Thursday, August 25, 2011

Random photos - Aug 2011

Time for a break. Downloaded the photos on my camera ...

Andrew's car ... when I first picked it up

View from the rear

Front seats

Back seats

Al Ronberg of PSSM and 2nd city

Bec Little leading worship - nice touch with a special song and  lesson for the younger ones

With us older ones too joining in ... learning the actions

And singing along. ...

Took this yesterday ... happy that my coriander and galangal made it through winter and thrived too

My "dwarf" lemon tree I bought a month ago

George Booth - ex OM NZ director and a regular speaker at our church

Jin Wan's commissioning service (as a deacon)

Did a quick turnover cum weeding of my planter box in preparation for
new planting season. No matter what I do, some potato plants will still pop up from a
couple of potatoes I planted 2 years ago. Hardy plants so thought I might as well replant them.
And my taro plants. Looking forward to harvesting the leaves all year round :-)

One of my winter quick soups ... with chilly, tofu and mushrooms among other things.

Another of my favourite quick soups for winter - tomato, egg and herbs

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

charity vs. politics? (The Christian Century)

A simple but challenging article 

Link ...

Charity vs. politics?

Marilyn Sewell raises a familiar subject:
Churches almost always prefer charity to justice. Let's take, for example, the question of hunger. Churches find it easier to open a soup kitchen, rather than lobby politicians or put pressure on government to feed hungry people or help them get jobs. . . . What's wrong with this picture? To effect change, churches must move beyond charity to justice, changing the economic and political systems that keep people impoverished.
Along with the fact that charity is simply easier, Sewell names three additional reasons churches often avoid pursuing justice:
  • Charity is less controversial than politics.
  • People fear that political advocacy will threaten a church's tax-exempt status. (It won't, unless they're endorsing candidates.)
  • Politics strikes some people as too worldly a pursuit for the church.

I'd add a fourth: charity often produces immediate, concrete results. It's more satisfying to give a hungry person a healthful meal than it is to move the ball an inch forward in the fight for better food policy--especially for people who are new to advocacy work and not hardened to its realities.
More importantly: All of these explanations take as given that working for justice means working in the realm of politics. Certainly this is often the case. But Sewell seems to be conflating the charity vs. justice binary with another one: direct service vs. advocacy. The two subjects are intricately related, but they're not the same thing.
Sewell is right that charity is often just "a Band-Aid" that primarily "allows donors to feel good," but this applies not only to individuals and churches but also to nations, whose aid efforts might have political support but aren't always helpful. On the other hand, the direct-service efforts that so many churches excel at don't always amount to just handouts and Band-Aids. Teaching 20 immigrants to speak English might not effect large-scale systemic change, but its impact on those 20 people is deep, permanent and empowering. Doesn't that count as justice work?
None of which is to say that it's enough to get churches to move from just giving people a fish to teaching them to fish as well. We also need the grueling, abstract work of advocacy--to prevent polluters from killing all the fish in the river, to stock the river when this fails, to subsidize child care so people can get away long enough to catch anything. Sewell is right that it's difficult but important to get churches involved with all this. The options for churches, however, are more complex than Band-Aids on the one hand and politics on the other.

The Quality of Life (Henri Nouwen) and ramblings

On Monday, my wife and I attended the funeral service of our good neighbour who passed away from cancer. First time attending a non religious based funeral in NZ conducted by a "funeral celebrant" 

Don;t want to blog too much on it except to say that the focus was a "remembrance of her life". And of course as it is usually the case at funerals, it made me reflect again on the subject of "life and death".

So it was timely to get this my email from my Henri Nouwen email list (dated Tuesday)

The Quality of Life 

It is very hard to accept an early death.  When friends die who are seventy, eighty, or ninety years old, we may be in deep grief and miss them very much, but we are grateful that they had long lives.  But when a teenager, a young adult, or a person at the height of his or her career dies, we feel a protest rising from our hearts:  "Why?  Why so soon?  Why so young?  It is unfair."

But far more important than our quantity of years is the quality of our lives.  Jesus died young.  St. Francis died young.  St. Thérèse of Lisieux died young, Martin Luther King, Jr., died young.  We do not know how long we will live, but this not knowing calls us to live every day, every week, every year of our lives to its fullest potential.

Much needed reminder that quality of life is far more important than the quantity of life. 

At the funeral service, a favourite song of my late neighbour was played ... the old classic by Jim Croce (Time in a bottle). Lyrics below and an embedded video from youtube

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
 That you're the one I want to go through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go through time with

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Malaysia’s season for Christian bashing (FMT) and ramblings

Interesting and excellent article by a writer who thankfully is a Muslim. My ramblings after her article.


Malaysia’s season for Christian bashing

Mariam Mokhtar
 | August 19, 2011
So what is it about the Christian faith that scares our political leaders so much? Is it the message of love and forgiveness?
In recent months, Malaysians have seen a constant drip-drip of Christians being persecuted because they were alleged to want to take over the country, both in mind and in spirit.
If we in the east complain that the west is out to demonise Islam, then how different are we from them when any Christian act in Malaysia is seen as a threat to Islam and the Malay race?
Do our political leaders seriously imagine that the Malaysian Muslim is so feeble and his soul so tormented, that he is easily influenced by the devil or by the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Do they think we are so irresolute and weak-willed that another religion, race or culture will swallow up our individual identities?
Maybe they are right. The number of schools with cheerleaders for sports activities, and proms for end-of-year parties with boys in tuxedos and girls in slinky ballgowns, is on the increase.
Perhaps MacDonald’s and KFC should be banned and Starbuck’s closed down to protect our local kedia makan and kedai kopi. It appears that Uncle Sam is a more corrupting influence than religion.
Supermarkets and hypermarkets are not good for our local shopkeepers either. So why are all western imports allowed to proliferate? They act in subtle ways and have a worse effect on Malaysians.
Malaysians seem to be oblivious to the fact that Article 11 of the Federal Constitution guarantees religious freedom for all Malaysians (bar Muslims).
The indoctrination by our ruling party means that we have lost the quality of being respectful of each other’s beliefs. When will the time come before we also lose sight of our own humanity and dignity?
Ipohites will recall that in 2006, the Catholic community in Silibin, had a frightening experience when a hostile mob surrounded their church because of a rumour started by the Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria. He claimed that hundreds of Malays would be baptised.
Was Harussani prosecuted for spreading false rumours and threatening our national security? Hell would probably freeze over before that were to happen.
The Perak mufti got a mighty fright when the public recoiled at his suggestion to ban Manchester United football and other teams with jerseys with “crosses” which “promoted the Devil”.
Harussani also banned Muslims from the poco-poco dance because it contained elements of Christianity and soul-worshipping. Many will recall that Harussani also forbade Muslims from attending open houses of non-Muslims for their festival days.
The ‘Allah’ ban
In 2007, The Herald, a weekly Catholic newspaper, was banned by the Home Ministry from using the word “Allah” in its publications. The home minister at the time, Syed Hamid Albar, said that Christians using “Allah” were a threat to national security and would create misunderstanding and confusion among Muslims.
Does he really think Muslims are as obtuse as the Cabinet?
In 2009, two Muslim reporters from Al-Islam took part in Catholic Mass and received Holy Communion at St Anthony’s Church in Kuala Lumpur. The reporters desecrated the Holy Communion by spitting out the wafers, photographed their actions and then published their deceit in their magazine.
Last Christmas, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak attended the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur’s Christmas tea party but his aides ordered the removal of crucifixes and other religious symbols, and that no hymns or prayers be said in Najib’s presence.
This was closely followed by the confiscation of two consignments of around 40,000 Bibles from Port Klang and Kuching. Najib finally ordered one batch to be released but Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein stipulated two conditions prior to the release, which resulted in the Holy Books being defaced.
This year alone, we have seen allegations of Christians wanting to replace Islam as the official religion of the country in readiness for a Christian prime minister. This was followed by a JAIS raid on a DUMC charity dinner because there were claims that Malays were being proselytised.
The latest Christian bashing is when Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, said that there were attempts by school teachers or tuition teachers to spread other religions to Muslim children.
It had been reported that Muslim children were given free tuition by non-Malay youths and had been taught to sing songs in adulation of Jesus Christ “while making hand signals to show the crucifix symbol”. The children were fed stories about Jesus, his crucifixion and his teachings.
Muhyiddin said, “Such things cannot be done because we have specific laws, (and) enactments.”
He announced that the Islamic religious department in each state had the power to take action against any group who tried to spread other religions to Muslims.

Political ploy
How does this arrogance compare with the Star reports in 2006 that RM10,000 would be given to each Muslim preacher who married an Orang Asli woman and converts her?
In addition, the preachers would receive free accommodation, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a fixed monthly allowance of RM1,000.
Some Orang Asli were tricked into giving personal details which were used to fill up the conversion form and a token sum of RM400 paid. Others claimed that they had been promised development and aid as incentives.
Aren’t these people being converted for the wrong reasons?
Perhaps Muhyiddin should be more open and permit religious knowledge at school. It is shocking that many of our young are not aware of the existence of other faiths. They fail to respect others and expect non-Muslims to conform to their beliefs.
I went to a boarding school in England and so did a few of my cousins and their friends. Many of our political leaders like Najib (Malvern) went to a Church of England (C of E) school, just like his cousin Hishammuddin (Cheltenham Boys) as did Raja Zarith Idris of Perak.
They said the Lord’s prayer everyday in chapel and attended Sunday service as well as Carol services. As do the children of the ministers who attend English boarding schools, today.
As most people are aware, the UK boarding schools are mainly C of E schools. Prior to that, I was at Bukit Nanas and CHIJ in Malaysia. None of us have been indoctrinated into Christianity even though the Lord’s prayer was said every morning during assembly.
We respect the Christians like they respect our adherence to our own faith. In UK, none of my Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu Malaysian compatriots became Christians. We sang hymns or Christmas carols mainly because we liked singing or it was part of the school culture.
So what is it about the Christian faith that scares our political leaders so much? Is it the message of love and forgiveness? Or is it a political ploy to scare Muslims into thinking that only Umno are defenders of the faith?
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist

Some anonymous person posted the following comments as a response to my re-posting of Ng Kam Weng's article. (see link below)

Matt 5:43-48
Luke 6:27-31
Romans 12:14
Prov 25:21

I did not publish it as ... come on .... an anonymous comment? 
And I think the 4 passages have nothing to do with Dr. Ng's article. But I think they are relevant to this FMT article.

I am tired of Christian bashing and Christian wrongly applying "turning the other cheek" 

Turning the other cheek does not mean not speaking up for truth and justice and allowing innocent people to be bullied and allowing evil and injustice to blatantly grow.

Yes, Jesus "turned the other cheek" and voluntarily went to the cross to die but this was so that prophecy would be fulfilled and for the salvation of the world. 

While "turning the other cheek" Jesus also always spoke out against injustice and called a spade a spade. Jesus also asked us to care for the poor and do our part to fight injustice. This is what HARAPAN COMMUNITY and many churches are doing. They are caring for those society in general refuse (or turn a blind eye) to help.

And of course the motive is Jesus Christ. If it was not for Jesus' teaching and example, why would these Christians bother? And many NGOs like HARAPAN COMMUNITY are happy to work with others irrespective or race or religion if the goals and values are for a common good. What's wrong with that? 

Listing the above Bible passages implies that HARAPAN COMMUNITY and churches (in this case DUMC)  are not following the principles taught in those passages.

Has HARAPAN COMMUNITY or DUMC etc cursed JAIS, threatened retaliation, persecuted these "Muslims" etc? No. In fact they keep on doing good and praying for these "enemies". 


What is wrong with speaking up against blatant hypocrisy (double standards), breaking of the laws of the land etc. Are such actions to be condoned? 

For the majority of those who advocate being silent, and their understanding of "turning the other cheek" etc, sure it is easy to talk when you live comfortable (and dare I say generally selfish) lives. "If it doesn't directly affect me, let me not stir up trouble?"This "tidak apa" attitude is clearly WRONG! This is not what the Bible teaches

Let God judge some will say ... we should just fast and pray ... 

Fine but in your personal life if someone defrauds you of your wealth or steals from you, abuses a beloved family member etc please apply the SAME PRINCIPLE - don't call your lawyer, don't make a police report. Tell them "I love you. Carry on. In fact take some more of my wealth, and go ahead and abuse the other members of my family too ..."   

Do this and and I will take seriously your position. 

Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of Christians in many lands suffering persecution and they have responded to the evil done to them with love. I know this ... BUT none of them say "Never mind, carry on with your injustice!" 

They pray to God and they ask others for prayer. They seek help for their situation, they appeal to the government,. NGOs, others for help and justice so that the tide of such evil can be stemmed so that others would not suffer like them. I have not heard of a single instance of such who suffer wishing such suffering on others. 

Ok enough rambling for now.....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Catch up random ramblings August 2011

Been a while since I blogged on personal matters. Got a bit of time between appointments so ...

1. Been doing more cooking the last few months. More therapeutic than gardening especially since it is winter :-)
And my drop in unexpectedly to bring some soup or a small hot dish to various church members homes (older members) has been very successful and encouraging and fun.
Been experimenting with soups of late as hot soup tastes really good in winter.

2. Signed up as a member of a political party (NZ not Malaysia). First time ever doing this. Which party? I will not answer this question :-) Why? Don't think I should as a pastor.
But I do think this would make a difference (at least to me first). I see NZ slowly going down the drain in so many areas that matter to me. Perhaps membership would help?

3. Eldest son now has a car. Bought it with his hard earned money. Good on him! Last sentence I think is grammatically wrong ... but it's a Kiwi things to say "Good on you, mate"? :-)
Worries me a bit sometimes as with his own car and a full license, he has no "curfew". But then, I have to trust he is sensible and has good values so ....

4. Insomnia seems to have passed! Finally! Yeah!! And glad that no more bites that keeps me scratching and up late at night / early morning. I now don't feel as tired as I used to.
And adapted to the colder weather too. I am glad I spent a large portion of our savings a couple years ago on upgrading our house insulation and getting a heat pump for the living room / hall. Sure makes a difference when it is cold.

5. Looking forward to spring to begin planting my vegetables and some flowers. But not looking forward to preparing the garden for planting. If weather is good on Monday - no excuses :-( This season I am going for my usual ... chillies, tomatoes and long beans (long beans was a flop last season) and adding in more herbs. Was amazed that my coriander thrived in winter as did my galangal. Will plant basel again as I do like the flavour. My "assam plant" (not sure what is actually is called but it is planted for the leaves) is also doing so well.

I may have killed off my dwarf apple tree ... and my blue berry bush is probably dead too :-( My feijoa trees are well! But my macadamia tree is struggling - no matter how I prop it up, the wind has been so strong that it tilts and is now at a 45 degree angle :-(
But my lemon tree and limau kafir plants are doing well ....

Going to plant taro in my garden. It's my Islander influence .... and am glad a church member Tongan is going to give me some of his plants (As he is too old with arthiritis to care for them). Yes, cheaper to make Lupulu / Pasulami.

6. Magic is picking up too. Got a beautiful large box made for shows. Now can have all my props for a show in one place. Can wheel it in, open and set up in under a minute .... and can pack up and lock up after in Still adding my personal touches and still have some work to do on it.
Was fun too a couple of weeks ago being invited not just to preach a Sunday sermon but also do a magic sermon for the children during sermon. Of course adults also love the magic part though not many might openly admit it :-)
Nice too that next month after sooooo long, there will be two magic workshops - and they do not clash with any night meetings. :-) Sean Taylor and Oscar Munoz - both on children's magic. But no spending money on magic though ....

Ok, got to go ...keep in touch.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Modern art ....

Now this I can identify with .... :-). I have actually seen art work like this years ago in Toronto. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Thanks Doc!!!


By nkw


The war drums beat ominously. The platoons are quickly mobilized for attack. The commanders are confident that their target will be hit and destroyed given numerous artillery salvos. I am not talking about shock and awe in the Iraq war. I am talking about how JAIS and UMNO activists have carefully orchestrated their recent attacks on the Malaysian church after their illegal raid of DUMC.
It is easy to be confused, especially when JAIS and UMNO activists deliberately cloud the issues with wild claims, hoping that their illegal transgression of a church will be overlooked and the innocent victim (DUMC) will somehow appear guilty, if accused repeatedly. It does not matter that till now JAIS has failed to produce any credible evidence to support the raid. JAIS seems to operate on the basis that people will end up believing lies so long as they are repeated enough in the media.

But how does one sift out the truth from the lies? First we stress the undeniable facts:
A group of 20-30 members from JAIS and the police raided the premises of DUMC where there was a thanksgiving dinner held by Harapan Community in appreciation of people who have supported their community service. This raid was undeniably an illegal act since the officials were unable to produce a search warrant.

In effect, the JAIS violated the sanctity of the house of God. The raid is not only illegal; it is an almost unforgivable sin. Any Muslim should know this and would shrink in horror and be tempted to retaliate should officials from another religion violate their mosques.

JAIS initially defended the raid by claiming that they are empowered to act on grounds of suspicious activities. But even if we go by the requirements of the Penal Code, such a raid must be backed by reasonable suspicion, that is, there must be prima facie evidence to justify the raid. Till today, JAIS has failed to offer the slightest modicum of evidence that can be accepted as ‘reasonable suspicion’, much less be accepted as prima facie evidence.

JAIS backpedaled from its claim to have the authority to raid DUMC and now describes its act as an ‘inspection’ – a definite sign that it realizes (but not admitting publicly) that the raid was illegal.
BUT what gives JAIS the authority to inspect DUMC or any church for that matter?  The supreme law of the land, the Federal Constitution specifies that Shariah has no jurisdiction over non- Muslims. JAIS officials accompanied by the police or not, have no business to interfere with what is going on inside the church – especially, when there is not the slightest reasonable suspicion.
To repeat, JAIS violated the sanctity of the sanctuary of another religion. The raid is not only illegal; it is an almost unforgivable sin.

JAIS’ violation is unjustifiable and would set a dangerous precedent if left unchallenged. Christians are naturally aggrieved (and MBBCHST publicly shares the same sentiments with a public statement) and have good reasons to demand an apology and receive an assurance that such acts will not be repeated.

This grievous issue must be kept in the forefront, especially now that JAIS is desperately trying to muddy the controversy by heaping a series of accusations about Christian proselytization and conversion of Muslims.

But the allegation of proselytization just won’t hold water:

First, JAIS has not linked, much less produced evidence to support allegations of proselytization in DUMC. If there is any allegation of proselytization, it is directed towards Harapan Community. DUMC is only the renter letting out its premises to a bona fide NGO. DUMC’s innocence and integrity is above reproach. In contrast, JAIS exceeded its bounds of authority.

Second, JAIS has failed to produce credible evidence to support the charge of proselytization by Harapan Community. It produced a scanned picture of a quiz on Islam and took offense that words like “Allahu Akbar” and “Alhamdullilah” were used at the dinner. But this evidence proves to be dubious upon a closer examination:

The quiz turns out to be an exercise to help people understand Islam better with questions like. “What does the word ‘Quran’ mean? How many sura are there in the Quran? What are the pillars of Islam?” It may be granted that JAIS may have (still disputable) grounds to charge Harapan community if the quiz was on Christianity, but it turns out that the quiz was on Islam. If anybody has reason to be offended, it is the Christian community, since apparently Islam was taught in church!

Likewise, what’s wrong with Christians using the words “Allahu Akbar” and “Alhamdullilah”? The phrases mean “God is great” and “Praise to God”. Malay speaking Christians who share strong historic links with Arabic Christians would feel as natural singing these phrases as when singing “Hallelujah”. As such, praise to God there certainly was, but proselytization, there surely wasn’t.
All in all, JAIS must be pretty desperate to clutch to these ‘evidence’ to support the alleged proselytization.

JAIS tries to buttress it case by making reference to Muslims who have converted to Christianity, but these cases have nothing to do with Harapan Community. But for the sake of argument, even if a Malay attending the thanksgiving dinner eventually declares he is a Christian, JAIS cannot simply jump to the conclusion that Harapan Community was guilty of proselytization. It could be the case, that this Malay became a Christian on his own initiative (given easy access to teaching of Christianity in the internet) or that he was influenced while studying overseas.

JAIS may implicate Harapan Community of proselytization only if it produces evidence that directly links the social services of Harapan Community to proselytization. So far, JAIS is unable to produce any evidence. A fortiori, it is even less able to associate DUMC with questionable allegations of proselytization.

To conclude and to recapitulate to the main issue, JAIS has no justifiable grounds to raid and violate the sanctity of a church (DUMC).

That JAIS has failed to produce credible evidence does not mean it will not keep trying. But the longer it takes for JAIS to produce such ‘evidence’, the less credible the ‘evidence’ will turn out to be.

Naturally, JAIS has been unrelenting in wanting to haul up the twelve Malays who were at the dinner for further questioning. These Malays were first required to report for ‘counseling’ which would imply they were guilty of an (unproven) offence. When queried by the lawyer representing the twelve, JAIS replied that they were called to give statements (which should mean the twelve are innocent until proven guilty).

The lawyer representing the twelve sought the following clarifications before advising his clients to report to JAIS, that is, what legal provisions enable Jais to issue the Notice Orders requiring their clients to present themselves;
•    The offence or details of the offence Jais is investigating;
•    The offenders, if any, who were being investigated by Jais;
•    The real purpose requiring their client’s attendance before Jais, whether to attend ‘pre-counselling sessions’ as offenders or merely to assist Jais in its investigations, if any.

As far as I know, JAIS has so far not answered these questions. There is now a new threat that the twelve will be arrested if they fail to turn up for questioning, as this would amount to an insult to Islam. This new threat is most disturbing when one notes a parallel phenomenon related to the charge of blasphemy to justify all manner of abuse of power by Islamic officials in Pakistan and some Middle Eastern countries. Submitting to JAIS’ threat would initiate a new trend that allows “blasphemy” and “insult” to cover a multitude of power abuse.

One can only surmise how the twelve will be questioned by JAIS and in the light of JAIS’ questionable behavior so far, people can only be skeptical of any ‘evidence and ‘confession’ that may eventually be extracted from the twelve.

One final observation:

First, it bears repeating that the real issue in this controversy is not about the alleged proselytization of Muslims by Harapan Community; it is the unprecedented act of violation of the sanctity of a Church (DUMC).

JAIS would have succeeded if it manages to deflect attention from this primary issue with its machinations of charges of proselytization and insult to Islam.

Even then, despite the importance of remaining focused on the raid of DUMC, it should be noted that the main target of this present exercise by JAIS (or whatever UMNO puppet master behind it) is not Harapan Community or DUMC. The real target is PAS.

UMNO officials and Malay supremacists like PEMBELA think they have found the right tactic to regain support from the Malay electorate. By seizing on the bogeyman of ‘conversion’ and ‘proselytization, it would catch PAS wrong-footed, put the Menteri Besar of Selangor on the defensive and if possible seriously damage Pakatan Rakyat.

If PAS fails to side with JAIS and condemns the alleged conversions, it will be accused of abandoning its role as the defender of Islam. UMNO then offers itself as the only genuine defender of Islam. If PAS publicly sides with JAIS it will lose its hard earned support from the non-Muslim electorate. Either way, PAS will be gored by the horns of dilemma set by UMNO.

Without a doubt, Islam is exploited by politicians to gain political power. It doesn’t matter if Harapan Community and DUMC happen to be convenient tools in the struggle between UMNO and PAS. They are just dispensable collateral damage.

This article also appeared in Malaysia Insider on 15 Aug 2011 LINK

Article taken from HERE