Archive for January, 2011

Life lesson #1

Monday, January 31st, 2011

“When going uphill, gear down to go faster.”

Quarter life crisis

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Either way, I wonder sometimes
about the outcome
of a still verdictless life

Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Am I living it right?
Why, why Georgia, why?

I’ve been feeling increasingly unaccomplished and uninspired. I didn’t quite imagine that I would be average. Not that average isn’t good enough. I just don’t think I’ve accomplished enough in this life. I don’t think I’ve conquered enough of the world and myself.

So what, so I’ve got a smile on me
but it’s hiding the quiet superstitions in my head
Don’t believe me
Don’t believe me
When I say I’ve got it down

I’ve got alot in this life and I am content with what I have. But it isn’t what I have that bothers me, its what I don’t have. I am content but not satisfied.

It might be a quarter life crisis
or just the stirring in my soul

I feel like the world is my oyster but my future’s a clam.

2011

Monday, January 24th, 2011

2011, so far so good.

But so far, no plan. Everyone knows that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Getting down to what I want for 2011:

1. Dig more into the Word
2. Get more fit (and buff)
3. Improve on my drumming

And along the way, get my Australian PR, build a home and increase my income (somehow).

“Desire without discipline breed disappointment, discipline without desire breeds drudgery.”

Some TV shows and movies have a profound effect on me. I find my emotions caught in those of the main actor’s/actress’, particularly the emotions I am familar with. So, my cardiac muscles have been beating to the sounds of Chuck and we’re now at Season 2 Episode 8 (I think).

Chuck

I feel like I was feeling 10+ years ago and I feel it quite deeply.

Pastor Leonard picked up that I had a particular familiarity with certain emotions and wanted to discuss it during my internship mentoring sessions years ago. Everything has changed 10+ years on but I am still familiar with what it means to feel that way and how it affects me. What this means, I don’t know, but I am enjoying the show quite alot.

Tithing

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Tithing

The value of tithing was in the Mosaic Law and temple worship. Tithing was part of the Mosaic law and was included in the commands given from God to Moses on Mount Sinai. The tithe was given unto the Lord (Lev 27:30-34) and not to man. It was to be viewed as God’s property. As is everything in the Mosaic Law, it came with a blessing and curse – blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (Malachi 3:8-10). The actual tithe percentage might not have been a tenth, in fact, multiple tithes were required and the amount would have totaled about 23.3 percent (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5).

The practical implication of the tithe was to feed the Levites who did not have an inheritance (Num 18:20-21). The tithe was also to go towards the temple, which acted as a store house to feed the strangers, orphans, widows and for the refuge cities (Duet 14:28-29; Neh 10:35-39).

The New Testament

The Mosaic Law has been done away with, and the Law of Christ (Law of grace, Law of Love, Royal law) is now in effect (1 Cor 9:21; Romans 7:4; Gal 3:19-25, 5:18; Heb 7:18-19). The sacrifical system has been made obsolute by Christ final sacrifice. The temple no longer functions as a store house but as a spiritual body (1 Cor 3:16-17).

Outside of the Mosaic Law, material blessing was no longer the reward for faithfulness (as in Lev 26:3-5). Poverty is not a sign of godlessness, nor is riches a sign for godliness (instead contentment is – Phil 4:12). Spiritual blessing superceed material blessings because he already promises to meet all our needs (Phil 4:19)! The moral character of God has not changed, but the format in which it is portrayed is different (Lev 19:18; John 4:8-11) – from requiring to fulfill the whole Mosaic Law to the full fulfillment of the Mosaic Law throught Christ (and the summed up Mosaic Law – to Love).

Is the command to tithe carried over to the New Testament? At this point, it would seem to be a resounding no.

Abraham and Jacob

However, that is not the end of the story. Abraham (Gen 14:20) and Jacob (Gen 28:22) both tithed; and they preceeded the law – even though Jacob’s tithe was conditional to God’s protection and not required! However, does that make it a valid principle to follow today? Not necessarily.

If we followed the same train of thought, we should still enforce ceremonial sacrifice since the first was in Gen 3:15, preceeding the law. Strangely, what we are saying is that sacrifices should be abolished. What about observance of the Sabbath (Gen 2:3)? What about circumcision (John 7:22)? What about the tithe?

The New Testament is very clear and instructive about the principles of giving when living under the Law of Christ. Why look at 2 examples of tithing in the Old Testament with no further instruction in the New Testament for guidance rather than look at the abundance of exhortation and examples in the New Testament for giving? Hint: it is a rhetorical question.

Giving

In the example of the early church, they shared everything as they could (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37). When their brethren was in need, they each gave according to their ability (Acts 11:29-30). These are fine examples of giving to the Lord (Matt 25:40).

In this new law, we acknowledged that everything is from God and in fact, everything is His (Psalm 24:1; Duet 10:14; Lev 25:23; Job 41:11). Giving is an excellent way of honouring God with what he has entrusted to us; it is a way of being a good steward (Matt 25:14-30). Out of that overflow, we give to others – the stranger, the orphan, widows and the poor/needy (2 Cor 9:8-11; Gal 2:10).

Giving in the New Testament trumps tithing in that it is no longer a compulsory rule, but a response that He first gave. Our hearts, filled with thankfulness, lead us to generosity. Not a begrudging giving, or giving for the sake of getting, but out of joy (2 Cor 9:7).

Giving in the New Testament fulfills the practical functions and spiritual implications of tithing. Therefore, tithing is not the base or minimum, it is the obsolete form of giving. Another way of looking at it is that giving is the principle, tithing was the standard – which is now defunct.

Proportion

How much then should I give?

2 Cor 8-9 spells it out clearly. The words used are “according to their ability”, “of their own accord”, “by your ability”, “according to what a person has, not according to what he doesn’t have”. Naturally the implication here is if you have more, give more (1 Tim 6:17-19). Those with little give less (2 Cor 8:13-14). This is not just in numerical value but in percentage/proportion!

The exact amount/proportion to give takes prayer and wisdom, (not asking for an inner impression) but from careful consideration and commitment with wisdom and a heart of cheerfulness. The example in Acts 11:27-29 is a fine example.

The summary is found in 2 Cor 9:7, “what he has decided in his heart to give”.

Through the gaps

Does that mean that people with little do not have to give or should give little? Does this teaching encourage stinginess? Absolutely not.

The bible clearly praises sacrificial giving and mentions in many places of the generous nature of the materially poor (Mark 12:42; Luke 21:1-4; Acts 2:44-47; Acts 4:32-37; 2 Cor 8:2-3) for they are spiritually rich.

And the bible also makes mention of negative outcomes of the selfish and stingy (Luke 12:16-20; Matt 16:19-21).

Wedding Ceremony

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Church: Living Hope Methodist Church, Singapore

Singapore Wedding Banquet

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Photography: David Tay
Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Changi Airport Terminal 3, Singapore

Malaysia Wedding Banquet

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Restaurant: Restoran Oversea, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Honeymoon

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Location: Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Hotel: Twin Palms Resort, Surin Beach

Luke 6

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

“I may make bad choices but I’m not a bad person”
– drug addict

How does that quote stand up to this next one?

“We are the sum of our choices”
– Anonymous

The Golden Rule

I’ve been thinking about the golden rule in Luke 6:27-49. It comes straight after a declaration of the topsy turvey nature of this new kingdom (Luke 6:17-26). This passage is an extension of the nature of this kingdom and elaborates on how relations to others work in his kingdom. However, we often miss out on how or why the golden rule exist.

“Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:27-36 (35-36 quoted)

First, the golden rule exist not only because it is logical and good, but because it is the nature of God (and not the world). It is shown in Jesus himself. Jesus is described here as “the Most High” who is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” and “merciful”. He is the ruler who applies the golden rule to himself first. Children easily take on the mannerisms and nature of whoever rules them – typically their parents. To be His children is to have His nature. When we have his nature, our “reward will be great”.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:37-38 (38 quoted)

Second, how we treat others is how they will treat us. Although we apply the golden rule to ourselves, we do not expect others to apply the golden rule to themselves. What we get is what we give. Being kind to others will attract kindness from them. Being mean to others will attract meaness from them. But more than that because what we give is often multiplied back.

The golden rule is important because there are 2 golden rulers. A golden ruler who applies the rule on himself first. And a golden rule of measurement that measures you according to how you measure others.

To students

It is said that a teacher can only take you to where they’ve been. Luke 6:39-49 agrees entirely and says pick your teacher wisely because we become our teacher (v39-40). In those days, the battle was between 2 teachers: the teachers of the law and the Teacher of grace. It gives us 2 things to look out for when picking a teacher.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Luke 6:41-42 (42 quoted)

First, look for one who practices what they preach. It is often said that “those who can’t do, teach.” Well, if they can’t do, they shouldn’t be teaching. If they can’t do, don’t be foolish enough to learn from them.

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:43-45 (45 quoted)

Second, look for the produce of their labour – their fruit. People can only bring out what is already inside. I can’t teach someone the piano because I don’t know how to play the piano. The greatest indication of this is words. I can’t teach humility by boasting. Nor can I teach kindness with cutting words. Pick fruits from the right trees.

Pygmalion Effect

The call to the people then was to consider who they were learning from. Teachers of the law or Jesus, teacher of grace. More than that, Jesus seemed to have been making a call for the hearers to choose which kingdom they stood in.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Luke 6:46

The connection between the golden rule and the rules to finding a good teacher can be found here. If we profess Jesus as our teacher, as our Lord, we need to be living in the golden rule. More than that, ALL of his words need to be put into practice.

“When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”
Luke 6:46-49 (48 quoted)

And the benefits. Nuff said.

When your lungs…

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

inhale.

I feel alive.

Breathe