Tuesday, April 28, 2009

24 and argument for the Sabbath rest

UPDATE: Issues Etc has a topic for this here.
It seems I am belaboring my 24 point of view but I woke up this morning with this Scripture running around my head.

Exodus 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The crucial verse for me is v.11.

This is an argument why the Sabbath is to be kept by the Jews. The "for" (though I have not checked this in the Hebrew version) is an argument why the Sabbath is to be kept, because God created the whole world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. So, it says, do no work on the 7th day. God is giving the rational for the Sabbath.

Now if "days" here stood for "epoch", why be stoned for working on the 7th day? You can argue, well that "day" there is not the normal usage of"day", it means a long period of time, it could mean have a rest every 1000 years, so God, why have me stoned for working on the farm?

Exodus 20:8-11 clarifies Genesis 1-3. Scripture interprets Scripture, and this passage interprets Genesis 1-3 for me.

Anyway, I have no care if physics or geology could not validate my faith. It does not bother me at all, like I said, I already believe in things that cannot be validated by chemistry etc., like the Lord's Supper so...if I am peculiar, I have no care. I am more concerned to be consistent with Scripture than being consistent with my senses.

I suggest this debunks the modern understaning of Genesis 1-3. You cannot convince me that Moses and his contemporaries interpreted "days" as "epochs".

It is important to believe Moses because Jesus said something about this.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Multimillionair, yours truly.

There have been a lot of people from UK and in Africa emailing me that I just won several million dollars or someone has got an inheritance and likes to share it with me. They are so eager to deposit loads and loads of money to my account.

My situation is a lot better than a CEO who bankrupts his company and still gets millions of dollars for his payout. I know, you may think I have no advantage over a CEO who sacks his workers and still gets a good sum by making people jobless. But I have the high ground, I just got email and I did not have to do anything. The good people of this world have found me and now are willing to give me their millions.

Now I receive these emails 2 per day. So it must be true, otherwise why will they persist in emailing? They must be serious, why will they nag me about it, if it is not true? Why will they end their emails with a "God bless you"? These must be honest people, so I am going to confirm my account details and collect.

So you better be nice and friendly, or yours truly will not shower you with his fortune.

To be honest with you, I have always been a millionaire even before these emails came, I am just pretending to be poor.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Faith as pressure.

Back in Manila, there are lots of people without means. You either go down under or you believe God pulls you up and over. There is no such thing as social welfare there. Unlike in here, we have Medicare. A few years back, I had a procedure done and I spent 4 days in hospital and I paid no cent for the whole incident. My eldest son was child patient of Royal Children's Hospital, they looked after him from age 10 to age 21, they gave him reconstructive surgery and plastic surgery, and did I pay any cent for this? Not a cent. When I got here it used to be free university education. Ok now that is not the case, but it is still good because today uni students do pay but they pay by way of a tax deduction when they get a job. This is a kinda, study now at the government's expense, then pay later. Another thing, Where will you find a country who will give its citizens money if they do a PhD? You can count with your fingers the number of countries that will do that.

Anyway, back home if you do not use your faith, you either starve or die. There is no such thing as a dole. Dole? you gotta be kidding me. Ask the government for some money? You joking? In general politicians get money from you, rather than the otherway around, unless they want some exchange. So consequently preachers promise if you believe and use your faith, your life will be ok.

So guess which verse they often use to whip up faith in you?

Romans 1:17b
“The just shall live by faith.”

My then Pastor interpreted this to mean that if you were righteous then you would live by faith. So how did this play up? Well, if you are sick, you'd better be believing God for your healing. So it kinda made me nervous one time that I was even thinking of consulting or running to the the doctor. So if you are short of cash, it will make you feel guilty that you are toying of using your Visa card. Your faith is in your Visa not in God. So if you have some need like a wish for a better life, you'd better be finding your joy in the things of God or he will curse you. You shouldn't be having such an ambition. Don't get me wrong but there is some truth and not so true misuse of this Scripture.

Pressure. That was all I could remember and it brought condemnation to my soul.
Faith got turned to a work, a result of the Law rather than the Gospel.

Little did I know that the verse was saying something else. I hate it when some minister mishandles the Scripture and I was stupid enough to believe him. I feel short changed.

Today when I see that verse, I take 'faith' not as a generic principle but very specific faith. I take that verse now to mean that the just shall live his life in faith in the Gospel. Daily life is in the state of repentance, that he sees himself a loss doomed sinner but he wishes only to be forgiven for the sake of Christ, his atoning sacrifice for his sins.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dumbing down

We are always into the habit of simplifying. We tend to think that people in the pew will always have a hard time understanding theological terms. They sound technical and so we are afraid to even mention them. One need not be afraid, what you do is communicate and help the would-be disciple understand the terms. Just have a little faith that people in the pew are not dumb you have to dumb things down.

So I happen to meet one of the young adult member of my ex-church. I have been away for more than a decade and by this time he is now in his early 30s having spent roughly all of his life active in church. So I asked him, if he ever heard of the thing called "justification". He gave a guess and it was off. What about the "Apostle's Creed"? Heard of it but do not know what it is and what it means or should he have to know it.

So then I spoke to some folk who have been in Augustana most of their lives and I mentioned the "solas" of the Lutheran Reformation, like sola scriptura. "Yes, yes, yes, but ... that was a part of our heritage". Meaning? It is not relevant today? That was way back then but that was it. I somewhat half protested - Huh? It is not something you put on the shelve but something you live by, it is a principle, and principles are always used, even today.

We can cut some slack for the young man I met, he is not in Wittenberg. He does not have the privilege of catechesis. However, I am bothered by the attitude of folk from the Reformation who think the solas are just one nice stuff of history.

I am wondering if these attitudes are part of the dumbing down process, a result of being intimidated by the pressure of being relevant, so much so, that we do not see the need to discuss technical and theological terms/ideas, even historical ones. May be that is also the result of no longer being in "reformation"? That is at least my suspicion.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I wil tell you why I believe in a 24 hour day creation. I did not use to but I changed my mind on it a few years back:


- Because of the linguistic Hebrew use of "yom" in Genesis. By this I mean fiat out of nothing to something creation, a miracle in other words. Normal usage of "yom" implies it to be understood by the contemporaries of Moses as that, I find it unbelievable that his classmates would have understood it as a very very long period of time. So in this case I am being literal here.

- Also linguistically, the ancients do not have a sophisticated view of billions and millions of years. To them, this is packed under the term "myriad". So I doubt if I speak to Moses' contemporaries about evolution he would have accepted it. He would probably say to me, look man - I was there, the Red Sea parted, I have been around miracles my life, so don't talk to me about naturalistic creation.

- Did Jesus believe this? I think so in Mat 19.


I already belive things that are quite peculiar, for example:

- I believe in the virgin birth and Christ's resurrection these are all peculiar beliefs already as far as naturalism and science is concerned. By statistics, my belief in resurrection as far as they are concerned, is improbable. No one rises from the dead as a normal phenomenon.

- The Apostle's Creed. I doubt if the ancients when they recited the first article - they understood it in evolutionary terms. Ancients were fiat believers. They had no problem believing in miraculous creation.

- Here is the kicker, I also believe at the Supper that is the actual body and blood of Jesus given to me to eat and drink. I already believe this and if the wafer/bread is broken down bio-chemically, science would probably tell me, there is no human flesh here etc etc.

So I do not understand, if I believe already these things that are scientifically odd, why should I not believe in a 24 hour day in Genesis? I do not need science to confirm my faith and I do not care if I am thought dumb for believing in literal day period in Genesis. If I cower to science, I have to justify scientifically my belief in the Supper etc.

Here is also the issue (I credit this to the missus who teaches Sunday school), what do you teach the children about Genesis day period? So you sit down a 4 year old kid, read Genesis 1 to him, you mention the word day. So what do you do? You put a fine print in the text, - actually kids, "day" there means not your usual day, actually it does not mean what you think it means - day there really means thousands and thousands of years. According to the missus, the kids have no trouble believing the literal day period.

You just undermined the kid's understanding/confidence on the Scriptural text. You just told him - you cannot understand this as plain words to you. You just told him that when the text is being literal, you are not to take it as literal, then what confidence would he have that he could understand it when he reads it on his own when he grows up? Don't you think the kids has just been dumbed down?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is risen!

For you..., for me.

I just realized that at sun rise service as Pr. B. was preaching.
It struck me, and blessed me. Even his rising was for us.

2 Cor 5:
15and he died for all,(A) that those who live might no longer live for themselves but(B) for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Church as ghetto

Something perked my memory when I was listening to the White Horse Inn broadcast on Spiritual Gifts. No it was not particularly the charismatic gifts that perked it. It was on the idea of a church being started based on ethnic or cultural lines.

I have experience with this because a decade ago I pioneered a Filipino church in Melbourne. There is no denying that birds of a feather flock together, and that feather happened to be 'same ethnic background'. This common root idea is no doubt a rallying point for the church to have a sense of unity. When that happens, church work is easier to do because you got more hands on deck.

Unfortunately it has an ugly side to it. For one thing, it will never break out of its own mold and pre-concieved ideas. For example, a few caucasian folk sometimes would join us and during fellowship lunch, guess what, no one from my church would speak to them. These white folk would just stand there eating their lunches and no one would bother to approach them. I have tried to tell my congregation why they do those un-friendly sort of things and I would scold them, I would say - "hey you people know and understand English why don't you speak to them"?.

People from ethnic churches are comfortable within themselves and they often think they "own the church". The depressing part is that they will not let people break in to them. It rocks their style and they can not be bothered putting up with strangers or people from different backgrounds. You see the church is their gheto. They are there because they are _________(nationality). You can fill in the blank your self. You know what I mean.

Whereas culturally based churches may work for a while, they never work in the end. It does not work because it is being made to be a social club, with a bit of Jesus and some church ritual on the side. What happens is that the social aspect takes over and Jesus becomes a small aspect of the group. So the church dies besides who would like to go to a place where you are not welcomed?

Church leaders that minister to churches that have a cultural background as its root is in a very challenging position, but I think the earlier they get to identify the problem the earlier the solution will be. So what is the problem? The problem is not whether or not people are friendly or brotherly, that is just the symptom.

The problem is if people are there because of culture or the Gospel? Are they there because of Jesus or because that is where they were born, baptized or because they have the same nationality as the rest of the members? This is the reason why ethnic churches become ghetos, they are not united by the Gospel, they are united by ethnicity. This to me is the greater concern, are they there because they have grasphed the Gospel? It is a challenging thing to convert members from being there because of ethnicity to being there because they are Christians, i.e. because of Jesus, because they are fellow sinners just like people from other ethnicity, they know they share the same humanity and sinfulness and above all they know they need a Saviour just like the rest of mankind.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus

Monday, April 06, 2009

Good on Holden

This year I experienced being sacked, made redundant. I knew consutants/contractors like me will find it hard going this year so late last year I took an offer to work as an employee. After coming from Portugal to give my paper, it was one of exhiliration, unexpectedly we won the best paper award. God continues to surprize me with his grace. Then a day after I went back to work - I was one of those retrenched. Such is life, so says Ned Kelly.

A long time ago I worked for HP here. Back in those days, HP would not sack people, instead, they will take a pay cut and it starts from the CEO all the way down to the middle managers. I am sure it is different now since the merger with Compaq but in those days while one of the founders was alive, they knew that sacking people for a big company was not necessary, all they had to do was to share their profit and go with a bit less. This is what Holden (GM) here is going to do. Read it here. So God bless them.

Big companies really do not need to sack people. They just don't want to slash their profits and share it with their employees. Sacking people is actually a reflection of management failure. It does not have to be the first option when the market gets bad. Sacking people for bad working behaviour is fine but sacking people simply because your profit will be affected if you dont is just plain selfish.