Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Resurrection In Each Morning

We dont usually remind ourselves of who we are when we wake up every morning. We dont really need to remind ourselves of our name, address, mobile number. We dont do that unless we are suffering from some kind of memory-loss disease. Those who have watched Momento will be reminded of the memory-lost protagonist who had his body tatooed so that he will know what he should do in each day.

Do Christians need tatoos to remind ourselves of our identity?

We might had weird and un-Christian dreams over the night or there are armies of sub-human desires and visions charging towards us when we gain our consciouness each morning. Do we jump off the bed, kneel down and ask for forgiveness and strength? Usually we dont. We just dont take those early desires and visions seriously because we know those are of our carnal, fleshy, fallen nature. But on the dark side, we tend to keep-safe these demons. Can't we have a break? Why such dreadful angelic war in morning?

Anyway, it is our own choice whether to struggle or to give in. The ideal is that the moment we ignore them, push them away, we are just about to start our day. And we have to keep doing this for most morning in this short period of living. Is that it? No, not that simple. Each action that we take bear more and deeper meaning than we usually know. By prayers and struggles, we are reminded of who we are, not by our name but by our personhood. When we wake up, we exercise our personhood to identified ourselves with the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we slept, we died, when we wake up, we resurrect.

In this way, each morning is a resurrection morning. We woke up with our resurrected identity. We dont need tatoos! All we need to do is to push the tomb stone away. Yes, push the carnal dreams, desires, and visions away.

Each morning, we know not only our name, address and mobile number, but also our personhood. With that, we walk out of our bed as Jesus walk out from the tomb, continuing the work the resurrection had inaugurated.

So, good morning.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Two Paths Of Obedience

Two Paths Of Obedience by Dr Goh Chee Leong, an article written for Graduate Christian Fellowship

I think all of us as Christians agree that our responsibility above all things is to follow where God leads us. We all believe in divine guidance, even though they may be differences in how God chooses to communicate this guidance to us. The more difficult challenge of course is not discerning His will but having the strength to submit to His call when it is revealed.

We realize of course that God's calling will lead all of us in different directions. Some may be called to take the path of upward mobility while others will be called to head south.

The Path of Upward Mobility

There are ample examples in the Bible of God placing key people in key positions. Both the stories of Daniel and Joseph provide good models of God developing young leaders and then empowering them to wield Godly influence at key moments in history. Many sermons have
been preached on the need for committed Christians in positions of leadership in all areas of society and industry. God's name is glorified when his servants of high profile reflect His attributes of love, grace, holiness and integrity.

Some among us may be called to this high road of power and influence. Of course, men like Joseph and Daniel never sought power as an end; rather they pursued righteousness and received power quite unexpectedly as a result of God's provision. As their examples
demonstrated, God will tests these potential leaders and only give them power when they have proven faithful and obedient in the smaller tasks. He does this for good reason, for power and wealth, as we know, corrupts.

God has blessed some of us with talents and gifts of intellect that will no doubt enable us to climb the corporate and social ladder as far as we wish to go. We work hard and are committed to transcend mediocrity. This success is not a bad thing in itself, for God may indeed have designs to use us as leaders and people of influence and power. However, those who are called to this high road thread a dangerous path indeed. Many have lost their souls trying to serve both God as well as their personal ambitions. There is a fine but clear line between being driven by a desire to obey and being driven by the desire to succeed. Mother Theresa once remarked; "God has not
called me first and foremost to be successful. He has called me to be faithful."

The young Christian graduate who sets out with the genuine desire to earn wealth in order to support God's kingdom may at some point be so obsessed with achieving his goal that he forgets the motive behind it. This moral tension becomes more apparent when faced with ethical
dilemmas that pit following God versus corporate success.

I recently remarked to a college CF that we should start inviting more speakers who have the experience of being held back or fired from their jobs because they chose to follow God rather than their own ambitions. We should remember that Joseph was held back for quite awhile in his "political career" (due to his faithfulness) before he rose to the lofty positions he finally held.

The Path of Downward Mobility

It was Henri Nouven who taught me the phrase downward mobility. His own life of course reflected this thinking. A famous professor of theology at the peak of his academic career at an ivy league university, Nouven heeded God's call to abandon all fame, fortune, power and influence to serve as a Priest to a mentally disabled community for the remainder of his life. God had called him not be upwardly mobile but like Christ to lower himself in the eyes of society so that he could be closer to God.

Some of us will be called to walk this road of downward mobility. It will lead us away from the limelight and places of profile to the quiet corners of this world where God's plan is no less important. It will lead to sharp drops in the key performance indicators (KPIs)
that are used by this generation to measure success. People while openly stating their admiration for our commitment will behind our backs quietly remark "what a waste of talent."

This is the path of John the Baptist, the old-testament prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah, and most of the apostles like Paul and Peter. It is the path of missionaries, social workers and Christian workers. It is a call to free ourselves from the wealth and position that so
often limits mobility and time. It is not the road reserved for those who cannot "make it" up the upwardly mobile path, it is certainly not the consolation prize for those who lack talents to succeed in other professions. Some of us are called to this path simply because it is
God's will and part of God's larger design.


The Kingdom of God needs young men and women in both these paths; the one that leads to high profile leadership and the other that leads down the social ladder. God places equal emphasis on each. There is no thought of which is greater than the other. As Paul remarks, we
have been given different gifts in order to play different roles.
All roles are important in God's church.

The question is whether we are on the path God has called us to, and if we are, are we being faithful in playing the role God wants us to play.

Dr Goh Chee Leong

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Money Not Enough

GCF i-commentary: In 1998, Jack Neo released his popular movie, "Money Not Enough" during the throes of the financial crisis. Whether or not one has watched the movie, the title will strike a chord with many of us at one time or another.

The price of almost everything is going in only one direction: UP. Things are getting more expensive these days, from food items to petrol and even to ASTRO bills (ASTRO has become almost a basic necessity for some of us). If only Christians can buy lottery tickets and have a shot at the jackpot. All of us can use some extra cash (just kidding).

The Bible has a lot to say about money matters. In 1 Timothy 6 v 6, the Bible says that "godliness with contentment is great gain".

Contentment is a famous lost word. In a culture where novelty has become a norm, all of us have to struggle against the lie that "bigger, newer and faster are better!" We are bombarded with constant advertising from all over the place telling us that our life is not complete unless we live in a bigger house and drive a fancier
car and invest in that high yielding portfolio. Contentment? That is something reserved for mystics who spend their days meditating in caves, not for urban dwellers like us who have a "modern standard of living" to maintain. Yet, we all know the well worn phrase, "things cannot buy happiness". Still, we yearn for more stuff that this world can offer, always chasing that elusive fulfillment that the next purchase may bring.

This quote from Herbert Schlossberg stopped me in my tracks recently: "All true needs, such as food, drink, and companionship, are satiable.Illegitima te wants - pride, envy, greed - are insatiable. By their very nature they cannot be satisfied. In that sense, materialism is the opium of the people. Enough is never
enough. Greater quantities are required for satisfaction and each increment proves inadequate the next time."

After reflecting on this quote, I resolved to be a more contented person and focus on legitimate needs. I realized afresh that I do not really need much stuff to get by in this life. True needs are satiable. I can eat a simple plate of "chap fan" and be truly satisfied. I can drink local "kopi O" instead of splurging on a RM10
coffee to quench my thirst. I can drive my wife's Kelisa and reach my destination (since when does transportation become a symbol of success?). When life is simple and we are freed from the tentacles of materialism, we can focus on finding true fulfilment and satisfaction in a growing and vibrant relationship with Christ. It's true that money is not enough. All the money in the world is not enough to give
us a sense of purpose and direction in life. Only Christ can do that.

When we have Christ and we learn to live simply and contently, that is great gain!

Christ is Enough,
Wong Fook Meng

Christianity and Word Religion/Culture

2007 Reformed Evangelical Seminar,Singapore
Christianity &World Religion and Culture

Dates :
17 May 2007 (Thursday) 7.30pm-10.00pm
18 May 2007 (Friday) 7.30pm-10.00pm
19 May 2007 (Saturday) 6.00pm- 8.00pm (5.00pm-6.00pm Q &A)
20 May 2007 (Sunday) 7.30pm-10.00pm

Speaker : Rev Dr Stephen Tong
Interpreter : Elder Yong Teck Meng (Mandarin with English Translation)
Location : Newton Life Church, 200 Keng Lee Road, S30841o