Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lets fake it...let God know but wear a mask infront of people

This is the dilemma that we face in church sometimes. How much of our disappointments can they handle. Worst still if you are a leader in that particular church. This is the whole hoax that people feel being a christian is. We call ourselves a community but deny that we can feel like crap and we tell each other to suck it up and just keep quiet about it. I really feel a bit annoyed at this attitude.

Just this once, i tell those in prayer meeting i felt lousy and of all the time i faked it from January until now, what do i get???? "You are not supposed to do that." Wow. That really kills my openness. That literally killed of any desire to open up in the future.

Come on, are leaders always to feel strong, know where they are going, know what to do? Sometimes when we wear the mask too much it really sucks. This generation now want authenticity. They want honesty. The dangerous sense of being community and not a performance Christianity.

So much for opening up. I just feel crappy now. No wonder no one went in to pray for me. I guess God is the one and only one who should lift me up. Honestly i wouldn't do that in the main service, i know better. But this is prayer meeting, with the usual people and they are those people who pray and want to pray for people. But this is some sort of lesson i learnt from church, a church that says to us "Fake it".

It is not that i hate church, but now i just feel church has lost the sense that it or she is a community as well, not just a religious institution that has to fight with organizations and culture to be relevant. I fell the church, any church should get back to the roots of community, of being the people of God that loves each other, that doesn't have to worry if their leader feels crappy. If their leader is down the members should be there to encourage him or her. Not tell them to "suck it up".

This is just an added extension of the post as a help for readers because i get misinterpreted at some points. For readers I am voicing out that we are people and we should be real people with real emotions and feelings. The post is to side with Leaders if you read again you will understand, or if you read slowly you will get it. I mean leaders are humans too and there is room for authenticity just like normal people. Just read the last part that i recently HIGHLIGHTED. Please read with an open mind and listen.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I wish...

CAn anyone get this for me...hehe it will help alot.haha. You would do me a great favor.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Narrow perspective...tangled and tied down

Some times i feel like Christianity is all tangled up. I'm a Christian and that is how i feel sometimes (maybe on a bad day?). But the thing is, i feel the Christianity that we often project is sort of like kills life, kills fun, kills freedom, kills almost everything.

I'm just telling you that sometimes i feel the good new, the way we project it is like a set of rules and yet we say that it is freedom. That is sort of funny.

How do we change this? How is Christianity like anyway minus our ramblings about don't do this and don't do that. Or this is how one should dress. As if Christianity and believing in Jesus was all about those things.

I feel we have sucked the life out of something so beautiful. Like sucking the life out of following Jesus.

Come to think of it, there is some sort of beauty in that phrase "following Jesus". It has some sort of excitement and the feeling like something is going to happen and your heart races, and you just want to learn from this person.

We have somehow lost this sense of following Jesus. This sens of tailing behind him and being fascinated by following Jesus. The Christianity that we live now feels like we are one step a head of Jesus because we have already felt like we know what is a head. We loose that sense of learning, expectation of being awed by him and all that.

Follow Jesus. We are always one step behind ...always. But none the less headed in the right direction because we see what he is doing and like wise do what he does.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Growing a plant...or anything

This has constantly been on my mind lately...

The issue of how to make things grow? And of course i'm not at all talking about plants. Although the metaphor does imply the complications (or simplicity) of the matter.

Well i have been thinking about the drastic situation that has been thrown on my lap. Of regrouping what once was a growing youth ministry. Well i dont at all mean that the Youth Ministry was failing, or not growing. No not at all. The youth ministry was called to an abrupt end, too soon from what i think.

But yes, that is the situation, whether i like it or not.

Well the thought about what to do, things about planning, forming a team, programs, activities and all that have been on my mind ever since.

I have had some sleepless nights to name a few. But it is not all that bad. Although i do feel a tad upset about the whole scenario. A little frustration here and there.

What should we do? How do we start? Are there proper methods to follow?

Sure all the answers to these questions will help a great deal but, there are some fundamentals that i think we should think about.

-to build community, some sort of community aura.
-to build a come as you are culture, where one feels accepted and can be authentic.
-a place where there is an openness to hard questions
-a place where we learn about faith-Jesus-the bible
-a place we can call our own.

I may be right or these are just some things that i want my mind to absorb at the moment. In a nutshell, i just want the youth ministry to be church, to be a community.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Everything is Spiritual!

Just got this fab DVD titled "Everything is spiritual". It's sort of like a talk...something like that. And no, it's not a movie. It's a guy talking about an hour plus. The name of the speaker is Rob Bell... a pastor (does his name ring a 'bell'?). I should tell you that it is cool and makes you think (please consider thinking and reflecting as something that we Malaysians have to do more, not to mention READING!).

So anyway about the talk...or teaching (in a hip new way)...

He goes on to explain the beginning...(Genesis for that matter), the part where God created. Tell you about some interesting things that we can (or will always miss when we get too familiar with the passage). The information that he fires at you just makes you want to grab a bible and start your own research (either it makes you curious and want to learn more or suspicious on whether there is any credibility in what this guy is saying).

Then he goes on to talk about science, galaxies and name a few. So much information that it make you wonder (in a good way), wonder about the bigness of God's creation and it truly is baffeling to say the least!

And he goes on to explaina a lot of things and...well i dont want to spoil you on this. You just have to watch it...or better still buy the DVD and experience the surge of knowledge.

Well the point of his talk resounds around the title of the talk- "Evereything is Spiritual". And at the end it does sound pretty convinsing! Get ready for a surge of light bulbs!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The gospel of Luke

I want to try out something...

Our young adult cell is doing a book study at the moment focusing on the Gospel of Luke. We are on Chapter 4 at the present moment!

Doing book studies are different. Delving into the text, digging up the historical background and looking at the social context of the book. It just widens the horizon. Let me assure you that you might come out a changed person after studying through.

Reading through it again opens so many things again. I would imagine going through every book in the bible and really studying through them one by one, thoroughly! By thoroughly i mean taking some considerable time on each book. Whoa!

Well, i am planning to do some posts on this, just to help my mind thinking through the book.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How we Transform our Church Culture

(this was a sermon i preached a few Sunday's ago. I'm not completely satisfied but hey, we are supposed to improve from time to time. This was not what i said word for word from the pulpit but this is somewhat a summary. )


There are disturbing similarities of the cinema/Cineplex and the church. I remember while watching the movie, everyone in the Cineplex was engaged with the giant screen up in front. Engaged in a sense, when there was a joke people would laugh kind of thing. The crowd was also engaged when there were glitches when the movie was played. Everyone seemed to be engaged for as long as the movie played. And when it was finished everyone rushed back for the fact that we were strangers. We were engaged at one point but were back to normal after that. I feel like it is church all over again. Sometimes I think that kind of thing is not what the church is supposed to be; just a service, just some place we go to on a Sunday morning, just a religious experience.
And that is a way of life that the church in modern times acts. I call this culture. Culture is in a nutshell- a way of life. The church has adopted the cinema’s way of life, that we are mere strangers seeking for the same thing: God. The church has, because of this, lost a very vital thing in the process.
Now a while back pastor talked about transitioning a church culture .It is something that we as a church are somehow working towards. Because we often get preoccupied with the big stuff, all too often, we get lost in the maze of actually doing things that reflect the transition. Today I will talk about how we how we start to change the culture; being cultural creators.
But before we can be people who create culture- what we do in transitioning a church culture we have some sort of model to follow. In this case we look to the one who change a culture- Jesus in the gospels.

The core of Jesus’ vision (what motivated him to change the culture around him)

If we want to know what brought about Jesus’ strong conviction of his mission (how he changed the culture), in reforming Israel (calling them to repentance and follow him), we have to somehow grasp the core of what spurred Jesus to action.
I know we don’t have any particular creed that we ascribe to. ‘Creed’ actually means belief or a set of beliefs. Israel had a creed. It was called the ‘shema’- meaning ‘hear’ (found in Dt 6:4-9) This was a creed that pious Jews repeated twice daily. Some added Dt 11:13-21 & Num 15:37-41. In fact this was the first prayer that young Jewish children were taught to recite and Jesus was no exception to that. There was one rabbi who said that anyone who does not recite this creed twice daily was considered to be those careless people of the land. So for the Jew the ‘shema’ or ‘creed’ was very an important aspect of Jewish life. It was the thing that formed their life through and through.
We might be asking “What is Jesus’ take on this ‘shema’ thing?” Well let’s see by looking at Mark 12:28-33 where Jesus was confronted with a question regarding his understanding on what is the most ultimate commandment of all.
Here we find the ‘shema’ but Jesus adds to the ’shema’. The thing that Jesus added was not something people put to be remembered or recited. According to Jesus there was another thing important when people are devoted to God, which is to love others as well. Jesus’ revision of the ‘shema’ he put loving God and loving people as priority.
This was the creed that Jesus lived by and the core that brought out to change the culture around him.

The story of Jesus and his take on cultural transformation in the form of a fellowship meal

Let us reflect on one of the aspects in Jesus messing around with the present culture of his day. That reflection takes us to a scenario of dining, which is table fellowship.

Background of table fellowship

Among the religious elite during those days, food laws were a central symbol to the Jews.It was in table fellowship that lay, for Jews of those days, a certain vision of Israel. Now it was not enough for the food to be kosher (holy and acceptable) but the fellowship has to be with the right people as well. If you ate with the wrong kind of people, although the food that you ate was kosher (holy) you have defiled yourself, rendering everything unholy. For the Pharisees the “table became a wall between the observant and nonobservant”. It was a vision of “social respectability, religious uprightness, proper covenant behavior, loyalty to the traditions and hence to the aspirations of Israel”. This talks about identity. Basically we can say that the table and fellowship gave meanings of identity. Who was in and who was out.
We can say then that for the Pharisees purity was to mix among themselves and them alone. If others wanted to join them they had to abide by the same rules, otherwise your identity would always be those who we not Israel. This was one of the boundary markers- the table fellowship. To the Jews of the day to the table was a place where you had to be pure to participate in.

Jesus the radical (rascal for the Pharisees and other opposing parties)

Jesus actually posed very negative response from these pious Jews, religious leaders and the likes. What made Jesus a rascal was that he did not mind the company that came to sit and dine with him. This was the problem. (Mt 11:16- 11:19; Mk 2:14 -Mk 2:17)
Here was Jesus, shaped by his belief- Love God, love others, was changing the rules of cultural and social acceptability, thus changing the vision of Israel that the Pharisees had.
Theirs was you had to be pure; Jesus’ was there is purity for those who come and accept.
Theirs looked at your social standing; Jesus’ was one that said everyone was welcomed. Theirs was just to maintain tradition, Jesus’ was that of mission and agenda- there was a purpose. Theirs were mechanical; Jesus’ table fellowship gave life.
I guess when we look at Jesus’ table there was an air of acceptance, of hope, of healing, of joy, of expectation. Jesus didn’t seem to mind the kind of people he was dining with. To him it was not an issue. His issue was to seek and save the lost, to heal the sinner-thus transforming them to follow in his mission. Just check out this story: Lk 19:1 - Lk 19:10
The meal now for Jesus instilled a different meaning altogether. A new kind of Israel. It became a table that heals because those who come to it have the chance to be pure, where sinners found grace and change; a table that envisions because Jesus showed them what Israel was supposed to be as a nation- a boundary breaker and grace giver, thus transforming the person; a table that hopes because it gives a kind of foretaste of what Jesus kingdom will be like for those who follow him. This was one aspect of how Jesus’ life transformed culture around him.

Lessons for us

The lesson for us is simple. Bringing about change to an age old structure spells difficulty. Because of this we will often succumb to the grandness of transforming a church culture. But as we find in Jesus, his vision of transforming the stiff and legalized culture of Israel started in the form of a creed. Thus for us to change the bigger picture we must remember that it stars with us first- in us. And as we slowly believe it and act it out, it will eventually affect everything. To affect big things we have to start small- transforming our church culture starts with us, all of us- Love God, love neighbor.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Will I sink, swim or stay on the brink...and other thoughts parading my mind!

It's hard to figure out at this time whether what i feel is excitement or just fear. It's all mixed up. At the moment I will be handed the responsibility to lead some youths under the moniker 'Youth Pastor'! OMG!

Fro the past few days or so i've been down with a very bad fever and then news that this was brooding up made me have some sleepless nights already. We i just had to ask God, "is this you giving me all the pressure?" Well obviously it's not God so that's why i could get some sleep. I mean would God torture me with those thoughts!

But really I really am scratching my head and thinking what to do. This is sort of like a crisis situation and well I need you to pray with me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Three Days Grace

It has been a while when i hear a band and sort of resonated with the vibe, lyrics and heavy guitar. Let me introduce you to Three Days Grace. I like the lyrics because they speak about honest reflections of life. It can cause you to think if you use your mind.

For all those seeking 'love' listen and maybe you can see yourself in the song. See if it mirrors you. I resonated because i used to be in those shoes before. Duh!!!

Hopeful Theo

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OIL TOWN, SWK, Malaysia
I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations