Friday, 31 July 2009

Up-2-Date [31-07-09]

The four principles of youth ministry discipleship
Why I think the inspiration process should be taught in every church
Ming Yi: So human, so Singaporean
Fear factor!
The China study
I have no rights! Only much undeserved grace
Identifying and removing hidden barriers to growth
What even the best preachers do
Know your audience
Top kingdom ideas

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Asian biblical scholarship

Tony posted an interesting entry on the need for Asian biblical scholarship, and suggested reasons for the lack thereof.

(read more)

I shared the following comment:

Sorry for joining this discussion rather late. First and foremost, I agree with Tony on the need for more Asian biblical scholarship. Generally, I also agree with the 4 reasons suggested.

Qualifier: I'm a M.Div graduate from SBC, so allow my 2 cents worth for a different perspective. Note, what I share is just my own personal experience going through SBC, so hope nobody will get the impression that this is meant as a SBC-TTC comparison or debate.

During my time (2004-2007), SBC offered 2 M.Div tracks, namely Biblical Studies (BS) or Pastoral Ministries (PM). I took the latter. The main difference for BS track was more focus on biblical language and exegesis, namely 2 x 4 credit Hebrew, OT exegesis and advanced NT exegesis.

For both tracks, we did the same 2 x 3 credit Greek and 2 modules of NT exegesis (Lk-Acts, Rom). However, for PM track, we only did 1 x 3 credit Functional Hebrew. Having said that, the key difference was more modules and focus on practical and pastoral theology e.g. church growth, emotional health, spirituality, counselling, etc.

I believe there's a place for both tracks. I know friends and pastors who did the BS track, and I see great value in it, particularly if one feels called towards linguistic or academic areas of ministry e.g. lecturing, researching at seminary level, or like one couple I knew, doing Bible translation work as missionaries.

I did not choose the PM track because it was "easier," or because I was disinterested in biblical languages. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed and did well in the languages and exegesis classes. I chose PM as I wanted a balanced theological education that had both bible/theology/language and practical/pastoral elements, and of course, because I knew my calling as a pastor, and wanted to be equipped to serve. I believe as pastors, we need to be equipped well both in theology and ministry.

Was what I learnt of the biblical languages enough? Yes, for a basic grasp, and helpful in preparation of sermons, teachings. However, I still am grossly inadequate to teach a language class, or go on to teach theology or exegesis. As Alex mentioned, perhaps that's the place for the Th.M or M.Th.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Streaming Audio Bible

Labels: ,

Monday, 20 July 2009

The clash of stereotypes
A recent survey reveals what Muslims detest most about the West.
by Dinesh D'Souza (CT, 20 Jul 2009)

Political scientist Samuel Huntington depicted a clash of civilizations between the West and the House of Islam in his controversial book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, which received new life after 9/11. Huntington and his admirers portrayed Muslim countries as incorrigibly illiberal and anti-Western, a view that has spread beyond the academy.

A major theme of the New Atheism is that fanaticism is intrinsic not only to Islam but to all of the Abrahamic religions. Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, writes that "we are not at war with terrorism, we are at war with Islam." And in her book Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that only by turning against Islam and embracing Western secularism can Muslims—especially Muslim women—discover the blessings of freedom.

(read more)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Tim Keller on writing a sermon
  1. 2 weeks before - 4 hours of Bible study/exegesis
  2. A few days before - Moving from "what the text says" to "what does it mean to me" (application, relevance)
  3. 1 day before - 6 hours editing
  4. On the day itself - 4 x 1 hour preaching

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, 17 July 2009

Megachurch leaders see themselves as teachers, not pastors
by Audrey Barrick (Christian Post, 17 Jul 2009)

In newly released findings from the Leadership Network's Large-Church Senior Pastor Survey, 81 percent of senior leaders in churches with more than 2,000 attendees view their role as "preacher/teacher" while only 16 percent see themselves as a "pastor, shepherd or spiritual guide."

Fifty-one percent chose the term "directional leader" and 33 percent described themselves as a "visionary."

The majority of megachurch pastors say they are strongest in preaching (79 percent) and thinking about and promoting a vision and goals for the congregation's future (77 percent). Around a third say teaching people about the faith and training people for ministry and mission are tasks they do best. And only 10 percent say they are strongest in pastoral counseling and spiritual direction.

(read more)

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Strict religious upbringing

In a recent interview, it was reported that Katy Perry wrote her hit song "I Kissed A Girl" to rebel against her strict religious upbringing.

The star's mother is an evangelical Christian preacher who has admitted she isn't a fan of some of her daughter's outrageous lyrics, which she has branded "shameful."

Perry was banned from swearing as a child and followed strict rules as she grew up, so she wreaked revenge with the controversial lyrics to her breakthrough hit.

(read more)

In this article, Perry quotes
We were never allowed to swear. I'd get into trouble just for saying 'Hell no'. If you dropped a hammer on your toe in our house you had to say something like 'Jiminy Christmas'. The only music we were allowed to listen to was gospel. No wonder I rebelled.

Malcolm Loh blogs his response, attributing her rebellion to her strict religious upbringing, and offering an alternate solution.
Christianity is not a religion with a list of do's and don'ts, of "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots". It is an intimate relationship with Daddy God that we can enjoy as the beneficiaries of a New Covenant established upon the finished work of Jesus His Son. That is the wonderful gospel of grace that needs to be preached, yes even to those who are in the Body of Christ. Amen?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The orthodox are finished
by Albert Mohler (15 Jul 2009)

Acting in open defiance to the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church has voted to end a de facto moratorium on the election and consecration of openly gay bishops. The vote -- overwhelming in both houses of the denomination's General Convention -- comes barely 6 years after the American church brought its worldwide communion to the brink of disaster.

The specific language adopted by the General Convention declared the church's openness to the ordination or election of homosexual persons to "any ordained ministry." In taking this action, the Episcopal Church now signals its absolute determination to defy Scripture, tradition, and the urgent cries of its own sister churches in the Anglican Communion.

(read more)

Labels: , , ,

Beyond "us versus them"
by Brandon O'Brien (Out of Ur, 15 Jul 2009)

O'Brien interviews Andrew Marin on building bridges between the GLBT and Christian communities.

(read more)

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Asia turns to religion in recession
BigPond News, 14 Jul 2009

As the world is hit by the worst financial economic crisis since the great depression, Asia has turned to religion for answers.

From meditating in Japan to lighting incense in Taiwan, recession-hit Asians are flocking to places of worship to find solace and pray for a quick recovery.

(read more)

See related article
Praise the Lord: Singapore's GDP soars (Euronews, 14 Jul 09)

Labels: , ,

Sin and statements of faith

Caleb Kolstad responded to this below quote by Mark Dever on his exposition of John 17.
Therefore, I conclude that it is sin to divide the body of Christ—to divide the body that he prayed would be united. Therefore for us to conclude that we must agree upon a certain view of alcohol, or a certain view of schooling, or a certain view of meat sacrificed to idols, or a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture.

So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view. I do not understand why that has to be a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation.
(read more)

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, 13 July 2009

The history of 57 cents
by Wilson Tan (Inkling's Cafe, 13 Jul 2009)

Wilson Tan writes about a true story of a girl, Hattie May Wiatt, who gave 57 cents sacrificially for the building of a new Sunday school building for Temple Baptist Church, and how her example sparked off a movement to raise $109,000 to build a new church, hospital and university.

Adapted from a sermon by Russell Conwell (1 Dec 1912).

(read more)

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Catching the wind
by T. J. Addington (Leading from the Sandbox, 12 Jul 2009)

Interesting post by Addington about habits we can cultivate to help us catch the wind in ministry.

  1. Staying fresh with Jesus
  2. Living in my sweet spot (operating out of strengths)
  3. Knowing and paying attention to the big rocks of our lives
  4. Finding time for ministry in connections with my strengths and wiring
  5. Time for reflection and evaluation of our lives (all the rest dependent on this)
(read more)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Four principles of youth ministry
by Jeremy Zach (20 May 2008)

  1. Kids must be led from where they start.
  2. Discipleship must come from the inside out.
  3. There must be an overall commitment to connecting the students to the community of faith.
  4. Spiritual disciplines are essential to the development of the spiritual journey.
(read more)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, 10 July 2009

Spiritual disciplines, the non-voluntary type

Bill Hull discusses both voluntary disciplines e.g. prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, frugality, worship, service, sacrifice, as well as non-voluntary disciplines e.g. conflict, persecution, the dark night of the soul.

Many of us sometimes think there are enough of the non-voluntary spiritual disciplines that they take up all our time. But I might suggest that the intentional practice of the voluntary will help us endure the non-voluntary.

(read more)

Labels: , ,

Keeping your life under the speed limit
by Tom Garasha (Healthier Pastors, 10 Jul 2009)

Tom Garasha, author of EKG: Probing the heart of a pastor, offers advice on how to keep below the speed limit in ministry.
  1. Distinguish between real guilt and false guilt.
  2. Be intentional about setting boundaries.
  3. Understand your own idiot lights.
  4. Give yourself permission to take some time to rest.
  5. Ask your spouse and kids if they feel significant and understood. 
  6. Make sure you are not in denial.
(read more)

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The pastor's devotional life 
by Colin Adams (Unashamed Workman, 09 Jul 2009)

Adams reflected on questions posed by John Tindall on the devotional life of a pastor. Here are some of them.
  • What benefits overflow to families and congregations when a minister is walking closely with the Lord?
  • What are the obstacles to having quality time with God? How do we overcome these obstacles?
  • In spiritual oversight, who pastors the pastor?
  • How can we help one another when we are feeling spiritually barren?
(read more)

See related article:
The pastor's personal walk (Unashamed Workman, 12 Jul 09)

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Movie: Doubt

Managed to catch the movie Doubt recently. Very interesting plotline and directing. Lots of unspoken and hidden innuendos. Very literature-style and artistic. Silence in this movie speaks as loudly as what is said. Also, it ends open-ended, without a clear answer or verdict, only to show that in such situations, everyone loses. The reactions and responses from Ftr. Flynn are worth reflecting on.

Read Alex Tang's synopsis and thoughts here.

Labels: ,

The number one sin of the church?
by Joe McKeever (07 Jul 2009)

Joe McKeever discusses an important question we should constantly be asking ourselves as Christians and churches - what is the number one sin of the church? Not praying for the outcasts (Cymbala)? Arrogance and narcissism (Peck)? Tolerance? McKeever suggests
The greatest sin of the church today is that it does not take itself seriously enough. By that I mean, it does not take its Lord, its message, its identity, and its role seriously.

(read more)

Labels: , ,

The king of pop to meet the King of kings

Though I didn't manage to catch Michael Jackson's memorial, thanks to the wonders of technology, I am able to watch most of it off YouTube, thanks to ever-resourceful Netizens.

Catch part 1 of 11 here, and follow the subsequent parts in the playlist by RedbyCat.

I remember as a young boy watching Michael's career with interest, starting out as a child prodigy, and becoming famous almost overnight, spanning almost 4 decades of fame and fortune. A quick Wiki search showed that he was born 29 Aug 1958 and died 25 Jun 2009, making his debut in 1968 at age 10 with the Jackson Five, and started his solo career in 1971 at age 13. He won 13 Grammy awards, 13 number one singles, and sold over 750 million records worldwide. His 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time. He popularized pop music, as well with signature dance moves, to earn the title, the "King of Pop".

Over the past decade, he has been the subject of much controversy, including his changing appearance and behaviour, child sexual abuse charges, and his 2 failed marriages and 3 children.

Recently, just shortly after his death, I was reading interesting reports about him converting to Christianity just prior to his death; however, this was later confirmed to be inaccurate. Having been raised as a Jehovah's Witness, he apparently converted to Islam later in life, following the example of his brother, Jermaine. I came across one of his previous songs, from his Dangerous album, entitled 'Keep the Faith'.

1. If you call out loud, will it get inside
Through the heart of your surrender to your alibis
And you can say the words like you understand
Bridge: But the power's in believing
So give yourself a chance

Chorus: So keep the faith
Don't let nobody turn you 'round
You gotta know when it's good to go
To get your dreams up off the ground
Keep the faith, baby, yea
Because it's just a matter of time
Before your confidence will win out
Believe in yourself
No matter what it's gon' take
You can be a winner but you got to keep the faith

2. And when you think of trust, does it lead you home
To a place that you only dream of when you're all alone
And you can go by feel 'stead of circumstance

Sounds faintly Christian in theme, but without being over-analytical, slightly post-modern and all-encompassing, especially with phrases like "Believe in yourself," and "you can go by feel". Perhaps we'll never know for sure what faith meant to Michael. As Lisa Anderson, host of Focus on the Family's 'The Boundless Show' puts it,
As of today, I have no idea where Michael Jackson stood spiritually at the time of his death. But God knows. And God will decide what He does with Michael's soul. It may sound cliché, but it's devastatingly true: The King of Pop will be called to give an account to the King of Kings.
As Challies noted, during the rendition of "We are the world," religious symbols of all faiths were flashed across the screen. Those who spoke during the memorial used God's name, and made reference to Michael being in heaven.

As Challies puts it,
Words and phrases invoked God and used the Christian lexicon but without any reference to the gospel, the true gospel, the gospel that saves. Lost men declared to other lost men untruths about the god they wish for, not the God who is.
Related articles
Idolatry new and old (Challies, 8 Jul 09)
Michael Jackson and identity theft (Bill Hull, 7 Jul 09)
Gospel artists say they did not lead Michael Jackson to Christ (Christian Post, 3 Jul 09)

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, 6 July 2009

Inward, upward or outward?
by John MacArthur (Pulpit Magazine, 6 Jul 2009)

A good reflection on the primary purpose of the church. He explores fellowship, sound biblical teaching, praise of God, and ultimately, the redemption of sinful men.

Notable quotes:
The supreme purpose and motive of every individual believer and every body of believers is to glorify God, and the supreme way in which God chose to glorify Himself was through the redemption of sinful men. It is through participation in that redemptive plan that believers themselves most glorify God.
Fellowship, teaching, and praise are not the mission of the church but are rather the preparation of the church to fulfill its mission of winning the lost. And just as in athletics, training should never be confused with or substituted for actually competing in the game, which is the reason for all the training.
(read more)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Worshiping worship
by Tim Challies (05 Jul 2009)

Challies posted this quote from D. A. Carson's book, Worship by the Book.
In an age increasingly suspicious of (linear) thought, there is much more respect for the “feelings” of things - whether a film or a church service. It is disturbingly easy to plot surveys of people, especially young people, drifting from a church of excellent preaching and teaching to one with excellent music because, it is alleged, there is “better worship” there. But we need to think carefully about this matter. Let us restrict ourselves for the moment to corporate worship. Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother put it to me, it’s a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset.

This point is acknowledged in a praise chorus like “Let’s forget about ourselves, and magnify the Lord, and worship him.” The trouble is that after you have sung this repetitious chorus three of four times, you are no farther ahead. The way you forget about yourself is by focusing on God—not by singing about doing it, but by doing it. There are far too choruses and services and sermons that expand our vision of God—his attributes, his works, his character, his words. Some think that corporate worship is good because it is lively where it had been dull. But it may also be shallow where it is lively, leaving people dissatisfied and restless in a few months’ time. Sheep lie down when they are well fed (cf. Psalm 23:2); they are more likely to be restless when they are hungry. “Feed my sheep,” Jesus commanded Peter (John 21); and many sheep are unfed. If you wish to deepen the worship of the people of God, above all deepen their grasp of his ineffable majesty in his person and in all his works.

We do not expect the garage mechanic to expatiate on the wonders of his tools; we expect him to fix the car. He must know how to use his tools, but he must not lose sight of the goal. So we dare not focus on the mechanics of corporate worship and lose sight of the goal. We focus on God himself, and thus we become more godly and learn to worship—and collaterally we learn to edify one another, forbear with one another, challenge one another.

Labels: ,

Singapore won't repeal homosexual law
Hoe Yeen Nie (CNA, 5 July 2009)

This article notes Singapore's Law Minister K. Shanmugam's comments and reactions to India High Court's recent decision to
decriminalise gay sex between consenting adults, overturning colonial-era legislation that outlawed homosexuality.
Law Minister K Shanmugam has said Singapore will not decriminalise gay sex but the courts have the power to decide how the law, Section 377, is applied. Section 377A of the Penal Code deems sex between men a crime.
(read more)

Related articles
India court rules gay sex legal (CNA, 2 Jul 09)
377A debate and the rewriting of pluralism (27 Oct 07)
377A debate (11 Oct 07)
Why close one eye? (CNA, 8 May 07)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A letter from Ray Ortlund to his family
by Josh Harris (22 Jun 2009)

Came across Josh's post on the father of Ray Ortlund, Jr., who wrote this letter before going home to be with the Lord in 2000. A sincere, heart-felt, humble and powerful encouragement from a faithful man of God.

(read more)

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, 3 July 2009

NY city megachurch pastor resigns 2 months after installation
by Eric Young (Christian Post, 03 Jul 2009)

A renowned NY megachurch, Riverside Church, officially accepted the resignation of their senior pastor Brad Braxton on Thursday, less than 2 months after they installed him.

Reasons cited in his resignation letter was discord and antagonism in the church community over his election and installation. The article mentions Braxton as a progressive Christian, who might have been seen as moving the church away from its interracial progressivism and conservative style of religious practice. On top of that, there was the much-publicised lawsuit surrounding his $600,000 annual compensation package.

(read more)

See related articles:
Riverside Church lawsuit (22 Apr 09)

Labels: , , , ,