Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not Guinness Stout

When I first met Dr. Os Guinness was in Singapore Bible College many years ago, his public lecture was thought provoking and intellectually challenging. He is a first class social critic. He has not changed much when I met him at Edinburgh during the World Reformed Fellowship General Assembly. He delivered an inspiring lecture on the topic "Standing Fast in faith in the Advanced Modern Global Era." What caught my attention was his warning to the Global South Church that one day we will face the similar issue of declension like the church in the West.

I am reminded by Paul to guard the gospel because the message of the gospel can easily be distorted, altered to suit the itching ears of the modern generation. All it take is one generation of neglect to preach the unadulterated gospel of Christ, the next generation will reap the consequence of dilution, distortion and perversion of the gospel. The gospel of health and wealth may help to grow large churches but what kind of churches are these? Will these Christians still follow Christ, worship Him and love Him if their health and wealth were removed from them one day?

Henry Guinness lost his inheritance when he became a missionary to China. Guinness Stout beer has been in existence for more than 100 years. Os Guinness would have been a rich man if his father had not gone into mission field. He has a brand name but without the wealth associated with it. Yet Os Guinness is contented and at peace with his Maker for the circumstance that he found himself in. Os is a prolific writer, a great thinker. In my brief encounter with him, I found him to be warm and personable. He has a brilliant mind and he uses his intellect to glorify God.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Christ Alone

Sitting in the front row with the full view of Kristyn and Keith Getty leading the worship was like being transported into the throne room of God. “In Christ Alone” is my favorite song. Kristyn has an angelic voice but what came across powerfully is the way she expressed her devotion to Christ. It just comes from within and flows out naturally to the external.

I chatted with Keith and Kristyn and found them to be friendly. Keith co-wrote the song “In Christ Alone” with Stuart Townend when he was 25. Ten years later Keith is an accomplished modern hymn writer. His musicality through the piano playing is unique. I invited them to come to Malaysia and to conduct hymns and songs writing workshop. They responded enthusiastically. I told them to come for holidays.

They left for home in Ireland after the concert, which they hosted for the World Reformed Fellowship General assembly. Two days later the airport in Edinburgh was shut and no fly zone was imposed throughout UK. We were stuck in Edinburgh but her songs and hymns reverberated in my mind and heart for a long time.

Kristyn and Keith are both young and God is using them to bless the church worldwide. The songs are theologically sound and with depth, poetic and catchy. They grip your heart and move your emotion. They bring you closer to God. I never expect to meet them at the World Reformed Fellowship General Assembly. It is a treat from God.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stuck in London

I would have enjoyed London given a different circumstance. The art galleries and museum here are world class standard but sadly I lost all interest. All I wanted is to go home. Heathrow airport remained closed. The feeling of being trapped in an expensive place without money and credit card is unnerving. I had moved three times and lived in three different homes in a span of 7 days. Each host was kind enough to house me. The last one, Lai Meng and William, overwhelmed me with their generosity and grace. They told me I could stay as long as I like. The last two days I spent my time in CWM office. Tried as hard as I could, my mind just would not absorb any things I read. It was so unreal that I sometimes felt lost. The newspaper reported that it is unsafe for the airplanes to fly as the plane engines would suck in the volcanic ash and turned the silica into glass and crippled the engines completely. BBC daily news added to the fear of flying as it continually showed the ferocious volcanic explosion shooting the ash into the sky 5 miles high. Any plane was to fly into the volcanic plumes would be suicidal. The scientists and mathematicians in UK use the mathematical model of probability to calculate the risk factor of flying. The model together with Satellite mapping is able to project the area of coverage of the ash cloud. It is also able to tell the different zones of density of the volcanic ash. Using this model of projection, the Civil Aviation Authority decided to go for a blanket ban for all flights.

I think so much about Constance, Sarah and Sam. I think about church and the people who are close to me. I reflect on my life and ministry. Ironically I am due to preach the topic in CDPC this Sunday: Leaving and Living the Legacy. When one is facing with the possibility of death, many things become insignificant, only a few things matter. My mind suddenly becomes crystal clear on how I want to live my life and on what I will change the way I do ministry. This is a whole new experience for me.

The book that I read last month “The Last Lecture” by Randy takes on a new meaning. Randy had only six months to live when he was diagnosed with cancer. He prepared his last lecture and it was intended as his legacy for his children.

I was alone in the CWM meeting room. I read the Scriptures and prayed. I poured out my heart to God and I cried unashamedly. The emotional upheaval was too much to bear. I could identify with the psalmist who lamented: “Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God.”

Every alternate day, I had to take the underground train to Earl’s court and then walked to MAS office to rebook my flight. The MAS telephone line was impossible to connect. Thousands of passengers jammed the phone. Every time when the flight is cancelled one has to go to MAS office in Cromwell to rebook the flight. No one in MAS management or in any airline has come up with a system that can help passengers during crisis. Every other airline faces the same problem.

Since the British government dispatched its warships to repatriate those stranded, I fantasize that Malaysia PM would send his submarines to rescue Malaysians, I was jostled to reality when I called the Malaysian Embassy in London only to be greeted with the voicemail. Voicemail is a great modern device to deter people from being reached. I kept calling; the same voicemail repeated the same thing all the time. In time of crisis, I discovered who my true friends are and that I don’t matter to my country.

I am now in Heathrow terminal 4 with 9 hours to kill before the flight would take place. What a relief when the Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis announced that all UK airports will be reopened for short and long haul flights last night.

Reading Psalm 40 reassures me: “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD. Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD.”

I know that my feet with touch Malaysia soil when I woke up tomorrow. God is great and he is good.