Giving Away Excess Funds

If your church has excess funds in reserve, what do you think about giving away say, 50% to mission (including relief and mission building work), 25% to charities and 25% for reserves/contingencies, with zero spend on comforts and aesthetics?


Io Non Ho Paura and Late But Happy

Last night as I settled down with a glass of red just before Tress and I went to bed, we chanced on a foreign language film on television, on SBS. We watched a little while but were soon hooked and ended up watching the whole thing.

The movie was an Italian film titled “I am not scared”. It was about two boys, Michele and Filippo who met and became friends under the strangest of circumstances. Filippo was a kidnap victim, holed up in a pit behind the family farm house of Michele. Michele’s father is part of a group responsible for keeping Filippo there. They had kidnapped the boy.

We enjoyed the movie for the way the story slowly unfolded through the eyes of Michele, the country boy who enjoyed life in wide open grain farms and liked toy cars but who had an innate sense of what’s right. He instinctively knew he had to help Filippo even after discovering it was his own parents who were responsible for the kidnapping.

When the authorities tracked the kidnappers down, the crooks decided they had to shoot the boy. Michele’s father drew the short straw and when he pulled the trigger, it was Michele he shot. Michele had gone to rescue Filippo when he heard the kidnappers’ discussion.

The end/final scene saw helicopters descending on the farm property, with Michele held by his father and Filippo reaching out to his new found friend. Thankfully Michele reached out with his hand towards Filippo, suggesting the shot wasn’t fatal.

The movie was such a satisfying way to wind down the day. It was however, close to 11.30pm – about an hour past our usual bedtime – when the movie ended. It did however wind the both of us down sufficiently for a really good night’s sleep, so good that we overslept – almost 1½ hours for me and around ½ hour for Tress.

We woke up – a la Hugh Grant in 4 Weddings and a Funeral – at 6.20 and quickly got Kiddo up and rushed through the morning routine. By the time we got out of the house it was 7.20 and it was far too late to drive to the station, where the car park spaces filled out by a little past 7 on most mornings.

So we drove to Forest Hill Chase, parked there and caught a bus from there to the station. It worked out fine for me because I was only about 5-10 minutes later than my normal start time so it was cool. It did mean however that I missed most of my morning activities, including quiet time and gym.

I think it was worth it though – “I am not scared” (Io Non Ho Paura in Italian – I just googled it) was a beautiful movie. We didn’t understand a word of it but it was subtitled and it was a satisfying watch.

Still Submitting?

The following entry was over 3 1/2 years ago, and I wonder what my friends and relatives in Malaysia feel now about not speaking out strongly against the Malaysian government today:

The recent independent day celebrations in Malaysia have, as one may expect, stirred a number of publications into putting out pieces on challenges facing Malaysia today. I sent one of these (from The Economist) to a number of people and it generated a little heat. That has lead to the creation of a new blog for certain family members to further talk about this and other issues. It also lead to the discussion of that age-old issue of what do we do with a government we don’t agree with?

This latter issue was raised in conjunction with obedience to Romans 13. That chapter started with a call to submit to the authority of the existing government. Of course, in a modern democracy, you fight like crazy to have your preferred candidate making the laws and no matter what the outcome of your fight, you have to remain law abiding citizens. That is an obvious starting point. Our natural instinct tells us however, that it is a relative and malleable principle. It doesn’t take much to respond, at the very next breath, with a yes-but. The holocaust jumps out in a flash in a topic like this. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, modern Serbia, Rwanda and most recently, Zimbabwe are regimes which scream out against an unqualified plain reading of Roman 13.

The problem with qualifying any part of the scriptures is it invites analyses and second guessing, based on our values which are subjective by definition. When that happens it becomes a free for all and you might as well throw away the bible. On the other hand, you have references such as Acts 5:29 in which Peter clearly qualifies Romans 13. Is that the answer then? I guess it must be. You can and must only submit to the authority of a government which has not clearly violated God’s standards. Peter himself has echoed Paul’s advice – see 1 Peter 2:17. Yet Peter in Acts 5:29 clearly said obedience to God must take precedence.

 I have made numerous entries on my feelings on the deeds (or more accurately, misdeeds) of the rulers of Malaysia. I don’t know they are clear violations against God’s laws – I suspect so but have not clearly pinned it down. I have not openly rebelled against any particular law of Malaysia. I have merely spoken up against many of its policies and practices. I guess instead of staying and chancing deterioration and prospects of actually violating Romans 13, I opted instead to avoid the issue. I simply thought it wasn’t worth it. Maybe it isn’t the issue of not being law abiding citizens so much as an issue of opting out of an unsatisfactory regime