Okay, we’re well into next week and I’m starting to forget what happened play by play. I remember I had the Wednesday post done by like 11:30pm so I slept, however I only managed to post it just now. Either way in the morning the weather started to get wacky, and there was a fine atmosphere of fog in the morning air:
Sadly for breakfast we only had the same things as we had for the last three days: toast (on non-white bread), cereal, that’s it. In fact even on Friday there was no meat at all, not even egg or even fake egg; breakfast was really bland at our site this year.
In the morning session, Mark took us through Matthew 13:1-23 where we continued looking at how Jesus’ kingdom grows. The way I felt it followed from the previous passages was that after we’ve learnt what we’re fighting for as Christians, we get to see how it is practically achieved. The notable parable today was the farmer and the seed that gets sown on different types of soil – most of us will remember this parable. Although for us as Christians we may be the ones sowing the seed – that is, spreading the Word of God; it is only God who makes the seed grow.
The problem we see in today’s world is that not everyone who hears the Word of God will continue on as a Christian in the distant future. There are many distractions and things that get in the way as soon as people hear the Word of God, but in all cases it has something to do with them believing that they know better than the Bible and thus choosing their own way afterwards. In the parable, the people who are called the “good soil” are the ones who listened to Jesus with humility and trusted in his words.
And so even though we might not reach as many people as we’d like with God’s Word, there are still those who will listen humbly and believe in Jesus; that in itself is progress, even if it isn’t much. And I guess that’s reassuring to see that God’s kingdom is advancing steadily and surely, though not as fast as we’d imagine or hope it to be. Seeing definite progress encourages us to back up this unstoppable force that is God – His Word will advance, and we have a privilege of taking part in it.
But for us today, to ensure our godliness, we need to listen to Jesus and make sure we continue to listen to him just like the seed that fell on good soil. And more so, we should learn to listen to Jesus better than we did previously. We must listen attentively and sow generously because time is running short and Jesus is returning.
We’re at day 4 and so we needed to start producing something tangible to reflect what we’ve learnt over the last three days. For strand three, we had to perform a systematic theological study of a topic of our choice from the Bible. Everyone would definitely have their work cut out for them if they picked a topic they were really unfamiliar with. And of course the degree of difficulty for this exercise is great because it requires you to know a lot of the Bible from beginning to end. I can’t say I know enough of the Bible to give a good detailed answer for any random topic. I’d do better with a topic I’ve gone over already at church or at uni.
But considering the upcoming events in my life, I decided to do a study on “Commitment”. I just happen to be doing a seminar on it next week (from the time of posting); I have all the practical material done, I just needed the Bible’s perspective on commitment. So in a sense, I was killing two birds with one stone. We mostly spent this morning looking through our Bibles and finding passages that dealt with our topic; I reckon this has got to be the hardest part of the study. If you don’t know the Bible well, then it becomes hard to find relevant passages. But even then, having many passages means you have to process through them all and try to piece all the passages together into a unified idea that the whole Bible conveys. Yes, strand three is quite difficult but all the effort that goes into the process of systematic theology really pays off. At the end you get a broad view of what the Bible says about things such as marriage, or homosexuality. There were people in my strand group who did “Manliness” and “Self-esteem”, quite interesting topics.
We also spent a bit of the morning having a bit of fun and celebrating someone’s 21st:
Nerf guns were pretty popular this week.
Yes, I can hardly care about the food we had anymore; none of it was really worth mentioning haha.
Al Stewart gave our last seminar entitled: “The Rest of Your Life”. He went through the things we should consider as important and all the things we should think carefully about as we progress into the working stages of our lives. Of course, a man of his age holds much wisdom in this area, and so he was definitely a suitable speaker for this topic.
Some of the points he made include how we should put priority into preaching the Word of God amongst other things, and making sure of where we stand with God. One of the challenging things to hear was to put God’s kingdom as our first and foremost priority above other things like work and wealth. We were challenged to reverse our priorities; so instead of looking for the best career available, followed by the best house in the best suburb, and then finally how we can best serve God in that situation, we swap the order around. So we first consider how we can best serve God, and then we find the best place to live in order to serve God, and finally to find the best job that helps us as we serve God.
For us who are young, one thing that will definitely pose as a challenge is our parents, particularly for Asians. Living as Christians under Asian parents is a rather difficult thing because we want to serve God while they want us to serve money. Both has its arguments and all and at the end of the day we still need to respect and honour our parents. But Al raised something interesting. Honour and obedience are two different things when considering our parents. The Bible does mention that we obey our parents, but it was worded in the way “Children, obey your parents”. The difference for us is that children are those who are completely dependent on their parents, of course they must obey them. But for us today, as we become more and more independent, we need only honour our parents without having to obey them; that is, we can disobey our parents in an honourable way if we believe their decisions for us are not the best.
Lastly, Al gave us tips on looking for work. Clearly is not the highest priority on this list, because we primarily work so that we can have food on the table at home. Everything above the necessities are optional. Serving God and stuff with work is something we should all consider as well, but for me at the current time, it’s not something I can assess well so I’m going to put these points aside until I actually fully get into the workforce.
Before the evening session we took a group photo:
My photo wasn’t that great because of that guy from CABC in the background T.T”
Raj’s final night talk went over God’s judgement on Israel for their disobedience and ignorance over the generations. It was interesting to see that the Israelites were complaining about their “evil” enemies prospering, even though they did wrong, and so they somehow came up with the idea that God was unjust. I guess we tend to think that too when we aren’t prospering though we try so hard, and yet others benefit without lifting a finger. It’s just that for the Israelites case, they too were doing evil though they did not realise it. There is much we can learn from their mistakes.
However, God is a loving God, who is not unjust, but is still the same yesterday, today and forever. Though he promises punishment for those who turn away from him, his promise of salvation is also always available for anyone who will turn back to him. God offers us a blessing too for being faithful to him. But it’s not always the gift we expect, such as the ones we complain about other people having: wealth, ease of life. But God promises us eternal life, and that is one blessing that surely surpasses anything we can receive here on earth. So Raj’s concluding point was that we need to turn away from our preconceptions of prosperity and turn to Jesus, for his promise of eternal life – that will actually transcend this world.
Something random, there was a rat running around the floor during the evening session. They sure run fast, just like Pikachu, only literally lightning fast.
Did you see it? Yeah, neither did I.
Later that night, everyone stayed up to finish their strand material, as is the case every year. I managed to finish mine during strand group so I helped other people with theirs. This reminds me of the HSC.