Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Facebook

Friday, April 23, 2010


Been playing catch-up all month long. With plenty more to do.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

The future of publishing?

A very clever video on the future of publishing, produced by the folks at Dorling Kindersely. You need to watch the whole thing as there's a twist!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Word ministry - on clarity and failure

Two recent posts from The Gospel Coalition that are particularly relevant to Word ministry.

Andrew Lisi: I believe the great task of any Christian – from early believer to seasoned theologian or pastor – is to take the unique language of Scripture and theology and make it accessible to those who have not been exposed to any of it without losing the essence of what God is communicating in His Word. I am constantly learning how difficult of a task it really is, especially because I also believe we must retain the clear language of the Bible.

David Murray: And we take all our failures to our unfailing Lord for His full and free forgiveness. We take our failed evangelism, our failed sermons, our failed pastoral visits, and our failed counseling to the Lord, and pour out our hearts to Him: "Lord, I’ve messed up another sermon...I’ve forgotten to visit that needy soul…I was too scared to speak about you to my fellow-passenger...I’ve misjudged the mood of my elders...I’ve unnecessarily offended that family who left...I was insensitive in counseling...I’m paying for breaking a confidence..."

But as we confess our failures, we experience the Lord’s unchanging and unconditional love. And we re-emerge...humbler and weaker, but wiser and happier too.

As always, both posts worth reading in its entirety.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Resurrection: not just an afterthought

I wrote the following for publication elsewhere. For those wanting to explore further, I'm sure Sam Allberry's Lifted would be a reliable guide, although I haven't as yet read it.

“[After] All that stuff about science and physics, and the complications of physics and things, what it really comes down to is the resurrection of Jesus...It’s so petty, it’s so trivial, it’s so local, it’s so earth-bound, it’s so unworthy of the universe.”
So says noted atheist scientist, Richard Dawkins, in a debate. And though we no doubt deeply disagree with him, we sometimes find it harder to explain why, exactly, it's so important. If all our debt has been paid on the cross, why the resurrection? Here, very very briefly, is a non-exhaustive list why resurrection is key.

Firstly, resurrection tells us that the Davidic King is now ruling. King David prophesied that the Messiah would be enthroned when God raised him from the dead (Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35). Here is a King whose reign is all-encompassing and all-conquering. The empty tomb of Jesus testifies to the fact that He is that King! No wonder the disciples were transformed! God raised him, they saw him, they lived for him.

Secondly, resurrection tells us that new life really is found in Christ. Negatively speaking, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:7). We know that sin leads to death. Jesus, in dying on the cross, has taken our punishment upon himself. But in rising again, he demonstrates that the cross has done its work. Sin is completely dealt with! We know we are truly justified (Rom 4:25), and death is no longer the end. We can rest, wholly assured.

Thirdly, resurrection tells us that we presently have new power. In Colossians 3:1, Paul can say of Christians, “you have been raised with Christ” (past tense). In one sense, we have been resurrected already. The Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:9-11) is the same Spirit who dwells in all believers. Resurrection gives us a glimpse of life in the future. But that future resurrection life begins to bear fruit in us today as we walk God's way.

Fourthly, resurrection tells us that a new creation is coming. Peter praises God for his great mercy in granting Christians “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3). Jesus' resurrection will not be the last. His resurrection, instead, guarantees that it will be the first of the many who trust in him (1 Cor. 15:20-21). And through the resurrection of God's children, all of creation groans in hope too, as it awaits complete renewal (Rom. 8:18-23). Far from abandoning the earth, God will one day reshape it.

Resurrection, unworthy of the universe? On the contrary, the universe is unworthy of such a momentous event. Christ is risen, hallelujah!


Friday, April 02, 2010

A Crescendo of Wonder: a Good Friday sermon

The events of Good Friday are utterly breath-taking. We celebrate nothing less than this: "that God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20).

We are talking here about something that happens at the very foundations of the universe. Call it cosmic redemption, ontological healing, metaphysical reconciliation, the Bible's version of Star Wars, or whatever helps you think about the largest, most ultimate reality, the "Really Real," capital R, capital R.

And it is all accomplished through what seems like a paradox. "Making peace through the blood of his cross" is like saying that a nuclear missile has become an olive-branch, that Guantanamo has become a garden of healing, that a sword has been turned into a plowshare, that a tank has been turned into a tractor. The very thought of it leaves us weak in the knees with astonishment.

Keep reading...

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Back in Malaysia

I figure it's probably the right time to mention this.

After 8 years spent in the UK, I am now back in Malaysia for the long haul. That's always been the plan. It, however, has happened a little earlier than I expected. I had been looking to return in the 2nd half of 2010, after I had finished off my 2-year apprenticeship. God's timeline was different. Regular readers of this blog will know that I had visa problems which meant that I returned late last year. At that point, I was still looking to go back, but in the end, it was not to be.

In a recent prayer letter, this is what I wrote:
About a month ago, I preached on Matthew 26:1-16 at 3 services, about the woman who pours perfume all over Jesus....The main thrust of that passage is how utterly amazing Jesus is, and that we should treasure Him above all. At one point in the sermon, I said something like this: "What if we prayed and worked hard for something, but don't get it? How we respond might give us a clue as to where our treasure really lies." Well, that was probably the most difficult part to say personally, because I knew that part was speaking to me as much as anyone else. Especially when you have to say it 3 times!

...I am, of course, very sad at this change of events, although at the same time, I know God has been faithful all this while and that this time of stretching for the past few months have been good for me. One thing I can say, it hasn't been boring in the least!...There have been many good things about coming home – from being able to be clearer with my parents what my long-term plans are, learning what the situation for Christians is like on the ground, being able to connect with other like-minded evangelicals. There are the trade-offs too: from not being able to benefit from getting further training in Oxford, being unable to build on some of the relationships I've formed there, having to move again for the 3rd time in 3 years.
For the year, I'm going to be based at SMACC. At the moment, I'm not sure what lies beyond 2010. Having spent enough time in full-time paid gospel ministry, I can say for sure that there's nothing else I would rather do, even if it is often hard work. Long-term, I hope to go to theological college, perhaps in 2012 or 2013.

I'll probably reflect on my time in the UK in another post. But my British decade is over. I'm back in Malaysia, a little (maybe even more than a little!) uncertain about what the future holds, but trusting in the God who was willing even to give his only Son to die for me, that I might have new life with him.

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Where did all the Christian writers go?

Where did all the Christian writers go?. Evan Maloney wonders aloud how Christianity, for so long the bedrock of Western literature, seems to have disappeared from contemporary writing. Although the analysis is pretty reductionistic in places, it's still an interesting read. It also reminds us how some "secular vs 'Christian' fiction" debates would have made no sense at all in times gone by. Whenever the Guardian posts any article about religion, the comment thread is usually very frustrating to read, but not this time. People like Marilynn Robinson get a mention!

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National education feature

I meant to link to this earlier. The Nut Graph had a very interesting 4-part feature reviewing the national education system. I am personally convinced that any substantial reform of Malaysia must reckon with the way education works here.

Going private
Chinese medium schools to the rescue
The homeschooling option
Whither national education?

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