BLC's Community Blog - the Gatherings, Life Groups, discipleship, social issues, prayers, worship experiences, insights into the Scripture... no random statements of who we had lunch with and what our dogs ate for breakfast. The place where strangers get to know us as a community, who we are, what we're like, how we function, and to experience what it'll be like to be a part of us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Working Hours

*I read this from my friend Jason Clark and caused me to re-assess myself as we draw near to Christmas, would you join me? ~ Sivin*

Apparently the average person works for 40 hours per week in the European Union. Until this summer, I have worked far more than that. Being bi-vocational, for several years, meant worked in excess of 90 hours a week at times. Even going into this summer I was clocking in weeks of 60-70 hours.

Now many jobs are demanding of time, and being a pastor/minister is one those vocations that takes up alot of time. Yet I am have suffered from workaholism, and being in ministry has been something that suited that tendency well.

Yet something happened to me this summer on sabbatical. God did something in me that found me at peace in a way I haven't been for a long time, he challenged my workaholism, and the the need to trust him, not my output.

And maybe getting older, I am finally slowing down. Anyhow I am putting in 40-50 hour weeks. By my previous years it feels down right lazy, but the difference has been liberating. And people are noticing the difference in me, in good ways.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Prayer after Isaiah 64:1-9

Thanks to young Doulos (who visited BLC before) for this. I think it captures the heart of the text the Covenant players based their plays on and that governed the theme of my message excellently. Have a blessed week!

"When I look back upon my life nigh spent,
Nigh spent, although the stream as yet flows on,
I more of follies than of sin repent,
Less for offence than Love’s shortcomings moan.
With self, O Father, leave me not alone –
Leave not with the beguilder the beguiled;
Besmirched and ragged, Lord, take back thine own:
A fool I bring thee, to be made a child."

~George MacDonald, Poetical Works~

Friday, November 25, 2005

First Project Fireflies Camp!

Can you locate Wong Chin Hor, James Tan & Aaron Ponniah from Bangsar Lutheran Church?

One thing I believe is as Christians either we can organize such events or just go ahead and loan our energy and join them. In this case both were done.

Praise God! and well done "younglings" and "padawans" ...

Of course James does look like a younger yoda :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Altar Decorations

BLC altar decorators often surprise me! they do a fabulous job to bring stuff from their everyday lives and lay it on the altar.

Four Principles of Discernment

*I think this is an important subject as many of us wonder how do we find our God's will - and often we are tempted to hold a view where we expect a "dramatic answer" immediately or "just tell me God faster" kind of approach. Another challenge is when because we lack self-awareness and understanding .. what we think is from God is actually our own "hang ups". But does that mean it's impossible to know. .. ? No, I believe when we're in a humble and honest posture we can "discern" and I think points 3 and 4 are very relevant. This process is also not mechanical but very organic and relational for Christians. So before you make the next decision -esp. a major one like life partners, work, education, etc. Walk through these 4 principles as a check list. (Special thanks to Latino Liz for the post)~ Sivin*

(This was recommended by N. Graham Standish, author of Becoming a Blessed Church, a book I would like to do with the developing church leadership...eventually)

Here are four simple principles to keep in mind whenever seeking to discern God’s will as an individual or group.

1. Grounding in Scripture
Discernment always starts with Scripture. That doesn’t mean that to discern, a person must immediately open the Bible and look for particular guidance. That works at times, but it isn’t the best way. For effective and powerful discernment, it is best simply to become a person of Scripture. This means engaging in regular devotional reading of Scripture, becoming part of Bible studies, and listening to Scripture through sermons. Grounding our discernment in Scripture allows us to be formed by Scripture so that the words begin to guide us even when we are not aware of their influence.

2. Listening for Christ’s Voice
God’s voice is so much richer than ours, and God can speak to us through anything—a song, a poem, a leaf, a graduation ceremony, the lettering on a truck, the stray comment of a stranger—anything. Learn to become attuned to how God is speaking. At the same time, don’t assume that everything you hear is from God. Be discriminating and somewhat skeptical. The true voice of God will resonate within. Your heart will leap at its sound.

3. Clarifying.
Don’t just assume because you have heard something that it has to be God’s voice. Far too many false preachers, teachers, and prophets have been deceived by their own pride masquerading as God’s voice. Have the humility to ask, “Is this really you, God?” Then talk with others, especially those who you believe are spiritually attuned. If God is speaking to you, they will sense it too. If the voice isn’t God’s, their doubts will help you go back and listen again. The important part of clarifying God’s voice is recognizing that Christ is present and speaks to us throughout life, but that our egos, especially when they are immature and afraid of seeking Christ, can speak to us through a false voice that mimics Christ’s voice. Discernment requires us to spend time clarifying, to whatever extent we can, whether the voice we hear is Christ’s voice. If it is, then it will be affirmed by others who also are seeking to discern God’s will.

4. Following in Faith
Following in faith is the thing that separates real ministry and mission from activities that are self-serving. When we follow God in faith, we still have doubts, we still are a bit reluctant, we still have trepidations, but we act anyway. If Christ is really the one calling, something special will happen. The impossible will become possible—and sometimes the possible becomes impossible when our timing isn’t God’s. Generally, God will find a way to work through us to make what God wants happen . This is how God as Presence works. God as Purpose calls us to ministry and mission, and God as Presence makes it happen through us. To be a blessed church means acting in faith.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Constitution of Malaysia

In a sudden moment of "i don't now what happened!" ... I picked up the Constitution of Malaysia and read the first few pages while waiting at Borders bookstore before heading to pick Elysia for a doctors appointment.

perhaps it's because I've been asking myself lately what does it mean to be a Malaysian citizen who "loves" the country. And this practice of reading a most basic document will help me connect with the land where I'm living in!

From Article 4:
"(1) This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation and any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void."

From Article 11:
"(1) Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

(2) No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purposes of a religion other than his own.

(3) Every religious group has the right -

(a) to manage its own religious affairs;

(b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and

(c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law.

(4) State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Lubuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

(5) This Article does not authorize any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality. "

I've been hearing these two Articles a lot the past years and it definately stood out for me ... and it's been on my mind since yesterday especially thinking about what led to the amendments in Article 11. And even as the words continue to ring in my mind, I'm thinking what part can I play or we could play to "construct" together with others --> a better home for our children where for them reaching out to "the other" who is unlike them has less barriers whether it's from without or within. This home we call Malaysia needs to be "better" for ALL!

May God bless Malaysia ... (how is this blessing seen and expressed through us?)

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Christian Year

I was visiting the Wednesday "suka makan" LiFE Group (hey! actually all BLC LiFe Groups suka makan) - ok .. the one facilitated by Hoong Guit. Melanie adapted the Children's teaching on the Christian Year which I think was FANTASTIC ... please feel free to invite her as your special guest teacher! (So what's all this advent, epiphany, lent, pentecost business huh? what relevance does it have to us? ... )

For me, appreciating the Christian Year helped me in the following ways:
1. I realized that there's a reason and intention for the whole Christian year and the Festivals (so it's not just another holiday but it's "holy" days - i.e. days set apart for specific purposes and creates "space" for me to recall and reflect on Christ and his Word.)

2. I also switch my loyalty as far as how I "see" time, days, weeks and months. We live with so many difference ways of organizing our time - the major one of course is the secular calendar (based on the Gregorian calendar), then for the Chinese we're reminded of the lunar Calendar especially during Chinese New year and other festivals like Mooncake Festival recently, then the recent Hari raya and Deepavali festivals remind us how the Muslims and Hindus organize their lives. So what does this mean for me as a Christian? If Christ is Lord of all - then he's also Lord of my time. Actually, it's his time anyway .. but our way of "calculating" it or giving name to it ... The point is ... that his presence covers all and saturates even my minutes and seconds ... I'm reminded of the little booklet by brother Lawrence the Practicing the Presence of God.

3. So, for the past five years since starting BLC, I've found it most rewarding to actually organize my Scripture Reading, my prayer, my spiritual diciplines etc. around the Christian year and it reminds me again and again ... that though I exist in the world (i.e. we still following the secular calendar) I belong to Jesus first and foremost!

Thanks Hoong Guit and her LiFe Group for a wonderful session. It REALLY blessed my evening until now!

(*note* Hoong Guit's use of the song Child of God to open was truly Spirit inspired!)