Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Ultimate Wedding

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Yesterday i was at a wedding. The most beautiful part of the wedding, was when the groom teared when he saw his bride walking towards him and i couldn't help but reflect on how much more beautiful it will be when we, the bride of Christ, approach the Bridegroom on that day. 
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
This classic wedding text from Ephesians 5 shows how much Christ, the Ultimate Bridegroom, gave for his bride, his church. He gave himself up for her, to sanctify, and cleanse her, to present her blameless and holy. How much more should we, the church, submit to Christ, responding to His great love for us.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caught this on Mel's site

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Just because

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everyone always needs something funny.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My solid rock

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Recent events have led me to sorrow, and as i drove home today in the dark depressing and constant rain, i remembered this song, that sings of Christ, the Solid Rock upon which i stand. And i'm reminded of grace, and how glad i am to have a Rock to stand on, to have something to believe in and to live a life based on it, something to take and make a stand on, because all other ground, is sinking sand. 

Edward Mote, a pastor and hymn writer, penned his most famous work 'My Hope is Built on Nothing Less' which is best known for the refrain 'On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand'. He was well liked by his congregation in Horsham and they offered him the church building as a gift. Mote replied "I do not want the chapel, I only want the pulpit; and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that." Just prior to his death, he said: "The truths I have been preaching, I am now living upon, and they do very well to die upon."

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

'On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.'

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

FunkyMonkey: Good Listening

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Upon hindsight, i realized that these tips to listening better helped in other parts of life too, not just listening to sermons. It has certainly helped me in listening to people in normal conversation. Of course, you don't go jotting down everything your friend says while in the conversation, that's just weird. But key things/comments are worth writing and remembering, also to be checked into at a later date. 

Just a hint

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of what went on in Zi's coolest ever 21st bday party.

A little rant

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Ahhh, a breath of fresh air, the sun and the sights! Being out here in the wide open, gazing into the horizon, the potential! The life! This is living! Not being imprisoned in a tiny cell, grasping for daylight through the bars on the tiny window. 

I've broken out. It seems illegal, but who cares! I'd rather be on the road and on the run forever than be in that tiny room another minute. Look! Birds! A whole flock of them! I feel like i'm flying right beside them, soaring with the wind, carried along by freedom and hope...

As i come back down to earth, i realize that honestly, all the trauma is still shackled to me. I still have the scars around my wrists and ankles from the chains that bound me to the wall. Everytime i look at them, i can feel the hopeless dejection suppressing me, like literal chains binding me so hard i can hardly breathe. 

But that only happens occasionally, and i know with time, my wounds will heal and my mind will clear. All i know is to live in hope.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My lifeline

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My phone is dying a slow death. Not that slow, but the sort of death where it's still kicking its last leg but you know that death is on the horizon. I've been stressing over the fact that i'll have to shell out money to get a new phone straightaway cos i can't live without my phone...

BzzZZzzWWwtt! Re-wind! 

"I can't live without my phone..."

Ah the dependency on something other than God to organize my life and hook me up socially. I can live without it and lately i've realized that i actually like it when my phone is silent. (In case you were wondering, i don't use any tone but silence now) Peace is elusive with a phone around. Besides, nothing (ABSOLUTELY nothing) beats meeting people face to face. All this emailing and phone call business, it helps up communication but at the same time it downs REAL communication as well.

So maybe i'll not get a new phone straightaway. And remember to depend on God more than my phone.

p.s. If people really want to get me, they have my email address or house number anyway. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good Listening

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In continuation to Good Sermons, i thought it is common and completely unfair to put the whole responsibility on the preacher to preach. For someone to preach, there must be someone to listen. Quoting girltalk, "If our pastor, whom God has called and gifted to preach, spends many hours studying God’s Word to share it with us, shouldn’t we be humble and diligent to review and apply that truth?"

Having listened to many sermons among other sorts of speeches, here are some things i found in my process of being a better listener:

  1. It is never helpful to switch off during a sermon (bad or not).

    It is easy to pay attention to a good sermon. It is even easier to switch off to a bad sermon. However i've found that it doesn't do us any good to switch off to anything. What does help, is by listening attentively and learning to identify what the preacher is trying to say in his sermon and checking that up with Scripture. I can't really say it better than this, when Paul and Silas went to Berea in Acts 17, where they received the word with all eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 

    Why is it important to examine everything that we hear so carefully? Because preachers are only human. That's why we need the church, to serve God together and serve each other. It is our responsibility to make sure that all our fellow members of the family of God stay faithful to Scripture. And you can't really do that if you're not paying attention to the speaker. 

    1 John 4 says,

    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

    You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

  2. Always take notes.

    This always helps me, especially if i find it hard to pay attention. By jotting down stuff that the speaker mentions, it helps me to focus and even if i don't manage to figure out what he's trying to say, i can always look back at my notes and figure it out at a later time or ask questions where i don't understand. It also helps in the process of checking Scripture to make sure what the speaker says is true. I can't really check with Scripture if i didn't write anything down, and i would be going on my memory alone, which is faulty and often misremembers details.

  3. Preach to yourself.

    If indeed you have checked with Scripture and found it to be a bad sermon, preach the sermon to yourself. NO, not the bad one, but figure out how a sermon with such a topic or such a text should sound like. It helps to try and figure out what the original readers were supposed to understand from the text and then in light of the Gospel, figure out what God intends for all readers to understand. And any Christian can do this, reading and understanding Scripture is not some miraculous talent only bestowed on preachers. We've been given the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit helps us understand what God is saying to us.

This is also not an exhaustive list, just the basic few that help me listen better. That concludes my tiny two-part post. However, a few last words before i end - read the Scriptures faithfully, always check all that you hear with Scripture and don't be discouraged in reading Scripture. In conclusion, a reminder from Paul to Timothy (emphasis mine):
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
If you put these things (ref:verse 4) before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Suggested reading : What is a Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti M. Anyabwile

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Good Sermons

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A little introduction to a two-part post i've been writing:
For all the preparation the preacher does (or not) before gathering up the guts to speak to us, i'd hope that he'd have prepared a good sermon. And a right response to that sermon (good or not), would be good listening


I'm no preacher, but i am a more than once weekly pew/seat/floor warmer, sitting at the feet (or on a chair) in front of a speaker. After listening to these speeches for a while, there'll come a point where you take note of the difference between good sermons and bad ones (that is, if you've been paying attention - read about that in the sequel to this post). 

A few things i've found helpful in a sermon:
  1. A good preacher preaches a sermon that draws your attention not towards himself, but points to God.

    That's the whole point of preaching at the pulpit, to quote someone wiser than me, "to hold the microphone for God." Long life experiences, funny anecdotes and other such things shouldn't distract from the message God brings. 

  2. It is good to teach and explain Bible passages (expository/explicatory preaching).

    Where better to start than with Scripture to hear God speak? It's great when the Bible is explained to us on the pulpit, in direct opposition to using Scripture here and there to support a cause/ulterior motive/just your own message. We should hunger for what God is saying, not what man wants to say.

  3. It is necessary to help people understand biblical theology.

    It's great when i get help in understanding how a text from the Bible relates to me and salvation etc. Since the Bible (both the testaments) shows God's unfolding plan of salvation climaxing with Jesus Christ on the cross, we should seek to understand any given text in the Bible within God's whole plan, revealed to us in Scripture. The Gospel should remain the center of any message, always the climax, never the footnote or postscript.

It's not an exhaustive list and feel free to correct me if i'm wrong, but these are things we all need to hear on Sundays and everyday. We all need to remember and be reminded of the cross all the time - whether from the pulpit or elsewhere - and make it a point to live a Gospel-centered life, not a gospel sidelined life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I should update my blog more often

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So in lieu of my upcoming durian runtuh of backdated posts, here is an endorsement to go and check out something worthwhile, it's the 9marks blog - highlighting the 9 marks of a healthy church. Check out what it means to be a church, and what a church should look like. 

Read everything!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I hate that irritating bass beat

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I was woken up rudely by irritating bass beats of some inconsiderate idiots music at 4am. It played all the way on from there til 8am. I should know. I was up the whole time. I've heard more techno-ish, house, whatever kinda of stupid dingbat songs than anybody should in a whole lifetime.

Here's the thing: I realized during that 4 hour period how passive men have become. I'm guessing men used to defend hearth and home, protect their women and children, do the he-man thing. They used to gladly join the army for crying out loud. They were willing to sacrifice their lives and time and effort for the good of the country, their people and families. 

These days, can't even get them to get out of the house and tell these idiots off. My dad was a hero lah. He went out to check them out, but apparently there were a lot of people so he came back. That's okay, at least he tried. Which is more than i can say for the rest of the men living on my block. Useless bums. No wonder women want to do things themselves sometimes. Cos you're not doing it. 

Yes, this does not apply to men in general.
Yes, this only happens when i am rudely awakened.
Yes, it stops here. 
The music hasn't stopped by the way. The volume is lower but it's still playing.
I hate those irritating bass beats.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Jog my memory

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Me + Dust = Bad

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I thought i'd practice some housekeeping today, since i dropped my handphone from my loft bed into an obscure spot and had to rescue it from near death by dust. So out came the vacuum and gloves and mop. The spot is now clean-er.

I made a discovery while i did the cleaning. It was like a Eureka moment. I managed to get an equation out of it.  
Me + Dust = Bad
To be honest, i discovered this a long time ago, when my mum could still force persuade me to clean my room and change the covers. Everytime i changed the covers, i'd get a nasty hayfever and i won't be able to see out of the teary slits my eyes become or smell because my nose would be all stuffed up AND runny at the same time. 

Back then, my rational conclusion is that i'm not made for housework and i should make my future husband/maid clean everything. Now, my more rational conclusion is that i should probably keep everything clean at all times so the dust won't pile up and overcome my silly nose.
Dust, oh dust,
Hate you, i must.
why can't you just self combust.