Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Wednesday

Come Wednesday, people had lost a lot of sleep:


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But then again when you only get like 4-5 hours a sleep per night you are bound to start getting exhausted; this is a fundamental factor for any camp. I think Wednesday was the start where we all gradually slept closer and closer to breakfast time, such that we were facing the possibility of not having breakfast at all in the morning. Thirty minutes more sleep in exchange for breakfast probably wasn’t the best deal, but when you’re tired, you’ll take all that you can.



Bible Study

For day three, our job was to look closer at the main themes in 1 Peter and see how Peter’s argument for those main themes progress in his letter. It was hard to draw upon the main themes and give them a title. We spent a lot of time discussing how the different ideas related to each other, and whether they can be linked by one broad topic. In the end we decided on ideas such as: suffering, being holy and outward conduct.


It is clear that 1 Peter talks a lot about suffering; and how it is good to suffer for doing good rather than doing evil. When we picked the theme “being holy” we more referred to the sections in the letter that talked about changing yourself from the inside; and contrasting this against “outward conduct”. That is, in the way we live as Christians, we first need to convict our own hearts that we need to change, and this first step would be like changing our attitude towards God. And we thought that only after you change your inner attitude towards God that you can start to outwardly show other people this change. Our basis for this is that it wouldn’t make sense for you to outwardly do good unless you first decided in your heart to follow God.


Looking at the themes and the different ideas listed under them helped us understand what the general idea of 1 Peter was. I guess then if we ever came back and had to ask ourselves what 1 Peter was about we could just list those themes. It would also help in recommending epistles to do in the future for Bible Study, or for our friends to read for devotions.


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Seminar three was a heaps long seminar that tried to deal with the ideas of being “fruitful” and “multiplying”. Most of the time was spent discussing the ideas of relationships and marriage and how they fit into the context God wanted them to be in. By this, I mean that relationships and marriage have been ill-defined by society and it requires much deep thought to bring these concepts back into God’s perspective. We kept tripping over the issue of whether getting married meant needing to have kids, or whether you could marry but not have children (and thus in a sense not being “fruitful”). Rather than come up with a solution to that idea, we raised up a counter issue whereby those who don’t get married are also not being fruitful. One thing led to another and we ended up discussing all over the place with no real definitive conclusions to anything; but that’s the difficulty with wrestling with what the Bible says, and it’s clear that it isn’t easy to get it right; clearly society is way off from the truth.


I can’t remember what direction the discussion took towards the end but my perception of the whole thing was that the emphasis was on “producing godly offspring” (I believe a relevant verse can be found in Malachi somewhere, might look that up later). If being fruitful and all that is about having godly offspring, then wouldn’t it simply be “making disciples of Jesus”? I say it’s simple because there are a variety of ways we can do this. One such way is of course getting married and having children and raising them up as followers of Christ. Another way might be to get married but then adopting children; you are still raising godly offspring in that sense. And for those who don’t get married, you can still evangelise to people and they too would become “godly offspring” regardless of age.


Later in the seminar we were reminded through the New Testament that the idea of marriage is just an earthly thing and won’t really exist in heaven. But even today, the Bible says that marriage is a shadow of Christ being “married” to the church, and this sort of does not fit the picture we get when we think of marriage. But perhaps, marriage was meant to be seen in light of Christ and the church (also called the “bride”) and so human marriage is but a small point that stems from the primary concept from the perspective of Christ. So in any case, the summary of today’s seminar was to not worry too much about how marriage will work because it too is a temporary thing, but rather we should be focusing on making disciples of Jesus and being “fruitful” in that way.


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Elective – Being a Man

I’ll come back to free time stuff in the Friday post. Anyway, Wednesday afternoon was our second elective. I picked the one regarding “manliness” and what the Bible says about that. For most of the guys, this workshop was one which reminded us of things we’ve already heard about in terms of what it means to be a godly man. But I think I should go through in more detail for those who have never read much from the Bible in regards to this topic, or for the girls, who should not have done much research on it, since it wouldn’t be as relevant for them.


Being a godly man stems from how men and women were created “differently” by God. From the account of creation in Genesis 1-2, we see that Adam is created first, and Eve was created out of Adam to be his helper. If the woman is to be the man’s helper, then as men it would be up to us to take the lead in things. Of course, the account of creation really only deals with a partnership between Adam and Eve as a couple, but we would apply to this to ourselves today to say that if guys ever need to work with girls in any area (this most strongly applies to church, and weakly applies to the workplace), then the guys would take the lead and the girls would act as the helper.


This is of course where people start raising their eyebrows and how the Bible seems to communicate the idea that women should not lead. In fact, Paul even goes as far as to say that he doesn’t permit women to teach (in the church), and other places where wives should submit to their husbands. To the non-Christian this is of course very hard to understand and accept. It’s still a challenge for most Christians today. However there are passages that remind us that at the end of the day, guys and girls are “equal” in that we all share in the same inheritance as Christians (of heaven) and that God has made the two one in marriage.


To continue picking out the differences, one interesting thing to note was that in the account of the fall (Genesis 3), it is Eve who deceived Adam into taking the fruit, however, it is Adam who cops the blame from God. One wrong application of this is to not listen to women because they’re deceivers; we all joke and laugh about that but we all know that the Bible isn’t telling men to ignore their wives and such. Rather, because Adam takes the blame for Eve’s mistake, it makes Adam responsible for something Eve did wrong. In their partnership, it was then Adam who was responsible for their actions as a couple. As guys then, today as we take the “lead” in the things we do, we must also be prepared to take the responsibility for when things go wrong, even if we’re not the ones who committed the wrong.


A light example of this would be the guys taking the lead in organising something, like maybe transport for a social. And then when we delegate this task to the girls, it is us guys who are still responsible, and the girls would then be the ones “helping” with the organising. In our responsibility, if the girls fail to organise transport, us guys have no right to blame them for their failures; we don’t blame ourselves either in that sense but we take responsibility and ownership of what went wrong. Of course to ever prevent things from going wrong, it would probably be wise for the guys to occasionally check up on the girls and see they’re okay with their task, and to see if we need to help them (even though initially they’re the ones helping us).


Onto minor issues with leading, I guess we usually define “leading” as like upfront things such as MC-ing or anything that involves speaking to a large crowd for a formal and organised event. It’s not that girls cannot do this, but rather a guy should at least accompany the girl; this is why commonly for some TV shows, they are hosted by a guy and a girl. Even the news is conducted by a male and a female news anchor. In the church, this would be about the same. I don’t want to deal too much with the whole leading thing as there is quite a lot of debate over it, and there are many more issues to think about before we can establish some concrete framework of how to do things.


Towards the end of the seminar we dealt with what it means to be responsible; that is, we should be standing for what is right and godly, because that is how we are to serve and obey God and it is then up to the guys to make sure that they are following God most strictly as we encourage the people around us to do the same. An implication of this and the above is that it is up to the guys to help lead the girls into godliness, not that they can’t be godly by their own accords, but it is our responsibility to make sure that they are presented holy in God’s sight too, be it outside of a marriage context.


Today, as we relate to our sisters in Christ, we should treat them as sisters (and treat ones older than us as mothers), by showing them love and respect and desiring to help them grow in Christ. For me, this workshop was more a reminder that how I relate to people of the opposite gender is important too, and that I have a responsibility to look after my sisters in Christ as well, so I should watch my conduct such that it is one that will edify them to be more like Christ. If you know me personally, you would know that I don’t have much motive to step up and lead more at church or at CBS, I have way too many of these responsibilities at the moment in my life.



Evening Session

The Wednesday night talk was based on Romans 6:1-11. It was pretty much about how we try to define ourselves in various “worldly ways” such as being a university student and such. This naturally leads us to seeking being the best of whatever we defined ourselves to be and it’s quite true in that if we dare to define ourselves merely as university students, then we would aspire for intellectual success which later then turns into financial success in the job that results from our education. By defining ourselves this way, we not only give ourselves the wrong attitude in life but we also fail to see who we really are; this was the gist of tonight’s talk.


However, we are told to define ourselves through Jesus and what He has done for us. By seeing how Jesus, as the true human, was able to free us from the slavery of sin and from the punishment that we justly deserved, we see that we are now defined as humans through Jesus. It’s strange because this is an inescapable fact; you can’t really choose not to be defined through Jesus because according to what He has done for us, we are automatically linked to Jesus, regardless of whether we choose Him or not.


But being linked to Jesus like that is a very compelling thing, and Carl took us through Acts 2 (the account of Pentacost) to show how people responded to the gospel. I guess tonight’s talk wasn’t an especially awe-inspiring talk. I think most of us know that we have value in God’s eyes and what truly matters for us from a Christian perspective is whether or not we belong to Jesus, everything is pretty much nothing compared to that. But again seeing how Jesus ties into all of this just shows how important Jesus is to everything that we are as followers of Christ. It was good seeing again how Jesus is the centre of everything and being reminded of how great He is, and how blessed we are to be able to relate to Him.


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