Friday, April 30, 2010

Reasons to eat?

Hehehe. These 2 comic strips are good summary of my situation - a broken weighing machine is not helping either :-) *sigh* have to get a new weighing machine as no more excuse as there is now one on sale for $10.49.



Thursday, April 29, 2010

Magical advertising

A friend sent me this. Now this is magical advertising at its best!!

Writing, Opening a Deep Well (Henri Nouwen)

Writing, Opening a Deep Well

Writing is not just jotting down ideas. Often we say: "I don't know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down." But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself. As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Max and Helen Liddle's Golden Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was the Golden 50th Wedding Anniversary of our church's beloved former Pastor Dr. Max Liddle and his wife Helen. They were married on 27th April 1960 in Ootacamundalam, South India.

Max and Helen have impacted the lives of countless people and continue to do so in their golden years. They have been incredible pastors (both of them) to me and I thank God for them.

More celebrations this Saturday and Sunday! :-)

New with continuity and not just a renovation (Pastor's Notes)

Just posted up my latest Pastor's Notes. To read, click here

Blood down the drain

A song written and sung by Gladwyn Gomes, one of our church members who currently lives in Wellington.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just do it (spiritual formation on the run)

Busy - busy - super busy. More than busy - also stressed ... so re-centering time! This is a chapter in which my ramblings are long overdue ... :-)


JUST DO IT
Chapter 28 of Alex Tang's Spiritual Formation on the Run

First the chapter, then my ramblings ...

I have always been fascinated by the Desert Fathers and Mothers
who lived in the fourth century. These men and women left behind everything they had to live in the hostile deserts of Egypt, and later Syria and Palestine. The desert is a deadly, unforgiving environment. In the day, the sun bakes the land mercilessly while the nights are freezing cold. Yet these people left behind comfortable, secure lives and loved ones to live alone in the desert. They moved there to fight the demons in the desert, and the demons within themselves. Like Jesus' temptation in the desert, these elders sought the purifying furnace of the desert to encounter God. Though we are separated by 1500 years, cultural, social and linguistic differences, the teachings and sayings of these elders have much to teach us.


A brother said to Abba Poemen, "If I give my brother a little bread or something else, what happens when the demons spoil these gifts by telling me that it was only done in order to please people?" The old man said to him, "Even if it is done to please people, we are still obliged to offer what we can." He told the following parable.


"Two farmers lived in the same town. One of them sowed and reaped only a small and poor crop, while the other did not even take the trouble to sow and, as a result, reaped absolutely nothing. If a famine comes upon them, which of the two will find something to live on?" The brother replied, "The one who reaped the small poor crop:' The old man said to him, "So it is with us: we sow a little poor grain, so that we will not die of hunger."


Abba Poemen has given us two important lessons on serving or ministry. First is that no matter what we do, it will always come out of impure motives because of our fallen nature. There is no such thing as pure altruism. Everything we do will be tainted by our sinful nature. Somehow, pride and a desire for power, glory and affirmation will dog our every action. Does this mean we do not do anything? Abba Poemen said even if our motives are impure, we still need to serve others. This reminds me of the disciples who complained to Jesus that some people were baptising people in His Name. Jesus' answer is illuminating - so what, they are also doing God's work! (paraphrased Mark 9:38-39)


The second lesson is that we have to sow even if the harvest will be meagre. In the parable, Abba Poemen did not elaborate on the soil condition in the town. The soil must have been so infertile that the second farmer did not even bother to sow. Yet the elder said, "So it is with us: we sow a little poor grain, so that we will not die of hunger." There are times when our service seems to fall on such hard ground. For all that we put into our labours, the outcome is so discouraging. We became frustrated because we do not see the fruit of our labour. Those whom we serve do not appreciate us. Our loved ones misunderstand our calling. We burn ourselves out in an effort to generate "results." As we look at our own service or ministry situations, we maybe tempted to give up like the second farmer. Jeremiah, often known as the "weeping prophet;' never did see the fruit of his labour. In spite of his preaching, his people refused to repent and he saw the destruction of his beloved country. Yet Jeremiah persisted until the end. Explorer and missionary Dr David Livingstone made one convert in all his years of hard work in darkest Africa. Yet his explorations opened the way for others to follow, and the years after his death saw the opening of Africa to see the Light.


Abba Poemen's message is simple: Just serve the Lord as faithfully as you can. Sometimes we can be so hung up on the whys and wherefores that we lose sight of our calling. We are called to be faithful servants.

-----

WARNING! The following ramblings meanders even more than usual ...

I think one of the problems I have (that many will identify with) is that it is hard for me to say NO. I tend to say YES quite readily, and then much farther down the road (from hindsight) I wonder if it would have been wiser to have said NO. 

What's good is that I have generally figured out the areas where I will almost always say YES to. So at least since I know, I can be more aware - theoretically that is. But maddeningly this is not necessarily the case! Perhaps it is not the wisest thing to do to share what they are! LOL But perhaps just two as some elaboration   is needed for this post to make sense.... The first is opportunities that will open doors for kingdom related work. And the second is when good friends ask for help. So now you know two, so please don't abuse this knowledge! :-) The trouble is of course that even those two general areas cover a vast variety of situations and really, it is hard to say NO in these two areas.

An additional problem I have with saying YES is that the more I do, the harder I work and more involved I become, the more the chances of becoming over worked, stressed out, distracted and / or misunderstood. Yes, even in what would seem clearly to be doing positive things and God's work. My list of "good things" I have done and am doing (or trying to do) that is causing me stress gets longer each year. :-( 

My problem is compounded further in that it is frustrating for me that often for all my best intentions, there are  some situations where my motives are questioned (rather unfairly). Just makes me want to give up. Sound advice that many will give is to ignore your critics ... Easier said than done as my God given temperament is such that I have a tendency to OVER-REFLECT. criticisms stay in my system for a long time. What is good is that if properly considered, analysed and prayed over, there will always be opportunities for improvement and spiritual growth. What is bad is ... hmmm do i even need to spell this out? :-)

I would have preferred a chapter titled. JUST DON'T DO IT! A chapter that will give me more reasons to pack up my bags and join a monastery or something like that! Problem is, of course, joining a monastery will present a different set of challenges where the basic issues of life will present themselves in a new form.

I have a love hate relationship with the phrase "JUST DO IT". :-)  Not because I have anything against Nike, but it reminds me of the title of one of my own sermons that will not let me go - a sermon on the Good Samaritan. And of course after months of abiding this chapter, it keeps coming back to my mind (oh foolish me to keep a file on this topic on my desktop as a reminder that it is a project that is still pending :-)) Then of course I had to preach a sermon last week on The Lost Sheep and Lost Coin (Luke 15:1-10) ... and guess what my next sermon is on? The Prodigal Son *sigh* :-)

Okay, what has helped me. First is that no matter what we do, it will always come out of impure motives because of our fallen nature. Somehow, pride and a desire for power, glory and affirmation will dog our every action.

That is liberating (though it sounds strange) - and I am currently listening (and re-listening) in my car the Pastor to Pastor CDs on Personal Holiness.... (oh the irony). I struggle so much with the reasons why I serve. Why I say YES. I want my service, my relationships to be pure and unconditional. Yet I don't want to fall into the trap of substituting works and service for grace. It is liberating because I think I finally get it (hope there is no relapse! :-)).

It's okay to want to set an example for others. It's not necessarily pride - though a bit of pride is in a way involved.

It's okay to blog about my life and joys and successes, and to preach using positive personal lessons I am learning .Yes, there is the danger of becoming puffed up but it is also truth in real life. It's okay for me to be tired and discouraged and  even a bit grumpy (occasionally). It's part of being a flawed human, and it's okay as long as I also repent and learn and grow to be a better person in Christ.

It's okay for me to grab hold of the many opportunities that have the potential to further the kingdom of God. Yes, even positions that put me into positions of greater authority than I am fully comfortable with. It is a good thing to be willing to serve in such positions when one enters with a deep awareness and fear the temptation of power and glory. 


The second lesson is that we have to sow even if the harvest will be meagre.

It can be discouraging to plod on and not receive encouragement. It is worse when the silence is only broken by criticism and negativity. But the harvest imagery is so precious.  Galatians 6:9-10 has been in my mind a lot the last few years.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 

BTW, there is a connection between Galatians 6:9-10 and the areas in which I tend to say YES ...

After nearly 20 years in full time vocational ministry, I look back and see many failed projects, but just as many successful ones. Not necessarily successful in terms of the original goals but definitely successful in terms of relationships built. These may have been by products but I see these now as the most significant. 
I need to keep this in mind in the many current projects / activities I have said YES to. I need to remember my calling and focus is built around Christ and to be people oriented.

Abba Poemen's message is simple: Just serve the Lord as faithfully as you can. Sometimes we can be so hung up on the whys and wherefores that we lose sight of our calling. We are called to be faithful servants.

Another Suicide (by Tan Soo Inn)

As someone who has in the past attempted suicide, It think that this is another important article by Soo Inn. I am thankful to God that I have good friends who are willing to walk with me when I feel low, and that I am reminded often through Scripture that God loves me unconditionally.


One thing I want to add that I think is important - serving God and others. When we who are in Christ spend time helping others in need, it does help take our minds of some of our problems. I find that we begin to better realize the blessings we have been given. Also we receive great joy when we see how the love and grace of Christ positively affects others in need! 

GRACE@WORK MAIL 16/10
April 23, 2010 Edition.
(Grace@Work Mail is a ministry of Graceworks: www.graceworks.com.sg)



Commentary: Another Suicide
By Soo-Inn Tan

Introduction
----------------
Last week I received a message that a young person, capable, full of promise, her life ahead of her, had taken her own life. The method of choice in Singapore --- jump from a tall building. Although I didn't know her, I was overwhelmed with a deep sadness. It reminded me of the time when I was a dentist in charge of a team of school dental nurses. There was one nurse who was outstanding, far ahead of her peers. She was highly capable, friendly, with exceptional leadership abilities. I had no hesitation recommending her for promotion every time there was an evaluation exercise. I lost touch with her when I left dentistry to pursue theological studies. When I came back to Singapore years later, I asked about this nurse. I expected to hear that she had risen high in her profession. I was told that she had taken her life. She had climbed to a tall building, taken off her shoes and jumped. I was stunned. No one saw it coming. (Do we ever?) Did I mention she was a Christian?


Why do people take their lives?
-------------------------------------

Why do people take their own lives? Gary R. Collins gives us a list of possible reasons:

*To escape from loneliness, hopelessness, depression, academic or work difficulties, financial pressures, or conflicts with other people.
*To punish survivors who are likely to feel hurt and guilty.
*To gain attention.
*To manipulate others (often this can best be accomplished by the threat of suicide.
*To join a loved one who has died.
*To escape from some difficult situation.
*To punish oneself for something that has created guilt.
*To prevent oneself from becoming a burden on others.
*To avoid the suffering and other effects of some dread disease.
(Christian Counselling 3rd Edition, Nashville, TX: Thomas Nelson, 2007, 651.)

Of course Collins is quick to point out that "Some of the reasons on this list are not very logical. There is no guarantee, for example, that suicide will enable the victim to join a deceased loved one. Gaining attention isn't very satisfying if the person is not present to enjoy the public reaction" (Collins, 651).


Is suicide an unpardonable sin?
--------------------------------------

Understandably the church has  taken a strong stand against suicide.

[We must understand suicide as free and uncoerced actions engaged in for the purpose of bringing about one's own death. Once we define it this way, it is easy to grasp the church's clear teaching throughout the centuries that suicide is morally wrong and ought never to be considered by the Christian. Life is a gift from God . . . Our lives belong to God; we are but stewards. To end my own life is to usurp the prerogative that is God's alone. (Thomas D Kennedy, "Suicide and the Silence of Scripture," http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2000/julyweb-only/42.0.html)]

Suicide is wrong but it is not an unpardonable sin. Kennedy moves on to say:

[If we define suicide as consisting of only free and uncoerced actions, we must ask a series of questions as we try to understand any particular suicide: To what extent do we know the suicide in question was genuinely free? Could pain (either physical or emotional) have coerced the individual to do what he otherwise might not have done? But even if we could know that an act of suicide was genuinely free, can we know that the aim of the act was indeed one's own death rather than a misguided cry for help? Can we know that the suicide believed this action would really kill?

These questions lead us to withhold judgment in many cases; but more telling yet is this question: Did the individual aim at removing himself from God's goodness by suicide? Was this an act of suicide directly aimed at saying no to God? Or was it rather a tragically misguided attempt at saying yes to God? Eternal punishment is reserved, Christians believe, for those who directly reject God and reject God as a consistent pattern in life, not merely in a solitary final act.
(Kennedy, "Suicide and the Silence of Scripture."]


Helping to prevent suicide
-------------------------------

However, it is not quite enough to clarify theologically that suicide is not an unpardonable sin. The more pressing question is: how to we help our people find the resources that will inoculate them against the temptation to take one's own life? I believe we need to do at least the following:

First, we need to give clear teaching on the subject. Suicide is one of a number of taboo subjects in most churches. We pretend that suicide is something that doesn't happen among believers. And when it happens we respond with theological discussions and quickly move on.

Second we need to help our folks understand and experience the "joy of the Spirit" (Galatians 5: 22) which is our birthright  in Christ. We need to help people see that joy is something deeper and more resilient than emotional happiness, and that we can have joy even in the midst of tears because joy is a fruit of the Spirit, predicated on God's ultimate sovereignty and love, and on His commitment to make right a broken world.

Third the church must truly be a gracious community where it is safe to share our deepest pains and despair, a place where people listen lovingly and carefully, a place where you are accepted, pain and all, so that together we can seek the healing of God. Few churches I know are like that.

Fourth, we must ensure that we all walk through life with a few real friends, confidants with whom we share the joys and wounds of life (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12). I can't help but link the growing number of suicides, especially among the young, with the increasing loneliness of modern society. Dr. T Maniam, a Malaysian psychiatrist, comments on this trend:

[If 50 years ago the majority of people who attempted suicide were middle-aged, today the bulk has shifted. Sixty percent of those who attempt to do so worldwide are now under 40. While this is yet the case in Malaysia, Dr T Maniam of UKM said that the proportion of youths with suicidal tendencies is fast rising, with depression seeking ever younger targets. Chief of the factors behind this, he said, is the "epidemic of loneliness" brought on by a rise in urbanization, and exacerbated by the lack of quality in relationships. "Young people are more connected through technology, but virtual relationships are solitary pursuits," said the psychiatrist and medical researcher. (Christine Chan and Aidila Razak, "Those considering suicide more of younger age." Malaysiakini, 24th December, 2009.)

Are you walking thorough life with a few close friends? If you are, at least there are a few people who might "see it coming" if you ever turn suicidal, and have the opportunity to do something about it. But I fear most of us are walking though life, indeed following Jesus, alone.


Conclusion
-------------
May the death of the girl who took her life last week be another voice in a growing chorus calling us to wake up to the despair of life, and to Hope.





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Monday, April 26, 2010

How to promote world peace

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.

- Mother Teresa 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Isn't this blatant corruption and money politics?

Woah!! Wait a minute! Isn't this blatant corruption and money politics?!! And this is ok because ....!!??


PM throws money at Hulu S'gor voters


Friday, 23 April 2010 Super Admin
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But there is catch - Najib said that the additional money will only come provided that Selangor falls back into BN's hands in the next general election. "We have agreed to pay RM160,000 an acre. The payment will be taken care of when the land is developed... (but) that is in your hands. Make sure that in the upcoming general election, Selangor returns to BN's control," said Najib.
S Pathmawathy, Malaysiakini
With only less than 48 hours to polling, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today spent his time handing out millions of ringgit to Hulu Selangor voters.

His first stop was Sungai Buaya, where he gave out long overdue cash payment of RM50,000 each to 100 of the 363 Felda settlers.

The payments were compensation promised by the BN government following a failed attempt to develop the Felda land into a northern hub.

In 1994, the Felda settlers had signed off their 10 acres of land each to a developer for RM121,000 an acre, which comes up to RM1.2 million. The total transaction involved 1,335 hectares of land.

The project was later abandoned partly due to the 1997 economic crisis, and the settlers were paid not more than RM250,000 cash in instalments.
'Your misery ends today'
The premier, who joined the villagers for Friday prayers and later had lunch at a nearby school, vowed that BN will pour in more money to develop the area, including a RM85 million North-South Expressway interchange.

He said the construction of the elevated interchange is expected to boost property prices in the abandoned project area.
But there is catch - Najib said that the additional money will only come provided that Selangor falls back into BN's hands in the next general election.
----
Click HERE for the report

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's earth day! ramblings

It's Earth Day today ... yet another day created to highlight the many problems facing our world. Interested to know more, click HERE. I like the idea of practical action to highlight the crisis the physical earth is facing,
However for me, and I know it is not very PC, it's just another day. I just can't keep up with all the specially assigned days to highlight specific problems. I have enough of a headache as it is with Valentines Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Children's Day.

What's my problem? I suppose it is simply that I get tired of the commercialization of certain days (Valentines Day and Mothers Day for example) or of some making a big deal out of a special day but once the day is over, it's back to the regular way of life.

The earth hour "thingy" some time back is for me an example. All the insistence by some to switch of the lights for an hour to conserve energy. And what happens after that? I know I sound cynical but I find that the majority of the people I see who want me to join in this PC act are doing it because it is the "in thing" but there is no real change in their lifestyle. Is sitting in the dark for an hour and chatting using torchlights actually help the "green" cause? I pointed out to some that hour that their torch batteries will end up in the landfill causing more problems than their use of electricity for the hour. I relented of course but pointed out that I have been using for over 10 years the same rechargeable torch light (kinetic energy not electricity).

I find it disturbing that I know of people who will join a group in cleaning up a river (community project - it's cool and PC) but will not make the effort to conserve electricity and water (everlasting hot showers), switch off the lights when they leave a room, diligently sort and recycle the plastics, glass and paper etc. I think changing mobiles (called "upgrading") every year or so is a joke as we all know where the old phones end up. One day of doing something green will make no difference if there is no change in attitude and lifestyle.

Of course I know that one major reason for such a day as Earth Day is to bring awareness. And so for that I say WELL DONE! But trouble with me is that I am getting a little cynical as I age. *sigh* So help change my cynicism and check out the site and start with something (however small) and make an attitude and lifestyle change.

But before God, I will do my best to do my part. I will compost, will work harder on my vegetable garden the next season, take care of my three trees, conserve water when I shower and brush my teeth, and when I wash up. Recycle as much water as I can (for reuse in my garden), try to use more energy saving light bulbs (which now I hear is being criticized as not green). I will be as diligent as I can in sorting out my recycle-ables.  I will try to walk instead of drive (if it is not too far and time permits). In my cooking, I will keep working on  minimizing the energy used, and maximise the energy that is being used. I do crazy things like switch off the stove top 5 minutes before I plan to take off a pot rather than waste the 5 minutes of heat that lingers on. (I have an electric stove top).

But then again, if I want to be cynical about my own actions, I can say it is more about being stingy and saving money not earth's resources! :-)

Okay better move on to something more positive?

I like this blog post where the writer makes this point: My sense is that we’re singing fewer hymns that celebrate creation, not just on Earth Sunday but throughout the year. 

Here's a nice one! - God of wonders (Christ Tomlin)

A Solomon funny

Ordering Our Desires (Henri Nouwen)

Ordering Our Desires

Desire is often talked about as something we ought to overcome. Still, being is desiring: our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls are full of desires. Some are unruly, turbulent, and very distracting; some make us think deep thoughts and see great visions; some teach us how to love; and some keep us searching for God. Our desire for God is the desire that should guide all other desires. Otherwise our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls become one another's enemies and our inner lives become chaotic, leading us to despair and self-destruction.
Spiritual disciplines are not ways to eradicate all our desires but ways to order them so that they can serve one another and together serve God.



* Sentences in red my own emphasis ...
-----------


NIV Psalm 42:1 For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah. 
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"
 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
 5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and
 6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon-- from Mount Mizar.
 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
 8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life.
 9 I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?"
 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?"
 11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Minor dilemma for prayer

I had a meeting this morning to discuss my possible further involvements in my local community. A fruitful meeting and here are my options. From the meeting, it seems that I would be able to contribute much.

1. Join the Kelston Community Trust (KCT) Board as a trustee.

OR

2. Join the Kelston Boys High School  (KBHS) Board as a trustee. To do this I have to submit my papers for elections by 12 noon Friday. But even if I am not elected, I can be co-opted as a full member.

3. Join both.

Issues for me are:

1."TIME"

2. How much can I actually learn and contribute

After discussion and now much thought and more prayer, I do believe that joining KCT is definitely something I should do. Hours required are not only shorter but it would also
a. be a great learning experience
b. be a place I can contribute by also exploring way sin getting my church involved
c. be a wonderful networking opportunity. All the school heads are on the board plus some business people and a couple of local officials.

Interestingly it seems no churches have been interested over the years in getting involved in the wider Community Trust work, preferring to stick to work with their own church communities.

So now my dilemma I suppose is whether I can handle the KBHS position. Slightly more hours but it is a local high school and so there's more opportunities for grass root level involvement. I can see that I can't contribute much in most of the sub committees but there is a need for someone with Asian insights, and someone like me who's focus is more towards racial integration as opposed to championing the needs of a ethnic group.

One would  provide opportunities for more macro level engagement and involvement, while the other would provide opportunities for a more micro level involvement. I know I need the macro but I also happen to love the micro.

Blogging this helps me think and pray through ....

Poor quality internet scam

Is it just me or is the quality of internet scams becoming a lot poorer? Not that I want to encourage higher quality internet scams :-) Just the grammar in this particular one made me laugh out loud especially since it "supposed" to be from someone whose is not just British but whose dearly departed husband worked for a "UK Embassy"....

Was tempted for a second or two to write to this person and see how this scam unfolds. But I do have better things to do with my time :-) So back to work. I have a very busy week ahead of me. This morning's meeting went well so it is a great official start to my week.

Dear Beloved

I am sending you this mail in good faith. I am Mrs. Amelia Cooper now undergoing medical treatment for cancer. I was married to Mr. Peter Cooper who worked with United Kingdom embassy in Malaysia for many years before his death in 2002, we both made a deposit of some amount of money worth $6.5M in a financial institution in Europe . Recently, my doctor told me that I have few months to live due to cancer problem.

Having known my condition; I have decided to nominate you as my beneficiary since the financial company has now written me that the length of time agreed upon to hold my funds have now expired. My desire and purpose is for you to promote humanitarian works. I.e. assisting the less privileged and building orphanage homes in your country.

Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein. For further details, Please email me on: mrs.amelia@gmx.com

In His Arms.

Mrs. Amelia Cooper

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reading Spiritually About Spiritual Things (Henri Nouwen)

Reading Spiritually About Spiritual Things
Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.

As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God's voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ramblings on a quiet yet "heavy" day

It's a quiet day today. Basically sitting in the office working on 2 upcoming sermons and 2 pastor's notes. But it's "heavy" in the sense that it involves Bible reading and reflection. I'm working on a sermon series I have titled "Reflections on Jesus' Parables (very unimaginative I know - but that's me :-) ... I started a month ago on The Parable of the Sower and the next two is on The Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. I am enjoying re-reading the Parables (trying to do this afresh even though it is hard as they are so familiar) and it has been a blessing especially since for many years now I have been freed from worrying that I am not interpreting them correctly! :-)

BTW, this was due to my inner conflict where I never agreed my heart and head with the "principle" (hammered into me back in my B.Th days in the 1980s) that  a parable has to have only one main point! I am so glad for Craig Blomberg's book "Interpreting the Parables". And I am so glad the Lectionary NT readings are from the book of Acts as I love stories and so it makes my preparation of pastor's notes so much more exciting for me :-)

For more than a week now I have been feeling extremely tired. I could almost say even "exhausted" on certain days. Basically have not been sleeping well. I am glad though that my restless leg syndrome has not been acting up. But my sleep in general has not been restful - I dream and dream and dream and dream and wake up tired. My eyes too seem extremely tired and I even have to at times take naps before dinner (which is strange). Too many things on my mind I guess.... and I think because most of them are sad things (most of which cannot be mentioned as it is P&C stuff). Perhaps it is also because they are sad things that I have no control over and it is in my subconscious thoughts?

One though that bothers me a lot is the state of Malaysian politics. Perhaps I should "fast" from reading any news about Malaysia!

Philippians 4:6-7 comes to mind. Perhaps if I prayed more, then I might dream less? :-)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Outside, it's starting to drizzle but it is so light, it is not even close to a gentle spray of water. Nice working weather for the guy who is putting in a gate for our church house / office. Since I moved out and the girls moved in upstairs, there's been a lot of unwanted visitors. *sigh* having a gate is another bad sign of the changing social conditions in Auckland.

On the lighter side as I contemplate the changing world ... :-)

The Other Coast - April 14, 2010

Working Daze - April 9, 2010

UMNO MPs want impotent inter-faith body (Malaysian Insider)



First it was to be a "small fry" body - now it is to be an "impotent" body? Why bother then? I think the MCCBCHST made the right stand!


UMNO MPs want impotent inter-faith body

Some BN lawmakers want the inter-faith committee to be replaced with one on race. — file pic
By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 —The Cabinet-endorsed inter-faith committee must have no powers and should only be a platform for religious dialogue, several Umno lawmakers have said today.
There has been growing discontent in the Muslim community since the establishment of the committee, especially from right-wing NGO Perkasa and, recently, the Perak Fatwa Committee led by influential state Mufti, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria.
Batu Pahat MP and deputy education minister, Puad Zarkashi, said the panel should not be used to pressure the government on religious matters.
“This panel can be accepted as long as it does not have any authority but can [only] discuss [religious matters] so there can be common understanding to prevent sensitive issues from being raised.
“But if it is to pressure government and amend the (federal) constitution, then I would certainly not agree. It is against the constitution because Islam is the official religion and cannot be equated to other religions,” he said.
The Cabinet agreed recently to form an inter-faith committee to foster religious understanding and harmony, damaged in the past few months by religious differences such as the controversial “Allah” ruling.
It had earlier this year appointed Datuk Ilani Isahak to chair the committee and green-lighted five sub-committees to draw up proposals on how best to deal with the inter-religious conflicts.
Jerlun MP and deputy minister of international trade, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, claimed ignorance over the inter-religious body but nevertheless was of the view that the panel should be limited only to providing advice.
“I actually have to admit that I do not know enough about this grouping, I am not certain that it is at all a committee. What I hear is that it is a very small group of people representing different faiths, who meet regularly to talk about issues. From that, I would think their role is just to provide advice when it is needed and not for them to actually have any real authority to decide on matters.
“So if it is just on an advisory [body] and that advice may or may not be accepted by the powers that be, then I think there is really no major need to worry about it,” he said.
The government, he said, had failed to clearly explain the level of authority vested in the panel.
“I think it needs to be explained a bit better what the grouping really is. If it is a grouping like it has been reported in the media, then who actually appointed this committee and what kind of mandates do they have?
“There are so many questions. I think due to the lack of information to this so-called perceived committee, perhaps that is why Pasir Mas MP (Datuk Ibrahim Ali) reacted that way. So it has to be clearer about what this grouping does and who are its members,” he said.
Semporna MP and Rural and regional development minister, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, provided his own interpretation of the committee’s functions, and said it was not about faith but rather unity.
“Actually, it is not inter-faith, it is about unity,” he said.
Yesterday during the Supplementary Supply Bill debate, two BN MPs — Datuk Mohamad Aziz (Sri Gading) and Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (Kinabatangan) — called for the government to replace the panel with a racial relations committee instead.