20 not out but the wronguns came from elsewhere

Coming to know Tress and being married to her is one of the best things to have happened to me. Our 20th anniversary therefore was a special occasion to me. A few weeks earlier I had wanted to and sort of broadly planned to celebrate the milestone by inviting a few people somewhere for a meal. We couldn’t however, decide on the guest list. We didn’t want too big a group because I always believe in spending meaningful time with your guests but keeping the number small would likely cause some discomfort to some who may be left out. We’ve experienced this unpleasantness before so we decided against doing anything and just have a meal ourselves. I guess that is sad but that is the consequences of not meeting or understanding the expectations of people around us.

It turned out my intention to celebrate the occasion wasn’t marred by just this guest list conundrum.

The night before the occasion I got a thunderbolt in a church board meeting. It came in the form of an accusation that I have not been sincere in my affirmation of the leadership of the pastor and the chairman of the board. My repeated affirmation and call for them to lead was said to be wheeled out only when it suited me. I could not believe what I heard the pastor said and I said to him immediately that I took exception with that statement, and for the rest of the meeting my heart just wasn’t in it. I was trying to work out where I had gone wrong, to cause such a misreading of my intention and sincerity.

I went home after the meeting and decided I could not go on with any sort of roles in the church. Anything one does in exercising leadership in a church, must be done within the leadership structure. I acknowledge the headship of Christ and under him, I acknowledge the leadership of the pastor and also the leadership of the functional head of the governance body, in this case the chair of the board. Every leader in the church needs to accept this and work within it.

For that acknowledgement to be questioned and second guessed, means one can no longer serve in any leadership role. Indeed, any role at all. To date, my statements to the pastor that the second guessing of my affirmation was a problem, went without being responded.

Maybe it is the fact that I constantly asked questions of the pastor. When things go on for months without any resolution and I asked if he discussed the matter with anyone, that didn’t go down too well. When plans come to the board and questions were asked, that didn’t go down too well. Maybe we weren’t meant to ask questions and we were meant to be just blindly supportive. Or maybe I shouldn’t say blindly supportive because that would be negative, so just unquestioned support. Maybe acknowledgement of leadership means we let the leaders do anything they think of. The frustrating thing is there actually were exchanges in response to some of the questions I asked. But then nothing was done and the trail went cold. So the issue perhaps wasn’t that questions were asked.

Indeed I had expressed that my frustration was the lack of communications and visibility of what is happening. Trails go cold. Nothing comes of discussions and plans. What was said would be done wasn’t done. When pursued it becomes touchy. It becomes – somehow – an issue of basic values not being shared. Serious non-communication aside, it feels like the board, which bears principle accountability burden both legally and popularly, has so little visibility of what is happening. When questioned, the retort was it was either aloof and out of touch or uninvolved or unsupportive. It doesn’t make sense but never mind anymore.

Such was the unpleasant experience that George Verwer famously envisaged and warned against. I’d rather not be entangled anymore. I can continue the rest of my sojourn without this farce. Maybe I can enjoy my 21st – Anniversary, not birthday of course – better that way.


No flash please

A few years ago a guy called Todd Bentley was attracting all the attention in Christian circles. He had a show on in America for a while. He was on a “prophetic” trail and all those “prophetic ministry” people went gaga over the excitement Todd Bentley was creating. A preacher in our church was extolling that work and saying what wonderful work God was doing. The dubious nature of his so called healing meetings was ignored, on the basis that he was doing good and the greater good should be upheld and we shouldn’t focus on the little flaws along the way. Those little flaws included his marital issue – he had an affair with a staff member and left his wife to remarry that staff.

At our local church board, I raised the issue of publicly supporting the work of someone like Todd Bentley – I said we should refrain from doing that and should let speakers know we don’t endorse those sorts of activities. I was of course, ignored

Along came Guglielmucci. He who faked cancer to hide his addition to porn. Go figure, but again, we had a preacher in church who defended him and said we shouldn’t believe all the media condemnation of Guglielmucci. I said we shouldn’t be publicly endorsing the likes of Guglielmucci but again I was shot down.

Then there was a Malaysian miraculous healing fellow (William Lau) who sought to peddle his trade in Australia and a couple of people supported that and he was introduced to our church. I went into his website to read about him and found his exegesis of key passages which he used to support the rationale of his ministry, totally bewildering. I asked the leaders of the church to cancel the meeting planned for this guy to preach and said we should understand and uphold what the bible teaches about the gospel and not be side tracked by this sort of snake oil peddlers. I was of course ignored. That nearly got me out of the church. We started planning to transit out and go to another church. We had a plan and was about to execute it but a series of events then took place which made us stay.

A few others in US have since attracted the wrong limelight but when someone like Kong Hee from City Harvest church in Singapore tumbles into the same cesspool, it is a screaming wake up call to all who are involved in church work. Leave your core calling of preaching and teaching the word of God and helping others to know His word and walk closer to Him from there, and turn towards flash sounding ideas, trends, concepts and the like which reflect more of where the world is heading than what the word of God dictates, and you start to head down the paths of the likes of Todd, Mike, Bill and Kong Hee.

Our 20th


Tress and I celebrated our 20th anniversary recently. We went to Guillaume Brahimi‘s joint in the city and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kiddo’s diet brought me to my feet – almost

Last Friday night I really enjoyed the dinner with some friends. The food was very good, and the company was wonderful. The only setback was Kiddo was in a friend’s home. It was to be a sleepover but she went from early afternoon and went home to sleep later that night. The Peking duck was very good, and the other dishes included beef, crab, chicken and prawns as well as some wonderful fishballs and seafood noodles were all special and also very good.

Since Kiddo missed that meal we took her there last night and again had the Peking duck, plus a beef dish. She thoroughly enjoyed it. Tress and I did too. 2 meals of rich poultry and meat in 3 days, plus the usual wine, all add up to a significant gout threat. It played up in my mind just as we settled down after coming home but it literally crystallised this morning when I woke with a tight ankle. Plans to get to the gym scuttled, I popped an anti-inflammatory and got back to bed. Thankfully, about 45 minutes later I woke again and the tightness had subsided substantially and I could go to work.

Kiddo’s love affairs with rich food comprising red meat must be quarantined from yours truly…


Wordsworth – Down Memory Lane

When I started work in KL way back in 1991, I used to take the bus. It was an hour’s trek each way. I’d read Wordsworth. God only knows why. I’d not just read it, I memorised whole stanzas. Like this extract here, which I used to be able to recite…

In thoughtless gaiety I coursed the plain,
And hope itself was all I knew of pain;
For then, the inexperienced heart would beat
At times, while young Content forsook her seat,
And wild Impatience, pointing upward, showed,
Through passes yet unreached, a brighter road.
Alas! the idle tale of man is found
Depicted in the dial’s moral round;
Hope with reflection blends her social rays
To gild the total tablet of his days;
Yet still, the sport of some malignant power,
He knows but from its shade the present hour.
But why, ungrateful, dwell on idle pain?
To show what pleasures yet to me remain,
Say, will my Friend, with unreluctant ear,
The history of a poet’s evening hear?
When, in the south, the wan noon, brooding still,
Breathed a pale steam around the glaring hill,
And shades of deep-embattled clouds were seen,
Spotting the northern cliffs with lights between;
When crowding cattle, checked by rails that make
A fence far stretched into the shallow lake,
Lashed the cool water with their restless tails,
Or from high points of rock looked out for fanning gales:
When school-boys stretched their length upon the green;
And round the broad-spread oak, a glimmering scene,
In the rough fern-clad park, the herded deer
Shook the still-twinkling tail and glancing ear;
When horses in the sunburnt intake stood,
And vainly eyed below the tempting flood,
Or tracked the passenger, in mute distress,
With forward neck the closing gate to press–
Then, while I wandered where the huddling rill
Brightens with water-breaks the hollow ghyll
As by enchantment, an obscure retreat
Opened at once, and stayed my devious feet.
While thick above the rill the branches close,
In rocky basin its wild waves repose,
Inverted shrubs, and moss of gloomy green,
Cling from the rocks, with pale wood-weeds between;
And its own twilight softens the whole scene,
Save where aloft the subtle sunbeams shine
On withered briars that o’er the crags recline;
Save where, with sparkling foam, a small cascade
Illumines, from within, the leafy shade;
Beyond, along the vista of the brook,
Where antique roots its bustling course o’erlook,
The eye reposes on a secret bridge
Half grey, half shagged with ivy to its ridge;
There, bending o’er the stream, the listless swain
Lingers behind his disappearing wain.
–Did Sabine grace adorn my living line,
Blandusia’s praise, wild stream, should yield to thine!

Had a bad week? Spend a weekend with family and friends

Kiddo and Tress had dental appointments on Sat morning so we skipped our usual breakfast do at our local. I got up really early, watched another Euro 2012 QF game, then went out, dropped the dry cleaning off and got some milk and came back home to make them brekky. They then went off for their dental and I vacuumed the house.

When they got home, we went out, got some food to bring to Alex’s later that night and then got to a full moon afternoon tea. From there we did some clothes shopping for Kiddo and got home after 5 – which meant it was dark already. That night we went to Alex’s – something we have not done for a while. He had emailed some of us a few days earlier and before that I had kept in touch through text messages. It was a very good night of just talking to each other.

The previous night we had also spent the evening sharing a meal with some friends and we talked about a range of things. The dinner was at Old Kingdom on Canterbury Road at Surry Hills. The food was very good, the service was friendly and the company was warm, meaningful and really (1) took the edges off a rough week and (2) set the weekend up very nicely.

We left Alex’s and got home in good time to sleep a bit before I woke again, for another game. Spain v France was nowhere as good as either Portugal v Czech Rep or Germany v Greece. This morning’s dreadful England v Italy meant that it would be an Iberia v The Axis (well the core 2) semis and we’ll see a final with a representative from each.

Yesterday arvo after we got back from lunch with some old friends I took the little wizard out for a long walk. He was very excited and I needed to just be outdoors for a bit. It has been raining so much in Melbourne in recent weeks, that I think all the indoor dwelling sometimes makes me see things differently. The walk did me a lot of good – seeing that little fellow all perked up and happy, made me feel much better. Later that evening we stayed home, and I made some warm salad for lunch the next day. We then watched tv for a bit and on a wet, cold and dark winter’s night there could be few things better than to sit on a warm couch with family and the dog.

A weekend which started warmly with friends finished up on a cosy comfy couch with Kiddo and Tress and LBJ. It almost made up for a lousy week.


Words have a power all their own
Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

Words have always been very important to me. Maybe it’s because of what I do for a living. I think however, it has more to do with what I have been taught over the years, ever since I was a child. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

I did not know any English word till I went to kindergarten. I remember we were given a task to do in the first few days (kinder in Malaysia was work based, not play). A boy next to me finished the task and the teacher asked him “finished?” and he responded simply, “finished”. I didn’t know what “finish” meant.

That boy (Johnny Lee) grew up with me in Klang and I now wonder what has become of him. The last time I met him was in KL, when we were both working there. We went to the same school and church but somehow did not strike a close friendship. In comparison with us, he was from a rich family. That was when I started to associate English speaking with wealth. I thought then that anyone who spoke English was better off than us. My late father was a contractor cum trader who eked out a living and was only able to provide the basics to us. My mum was always able to make every dollar go as far as possible. But I digress. Back to words.

After mastering the new word “finish” in kinder, I started my lifelong relationship with words in general. At school, essay writing was a favourite task and almost always, I’d have mine read out in front of class. That encouraged me a lot.

I started reading newspapers whenever I went to stay with my grandfather in a big house in a rubber estate. My late father would often travel interstate to peddle his goods and my mum would accompany him quite often. When she did, my brother and I stayed in one of our grandparents’ houses. My maternal grandparents lived on the first floor of a coffee shop which they ran and staying over meant great breakfast of “chee cheong fun”. My paternal grandparents lived in an old house in the middle of a rubber estate and when we stayed with them, there was always newspapers around. It was the New Straits Times but the NST in those days was reputable, not the “Never Speak Truth” rubbish it later came to be. I’d read the feature columns and sports columns. I started to discover the English soccer scene then. I think Kee Thuan Chye wrote for the NST then and he was always a favourite, although I now wonder if that was through the Malay Mail.

I can’t remember when I started reading boys’ books but soon after I discovered newspapers and fell in love with them, I discovered series like the Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators (somehow linked to Alfred Hitchcock). I’d ask to be dropped off at the Klang library opposite the bus station and would hope to find some of these books. I’d devour any I could find. Some kids in school got their hands on them and copies were being passed around.

One day in my early secondary school years, someone who was a fifth former mentioned Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. When you’re in form 2 and someone from form 5 says that was a brilliant book, you’d think it was a brilliant book. I borrowed a forth former’s copy and was spellbound. I think I was reading Ian Fleming’s Bond series at that time and had just finished From Russia with Love. Tolkien made Bond look distinctly ostentatious. You couldn’t fault Gandalf. Tolkien’s magic was replaced by the salt of the earth variety spun by Herriot. I fell in love with the English countryside. with the farms and working dogs, and towns like Darrowby (?) in Yorkshire.

I went to Taylors College in KL in preparation for university in Australia. In Taylor’s someone introduced me to the “Screwtape Letters”. Wormwood was a character as alive and relevant as Gandalf. I later discovered Lewis and Tolkien knew each other in Cambridge. In university, the OCF scene extended my discovery of CS Lewis. Reading as a means of thinking through beyond the book being read itself, became a fascination. Word carefully written set thoughts in motion and formed opinions, values and actions, translating to behaviour itself. I started to think about the written word and the more that happened the more I felt I needed to read even more. The Bible became an indispensable reading material and the more I read it the more the other reading took shape, often in very different light.

Words were how God created this world. The Word was how God saved this world.

Words have always been very important to me. It has probably nothing to do with what I do for a living.

When it suits???

I wonder why my sincerity of acknowledging leadership was questioned last night but here it is and it is a clear signal for me that my time is up.

On to life as an ordinary member now…

From: Teh, Ian
Sent: Wednesday, 23 May 2012 10:34 AM
To: [ ]
Subject: Have a great birthday

Happy birthday [ ]. I hope you have a good day, [ ]’s absence notwithstanding.

I want to again affirm and acknowledge your leadership in LifeGate and will continue to submit to it. In challenging your ideas and proposals I meant and intended to extract from the deep recesses within you, the ideas, commitments and actions which your very apparent love for our Lord can only harness and process in the most beneficial and indeed blessed manner.

I hope you will forgive and look past my clumsy manner and consider not my demeanour and tone but the content of what I say. I can only hope whatever the inadequacies of the manner of delivery, the message will be received.

Your ample wisdom, derived from your love for the word of God, will take you far but your journey and destination can be shared by and benefit others a lot more if those ideas, commitments and actions find their way to those around you in a manner which allow them to work with you. I urge you to let those ideas, commitments and actions take root and blossom, regardless of the outcomes of sharing and engagement with the Board.

Having said that I do not believe the Board has adopted any approach or taken any actions to prevent that from happening. The contest of ideas will always happen. George Verwer’s more earthy remark comes to mind. (where there are 2 or 3 gathered in His name, there will be trouble…). The robustness of the contest should not cause those ideas, commitments and actions to seek refuge in those deep recesses. I believe your love for our Lord and your love and application of the word of God will give you the necessary love, wisdom, power and strength to harness those ideas, commitments and actions that will bring abundant blessings to LifeGate. As a Board member I sincerely hope the contests will help shape those ideas and actions in a manner which will benefit the largest number of people in LifeGate and over the longest period of time.

Have a blessed day and may you find strength in our Lord and His word as always.

Yours in Christ



On Being Alone

Early on Saturday morning, I watched England chase hares, get lucky off Walcott’s shot and win with a clever flick off the heel by a United player. It was a nice way to start the weekend – not that England won, but a United player (Wellbeck) scored the winning goal. Game over, I went about the usual Saturday morning activities. After dropping off and picking up the dry cleaning and getting some groceries for a near-empty fridge, I started to make my way to the airport. I realised it was still a bit early and allowed myself to be distracted by a Kathmandu shop on Whitehorse Road which had a “60% off” sign the size of Mao’s portrait at Tiananmen Square. After killing off enough time I finally made my way to Tullamarine. I got there early so I stopped, as most people do, at Macca’s and got my second cup of coffee for the day. Just as I picked up the coffee, Kiddo texted to say she was making her way out.

I saw her waiting at the 1-minute pick up area, stopped the car and got out to load her bags and we drove away. She looked happy and excited but a little tired. She later told me she had gone to bed really late the previous night – just when I was getting up to watch the football. It was nearly noon when we got to the Eastern and after deciding we’d have a yum cha lunch somewhere, I asked if she needed anything. She said her shoes were busted and showed me the dangling sole off one foot. Apparently one cold and rainy night a few weeks ago, Canberra Raiders weren’t the only ones who got killed. Her shoes were ready for last rites.

So after lunch we went to Myer at Knox and got a couple of pairs (second of which were only picked up the next day). We then went to pick up a dessert for dinner at Brian and Doreen’s before finally getting home. I took the really excited noir wizard out for an extended walk while Kiddo settled down at home. Back from the walk, I made coffee for the both of us, and later that night we went to Brian and Doreen’s. It was good catching up – there were a couple of families we had wanted to know more so it was great. Kiddo looked really tired after 9pm so I excused ourselves and went home.

Early on Sunday morning, I watched a Greek side determined to provide their country with some solace and applied tremendous discipline, worked really hard and beat a Russian side who were really good just a couple of matches earlier. Tress’ flight was coming in earlier than Kiddo’s so soon after the game I took off and got to Tullamarine. She texted to say the airport was really busy so she would be a while. I parked, went in to the arrival area and waited. It was a little while but when she finally came out it was wonderful. I had survived the week without her but only just. We went home, she immediately unpacked and busied herself with all sorts of stuff at home and the house felt like a normal home again.

After God created a lot of stuff and gave man some rules, He said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. Our God knew all along, I guess.

Office of Marriage Celebrant (Get me away from the church!)

NSW Couples Turn Away from Religious Wedding Ceremonies

Source: CathNews

NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages figures show that celebrants performed 60.6 percent of ceremonies in 2008, compared to 39.4 percent for religious weddings.

The figures show that couples are shunning religious wedding ceremonies in record numbers and going down the civil path to marriage to gain control and avoid pre-marital counselling, the Sunday Telegraph says.

Religious weddings outnumbered civil ceremonies until 2001 when they reached a 50-50 split.

The number of civil marriages has steadily risen to hit a high last year, the paper says.

Social researchers say the trend is driven by second and subsequent marriages, older brides and grooms, along with the decline of religious observance in Australia and couples’ desire for greater freedom in designing their ceremony.

“Most churches have a reasonably non-negotiable policy of having to have some pre-marriage counselling or be involved in some sort of premarital course,” demographer Mark McCrindle said. “In a commitment free era that is one of the limitations.”

The above news is not a surprise.

I also saw the below write up on a website (http://marriagecelebrant.com/html/what_is_a_celebrant.html) for marriage celebrants. Maybe I read it with filtered glasses but is it a farfetched view to form, based on the below write-up, to say the premise or idea for creating the office of marriage celebrants is to exclude the institution of the church?

It is the extension of the age old problem of sin – rejection of God and His ways. Don’t tell me what to do, I will decide what is right for me. I don’t want God (the church) to tell me how I should have my wedding – I want to do it in a way that suits me.

A marriage celebrant facilitates that. The office is designed to do that.

Doing things to suit one-self is not in itself, problematic. It becomes problematic if the driver of seeking to do things which suit one-self, is the exclusion of God and institutions which represent Him. In doing that, we are simply following the ways of a society which has clearly rejected God and His ways.

Notice also the lies in this write-up. Couples are seldom precluded from organising weddings to suit what they want design wise or aesthetically. All you need to include in the ceremony was God and His word along with what flows from that. I’d say if you are true to the teaching of God and the traditions of the church, the designs and aesthetics take on even more meaningful levels. The biggest lie of course, is that God and the church makes you miserable and you can only be happy if you free yourself from its clutches. It’s a lie which says you can only find happiness in yourself and away from God. Why we as a church would want to identify ourselves with such an office and practice, is a curious thing for me.

Here’s the write-up (emphases in bold – as was the extracted news item – are mine).

In Australia, a celebrant is a professionally trained creator and conductor of all nature of ceremonies. Australia is unique in the world, in that non-religious persons, or persons with spiritual beliefs that are not aligned to a particular church, can become legally qualified to perform rites of marriage.

Celebrants in Australia have been performing rites of marriage, commitment, funeral, naming and other ceremonies since the late 1960’s. The Find Your Celebrant. pages will help you find the right celebrant for your occasion.

Australia Leads the World In Civil Ceremonies!

Have a good look at the couple above. (Sorry, picture left out) What a wonderful scene! Off camera 50-100 guest are clapping with happiness too. It wasn’t always so!

Before the appointment of Civil Marriage Celebrants by Attorney-General of Australia, Lionel Murphy, in July 1973, this couple would not have had such a happy smile. They probably would not have been smiling at all. Lionel Murphy, changed the face of the marriage ceremony in Australia for all time by appointing Queensland mother and teacher, Lois D’Arcy as Australia and the world’s first civil celebrant. Lionel Murphy’s vision was to see non-religious couples enjoy a marriage or other ceremony that was to be emotionally satisfying and in accordance with their desires.

Due to his untiring efforts, and further amendments by Attorney-General Daryl Williams QC, you are able to choose everything about your wedding ceremony that you could desire,
vows, words, music, poetry, venue, day and time.

Without their efforts, our couple would have had to get married in a Registry Office*
on a week day in office hours. They would have had to queue up on a long dreary bench,
they would only have been allowed two witnesses and one photo. Their ceremony would
have been purely legal and would have taken, at the most, two minutes.

Because of the work of AG’s Murphy and Williams, this couple could and did, choose their own place (Overnewton Castle -Melbourne), their own time (11am), their own day. They chose their own professionally trained celebrant (by the International College of Celebrancy, of course), Genevieve Messenger DipMC. They invited as many guests as they wanted to. The guests heard every word. A PA system amplified Bride, Groom, Readers and Celebrant – another PA system played music at an appropriate volume and level. Most of all, the couple worked on, planned, chose and wrote, then rehearsed with the celebrant on site, their own ceremony of substance.

Not even Prince Charles and his bride Camilla Parker-Bowles had this much freedom in their ceremony!

We know You want YOUR Ceremony to be Special and Unique to You!

Call the Celebrant Centre on (03) 94190460 and obtain our books and booklets on ceremony. Author Dally Messenger is a pioneer of civil celebrancy in Australia. Many couples prefer to read these books first so they have a few ideas before they see a celebrant.

You Should Choose Your Celebrant Wisely!

Even if your wedding is low key, it often requires more time and organization than you can imagine. Ceremonies are like everything else in life, the more you put into them, the more you get out of them. This applies to you as Bride and Groom. It also applies to your professional celebrant.

Choose your celebrant on the basis of the services they provide plus their professional manner, their conduct, training, attitude; look in Find Your Celebrant: to find celebrants who are recommended on the basis of their commitment to you and the successful outcome of your day. Our brochure ‘Your Wedding Ceremony’ is a valuable aid to understand the services and celebrant qualities you should check for.

Choose Carefully

Choose a celebrant who has attained a Diploma of Marriage Celebrancy from the International College of Celebrancy. Our courses are designed, presented and assessed by practicing celebrants.

The celebrant movement, so unique to Australia, has brought wonderful opportunities. The main privilege a celebrant ceremony brings is choice. All the choices are yours. It is within your power to choose a ceremony with deep and lasting meaning, providing an indelible memory which will help you sustain a loving relationship.