Saturday, November 26, 2005

presenting everyone mature in Christ

this is a hand-made card i received from the 05 yf committee, cos i'm finally leaving and retiring from the fellowship i've called home for pretty much the entirety of my conscious christian journey in this town. i still find it hard to succintly and precisely answer the question of when i became a christian, but for the purposes of this post, i'm tracing my "conscious christian journey" back to 1994 when i remember putting my hand up in response to an "altar call" type invitation following a talk and Q&A session during a 1-day outing by a now-defunct cell group of cccb.

i did leave a few years back and was "semi-retired" for 2 years, but subsequently returned in a different role and have been filling that for the last 3 years. last night was my last committee meeting. another last. another goodbye of sorts... two others are also leaving, but they're physically moving away (out of town) as well. it's a slightly different feeling i think, to be leaving but still here. maybe a clean break is just that - cleaner in a more clear cut sense. i'm rambling... i don't quite know what i'm feeling / what to feel.

the card. it's 3D! the metal cross, yellow stars and blue butterflies are contained in a raised plastic enclosure. it's cool :) simple, but special. (and coveted by one of the others to receive a card! :p) the scripture reference is to colossians 1:28, which is yf's (not very often quoted/publicised) theme verse
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
amen to that, wherever we continue to serve.

Friday, November 25, 2005

assorted video tales

miscellaneous video-related stuff from the last week or so...

the last few times i found myself able to take advantage of cheap days at the local cinemas, i have found that there really isn't anything i want to see (nevermind the difficulty in rounding up a like-minded and available movie buddy). even on my last trip to the video store i had a similar feeling and struggled to find something that i wanted to spend $2 to rent and watch. earlier this week princejay and i talked of doing a movie thing next week, and we both came to a similar conclusion about the lack of enticing offerings. they just don't seem to satisfy like they once did. is it the (quality of the) movies that have changed, or my tastes? is it that i've been fed on too abundant a diet of trash that i need a higher level of sophistication in my intake, or that i can no longer convince myself that the emptiness of what i watch has some faux substance / excuse for being?


i don't know how or when i first came across "joel on software", but i read the occasional article on it. i don't know why i read them, because i don't have anything to do with the world of software development. i guess i found those articles featured on the mailing list to be interesting and insightful, and i've never gotten around to unsubscribing :p anyways, one of the more recent articles announced the launch of the aardvark'd dvd - a documentary about how "Four interns are brought into Manhattan and given 12 weeks to design, develop, debug and ship a program that will change the way computer geeks around the world fix their friends' computers. Boondoggle Films presents a journey through the world of software development from the perspective of a unique upstart, four quirky interns, and the world of The Geek." maybe it's the last two words (and how they hit on my inner aspirations! haha) that did it for me, or maybe i just happened to be so underwhelmed by your typical multiplex films, but i was almost going to order a copy after checking out the trailer (ahh the cool things you can do with video google :). oh, and it probably did help that i had been following (some of) the progress of aardvark. i nearly fell off my chair when i saw the shipping costs to get from the states to here though... then i realised i was looking at the priority service -- normal post is less than 1/10th of the price :p still... ~USD$25 for something i'm probably only ever going to watch once, and quite likely never be able to share with anyone (i can't imagine too many people jumping at the chance to watch such a doco just for the heck of it).


i've purchased 3 DVDs on ebay. today i realised i've fallen prey to modern day pirates (of the electronic kind), for two of these discs are fakes. i recently decided to buy a copy of the soong sisters movie after coming across this blog entry, reading a bit about their story, and realising that i did recall this movie coming out some time ago but it had since fallen off my radar (and it's been about 8 years since the movie's release!). figured that even if the movie itself isn't earth-shattering, it'd at least be interesting to learn a bit more about the lives of these prominent people in china's history (to the extent that such things can be/are accurately portrayed in a commercial movie). the movie arrives and suspicions are aroused upon closer inspection - check out the photo of the dvd itself for instance. besides the atrocious spelling and grammatical errors (of which i count 8) on the disc, and the rather cheap look of the media itself (a bit subjective, and hard to describe/capture on photo... although vso inspector does confirm it to be a pressed rather than burnt disc), consider the following:
  1. at the very top of the disc, next to maggie cheung's head (middle woman), and a bit cut off, is maggie's chinese name in simplified chinese - everywhere else on the cover her name is written in traditional chinese, as it should be for something coming from HK. i have been unable to find any photos/images of the actual dvd to confirm what the disc should look like (can only find pics of the dvd box cover), but this makes me think that what i'm seeing is a non-genuine dvd label printed with artwork lifted from something used to promote the movie in china itself.
  2. next, consider the four little boxes near the bottom of the disc. the second box displays a logo which reads "compact disc digital video". from what i've been able to find out, this logo "may only be used on discs complying with the Video-CD specifications: the Philips-JVC-Matsushita-Sony Compact Disc Digital Video Specification (the WHITE Book)." now this is talking about compact disc media, thus this logo should NOT appear on a DVD!
  3. moving along to the right, the logo accompanying the "5.1 SURROUND" text is wrong. there is a similar logo on the box cover, which at least features 6 distinct black squares representing the 5+1 speakers (but which i think is also wrong because it has an additional white square, which doesn't match with any logos i've been able to find used by/for dolby-related purposes. anyways, the logo on the disc itself only has 4 squares/speakers! not quite the 5.1 claimed...
  4. then there's the region code logo... the one on the disc says it's region 1. the box says it's all regions. vso inspector says it's all regions. another printing mistake? the ebay seller asks me to "please excuse the manufacture's quality control" for the spelling errors, and claims to have spoken to the manufacturer about hiring a proofreader, citing the difficulties of finding "talented people to work for so little wages in asia". schyeah... for a pirating operation this may be a valid argument, for a big corporate body like mei ah (where this DVD is "supposed" to have come from), the line is a lot less likely to be swallowed.
  5. lastly the 3 chinese characters printed below these logo boxes... at first i thought it was 非毒品, which means something like "not drugs/poisonous". besides the obvious question of what in the world something like this is doing on a DVD, i also realised after pondering a moment that the middle character doesn't match up to what i originally thought it said... and that a homonym of 读, meaning "(to) read", had been substituted - another printing mistake?? but then a second closer look reveals that it's not even that character... it looks like the character for read but doesn't have the left radical. from what i've been able to find it's not a proper word without one of a few radicals with which it can be paired.
and there's more! as i've been typing this i've looked closer at the cover, and there's a mixture of traditional and simplified chinese printed... rather strange. plus the discovery of more english typos. and how the front cover very closely resembles, but consistently fails to 100% match, images i'm seeing of the proper artwork. the strong weight of evidence points to the work of a semi-professional pirate operation, albeit one lacking even basic QA, but with access to decent photoshopping (or similar) resources, and DVD manufacturing (stamping and printing) capabilities. anyhow, in the midst of researching and gathering evidence to discern genuine vs. pirated DVDs, i came across advice suggesting that my other purchase is also a dud. upon further checking, i slumped my shoulders and concede to being had... funny that the seller from that transaction is no longer registered on ebay? i don't know if that person was actively involved or just a pawn in the bigger game, but i was mildly surprised (maybe i was being a bit naive on this point) to discover a forum thread where sellers were openly discussing strategies to maximise their piracy profits via ebay...


enough ranting and gripes. let's end on a more positive note... i leave you with some recent video discoveries worth checking out (for the broadband enabled):
  1. baby got book - a humorous parady of sir mix-a-lot's song, reworded to encourage more reading of the good book.
  2. incredible dribble - maybe some of the roar players could learn some control from this guy, showing off his skills with a soccer ball.
  3. nba tv broadband - delivering all the highlights from the nba. not that i follow, but there's some pretty basketball to be seen here :)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

queensland whimpers

perhaps somewhat against my better judgment, i went to watch a football (soccer) game tonight, and it did nothing to change my opinion of the sport. i understand that there are people who get rather fanatical about it all, but i just can't see the attraction.

anyways, the match was between the queensland roar and the newcastle jets. the roar lost. the game was mostly pretty boring, and opportunities to get excited were few and far between, with too few queenland shots at goal going anywhere threatening. there wasn't even much atmosphere in the crowd of 13000 (the keener fans in the group say that crowd numbers have been dropping because the team isn't winning). oh well... i decided to go along cos it was supposed to be a group outing, and i figured i'd try watching a soccer game at least once... plus i don't think i'd been to suncorp stadium before so that in itself was a new experience, though not one i'm in much of a hurry to repeat unless there's something more interesting to view. i can think of a lot more satisfying ways to spend my money and my time.

and i won't really miss the likes of those who think that being at a football match gives them a "right" to holler obscenities and abuse at players and officials, nevermind the comfort/sensibilities of any other patrons within earshot. at least some other fans try to be a bit more creative with their vocal outbursts... even then, it's not necessarily something to be proud of - quite a few of us in the group are christians, and one remarked to me that she didn't think it would be a good thing if others in the crowd knew we were christians, going by what can be seen (and judged?) in the external behaviour. i couldn't refute that sentiment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

i (don't) deserve better

a while back a friend taught me about love via his courtship and engagement with his now wife. soon after they met, a long distance relationship began, and the engagement and wedding followed in relatively quick succession. some people were surprised and understandably cautious about the speed with which this relationship developed, especially given how little time and opportunity they had to spend together in the period of time leading up to the decision to get married. but the lesson he taught me through this was that a marriage is so much more about a commitment of the will than it is about any emotions/feelings of the heart. that is why in the marriage vows, it is not to the "i do" of hollywood movies that you respond, but to a covenantal "i will" that you pledge. this is no doubt a great defence against the concept of "falling (in and) out of love"... that the one for whom you once said "i do", you now say "i don't". to say "i do" requires a response befitting the moment; to say "i will" requires a promise involving the rest of your life.

on the topic of what can go wrong in marriages and how to keep it from happening... Ravi Zacharias has this to say:
First and foremost, do not even flirt with the idea that there may have been somebody better out there or someone else with whom you may connect better. Infidelities are not always physical. Emotional vagaries of the mind can be equally dangerous to the health of one's marriage. Mind games can bring bigger losses than imagined and should be stifled early. Receiving the partner as a gift from God, "warts and all," is a commitment with which one begins. The hard thing about this is that both of you need to deeply believe this. One person alone on the path of unconditional love can find it terribly exhausting.

A sincere soul-searching is the most important step when trouble looms large. Affairs often begin because one person finds someone else he or she relates to better and with whom he or she experiences more intimacy or warmth, without all the burdens of carrying a family. It may just be that many marriages break up after years of raising a family because the concerns that have been shared after half a lifetime of bearing one another's burdens are too big to carry any longer. But this is where we have to step back and realize what love and marriage are all about. Marriage brings together not just a man and his wife but their children and their struggles. To suddenly drop the partner who has carried that load with you along life's journey for all these years for someone with no strings or worries attached is cruel. Marriage is not a commercial enterprise in which you replace a car you have tired of with another one. The truth is that the new car will lose its appeal, too, to say nothing about yourself. Someone has said that a man owes his success to his first wife, and he owes his second wife to his success.

From its very inception, kill the thought that there is somebody better out there, with arms wide open, just waiting to bring you perfect happiness. Freedom from joint responsibilities and concerns is always idealized in the short term but is never realized. The greater the degree of immersion in another's life, the greater is the "pain" of living. That is just the way it is. The greater the involvement in another's life, the greater is the demand for sacrifice. We are not here to be coddled and made to feel better. There is no perfect person out there, and "better" can be a very misleading term.
-- from I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah (ch 7 / p. 137-9)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

back dormitory boys

i didn't realise when i first came across these lads a few weeks back, but they're no one hit wonders! more on the asian backstreet boys here... includes info, links, and collection of video clips. it's a bit mind-boggling that two guys miming to songs in front of their computer can attain such fame in (what i presume is) a short span of time.

another interesting find is tian's other site called hanzi smatter - a sort of reverse engrish, "dedicated to the misuse of chinese characters in western culture"... more mind-bogglingness!

Monday, November 14, 2005

falling without grace

have you ever (tried to) run so fast that your legs can't move fast enough to keep up with the rest of your body? that was me yesterday... trying to play touch footy. i'm not usually a fan of touch, mostly because i don't like any of the sports involving an olive-shaped ball (except maybe a spot of league come state of origin time), and also because i'm not very good at it. i actually thought we were going to play basketball, but the others were already on the field and kicking the ball around when i arrived, so i joined in.

when the pros play, they're often diving to score tries and make the act look so easy... even graceful (if you can attribute that kind of adjective to the typical rugby league player??). i've never been one to fall gracefully. in fact, i avoid falling, and anything that looks like it could lead to falling, like the plague -- jumping around on a trampoline for example, an activity from which i'm rather paranoid of bouncing off and doing myself great damage. this is because when i was younger, almost every fall would result in a broken bone, chipped tooth, or at the very least some broken skin.

my dad knows how to fall properly - he once fell off a ladder (or was it a roof?) and instinctively performed a somersault/roll manouvre to break his fall and dust himself off afterwards. he had kung fu training though, so that doesn't count :p i think i've managed to fall that way twice, quite by accident on both occasions. once when i was bounding down a hill and gravity got the better of me just at the end of my descent, and the other time when the front wheel of my bike met a solid kerb (i didn't have enough skills to jump it, and was going too quickly to stop or avoid it) and the impact sent me sailing over the handle bars.

anyways, back to yesterday, and my legs racing away at full capacity striving for the try line after somehow managing to make a break from our own half. i was already feeling a loss of balance some way out from the line, realising with a bit of a worry that i probably couldn't stop myself without falling over... then a tap on my back from the chasing defender helped me on my way to the ground. i don't know how to fall properly, neither how to dive without hurting myself. the last time i took a dive on that ground was in summer, playing cricket, and much broken skin ensued. thankfully this time round the spot where i fell happened to have thicker grass, and the recent rain meant the ground was also more slippery and softer. so i survived with only a slight graze, nice grass stains on my clothes, and my pedometer stayed on to count every step :p later in the game, i went for a coast to coast, and took another dive. this time i managed to stay within the field of play and got the try :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

starting at the beginning

it's funny what you can find when you go digging into your belongings... tonight i found two packs of gum that expired two years ago... :| they were sealed in blister packs, which is probably just as well! last thursday night i went through my (somewhat organised, in my own way :p) mess of room looking for a book, trying to remember where i placed it. it's called "I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah" (subtitled "Moving from Romance to Lasting Love") and is written by Ravi Zacharias.

it was purchased over a year ago but i had never read it. there are many more books in my possession which have been in an unread state for much longer, but for some reason (not quite the same ones as those which prompted me to buy the book in the first place) i felt like it's time to read it. this post doesn't so much relate to the subject proper, rather it's to share an appreciation of a few paragraphs which made an impression. it reminded me that the starting point for anything is God; not starting with God makes a world of difference to how one's life is lived, and the topic of living as though there were no God is also covered by one of the latest boundless articles. anyways, onto the quote... and yet another excerpt :)
In those first few words [of Genesis], "In the beginning God..." lies the paradigm of how everything in this world of time and space began. God, in His power, brought it to be. I think it was Dr. Billy Graham who once said, "I have no problem believing that the whale swallowed Jonah. I would have even believed it if Jonah had swallowed the whale." If you will pardon the pun, that is not flippant gullibility. That is the defining truth that underlies whether the supernatural is part and parcel of our lives or just a pipe dream. A. W. Tozer said, "Give me Genesis 1:1, and the rest of the Bible poses no problems for me." Once you accept the reality of God as not merely an assumption but the undeniable foundation of our very lives, many other deductions for life follow.

The distinguished philosopher Mortimer Adler, who was co-editor of The Great Books of the Western World, was once asked a very obvious question. This compilation of books contains essays on every major subject addressed by Western thinkers over the centuries. The longest article is on God. When an interviewer asked Adler why this was so, he replied, "More consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from answering any other basic question." Adler was absolutely right. The consequences of sacredness and profanity are worlds apart. If life is from God, then life is essentially sacred. If God is not necessary for life, then life is profane. The word profane means "outside the temple" -- that is, God has no jurisdiction over life or part in it. "In the beginning God..." must be the generating dictum of all our choices and commitments.
food for thought, don't you think?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

here by the grace of God

inspired by the tales of "life in the old days" my dad told while a FOM joined us for dinner last night, i found myself sitting at the dinner table with mum tonight, and thought i'd ask something conversational rather than focus on my food or other matters like i usually do. so i asked her if she misses her childhood, and instead she ends up asking, and telling me a bit about mine, of which i have but sketchy memories.

mum talked a fair bit about a time when i was seriously ill and spent a few weeks in hospital with a constant fever. apparently the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. meanwhile i wasted away on a drip diet. it might have been some sort of liver condition, and supposedly i had some samples taken from my bone or marrow for testing as well. "was it a spinal tap??" i asked incredulously, horrified at the pain that must have involved (and making a rather non-medically informed association between that term/procedure and the image of someone sticking a needle into the back of a small child). mum wasn't sure what exactly was involved, but it sounded pretty serious anyway.

i asked her if she was scared that i would die. she said that our local doctor, who actually lived in the bigger city where i was hospitalised, would visit on his way home every day to look in on me. and he wouldn't dare say anything -- she thinks because the hospital staff had no idea why i was sick, and thus no hope that i would get better. i was discharged after a few weeks (not sure why), barely able to walk when i got home, and eventually i got better (again, not sure why).

i only really have one image of me being in hospital at that time, and there's not much pain or suffering associated with that image. she says it's good that i don't remember. the other thing she said which kinda struck me was that usually when kids have fevers that high for so long, there's a real risk of brain damage. but i've turned out to be, in the words of yogi, smarter than the average bear (that's my paraphrase of what mum said :p).

with that last comment, she left the table to attend to housework, and me to sit and soak it all in.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

God's judgements (part 2)

the fourth kind of judgment happened when Jesus died on the cross. in this act of judgment, we see the just God who "cannot ignore evil [...], just forget the crimes we have committed and forgive the guilty as if what they did didn't matter", take our punishment on himself. he suffered, so that we don't have to. when we realise the error of our ways and change, turning back to our creator, he gives us a new life, and the promise of eternal life after (physical) death, being a part of the new heavens and new earth. doesn't it make sense to follow him?

over the last week or so, i've been much encouraged to hear the stories of a number of people who have recently done just that:
  1. here's what one of the people from church/yf shared about two of his friends, let's call them F1 and F2...
    ...but God is awesome guys. I'm sure all of you know that he's awesome but I've got another two reasons why he is!

    [...] two of my friends [...] recently committed their lives to Jesus. Come on guys how good is that? Some of you may have seen [F1] go up the front at the southside evangelistic service last sunday (I was in shock...i cried) and I actually just found out tonight that [F2] was saved about two weeks ago! (I'm also in shock..i gave him the biggest man hug ever) It fills my heart with such joy to see them come to God and really see the way he's worked in their lives! Through this, I've been really encouraged and just been praising God every moment of the day for the great things he has done. I've been seeing [F1] every day this week in Uni and she's just so filled with joy all the time. She's longing to learn more (" I want to go to church right now!" and "Tell me your favourite bible verses!") and the change in her life is amazing. You can't argue with our Lord's power dudes....It's awe inspiring! These two changed lives are a living testament to that.

    A few praise points
    • That prayer works! I've been praying for these guys every night for about a year now and at times i've been discouraged because they were really not interested. But like always, God works when you least expect and now they're his children! Trust me guys, prayer is the most powerful tool we have and it WORKS!
    • Christian Friends! Besides prayer the reason these two came to know god was that all the christians around them either evangelised to them or just led good examples in their lives that made them think there was something 'different' about christians. [F2]'s journey actually got kickstarted on YF CAMP 05! So a big shout out to all the guys that had a chat to him there.

    I just really wanted to share how joyous an occasion this is for me. It makes me realise how great God is. I just ask that you continue praying for these two new members of our family and want to encourage you to get out there and shine your light to all your non christian friends. If God is willing he'll use you! I'll leave you with something that my friend [F1] randomly said to me the other day

    "I always wondered how Christians could be so happy all the time...but now I know..." Cool huh? :-)

  2. while visiting unichurch last sunday, i ran into a student who i first met 2 years ago in convo club. he came up to me after the service, told me that he had become a christian about 6 months ago, and wanted to say thanks for being part of his journey. i can't say i contributed much, other than have a few conversations during the convo club sessions and camps i attended that year. i actually remember thinking after parting ways (i had to stop going after getting a job) that i didn't know how to "break through" to him and his ways of thinking. and there was lots more i could have actually done to help address the questions he had, but i didn't follow through. i feel a bit ashamed to receive any thanks, and can only say that God alone deserves the praise and glory. i'm glad he's now part of the family, and seems well settled in the local church there, though he'll soon be graduating and returning to his home country.

  3. then, just yesterday, more news of another new brother who had been doing christianity explained and made his commitment to follow Christ on sunday.
all made possible because of the fourth type of judgment -- it is indeed in the death of Christ that we (truly) live:
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
(from v2 of "In Christ Alone" by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

God's judgements (part 1)

quoting more stuff, cos i don't currently have any original thoughts of my own :p plus i appreciate the wording/phrasing of these bites from an article on "The Four judgments of God", by Phillip Jensen + Kirsten Birkett, as published in issue #326 (November 2005) of the Briefing.

the first way in which God exercises his judgment is by letting us live by our decisions, a process described in romans 1:18-25...
We're so perverse that, even if we want to follow God's way, we fail dismally. But part of God's punishment for our perversity is to let us lead the lives we've chosen. That's why the world is in such a bad state that you wonder if there's a God at all. And so we invent the problem of evil, saying that a loving and powerful God could not possibly allow the world to be as it is. But it's evidence of God's love, his respect and consideration for us, and his justifiable anger at us, that he lets the world be as bad as it is. We don't want him as our God? He gives us up to our choice. All the worse for us.
the second has to do with specific punishments for particular sins, which we only know to be specific when informed so by the word of God (eg. the plagues being punishment on Pharoah/Egypt for not letting Israel go).

the third is the day of judgment ie judgment after death...
Judgment after death may be a fearful prospect, but the opposite -- annihilation -- is awful too. If there is only 'ceasing to be', then all your actions are meaningless. Any good you do is pointless; you'll end up in the coffin just like the serial murderer. If death is all, you may resolve the horror of judgment after death, but the cost is high: you create the angst of a life that is totally absurd and pointless.
so there is going to be a day when God will destroy the present world and create a new one where evil does not exist...
People often ask, "Why doesn't God destroy evil?" The answer is that he will. "Why doesn't he do it now?" The person asking that question ought to think carefully about what they are asking; for, when God destroys evil, he will destroy all evil. In everything. In everyone. In you.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

throwing off that which hinders

more extractions...
In Hebrews 12, living the Christian life is likened to running a race:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith...
It is interesting to see that the writer does not say whether the [weights] to be thrown off are good or bad. They could have been very good things or activities that they were now being called upon to give up [...] the principle that is being explained in these verses is this: if at any time or in any circumstance the thing or activity gets in the way of growing like Christ, it is at that time or in that circumstance to be discarded.

When I travel overseas, I have never yet found a way to cut down on my luggage [...] I carry away and bring home clothes that I have never even put on. Generally, the overcoat I wear is stuffed with hankies and underwear to disguise the true weight of my carry-on luggage!

Our writer is saying something like this: "You cannot run in a race if you wear your overcoat and especially if the pockets are full. You might make it in a short dash, but the Christian life is a marathon."

He is calling on us to be rigorous in self-examination, and to understand that growing Christlike is so important that we should not let anything hinder it. It is possible to be hindered by some thing, which, even though it is not sinful within itself, nevertheless gets in the way of holiness. [....]

There is nothing wrong with spending a weekend at the snow. However, if it means leaving your Sunday School class without a teacher on Sunday, then you don't have to be a genius to know whether the good (going to the snow) has robbed you of the best (teaching your Sunday School class). Now it is possible to be sufficiently far-sighted to see that if you take on the task of teaching Sunday School you will never be able to have a weekend at the snow. To choose not to do Sunday School teaching for this reason is to stuff the overcoat with everything you own.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

throwing off the sin which clings

(with reference to hebrews 12:1)
We must put sin behind us. By this, the writer [of Hebrews] means the sinful issues which dog our footsteps every moment. We may have recognized the sin for what it is, we may have confessed it and we may have asked for forgiveness, but the step of saying to ourselves, "This must come to an end. I renounce it", seems not to have happened. Our writer says to us, "Do it!" Now is the time to act.

He expects that we will be self-disciplined and ruthless towards sin. He is telling us to recognize it for what it is, and then to call on God to strengthen us so that we will rigorously fight against it and renounce it. Sin is to be seen for what it is, something that is totally incongruous with the Christian walk. It matters not at all how many times we may have failed in a particular matter in the past. There is a story told about someone who has been bugged by a persistent sin. He had give in to temptation yet again, and in his prayers he confessed his sin by saying, "Oh God, I've done it again", to which God replied, "Done what?"

God completely forgives us, and we should believe him and act accordingly.
an extract (from an extract) from "A Sinner's Guide to Holiness" by John Chapman

Friday, November 04, 2005

yes virginia, i do speak english

went for a walk just now to post a letter and to try out my new navy crocs caymans 1, and was about to cross the street to the post box when i saw a car coming, and waited for it to pass. the driver pulls up, says "hey" and looks like he's about to ask me a question, then thinks better of it, before speaking again and asks "mate do you speak english?"

so i put on my best ocker accent and reply with a resolute "yeah mate!"

to which he responded with a bit of laugh, and i proceed to give him the directions he needed to be on his way to the airport.

i suppose i don't begrudge him for questioning whether i was indeed conversant with the lingua franca of the land - after all, there are many in society who don't speak it (well) - but i guess it could come across as a bit of an affront to someone whose command of the language quite probably exceeds that of most truer and bluer locals2.

anyways, it reminded me of the time when i was a uni student doing vacation work in mackay, and shooting hoops at the half-court next to where i was staying. some local kids came along and started shooting too. i was having a good run with my shots, and one of the kids made some complimentary remark to which i uttered some acknowledgement. no sooner had i spoken the words did he reply, with wide-eyed amazement "gee you speak good english for a japanese!"

me: *pause*... i'm not japanese...

[1] had been searching for some sandal/mule-type footwear for a while, and saw these while browsing rebelsports online to use up a voucher i had - they're supposedly quite popular in the states, so i figured i'd play early adopter here in the antipodes :)
[2] not that i'm trying to be arrogant, but if my school results are anything to go by...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

pygmy porcine poem

the one who casts pearls before swine
should instead, on pork, wine and dine.
some things in life are just not worth the effort in bothering...