Thursday, February 24, 2011

Something to meditate on in the light of the Christchurch earthquake (Pastor's notes)

Just posted my pastor's notes for 27th February 2011.

May not be as clear as I want it to be but for what it's worth ... click HERE

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

True Intimacy (Henri Houwen)

True Intimacy
Human relationships easily become possessive. Our hearts so much desire to be loved that we are inclined to cling to the person who offers us love, affection, friendship, care, or support. Once we have seen or felt a hint of love, we want more of it. That explains why lovers so often bicker with each other. Lovers' quarrels are quarrels between people who want more of each other than they are able or willing to give.

It is very hard for love not to become possessive because our hearts look for perfect love and no human being is capable of that. Only God can offer perfect love. Therefore, the art of loving includes the art of giving one another space. When we invade one another's space and do not allow the other to be his or her own free person, we cause great suffering in our relationships. But when we give another space to move and share our gifts, true intimacy becomes possible.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jeremiah 12 - An answer to the Jeremiah’s question on unjust suffering (Pastor's Notes)

Just posted up this Sunday's Pastor's Notes (For the 20th February bulletin).

To read, go HERE

CNY 2011 Meeting at KCC and other ramblings

It has been a while a while since I put any photos on my blog. Still no camera. :-( Will hopefully be getting a 2nd hand one in May! :-)

At the start of the magic show. I find it interesting that no matter what country I am in, people generally like to sit far behind, crowd the back and even stand at the back BUT they will not sit in the first couple of front rows.
Nice of some of the children to automatically come to the front on their own accord.
These were taken by my son's GF. :-) Thanks my dear! 

Photos are not in chronological order. Not sure why when I upload them this happens. 

Some of the ladies (those who can read
Mandarin - or at least the romanized version) preparing to sing a couple of traditional Chinese New Year songs. 
Also not been blogging much as I have been feeling rather listless the whole week and been having bouts of headaches and I have tiring dreams every night! . But the good part is that my IBS has only acted up once in 2 weeks! :-)  Bit of an energy "downer". I suppose too may late nights and early mornings as well ? :-) ...
But also just too much on my mind?

People playing one of the games I prepared
 for this meeting .  In small groups making tangram rabbit designs.

Strategy is actually needed for my version.
So it was cool to see the
leaders organizing their various teams.

Another game: The chopsticks game
and one of the judges keeping score 

I can always count on these two to present an item
(usually they come in threes but their "triplet"
had a sudden case of the jitters).
Very talented and fun girls!

I thought his was a wonderful photo.
Catches the mood of the meeting well.
My wife organized the decorations
this year - simple and nice

The meeting was top me wonderful as we had so many guests that I was overwhelmed. Great to see regular guests as well as many new ones, and having the chance to get to know new people. 

Every year I give our "red packets" with
something special related to money to
our guests.
This year it was "silver coins"
 Again I found that magic is a wonderful ice breaker. And it is good to know too that some I spoke to also mentioned the message part!

I was wiser too this year - I only took out my balloons and pump after most had left so I had a more leisurely time doing less than a dozen balloons for a small group of children. And I used a trick taught to me by "master clown" Hoby Tyler. "Sorry, but today we are celebrating Chinese New Year and it is the year of the rabbit. So today, I only make rabbits!" Less stress! :-)

Eating Yee Sang is always a must for some.
Not sure why :-)

First part of my gospel magic presentation.
I like this effect which I adapted to tell a story
as it  has lots of audience participation.
They have to come up, wear special gloves
 and join hands in a special way

This is me telling the story and putting on my special gloves as well as explaining what they need to do.

The children enjoying the lollipops while the show continues
This is my appearing lollipops trick -
where a clearly shown empty bag
magically fills up with lollipops. 

I saw this trick performed back in 2005.
I liked it very much and so I bought it 2
years ago when I saw it  but only now
performing it.
Very visual and plays big when done

I like this too. Learned the concept at a
magic workshop 2 years ago. And modified it
to suit my style and added some stuff
to make it into a longer more interactive routine

My opener - an Aldo Colombini effect (modified
again of course)
and I would like to modify it even more! :-)
4 part mentalism effect that I thought  is hilarious
... and thankfully so did the crowd. :-)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jeremiah 11 The importance of living by the terms of God’s covenant (Pastor's Notes)

Bulletin has resumed. Summer break is over for most ... so "Pastor's notes" is back. Did anyone miss it? :-)

For the 13th February 2011 bulletin

To read, go HERE.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Price of Malaysia's Racism (and some pre-ramblings)

Just got back from a breakfast meeting (late breakfast though so I did not eat :-)) with 4 local Samoan pastors. My first meeting with them and as usual I was the odd one out - the lone Asian guy. And all were from AoG or Charismatic / Pentecostal churches

But I felt at very home with them - instantly felt a part of the group. Sharing was NOT superficial even though it was my first meeting, and they were all old friends - some going way back!

Some may say that this may be because we are all Christians and even more, all pastors (though one was a part time pastor). True but even among Christian groups and pastors groups I do not necessarily feel welcome or accepted in Malaysia (*yikes shocking to say this I know).

Nice to have a sense of oneness so quickly ... Before our meeting, there was this Australian guy there (white) - not a pastor, not a church goer, and Pastor Derek (the organizer was happily chatting with him, and introduced me - we all three were strangers). No racism!

So now, back to Malaysia - more than 50 years of "nation building" and it is certainly becoming progressively worse. God have mercy!

The Price of Malaysia's Racism

By John R. Malott, The Wall Stret Journal
Malaysia's national tourism agency promotes the country as "a bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony." Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak echoed this view when he announced his government's theme, One Malaysia. "What makes Malaysia unique," Mr. Najib said, "is the diversity of our peoples. One Malaysia's goal is to preserve and enhance this unity in diversity, which has always been our strength and remains our best hope for the future."

If Mr. Najib is serious about achieving that goal, a long look in the mirror might be in order first. Despite the government's new catchphrase, racial and religious tensions are higher today than when Mr. Najib took office in 2009. Indeed, they are worse than at any time since 1969, when at least 200 people died in racial clashes between the majority Malay and minority Chinese communities. The recent deterioration is due to the troubling fact that the country's leadership is tolerating, and in some cases provoking, ethnic factionalism through words and actions.

For instance, when the Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur invited the prime minister for a Christmas Day open house last December, Hardev Kaur, an aide to Mr. Najib, said Christian crosses would have to be removed. There could be no carols or prayers, so as not to offend the prime minister, who is Muslim. Ms. Kaur later insisted that she "had made it clear that it was a request and not an instruction," as if any Malaysian could say no to a request from the prime minister's office.

Similar examples of insensitivity abound. In September 2009, Minister of Home Affairs Hishammuddin Onn met with protesters who had carried the decapitated head of a cow, a sacred animal in the Hindu religion, to an Indian temple. Mr. Hishammuddin then held a press conference defending their actions. Two months later, Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Parliament that one reason Malaysia's armed forces are overwhelmingly Malay is that other ethnic groups have a "low spirit of patriotism." Under public pressure, he later apologized.

The leading Malay language newspaper, Utusan Melayu, prints what opposition leader Lim Kit Siang calls a daily staple of falsehoods that stoke racial hatred. Utusan, which is owned by Mr. Najib's political party, has claimed that the opposition would make Malaysia a colony of China and abolish the Malay monarchy. It regularly attacks Chinese Malaysian politicians, and even suggested that one of them, parliamentarian Teresa Kok, should be killed.

This steady erosion of tolerance is more than a political challenge. It's an economic problem as well.

Once one of the developing world's stars, Malaysia's economy has underperformed for the past decade. To meet its much-vaunted goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, Malaysia needs to grow by 8% per year during this decade. That level of growth will require major private investment from both domestic and foreign sources, upgraded human skills, and significant economic reform. Worsening racial and religious tensions stand in the way.

Almost 500,000 Malaysians left the country between 2007 and 2009, more than doubling the number of Malaysian professionals who live overseas. It appears that most were skilled ethnic Chinese and Indian Malaysians, tired of being treated as second-class citizens in their own country and denied the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, whether in education, business, or government. Many of these emigrants, as well as the many Malaysian students who study overseas and never return (again, most of whom are ethnic Chinese and Indian), have the business, engineering, and scientific skills that Malaysia needs for its future. They also have the cultural and linguistic savvy to enhance Malaysia's economic ties with Asia's two biggest growing markets, China and India.

Of course, one could argue that discrimination isn't new for these Chinese and Indians. Malaysia's affirmative action policies for its Malay majority—which give them preference in everything from stock allocation to housing discounts—have been in place for decades. So what is driving the ethnic minorities away now?

First, these minorities increasingly feel that they have lost a voice in their own government. The Chinese and Indian political parties in the ruling coalition are supposed to protect the interests of their communities, but over the past few years, they have been neutered. They stand largely silent in the face of the growing racial insults hurled by their Malay political partners. Today over 90% of the civil service, police, military, university lecturers, and overseas diplomatic staff are Malay. Even TalentCorp, the government agency created in 2010 that is supposed to encourage overseas Malaysians to return home, is headed by a Malay, with an all-Malay Board of Trustees.

Second, economic reform and adjustments to the government's affirmative action policies are on hold. Although Mr. Najib held out the hope of change a year ago with his New Economic Model, which promised an "inclusive" affirmative action policy that would be, in Mr. Najib's words, "market friendly, merit-based, transparent and needs-based," he has failed to follow through. This is because of opposition from right-wing militant Malay groups such as Perkasa, which believe that a move towards meritocracy and transparency threatens what they call "Malay rights."

But stalling reform will mean a further loss in competitiveness and slower growth. It also means that the cronyism and no-bid contracts that favor the well-connected will continue. All this sends a discouraging signal to many young Malaysians that no matter how hard they study or work, they will have a hard time getting ahead.

Mr. Najib may not actually believe much of the rhetoric emanating from his party and his government's officers, but he tolerates it because he needs to shore up his Malay base. It's politically convenient at a time when his party faces its most serious opposition challenge in recent memory—and especially when the opposition is challenging the government on ethnic policy and its economic consequences. One young opposition leader, parliamentarian Nurul Izzah Anwar, the daughter of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, has proposed a national debate on what she called the alternative visions of Malaysia's future—whether it should be a Malay nation or a Malaysian nation. For that, she earned the wrath of Perkasa; the government suggested her remark was "seditious."

Malaysia's government might find it politically expedient to stir the racial and religious pot, but its opportunism comes with an economic price tag. Its citizens will continue to vote with their feet and take their money and talents with them. And foreign investors, concerned about racial instability and the absence of meaningful economic reform, will continue to look elsewhere to do business.

Mr. Malott was the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, 1995-1998.

Returning to God's Ever-Present Love (Henri Houwen)

Returning to God's Ever-Present Love
We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn't approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God's love. Evil does not belong to God.

God's unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God's ever-present love.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More comics to lighten my mood and other ramblings

I am soooo tired today. Two late nights and early wake ups in a row. I actually took coffee the last two days to help me stay alert :-) Sermon's not done. As usual too much material - which is a better problem than not enough material, right? But busyness and "tiredness" does indicate that there's a lot of ministry to be done - which is also a blessing. And after this Sunday I have 3 Sundays break for preaching! Yay! I get to enjoy 2 Sundays of Uncle Max's preaching and one of Murray Stevenson (an incredible missionary to the Congo). Thrilled to be able to get him to speak while he and his wife are back for a short break. Three Sundays in a row of listening to two gifted preachers, missionaries and men of God!

Anyway, I hope to enjoy a less hectic pace during my break from preaching and do more quadrant 2 stuff. Lots of general preaching / teaching preparation to do plus more visitation and a trying to "network" with some local pastors.

Anyway three more funny comics ... First one I don;t identify with personally but I can imagine in my mind some people I know! :-)

The other two I "unfortunately" can "identify with" through personal experience! :-)

Oh yeah, I bought FIFA Manager 10 cheap on trademe. I am going to block some time to play it. I think I am overdue for a change of "scenery" or I am going to "burn out".

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two comic strips I identify with

Two funny comic strips I can identify with during different periods of my life :-)

Meal Prayer (Joke)

On the lighter side. I like this!

Meal Prayer

My friend Bob was trying to teach his daughter, Jenny, how to say grace before meals. After a few weeks of coaching, Bob decided Jenny was ready to say grace all by herself. 

Jenny started out fine, thanking God for her mommy and daddy and brother and sister and for the rolls and the salad, etc. She ended with a big, "Thank you, God, for the spaghetti!" and lifted her head.

The tradition in Bob's house, though, was to end each prayer with "In Jesus' name, Amen." So Bob prompted Jenny, "In … "

At first, Jenny seemed confused. Then she proudly exclaimed, "In tomato sauce. Amen."

- from Da Mouse Tracks