Friday, September 30, 2005

Sovereignty of God

I should get down some of these lessons learnt from my OT theology paper about the sovereignty of God in the book of Job.
1. God is supreme, in complete control over everything.
2. God never loses a bet, no matter how bad it may seem.
3. It's ok to attribute every little thing to the hand of God. He's certainly not threatened by the claim that he is ultimately (not directly) responsible for everything that happens: good, bad and ugly. I think we're more offended at that idea than God is.
4. God's looking out for our best even if he needs to find it in the crappiest of places.
5. God is much bigger, much better than we can ever know.

Here's another cool thing. I took a break from writing this paper cause i needed to go get my guitar back from my cousin who borrowed. With my head filled with material I was writing, i decided to pray that God sovereignly send the 855 bus just as i got to the stop. Surely enough... absolutely perfect timing. We hit the curb at the exact same moment. There was no pause in my cadence from walking to the bus stop to stepping on the bus.

Here's another cool thing. On my way to my cousin's place, i pray again. God, let a taxi meet me on my way back. Surely enough ... exact moment I walked onto the sidewalk. Mr Taxi is driving by, no passengers. Perfect God - perfectly illustrating in deed what i had just learned in his word . He sees, he knows. He makes things happen. This is the God you can trust in.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Salvation is not our specialty

I’m a Calvinist. I believe that salvation has nothing to do with us, our skill in evangelism or tactics in community penetration. It is all of the Lord. God will save those whom he has predetermined in his sovereignty and love and therefore we cannot be but completely successful when we proclaim the Gospel. Why be sensitive about and tactical about it as if our style or methods were the decisive factor in a person’s coming to Christ? The problem with Arminian theology is that the burden has been placed on the shoulders of mortal and fallen humans. Suddenly God takes the backseat when it comes to our own salvation and the salvation of others (yeah yeah, my words are a little extreme). Let’s just proclaim the true and pure Gospel and leave the work up to the Holy Spirit. Is he so weak that we need to be flawless in our evangelism and apologetics in order to “win” a convert? Besides, even if we are sensitive in our presentation, the Gospel itself is totally insensitive. It bids us forsake our selves, our family, our finances, our future so that we may follow Him. After our meek presentation of the Gospel I wouldn’t be surprised if people got scared off by its demands. Let’s just preach the real deal from the beginning lest we be charged with deceit. Let’s get the job done and we can all go home.

The Sensitive Gospel?

Postmodernity: the biggest buzzword heard around here these days. The questioning of the existence of absolutes, the loss of faith in production and modernity, the desire for the experiential. So, the Church likewise responds to the times. Seeker "sensitive" services, "conversational" apologetics, Opening the hearts of the people by meeting felt needs, never offending, never forcing religion down one's throat. I mean, I guess I can't say these things are bad, they are the natural approaches that the Church must conform to in order to be relevant to the world today.

But here's the thing: has there ever been an era in human history which did not resist true Christianity? In what sort of religious milleiu did the Church begin? I'm not a Church historian, but from my understanding, first century Roman empire and today's postmodernity had at least a few things in common. One thing is that the Romans governed territories which held many different beliefs, which could be inferred, that they wanted to keep the peace in a religious sense - everyone can have their own beliefs, just keep it to yourself. Secondly, I think the Roman empire wasn't very fond of Christianity in its early days. It was a religion that was highly suspect, a disease among the people. And so in this sort of "postmodern Roman empire", what do we see the Church doing?

I see people like Paul preaching and debating fiercely with the people in synagogues, on the street, in public squares. I see apostles who appeared before Kings and proclaiming the Gospel, not doing friendship evangelism. How "insensitive" of them! I see a Church who was aggressive in engaging with their culture and environment and did not blend in and compromise their convictions in order to be "relevant" with the world, or to potentially gain more converts. They were being the Church and the world and was not loving anything of the world, not even the culture, and the world was certainly changing. So have things really changed that much since then? Maybe we might be a little more effective if we began smearing our faces red with war paint instead of looking and thinking like everyone else. Jesus loved the world enough to incarnate himself into it, but he loved it too much to keep it the same

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Shamelessness of God

God is audacious. Think about how hardcore he is in wanting to reveal himself to us in terms we can understand that he came into this world, born a human being. What might the angels in heaven thought of the Prince of Heaven gladly heeding to the request of the Father to make him known to an ignorant and obstinate people who had already received so much revelation. How shameless it is that an infinite God would confine himself in human flesh and expose himself to simple discomforts like cold and sickness, wounds and sleepiness.

Oh that we would become a little more like our maker and take a few drastically audacious steps every now and then - after all, it is not that God is like us, but that we are like God. He took the cosmological nose-dive into the dark abyss called time, matter and space. He lived the greatest life and suffered the worst death all for the thrill of his glory revealed when God would be manifested to the world in all his fullness.

Sometimes I find myself lowering my volume on a crowded bus when the topic of God comes up with friends. I find myself wanting to be accepted by people before I confront them with the truth of the gospel that they are dead in their sins and must repent. Christians in Singapore are so careful with the 'no-Christian gatherings' laws that they spent huge amounts of time and energy putting on fun and tiring activites for the community who doesn't even know that it was Christians who put it on. So, in effect whatever roads were paved with the gospel was snowed over before we weren't willing to engage society and make a name for Christ.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Just because

So sad that in this day in age, we need to come up with reasons to believe God exists. This is how far our sin and wickedness has come in that we "suppress the truth". I thought the cosmological (first cause) and teleological (design) arguments were superb, but then I realized that some smart philosophers are still able to think their way around them.

At the end of the day, those who believe in God were not convinced from philosophical argumentation, but from a deep and personal sense of the presence of God. We believe because we simply do, because we cannot deny it, because we've experience him. Now all these may seem purely subjective and invalid as logical proofs, but who gives a damn? The only person who needs convincing is already convinced.

The existence of God and the Bible as God's word need nothing more than the argument: It is. Just because. It's like when your dad asks you to do something using his sheer authority and identity as his reason, "because I said so!" God started it all, not us with our tiny peanut brains. His word is the revelation of him because it is. These things should just be accepted as a matter of fact, but unfortunately we need to accommodate a world hungry for reasons and questioning everything. Proofs usually mean stating the preceding arguments that lead to a conclusion, but with God and his word, there is nothing previous to him that can be used as a reference point. He is it! The Bible said it best: In the beginning, God.

Friday, September 09, 2005

familiarity ...
So I was walking the other day and my sandal tears in half ... darnit. I go to the Bata shoe store to pick up another pair of cheap slippers and decide to make a change to a flashy-looking blue pair with a red and white trim; the sole's even got some of those reflexology pressure point bumps that tickles when you walk. So I buy it, put in on and walk out. No sooner do I walk about 100 meters that I find that the straps are rubbing the skin right off the dorsal aspect of my feet. Ouch!
A couple of days of that torture, and I've had it. I go and buy the same pair that I wore before: A modest grey slipper with blue trim, 10 bucks, good to go. Feels great. Feels familiar. Why did I ever think that I could find anything better than the one I already had? How much more perfect could something be?
Those who have ears ... let them hear.

On the other hand, there is change. I got a hold of a Canada friend's web link to some of her pictures of the old London gang and my beloved home town. As I scanned through the pictures, old sights were seen and even old jokes replayed. I could almost smell what home was like and what the chatter would have been about. Then I realized one thing: I will never be home again - not in the same sense anyway. I've gone too far from the "Shire" and there's no turning back. Asia is home now, even if no previous acquaintances ever see me again. No more returning to that comfort of North American pleasure-seeking. No more competing to get into a program with hopes of becoming successful, settle down, buy and house and car, get married, have 2.5 kids, host dinner parties and go to the cottage during paid vacations. Nope.

Lord, let my blood be spilled on Asian soil to nourish a church that follows hard after you.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

church these days

words to remember from L.T.

There are two things that the church is doing these days. First, it is trying to get something out of God. Whether it's wanting to experience a new sensation during their worship time, how to be financially prosperous, a good leader, a better wife or husband, competent decision maker, skillful professional, wiser thinker, we're looking for God to fill in the gaps of our lives which are lacking. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of these things. They are in fact noble and worth pursuing as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

The second thing the church is doing is finding ways of doing something for God. Whether it's mission, teaching sunday school, volunteering at a fundraising function, we are wanting to serve God. Most people are doing it for good reasons, some are not, but no doubt God is still using imperfect people with imperfect motives to advance his kingdom.

Here's the problem. Between wanting something from God and doing something for God is a gap which receives very little attention. GOD. Notice how quick we are in our sermons to jump to the conclusion, and that conclusion had better be the part where we discover how this affects my life. The good sermon is relevant for the here and now and must have application. This is true to some extent but what kind of application is valid? Why isn't the Church studying the Eternal, Triune God any longer? Why has the appetite for theology proper been replaced by a demand for theology practical? Surely it cannot be that the Church feels they have grasped the fundamentals of knowledge of God that is necessary for life; that we've somehow arrived with adequate knowledge of God suitable to carry on with our more pertinent daily issues.

We are worshipping God out of shear ignorance and has been reduced to sentimentality instead of reverent awe. Buddy-Christ mentality has infiltrated Christendom and the Triune God has become minimized and not magnified. When our view of God diminishes, worship suffers, missions suffers, holiness degrades, and the unsaved world turns their head totally unimpressed. Doesn't this sound like a description of today's church?