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My personal reflections on this side of heaven


Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Yesterday, I toasted to the scholars, today it's pastors ... after reading the Biography of John Wimber, "The Way it Was" by Carol Wimber, I could understand how this humble man impacted so many especially in the Vineyard. I've always liked Wimber's balance in approaching Signs & Wonders topic and the gentle spirit he brought to worship renewal. The book helped me see another part of the man, his family, his marriage, his local church leadership as well as other ups and downs that comes with gaining some prominence in the "Christian world." His final years where he battled with cancer and ill health just moved me to tears. Being a pastor really isn't just about what happenes before the public eye, what's hidden from the people is crucial as well. Who we are and how we respond to situations is a life message that's goes beyond our speaking and public ministy.

David Watson was another one that impacted me especially after I reads his two autobiographies "You are my God" and "Fear no Evil", interestingly he and Wimber apparently were good friends. I learnt about his openness to see Spirit-empowered renewal in his mainline Anglican church and vulnerability especially in his battle with cancer. My acquaintance with both the above are merely through books, their writings and what others say about them.

But Robert Brow is different, there were real contact between us. I can say that this gentle pastor-theologian was an important anchor, encourager and guide to me especially when I was so disillusioned with ministry and my theology. His book co-authored with Clark Pinnock "Unbounded Love" opened up possibilities in my heart and mind. But it was the email exchanges were life-giving dosages that I really needed in my darkest hours (as I felt it then). Thanks for being my pastor.

Todd Hunter just blew my mind when he stepped down from a denominational leadership position to "embark on a journey" in the formation of missional communities. His blog is one site I check almost daily to see what's stirrring in him. He's really courageous IMHO in terms of ministry but even more so to try to work though issues theologically. I enjoyed our telephone conversations tremendously they moved me forward.

As for Brian D. McLaren, I've just emailed him once, but devoured everything he's written since reading "Reinventing the church", his two other books "A New Kind of Christian" & "The Story We Find Ourselves In" just rocks me up and settles me down at the same time. again, humility, creativity, and genuine spirituality mark these men. I consider all the above kind of like my examples or mentors.

As for my peers, Timothy Loh is one amazing person whose friendship I treasure, and we can share freely. He is just a fantastic "juggler" who's able to juggle family, a full-time job, and pastoring an Independent church (makes me feel what I'm doing is such a luxury).

Augustin Muthusami helped me get my first A in my systematic theology paper. Like me, we both work in a denominational setting. I admire his Rhino-skin hide when it comes to surviving in a mainline church and his quiet sense of humor and genuine expression of humanity.

And I think one more for now Victor Wong , he never ceases to challenge me with his passion in serving as a pastor, his administrative skills and strategic focus is one I wish to emulate. But, what I appreciate most is his big heart for Kingdom ministry and advancement and not buidling his own empire. So to all you men of God, who have in one way of another blessed me and are still blessing me ... cheers!

Monday, April 28, 2003

Wow .. Thank God for expensive scholarship and cheap sales. I got the Zondervan Theological Dictionaries for both the Old testament and New testament for RM40 (about 10USD) only on 1 CD-Rom of course. I remember when there was a time when I thought all these studies were "useless" . But, today, I'm thankful for good scholarship that opens up more horizons in understanding God's truth revealed in the written Word. Tha danger of being overwhelmed with knowledge and becoming big headed is ever present. And yet the danger of being big hearted while dishonouring God-given wisdom is equally destructive. I'm just suddenly thankful for Christian scholars who combine both with head and heart emphasis with such grace. I think cool headed Christians with warm hearts are a great bunch to be with and learn from. In times as unsettled as today, I don't mind meeting a few more of them and introducing them to others.

A toast to Christian Scholars who've played some part in my formation - Hwa Yung (those Christian Theology classes were awesome), Herman Shastri (sparked my love for Church history), Ezra Kok (those chit-chat sessions and lunches are stirring), Herbert Tan (gently build a strong appreciation for Christian education in me), John Kleinig (the Psalms and the rest of wisdom literature was never the same after his classes), NT Wright (wow, this guy blows my mind on Paul and Jesus), Clark Pinnock (quite able to stretch us indeed - pressing issues), Stanley Grenz (keeps me plugged into a bigger picture with little or almost no "argumentative" spirit), Roger Olson (Church History was never so much of fun!), Richard Jensen (gave me an appreciation of Luther and my heritage), Eugene Peterson (especially in my third year as pastor of BLC), Richard Foster (since STM days - what a great guide in spirituality), Dallas Willard (leaves plenty for me to chew on), Carl Bratten & Robert Jenson (those Eerdmans thin books were great mainline perspectives), Craig Keener (getting me on track again on the Spirit), Max Turner (laying good foundations on the Holy Spirit & Spiritual Gifts), Greg Boyd (phew! this guys on fire with spiritual warfare!), Gordon Fee (made exegesis such a spiritually rewarding venture) Leonard Sweet (introduced me to this Postmodern shift plus lots of fancy info), Paul Scott Wilson (changed the way i preached forever!), Robert Webber (paints beautiful theological landscapes for me to explore - esp. Ancient Future Faith & Younger Evangelicals), Leslie Newbigin (not too sure whether he's in the catergory of a scholar technically .. but to me he brought head, heart and hand (i.e. practical) issues together in Missiological thinking anyway),

ahh ... there are so many I may have missed (I've tried hard to re-call), and there are many more to come ... hmm.. tomorrow, I might want to give a toast to pastors and mentors ... the more "hands" on folk!
Here's my fresh attempt to blog .. again. I just updated my "free tripod" website with fresh pictures, so I thought I should post some stuff on this blog. I'm still very new at this and don't really have anything profound for now ... I remember sending a profound quote to my good friend Augustin through SMS on Good Friday last week. He replied with a cute SMS, he said, "I don't have anything profound to say except jingle bells ... and all that". That was really funny, I think it's too easy to take myself too seriously these days and forget to appreciate the simple stuff. After looking at the photo I posted on the front of my homepage where I was playing in the snow in Leicester, England, I agree ... jingle bells it is then!