Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why A Journey of Grace?

Some of you might wonder why I choose “A Journey of Grace” as my blog title. The short article below, which I wrote on 7th July 2006, will answer it. It is originally written in Indonesian. Enjoy!


A Journey of Grace

A brother of mine shared about his fight with his lovely wife in the middle of the night. That night, my brother, a God-fearing pastor, did a very big mistake which made his wife exploded. In short, they had a very big fight. At the end of their fight, his wife said to him, “I wonder why a person such as you can be a pastor!”

Has this question ever come to our minds? Or a similar question which we may address to ourselves. How can a person like me be God’s servant? How can a wretch like me be used wonderfully by God? How can it be? These questions should have come to our minds. We should be puzzled and amazed why God still allows unfaithful people like us to be involved in doing his divine projects in the world. How can it be? The answer is: grace alone. It is only by his grace! It is not because of any single good thing within us. As Apostle Paul says in Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things.”

A journey of grace, it is the theme of Trinity Theological College's (TTC) Graduation Day on 2005. This theme kept arresting my mind throughout the week as I joined the orientation and college retreat for new students. Through this theme, God had reminded me that my life is a journey of grace.

A journey of grace, describes my journey while I was working with IFES Indonesia from 2004 to 2006. God often took a risk by trusting his divine projects to a wretch named Andreas Pilipus. Why was he willing to do so? It is by grace alone! Even God appreciated me for my last project (Regional Student Conference, 23-26 June 2006) before I moved to Singapore. It was unbelievable! How could God appreciate his unfaithful servant like me? But that is our God! The God who is full of grace!

A journey of grace, is also the best expression to describe my involvement in STT Telkom Christian Fellowship, a place where God had wonderfully molded me for seven years. I was frequently a stumbling block for others. I often preferred to do my own business than to visit my cell group members. I rather followed my ego than faithfully shepherding God’s people in STT Telkom. To my surprise, at the end of my ministries there, God appreciated me! Again, it was unbelievable!

A journey of grace, and there is no better expression than this to illustrate my preparation for entering TTC. My English was not excellent. I almost could not participate in the TOEFL test because of my carelessness. My parents, my girlfriend, my brothers and my sisters were very supportive. My tuition fee was fully covered. I almost could not get my student’s pass, again because of my carelessness, but indeed God was very gracious. I got my student pass! Praise the Lord!

When our spiritual eyes are able to see properly, we will always see the abundant grace of God in our lives. Have we realized that every single breath we take is God’s grace? Even in small things in which we often take them for granted. Have we realized that the life story of each one of us is actually a journey of grace? It is an expected corollary then if we return, not give, all that we have to God. Let us not take our lives for granted. Let us fill our lives with what pleases God alone. Loving God and loving our neighbors. By doing so, we will never take God’s grace for granted. Life is just too short if we use it for our own agendas.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Let's Talk about Friendship

Let’s talk about friendship. I’ve been having stimulating discussions and thinking about this for these past two months. In Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, friend is defined as a person whom you know well and whom you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family; someone who is not an enemy and whom you can trust. This definition is very lacking. It implies a one-way relationship.

Let’s say, I think that I’ve known someone well, like him a lot, and trust her; but he doesn’t really know me, she doesn’t really like me, and he seldom shares his feelings, would I regard her as my friend? I can’t clap without two hands.

Being a true friend is extremely challenging. I’ve found fake friendships for a few times. There are people who try to be my friend because they have a hidden agenda. Basically, it is very obvious that they are just using me. Some others become my friends because they are friends of my friends. They make friend with me not because of who I am. They have a relationship with me simply because of my friends.

Recently I also shared with my sister that hanging out together, laughing together do not show the depth of a relationship. These just make us feel close. Please underline feel. It’s only a feeling: feel close. I conclude this from my own experience. We might often go out together, laugh together, and have fun together without truly knowing each other.

To think back, I guess I myself have never been anyone’s true friend, even though I do regard a few people as my true friends. I wish I could be… One day…

Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13


What Is A Friend?
by Kit McCallum

A friend is someone you hold dear:
Someone who is always there, through thick and thin;
Someone who is only a phone call away.

A friend is someone you can always rely on:
Someone who is there to share your thoughts with;
Someone to listen, no matter the subject.

A friend is someone you can feel comfortable with:
Someone you can sit silently beside, without conversation;
Someone you do not need to fill the quiet moments with.

A friend is someone you can trust:
Someone who will guard your deepest secrets;
Someone who will never let you down.

A friend is someone who is not judgmental:
Someone who will gently offer advice and opinions,
Yet, someone who is not overbearing or critical.

A friend is someone who can keep you grounded:
Someone who can help you see through your obstacles;
Someone to shoulder you through life's trials.

A friend is someone who shares unconditionally:
Someone to laugh and to cry with;
Someone to lean on, through both the good and the bad.

A friend is someone you choose wisely,
For a friend is your own mirrored image:
Someone to compliment your own self;
Someone who indicates who you are as a person.

A friend.... is what you are to me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

An Old Cree Indian Saying

We can find this board in Singapore Zoo. It is a powerful reminder for us. Money is important, but it is not everything. There are many things which are much more important than money. But I guess we often fail to appreciate something until we lose it. Think about it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meal Theology

I usually have my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at the college’s dining hall. Meals are provided for those who stay in the student hostel. It is indeed very convenient for us. We don’t need to go out everyday for our meals, except on Sunday and public holidays. Because there will be no meal provided on Sundays and public holidays. Too bad…

On Sundays, some of the hostelites will go out together for dinner. Normally, I join them. However, if I spend almost the whole day in the church, I will not go with them. I prefer to take rest and to relax in my lovely room. ^_^ This has actually happened since the end of July until now. So, every Sunday I become a loner in the hostel. Hehehe… I enjoy it though...

Last Sunday, my best buddy here, Hwe Cher, did say something regarding this. He shared that having meal together actually keeps people close and makes people closer to each other. His statement made me think hard. As usual, I like to think. And sometimes I think too much hehehe I guess someone is smiling now. ;p

Anyway, I think his statement is true. To think back, I am able to have a close relationship with most of my brothers and sisters here in TTC through meals! I become closer to them because we often have meals together. I guess the chit-chats around the dining table are extremely significant. We have nurtured our relationships through having meals together! This is what I call as “the Meal Theology”. Meal helps to build a relationship. It helps to nurture a fellowship.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ratatouille: Everyone Can Cook!

If you had a good sense of art, you’ll definitely love this movie. Good story, great pictures, impressive music, and of course delicious food! ^_^ There are just so many things we can learn from this movie. But I think the major theme is about courage. “Everyone can cook.” This phrase is repeatedly expressed in many ways.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, Ratatouille recounts a house rat named Remy who has a dream to become a chef in the city of France. The dream seems impossible, because he is just a rat. However, at the end Remy manages to be a chef despite the troubles he faces.

Ratatouille wonderfully illustrates how courage and perseverance are fully interrelated. I always love movies conveying the theme of courage. You may wonder why. I guess it is simply because my given name, Andreas, means “courageous”. ^_^ Yes! And you should know that having such a meaningful name has actually been sustaining me whenever I go through a sticky patch. Now I realize more that my spiritual mentor, Erick Sudharma, is absolutely right. He says that the most effective way to teach and to help your children to grow is by giving each of them a meaningful name. So, don’t simply choose any names for your newborn babies!

“Not everyone can be a good cook, but a good cook can come from anyone.”
Auguste Gesteau in Ratatouille

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Divine Message through Calamities


Indonesia was repeatedly pounded by a series of shuddering tremors on 13th September, a day after an 8.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra. In 24 hours, a total of four quakes and a series of more than 20 aftershocks ranging in intensity from 4.9 to 8.4 repeatedly set off tsunami warnings in Indian Ocean countries (The Straits Times).

Knowing that calamities happen everywhere, people might react differently. Some might not be bothered at all. Others might be thankful because it does not happen to them. And there are people who might think that the victims deserve such calamities. In other words, these people regard themselves as better people than the victims.

As a Christian, I do believe that calamities convey a divine message. I recall what Luke has recorded in Luke 13:1-5. He writes, “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’”

There are two accidents mentioned: the killing of the Galileans and the fall of the tower in Siloam. What can we learn from Jesus’ comments? Do not ever think that those who go through calamities are worse sinners than us! Calamities are a reminder for all of us. If we do not repent, we will perish in the same manner. In the same manner? Yes, perish suddenly without any opportunities to repent. Calamities remind us to live our lives carefully and to have a meaningful life. We never know when our lives story will be ended. I am sure no one of us wants to end our life's story with a tragic and regretful ending.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

10 Most Stupid Questions People Usually Ask in Obvious Situations

I got this from the net. Sometimes it is good to laugh at ourselves. ^_^

At the movies:
When you meet acquaintances/friends…
Stupid Question:- Hey, what are you doing here?
Answer:- Dont u know, I sell tickets in black over here..

In the bus:
A heavy lady wearing pointed high-heeled shoes steps on your feet…
Stupid Question:- Sorry, did that hurt?
Answer:- No, not at all, I’m on local anesthesia…..why don’t you try again.

At a funeral:
One of the teary-eyed people ask…
Stupid Question:- Why, why him, of all people.
Answer:- Why? Would it rather have been you?

At a restaurant:
When you ask the waiter
Stupid Question:- Is the “Butter Paneer Masala” good??
Answer:- No, its terrible and made of adulterated cement. We occasionally also spit in it.

At a family get-together:
When some distant aunt meets you after years
Stupid Question:-Munna,Chickoo, you’ve become so big.
Answer:- Well you haven’t particularly shrunk yourself.

When a friend announces her wedding, and you ask…
Stupid Question:- Is the guy you’re marrying good?
Answer:- No,he’s a miserable wife-beating ,isensitive lout…it’s just the money.

When you get woken up at midnight by a phone call…
Stupid Question:- Sorry. were you sleeping?
Answer:- No. I was doing research on whether the Zulu tribes in Africa marry or not. You thought I was sleeping…. you dumb witted moron.

When you see a friend/colleague with evidently shorter hair…
Stupid Question:- Hey have you had a haircut?
Answer:- No, its autumn and I’m shedding……

At the dentist when he’s sticking pointed objects in your mouth…
Stupid Question:- Tell me if it hurts?
Answer:- No it wont. It will just bleed.

You are smoking a cigarette and a cute woman in your office asks…
Stupid Question:- Oh, so you smoke.
Answer:-Gosh, it’s a miracle …………it was a piece of chalk and now it’s in flames!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Taize

The Taizé Community is an ecumenical Christian men's monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. Even though I have heard about it before, TTC’s Day of Prayer 2007 (24th August) was my first experience to attend and to be involved in Taize worship. It was a privilege because the worship is led by a brother from Taize, brother Gishlain, who has been practicing Taize for many years.

The worship was very meaningful to me. I think silence and repetition are some of the strengths that Taize has in helping people to meet God in their worship. Studying at TTC, I find that hustle and bustle is my biggest enemy in nurturing my spiritual life. I believe this is also true for most people. Sometimes I feel that I do not have enough time to be silent, reflect on my life, and listen to God’s voice. I recall what Socrates has said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I suppose Taize is a very helpful worship style in doing so. In our churches today, sometimes I do feel that the pastors or the song leaders talk too much. In fact, instead of helping the congregation to worship God, sometimes they are actually disturbing them. In my observation, there is not enough silent time in our worship today. A silence for people just to reflect on their lives and the word of God.

It is also interesting to notice that, in Taize worship, the leader does not talk much. In fact, just before the worship began, brother Gishlain mentioned that he was not the leader. He was just a servant. He stressed, “We all are just servants of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is the leader of the worship.” I guess this understanding is lacking in our churches today.

As mentioned, repetition is also one of Taize’s strengths. Taize’s songs are very short and simple. Most of the lyrics, if not all, are taken from the Bible. During the worship, each song is normally sung repeatedly within three minutes. Some people might not be able to appreciate this. But I find this is very helpful to engage my mind with God’s word. To say it in a different way, it is something like a brainwash. While for some people brainwashing has a negative connotation, I think it is not necessarily bad. In fact, whether we like it or not, we are bombarded and brainwashed by advertisements, TV, newspapers, magazines, movies and music all the times. Our world view is shaped by all these without our consciousness.

Having said all the good things about Taize, I do believe that there is no perfect worship style. I do hope to attend Taize worship again so that I will be able to see what their weaknesses are. I really want to find out and to understand more about their theological foundations of doing their worship. What I have known so far is that the theme of unity and reconciliation is central in their theology.

For me, the theological foundations are much more important than the worship style itself. Certain worship styles might be attractive, or even helpful, for some of us. But if we have no strong theological foundations, or we even do not know what we are doing and why we are doing so, we have totally failed.

If you are interested to know more about Taize, please visit www.taize.fr. By the way, I am actually hoping to go to Taize next year for my Field Education. I am still looking for sponsors. Please let me know if you are willing to sponsor me. ^_^

Why Blogging?

Some of my friends have been encouraging me to do blogging. Well, it is not that I don’t wanna do it. It’s more on my laziness I guess. Deep inside my heart I really wanna do it (truly I tell you friends… ^_^), but somehow my flesh is sometimes (or most of the times? ;p) too strong…

Well, since this week is my mid-term break in college, I should try to start it now. Thanks to my sister, Daphne, who also tries to encourage me. Thanks sis… Salamat kapatid! ^_^ My intention of blogging is simply to share my life, my thoughts, my struggles, or anything lah (upsss, that sounds very Singaporean ;p). So, enjoy! Hope you’ll find something meaningful!