Sunday, April 30, 2006

Three Grand Essentials To Happiness

I read this in an article today, and it got me thinking:

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do,someone to love, and something to hope for."--Joseph Addison

What do you reckon?

Living Room Big Gathering

During the Living Room Big Gathering on Wednesday, we had a time of communion, and we used the following communal prayer that I found very meaningful.

[Call:]What does it mean to be the Body of Christ?
[Response:]It means we incarnate the Gospel, the Word made flesh, who sent us the Spirit, becoming flesh again in us
[Call:]We live as the visible community that carries the Gospel Jesus gave us to the world around us,to the neighbour next door, across the oceans, to the wealthy and the middle class, the working class, the homeless and the oppressed
[Response:]We pursue peace and God’s justice for the broken, the orphan and the widow, the wrongfully accused,the imprisoned, the abused, speaking Truth to Power in Love
[Call:]We practice unity in diversity, with every tribe, tongue, nation, and people praying and pleading for God’s reconciling grace in one resounding voice
[Response:]We enter into the Kingdom life which Jesus declared, the beautiful life where the last shall be first and every tear is wiped away
[Call:]We worship the Living God, declaring the Kingdom is here but not yet,breaking bread and pouring wine, sharing Life or sharing burdens
[Response:]Bearing witness to the presence of Jesus in our lives, in our relationships,in the world throughout history forever and ever, Amen

Kim Hammond, the Victorian Director of Forge , came to share with us his story, and his community. Kim leads an organic missional church planting project called The Junction. And you can read more about it here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ten Simple Pleasures

Miss Eaggle over at the Trad Pad tagged me for ten of life's simple pleasures. Since I am in a bit of a hurry (need to go to college for intensive classes on Paul's Theology and Mission Practice very soon), I'll just name them, if you have any questions about these ten things, please feel free to ask me hehe. Here goes:
  1. Eating
  2. Writing and reading blogs
  3. Chatting with people, whether it's in person, on the phone, or online
  4. Taking photos
  5. Going to theatre shows, art galleries, and movies
  6. Enjoying natural settings eg: beaches, mountains, gardens etc.
  7. Hanging out with family and friends
  8. Listening to music
  9. Travelling or driving around
  10. Thinking and Feeling

I am going to leave it open for anyone who's interested to do this and be tagged :)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Postmodern Era And Leadership

As a response to my previous post on Postmodernity / Postmodernism, Yadah suggested an article around this subject. I found this article helpful and thought provoking, and I could really relate to it. The followings are some of the main points:

  • Postmodern era is really a time of profound change. It has been said that many leaders are finding it hard to engage postmodern culture because they have not understood the concept or the opportunities that it presents. Others have confused postmodernity as an intellectual movement and postmodern culture with its particular value set, like tolerance and moral relativity, and then tossed out the baby with the bathwater - although this is true to a certain extent, I know there are kingdom minded leaders (both in emerging church and in established church), who are making great efforts to engage the postmodern culture.
  • This chaotic and uncertain process leads to a neglect to re-evaluate one of the critical pieces in discovering new forms: leadership. While it is critical that we hold on to biblical values and purpose (function) it is equally important that we don't idolize the old forms. Forms change, the message remains the same - I agree that the old forms shouldn't be idolized. Although the gospel is always the same, the ways to share / express / preach it (forms) can change. In fact, I believe that the gospel has to be contextualised in the postmodern era in order to be relevant.
  • If we view the kingdom as transforming culture (a process that will only find its full expression and completion with the return of Jesus), then we are not only free to explore culturally relevant ways of expressing our faith, we are actually compelled to continually re-evaluate, re-imagine, and re-tell our story in ways that our listeners can understand and embrace - The kingdom is here but not yet, but it is certainly transformative, so I agree that we should explore culturally relevant ways of expressing our faith. Hence re-evaluation, re-imagination and re-telling stories should be encouraged. This is a time when the need for, and relevance of, the gospel has seldom been great, but the relevance of the Church in the West has seldom been less.
  • When cultures collide, as modernity and postmodernity are currently doing, those who find themselves caught in the collision can feel that their world no longer makes sense. Old paradigms collapse, and the frame of meaning is lost. Those who are meaning makers tend to be listeners and observers, and they join the process of communal searching and learn to ride the shock waves. They contextualize meaning and discover a new way of making sense of the new world. They arrive at a liminal place—a place between the two cultures where new possibilities arise - I certainly find myself amongst those who feel that the old and new paradigms of modernity and postmodernity confusing. I long to be one of the listeners and observers in order to arrive at a liminal place. The current credibility gap has made it hard to communicate the gospel with clarity and authenticity. Paradoxically, this is the case even though it is currently a time of almost unprecedented openness to the issues of God. At the moment, I am in between two worlds.
  • The challenge is clear: to effectively engage our culture while maintaining our biblical identity as the people of God, a people (community) on a journey. Our failure to do this, and to explore new ways of faithfully expressing the biblical call to discipleship (in both edification and evangelism as missional communities), will result in our becoming increasingly marginalized and irrelevant - I am committed to engaging our culture and exploring ways to discipleship in this postmodern era.
  • The role of leadership, as always, is critical. But the word no longer carries the meaning it once had. We need new metaphors, and we need to recognize the communal context of leadership and get beyond the confused entanglement of leadership and authority - This is hard, but essential I think.
  • we confront two critical challenges: how to address deep problems for which hierarchical leadership alone is insufficient and how to harness the intelligence and spirit of people at all levels of an organization to continually build and share knowledge. Our responses may lead us, ironically, to a future based on more ancient—and more natural—ways of organizing: communities of diverse and effective leaders who empower their organizations to learn with head, heart, and hand - I believe the inability to confront these two critical challenges are what cause the division between established mainstream church and emerging church in the Body of Christ. I agree that building and sharing knowledge is absolutely important, so is learning with head, heart, and hand.

Finally I am also keen to know how can the emerging church in a postmodern context learn from Paul about the establishment and growth of new faith communities. If you have any ideas, please feel free to drop me a comment or two.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Postmodernity / Postmodernism

Recently, I have been thinking and heard quite a lot about postmodern culture, postmodernity and postmodernist theories.

In my previous posts, Emerging Church In Postmodern Context & Clergy and Modernism Versus Postmodernism, I attempted to explore the issues, and tried to make sense of some of the ideas of emerging church in the postermodern context, and realised that this was such a facinating and enormous subject, which could also be quite confusing! To many of us, the word "postmodern" may sound unfamiliar, but it's an important concept. The followings are some of the ideas that I've collected from various sources:

  • Crossroad has made a great summary of the differences between modern versus postmodern cultures, as well as biblical versus postmodern thinking. They believe that if we don't understand the postmodern mindset and the changing worldviews of influential leaders and visionaries, we can't really prepare for the impact of this social revolution -- both on faith and evangelization.
  • WILLIAM BLAKE AT THE ORIGINS OF POSTMODERNITY claims that "1789 marks the end of modernity and the beginning of the contemporary, post-modern, age. But the French Revolution is merely a surface event. Beneath that surface lies electromagnetism, the most revolutionary innovation of those years. Blake's manifold work follows the lines of force, the patterns of electromagnetism: both introduce into the Western culture an original set of ratios decidedly "irrational"; both depart from the established patterns of "modernity", both will have to wait many decades before further development; both Blake and electromagnetism, at the end of the eighteenth century, enjoy only precarious status as an early form of postmodernity. During the modern age, matter and energy were two different substances with no possibility of interchange. Dualism was constitutive, extreme, permanent. In our postmodern age the two are but precarious, temporary aspects of the same reality. "
  • According to A reader's Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory, "the term 'postermodernism' has been the subject of much debate, especially during the 1980s and 1990s. Some see it as simply the continuation and development of modernist ideas: others have seen in postmodern art a radical break with classical modernism; while others again view past literature and culture retrospectively through post-modern eyes, identifying texts and authors as 'already' postmodern. Another arguemnt claims that the project of modernity - which designates the philosophical, social and political values of reason, equality and justice dervied from the Enlightenment - is as yet unfulfilled and should not be relinquished.

So what do you think of these observations / ideas / opinions and assertions about postmodernity / postmodernism?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Photos For The Feast

Feast At The East Posted by Picasa

More photos of Feast At The East can be seen here. Please enjoy, and pray for the follow up work.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Paul: Fresh Perspectives

Today I started reading a book called "Paul: Fresh Perspectives" by N.T. Wright . I've only read the first few chapters, and already it looks like a very interesting book. The outline of this book is as follows:
  • The first chapter froms a general introduction
  • The next three chapters look at major Pauline themes - Creation and Covenant, Messiah and Apocalyptic, Gospel and Empire
  • The fifth to seventh chapters form a miniature systematic account of the main theological contours of Paul's thought - Rethinking God, Reworking God's people and Reimagining God's Future
  • A final chapter looks at some key themes - Jesus, Paul and The Task of the Church

The author of the book Tom Wright claims that reading Paul is like climbing a mountain. Those who are used only to the easy tourist path sometimes forget that scaling the vertical craggs is not only more exciting but might sometimes get you to the top more quickly. There will be surprises and riches in store; just when you think you've got Paul's measure, he chuckles nad forces you to read a passage you thought you knew well in a quite different light.

I am really looking forward to continue climbing 'the craggy mountain' by taking this different path / route through looking at Paul in fresh perspectives.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Liquid - Culture, Spirituality & Justice

I attended the Liquid workshop last Friday. It aimed to integrate Justice, Culture and Spirituality. These three major areas are integral to the practice of Christian mission: (1) Justice: compassionate living & social justice. (2) Culture - engaging culture & community (3) Spirituality: spiritual formation & discipleship.

Many missional events focus on just one of these areas without showing how all three are integral. Other events may dip into a couple without addressing the relationships between them. Yet, one or two of these areas alone does not create a faith framework capable of sustaining people into Christian maturity.

Liquid is a missional training event presented by several agencies, organisations and churches who want to encourage a more holistic approach to mission and discipleship in Australia. By uniting these diverse groups with their unique gifts and experience, we can emphasis all three areas and increase our capacity to significantly shape the practice of Christianity.

There were more than 20 electives that participants could choose from, and I found the workshops and experiential worships very thought-provoking, challenging and inspiring, and helped me to grabble with these three important aspects of mission.

So which out of culture, spirituality and justice can you identify with most? And how? Do you agree that all three are very important in mission?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Feast At The East - Mission At The Marketplace

These last few days I was involved in part of the 60-hour community festival called "Feast at the East" in a shopping centre in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, where many churches , schools and Christian artists are participating in. The community festival happens from the centre stage and is organised by RSVP: to Life! . The Director of RSVP: to Life! and the main organiser of the event has invited me to be one of the MCs during the event.

The vision of this community festival is to use a feast of artforms (including singing, drama, mime, cartoon-making, stand-up comedy, dances, mosaics, jigsaws, quilting, walking with giants, game shows, sketch and tell, art and photo displays, puppets, harp playing, floral art, jazz bands, storytelling, drumming, and various creative and children's workshops etc.) to share life meanings with people in the community.

Aims and Objectives of the community festival:
  • To choose a number of themes and issues around popular books, films and subjects of interest – grace, identity, power, addiction, hope, redemption and community.
  • To express and explore these stories and concerns through a wide range of high quality, crowd-friendly creative activities on the stage area.
  • To engage a cross-section of the public in conversation (we consider this is a crucial part of the whole enterprise, not only our on-stage presence).
We are using an inclusive/inductive approach, exploring life matters and life meanings together (based on our common humanity, God’s image, meeting and befriending people from all walks of life). Given our blend of ingredients, it’s a new model for mission in the market place, and we hope this will become a template, a pattern, for elsewhere in Melbourne.Around 200 people are already involved. And I feel really privileged to be part of it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Living Room - Tour Of Darren's Life

Last night at Living Room, we had an everyday spirituality night, where Darren shared about the tour of his life. "Tour of life" is an opportunity for a person in the community to show others in Living Room what their life is like. This usually involves meeting at the person's home, having a meal (at their place or going to a restaurant), sharing about their workplace (by telling their work stories or actually going there), and visiting / talking about other important parts of the person's life etc. And we get to hear about how the person encounters God at work in their life, and how they interact with other people etc. We usually stop to pray for the person as well.

For the details of the night, please refer to Darren's blog here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

The 20th Melbourne International Comedy Festival is happening right now. 2006 is really a BIG year for Melbourne and Victoria, Australia. After the Commonwealth Games with serious sports and arts events, the Comedy Festival shifts the international sportlight to another of Australian's favourite cultural pastimes - having a good laugh. I read somewhere that alongside Edinburgh and Montreal, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world.

As a person who enjoys comedy and a good laugh, I eagerly anticipate and find the Comedy Festival to be an attractive event. Every year during this time (autumn in Melbourne), the world's best comics join Australia's great talents for the Comedy Festival. In my neighbourhood like the Melbourne Town Hall and the Federation Square, there are events like Umbrella Revolution and the family-friendly Big Laugh Out, free every week, which I sure will find some time to join in.

On Tuesday night, my friends and I went to see Australia's favourite Comedy Duo Live Lano & Wooeley's Goodbye show at Her Majesty's Theatre. The Festival's favourite comedy duo are taking their final bow after an incredible twenty years of working together. I remember seeing their performances two years ago outside the Arts Centre court, and 'fell in love' with their hilarious yet somewhat weird sense of humour (must admit I didn't get all the jokes at the time and needed my Aussie friends to explain at times hehe). This time, I found it a little bit sad that this was going to be their final performance together in the Comedy Festival, but my friends and I did have a fantastic time laughing away. They are truly funny and intelligent, and it is definitely a pity for Australia to lose such a great comedy duo.

People often say 'laughter is the best medicine', and I think it's so true :D I am feeling so much better after the show haha.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Longing For More?

Posted by Picasa

As a result of my recent moody-ness, I have been pondering about my own thinking, feeling, state of mind and emotional vulnerability etc. Today I was in tears, but praise the Lord! I was reminded that I actually yearn for what I already have, and fearful of what I shouldn't be.

OK rather than being sentimental, let me analyse it.

So what do I long for?

  1. love? of course I have a yearning to love and be loved; with the desire to know I am accepted and valued. I have the greatest love of all - the love that is sacrificial and unconditional. God's great love sent Jesus to the Cross for me.
  2. hope? of course I long for security and hope that will last! Jesus is my living hope. Truly a relationship with Him brings genuine hope into my life.
  3. worth? of course I long for self worth. God thinks I worth a lot. I matter to Him and can make a difference in the world as I serve Him.
  4. forgiveness? I know well what it is to live with regret and guilt! Jesus' death opened the door to forgiveness. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.

Thank you Father God for Your great love. You are the source of life. Please strengthen me, watch over me, guide me and protect me from all harm. Help me not to fear as Your love casts out all fear. Lord I love You with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my heart. I long to see You more clearly, to love You more dearly, and to follow You more nearly, day by day! In Jesus' name, amen!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Christ's Resurrection And Ours

On Easter Sunday my mentor Professor Brown came to preach at CCBC on the topic of Christ's Ressurection and ours based on Romans 6:1-11. The following is the summary of the sermon.

In conversion, the Holy Spirit unites us with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. We are raised to:
  1. Christian Fellowship (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Baptised one by one, we are brought unot an amazing togetherness, Christ's body, His children. A body is closely bonded together. Fellowship is not a Sunday exercise, but a daily experience.

2. A Christian Lifestyle (Colossians 3:1)

Living on earth, our heart is with Christ in heaven. We are to show in daily life what heaven is like. Be like Jesus, he was with the crowd, one with them; the only difference is he was kind, helpful and generous.

3. Christian Service (1 Peter 2:3)

Like living stones we are being built together into a house for God, a holy temple. God lives there. Peter's 'house' also means 'household'. So the stones are priests. The lowliest service is priestly.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I wrote a poem based on the word E.A.S.T.E.R., which I shared during Living Room Easter BYO Worship, and hope to share with you.

Easter is a time of love,
A time of death and pain undone,
So we may know the power of
The love that lives in everyone.
Each love we feel, unstained and free,
Redeems us--as with you and me

Have a blessed Easter everyone! God Bless!

Starry, Starry Night

I dont know if you know this or not, but the famous song "Vincent " by Don McLean is about Vincent Van Gough the famous painter. The words are very moving, it talks about his paintings and his struggles with life....

Starry, starry night:
paint your palette blue and gray.
Look out on a summer's day
with eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
sketch the trees and the daffodils;
catch the breeze and the winter chills
in colours on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
what you tried to say to me
and how you suffered for your sanity
and how you tried to set them free
they would not listen, they did not know how
perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, Starry night;
flaming flowers that brightly blaze;
swirling clouds in violet haze
reflect in vincent's eyes of china blue
colours changing hue;
morning fields of amber grain,
weathered faces lined in pain
are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

For they could not love you
but still, your love was true.
and when no hope was left inside
on that starry, starry night
you took your life as lovers often do

I could have told you, Vincent
this world was never meant
for one as beautiful as you,

Starry starry night
Portraits hun in empty halls;
frameless heads on nameless walls
with eyes that watch the world and can't forget
like the strangers that you've met
the ragged men in ragged clothes
the silver thorn, a bloody rose
lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

Now I think I know
what you tried to say to me,
and how you suffered for your sanity
and how you tried to set them free.
they would not listen, they're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will.

Sometimes I do feel like Van Gough - weak, fragile and even insane!

Expressing Feelings

In our cell group materials in CCBC, there is an article about the importance of expressing our feelings, which I think is quite spot on:

1. Expressing feelings helps us to understand others, and help others to understand us more.

  • 5 levels of communication - greeting, exchange information, share opinions, express some feelings, express all feelings. The best levels are the last two.

2. Expressing feelings helps us to be healthy.

  • when we are emotional or stressed, our physical health is affected negatively. The pituitary glands of our hypothalamus will secrete a hormone called adrenalin during fight or flight conditions, which is harmful to our bodies. Therefore, it's important for us to deal with our emotion by sharing our feelings.

3. Expressing feelings is the first step of self-acceptance.

  • When we courageously express our feelings, we are honestly facing ourselves, and accepting ourselves.

My mother was saying to me tonight that I am normally quite an expressive person, but at times when it comes to conflicts, I can go into avoidance mode. I have been feeling moody, emotional and vulnerable lately, yet I praise my Lord that He will never leave me or forsake me, no matter what! I pray that I could express my feelings in loving ways, not just good feelings, but bad ones as well. Sometimes I find it difficult to be honest.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wedding Message

Zoe and Tony's wedding Posted by Picasa

It was my church mates Zoe and Tony's wedding last Sunday. It was lovely to hear Tony saying "I love you" to Zoe in French.

Our pastor shared a short message about "acceptance and forgiveness", which was quite meaningful. Below is some of the points in the address:

  • Marriage is a relationship. Like in all other relationships, unpleasant feelings and hurts are not uncommon.
  • When there are conflicts and displeasure happen in the relationship, the couple needs to pray about it.
  • Although it's important for husband and wife to show each other that they are important and significant, the deep need of satisfaction of heart can only be met by God ultimately.
  • Love forgives and accepts. Acceptance and forgiveness are crucial in any relationship.
  • The freedom Christ provides includes the freedom to require nothing of our mates.
  • We will hurt when a spouse disrespects and rejects us, but God's love and grace empower us to love and give no matter how little we receive.
  • That is one of the secrets of marrage - a love that forgives and acdepts. But the source of strength is Jesus Christ.
  • God meets our needs and we can approach life with the resources to give out of fulness.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


What do you think "precious" means? Have you thought of someone as precious before? How do you define the word "precious"?


Santorini Posted by Picasa

I feel like having a retreat. Feeling quite tired. Came across this painting and really hope to have a break there in the Greek Islands. Has anyone of you been there before?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Modernism Versus Postmodernism

Do you think you're modern or postmodern?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Backyard Bard

If you are in Melbourne, you're invited to come experience the story of Jesus told through the world-famous Broadway musical, Godspell through the Backyard Bard!

With incredible voices, entertaining performances and a moving Easter message, it is guaranteed to be an amazing musical production.

Directed by my friend Simon Camilleri, this is definitely the largest scale production that The Backyard Bard has ever produced, so don’t miss out!

For more details, see:

Friday, April 07, 2006

10 Hints On Communication

I received an email this morning from a caring friend, who wanted me to know about some important hints on communication based on the Word of God, which I found very useful:

  1. Learn to honestly express your feelings, don't attack the other person. (Proverbs 11:9)
  2. Choose gentle words and tones, don't offend by using harsh words. (Proverbs 15:1)
  3. Don't exaggerate or twist the facts. Avoid using extreme phrases like "never" or "always". (Ephesians 4:25)
  4. Point out concrete examples. If necessary, write down the main points before you communicate. Don't be vague.
  5. Try to seek solutions, and not just express your negative emotions. Your goal shouldn't be to win an argument, but to handle the conflicts (Romans 12:17-21)
  6. Listen carefully what the other person says, empathise with their feelings and needs. Try to understand what the other person doesn't say and the underlying thoughts. (Song of songs 1:19)
  7. Refuse to dwell on bitterness, anger, avoidance and conflicts. Although these emotions are normal, once they are to the extreme, they become sin. (Ephesians 4:26)
  8. Don't hesitate to confess your weekness immediately, and forgive the other person quickly. Never let yourself become bitter. (Luke 17:3-4)
  9. Continually communicate with the other person, ask them questions until you are certain that both of you understand what the other person's thoughts and feelings are. During the process of seeking the solution, encourage one another. (Romans 14:19)
  10. Train your mouth and heart, so that you can speak the right things, using the right ways for the right reasons, in the right time.

What do you think of these points?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Paul's 4 Missionary Journeys

Living Room this week was at Forge's "Postcard from the Edge" with Neil Cole. Neil Cole is one of the leading organic leadership practitioners in the world. He is the Executive Director of CMA and a board member. Neil helped found the ministry and has helped lead it from its inception. Neil has been in pastoral ministry for fifteen years and is an experienced church planter, author and consultant. Neil is also a founding leader of the Awakening Chapels and of organic church planting movements.

He talked about Paul's 4 missionary journeys, and the lessons we could learn from them. The followings are some of the main points he shared during the night, which I found very insightful and challenging.
  • Paul's First Missionary Journey (Acts 13:1-14:28)

First Journey Lessons: The first journey leader often tries to do it all himself, which leaves weak churches who are susceptible to domineering leadership (Galatians). The apprentice leader on his first journey begins to flex his own leadership muscles and become a leader in his own right stepping out from the shadow of his mentor.• First journey leaders often seem in a hurry to move on.• The first journey is where the leader gains the know-how to later pass on to others. You can’t skip the first journey.

  • Paul's Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36-18:22)

Second Journey Lessons:• The emerging leader often shows less respect for the mentor leader as he steps out on his own to do things his way. This usually lasts about one year and if the mentor responds graciously he will gain even greater respect afterward. Ralph Moore refers to this as “adolescent rebellion syndrome” because it so closely parallels the struggles of a teenager coming of age.• The 2nd journey leader often finds his plans are not God’s plans. The quicker he learns to listen and follow the better. Strategy is not a bad thing, but it is second to listening to God’s voice and obeying.• The lesson of the second journey is learned through conflict, pain, loneliness and fear.• You can’t skip the second journey either.

  • Paul's Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18:23-21:16)

Third Journey Lessons:• Many leaders do not reach this journey, because of arrested development in earlier phases.• Writing is often more prolific in this phase. • God entrusts third journey leaders with more quality emerging leaders because they are valued and given great opportunities.• Third journey leaders have an expanding influence because others take their message further than he/she could themselves. • Though the third journey leader may find he/she is doing less things they are more focused and more is accomplished through the multiplication of new leadership.

  • Paul's Fourth Missionary Journey (Acts 21-28)

Fourth Journey Lessons:• Most Christian leaders will never get to the fourth journey. They usually plateau or die on a previous journey.• The fourth journey leader cares less about daily provisions than they used to. They have learned the secret of contentment and trust (Phil. 4:10-14)• The fourth journey leader’s reputation increases even in the eyes of secular leaders.• The fourth journey is one of greater expansive influence, beyond what expectations or circumstances would dictate. • The fourth journey is when the leader often expands his/her written influence so that countless others are benefited by their experience and maturity. Books written in this journey are longer-lasting works. • The fourth journey leader still faces life tests of character growth.

What do you think of Paul's 4 Missionary Journeys? And how can they be applied in your life, leadership and ministry?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Love - The Greatest Commandment

When I was at Tabor, I did a research paper which identified and outlined the ‘centre’ of my personal theology for ministry. I remember asserting that "love" had to be the centre of any ministry and relationship. I collected a list of quotes (from the bible and books) on love, and the followings are some of them.
  • Love is the very nature of God (1 Jn 4:8, 16) and the greatest of the Christian virtues (1 Cor 13:13), essential to human's relations to God and people (Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:28-31; Jn 13:34-35). On it hangs all the law and the prophets (Mt 22:40). It is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:8-10). Love found its supreme expression in the self-sacrifice on Calvary (1 Jn 4:10). The Bible makes the unique revelation that God in His very nature and essence is love. God not only loves, He is love. In this supreme attribute all the other attributes are harmonized.
  • God’s supreme command is ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’, and `Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mk 12:30-31 NIV). We do it by choosing to love God and to love others. Love for God and love for people are the two great pillars of the Christian philosophy and practices. They are the ‘first two commandments of God’ (McGarrigle, 1962: 3).
  • Love is the ultimate truth about God, the characteristic and attribute that sums up everything else and draw together all the aspects of His nature. God loves us. Love flows out of who God is (McClung, 1993: 36).
  • The greatest idea ever to reveal from God to human beings is love. There is faith and hope and love, but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13).
  • Jesus said, “love each other as I have loved you." (Jn 15:12). Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8).
  • C.S. Lewis thinks that God can awake in people, towards Himself, a supernatural appreciative love. This is of all gifts the most to be desired. This is not in our natural love, nor even in ethics, but the true center of all human beings. With this all things are possible (Lewis, 1977: 128).
  • Love, generally, is that principle which leads one mortal person to desire and delight in another, and reaches its highest form in that personal fellowship in which each lives in the life of the other, and finds his / her joy in imparting himself / herself to the other, and in receiving back the outflow of the other’s affection unto himself / herself. Such is the love of God. (Peison, 1994: 23).
  • We can demonstrate our love for God by living out our part of the Great Commission and bringing the Author of love Himself to our loved-starved planet. We can determine to love others like Jesus loves (Zschech, 2002: 36).

So which of the above quotes do you like most? And which can you identify with?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Unconditional Love

C.S. Lewis describes God's love in these terms:

"Divine Gift Love is wholly disinterested and desires what is simply best for the beloved."
Not uninterested, but disinterested. That is, with no desire for personal gain or benefit. The whole object of agape is the welfare of the one who receives love. This is why we can call it unconditional love. And this is how God loves us. There is nothing that we need to do to prove ourselves worthy of His love. We only need to accept it. He loves us, not because of what we are, but in spite of what we are! A simple way to express this is to say, 'I love you anyway.'

While agape is a matter of choice and decision on our part, we can also ask God to help us so that we can fulfil the choice that we make and truly love as we should. Barry Chant, the founder of Tabor College, said, "our decision and commitment must be to exercise agape at all times. Our prayer must be for the Holy Spirit to help us to do it!" In the ultimate example of agape - the Lord Jesus Christ's death on the cross - there was a totally commitment. Agape is always like that. It must have all of us, or nothing. There is simply no middle ground!

Dear Father God, may your love increase daily and overflow through me to others, and may the Holy Spirit help me exercise agape all the time. In Jesus' Name I pray, amen.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Friendship And Affectionate Love

According to C.S. Lewis, the co-existence of Friendship and Affectionate Love (in greek: philia) may help us to realise that friendship is in reality a love. Affectionate love is a reflection of the image of God. I think we need to learn how to be more spontaneous and warm in our love for one another. The relative importance of the two kinds of love (philia and eros - physical love) is graphically expressed by Lewis in these words: :

"Supposed you are fortunate enough to have "fallen in love with" and married your friend. And now suppose it possible that you were offered the choice of two futures: "Either you two will cease to be lovers but remain forever joint seekers of the same God, the same beauty, the same truth, or else, losing all that, you will retain as long as you live the raptures and ardours, all the wonder and the wild desire of Eros. Choose which you please." Which should we choose? Whice choice should we not regret after we had made it?"

How would you answer these questions? How would you choose???

What a choice to make! Fortunately, most of us do not have to make it. If I did, I would (should) choose philia. One can live without eros and still be content. But without philia life is almost impossible to bear. What do you think?

Sunday, April 02, 2006


On Sunday at CCBC, the passage on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 was shared. I am sure many of you know what this passage is about. Yes, it's about "LOVE".

1Co 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1Co 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1Co 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
1Co 13:7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1Co 13:8 Love never fails.

The speaker used some visual images / pictures to help us understand the key words for 1 Cor 13:4-8 to explain what love is:

  • never gives up - always there
  • cares more for others - not selfish
  • is content - doesn't want others' things
  • forgives - doesn't keep score (puts up with anything - whatever happens )
  • trusts - firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person
  • prays to God - that's the most important thing we can do to those we love

What do you think of these points? And how do you define love personally?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tabor Graduation Ceremony

This afternoon I attended the 2005 Graduation Ceremony of Tabor Bible College. World Team is one of the award sponsors for this occasion, and I was there to represent the mission family.

I was very touched by the whole ceremony. It was such a joy to see graduates' smiling faces as they have reached another season of their lives, commit to seek God's presence and to pursue an ever closer and deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, to continue to faithfully follow Him, and relying upon Him and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, and to serve God in His Kingdom.

The guest speaker Mark Connor (Senior Minister of CityLife Church) gave an insightful and encouraging address. He reminded us that we are not only saved, but called. His message was based on Acts 20:28 "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood." He claimed that in order for the leaders to keep watch over themselves, they need to have the following 5 habits:
  1. Retreat and Pray (Luke 11 where Jesus was praying in a certain place)
  2. Deal with internal stresss (that comes from unrealistic expectations, negative emotions and conflicts)
  3. Keep growing in the Lord (we should never stop growing)
  4. Develop close network of friendship (a good support network is vital for a leader's health)
  5. Look after yourself physically (Sabbath Principle, rest and recreation and exercise)

What do you think of these 5 habits?