John Stott – The Passing of a Giant

John Stott has died. He was 90.

John Stott is one of my most revered christian leaders. His writings have influenced me more than perhaps anyone else, although I enjoyed reading the likes of JI Packer, CS Lewis and Gordon Fee just as much. The church will miss him badly. I will miss him. Just on Tuesday night I was at Koorong and got another one of his books (The Cross of Christ). His emphasis on good preaching should be heeded by so many today.

If you have never read any of his books, go and get one – any one (start with Basic Christianity).

John Stott has run a great race, fought a great fight, and will certainly have the Lord say to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.


Was Anders Breivik a Christian?

Was Anders Breivik a Christian as some news reports have suggested? Does his self declared act of war in the name of Christianity hold any water?

I agree wholly with what Tim Dalrymple has said in this matter here in the Patheos website. Have a read if you can find 10 minutes to spare


Alpha Material

I have been trying to get an electronic version of the Alpha Manual (or Alpha Course: Why Jesus?) to no avail. I wonder why for a course that has attracted millions of participants the material is still so restricted. I would have thought it would be freely available but I suppose there may be an element of content, channel and course control or management which necessitates a more narrow distribution mode.

Does anyone know if I can get the electronic version of the Alpha course material?

Truth? No Longer Fashionable?

There were a couple of stories in The Age this week about the involvement of Access Ministries in schools. Other than the qualifications of volunteer teachers working through Access Ministries, especially in the CRE program, the chief concern was proselytizing. I guess the idea that proselytizing is unacceptable is based on the idea that everyone’s religion is right to him or her and one has no right to try to convince the other to switch his religious affinity.

I think therein lies the danger of downplaying the emphasis on truth. One should not poke fun at the importance of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood. Too many contemporary Christian teachers want so much to be ecumenical or perhaps more accurately, to accept religious plurality. It has become unfashionable to say “what you are saying is wrong”.  I understand the need to be accepting and to bridge any gaps between groups to overcome differences and achieve a harmonious society but that must be done by accepting differences, not glossing over them or refusing to analyse the truth or veracity of an idea, a proposition or a teaching.

When the focus on accepting each other becomes more important than an examination of whether something is true or false or whether it is right or wrong, then I think that form of acceptance is not one which builds up. Acceptance can become a problem for true construction of a body, instead of a solution. If numbers in church and vibrancy in services are more important elements than people being taught the right stuff, then I also think we have a problem. It is not about how many are responding to church services, it is also about what they are responding to and what church goers are vibrant and excited about. Truth should never be sacrificed or compromised for the sake of being fashionable.

“Speak Life, Speak Healing”… Hmmm….

“…go, plunge yourself in the Godhead‘s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead…”

That was Spurgeon, as cited by JI Packer.

Recently a speaker in church urged the congregation to shun the issue of right and wrong, but to choose life instead. I wondered about  that. There was a ribbing of the grey matter, of theology. We were asked to opt for life, not the choice between right and wrong.

I thought that was weird. For it is in knowing who God is – knowing what is right and knowing what is wrong about the teaching of God – that we can have life. It is a personal relationship with God and an aknowledgement of His lordhip and sovereignty over us, which gives us life. How can we acknowledge Him and His lordhip if we don’t know basic facts and truths about Him?

Anyway, I’m again grateful I am brought to this spot where I am again given the opportunity to learn and grow in Him.

And another thing…

I was just reading Erickson Millard again and this phrase jumped out at me:

The idea that God is simply something to be used or to solve our problems and meet our needs is not religion. Such attempts to harness him belong rather to the realm of magic or technology

I cant help but think of the “name it and claim it” branch of teaching. “Speak healing”, “healing is yours, claim it” and the likes… to me these phrases are a lot like harnessing God to solve our needs or problems. It is as though He is there to be used, so why not use it. It really sounds like magic or technology.

There is something to be said about experiencing God but there is a lot more to be said about knowing our God in all sense, as He should be known.

Potter, Camp and School again

Kiddo returned from her trip to renaissance nests late Tuesday night and on Wednesday night, we bade farewell to Mr Potter et al. See this article by Tim Dalrymple for a fun take on whether Christians should have anything to do with these tales of life, courage and overcoming.

On Friday night some of us from cell went for dinner at Malaysian Inn in Doncaster and early Saturday morning we took off for Phillip Island for the church camp.

We had Luis Cabral from the Asian Christian Fellowship at Rowville speak on Friday night and Saturday, and Tham Fuan our local pastor finished off the camp on Sunday morning – all in a great camp with plenty of time to chat with and know more people.

School’s back to work today, including MST for me. Hopefully it is less hectic and more enjoyable this semester.



BERSIH and Carbon Tax

9 July has come and gone. Tress and I were with close to a thousand others at the Federation Square on Saturday afternoon, for a rally to demand some electoral reforms in Malaysia. We went with Brian, a good mate of mine who in turn introduced us to another bloke, who was also a lot of fun. The BERSIH rally in Melbourne was no where near as eventful as the KL version, but the KL folks showed the BN government it needs to take a serious look at itself or it is going to be sitting at the opposition side of the house come the next election. At the very least, BERSIH 2.0 has stripped BN off whatever claim to legitimacy it has left. Najib Razak can barely stand with any credibility and he has his mob has come out of this looking really rubbish. Well done BERSIH, well done, Ambiga.

On the domestic front, Bob Brown, Christine Milne and their mob have flexed their muscles and Julia Gillard continues to look worse by the day. All the compensatory aspects of the scheme may sit well for now for a group of voters but how will employment and foreign investment be affected over time? I don’t think Julia Gillard will be able to make the sale to the people in that regard. I think for most Australians, compensation is only a small part of it. What we want is assurance that jobs and investments and growths of these will not be adversely impacted, especially given the minimal impact the carbon tax will have on climate change.

Thank you Bersih Thank You Ambiga

For a while, due probably to the end of semester exams and essay submission due date, I wasn’t following events in Malaysia all too closely. I then discovered, about 2-3 weeks ago, the planned activities of Bersih 2.0 and thought “wow, this should be great”.

I haven’t been disappointed.

For over 2 weeks I have jumped on the usual websites (Malaysiakini, Malaysia Today etc) and have picked up reports concerning 9 July 2011. More importantly, I have picked up vibes about the how people feel, leading up to the event.

I haven’t been disappointed.

The responses of the authorities have been expectedly empty gong loud noises. There haven’t been any substantive responses to the cause of Bersih. The cause is very clear, and it is made up of the following:

       1.      Clean the electoral roll

       2.      Reform postal ballot

  1. Use of indelible ink
  2. Minimum 21 days campaign period
  3. Free and fair access to media
  4. Strengthen public institutions
  5. Stop corruption
  6. Stop dirty politics

 Instead of addressing the matter in substance, it has branded the movement in a number of ways, none of which demonstrate that Bersih is anything other than what it claims it is fighting for. Like I said, Ambiga Sreenevasan is fair dinkum. You cant fault her. She may be nice – after all she was a dutiful rakyat who heeded her Agong’s call – but she is also clean and has nothing to fear or lose, except her personal liberty maybe. I expected Ambiga Sreenevasan and her team to hold steadfast to the cause and I haven’t been disappointed.

It is such an exciting time to be in Malaysia, particularly in KL. It wouldn’t be pretty. It would be tense. But it is exciting, because you could sense change coming. Maybe Najib Razak did too. Maybe that is why he has run away for now. Maybe intelligence tells him (not his, Najib doesn’t have a lot of intelligence I don’t think – I meant that of the Special Branch) it isn’t safe to be in the country as this could lead to anything. Maybe the actions of the authorities, especially the police, leading up to 9 July has been such that the people would at long last, say enough is enough and they would rise and take no more of this rubbish the hopelessly finished BN government continues to dish out.

I will participate by remote presence. I will be in the Melbourne chapter. Tomorrow is expected to be a little cold, and even wet. But it is an opportunity to be part of something special. Federation Square will be Merdeka Square for me tomorrow. Thank you Bersih. Thank you Ambiga Sreenevasan.