Thursday, July 28, 2011

Challenges and blessing of a multi-cultural church. Some thoughts on Galatians 2:11-14 (part two) - Pastor's notes

Pastor's notes for the 31 July 2011 bulletin

To read click HERE

John Stott has gone home to the LORD

Sad for us. Wonderful for him.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Stott Receives His Reward

By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News ServiceALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) -- The Christian Church has lost one of its greatest leaders: John Stott. Uncle John, as many called him, went to be with his Lord on Wednesday, July 27th at 3:15 in London. He was 90 years old.

John Stott pictured in the English Lake District during the famous Keswick Convention where he was a regular featured speaker
His life will be missed. But his wisdom and love of God lives on through his books and teachings.Several years back I wrote an article on Mr. Stott's influence in my life when I heard the news of his retirement. I release it again in his honor. The article was entitled, Heroes.
Ok, I admit it! I am a fan. But not in the traditional sense - one akin to rock stars, actors and sports figures. Rather, I am a fan of people the Lord has used: intelligent, God-saturated, and Christ-haunted; a life consumed by the radical transformation of the Holy Sprit.
I remember as a teenager hanging up pictures of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and passages from the Bible all over my wall. Growing up in a Presbyterian church, but, later, attending the Church of the Brethren, the folks I looked up to were the "radicals."
Then I began to read.
It was in my late teenage years that I began to soak myself in Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, and John Stott, along with a long list of poets. Instead of putting posters on the wall of these new fellows (why aren't there any good posters of them out there anyway?) I became a fan of their lives and ideas.
In a sense, these men became my heroes.
Heroes are hard to come by these days. People who are admired for noble qualities, exceptional achievements, and courage- in word and deed- truly are a thing to behold.
So when I hear that one of my heroes is to retire, my world stands silenced. I begin to ponder the beauty of what the Lord has accomplished in their life. I sit grateful that I had the opportunity to watch this hero interact with humanity; learning from his or her integrity, listening to his or her voice, and pondering his or her life.
The hero I am referring to is John Stott, British pastor, author, ornithologist, and Christian statesman. And though he is retiring from full time ministry in July 2007 at age 86, this champion of the Christian faith will remain as God made him to be - a humble, hero, impacting lives through his many books, sermons, and interaction with people and God's creation throughout the world.
I must ask myself, what it is that makes John Stott a hero of mine? Though I can rattle off a list of things, one attributes come to mind: Knowing and Doing! John Stott not only taught us what to "know," but encouraged us to "do" what we know!
A Life

John Stott with Billy Graham
Born in 1921, educated at Rugby and Cambridge, pastoring All Souls Church in London, and spending the remainder of his life as iterant preacher, pastor, bird-watcher, and author, John Stott has become one of the most influential and impacting men in the Christian world today (even in the "secular" media he has garnered some attention - Time Magazine and The New York Times).In a day when the celebrity-pastor is the norm, John Stott is a gentle reminder that the mark of a man is not his fame or fortune, but the makeup of his character and the quality of his life and work, stemming from an unwavering trust in the One he serves- Jesus Christ.
True Stott has written over 50 books, many of them best sellers, but instead of buying the large house on the hill and retiring, he has elected to use the resources to build a Foundation (Langham Partnership) and promote missions throughout the world through pastor training and support.
True John Stott has framed some of the most important evangelical documents of the 20th century (Lausanne Covenant, and Evangelical Truth), written commentaries, theological works, and analysis of contemporary issues, yet what I marvel at is that his life never became just about knowing things (though important knowing is). Rather, his life has been balanced between the two worlds of ideas and action- knowing the Christian life and living the Christian life. John Stott has showed us that knowing and doing, understanding and living-out, are the two major components of the Christian life; two sides to the same coin. His life is a reflection of this balance (see the fine biography by Dudley-Smith to see how this balance has fully played out).
Personal Reflections
Through most of my early Christian life John Stott's presence was through his books: The Cross of Christ, Basic Christianity, and his commentaries.
But in 2005 that all changed. After reading Evangelical Truth, I decided to reach out to one of my heroes- thanking him for the book.
To my surprise he contacted me back, via email. He had one of his assistants type up the email, but I was thrilled to receive it nonetheless.
As one who served at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa (along with another wonderful Christian leader, Chuck Smith), I wanted to let him know that his books and witness for Christ are appreciated.

Brian and Cailan Nixon talking with John Stott in Newport Beach
I finally got to meet my hero in 2006. He was speaking at Mariner's Church in Orange County on behalf of the John Stott Foundation. I went to listen and speak with him. It was blessing! To my surprise, the picture of us made it around the world on several websites- Christianity Today- among them.Thank You, John Stott
So, as you wrap up your full time ministry this month, Mr. Stott, I, and millions of others, would like to say, "thank you" for being a faithful man of God, being obedient to the call Christ placed on your life, and teaching others to do the same.
May the Lord richly bless you in your retirement!
And now, three years after I wrote this article, I say, God bless you, John, for your life and ministry, our loss is heaven's gain.
Billy Graham
I close with a moving statement just issued by evangelist Billy Graham on the passing of John Stott:
"The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen, and I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisors. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to Heaven," he said from his home in Montreat, North Carolina.
I echo Mr. Graham's words.

Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, minister, and family man. You may contact him at

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Digging Into Our Spiritual Resources (Henri Nouwen)

Digging Into Our Spiritual Resources

When someone hurts us, offends us, ignores us, or rejects us, a deep inner protest emerges.  It can be rage or depression, desire to take revenge or an impulse to harm ourselves.  We can feel a deep urge to wound those who have wounded us or to withdraw in a suicidal mood of self-rejection.  Although these extreme reactions might seem exceptional, they are never far away from our hearts.  During the long nights we often find ourselves brooding about words and actions we might have used in response to what others have said or done to us.

It is precisely here that we have to dig deep into our spiritual resources and find the center within us, the center that lies beyond our need to hurt others or ourselves, where we are free to forgive and love.

Friday, July 22, 2011


From Barnabas Fund


An Egyptian human rights organisation has exposed a highly organised Muslim ring that promotes sexual exploitation and blackmail to force Christian girls to convert to Islam.
Egypt4Christ, which monitors the abduction and forced Islamisation of Christian minors, published the findings in a new report last week. It launched an undercover investigation after a church leader in Alexandria reported that a ten-year-old Christian girl had been sexually abused by a 20-year-old Muslim university student.
where the Muslim ring was uncovered
CC BY-NC 3.0 by Henk Goossens
The group discovered that a highly organised Muslim ring based at a mosque in Alexandria are orchestrating a systematic campaign in which they urge young Muslim males in high school and university to approach Christian girls aged 9-15 and manipulate them through sexual exploitation and blackmail. Named “operation soaking lupin beans” (referring to small dried beans that are soaked until they grow in size before being eaten raw), the plan aims to compromise Christian girls sexually so that they feel defiled and humiliated, forcing them to flee their homes. Conversion to Islam is then used as a “solution” to their problems.
The group published the names of those involved in the ring, which includes high-ranking officials and a Salafist leader who is reportedly considering running for president in the forthcoming Egyptian elections.
more than two to three girls disappear everyday in Giza alone Cairo church leader
The problem of the forced conversion of Christian girls, who are then married to Muslim men, is a long-standing one in Egypt. But it has intensified since the January Revolution, with the number of Christian girls affected said to be soaring, amid wider efforts to Islamise the country. One church leader in Cairo estimates that at least 21 young girls have disappeared from his parish since the revolution, while another said that “more than two to three girls disappear everyday in Giza alone”. He added, “The cases that are brought to public attention are few compared to what the numbers actually are.”
Christian cousins Christine Ezzat Fathy (16) and Nancy Magdy Fathy (14) have been the focus of much media attention in Egypt recently after they went missing on their way to church on Sunday 12 June. Their families accused two young Muslim men of kidnapping the girls, who were found by police nearly two weeks later in Cairo; they were wearing burqas, claimed to have converted to Islam voluntarily and refused to return to their families. They were placed in a state care home while the matter was investigated further.
Christian activist Mark Ebeid said that the problem has escalated since the revolution because of the emergence of Muslim Salafists, who follow an ultra-conservative, strict and puritanical version of Islam related to Wahhabism, the official state creed of Saudi Arabia. Mr Ebeid said they “believe strongly that converting a Christian Infidel is in some ways like earning a ticket to paradise – not to mention the earthly remuneration they get from the Saudis”.
Christians complain that the military council are not intervening in the problem and they do not get any assistance from the police.
The problem is not unique to Egypt; it is also common in Pakistan, and there have been consistent reports of its occurring in India and Sri Lanka. A Christian girl who has been forced to marry a Muslim man faces a virtually hopeless future, held captive by a family who treat her as nothing more than a slave. In Pakistan and Egypt, the woman’s name and identity is changed, with her Christian religious status being replaced with Islam on her identity card.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Malaysian Muslims bring their debate to NZ?

Interesting, the UMNO sanctioned "obedient wives club"  wants to start a branch in NZ.
Hope the Sisters in Islam gain more ground. 

On the obedient wives club, go HERE and HERE and HERE (Last link is the best)

See report from NZ Herald below  

Burqa an affront to human dignity say Muslim women

By Lincoln Tan
5:30 AM Thursday Jul 21, 2011

A Muslim women's group is expected to tell a public forum tonight that the burqa is not a requirement in Islam and it is "an affront to human dignity" for women to be forced to wear it.
This month, a Saudi Arabian student was left crying on an Auckland street when a bus driver refused to let her board because she was wearing a Muslim veil, which she refused to remove.
This brought a call from Prime Minister John Key for New Zealanders to respect the beliefs of others, and for women not to be discriminated against because they wear the burqa.
But the Sisters in Islam say Islam has now laws making wearing of the full veil compulsory.
The Malaysian-based group's acting executive director, Ratna Osman, is the main speaker at the "Muslim Women Rights is Human Rights" forum at AUT University tonight.
The group's founder, Zainah Anwar, said on its website: "I find the burqa really disturbing.
"There is enough literature to show that the face veil is not a requirement in Islam.
"In a conservative, patriarchal Muslim context, face veiling really symbolises women's invisibility and inferior status.
"That a woman should not be seen and heard, and should she venture into the public space she must be as invisible as possible, is an affront to human dignity."
Ms Anwar said the burqa also put pressure on other Muslim, as it set a standard that "a good Muslim woman is someone who is covered from head to toe".
The view was supported by the head of Islamic studies at the University of Auckland, Zain Ali.
He said the burqa was more a cultural requirement than an Islamic one.
"The Islamic requirement is for modest dressing, but what has happened in many parts of the Muslim world is that the burqa has been accepted as a norm for that modest dressing," Mr Ali said.
"But the burqa is almost dehumanising and it robs the personality and the ability of someone to express themselves."
However Malaysian businessman Zulkifli Hamzah, who is in Auckland to help set up a Muslim "Obedient Wives Club" branch, said followers of Islam understood "women and men are not equals".
"Everything has a structure and for a Muslim, the man is seen as the leader of the family or household.
"If a woman is told to wear a burqa or hijab so she does not tempt other men, then she should obey.
"The issue is not whether it is a cultural law or religious law, it is the husband's law."
The club's founders, Malaysian-based business group Global Ikhwan, support polygamy, and claim their moral attitude is in line with Islamic teachings for building strong families.
The club encourages women to submit to their husbands and meet all their sexual needs because it believes sexually fulfilled men are less likely to stray so marriages are less likely to break down.
It claims a worldwide membership of about 1000.
The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand said it did not support the movement and that the club's views were "interpretation of Islam to the extreme".

On burdens .... Bonhoeffer

"We can of course shake off the burden which is laid upon us, but only find that we have a still heavier burden to carry -- a yoke of our own choosing, the yoke of our self. But Jesus invites all who travail and are heavy laden to throw off their own yoke and take his yoke upon them -- and his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. The yoke and burden of Christ are his cross."

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

a Dorothy Sayers quote on the crucifixion

"It is curious that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear that story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all."

Dorothy Sayers

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recognizing the grace of God in the ministry of others. Some thoughts on Galatians 2: 9-10 (Pastor's notes)

My pastor's notes for 17 July 2011 bulletin

To read, click HERE

Random photos

Thanks to my mum for her old camera (but new camera)!

Some random photos I took over the last few weeks. Thought it time to upload to de-stress ...

Latest baby member of our church - Austen Puah

My first experimental batch of baked golden potatoes. Looks messy but tastes  delightful

First night of the June Greg Laurie Rally in Auckland

First night at the Greg Laurie Rally - 30 minutes before the start. over 2,000 people
had to be turned away due to the massive crowd (and it was raining cats and dogs too.
I arrived 2.5 hours before  the start to report for duty and it took me over an hour to get in.
I was soaked standing in the rain

2nd attempt at making muffins, This time I had the sense to use cup cake paper in my  baking tray.
But it still turned out looking horrible. Taste was good though :-)

My first try at making siew pau. Looks decent and was actually tasty
BUT it did not taste like siew pau at all. Texture all wrong.
But since it was tasty, no complaints :-)

Cut one of my siew pau through the middle in my "food autopsy" to  try to figure out what went wrong :-)

My first attempt at making tau foo fah, or was this my soya bean milk drink?
Can;t remember now but clearly from the picture the the tau foo fah was a dismal failure. :-(

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pastoral Authority: Earned, Taken, or Granted? (Out of UR)

An interesting article (for me at least) from "Out of UR" 

July 11, 2011

Pastoral Authority: Earned, Taken, or Granted?

It depends who you ask.

Pastor. In the eight years since this label first applied to me, it has been fascinating to notice who uses it and who doesn’t. The church that first entrusted the title to me was suburban, predominately white, and largely middle-aged. As a twenty-something associate pastor, I was mostly referred to by my first name. The lack of a title before my name suited me fine. At the time I was coming to grips with being a pastor and, frankly, the idea of regularly being identified as such by people ten to twenty years my senior was frightening.

In hindsight I realize there was something more to my timidity about this title. Being identified as a pastor carried with it a level of intimidating responsibility and authority that I felt I didn’t deserve. Surely I needed another ten years or so in the trenches before anyone could confidently call me their pastor. Being called simply by my first name was a relief, evidence in a way that I was still trying on this vocation to see if it fit.

The fact that this congregation indulged my skittishness with my pastoral role didn’t mean I had no authority. As Matt Tebbe pointed out, there is a kind of authority that comes over time, one that is established through faithful relationships. I felt both honored and surprised when congregants twice my age confided their struggles and listened to whatever biblical counsel I might offer. Despite my meager experience the church elders willingly listened to my ideas for future ministry. My authority as a new pastor came from ongoing presence in the community, being faithful to the church despite my insecurities and mistakes.

Five years of pastoring in this church left me with a bit more confidence in my vocation, though I remained happy that the title pastor wasn’t a primary part of my identification. But accepting a position at a multi-ethnic, urban church meant I would once again confront my skittishness about pastoral authority.

In this new church I was slightly older than most members and my ethnicity was shared by less than half of the congregation. Though I remained an associate, all of a sudden I was “Pastor David” to most of the church. The relational side of authority I’d become used to in the suburbs was still important in the city. But there was also an added component: calling.

Many people in this new church were willing to grant me authority by virtue of my call to ministry. This was especially true of the non-white members of the church. These women and men often assumed that if God had called me to pastor, then God had also equipped me to speak and lead with the authority of one submitted to God’s will for the good of the church. Biblical memory of God’s anointing for service and leadership was invoked when people described how we pastors were chosen to fulfill the work of equipping the church. I quickly came to recognize that my authority came not from my training, experience, or even from the relationships I was forming in the church. These were all important aspects of how I pastored, but the source of pastoral authority was clearly and simply God’s call. If God calls a person to the pastorate--a calling that is affirmed by the community--then that person is granted authority to respond in obedience to the work of ministry.

This made me nervous. Shouldn’t I first prove myself before people trusted me in this way? What I have slowly come to learn is that my fear of owning this authority is directly related to my own vocational doubts. Do I trust that God has called me to serve the church as a pastor? Do I believe the Holy Spirit has given me everything I need for the multi-faceted work of pointing people to God? Do I know that it is Christ and not I who ultimately pastors the church I serve? Encountering calling as a source of pastoral authority has pushed me towards a more sober-minded analysis of my own abilities and an increasing confidence in the power of God to form the church.

A year ago I was sent with a group of people from our urban church to start a new church in our city. For the first time I am a lead pastor, so the lessons in pastoral authority continue. I am coming to see that, in our context at least, my role and title give me a measure of authority even outside our church. As the primary representative of a church that is seeking the good of our neighborhood, I am beginning to have a small voice in our community. In this case, the source of my pastoral authority comes primarily from our church’s budding credibility as we find small ways to love our neighbors in practical ways.

I no longer fear being called pastor. Now the title prompts my awareness of God’s gracious presence. The authority that comes with this vocation is a constant reminder that both the call to ministry and the fruit of ministry come from God alone.

David Swanson is the pastor of New Community Covenant Church [Bronzeville] on Chicago's South Side and a regular contributor to Out of Ur. Read more from David at his blog, Signs of Life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a Bersih 2.0 video

Something to view, think and pray about ....

This is a good video put up of Malaysia Boleh! Both the positive,i.e. the people of Malaysia, and the negative, i.e. the BN led authorities. But I do think the video does show that NOT ALL the police there that day were happy doing what they were ordered to do so.

Here's a blog post that I think is worth reading. Click HERE

And of course information from RPK's many sources. Click HERE

Saturday, July 9, 2011

No place here for burqa By Paul Holmes

No place here for burqa

By Paul Holmes

Mask wearers want no part of the West except our privileges.
Even the most reasonable Kiwi will tell you they hate the full-face covering. Photo / Greg Bowker

Even the most reasonable Kiwi will tell you they hate the full-face covering. Photo / Greg Bowker

To hell with the burqa. It has no place here. This is my considered opinion after giving the matter extensive thought. It really is an offensive piece of medieval kit that speaks of medievalism and religious extremism.
Actually, I use the word burqa loosely. Everyone does. The burqa is actually the entire - generally black - covering enshrouding the clothes a woman has underneath it.
And in fact, in the countries where Islam reigns, they tend to have stalled in their development several hundreds of years ago so the general cleanliness of their communities - and by that I mean the dust flying round and the rubbish people discard - and the burqa helps keeps your clothes cleaner for longer. This was my observation in Yemen.
But in this country the burqa seems to be an imprisonment of women. It just seems mad. You know it's about women having to hide themselves. It's nothing to do with Allah, either. It predates the Koran. It just suited the men who adopted the teachings of the Prophet to keep the woman subjugated.
So I'm not actually bothered too much by the burqa. It just looks silly, antiquated, foreign. What bothers people in New Zealand, and what bothered our two bus drivers, was the face mask or niqab.
I don't think we mind too much the head scarf, the hijab, though I'm sure most of us think it silly, in the same way we think Exclusive Brethren women silly with their inevitable covering of the hair. You see head scarf and you know you're looking at bigotry.

No, it's the mask. The scarf wrapped round the head and underneath it, just below the eyes, the niqab. What's more, it is intimidating.
It says: "I am not part of your filthy heathen community. I'm here enjoying all of the privileges the enlightened West can provide, but I don't really approve of you all and have no desire to be part of you. I am happy to be a long way from the atrocities, monstrosities and medievalism of the country I fled, but still, I cannot be part of you."
Culturalism, schmulteralism. Muslim women in this country have to get real. This is where you live, and as the timeless saying puts it, "When in Rome..."
Look, if one of us is going to a Middle Eastern or Muslim country we make sure we take suitable clothes. So New Zealand women will take clothes that cover their body and they'll take a headscarf. We know it. Wear a pair of cut-off jeans in Morocco, for example, and get spat on and mauled by the men. That's what happens. I've seen it.
In our communities, we expect to see the face of the person we are meeting or trading or interacting with. We don't like seeing a face covered. Simple as that. To us it seems deceitful, weird, untrustworthy. Want to get ahead in New Zealand and Australia? Take off your stupid niqabs.
I venture to suggest that even the most reasonable New Zealander - even the most pro-immigration as I am - will tell you they hate the Muslim face mask.
The French, in overwhelming numbers right through their legislative process, banned them in April.
Said Nicolas Sarkozy, "In our country we cannot accept that women can be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity." That says it all, really. And the legislation simply "forbids the concealment of one's face in public". Which is the objection most of us would have here. It ain't right to cover your face. And it ain't right to try and get on a bus with your face covered up because of some old medieval claptrap. It ain't how we do things. It is, as Sarkozy says, all about imprisonment.
What was also awful this week was the mauling of the visiting Australian women's guide dog, Perry, by a rampant, murderous pitbull in Hamilton. The Labrador looking after his mistress suddenly found himself under attack by the monster owned, probably, by someone who does not seek work. The most moving part of the story was that the Labrador stayed on the job. He did not retaliate. The filthy pitbull has been impounded. The cops should have shot it in the head.
And that 6.5 earthquake this week, west of Taupo. It knocked us very rudely in Hawkes Bay in the middle of the afternoon just as we were ensconced in a riveting Crime Channel saga about a woman who murdered two husbands with anti-freeze and was trying to do the same to her youngest daughter.
I realised, perhaps for the first time if I'm honest, how awful it must be living in Christchurch with that terror every day and night.
By Paul Holmes | Email Paul