22 November 2006

We will follow

Shocking news came a week ago, ripping through small church community in Cheras. A young and promising leader of their assembly died suddenly while on a business trip in the Philippines. He was 32, and he leaves behind his wife and 2 daughters. I didn't know him well, but having spent a few years with that church before, I know them to be very closely knit and unwavering in their partnership in the gospel. They have lost a dear brother and courageous comrade.

Though I have missed the privilege of knowing Raymond as intimately as others in the Petra & Jalan Imbi family, both Joan & I have a deep impression of Raymond's zeal as a Christian and stedfastness as a father. It is our loss not to have known him better. By all accounts, he proved himself to be an inspiring leader both in the marketplace and in the church. Unwaveringly dedicated to the highest good of everyone around him. But most remarkably (as we discovered at the service), he lived ready, organising and orientating his life around an anticipated early return to God.

If his "theme song" (which was used in the service) says anything at all about how he chose to live, we heard it in these words:

"You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like the rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me."

Raymond showed us how to live and how to die. He chose the way of Jesus; living and dying for others and for the gospel. And we are all encouraged to live as worthily! The seed that has fallen to the ground is already bursting forth with new life in all our hearts. This is not a death-in-vain, by far! It is his greatest gift to us all. I am thankful to the wife and his dearest friends for sharing his life and departure with us.

May the "God of all comfort" be ever present to Anne and her beautiful daughters, and all Raymond's family.

15 November 2006

Finding a Nest

These past months have been harrowing, and more so this last one week. We're in that stage for life - house hunting. I entered into this clueless and have had to learn many things the hard way. Freehold, leasehold, built-up space, renovated, property loans, mortgages, booking fee, land office consent - all Greek to me.

With baby Ethan on the way (oh yes, we've learnt that it's a boy!), the impetus to find a nest for mother bird to incubate has intensified. We've already gone through several months of legal wrangling, over the sale of a Bumiputera-owned lot the Land Office will not consent to. The seller was more hurt than we were, but our hopes for the place went through some roller-coaster turns before we finally gave up.

Barely recovered from that we were again given the slip. Another seller pulls out of a purchase when the ink on my cheque was still wet! We were furious. After seeing the house, falling in love with it, and paid the booking! Sigh,.. we are learning from these hard knocks. Meanwhile our agent, perhaps a bit guilty at having let a deal fall through, has been working over time to find us another nest. We've seen so many places we're starting to confuse them.

I'm feeling a lot like a bird surveying for a place to build a nest, and bringing mama bird to inspect the newfound spot, anxiously awaiting her approval.

What HAS been interesting is learning what is important in finding that right property. A stable township, easy access to major routes, nearby park facilities, structural sound-ness, and most of all, picturing ourselves living there. A place we can call home. In the meantime, we continue hunting, Google-Earthing, sifting sales-pitch from genuine value, playing the game of holding out or acting fast, anticipating renovation costs, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

With God as my help, I'll find a place and build a nest yet!

01 November 2006

A Whole New World

The best kind of discovery is the kind that opens up a whole new world to you. A bit like Christopher Columbus arriving on the shores of America, I feel like I've just set foot on totally new terrain. Not that they are uncharted territories, unknown to man but only that they are completely new to me.

I'm the kind of guy who loves stumbling on a new road or a new township. I'd sneak some detour drive to secretly explore roads when no one's around, just to know how things connect. I spend disproportionate amounts of time studying maps and staring at Google Earth images. I have an irrepressible need to know where the road leads and what's around the corner. My approach to life seems to be one big exploration.

Hence the thrill at discovering Biblical Theology and Salvation History (or Heilsgeschichte). Biblical Theology seeks to address the theology/thinking of individual authors, books, and periods of the Bible within the context of their time in history; and build a theology of what the WHOLE Bible says by piecing together the individual perspectives. Salvation History on the other hand describes a cohesive story line of the whole Bible, discerns its direction and breaks them down into its natural stages or periods. In that way these stages can be compared and used to elaborate the story line in its own framework.

Both give me new paradigms to approach the Bible. Rather than a mere collection of 66 books, lumped together according to genre and period, I begin to see that they form a progressive story line with a definite beginning and end. There is a cohesive direction to the whole volume (of volumes). There is an introductory crisis, an anticipated resolution, and countless cycles of tension and relief, approaching or retreating from the problem that demands an answer from the very beginning. And all throughout, the solution unfolds itself, anticipating, hinting, clarifying, setting the stage, to a real climactic end.

Both give me frameworks to think about any given topic. Instead of lifting statements from all over the place to construct an argument based on proof-texts, I have a means of delineating how an element unfolds throughout the Bible. With BT I can discern what various authors thought in various periods/situations in history and correlate them to build a whole. With SH I can trace the evolution of an idea progressively unpacking through the story line and its major stops along the path.

My initial foray into BT and SH have resulted in two pieces - one on Guidance, and another on Worship.

BT and SH promises to revolutionise the way I think about the Bible, myself, and the world. You could say my worldview is being redefined. And the best part of all is that I've only just set foot on the new world. I am on a threshold of many years of discovery. And nothing is more thrilling than the combination of having a road to travel on but not knowing what lies ahead. Ahhh.. the joy of discovery and the discovery that leads to endless discoveries!