Sunday, July 31, 2005
W - United Worship
I - Biblical Instruction
F - Intimate Fellowship
E - Effective Evangelism
So is a 'church' still a church without any one of these four elements?
Saturday, July 30, 2005
The idea of Missio Dei gives me the conviction that my whole life is God’s and there is no division into sacred and secular. When I engage in mission, God’s mission should be what I focus on, as only in the hands of the sending God can it truly be called mission.
What do you reckon?
Friday, July 29, 2005
This conference will challenge Christians to radical discipleship and mission with the poor. It will include Jackie Pullinger (author of "Chasing the Dragon" from her work with Triad gangs in Hong Kong), innovative worship times, interactive workshop. For detailed conference updates and further information see: http://www.unoh.org/
Thursday, July 28, 2005
- my "bestest" friend
- someone that means so much to me
- one of the most important people in my life
- by her caring and loving she has given me two things: roots and wings
- my prayer and gossip partner, my supporter (in all sorts of ways), my encourager and my listener.
- God's blessing
- she has given so much of herself
- she has stood by me and believed in me
- she has been there when I needed her
- she has given me room to grow, to be myself, and to become the person I am today
Well she's been a little unwell lately, and that worries me! When she fainted last Monday night, that really reminded me of my beloved dad on the morning when he passed away! I don't know what I'd ever do without her!
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Amongst other things, I shared about the followings:
My "conversion" story (how I first met God):
I was born into a Buddhist (with ancestor worship) family in Hong Kong. My parents brought me to a Christian primary school because they felt that Christian schools were better academically. Through religious education, I heard about the stories of Jesus, but Christ never meant much to me then. During grade five, I had a very high fever and was admitted to hospital. A couple from a nearby church came to do hospital visitation and witnessed to me, I really sensed God's love in a way that I had not before, so I accepted Jesus as my Saviour and Lord on that day, while I was still very sick. That night my life changed, and it has never gone back :)
My Call to mission:
In Aug 1987 I came to live in Melbourne, and God blessed me with a church family where I was discipled and grew up spiritually. In May 1994 during a missions conference God led me to serve Him through a sermon. That moment I was moved to tears, and I responded to God’s call and committed myself to His service. In July of the same year, God spoke to me again through the great grandson of Hudson Taylor, who came to Melbourne to share a series of meetings titled “I commit my life to you”--- this was when I joyfully responded to God saying : “LORD, may you use my life for Your purposes”.
However, as God had declared “My thoughts are not your thoughts”, and throughout the next few years after that my life was turned upside down and chaos was everywhere and my heart was shattered by various crises. Nevertheless, I can see how God has used these experiences to make me the person I am today. I learned that the most difficult times are the ones in which God seems to be most at work in my life, strengthening my weak spots, comforting my hurts, and drawing me to greater dependence on Him.
On the New Year’s Eve of 2000, I had an opportunity to reflect upon my life. On this very night, I asked God for direction in the new millennium. The Lord’s Word came to me through Isaiah 6:5, saying “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us ?” I felt really unworthy, but was reminded of my commitment to serve Him with my life. Through the touching of the Holy Spirit, I responded to God “Here am I. Send me !”. The Lord then sent me to Tabor Bible College, where I did a degree in Mission Studies. Now I am working in mission mobilization with World Team Australia, where I desire to promote Christ's cause by mobilizing a generation of young people into missionary services.
I reckon the preparing and the telling of timeline is an invaluable exercise, as it allows people to revisit moments they had put aside, and it is enlightening not just for those listening but for those sharing as well. It was an awesome experience for me personally because as I actually sat down and put all the important moments and stepping stones together to see how God has led me thus far, I felt so thankful that God had been watching over me all these years, even though there were some really tough and difficult times of my life. It was also a real privilege to have my own journey heard by people in my community who are sharing the journeys with me.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Thanks Kel for your post.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Chinese Calligraphy and Ink Painting is a very special Chinese writing in an art form that shows the art and culture of China. It is a watercolor painting and normally Chinese instrumental folk music is used when the artist paints. I think it's very cool! :)
Sunday, July 24, 2005
The three broad commitments include Communion, Community and Commission.
Communion (in Relationship with Christ) - Inner Journey
- God's word
Community (in Relationship with One Another) - Together Journey
Commission (in Relationshi with the World) - Outer Journey
- Gospel telling/sharing
I think that as long as these three Cs / journeys are present, any group of Christians can legitimately be considered a church in any place. Well what do you all think?
Mike and Alan ask some interesting questions which are worth pondering:
To be a church,
Do you need to meet in a church building?
Do you need to meet weekly?
Do you need ministers?
Do you need to sing?
Does someone have to bring a sermon?
Hope to hear your answers to these questions.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Don Richardson, the Regions Beyond Missionary Union missionary (RBMU is a mission organization that merged with West Indies Mission to become World Team in 1995), reached the Sawi tribe with the message of peace in Jesus and later wrote about it in the best-selling book Peace Child. In this book, and his other books, Don talks about a concept called “redemptive analogy”, which I found facinating and meaningful.
In Peace Child, Don tells how his wife Carol and him befriended a tribe of 3,000 cannibalistic headhunters—the Sawi. They found them living remotely in one of Papua’s vast swamps. They lived among them and learned their language. The Sawi were ravaged by malaria and other tropical diseases. Even more tragically, they were decimating their own population by waging almost constant warfare among themselves and with other tribes. As an alternative to that violence, Don and Carol urged the Sawi to find peace with God and with each other by believing the Christian message, but they hit a major barrier.
When he told the Sawi how Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, betrayed Jesus with a kiss, they exalted Judas as the hero of the story! They even bestowed upon him the title taray duan (a master of treachery)! One of the Sawi said, “We never thought of kissing victims of our treachery at the moment of truth. That Judas outdid us. He is the sort of fellow any other man should be proud to promise a daughter to in marriage.” Don realized in that moment that treachery was the Sawi culture’s “national pastime.” As war raged on between two nearby Sawi villages, Don repeatedly urged them to make peace, but saw little progress until Kaiyo, a father in one of the two villages, decided to honor his plea.
To make peace, Kaiyo gave his only child, Biakadon—to one of his enemies, a man named Mahor. Deeply moved, Mahor embraced little Biakadon as a “peace child.” He then invited every man, woman and child in the village of Kaiyo’s enemies to lay a hand on little Biakadon, thereby pledging no violence against Kaiyo’s village as long as his peace child remained alive in Mahor’s house. I gasped in awe, realizing that long ago God had placed within the culture of the Sawi people something analogous to His redemptive provision for mankind through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Don then began proclaiming Jesus as the Tarop Tim Kodon (“the ultimate Peace Child”) given by Navo Kodon (“the ultimate Father, God, the Creator of everything”). This analogy proved to be more than just an eye-opener; it became a heart gripper. “If only you had told us that Judas’s victim was a peace child,” they assured Don, “we would not have acclaimed Judas. To wrong a peace child is the worst crime possible.” In faith, they began to lay their hands on Jesus,thereby pledging allegiance to God, the greatest peace-child giver of all. Headhunting ceased. Churches sprang up in every village. The Sawi learned to resolve misunderstandings through consultation rather than conflict. Now they are healthier and happier, and their numbers are increasing.
Friday, July 22, 2005
An Arrow Pointing Upwards - I reckon is a good analogy of what followers of Christ should be: a life of upward looking, a life of pointing people to Christ, and a life of lifting up our hands in prayer.
I pray that I can live a life like that!
1Timothy 2:8 "I want people everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. "
Thursday, July 21, 2005
The Yes Men is a funny yet thought-provoding documentary (with a serious agenda may I add) about a small group of anti-globalization activists (also known as 'crusaders') who impersonated the World Trade Organization (WTO) on television as well as at various major conferences all over the world. They became representatives of WTO, which they politically oppose and propose such things as recycling human waste to be made into McDonald's hamburgers to be sold in the third world.
When I was doing the subject of Holistic Ministry at Tabor, we had the opportunity to study the topic of globalization. My understanding is that although rapid growth and poverty reduction in China, India, and other countries that were poor decades ago has been a positive aspect of globalization, it has also increased inequality and environmental degradation.
I am interested in knowing about others' ideas / opinions about globalization and activism. And for those of you who have seen The Yes Men, what do you think of their approach of 'changing the world one prank at a time'?
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The shape of the LivingRoom is still emerging and is likely to remain liquid in its form but to this point three broad core values have surfaced:
(1) The Inner Journey – Connection with Jesus
a commitment to develop spiritual formation of members. Through culturally relevant and creative forms of prayer, reflection, engaging with Scripture, learning and worship, LivingRoom seeks to create an environment where people grow in their own relationship with God.
(2)The Outer Journey – Connection with our World
a commitment to encourage and resource members on a journey of service, justice and mission to others. LivingRoom seeks to both provide opportunities for corporate mission and to support and resource individuals in their own daily mission. We seek to keep in balance our call to be counter cultural but also Incarnational and Relational in our outward journey.
(3)Together Journey – Connection with One Another
a commitment to travel the inward and outward journeys in community. LivingRoom seeks to develop inclusive community through hospitality, inspiration from Scripture, shared life disciplines and intentional involvement in one an others lives.
We are all going to go back to reflect more on these core values and share more in the coming meetings.
So what do you think about these three journeys?
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
After coming back from Europe, I am very interested in knowing more about the differences between people from various countries in the West. So I interviewed three Australian born Aussies and seeked to discover what it is that makes an Aussie an Aussie, and how they saw the differences between themselves and people from other countries.
. What is distinctly Australian?
Individualism, materialism, appreciation of the nature (outdoor), sense of freedom, home ownership dream, beach holidays, relaxed and low pressure lifestyle on career and money , the Australian 'fascination with sport' (a unique capacity to identify with our nation's sportspeople, especially in international competition), “Larrikinism” (identify with public figures whose love of fun leads them into somewhat morally questionable situations). · How do Australians differ from Americans on the one hand and Brits on the other hand?
Compared to both Americans and Brits, Australians place significantly less emphasis on formality, manners, and social status. The social class system in Britain has no real parallel here. The American fascination with political correctness doesn't reach quite the same levels in Australia. Australians generally imagine that most Brits would love to give up their stuffy existence in the rain and come down here to the Sun and relaxation. Australians are generally simpler, more real, vaguely uncivilised, and more open and friendly compared to Americans and Brits. Americans tend to put on a big show and are more pretentious. Brits are more patriotic and devoted to their country, which stems from the royalty. They have more appreciation to their heritage. Aussies are fair dinkum down to earth, and willing to give anything a go, but are lazier. Americans are hard working, career driven while Brits are less hard working than Americans. The majority of the original Australian settlers were predominantly directly English related. The biggest difference probably comes from the age of our nations, size of our populations, and relative power we are able to exert on the world stage.
· Are there differences between Aussies and Kiwis?
Kiwis are more community and agricultural based and there are big differences in language, speech and accent. Australians also see Kiwis as being a bit more rural and backward. We joke about their fascination with sheep. Kiwis seem to think that they are far more laid back and friendly.
· How would you define an Aussie?
The old-fashioned definition of an Aussie is: "Caucasian person who spends a lot of time in the Sun and says g'day". Now an Aussie is someone who calls Australia their home, someone who experiences political freedom and the right to give opinions. An Aussie now can come from many cultural backgrounds and enjoys the Aussie climate and culture that goes with it.
· What cultural traits or other aspects of culture identify and define an Aussie?
Some typical Australian cultural traits include shaking hands, using Aussie slangs (shortening words), loving nature and strong front (you don’t tell me what to do). However Aussies in the city are very different from Aussies in the country. Because Australia is really a collection of many cultures, it is hard to single out any one trait by which an 'Aussie' can be identified. In terms of food we could try meat pies, fish and chips on Friday night, BBQs in the summer with flies everywhere. For fun, we could say sport and the beach. Competitiveness and 'taking it easy and no worries” are big ones too, though they seem to contradict each other. These days cosmopolitan living might be a unifying trait. Maybe having no real definition of culture and being open to try anything anyone from another culture suggests is also a trait of Australians.
· What changes are taking place in the conception of what it means to bean Aussie from 10 / 20 years ago?
I think Australia is still growing up. In the last 10 / 20 years we have learnt that we can do more than play on the beach. We have continued to develop an interest as a nation in scientific and medical endeavours. Certainly multi-culturalism is something that continues to have an impact. Fifty years ago, the white-Australia policy meant that an Aussie had to come from Europe. Now Asian and American influences are a big part of Aussie culture. A trip to any state capital will make it abundantly clear that an Aussie can be all sorts of people / things. There is now more multicultural tolerance and rapid population growth and less monarchy propaganda and less patriotism to the commonwealth.
· How will your understanding of an Aussie effect your ministry?
Based on the understanding that an Aussie can mean anyone who lives in Australia (including those from the city or country, those who were born here or immigrants from various countries), I will only use these generalisations as a starting point and try not to stereotype too much when serving in my ministry. I will befriend with anyone and accept each person as important and unique because we are all created in the image of God.
So what do you reckon? Do you agree with the above points?
Monday, July 18, 2005
An out-of-tune piano turned into a piece of art. "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)
Sunday, July 17, 2005
To look within is to be depressed.
To look up is to be blessed.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3)
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Federation Square For those of you who haven't been to Fed Square, this is a picture that I took inside the place....going in there always gives me a sense of refreshment and moments of reflection. I love it!
Some of the festival hightlights are here. If you are an overseas reader who likes arts and are thinking of visiting Melbourne, October would be a great time as apparently this festival acts like a lightning rod so that you wouldn't be able to see this work in Melbourne at any other time than at festival time.
Of particular interest to me is the theme of Arts in the age of anxiety and Australian children's imaginations, "Looking Up, Looking Out, Looking In" - which depicts the imaginings, hopes and wishes above, around and in the Federation Square. Sounds really interesting and meaningful!
Well the expressions "Looking Up, Looking Out, Looking In" always have special meanings in my faith and spirituality. To me, looking up is to fix my eyes on God, who is watching over me; looking out reminds me of my outward journey, which is the reaching out and caring for others around me; looking in is the reflection and contemplation of my own inward journey and my inner self . Only when I look up to God, I can look out to others and look in to examine my inner self in love. John says that God became flesh and blood to become man in Jesus Christ. I am on a journey - a journey of receiving and giving. Freely freely I receive from God, freely freely I should give! I really want to take God's light out and demonstrate God's love! I choose to daily look up to Christ, look out to those around me and look inside myself in God's strength.
So what does "Looking Up, Looking Out, Looking In" mean to you?
By the way, for those of you in Melbourne (or coming to Melbourne from overseas) in October, perhaps we can go to the Melbourne International Arts Festival together and catch up at my place. If you are interested, please let me know. I am keen to have a bloggers / artists get-together during that time.
Friday, July 15, 2005
- He shared about his personal testimony on how God transformed him.
- Missions In Europe (where he said it's like the Revised Roman Empire)
- What’s at the heart of Europe (Pride, A Collision between the Old and New, Secularism,
Post Modernism, Materialism, Hedonism, Atheism, Pluralism, Superstition, Polytheism and Paganism)
- The Religious Scene (in Milan particularly): Culturally Catholic, Nominal, Suspicious of Evangelical Christianity, Tolerant and open to Eastern mysticism, Anti Organized Religion, It all Looks Great On The Outside
- Italy (Milan): European City, Multicultural, Fast Pace, Extravagantly Wealthy, Unsatisfied.
- How To Do Missions : Jesus Is Going to Build His Church, Grass Roots Ministries, Apostles,
Containers, Horse Verses Mule, Two Kinds of Churches.
- Needs: Young (Youthful), Energetic, Creative, Short Term, Middle Term, Long Term, Tent Maker, Career Missionaries, Outreach to Muslims
- Your Part: Pray The Lord of the Harvest Sends Out Workers.
We also had a great time of fun, food and fellowship (some photos here). We had tiramisu, cheese cakes (it is Brian our World Team Australia Director's birthday today), European bread with dip (balsamic vinegar and olive oil), gelatic and snacks. Praise the Lord that a number of people told us that they were very interested in mission and the opportunities for short term mission trips and seeking God for long term missionary service, while others were committed to praying for missionaries and supporting them. It was such a joy to meet with people with a smiliar passion to myself - to participate with God in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ our Lord (Matthew 28:18-20).
Thursday, July 14, 2005
This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column,much to the delight of the editor.It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!" When you are DOWN to nothing.... God is UP to something! Faith sees the invisible,believes the incredible and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Labyrinth At LivingRoom Tonight (St Stephen's Anglican Church)
Tonight at LivingRoom two of our groups did the Labyrinth with Eddie from Labyrinth Australia. It was an interesting and meaningful evening. We went through an interactive symbolic spiritual journey, which allowed us to create space to unwind and think.
The meditations of the Labyrinth include a spiritual journey where we listen to a cd which provides contemplative words and contemporary ambient music, and there are eleven stands / stops, where people are encouraged to take time to participate in the rituals and visuals in order to reflect on the deeper things of life. It reshapes a 12th-century ritual for the 21st century. These stands / stops include the followings:
- Inward Journey - with a chair representing the start of the journey
- Noise - with a computer and signal representing the noises around and within us, we were encouraged to be still, quiet and relax
- Letting Go - with stones and a bucket of water where stones represent concerns and worries, we were encouraged to put the stones into the water as a symbol of letting go
- Hurts - with pieces of paper for us to write down symbols / words of hurts, then put into a rubbish bin
- Distractions - with map, compass and two magnets representing the distractions in our lives
- Holy Space (The Labyrinth) - with an 'altar', bread and juice representing communion with God
- Outward Journey - with contemplative words to encourage people to take the presence of God into the world
- Self - with a mirror indicating we are made in the image of God, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
- Planet - with seed and soil representing our co-labouring with God
- Others - with candles representing web of relationships and prayers for those around us
- Impressions - with sand representing how our footprints will leave impressions in history
I really enjoyed the rituals and visuals of the Labyrinth tonight. They helped me to reflect on my relationship with myself (who I am in Christ), with others (the need to love and pray for others), with our world (the importance of taking the light out, and witnessing to a world that desperately needs the Lord) and with God (committed to focusing on God in all I do in my life and ministry, and not be distracted by things that are not of eternal value).
The last reflective question that got me pondering was this: "what will be left of us when we've left?" I wonder how you would answer that question. Let me ponder some more perhaps I might write about it later.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
(1) maximizing discontinuity by distinguishing between renewed, restored, and reinvented churches, and focus on the last;
(2) redefining mission by clarifying and simplifying to “more Christians, better Christians” in authentic missional community, for the good of the world;
(3) practising systems thinking by seeing the church program in terms of interrelated systems rather than quick fixes;
(4) trading up traditions for tradition by distinguishing between church traditions and the Christian Tradition, and moving emphasis from the former to the latter;
(5) resurrecting theology as art and science by stopping thinking of theology as a matter of technical training, and rejuvenating theology through a quest for truth and beauty;
(6) designing a new apologetic by finding fresh ways to communicate the gospel to the postmodern mind;
(7) learning a new rhetoric by realizing that old communication patterns are less and less effective in the new world, and discovering new, appropriate modes of discourse;
(8) abandoning old structures as they are outgrown by adopting a new paradigm for church structure that allows for routine reenginerring based on changes in size, constituency, resources, and strategy;
(9) saving the leaders by recognizing the terrible toll that the transition time is taking on leaders; recognizing their immense value to the church at this time; helping them to be “saved” for their needed work;
(10) subsuming missions in mission by understanding the crisis in world missions, and helping launch a new missionary movement;
(11) looking ahead, by anchoring hope in the future rather than the past, and exploring a new eschatology.
(12) Entering the postmodern world by understanding it, engaging it, and getting ready for revolution;
(13) Adding to this list by helping the church become a learning organization that discovers and implements its own new strategies.
McLaren’s book is clear, honest, open-minded, intellectually and spiritually stretching and stimulating. It offers a passionate challenge to change and transformation. Its practical, easy to understand, relevant and engaging language including illustrations on real-life church experience, and evangelical ministry make it a worthwhile book to read. Yet I feel that to put these strategies into action is the major challenge.
So what do you think of these 13 points? Which one do you see as the most important? And how can these strategies be put into action?
Monday, July 11, 2005
As I was reflecting on these artists' ministries, I couldn't help but realised that 'platform / stage ministry' can still be used by God in a powerful way in terms of evangelism and mission in this day and age. In fact, it's a great way to reach many at the same time. God is the ultimate artist, it's really no wonder that arts (both performing arts and visual arts) is an amazing tool to share the gospel.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
"The Labyrinth" is referred to as walking your spiritual journey (symbolically). My First Labyrinth Experience was at Ignition back in April, and I found it a great prayer and reflection tool. In fact, God spoke to me powerfully through it then. Recently I've read and heard quite a bit about this method of meditation on the Scripture. And I'm really interested in knowing more about how I can use this worship method to reflect on life and apply God's Word more effectively. I currently have many thoughts running through my head regarding my life, mission, church, work and ministry etc. And I feel that this kind of "A-maze-ing Prayer", as Dan Kimball calls it pertinently, can be a useful way of listening to God.
Read more about Dan's ideas here.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Some friends and I went to see Michael W. Smith's concert at Festival Hall tonight. It was the first time that I saw Michael live in concert, and it was really enjoyable. You just can't expect anything less than the best when it comes to a live musical performance by Michael W. Smith. As is true at any Smitty concert, he had a great backing band. He really put his heart into the night of worship experience. Michael's heart and passion for worship was so evident. He said in the beginning of his concert that worship is not just about music, it's a lifestyle (amen to that!!). He gave some examples of what worship means in action, which was great. He said that worship is about serving people in Africa and the AIDS crisis, preparing to help in the devastation in Sudan, seeing the hurting person next to you and are moving to act, and being compassionate to those in poverty. Oh how the world needs more "activist Christians" like that! And I truly believe worship and mission are closely connected together!
Friday, July 08, 2005
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Life is really so unpredictable isn't it?! Yesterday everyone in London was smiling, laughing and celebrating the great news of being awarded the 2012 Olympic game, yet today everyone was in absolute shock and was puzzled by the deadly attacks. This terrble act is the evil outworking of darkened hearts.
As recorded in the Bible, "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:10-13)
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
I was in the London Underground just over a week ago, and could not even imagine that explosions would happen like it has! It was good and a relief to know that my London friends (the members of WTUK including the children) are all safe and none have been directly affected by the bombings though.
Me eating deeped-fried scorpions (locusts) in China :-)
"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. "
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
The Paris Prayer Conference was such a humbling and insightful learning experience. The love that the missionaries had for each other, for the local believers and for the lost was so evident. I have gained a better understanding of the work as well as the spiritual warfare and battles that go on. Although the work is not easy (France is known to be the graveyard of Europe spiritually), the missionaries’ perseverance and humility really touched me. I saw World Team core values in action through the France Team. The team weaves the core values of gospel, prayer and worship, interdependence, releasing and developing leaders into their life and ministry. Apart from the field, the nation, their history and culture, I also learned a lot about church planting through this event. Most importantly, I learned prayer is truly a major part of church planting.
I was really blessed by the testimonies of many of the French believers, who enthusiastically shared their perspectives and requests for their country. I was very encouraged by the impact of the missionaries in their lives, and how these national believers were developed to be leaders of the churches. Their testimonies showed vividly that prayer does make a difference in missions. I truly profited from the insight of the labourers in France. As I prayed for the spiritual needs of France, I felt a strong sense that this conference was really ordained by God. The commitment of the France Team, their faith, and their love for the lost have impacted me in this trip a lot. The interns were an encouragement and a special blessing to all of us. They had such learner and servant hearts. God has placed a burden in my heart to challenge and encourage Australian people to join the World Team France Internship Program, and long term missionary service in the coming years.
I am greatly thankful for this opportunity to join the event. I praise God for granting me travel mercies, good health, safety, inspiration and friendship through this trip. I truly felt that God met with me in a special way during the Paris Prayer Conference. He has given me a deepening prayer burden for the country of France, and this special time of emphasis on prayer for the nation of France was worth all the time and resources. I pray that many more will join in the army of asking God to break down the walls of unbelief and indifference and bring many to Himself in this nation.
Just as I was pondering how the separation of state and church was affecting the spiritual condition in France, it's really interesting to see a number of Australian politicans attending Australia's biggest church. So does that mean there is a union of church and state?
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
When I got home from work, I felt extremely tired (probably jet-lag was still there). The funny thing was after I spent time with the Lord 'at the foot of the cross' by praying, crying out to HIM and reading His Word and listening to HIM, I actually felt much more refreshed!
I met Jesus at the foot of the cross. When I was bound by sin;
Jesus met me, cleansed my heart of its dross,He gave sweet peace within.
I met Jesus at the foot of the cross, I met Jesus at the foot of the cross;All my sins were washed away;Sin’s dark night turned into dayWhen I met Jesus at the foot of the cross.
I found pardon at the foot of the cross,Forgiveness full and free;Now I love Him only, all else is loss,His grace availed for me.
I met Jesus when I needed Him most,Despair possessed my soul;I was under condemnation and lost,When Jesus made me whole.
***Words & Music: Robert Harkness, circa 1922***
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. -- Matthew 5:4
Mourning and being blessed at the same time seem contradictory, but they're not. Simply put, there can be no comfort where there is no grief. God promises to be "the God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3).
We also find comfort in the promises of God's Word: "we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).
And, of course, we are comforted by friends and loved ones (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Here are three simple guidelines that will help you work through grief.
Guideline 1: Externalize your grief. Cry and tell someone about how you feel.
Guideline 2: Internalize your faith. What your heart feels might challenge some things that your mind knows are true.
Guideline 3: Eternalize your hope. Paul reminds the Thessalonians, who had lost loved ones, that Christ will return and our bodies will again rise from the grave (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
hmmm....but i'm still grabbling with guideline 2!
Monday, July 04, 2005
One of my counsellor friends told me once that when bad feelings come, we can help ourselves to cope by acknowledging the feelings (but not to deny them or avoid the situation). It's a good idea not to focus on the negatives or just dwell on the situation, try to do something constructive. If it is not possible to do anything constructive at that point, focus on doing something else. I wonder if my crying or sleeping was focussing on doing something else.
So how do you cope with feeling bad?
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Is it really possible?
May I not forget I have a heart – to love a broken world.
May I not forget I have a voice – to speak out for the poor.
May I not forget I have hands – to reach out to other people.
May I not forget I have feet – to go where I am needed.
Let me never forget You will be with me Always.
Source: Make Poverty History Worship Resources
Saturday, July 02, 2005
- Total books owned, ever: I have absolutely no idea how many books I ever owned! Certainly not as many as the number of books in the library of the British Museum (I was told there are at least 15 million books there, and growing each day for the good of the nation).
- Last book I bought: The Five Love Languages (By Gary Chapman) - for a couple friends who recently got engaged.
- Last book I read: Keeper Of The Light (By Patty Metzer). It's a powerful novel / fiction which is about acceptance of God's higher purpose. The story has strong characterization, unpredictable plot and an intriguing 1797 Cape Cod setting I loved it.
- Five Books that mean a lot to me: The Bible, The Shaping of Things to Come, Guardians of the Great Comission, Don't Stop Laughing Now & Creative Living
Now is my turn to tag others. Please take some time to visit these blogs. I reckon they're all worth a visit. I'm tagging Darren from LivingRoom, Christop from Emergentlayer, Kelly from Shooting Star & Becky from Chinsup
Friday, July 01, 2005
The values of the European Enlightenment, especially its left-brained rationalism, has certainly dominated the church by secular ways of operating for the past few hundred years or more. This leads to many (and including myself) to wonder if listening to sermons alone is enough to build up people's faith. I believe that the Church is yearning to return to its heritage. The church has had a grand tradition of the performing arts (storytelling, music, mime, dance, drama) and the visual arts (stained glass windows, painting, sculpture). Oh man, when I saw the visual arts in the various amazing architectures, cathedrals, museums and even just on the streets in Europe, my heart was filled with awe! The artists' gifts and talents are certainly a reflection of God's image in my opinion.
During the trip in France & England, I realised that non-literate ways of communication, particularly the creative arts, is really essential / useful to capture people's attention and imagination (certainly mine). I've never been a visual artist (I can't even draw the simplest things) and I never understood visual arts that much. Yet looking at arty things brings me closer to God without a doubt. We live in a visual and tactile age. At time, I think that 'worship' can happen even though there is no scripture, no singing, and no discussion. We can see God in various parts of our daily lives and experiences. One can grow through those experiences, and non-literate ways of communication through visual arts is surely one of them. I was actually feeling 'spiritually nourished' by just looking at the various paintings in the Louvre and The Giverny Arts Museum, and the stained glassed windows in Cathedral "Sainte-Chapelle" (see photo above).
I was also reminded that arts were central to Christian proclamation in a pre-literate age. To a congregation that couldn't read or write accessing Christian doctrine in song lyrics or coloured windows was essential. Now, in a post-literate age, it is true that many in the West can read and write, but they are eager to access information more sensuously. And using arts is a return to the church's heritage and a return to a more Hebrew sensuality found in the Old Testament.
What do you think?
- Turn off your TV
- Know your neighbors
- Look up when you are walking
- Greet people
- Sit on your stoop
- Plant flowers
- Use your library
- Play together
- Buy from local merchants
- Share what you have
- Help a lost dog
- Take children to the park
- Garden together
- Support neighborhood schools
- Fix it even if you didn't break it
- Have pot lucks
- Honor elders
- Pick up litter
- Read stories aloud
- Dance in the street
- Talk to the mail carrier
- Listen to the birds
- Put up a swing
- Help carry something heavy
- Barter for your goods
- Start a tradition
- Ask a question
- hire young people for odd jobs
- Organize a block party
- Bake extra and share
- Ask for help when you need it
- Open your shades
- Sing together
- Share your skills
- Take back the night
- Turn up the music
- Turn down the music
- Listen before you react to anger
- Mediate a conflict
- Seek to understand
- Learn from new and uncomfortable angles
- Know that no one is silent though many are not heard
- Work to change this