Success through the Eyes of Faith


success-479568_1920
Public Domain via Pixabay

My apologies for not blogging for the last four to five months! Major transitions have happened in my life. It has been pretty busy, not to mention stressful, these past months! I am no longer a campus minister serving at York University, a role I served in for the past 15 years. Since August 2016, I am serving as the Editor in Chief of The Banner, the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Hence, a new chapter has begun in my life of following Jesus and serving his church and the world.

I wish to make it clear here that my transition was more about following Christ’s calling rather than finding greener pastures. This “career move” can easily be made to fit into the world’s narrative of success, as in constantly moving on to bigger and better. But I had always said that I go to (and stay) where I believe God is calling me. Success, in my understanding of Scripture, means, above all, faithfulness to Christ’s call, along with the missional kingdom fruitfulness (which includes, but not exclusive to the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23) born of that. Continue reading “Success through the Eyes of Faith”

Counterfeit Faith – Dogmatism


Beware of Dogma sign
By Twinsday (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One of my problems is that I am a slow reader, which was no help to me at all during my years as an English Literature major! I can skim read, of course, but when I come across good books packed full of excellent wisdom, I end up taking forever to digest them. Add in my A.D.D. issues, and I end up with tons of books that I never finish, or have only read bits and pieces in, or have never even started!

So, recently I picked up off my shelf a book I bought years ago – David G. Benner’s Soulful Spirituality: Becoming Fully Alive and Deeply Human (Brazos Press, 2011) – and realized again why I wanted to read it. Benner, psychologist and author, writes with great wisdom and grace. Very early in the book already it made me pause to meditate and reflect. Here is a long excerpt: Continue reading “Counterfeit Faith – Dogmatism”

Spirituality is NOT an Adrenalin Rush


Copyright: bokica / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: bokica / 123RF Stock Photo

Lately, for my daily devotions, I am reading the devotions in my NIV Men’s Devotional Bible (Zondervan 1993). Last Friday’s reading, an excerpt by Archibald Hart, really rang true for me and I just had to share this with the world.

In sum, Hart cautions Christians not to confuse being spiritual with having adrenalin arousal. Here’s an excerpt from the excerpt:

Continue reading “Spirituality is NOT an Adrenalin Rush”

Is Your Church Extroverted?


Children at a Gospel presentation
Children at a Gospel presentation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was alerted to this blog containing an infographic on The Extroverted Church (reproduced below with permission). It’s an interesting piece and worth pondering about. It connects with a chat I had recently with a student who voiced her discomfort at sharing her faith. And what she means by sharing her faith is the “going up to strangers and telling them about Jesus type” of sharing. It was not quite her comfort zone. I reminded her that there are more than one way to evangelize, so to speak, and that every one needs to break out of their comfort zones in one form or another. For extroverts who naturally enjoys talking to people, even strangers, and for whom the gift of the gab might come easily for them, this form of evangelism might actually be their comfort zone, and requires little effort. Maybe they need to be challenged to more introspective activities?

This infographic suggests that North American evangelicalism tends to be dominated by an extroverted ethos, which makes introverts a little uncomfortable. I suspect it used to be the reverse in ages past, in the days of the stoic and rigid worship styles of most mainline churches. The sentence that jumps out at me is this: “The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion.” This is another example of why I hate the cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all approach to Christian spirituality. I have written about that before here.

But take a look for yourself and let me know what you think: is your church extroverted? Are you an extrovert yourself? Or are you an introvert? Do you see this as a problem? Or are we making too much out of nothing?

Continue reading “Is Your Church Extroverted?”

Be Perfect?


English: perfectionism at its finest
English: perfectionism at its finest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(This post was originally published as an article in The Banner, Feb, 2010)

Are you a perfectionist? Is your boss one? Perhaps you have a perfectionist parent or sibling? In any case, you probably know that perfectionists can be hard to please.

The pressure to be perfect is hard to escape. We live in a culture that demands, especially at work, things and products to be just right. Some of us, like me, also have perfectionist tendencies. When I try too hard and expect too much of myself—trying to write that perfect sermon or that perfect article—it can really slow me down or even paralyze me from doing what I can.

Perfectionism is a tough critic and master.

And how many of us expect perfection of our local church and/or worship experiences? How many of us expect perfection in our spiritual walk with God? Moreover, how many of us think that God expects perfection from us?

Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That sounds impossible to live up to. What kind of perfection does Jesus expect from us? Are we doomed to failure and frustration?

To answer such questions, let’s first consider what biblical perfection is not. Then, digging deeper, let’s look at the Old Testament view of perfection, followed by the New Testament view and the Matthew text in particular. You may be surprised by what we find.

Continue reading “Be Perfect?”

A Mariner’s Psalm 23


This past summer vacation, we visited the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. On the second floor of the museum is the Fishermen’s Memorial Room. A whole wall in that room is dedicated to remembering the names of men and vessels lost to the sea. On another wall is a mural painted by Joseph Purcell (seen here) of Jesus calming the storm. And, though I’m not sure if it’s a constant part of the memorial room, on a table in the center of the room were printed copies of a Mariner’s Version of Psalm 23, as below: Continue reading “A Mariner’s Psalm 23”

My Journey into a Deeper and Wider Faith


My Journey into a Deeper & Wider Faith

(Adapted from a talk at a Christian Reformed Church Classis Toronto Urban Ministry Gathering on June 10, 2010)

I am going to tell you my personal story, my spiritual journey into where I am now, and how the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) played a big part in it.

I was born and raised in Malaysia, part of the Chinese Diaspora that spans the globe. I became a Christian when I was 14 years old. I converted and got baptized in a Plymouth Brethren church. It was a very conservative church. Women had to keep silent during worship services and wore coverings on their heads. It had a very narrow understanding of salvation and of discipleship. So my early Christian years were formed within a narrow, rationalistic, rigid, literalistic and legalistic framework. Continue reading “My Journey into a Deeper and Wider Faith”