Friday, April 22, 2011

At the Cross Is the Real World

Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dali

We contemplate for a time the meaning of Good Friday, and then return to what is called the real world of work and shopping and commuter trains and homes. As we come out of a movie theater and shake our heads to clear our minds of another world where we lived for a time in suspended disbelief, as we reorient ourselves to reality, so we leave our contemplation - we leave the church building, we close the book - where for a time another reality seemed possible, believable, even real. But, we tell ourselves, the real world is a world elsewhere. It is the world of deadlines to be met, of appointments to be kept, of taxes to be paid, of children to be educated. From here, from this moment at the cross, it is a distant country. "Father, forgive them, for they have forgotten the way home. They have misplaced the real world." Here, here at the cross, is the real world, here is the axis mundi.
Richard John Neuhaus

Monday, April 18, 2011

A "Crazy" Gospel


"And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her. But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
Mark 14:3-9 (ESV)

Emmanuel Katongole writes, "Mary represents the 'rebel consciousness' that is essential to Jesus' gospel. Wherever the gospel is preached, we must remember that its good news will make you crazy. Jesus will put you at odds with the economic and political systems of our world. This gospel will force you to act, interrupting the world as it is in ways that make even pious people indignant."

Monday, April 11, 2011

There Is a Hope

This is just what I need to hear right now. There is a hope... There is a hope.. There is a hope!




THERE IS A HOPE
by Stuart Townend and Mark Edwards
Copyright (c) 2007 Thankyou Music.

There is a hope that burns within my heart,
That gives me strength for ev'ry passing day;
a glimpse of glory now revealed in meager part,
Yet drives all doubt away:
I stand in Christ, with sins forgiv'n;
and Christ in me, the hope of heav'n!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
to make His will my home.


There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Savior there!
Through present sufferings, future's fear,
He whispers, "Courage!" in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.


There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
and every longing satisfied,
then joy unspeakable
will flood my soul,
For I am truly home.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

God, Theology, Theologian, and Prayer

Vladimir Lossky

'God is not the object of a science, and theology differs radically from the thought of philosophers. The theologian does not search for God as a man seeks an object; he is seized by Him as one is seized by a person. And it is because he has initially been found by God, because God, one might say, has gone forth to find him in the encounter of revelation, that he can then search for God, as one searches for a presence with all one's being (and so also with one's intellect). The God of theology is a "Thou"; He is the living God of the Bible, the Absolute, certainly, but a personal Absolute whom one can address intimately in prayer.' (Vladimir Lossky, Orthodox Theology)

From my limited exploration of Orthodox Theology, it seems that Orthodox Theology has a very strong emphasis on the deep interconnectedness between theology and prayer. The former cannot be understood apart from the latter, and vice versa. This is one thing which other Christian traditions can learn from the Orthodox tradition.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Liberating Understanding of the Kingdom of God

I recently read an article written by someone who has been serving in a parachurch organization. In the last part of his article, he explains that the vibrancy of this organization in striving to obey God's will more than anything else is what makes him continue to serve with them. He concludes with the hope that the ministry of this organization will be greatly expanded.

To me, what is curious is the absence of the Kingdom of God in his reflection. So, it gives the impression that his ultimate concern is to expand, whatever this may mean, the kingdom of that particular organization. I guess it is not an overstatement to say that this kind of understanding is often found within local churches or Christian organizations. Some regard their own local ministry as fully identical to the Kingdom of God. When this happens, the consequence is, ironically, the dissolution of the Kingdom of God.

Oscar Romero's understanding is much more biblical and holistic. He eloquently writes:
It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts: it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No sermon says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Inseparability of Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis

The way of godliness consists of these two parts, pious doctrines and good works.
Neither are the doctrines acceptable to God without good works,
nor does God accept works accomplished otherwise than as linked with pious doctrines.
Cyril of Jerusalem

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To Be Human Is To Live By Faith

Yesterday a sister sent me this SMS:
BBC FLASHNEWS: Japan govt confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, remain indoor first 24hrs. Close doors & windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautious. Radiation may hit Philippine at startng 4pm today. Pls send to your loved ones.
So, out of sincere concern, I forwarded the SMS to my close ones. Today it seems that many people have been saying that it is a hoax. But how can we be sure that it is a hoax? We can be certain only when we have faith in the experts that the radiation won't travel that far. We can only be sure when we have faith in the ability and integrity of the experts. We can only be sure when we believe that these experts have done proper research, using a correct methodology, and present the result as what they are. (I hope we are not too naïve to believe that scientists and researchers are the most honest people on earth!) So, we need quite a big faith to conclude that the SMS is a hoax. We also need the same amount of faith (if faith can ever be measured, perhaps by what Gregory Boyd calls faith-o-meter) to conclude that it is not a hoax. In either case, faith is needed.

This illustrates how everyone - consiously or unconciously, admittedly or not - actually lives by faith. No one can live without faith. No one naturally does a DNA test to prove that his parents are really his true parents. Everyone naturally believes that her parents are truly her real parents. After all, having faith is not difficult at all, is it? To be human is to live by faith. The question is: Faith in whom? Faith in what?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where Was God? (I Protest, Therefore I Believe)

Image from: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110311-tsunami-facts-japan-earthquake-hawaii/

The worst is yet to come. This was what came to my mind when I read news about Japan this morning. Massive earthquake, tsunami, nuclear crisis, ... I dare not to continue... I know this is not the time to think about myself, but the question "Where is God?" just continues to disturb and haunt me as a believer in God. So, I decided to find out how other Christians had tried to deal with this disturbing question. I then came across an insightful article written by Miroslav Volf in his recent book Against the Tide. It is entitled I Protest, Therefore I believe. It was originally written shortly after Aceh, Indonesia, was struck by tsunami in 2004. I'd like to share an excerpt from it:
[T]he very protest against God in the face of evil in fact presupposes God's existence. Why are we disturbed about the brute and blind force of tsunamis that snuff out people's lives - including those of children who were lured, as if by some sinister design, onto the beaches by fish left exposed in the shallows because the waters had retreated just before the tidal wave came? If the world is all there is, and the world with moving tectonic plates is a world in which we happen to live, what's there to complain about? We can mourn - we've lost something terrible dear. But we can't really complain, and we certainly can't legitimately protest.
The expectation that the world should be a hospitable place, with no devastating mishaps, is tied to the belief that the world ought to be constituted in a certain way. And that belief - as distinct from the belief that the world just is what it is - is itself tied to the notion of a creator. And that bring us to God. It is God who makes possible our protest that there is evil in the world. And it is God against whom we protest. God is both the ground of the protest and its target. Almost paradoxically, we protest with God against God. How can I believe in God when tsunamis strike? I protest, and therefore I believe.
To the question "Where was God during the tsunami?" Volf replies,
Just as God was in some mysterious way in the Crucified One, God was in the midst of the tsunami carnage, listening to every sigh, collecting every tear, resonating with the trembling of each fear-stricken heart. And just as God was in the Resurrected One, so God was in each helping hand, in each decision to sacrifice one's own life so that another could live. God suffered and God helped.
I know that, at the same time, God was also seated on God's heavenly throne. Why did the omnipotent and loving One not do something about the tsunami before it struck? I don't know. If I knew, I could justify God. But I can't. That's why I am still disturbed by the God to whom I am so immensely attracted and who won't let go of me.
Check this website to see some options on how you may suffer with and help the people of Japan. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

O LORD, Hear Our Prayer

I dedicate this song to the people of Japan:



O Lord, hear my (our) prayer
O Lord, hear my (our) prayer
When I (we) call answer me (us)
O Lord, hear my (our) prayer
O Lord, hear my (our) prayer
Come and listen to me (us)


But if finally even after long waiting our senses cannot learn the benefit received from prayer, or perceive any fruit from it, still our faith will make us sure of what cannot be perceived by sense, that we have obtained what was expedient. For the Lord so often and so certainly promises to care for us in our troubles, when they have once been laid upon his bosom. And so he will cause us to posses abundance in poverty, and comfort in affliction. For though all things fail us, yet God will never forsake us, who cannot disappoint the expectation and patience of his people.
John Calvin - Institutes 3.20.25

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Ash Friday

Today, two days after the Ash Wednesday of the year 2011, Japan is struck by a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake which has unleashed tsunami. This video is a witness to the massive horrendous disaster:



In times like these no one is not compelled to realize that life is more important than food and the body is more important than clothing (cf. Mt 6:25). I really hate to say this. But it seems that we humans somehow need to see or experience some kind of devastating disasters first in order for us to really internalize this truth. Life is far more valuable than food. Body is far more valuable than clothing. Today's catastrophe also reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return (cf. Gen 3:19). We shall then call today an Ash Friday. A Friday to mourn together with the people of Japan.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thank You, LORD...


I’ve been stuck with my thesis writing for quite some time. I have some ideas but am not able to elaborate it yet. It is quite frustrating. And what makes it more frustrating is that my appetite for sinful food increases as my stress level increases! So, my effort in the gym is wasted! Sigh… Sometimes I wonder if I will ever finish my thesis. At other times I wonder if I am too idealistic and have chosen a topic which is too difficult for my poor brain. But I am always amazed how God sends me angels whenever I feel discouraged. Two days ago a brother unexpectedly texted me saying that he hoped that I was progressing well with my thesis and that he was praying with me. Not only that, he unexpectedly offered me to use his office to work during nighttime so I could concentrate better! This late afternoon another brother in Thailand unexpectedly texted me saying that he hoped I would be progressing well during the mid-term break. He texted me while on his way, I quote, “in a smelly canal where many Ms stay.” And this evening a sister unexpectedly gave me a treat. A yummy Pad Thai! When I told her that I appreciated what she did and that I had been stuck with my thesis, she unexpectedly prayed for me over SMS, “May our good Lord have mercy on you Andreas n insights, creative thoughts and diarrhea of words fall upon you! In Jesus’ name!” AMEN! I look forward to experiencing that diarrhea of words!

Thank you for sending me these angels, LORD! Through the simple things that they did I’ve once again tasted and seen your goodness! Today is my dad’s birthday. Another reason for me to be thankful. He has been very supportive of my studies here. I recall how he unexpectedly tried to help me in my Pneumatology paper three years ago. The subject was taught by Dr. Simon Chan. One night I told my dad that I was stuck with my Pneumatology paper. He unexpectedly tried to discuss with me about my paper. The next day he unexpectedly called me and shared with me some insights he got during his morning devotion! Honestly, what he shared wasn’t helpful for my paper. But what he did was certainly helpful to encourage me to press on and finish my paper! I did finish it on time and was satisfied with the result! LORD, Thank you for giving me an imperfectly perfect daddy! Last but not least, thank you for mahal ko who continually tells me that she trusts that, by your grace, I can finish my thesis. Step by step. Bit by bit. The eschaton will eventually arrive! Thank you, LORD…

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Are You Not a Robber?

I find this quotation appropriate to begin the season of Lent as almsgiving and self-denial have traditionally been part of what Christians do during this season specifically to prepare themselves for the annual commemoration of the Passion of Christ which will culminate in the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.

Are you not a robber, you who consider your own
that which has been given you solely to distribute to others?
This bread which you have set aside is the bread of the hungry;
this garment you have locked away is the clothing of the naked;
those shoes which you let rot are the shoes of him who is barefoot;
those riches you have hoarded are the riches of the poor.
Basil of Caesarea

Monday, March 7, 2011

There Is More, There Is More...

The older I get and the deeper I grow in the Gospel
there is more goodness, and mystery,
and wonder, and kindness, and grace in the world
than the little tweezers of my theology can possibly hold.
Thomas Grier Long

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What Does Mr.Big Have to Do with Jesus' Disciples?

Mr. Big is one of my favorite bands of all time. They just released a new album entitled "What If ...". The only slow song in that album is entitled All the Way Up. It's a very sad song, a song for broken-hearted people. When I listen to it, I can't help but hear the echoes of the cry of Jesus' disciples' when they were trying to make sense of the death of Jesus before his resurrection took place. If I was one of the disciples and if Mr.Big was existent by then, this song would certainly have been my favorite song. Here is the lyrics:

I've been staring at this photograph
It used to make me laugh - I believed
That you would always live forever
Nothing's been the same since you've been gone
It's hard to carry on - all I see
Is misery and cloudy weather
Sometimes I think I see your face in the crowd

It's too late for saying I love you

It's too late for saying goodbye
The memories keep repeating, I'm losing my mind
I'd give anything just to hold you, it's so hard to let you go
All the way up, all the way up to heaven

Now I wake up with your voice in my head
All the things you said - keep on playing
Spinning like a broken record
And will this ever get easier
I can't go on like this anymore
I thought we'd alaways be together
It makes me wonder what it's all about

It's too late for saying I love you

It's too late for saying goodbye
The memories keep repeating, I'm losing my mind
I'd give anything just to hold you, it's so hard to let you go
All the way up, all the way up to heaven

And the times you made me smile

And the things you got me through
I never thought that they would take you
Away from me so soon
I've run out of tears to cry
And my heart is on the mend
But I think it's gonna be awhile
'Til I can feel again

Sometimes I think I see your face in the crowd

It's too late for saying I love you
It's too late for saying goodbye
The memories keep repeating, I'm losing my mind
I'd give anything just to hold you, it's so hard to let you go
All the way up, all the way up to heaven

Source: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/m/mr_big/#share

And here is the video clip.



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why Go to Church? (Worship as a Meal)

Why go to church? These are some “standard” answers given by Christians.

Answer 1:

To worship God.

Response 1:

You mean we can’t worship God outside the context of church worship service? Isn’t our whole life supposed to be a worship to God?


Answer 2:

To set aside a special time for God, just like you’ll set aside a special time for your loved ones.

Response 2:

Well, why do we need to go to church then? Can’t we set aside a special time at home or other places? Maybe botanical gardens or mountains where we can get what Calvinists call sensus divinitatis (a sense of the divine)?


Answer 3:

To fellowship with other believers

Response 3:

That sounds good. But what if we don’t get to fellowship with other Christians? In fact, often times we don’t even know the names of those sitting next to us during worship service. So, what kind of fellowship are you talking about?


Answer 4:

To listen to God’s Word

Response 4:

My friend, where have you been? Don’t you know that there are a lot of online sermons in the internet? And those sermons are much better than my pastor’s sermons!


Answer 5:

To participate in the Eucharist

Response 5:

Oh, then I can just go to church four times a year. My home church celebrates it four times a year.


Answer 6:

To give tithe.

Response 6:

We can do it through i-banking.


Answer 7:

To obey God’s command

Response 7:

Really? Please show me which God’s command you’re referring to then we can discuss again.


So, why go to church? I’ve tried to show in a simple way (hopefully not too simplistic) that the “standard” answers provided by Christians to the question are inadequate. I suggest that it may be more helpful to see worship (I’m referring to worship service) as a meal.

Why do we eat? The most basic answer to this is because we are humans. It’s as simple as that. Humans need to eat. Eating is part of human nature. Sometimes we eat for the sake of surviving. We don’t enjoy the food, but we eat whatever available to us because we need to eat. We are hungry. We are humans. At other times, we eat to really enjoy good food. When we are sick, we tend to skip meals. But this often makes us feel even worse. We need to eat. It’s just part and parcel of being humans. When we eat, sometimes we get what we want (feeling full, feeling satisfied, etc). But many times we don’t get what we want. However, we don’t stop eating. We eat because we are humans. So, the question “Why do we eat?” is not supposed to be asked in the first place. We, humans, just eat.

In a similar way, why do we go to church? Why do we participate in worship services? We go to church because we are Christians. Christians simply go to church. Going to church is part and parcel of being a Christian. It’s as simple as that. When we go to church, sometimes we get what we want. We want to sing praises to God. We want to hear good sermons so that they can help us to grow deeper in our faith. We want to have a good fellowship so that we’ll be encouraged to persevere in following the LORD in the midst of the challenges we face. Sometimes we do get all these good stuffs. But sometimes, hopefully not too often, we just don’t get them. This shouldn’t stop us from going to church. There may be times when we feel sick spiritually and don’t feel like going to church. This shouldn’t stop us from going to church too. Just like skipping meals will make us feel worse when we’re sick, skipping worship services will make us worse when we are in such condition. So, Christians shouldn’t ask “Why go to church?” in the first place. Christians just go to church. Christians just participate in worship services. This is part of their nature as Christians. Christians desire to see and experience the coming kingdom of God at which the Church is pointing and of which the Church be a sign. Because of our sinfulness, this desire is often misdirected. Christians are to redirect it through their participation in the life of the Church.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Busy-ness and Spiritual Restlesness

Our mundane busy-ness can be a symptom of a spiritual restlessness -
a symptom of our own disbelief and disobedience which would prevent us
from entering God's rest. When we become consumed with "our work"
- whatever that might be, and even if it is noble, holy, and just -

we unwittingly fall back into the autonomous dreams of our own making.

When we spurn rest, we spurn grace and reject God's gift.

James Smith

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Keith Ward Doesn't Believe in Demons


This is an excerpt from Keith Ward's book The Word of God?: The Bible After Modern Scholarship:
... I do not believe [Jesus] exorcized demons. That is because I do not believe in demons, and I think that these are exaggerated accounts of healings of mental illness, put in terms of what were then widely accepted, but false, beliefs about the causes of mental illness. [19]
Ward doesn't explain what he really means when he says that he doesn't believe in demons. I guess what he really means is that he doesn't believe that demons do exist. Since the demons do not exist, it follows that there is no such thing as demon possession. So, when the authors of the Gospel recorded any incidents of exorcism, they, according to Ward, must have exaggerated what actually was a healing of a mental illness.

It's unfortunate that Ward doesn't explain why he doesn't believe in the existence of demons. So, I can just make a guess. I suppose, coming from a Western context where people don't seem to have many encounters with spirits, it's very hard for Ward to relate with biblical passages which talk about demon possessions. However, this is not the case with most Asians like me. It's quite easy for us to relate to these passages. I had a few encounters with spirits before. And I've heard similar stories from people around me. Ward might ask: How do you know that it's really an encounter with spirits? How can you prove that it's true? Well, I can't prove it. Just like I (and also, I believe, Ward) can't prove the existence of God. I just can say that it is plausible that the evidences (read: experiences) point to something which is more than mental illness. And it seems to be the case.

This reminds me of the limitation of our theology. One of the things which shapes our theology is our experience. Our experiences differ and are limited by time and space. It's always wise to acknowledge this limitation. So, at least we'll be open to the possibility that we may get things wrong, or at best we don't get the full picture of what reality really is.

PS: I thank God for people who write books like this.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Trap of Politicolatry

This is an excerpt from James Davison Hunter's book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World that I'm currently reading:
A final irony has to do with the idea of political responsibility. Christians are urged to vote and become involved in politics as an expression of their civic duty and public responsibility. This is a credible argument and good advice up to a point. Yet in our day, given the size of the state and the expectations that people place on it to solve so many problems, politics can also be a way of saying, in effect, that the problems should be solved by others beside myself and by institutions other than the church. It is, after all, much easier to vote for a politician who champions child welfare than to adopt a baby born in poverty, to vote for a referendum that would expand health care benefits for seniors than to care for an elderly and infirmed parent, and to rally for racial harmony than to get to know someone of a different race than yours. True responsibility invariably costs. Political participation, then, can and often does amount to an avoidance of responsibility. [172-173, emphasis added]
Something to think about. Do we overly put too much hope in politics? Have we adventitiously trapped ourselves in politicolatry?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An Advice for Future Church Leaders: Bible, Prayer, Love

N. T. Wright gives an advice for future Church leaders: Bible, Prayer, Love. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the Church through Wright!


Friday, February 18, 2011

A Seminar on Charles Taylor's A Secular Age

James Smith is leading a seminar on Charles Taylor's book A Secular Age at the Philosophy Department of Calvin College. I'm quite impressed by his efforts in making a space for everyone to join the conversations about the book. He has created a blog for it: http://asecularage.blogspot.com/. To me, he sets a very good example for teachers, living in the age of the new media, to follow. And it is very useful for people like me who have no access to the book but wanting to read it. Our library doesn't have it, but I've requested our librarian to get a copy. In the meantime, he has kindly reserved the book for me from the National Library of Singapore and will pass it to me once he collects it. The joy of having an access to abundant resources... Something which I'll definitely miss once I'm back to Indonesia.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Birthday Celebration

Should we celebrate our birthday? Is there really a good reason to celebrate our birthday? These questions usually come to my mind during my birthday or my loved ones' birthday. One of the reasons is that I was somehow born with this kind of hatred towards celebrations. One of the few celebrations that I can appreciate is none other than the Eucharistic celebration. Eucharistic celebration?!?! I guess some people will immediately conclude that I'm a boring person. Well, I'm not surprised. I'm used to it.

I recall a friend who always gives the same message during my birthday: "Don't be too serious in your life. Relax, man. Enjoy life!" He naively assumes that I'm not enjoying life. This, of course, presupposes a certain understanding of enjoyment. I guess there is a more basic question that we need to ask: Is life really to be enjoyed? Is life about enjoyment in any sense? But, anyway, I'm not going to share my thoughts on these questions now. I'm just thinking if there is really a good reason to celebrate a birthday.

When a baby newly born, everyone expects her to cry. From a biological point of view, some say that she will definitely cry for she needs to expand her lung and takes her very first breath of air. And crying is the manifestation of that process. But couldn't there be more to it? Could it be that, from a theological perspective, her cry represents the groaning of the whole universe? That is to say that the bloody birth event signifies her initiation into the fallen humanity which is embedded in this fallen world. The irony is this: the baby cries while everyone else is probably welcoming her with a joyful heart.
Of course everyone is glad to have a new companion in their temporary journey here on earth. But who knows what's in the mind of the cute little baby? If only she can talk right away...

So, given this understanding, when we celebrate our birthday we are actually celebrating our prolonged experience in this fallen world. It sounds like a good reason to celebrate it, doesn't it? (Yes, I'm being sarcastic here!) Well, if it doesn't sound good enough. Here is another reason: to give thanks to the LORD, the giver of life, for another year (age?) which has passed. As we do this, do we realize that our life can be said shortened and lengthened at the same time? Looking at it from the day we're born, our life is lengthened. 1yo, 2yo, 17yo, 30yo, etc. But, looking at it from the day we will eventually die, our life is shortened. If I knew that I would reach 60yo, it would mean I only have half of my life left when I celebrate my 30th birthday. This is how I usually see my life especially during my birthday. The end is getting nearer and nearer. So, if I were to find one good reason to celebrate my birthday, it would be to celebrate the remaining time that the coming King still entrusts me with to take part in realizing his coming kingdom.


Oh, in case you wonder, today is not my birthday. Today is my best friend's birthday. She is my fiancée. Happy birthday, dear! I look forward to continue to use the remaining time I have together with you to take part in realizing God's coming kingdom!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Exorcism and Deliverance

I and some friends have been talking about evil spirits and exorcism recently. All of us are theological students and some of us are wondering why our college does not offer any course on evil spirits and exorcism. It's not so much that we want to study them for the sake of studying them. But it's more for us to be prepared for dealing with such cases in our daily lives. (Btw, I had a few encounters with (evil?) spirits in my college.) One problem is that the Scripture doesn't provide us with adequate guidelines on how to do exorcism or how to differentiate demonic possession from psychotic disorder. So, I heartily welcome this forthcoming book entitled Exorcism and Deliverance. (h/t Sze Seng) I believe this book will be a very helpful resource for the Church to be better equipped for such ministry.