, the agricultural sector that produced the malted barley, hops, starch and yeast, and the two most important essentials of all, the utility giant called Jabatan Bekalan Air (or it associated companies) as they provide the most important ingredient of all, water, and Tenaga, because they provide the electricity to run these machines. Let us also not forget the people and companies that provide other services to these breweries and distilleries. The companies that provide the cans and bottles, the packaging companies that makes the paper cartons, the printing companies that prints the labels, the forwarding companies that exports the products etcetera. We should also not forget the mega supermarkets like Tesco, Jaya Jusco, Giant, the Store and what-nots that retails them.

Two. Disengage all Muslims from the evil of Western influence, particularly music from artistes and bands that are “undesirable”. Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Metallica, Rihanna, Deep Purple, etc. Now, issue forth a legislation barring Muslims from working in the music industry and especially in western controlled or owned music labels plus companies like radio stations, satellite tv stations (remember MTV?), music stores, recording label companies like Sony, EMI, Warner Music, BMG, RCA, UMG and Polygram, and the associated companies like those that import these music, the transporters, the financial institutions that provide the banking facilities, the recording studios, the packing, printing and labeling companies, the CD or DVD makers, etcetera. Ditto for the supermarkets that retails them and we should also ban Muslims for working in any associated companies like Sony TV or Matsushita TV as these factories provide the medium for broadcasting these undesirable music, and all the Hard Rock Cafes or any place that has live bands (unless they are singing Islamic songs). We should also include the electronics retail outlets that sell them. Additionally, there is the film industry as well.

Three. Disengage all Muslim from working in non-halal conditions. This should include foreign labor of the Islamic faith. Ban Muslims from working in places that serves pork and alcohol, and all the associated (down line) businesses related to them. If a 5-star hotel has a Chinese restaurant, ban Muslim from working in that hotel. If a Japanese or Korean restaurant serves pork, ban Muslims from working there. In fact, make it compulsory that these eateries have a big label on its front door that says that pork and alcohol are being served here. Additionally, enact laws to make it illegal for Muslims to eat here. Pubs and discos are also out of bounds for Muslims. Police the areas in Bangsar, Damansara, Ipoh Garden South and anywhere that has these businesses. Make it a crime for the proprietor to admit anyone of such faith into their premises or even be present near such places (sounds from the western music carries).

Four. Disassociate all Muslim industries from Jewish owned (or controlled) and associated companies (fendyoasis would just love this). Estee Lauder, Time Warner, Disney, Levi’s Jeans, Dreamworks, Viacom, Yahoo, Vidal Sassoon, Oracle, RCA, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren (Polo), Citroën, Starbucks, Nickelodeon, Dell, Warner Brothers, CBS, MGM, Universal Studios, Chelsea Football Club (Roman Abramovich is a Jew), Columbia Pictures, eBay, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, BitTorrent, Häagen-Dazs, Toys R Us, Mattel, Olivetti, Chanel, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, DKNY, Baskin Robbins, Revlon, Facebook, Danone, Touchstone Pictures, ESPN, HBO, Dunkin Doughnuts, CNN, Gucci, Colgate, Bloomberg, Hyatt Hotels, Caterpillar, Timberland, Roche (Novartis), Tesco, Reebok, Real Networks (RealPlayer), AIG, Motorola, Citigroup, Monsanto, L'Oreal, Burger King, Johnson & Johnson, Nike and a whole voluminous list of others. Create a database here in Malaysia that list such companies and make it compulsory that these businesses possess a big label stating that states that their company and products are Jewish, or Jew related and all products labelled accordingly. Enact laws in Parliament to specifically forbid Muslims from working and having anything to do with them and tear down anything Jewish-made that was installed (PDRM would have to be the first to remove their police software system followed by Telekoms with their Cisco routers).

Additionally, disassociate from foreign companies that have the distaste of either hiring Jews as their CEO or has Jews in their board of directors or is actively hiring Jews. These companies include Microsoft, Dassault, Lehmann Brothers, Fiat, Liverpool FC (Yossi Benayoun is a Jew), Portsmouth FC, QPR FC, Birmingham FC, Blackburn FC, Yukos Oil, Reuters, Harley-Davidson, General Dynamics, Max Factor, Manchester United FC (Malcolm Glazer is a Jew), Intel, Sibneft, Wynn Casinos, Ziff Davis (ZDNet) and a whole lot more. Create an “anti-Jewish” government department to monitor and regulate it (with official raids into Muslim homes to check if their children are watching cartoons produced by Dreamworks or Disney, or possess toys sold from Toys R Us or Mattel). I for one propose Hassan Ali to head this department and Fendyoasis as its Chief Enforcer Supremo.

Five. Gambling dens or specifically Genting Highlands. Ban Muslims from that place and assign other race PDRM officers to police it. Same with Berjaya Group (Sports Toto), Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd (Magnum 4D), Pan Malaysian Pools (Damacai), and the various turf clubs. Make it illegal for Muslims to be associated with these companies or any company that does business with them (including all the mainstream newspapers as they print these results).

Six. Set up special companies that disassociate with the above five where Muslims can work without worries and the products and services offered (by these companies) can be purchased and used without reservations. This would include the entire range comprising of financial institutions, food products, non-food products, electronic products, textile, furniture, books, toys, tobacco, films, etc. Another thing is that these items can only be retailed from “special” shops that once again have nothing to do with the above five.

Malaysia Boleh. 1Malaysia lagi Boleh. Ole…ole…

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finding life amidst the curse of death (Pastors Notes)

Just posted up this Sunday's Pastor's Notes


And this comic strip panel has nothing to do with the devotion. I just think it is funny and wanted to share it :-)

some comics to start the day with


Some fun comics that was in my inbox ....



Monday, September 21, 2009

A week's roundout of ramblings

Last week was a busy (as I expected). The four magic shows went relatively well. The good to me were was I think we made over $2000 which will come in very handy for our junior subsidies for our 2010 magic convention. Will know the figures at our next meeting. Also, we had 2 juniors perform and they did well.

The not so good was for me the lack of professionalism of some performers (in particular a guest performer). For a supposed professional, he had no stage presence and made so many basic mistakes and blunders that made so many of us cringe. Despite setting aside a day to set up and have a full dress rehearsal, not everyone took this seriously and this to me affected the quality of the show. It made the job of those of us who worked on the support (lights, sound, stage) very tiring. I think this is something most performers do not understand. Those of us in the background help make them look good, especially those who require music and special lighting and effects. Even seemingly simple things like not taking seriously where you enter and where you bow makes a huge difference in how "good you look". I appreciated very much two performers in particular who were professional in their approach which made my job so much easier. No need to "chase" them and remind them of what they needed to do to enable the support crew to do our jobs well.

For someone like me who has to do performances with no support crew and in difficult settings, no proper stage, no dressing room to set up, poor lighting and bad angles etc., it makes me wonder why some performers don't take full advantage of what is being offered.

So anyway, some of us made a list of things we would like to see done and agreed upon for our next show, including the direction of club which we will bring up at our next meeting. So all in all, I think the outcome will be positive.

Sunday service was particularly wonderful yesterday. It was one of the special days where I wished the worship time (as in singing) would not stop. Wonderful choice of songs, and synergy among worship leader, musicians and singers. God's Spirit was clearly present. Been a while since I could hear the the congregation's singing so loudly. I sit on the front row and there are some very strong voices right behind me. Everything tied in so wonderfully with the sermon as well.

What was a highlight for me was having lunch after church with a young adult and "formalising" a mentoring relationship. Permission to speak into someone's life is a huge responsibility and privilege. I have a very high regard for this young man and he has been an encouragement to me in many ways so I am very excited at our reaching this new level in our relationship. That's a good high note to end this post ... :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rejection in prayer?? (Pastor's Notes)

Posted up this week's Pastor's Notes. Related to prayer and rejection.

Busy week ahead ... pragmatic spirtuality ramblings

I have a busy week ahead. Busy in part due to some unexpected appointments added to my list of to do stuff, as well as my taking leave for 2 days for my "stage manager" commitment. It looks to be an exciting week though :-)

I read somwhere a long time ago that Martin Luther or John Wesley (well, one of those giants of the faith) was quoted as saying something along the lines of "I have so much to do today that I need to spend an extra hour in prayer to accomplish all I need to do! I don't think that's how the quote goes but the concept was something that got my attention. Unfortunately it is one of the things that make sense but not too often practiced in my life. Which is strange as it is something that from my little experience actually "works".

As ugly as it sounds, "Pragmatic spirituality" is attractive :-)

So I guess I should end this blog post prematurely and do something else more spiritually pragmatic?


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ramblings on "50 first dates"

It's been a busy but nice day.

And even as I wrote this blog, I am enjoying winding down the day watching one of my favourite movies - Fifty first dates. I've seen the show twice already (on Astro). There's so much I like about the show, despite some stupid slap stick scenes with Rob Schneider and some weird supporting cast. It helps too that I have been a Drew Barrymore fan since her debut in ET.

It's not just a great love story of a guy for a girl and his willingness to sacrifice everything for her. It is also her great love for him and her willingness to sacrifice for him. Then it is equally about the great love her family and friends have for her and the sacrifices they make for her, and how too she cjooses to sacrifice for them so as not to be a burden to them. And background sub plots too revolve around friendships that Henry with his friends.

Many memorable scenes, funny as well as moving .... "Nothing beats the first kiss" :-), The scenes with the Walrus ... and the one in her studio.

And two of the songs in the soundtrack are some of my favourites - The Beach Boys classic "Wouldn't it be nice" and the "Somewhere over the rainbow" performed by Israel Kamakawiwo`ole.

It doesn't matter that there doesn't seem to be a real Goldfield syndrome or that the idea of the two getting together is not realistic. Its fiction but it's a great feel good movie :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Not Another Leadership Seminar (Grace@work)

Another thought provoking piece by Soo Inn. Thanks "Yoda!" :-)


GRACE@WORK MAIL 37/09
September 11th, 2009 Edition.
This ecommentary is sent out free but your donations help this ministry in its commitment to bring truth to life. Details below.
(Grace@Work Mail is a ministry of Graceworks: www.graceworks.com.sg)


Commentary: Not Another Leadership Seminar
By Soo-Inn Tan

Think of a few leaders you admire. How many of them were effective leaders as a result of some formal leadership training they received? Ruth A. Tucker has this to say about leadership training:

[Enrolling in a seminar to learn how to be a leader is as unfeasible as taking a seminar to learn how to teach . . . Teaching elementary piano lessons, for example, requires a different set of skills than teaching calculus . . . If leading covers the categories of everything from playground monitor and supermarket produce manager to president and pope, then there is no effective way to teach leadership . . . training for leadership is mostly a waste of time. (Leadership Reconsidered, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008, 38.)]

And a waste of money. But leadership training is big business. Just look at the number of books, magazines, seminars, courses, institutions, etc., committed to leadership training both in the church and in the marketplace.
But as Robert Banks observes, commenting on the ever growing number of books on leadership:

[While most of these books discuss the nature, forms, and styles of leadership, they pay little attention to the popularity of such discussions. It is simply assumed that the interest in leadership is the result of its importance rather than particular cultural factors. Little attention is also given to a theological evaluation of current views on leadership . . . (Reviewing Leadership, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004, 11)]

Here, I need to confess that I will also be teaching a course on leadership.
(See http://bgst.edu.sg/mainsite/). As I struggled to put the course together, I realised that the key leaders I encountered in the bible were not very conscious of their leadership, or indeed, of themselves. I came to see that the key leaders in the bible were motivated by their love for God and for people.

Like many others, I use Nehemiah as my main case study on leadership. Here is the account of the beginning of his journey of overseeing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem:

[These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes' reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.
They said to me, "Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire." When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:1-4 NLT)]

From the above account, we see that Nehemiah was not thinking about himself or about leadership. Instead he was deeply concerned for the welfare of God's people and for the name of God.

[We speculate, of necessity, on the exact historical circumstances. What is clear is that the people is "in great trouble and shame", and that this shame reflects upon God in the eyes of the world. (J. G. McConville, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, Philadelphia, PA: Westminister Press, 1985, 75.)]

Nehemiah was someone who was living out this part of the Lord's model prayer: " . . .may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9b-10 NLT)

There is much we can learn from Nehemiah about the practice of leadership. But as Robert Banks hints, perhaps we have put too much emphasis on leadership itself to the neglect of other more fundamental concerns.

Few will dispute that the chaotic times we live in calls for good leadership. However, should our first concern be to raise as many effective leaders as possible, or at least do as much leadership training as possible? Perhaps Nehemiah's story is giving us another lesson. Perhaps our first duty is to help nurture our people to be people who are sold out on the twin loves, the love of God and the love of neighbour (Mark 12:28-34).

When someone lives his or her life by the twin loves, he or she will look out at the world, and be deeply disturbed by the state of affairs. Such people, like Nehemiah, will then be moved to prayer and to do what is necessary for the glory of God and for the welfare of the people. Usually they will find that they cannot do it alone and will then seek to enlist others in the process. But at all times, their horizon is the will of God and His glory. Leadership is what happens. But note: such folks are not aiming to be successful leaders. Their first concern is for God's will to be done and for God's name to be glorified.

Ruth Tucker also suggests that we move our focus away from leadership to legacy:

[Leadership is as fuzzy as it is shady and slippery --- fuzzy in that it is so universally used without comprehension, and shady and slippery because bad so easily masks as good and often cancels out good . . . Legacy, on the other hand, is much more accessible and more easily understood. It is for everyone. All of us one day will have our legacy judged. . . As we contemplate our legacy footprint, we must honestly assess our lives. What are we living for and what will we leave behind for generations that follow? (Tucker, Leadership Reconsidered, 215 - 216.)]

Nehemiah's legacy was a wall and much more. He also took measures [ . . . to increase the population of Jerusalem and to correct social, economic, and religious abuses . . (helping) to preserve the people of God, the oracles of God, and the promises of redemption against that day when God would fulfill all the old covenant yearnings and hope in the person and work of Jesus
Christ. (William Sanford La Sor et al, Old Testament Survey, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982, 655.)]

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

Donating to Graceworks

If the ecommentaries have been helpful please consider donating to
the work. How?

1. Pay by Cheque/Drafts:

Make cheques/drafts out to:

GRACEWORKS PRIVATE LIMITED

and send them to:

GRACEWORKS,
Ghim Moh Estate Post Office,
PO Box 161
Singapore 912736

NB. All cheques and drafts banked in Singapore must be in
Singapore currency.


2. Pay by Credit Card: Visit www.graceatwork.org to pay via PayPal
with any major credit card.


If you have difficulties with the above two payment options do let
us know. (Malaysian supporters can transfer money to a Malaysian
bank account. Please ask me for details.)

Write us at: enquiries@graceworks.com.sg


==============================
=====

Ecommentaries are archived at www.graceatwork.org
Newer ecommentaries are also posted at www.graceworks.com.sg

To sign up for this weekly e-reflection, go to the Grace@Work website,
www.graceatwork.org


But Nehemiah's legacy didn't start with a Harvard MBA. It all started because
a senior civil servant far away from home had his heart broken with the
things of God.

What will be your legacy? What will be mine? What does it mean for us to
love God and neighbour in the stations that God has placed us? What drives
us to weep and to pray? These are the leading questions.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Letter from a Malay Singaporean and a strange dream

Go this from Teresa Kok's blog ...

Letter to The Straits Times
SEPT 3, 2009

I am a Malay Singaporean and I am proud of it though the label “Malay Singaporean” often seems to make little sense to people outside of South-east Asia.

In my travels to other countries and in my current place of residence in the United States, I am often quizzed as to the meaning of this label.

“You mean, you are Malaysian?” I am asked. Or: “I thought Malays are Malaysians?”

My answer, each time, is “no”. Regardless of how often I have to repeat myself, I try, each time, to explain the differences between Malay Singaporeans and Malay Malaysians.

I say that history had united us and then separated us. Political leaderships and national policies have made us very distinct from one another.

This was not always the case. For many years after Separation, the racial and religious identities of Malay Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore took precedence over their national identities.

However, things have changed drastically over the past few decades and much of that has to do with how politics shaped the two communities.

I first realised how different I am from Malay Malaysians when I stayed in a kampung in Negri Sembilan for a week. I was there for a mini research project with some students a mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans, plus a few foreigners. We stayed with host families in a Malay village.

After the first four days in the village, I felt something was amiss. I could not put a finger on what it was. It was only when I was hanging out at a roadside stall and saw a Chinese man that it dawned on me what I was missing: I had not seen a single non-Malay person (outside of my student group) for four whole days!

The Chinese in the area lived in a separate village across the street while the Indians lived in yet another village near some plantations. In Seremban, I saw a building for a Chinese leisure club and another for Malay games or social activities.

Click HERE to read the rest of the letter. Worth your time.


Okay, here's the strange dream .... literally a dream I had last night ...

I woke up about 4 AM this morning at after having this dream. I though it strange and then went back to sleep. Then I got up at 7.00 AM and I remembered the dream. Normally after I go aback to sleep I remember I dreamed something but the details are all fuzzy.

I am not saying it is prophetic dream or a dream from God etc. Probably due to a mixture of my thinking and praying for Malaysia and catching 30 minutes of the final episode of what I thought was a really dumb reality show (Who wants to be a superhero!)

Okay, need to go off on a tangent for a while (it is related) before I get back to the dream ... In my defense, I saw like 5 minutes of the show when it first came out and decided not to watch it again, but since last night was the last episode, my curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to find out how the show would end and what exactly it was all about. Really cheesy but it was a Stan Lee thing and in the show, Stan was interviewing his three finalists and I was impressed that his criteria he was looking for was the old fashion superhero attributes - honesty, integrity, courage, selflessness, grit ... the make the world a better place thing. Which was why in the final three was a really ridiculous "superhero" .... a woman who went by the super identity "Hygenia" (Cleans up both dirt and crime! :-) ) Well, whatever her super power was it rhymed ...

Anyway ... back to the dream. ...

In my dream there were a group of I think twelve (can't recall but somehow twelve seemed to be the number in my mind ... which probably relates to my recent reading of the book of Revelation!!), all wearing really fancy jackets that in my mind were a cross between Malaysian batik and the royal regalia that Malaysian sultans / rulers wear. But they were not the rulers as they were not all Malays. I saw them as Malaysians in my dream.

On each of these jackets were pieces of red gems (rubies) - shiny but clearly parts of a huge gem/ crystal. It's the kind that is super large (bigger than a human being kind that you only see in comic books cause they do not exist in our reality) ... Anyway ... in this dream the 12 are talking and in my mind it was clear that these 12 are rulers of some kind who control the power that allows them to rule over the Malaysian people. But there was a crisis. The country was falling apart and chaos was beginning to show in different parts of society. (In the dream it was more dramatic- reality was unravelling ... comic book cosmic crisis style!). So all twelve were gathered to attempting to solve the problem and standing around a kind of machine where a bright light was emanating from it. The source of the light was not clearly identified in my dream but it seemed to me that it was a higher being of intelligence. (Hey I believe in the God of the Bible and not an impersonal force - I am just describing my dream). And basically the message was clear. The broken shards of the red gem that each of the twelve shared gave each of them real power. But the gem had been in pieces for too long and the pieces needed to be reunited in order that the danger of the reality collapse might be averted. But for that to happen, they had to give up their power as individual rulers and surrender their rulers' jackets (in which the gems have been embedded) and place it in the light so that the gem could be made whole again.

In my dream there is a hesitation among the twelve as the shards of the gems gave them a lot of power. Many argued against giving it up. It was too big a sacrifice. Some argued that they could handle the reality breakdown as they had enough of the pieces of the gem to be personally protected and even protect their particular part of the realm. Basically, let the other parts of the realm perish, as long as mine is secure. Some were quiet but could be seen (in my dream) to be considering how to take advantage of the situation.

Then one of the twelve, who seems to be the most powerful one, who I think has the most pieces of the broken gem on his jacket does the unexpected (or expected depending on how optimistic you are about life). He removes his costume (more like jacket) and places it in the light. There is a bright flash of light as the broken pieces of gems begin to reform. But in the scene, this is not enough and so he turns to the others to see if they would follow suit ... and as my dream ends / fades, I see a few seemingly moving to remove their jackets but others seem unmoved, with looks on their faces that seem to say "you're an idiot to think I will give up my power!!".

That's all folks!!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting out of your dungeon of resentment (Pastor's Notes)

Just posted this Sunday's Pastor's Notes. It makes reference to a comic strip :-)

Catch up ramblings in mid Sep 09

I have not been blogging the last few days as among other things , I have been busy. I am taking a couple of days off next week so I want to be sure I do not fall back on things I have to do. Taking off to do my part for my local Magic club's annual show. It's important to me to do this as I need to ensure my mind is now just totally wrapped up with church / ministry related matters. It feels great to be able to do something different and at the same time know that my efforts are appreciated and do make a difference. However this does not meant that I see my involvement with my magic club as something unspiritual (or of little spiritual significance). Building relationships and friendships with different people is to me of spiritual significance.

One of the things that I believe the so called traditional evangelical church of today is missing a strong relationship component. Not the time to try to expand too much on this but I do not want my life (or that of my local church) to go the way of "better" programs and activities and lose the personal touch, the individual and people / community focus. I think it is vital that as a pastor I be able to relate and be accepted by people outside the church (while still being "separate").

In a way, it's not difficult, but in a way it is also difficult... It's not difficult in the sense that everyone is made in the image of God. No matter how "different" a person may seem to be, we all share many common attributes that naturally allow us to connect with one another. What's is often difficult is making the "right connections". Often, what makes it difficult for me is my introverted nature (and I suspect strange as it sounds, deep insecurities) and the reality that genuine relationships takes time to build.

I find it interesting that despite the very real barrier of living amongst people of a different culture, there is so much commonality. Anyway, enough rambling on this ....

-------
My level of table tennis has dropped badly. Have not played properly in a long time and yesterday was beaten lost by a couple of juniors in the school team. This is bad :-( Not in terms of ego but I need to up my game if I am going to be of practical help to them. Now where can I get in some decent practice? I am still not used to the new 11 game, 2 points change service system. Not enough time for an old guy like me to analyse the game style. And my bi-focals are not helping either :-) But it is nice that I am slowly getting to know some of the youth better.

--------

Working on 2010's pulpit ministry has been interesting (though a bit tedious). Evaluating speakers and working out the schedule is not easy. It is going to be hard to cater for everyone as our church is so diverse in spiritual maturity, age, cultures and command of the English language. But the good part is, that it is very educational for me. I think I might be preaching more in 2010 and doing mini series as well ...

--------
I am reaching the stage where I almost do not want to read any more news on Malaysian politics. It is so depressing and sometimes I even get angry. Even with the UMNO controlled (not led) government's decision to prosecute some of the cow head protesters (after dragging their feet and even defending them), I will not be surprised if they are acquitted or just given a slap on the wrist and the whole affair just brushed off as insignificant. Just look the photo of the six who are being charged. Repentant? Somber? Nah ... laughing, cocky and victorious! I suspect they know from past experiences, that with time and political manipulation, everything turns out ok. ..

I can tell that Malaysia is in a really bad way when a pro-government newspaper's online portal has no choice but to have such headlines ...


Thursday

September 10, 2009

Daily human rights violations in Malaysia, people need to act

Human rights violations continue to occur almost on a daily basis in Malaysia, said Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman. As an advisory body without executive power, he said there was nothing Suhakam could do to ensure the Government responded to and acted upon on its recommendations -- the solution lay in the hands of Malaysian voters.



Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Brand new "old" Spiderman

Reading Malaysian politics has been depressing. All the flip flopping and stirring up hatred ...

So it was nice to find new comics in the local library that provided something light and breezy.

Borrowed a spider-man graphic novel- a compilation of The Amazing Spider-man #546-551 which included a couple of specials. (BTW, different cover from the one on this post - which I copied from somewhere on the internet ...)

And I like it very much because it returns the spider-man storyline back to the good old days (late 1960s) It's a new spidey but also the old spidey. I like the direction that the new executive editor Tom Brevoort is taking the title. A consolidation of the three spiderman titles back into one title and while there are five writers (at least from the graphic novel compilation I am reading - which is already a few years old ...) they are writing within some broad guidelines.

What I like is that they have used a dark and moving storyline of the "One More day" storyline to "re-launch spider-man". I read that graphic novel a few months ago.

BTW, I found the "One More Day" storyline dark because it involved Peter Parker and Mary Jane making a deal with Mephisto (a demon) to sacrifice their marriage in order to change reality so that May Parker would not die. It was dark because it gave a demon powers that they do not have (hey, I am not just a Christian but a pastor!) . The demon of course had his reasons - the love between Peter and Mary Jane was so deep and unselfish that he was willing to do this in order to gloat at God by destroying this love and be able to torture them in this new reality because they will always have an emptiness in a part of their soul but they will never know why.
In summary, reality is changed and while events generally happened as they did, the results and consequences were different because Peter and MJ never fell in love and never married. That part of their life is missing. Thus May Parker lives (and the writers could bring back a great supporting cast of Harry Osborn., Liz Allen, Betty Bryant, Flash Thompson etc) to relaunch this new "universe".

It was moving because it was story of great sacrifice by both Peter and MJ as both loved May Parker so much. And also a brilliant twist where MJ cuts a side deal with Mephisto so that one added condition that nobody remembers that Peter Parker is Spider-man. So in addition to May Parker living, Peter no longer needed to deal with worrying that his enemies would come after May Parker again in this new reality.

Anyway ... this re-writing of Spider-man is nice as it is a clean slate yet has continuity. But best of all is the decision to refocus on Peter Parker as Spider-man rather than a full-time spider-man who is incidentally Peter Parker. So Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-man is once again the hard luck hero, the guy who does his best but keeps making mistakes and bad choices. He is the funny, wit quipping misunderstood hero who is torn between trying to live his life and be a hero because with great power comes great responsibility. He has a circle of close friends and an aunt who love him and stick by him despite his often seemingly irresponsible and selfish behaviour (because they do not know he is spider-man).

What is cool is that Peter Parker has issues a 25 year old faces. Trying to make a living, wondering where his life is heading. A more realistic human face. His spider powers are back to the way it used to be - cool but not totally "super" because there are clear limitations. I found it funny how he had to struggle as a disadvantaged" superhero without his web fluid. ... because he did not have the money he needed to get the chemicals to make more web fluid. He is back to being the underdog that struggles and does what he needs to do despite the odds because he knows it is the right thing to do. And all this despite being unappreciated and often vilified for his efforts.

I like it that Peter Parker is back to the guy who will help anyone who needs help because he values human life. He is not the rage filled character of the last decade seeking vengeance and "back in black". It was cool how he risked his life to save a mob's family line.
Great storyline ... (warning - a spoiler!)

Spidey: So what now? What do you want? I don;t get it. You killed all the Maggia dons. Why go after their children? What kind of sick freak would do something like that? What could you possibly hope to gain?

Bad guy: Their family business. One where I've made many inroads. And a business I intend to keep well into my old age. I thought it best to tend to my garden while the weeds were still young. But now thanks to you, that will have to wait. You see, devil's breath contains many rare and costly ingredients. There's barely enough left for one dose.
Your blood spider-man. Give it to me, and I release the girl.

Spidey: You're not kidding are you?

Bad guy (OK, it's Mr. Negative): No. This is a serious transaction.

Spidey catches the syringe like container and plunges it in his arm. Then ...

Spidey: Perfect. A new bad guy who's literally after my blood. So now you'll make a batch that can kill me?

Bad guy: Better. One that can kill anyone in your family (As spidey tosses him the container filled with his blood). Interfere with me again and everyone you love will die. Do we have an understanding?

Spidey: Yeah. Part of that understanding was you letting the girl go.

Bad guy tosses the girl into the river (super strength throw) and spidey jumps in after her. He saves the girl and as he climbs out with her says "Easy, Honey. Looks like your mommy's right here.

Then more dialogue ...

Spidey: She'll be all right.

Mother: Thank you. I don't know how I can ever repay you ...

Older lady (obviously the Matriarch) * all the men have been killed off at another location by the "devil's breath gas"* : None of us ever can. You saved our children, spider-man. Our future. You put our blood before your blood. From this day on, the Maggia will forever be in your debt. You're family.

As spider-man swings off with a scene of police, ambulance and fire trucks arriving in the background, he quips: Wow. That's a real nice sentiment and all ... but did you have to say it so loud right when the cops pulled up? Just what I need: Spider man Mobster." I mean, could today get any weirder?

Welcome back Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-man!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shore is Magic 09

It's that time of the year again. The local magic club I belong to, located on the North Shore (North of Central Auckland) will be having our annual magic show.

Our Club has just received from the government an official "Charity" non profit status in recognition of the fine work it is doing to promote the performing arts, and our focus of working with children and teens.

Much of the credit for the success of the club goes to two professional magicians / entertainers - our President Mick (the one holding the rabbit - whose name is Samantha), and our secretary BJ (the hungry looking clown).

Together with Mark (the one with the cards and dove), who is a semi-pro working his way to becoming a full time entertainer (and anuimla trainer?), these three will be the anchors of our annual magic / variety show. They will be supported on stage by a few other acts from a couple of other professionals as well as a group of of juniors (people under 20). One of them will be "the Weeman" (I have posted a video of him in the past) ...

People like myself and our sound and lights expert, Nathan will be working behind the scenes. I get the pleasure of once again being the stage manager. This year, the job will hopefull be easier as some new members (juniors) of the club have volunteered to assist back stage.

A few parents will be helping with the door sale of tickets and the selling of refreshments and a team of superb close up magicians (junuiors) will be doing pre-show and in between show walkabout magic. I must say that some of them are very skilled.

I think this year the show will be even better than last year's as we have gained more experience AND we have insisted on a full dress rehearsal on Thursday night.

I am looking forward to the shows! One of our juniors will be videotaping the show for the club) which is great as being stage manager means I never get to watch the actual show!

Oh yes ... in case the print on the leaflets are too small for some:
you can get tickets at: www.iticket.co.nz or at telephone 09-361 1000.
Ticket prices are a steal! $10 children and $15 for adults or $50 for a family of 2 adults and 3 children.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More political doublespeak from UMNO (cow head)

I hate it that my blog seems to be more and more on politics .... But isn't this the worse kind of political double speak and outright hypocrisy. I think the videos speak for themselves (see the second one). They didn't know about the cow's head?!?

If BN wants to commit political suicide I pray it is not at the cost of people. All this talk about shedding blood etc should not be taken lightly.


For those who don't understand Malay ... go here for summary report.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some random news today that were of interest (to me)

I wonder what this will mean in terms of Marvel comic book storylines ....

Disney catches comics giant in $4B web

LOS ANGELES - Walt Disney is punching its way into the universe of superheroes and their male fans with a deal announced today to buy Marvel Entertainmentfor $4 billion (NZ$5.8 billion), bringing characters such as Iron Man and Spider-Man into the family of Mickey Mouse and Toy Story.

The surprise cash-and-stock deal sent Spidey senses tingling in the comic book world.

Read the report here ... and here ...

---------

More news of violence in school ... Though I suspect this kind of thing makes the news because it seldom happens. One of my church members works at Lynfield College. My NZ cousins studied there ...

Police to speak to teen beaten up in school invasion

Police will today speak with a 14-year-old boy who was beaten by a group of armed teenagers who stormed his Auckland school while he was in class.

The boys, from various schools, entered Lynfield College in Mt Roskill, armed with a softball bat, about 12.30pm on Monday while the victim was in health class. They started punching - and possibly kicking - him in front of about 28 of his Year 11 peers and their teacher.

Read the report here.

---------

Alcohol sanctioned in school ball? Not sure why this school wants to do this and whether their rationale makes sense ...

School to serve alcohol at next week's ball

A Christchurch school says it may be criticised for serving alcohol to under 18-year-olds at its school ball.

Christ's College holds its $175 a head annual school ball next Friday, complete with three-course meal and a full bar, The Press reported.

Headmaster Simon Leese said parents had given written permission for their children to drink alcohol at the event.

He said parents realised that their sons and daughters would be in an unsupervised tertiary environment next year.

Read the report here

-------

This is even stranger to me .... I like the Headmasters comments ...

"What's disappointing for me is that the parents said 'yes we really like the school and we like all the things you do but here's a rule we don't like so we're just going to ignore it'," Mr Hodge said.

He said his secretary's phone rang hot yesterday in reaction to the Herald's story and support was 20 to one in support of the school.

Students will have their ball, parents vow

The ball will go on, say a group of Year 12 parents outraged by Rangitoto College's decision to scrap balls next year.

Allan Parker, whose Year 11 daughter will miss out on her much-anticipated school ball because of the school's decision, said he would be putting on a "bigger and better" ball for both Year 12 and Year 13 students next year.

There would be no alcohol and plenty of parental supervision.

"The kids next year will not miss out on the ball," he said.

Mr Parker is listed as a director of event organising company Sero
Event Management Ltd.

Principal David Hodge said he had no objections to parents staging an event themselves.

"Parents are free to do what they like. They can have a 'Kelly Brown' party on 364 days of the year. Just please don't associate it with the school."

The board voted to cancel next year's ball after staff were deceived by Year 12 students and their parents who claimed there would be no after-ball but then staged a large-scale, organised function in a warehouse in Onehunga.

Read the story here.

-----

Now this I found interesting. Not sure if such measures will actually help but hey, it is a bold attempt to start the ball rolling. Interesting that one gang are willing to abide by the ban, which is an unexpected reaction. Read that story here.

Timaru considers gang patch ban

Timaru will ban gang insignia after Wanganui's new gang patch bylaw is tested in court, the South Island city's mayor says.

A bylaw passed at Wanganui District Council's meeting on Monday night gave police powers to fine patch-wearers $2000 and take possession of their insignia.

The new rule, touted by its supporters as a bid to stomp out gang intimidation, came into force at midnight on Monday.

The first arrest under the bylaw was made about 12 hours later.

Read the report here

Authorities clash over enforcing gang patch ban

Wanganui authorities already disagree over the enforcement of a new ban on gang patches, as gang members prepare to march the city's streets in protest.

Wanganui District Council banned gang insignia from the city at its meeting yesterday, and the bylaw came into force at midnight

Read this report here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Traditional or Contemporary? (William Willimon)

From a newsletter by William Willimon ... bonus is I learnt a new word :-) - "curmudgeon" which means a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas ...

Traditional or Contemporary?

It’s always nice to hear that something you aid was helpful to another Christian. When that Christian is an Episcopalian, it’s wonderful. While the Rev. Bennett doesn’t say all that could be said on the debate of “contemporary vs. traditional” in Christian worship, it was interesting to see her Anglican perspective on the worship of the church.

G. K. Chesterton once said that being a "traditionalist" means a determination not to automatically dismiss any man's opinion outright just because he happens to be your father.

The buzz these days in the church is whether you attend a church that has "traditional" or "contemporary" worship.

William Willimon, former chaplain at Duke University and newly elected Methodist Bishop of Alabama, (not known to be a curmudgeon) writes this: "I was recently at a church of my own denomination, and I came away frightened, thinking, have I seen the future of the church? The hymns (songs really), anthems, everything had jettisoned the tradition, our language, our metaphors, and our stuff in favor of something called contemporary Christian music. And in my humble opinion, what I heard that day, I just don't think will lift the luggage in the future. As people were singing, praising some vague thing called 'God' who, as far as I could tell, had never done anything in particular, as we were bouncing along praising, I wanted to say, 'you know there are people out there today who just found out that their cancer is not responding to treatment, or who found out their kids won't do right, that their marriage won't survive, or that they can’t keep their jobs, and here we are just bouncing along, grinning, praising God. We've got some good stuff for that kind of thing -- where is it?'"

Willimon speaks of running into a preacher who said his church had had contemporary worship for 12 years. "When does the contemporary stop being contemporary? When we go into our second decade of this stuff." The preacher said, "You mark my word, you've heard it here first; you're going to drive by some Baptist church in Atlanta, and they're going to have, out there on the lawn, an amplifier, a set of drums, and a guitar for sale. We will have moved on to some other infatuation."

Willimon reports that he heard an (ELCA) Lutheran pastor say recently, "We are starting to form new churches that have, as part of their mission, the aggressive, loving nurturance of traditional Christian worship."

The fact is, there is something to be said for using words that have been used in Christian worship for 2000 years, something to be said for using prayers that St. Augustine and St. Basil and countless others handed on to us like the precious gems they are. There are 2000 years of Christians who have pressed them to their hearts, stained them with their tears, and carried them to their deaths. The core of our Christian worship is filled with the life blood of Israel as well. The truth is, not many people realize how ancient are the prayers that we pray and the substance that fills them or how ancient is much of our music. This is not to negate that there is some bad theology in traditional hymns nor the need to bring a freshness to worship or a spontaneous voice to prayer.

It IS to say that what traditional worship gives us is something that is not only unique, but something holy, something that has bubbled up from thousands of years of Hebrew-Christian experience.

There are contemporary hymns I love, that bring me fresh insight into God and my relationship with God. But I will never stop breaking out in goose bumps when the choir sings an "Aye Verum Corpus" or a Gregorian chant that suddenly brings the world of my Christian ancestors so close I can almost reach out and touch them; those who felt that God was worthy of the deepest reverence they could offer.

A student asked Willimon, "How come we always sing these old hymns in Duke Chapel? I don't know any of these hymns." Willimon replied, in love, "Well you'll notice that you won't hear any of this kind of music on MTV. This is different kind of music. You had to get up, get dressed, and come down here at an inconvenient hour of the day to hear music like this. Check out the Ten Commandments. It says that thing about 'honor your father and your mother.' This is our attempt to do that in a small way. To be a Christian is to find yourself moving to a different rhythm, a different beat."

So yes, this year in our church you will hear the ancient words again and you will hear the ancient music again and the reason it will touch you is because it has woven its way into your soul as it did those before us. No doubt, there are things that are new, both tunes and words that will ultimately weave their way into our hearts and souls as well. In the meantime, perhaps the test of whether they stay or leave should be do they give you goose bumps! If not that, then at least it should be something that doesn't just make you feel good, but something that pulls back the veil between God, you, and the rest of the community, so that we are able to perceive just Who it is we come before and worship.

-- The Rev. Virginia L. Bennett, St. Andrew's, Episcopal Church, Edwardsville, Illinois

(From The Anglican Digest, Easter A.D. 2005.)

Will Willimon