Thursday, August 31, 2006

To follow the previous entry on Blogging and Christian Ministry, Boundless Webzine has just published 3 articles relating to the trend of blogging and Christians who blog.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Blogging and Christian Ministry

I've been reading Israel's and Scoble's book on Business blogging called "Naked Conversations". It sounds dodgy, but it's a book about using blogs to communicate with your customers; How blogs can repair corporate image and rebuild lost trust. Scoble argues that blogging in some way contributed to the rebuilding of Microsoft's image, as it provided an oppportunity for customers to talk back to the company and get responses in a personal way, instead of being talked at.

Having just read the first few chapters of this book, I'm starting to discover why I am blogging in the first place. More importantly, I'm finding reasons why people in Christian Ministry, especially pastors or Christian leaders should blog. Here are 5 reasons.

1. Blogging helps you to go global while staying local. Chris, my church pastor, uses this phrase to describe what church should be like. The church should be so big minded that it should constantly think about reaching out to other people both at our doors and in the world, but it should be so small so that it is personal and it ministers to the individual. That's exactly what a blog does. A blog is for the world to see, but it is also a personal conversation between you and the reader.
2. Blogging gets your thoughts/ideas across in the most efficient manner. Every sunday, on the church bulletin, there is usually a letter by a pastor to the congregation about his thoughts on the studies during the week as well as any announcements. Why not do that on a blog?
3. Bloggers feed off each other for ideas and encourage each other. It is often said that "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." I find I get many ideas, thoughts, and challenges from reading other people's blogs. This often helps to sharpen and shape my thinking. Several posts like this one on a letter to a christian girl have sparked off much discussion and I think we're better off for it. In fact, the post itself was borne out of my chats with other bloggers.
4. Blogging keeps the blogger accountable. Some prefer to hide behind a cloak of anonimity when they blog. But for me, I prefer to be up front. It keeps me ccountable. When I write about my family, or my wife, the fact that people can cross-check with my wife or can see me in real life keeps me in check. If I write that I do the housework everyday or cook for her everyday, Sarah will tell the whole world that I'm lying. She loves to do that :)
5. Bloggers challenge and encourage each other. Reading oclouds, HKGirl, and cassia's blog, I am challenged at how they hold on to Christ even when they are in foreign lands. I like to read Island and Neonangel accounts of their daily life and thoughts as they struggle to live Godly lives for Him. And while Ruth's blog makes me hungry, it also brings a smile to my face as I track Daniel's growth and try to imagine how Lizzie would be like in 4 months (Daniel is 4 months ahead of Liz). When my family was going through a difficult time in bringing up Lizzie, besides the prayers of many friends, the comments that people leave encouraged us greatly.

Blogging is in essence, another form of conversation. It is like an insight to a person's thoughts and opinions. I don't know about you, but I find some things easier to write and share on a blog than in conversation with another person. Take for example my struggles on Sarah's breastfeeding. If I just met you in church, what are the chances of me telling you all that?

How much richer would our ministry would be if we all share our thoughts and struggles with each other. I've been reading Josh Harris' blog and Together for the gospel . I think there is much to learn. How about let's get Chris and the pastors to start blogging?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Questions for the New Year

Found come questions on this website which are useful to help us start the new year. Might be helpful that we can think through some questions and pen down the answers and evaluate them from time to time as the year goes.

Set an alarm in December 2006 and see how far you went :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

For true geeks only

In reference to the original reason why this blog was started, I thought I would share a truly geeky secret...well geeky for me though probably not so much for the many random techno wizards out there.

For those that use mp3 is any form or the other, a great way to travel, instead of grooving to the rhythm, is to download sermons from various legal web sites and listen to while on the bus/car/mrt/bicycle/taxis/etc.

One of my personal favourites is the All Souls church audio sermons page where they've archived all they're stuff for the past decade or so. Of course, one has to be just as discerning when deciding which sermon to download and I recommend anything by Rico Tice or Paul Williams. Some people seem to swear by this chap call John Stott but I think he's a far better author than preacher. However, one man's meat...

The All Souls repository has a searchable database by preacher, date, book and series and it's pretty user-friendly. The one solitary catch is that you have to register in order to access the service but it's free and pretty simple (if my friend, a self-confessed "tech moron" can do it, none of you should struggle). Actually, I bluff you; another caveat is that you should have broadband connection as the files are about 5-10 MB in size.

Another site worth visiting is the *cough, cough* ARPC resource page. Come to think of it, shouldn't you have already attended service?...oh yah, but maybe you're overseas and miss Ronnie's voice =)

The beauty of this is that it's all F.O.C. and being the true Singaporeans that we are, surely we cannot resist the urge. I believe that it's also not an infringement of any IPOS's laws, though given the recent debacle with CD ripping, I wouldn't put it beyond them to start clamping down on this.

Any other suggestions?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sinner's Guide to Holiness

New book by Matthias Media. Title of book struck me. Thought that it would normally be titled "Christians' Guide to Holiness". But really, I am still a sinner. The only difference is that I am a sinner saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. I have not read it yet but will be buying it soon.

The review below is taken from Matthias Media website. Not sure if this is available at church's bookends yet. It is available for AUD $12 on the MM website.

What is holiness? Why do I need it? And why is it such a struggle for me to achieve holiness in my everyday life?

In A Sinner’s Guide to Holiness, well-known evangelist John Chapman explores what the Bible has to say about holiness—where it begins, how it makes progress in our lives, and its ultimate fulfilment as we are changed into Christ’s glorious likeness on the Last Day.

This book is a timely publication in this day and age, when we have often lost sight of the holiness of God. And when we do, it seems like an impossible
task to achieve our own holiness. But ‘Chappo’ tells us that becoming holy is a vital, worthwhile goal for every Christian—even though the first 60 years may be the hardest!

This is the first title in a new series from Matthias Media: Guidebooks for Life. As the series unfolds, it will deal with the important nuts-and-bolts topics that Christians need to know about as we walk each day with our Master.

Read the first book in this new series, and rediscover the joy of being a sinner on the path of holiness.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Disappointment with God

I think of my relationship with God as a wave. Full of ups and downs, but somehow there is a magnetic force that holds me to Him. In all likelihood, He just will not let me go.

Psalm 139 was one of the first things I read as a young Christian and its verses still resonate with me. "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" Over the years, God has proven to be my safe harbour amidst life's tempest (ooh more maritime metaphors :)).

One of the most common "downers" in our Christian walk is disappointment. It could be a knockout blow like the breakdown of a relationship or the death of a loved one. But it could also start from something small, which festers and then grows into a raging monster.

Recently I went through a mini "cold war" with God that lasted for about three weeks. In a nutshell, the issue was this: When I first came to Beijing, a Christian friend leapt at the chance to introduce me to her cell group. And so I went along and thought it was good, but then two weeks later, this friend suddenly told me she and her husband were moving to Shanghai. I continued attending the group, alone, but felt increasingly adrift and remote from its members. A month ago, I started going to a different cell group with a newfound Christian friend. Things looked promising. But suddenly, this friend told me she was getting married and would very likely not be in Beijing for much longer. And so I was left to brave the group of mainly Cantonese-speaking Hong Kongers alone.

As this problem nagged, it grew, dragging out other skeletons in my emotional closet. I went through the motions of going to service and cell group but inside I felt cold. Then, one day while online with a friend, I started talking about the situation and suddenly, my own sinfulness stared me squarely in the face in its stark entirety.

Confronting disappointment with God basically involves the realisation that the problem is not God, nor indeed other people. The problem is me myself and I. But no well-intentioned friend can singlehandedly make you see that; this realisation is like the drop of a small yet staggering weight in the dense solitary sea of one's consciousness.

People fight such disappointment with God in different ways. Some choose to focus their energies on serving others, as He decreed, to take their minds of their own problems. But as Neonangel rightly pointed out, there is nothing worse to God than serving Martha-like with a simmering heart of resentment. Others just withdraw from Christian activities all together.

As with all things, the way forward is probably somewhere in between the two extremes. And having a friend pray for you definitely helps, when your disenchanted self cannot heave the words out of your mouth.

For those of us in the "friend" position: We are called to help our brothers, but though the good book tells us that "whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 5:20), such a prayer partnership is no mere theological haranguing session. The book of Job is an object lesson in empathy and we as Christians must pray for that in order to avoid sliding into empty gestures of self-righteousness.

At the end of the day, the ultimate question is: What is the purpose of this life? If "all the world is a stage, and the men and women merely players", to quote those famous lines from Hamlet, who then is our audience? I agree with Spottiswoode that amidst the travails of life, one just needs to take a deep breath and *focus*.

Here again, Job is another object lesson. We ain't the ones in control here. "Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air. Death and destruction say, 'Only a rumour of it has reached our ears.' God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells..." (28:20-23)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Attractive Evangelism

I dislike going after people with hammer and nails hounding after them to change their beliefs. Rather, I believe in creating chances for them to come to me to discuss their religious beliefs.

In order to do this effectively, I feel that at the minimum, we need to 'Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.' (1 Pet 3:15) to know right now (before these opportunities open themselves to us):
i) Who we believe in
ii) What we believe
iii) Why we believe

1 unexpected way discovered today is to read a Christian book at public places. It's a good way of opening conversations about God.

This was what happened today:

I was early on course and reading the book 'Your work matters to God' when an acquiantance sitting next to me asked me,"What are you reading?"

Flipping the book to the cover page, she made a grimace before asking a rhetoric question, "So who's God?"

Me: That's a very interesting question, what do you say? (Really buying time while I finished the chapter I was reading and praying for appropriate answers)
She: I believe in fate, 天意
Me: Interesting, you believe in a great force in the world that moves events which has no sense of morality
She: What do you mean?
Me: It sounds to me that you believe there's something greater in the world that moves events, that if you can somehow manoever to your advantage, your life will be smooth sailing. I believe in a God who is totally just and who rightfully deserves my entire life devoted to His service.
She: But you can't see Him, how do you know He's real? (Implication: How do you know you are serving a real thing and not a figment of your imagination?)
Me: I know He's real through Christ, who walks on earth nearly 2000 years ago. He was a real man, who walked on earth, talked and interracted with the people then. He was witnessed to have died was resurrected and is now on the RH of God. I believe that Christ is God and thus He is real.....

Our conversation stopped here when the trainer started teaching. But praise God for that conversation!

To manage our expectations, don't expect to convert a person there and then, but rather, be ready to share whenever the chance presents itself and let God take care of the rest. Prayerfully, these thoughts will cause her to think a little bit about who God is and what He has done for us.