Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Hero In Our Midst

Alvin Ung, iBridge article
February 7, 2003

The Bible tells us to listen carefully to wise counsel. "He who walks with the wise grows wise," says the writer of Proverbs. That’s why, when I arrived at Regent College in Vancouver, I signed up for J.I. Packer’s class immediately.

Jim Packer, 77, is best known for Knowing God, a book which has sold more than three million copies. He has written more than a hundred other books. Teacher, scholar and pastor, Packer has brought about a renaissance in Christian thinking. He has weighed in on just about every major discussion on both sides of the Atlantic, and continues to do so. But what strikes me most is how he consistently strives to honor God.

A Holy Encounter

My wife and I didn’t see Packer during our first few days at Regent. Then one gray morning (and there are many such mornings in Vancouver), an old man in a khaki trench-coat strode through the frontdoors. Huey Fern spotted him.

“Look, it’s J. I. Packer!” a student gasped. Those who were reading looked up. The talking stopped. Heads swiveled and a silence fell across the atrium as people craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the world-famous theologian. He had white wisps of hair on his sloping forehead which contrasted sharply against a tweed jacket and dark green pants.

He loped across the atrium, shoulders hunched from carrying a sheaf of notes in one hand and a battered leather briefcase in the other. As quickly as he appeared, he disappeared. The students at Regent call such encounters "a holy moment."

The Gift of God’s Presence

It amazes me how one man can evoke such a powerful sense of God’s presence. It’s not hero worship. While his works may line bookshelves and fill our church libraries, it is the impact he has made on countless Christians that sets him apart. He has transformed many, simply by pursuing the knowledge of God all his life, and then pointing the way for others to follow.

“The supreme gift that anyone can give another is to help that person live life more aware of the presence of God,” writes David Benner in Sacred Companions. “Sacred companions help us remember that this is our Father’s world. They help us hear his voice, be aware of his presence and see his footprints as we walk through life. In doing so, they make the journey sacred.”

Dr. Packer isn’t the only one who can help us be more aware of God. We are surrounded by many such people. I call them ordinary heroes. They aren’t always larger than life, the way Dr. Packer may appear to be, but they are certainly people who have demonstrated God’s love.

Connecting with Ordinary Heroes

In my column, Ordinary Heroes, I will profile ten people – young and old, broken and saintly – who have impacted the lives of many people. In conversations with them, my heart is stirred and God is present in our exchanges. They inspire me. They have changed my life. And most of all they have connected with me.

These heroes aren’t perfect. They’ve made mistakes and continue to struggle with temptation. I hope that as I write about their lives, you may identify with them. I hope that we find courage and hope from the living stories that God has authored.

The apostle John says that we have met God when we encounter those love God and love us: “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us.”

Gordon T. Smith, twenty-first century theologian and author of Courage and Calling, puts it differently:

“God is only God in communion, and the bond is made of love ... Our capacity to love God and one another – to live as interconnected beings – is a primary dynamic of who we are, reflecting God's image.”

I pray that God will fill our hunger for friendships and human connections. May we find an intimacy that reflects the love and completeness in God himself.


1. Is there someone in your life that you look up to?
2. What are the qualities/strengths in him/her that you admire? How do these strengths reflect your own desire to grow?
3. Take a moment today to thank your hero. Write an email or a letter, or pick up the phone to tell the person how he/she has made a difference in your life.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Interview: LT Jeyachandran (RZIM)

By Ranee Quirey Published 10/2/2005

How did you come to know the Lord?

I was 19 years old when I grappled with issues of morality. I realized that I was in need of God's forgiveness. That led me to search and seek for answers. I had been fascinated in my studies in engineering, mathematics and physics. We had meaningful interactions that led us to asking questions related to our faith.

In fact, I encourage people that the best way to learn is to ask questions of those with whom you are sharing the Gospel, about their own belief system - that teaches you alot.

How do you connect with God on a daily basis?

I spend my time using a book of hymns, followed by a book of poems written by a Christian but based on secular living. What may be unusual is I do not distinguish between the devotional and Bible study. Generally, we are taught that "quiet times" and "Bible study" are distinct from each other. Having grown up in an integrated environment, I have applied the principles in my Christian walk. I do not separate the secular from the spiritual. Therefore, I have found integrating the devotional and academic essential, making no attempts to separate the two.

Who are your mentors?

Two gentlemen - one is my father-in-law, who is a doctor and an ordained minister. The other is a gentleman in his 70's who works for FES. Both of them encouraged me in my world of work, and the thought of the corn of wheat, which is essentially the principle of dying to self and living for Christ - I was God's ambassador right there in the engineering field.

Could you describe what your ministry entails?

Our main interest is to fulfill the Lord's commandment through the Great Commission, for which we employ the method of apologetics. How do we practically do this? We train the believers. We conduct direct open forums, making a presentation of the Gospel at pre-evangelistic meetings, providing a Christian worldview.

Should everyone be involved in Apologetics?

Philippians 1:7 suggests that all believers are to be partakers in the defense of the Gospel. However, it is not necessary for everyone to employ the methodology of apologetics. Apologetics is useful for all believers, but not everyone needs to be involved in it.

What are the keys to fulfilling the Great Commission?

We need to develop a genuine concern for people. We need to be more people-oriented versus program-oriented. We seem to be far more interested in the methodology, gadget and media aspects of the programs. This causes fragmentation. W e seem to have reduced Christianity to a whole lot of formulas for problem solving. I think life is far more complex than that.

We are far more complex than that. It requires being involved and relating one to another. Some of the methods are useful, but I normally suggest using the broad Biblical pattern, then let each person work out his or her own technique - there are some very good books on this subject. I think we have a weakness in this particular area - choosing quick fixes, versus allowing God to work through each one of us patiently. God takes His time. I believe very much in being committed to God and to His people.

Could you share your secrets of savouring life?

I have been very much fascinated with God and His people. Consider how He is intimately involved in all of life's affairs - the beauty of the Creator and His Creation. I have often used humour in daily living - humour is a part of the image of God, and I believe that God has made all things for us enjoy.

What would you advise our readers?

I would encourage them to embark on a journey of searching and seeking God.

Dave: LT has given the following messages at CDPC, which are good reads from the perspective of someone with extensive experience conversing with Muslims and Hindus in India and around the world.

What is God Like?
What is Truth?
Why Christ Alone?

Money Can Buy You Happiness?

By Fook Meng, a lawyer practising in Melaka

According to an article in the August 2002 issue of Reader's Digest, money can buy you happiness. Economists at the University of Warwick have found that a simple injection of cash is all it takes to make you happy. However, to shift an average person from the bottom of the happiness scale to the top takes a hefty USD 1.5 million, though even USD1,500 can perk you up temporarily. However, the researchers are keen to stress that money is not necessarily the easiest route to contentment. A happy marriage, for example, is the equivalent of USD 105,000.00 a year, good health is worth USD 300,000.00 a year, while the misery of unemployment cannot be alleviated for less than USD60,000.00.

Dr Tony Evans said that there are several tests to determine whether we are giving an unhealthy and unGodly focus on money:

1. Am I discontent with the blessings God had given in my life ?

2. Am I trying to buy the happiness, peace and tranquilty which only God can give ?

3. Am I hoarding money for myself and for self aggrandizement purposes ?

4. Am I failing to utilize my earthly resources for heavenly purposes ?

5. Do I see myself as the owner of the things in my life instead of being a steward of God's possessions ?

6. When there is a conflict between money and God, who wins ?

The Bible teaches us that there is no correlation between economics and a person's happiness. As a matter of fact, in the Bible, Jesus seems to suggest that people who are desperate, poor and oppressed have "God's preferential treatment". The lepers, the widows, the sick, the woman caught in adultery, the children, featured prominently in the gospel narratives.

James tells us that "God had chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom". ( James 2 v 5 ) Why ? Perhaps those who are rich and powerful and who have all the human connections will rarely sense the need for God. The characteristics which are precious to God, like holiness, humility, brokenness, compassion, are always more elusive to the rich and famous. On the other hand, the poor and really desperate, who have no hope in the riches of the world, are much more ready to turn to God for they have nothing to lose.

Are you feeling poor, not having enough of the world's riches ? Perhaps God had chosen you to be rich in faith.

I have a feeling that people who are at the top of the happiness scale are rich people... people who are rich in the faith and heirs of an eternal Kingdom. I want to belong to that category. And I don't need USD 1.5 million to get there.

Fook Meng, GCF icommentary

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Honoring God In Our Occupations

Listen to these voices:

"I am stuck in this boring job because I need the money."

"I am too exhausted at the end of a working day to pursue spiritual activities."

"I cannot see any spiritual connection between my faith and my job."

"Work is a necessary evil in a fallen world."

I acknowledge that there are marketplace Christians who are fully engaged and contributing in a God honouring way through their secular jobs. But, my guess is that they are few in number. The majority of us struggle hard in fleshing out our faith in the "real world". Many mornings, I start out the day with an intention of hallowing my work by making it a sacrifice to God. But more often than not, by mid morning, as I am swamped with e mails, phone calls and meetings, my spiritual desires quickly slipped away and I succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. How then can I honour God in my occupation?

I got a useful tip on practicing God's presence at the workplace while reading Phillip Yancey's Rumours of Another World. Yancey wrote:

"Martin Luther saw the potential calling in any kind of work. "Even dirty and unpleasant work, such as shoveling manure or washing diapers, is pure and holy work if it comes from a pure heart," he said. Luther urged ordinary folk - farmer, milkmaids, butchers and cobblers - to perform their work as if God himself was watching. Luther was, in effect, bringing two worlds together, reading God into everyday life."

Yancey helped me to see that the mundane tasks that comprise my day are significant parts of a meaningful pattern in God's view. And, while it is difficult to practice, he also helped me to see lasting value in each of my mundane tasks.

I reviewed my previous work week and asked myself certain questions. Did I perform my routine tasks like signing letters, drafting documents and doing legal research with an awareness that God was watching me? Did I treat my colleagues, my clients and my professional peers with the attention they deserve? What was my inner spirit like - stressed, anxious, irritable or peaceful, contented and joyful? Sharing a joke over lunch, contributing an idea in a meeting, visiting a colleague whose father passed away - were these acts done for Christ?

When I began to see the potential of honouring God in every working day, I realized afresh that marketplace Christians are placed in strategic positions to influence the world for Christ. There are people and organizations that God wants to reach through each one of us. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we are willing to be faithful witnesses every single day in the marketplace?

Wong Fook Meng
GCF iCommentary

Monday, June 11, 2007

认识圣经的圣灵观 : 圣灵与我, 圣灵与教会, 圣灵与敬拜赞美



地点: 11 Lorong 25A Geylang (near to Aljunied MRT).
XI AN House 锡安楼 2nd Floor Hall.

第一讲:2007年6月18日(星期一) 圣灵与我
时间 : 7.30 – 10.00 pm

1. 圣灵的重要性;「灵」、「圣灵」、「属灵」、「灵界」的意义
2. 「基督的灵」:圣灵的位格
3. 如何理解圣灵工作﹕圣灵继续耶稣基督的工作,和圣父的工作
4. 旧约中圣灵的工作
5. 圣灵与救恩﹕施行救赎的灵
6. 圣灵与圣洁7. 小结:20世纪《威敏斯特信仰告白》增订部份:「论圣灵」

第二讲:2007年6月19日(星期二) 圣灵,《圣经》与教会
时间 : 7.30 – 10.00 pm

1.圣灵的降临 : 五旬节是救赎历史里新的一章. 教会的开始五旬节的教会充满着非超自然性的圣灵恩赐, 是治理性的管教.圣灵的降临, 充满, 浇灌, 洗有什么不同.
2. 圣灵的恩赐
3. 圣灵与《圣经》
4. 灵恩运动 : 定义,特点, 发展(第一、二、三波灵恩运动)
神学反省 : 我们怎样去回应灵恩派人士对我们的批判(批评我们忽略圣灵)﹕若正确了解救赎论,基督论与圣经论,就不会认为忽略圣灵.

第三讲:2007年6月20日(星期三) 圣灵与敬拜赞美
时间 : 7.30 – 10.00 pm


1. 旧约和新约圣经关於敬拜的教义
2. 当代敬拜赞美的起源与历史重要性:圣灵一直在光照教会,两千年的教会历史,已经留下宝贵的属灵遗产给我们作为敬拜与赞美的资源。我们的态度是﹕所有教会历史上的属灵遗产,我们都要筛选最好的,为了教会的成熟来选择性使用。
3. 实例

Friday, June 08, 2007

Christ Followers in KiasuLand

Have you met any "kiasus" ( Hokkien word to describe someone who is afraid of losing) recently? It's really easy to spot one. Some characteristics of "kiasus" are:

Their favourite words are "Me", "Myself", "Mine" and "I" in big bold capital letters.

They make choices solely on the basis of what benefits them the most.

They are resistant to the fact that anyone can be better than them.

They want to win at all cost, even willing to sacrifice integrity, relationships and health at the altar of success.

If you have problems finding a "kiasu", let me tell you a place where you can likely find one. Look at the mirror! Jab! Jab! Ouch! That's painful, isn't it? But it is so terribly true. Let's admit it. We live in a "me" era. However, many of us are sophisticated enough to mask our "kiasuism" with subtle packaging. Our pride is called ambition. Our greed is named "hunger for growth". Our seeking for fame and popularity is hidden under the veneer of "marketing our talents and skills".

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti – growth or anti- competition.

Godly stewardship of our marketplace position entails a strong focus on productivity, growth and profitability. However, my concern is that we may focus entirely on self interested motivations and on winning at all cost that we end up being another "kiasu" in kiasuland. Surely, our calling as marketplace Christians should compel us to see beyond salaries, profitability and increasing of
market share.

Laura Nash in her book "Believers in Business", noted a covenantal approach among some evangelicals to the competitive drive in business. In a covenantal approach, the first question asked is not, How much money did we make? but How is the customer faring? In other words, the primary purpose of Christians in the marketplace is the creation of value for others. In Philippians 2 v 4, the Bible said, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." That seems to be a value creating call to me. And, it is also a warning against "kiasuism".

I'll end with some questions on how we can create value for others:

In your workplace, what does it mean to be more of a giver than a taker when it comes to adding value to your organization?

Is your organization a better place to work because you are on the payroll?

If Christ were to have your job, how would He create value for your bosses, peers, subordinates, clients and society at large?

As Christ followers, let's focus on creating value for others. It's the antidote to being a self seeking "kiasu".

Wong Fook Meng
Graduate Christian Fellow i-Commentary

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Inconvenient Truth: Global Warming

Elder Kee Huat was the Director of National Energy Commission, which provided him a unique perspective into the issue of global warming and creation care. Last Sunday, he gave an informative and passionate plea for action to the Church.

The Powerpoint slides would provide some research data he compiled, painting a grim picture of current situation that requires our response. Towards the end, he gave a Christian response similar to the Creation, Stewardship sections of the Lausanne Evangelical Commitment to Simple Lifestyle document.

He also draws resources from Richard Foster's Discipline of Simplicity for personal application:
"The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions. Neither the greedy nor the miserly know this liberty.

If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety.

However, if what we have we believe we have got, and if what we have we believe we must hold onto, and if what we have is not available to others, then we will live in anxiety."

What are some outward expressions of Simplicity?

- Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
- Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
- Develop a habit of giving things away: de-accumulate
- Refuse to be duped by gadgetry: time saving devices almost never save time.
- Learn to enjoy things without owning them: beach, parks public libraries...
- Develop a deeper appreciation for creation. Walk whenever you can, smell the
flowers, watch birds.
- Develop plain simple talk.
- Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
- Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God.