The Silver Bullet

The “silver bullet” is a term we assign to a “one-size-fits-all” strategy for the things we do in our lives. Typically, we lump similar tasks and actions together and we train ourselves to treat them all like the same thing – to do them with the same approach, method, or mentality and hope to reap the same rewards from each of those tasks. The main benefit we see from living our lives with a “silver bullet” mentality is that it allows us to get more things done in life. We can be more efficient in saving time, energy and money (all valuable resources) by recycling our methods and strategies for multiple things. As a simple example, parents can feed their two children two different dishes for lunch, or they could adopt a “silver bullet” mentality and cook the same thing for both their children. We hear our parents complain about this all the time, that it’s much less time consuming to cook one thing (but make twice the amount) than to cook two different things; not to mention that it may be cheaper to cook in bulk rather than in small quantities. But what does the Bible have to say about this sort of mentality, and how are Christians meant to use or not use this “one size fits all” strategy?

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Putting Rudd into Context

In light of our Prime Minister’s recent words regarding his position on the Bible, many issues that have been in heated debate over the course of this year still continue to be in debate; and it would probably be a good idea to put Rudd’s statements in the context of the bigger picture. His words on the ABC program “Q&A” (or QandA) has shocked both Christians and non-Christians for different reasons and brings forth mixed feelings and reactions. On one hand you would have Christians (such as myself) appalled at the Prime Minister’s poor handling of Scripture, and on the other hand you would have non-Christians give a round of applause in approval of his adaptation of the Bible into modern society.

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Feelings and Convictions

Our actions are influenced by a variety of things around us. If we try to trace back where our actions come from, we would first say that our “decisions” influence our actions – we choose to actively perform that particular action, and we also decide our action is “right” or “wrong”. But where do the decisions for our actions come from? I would like the investigate just two sources which loosely covers where all our decisions and actions come from – our minds and our hearts. When we think of our minds and our hearts together, some of us might instantly think of the notion that what we think and what we feel are opposed to one another; a battle of logic against emotions that rages within us. As Christians, though we already have been saved through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, we still need to pay careful attention to the way we live. And if indeed we go by the classic idea that our convictions and our feelings are opposed to each other, then we need to figure out how we’re going choose the right thing to do.

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Back to Basics

A lot of us as Christians understand the need to “grow” as a Christian. From when we first repent and turn to the Lord Jesus, up to and beyond the times we go into ministry and start serving and bringing others to Christ, we always need to strive to become more Christ-like. Some of the things we do in the process of “growing” as a Christian includes: reading and understanding the Bible, practising godliness, and earning skills needed to serve and train others. Undoubtedly, there will come a time when we feel we cannot grow anymore, or that it feels like we are growing much slower than we used to when we were younger in our faith. What happened?

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The Rationale on Charisma (Part 1)

This is my current take on what I think of the “Charismatic Christian” movement. Because it is such a sensitive topic, I have been trying to avoid the subject until I felt like I had gathered and researched enough of the underlying information out there before making a call. However, there seems to be more and more charismatic Christians out there, and due to my where I stand as a Christian (in terms of my statement of faith – which I haven’t really properly written up) I find it as something that desperately needs to be addressed. Let me say in short that I am very strongly opposed to “charismatics” because it seems to pervert what a relationship with Jesus is all about; but let me spend the rest of this post qualifying what I mean by “charismatics” and why it doesn’t exhibit what a Christian’s relationship with Jesus should be about.

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Mid-Year Conference 2012–Monday

Strangely I kept waking up throughout Sunday night; not sure why but it also didn’t impact me that much. One of my roommates sometimes snores a bit, he shall be purged from this world later this week if it persists. No, I’m just kidding; but I am a very light sleeper, which is why I opted for an ensuite as opposed to a dorm room (three people versus either in a room) – leads to a lower chance of having snorers and other distractions throughout the night.

 

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Today was a pretty fun day, waking up to get ready for the car and bus-loads of students coming to camp, welcoming them and helping them get up to speed with the pace of the conference. In short, it again was very daunting seeing the number of Commerce students in total. The numbers went up a bit this year to over 140, which is really crazy and hectic. I remember being in our faculty common room as the only 4th year, along with two of our MTSers, and we had to somehow control over 100 younger students, definitely not an easy feat. But likely everyone is mature and they all fell in line soon after being given an order. I don’t think there’s much to say about numbers that I didn’t already mention in last year’s posts. I suppose there were so many of them that I didn’t know this time round, mostly students that were at least two years younger than me. And yeah this is one of those opportunities to meet as many new people as possible. Although I would hope to speak fairly and say that it isn’t as big a deal for our grade anymore considering that we’ll be gone in the next six months and won’t really be able to actively take part in helping the younger students grow spiritually in uni. Yes, the fact that looms over us is that we’ll be expendable really soon since we’re about to graduate.

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Mid-Year Conference 2012–Sunday

And so begins my last year’s experience at UNSW’s MYC before I graduate. The major difference so far that I can speak about is that my week begins on a Sunday, as opposed to the standard Monday as in the previous three years. Pre-MYC is a small “event” that takes place on the day before the week of MYC, simply as an extra day for those who come to prepare themselves for the week ahead, and for them to plan how to serve the rest of the faculty and campus; this includes things such as preparing the folders of material to give out the next day (that is, tomorrow) and to help with decorations and organising how to usher people to park their cars and direct them where they need to go.

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16. Regret

Surely the feeling of regret is one that most of us are very familiar with, although we may not always be talking about it. Generally, we feel some sort of grief or sorrow at the way a particular incident plays out, based on a decision that we made to influence it, or an action that we undertook. I reckon we all feel some sort of regret for nearly any situation we face in life, it’s just that we might not always feel the same “amount” of regret for each situation.

 

Let me share a now light-hearted story of regret from my high school days. Back in year 10, I was one of those typical guys who wasn’t good with BGR (boy-girl relationships) and had a sudden urge to find a date for the year 10, since it was the first such event most of us would’ve encountered in high school. Anyhow, so there was that girl I wanted to ask out, and then there were my friends, who wanted to know who I wanted to ask out. One day I had succumbed to peer pressure and decided to tell one of my closer friends who I wanted to ask out; I thought that if I had to tell someone, it would be that friend. And my hopes were that he’d keep my secret, as friends should. I told him at the start of lunch time that day; and within the span of 30 minutes before lunch ended, the rest of my friendship group knew, along with others who had overheard. Obviously there was no need to wonder how they all found out. Clearly my friend had betrayed my trust.

 

And so I felt a fair amount of regret at having told my friend what he had so deviously pestered me about. At the time I suppose it felt like I was in a really dangerous situation. In hindsight today it feels like a very comical situation. So the regret I feel about that situation today is actually far less than the regret I felt at the time. Either way, there was some sort of regret due to my decision to place my trust in him.

 

The one thing that can be noted from any situation where we feel regret is that there’s nothing we can do to change what has happened. Once you realize something is wrong, there’s no going back and undo-ing your “mistake”; there is no way to change the situation such that you won’t have to feel that regret. But that’s okay. I feel regret is never about contemplating “how” you could’ve changed the situation (it’s quite pointless; we can’t go back in time). However, feeling regret is a stimulus for us to think of what we can do “in response” to the bad consequence. Sometimes, broken things can be repaired. For my situation, I simply chose not to ever ask that girl to the formal. Like sure, I didn’t get my way exactly, but I at least managed to avoid any sort of future pressure from confirming the “rumour”. And consequently I now don’t tell my friend anything personal in regards to BGR. Problem mitigated, not solved.

 

There are some very simple patterns that we observe in life that confirm this. When we make a mistake, we feel regret over it, and then we work hard to not make that same mistake again because we know it’ll make us feel bad. I suppose this generally applies more for the common mistakes we make everyday, and also the ones where we don’t feel too much regret. For the more serious incidents such as making a decision that resulted in someone getting hurt in some way (I’d rather not name any specific incidents), we work towards not making that mistake again and we also work towards trying to help the other person recover from the hurt that our decision “caused”. And by that, I don’t think the phrase “no regrets” holds true, because nothing that happens, happens perfectly in the way we want it to. Have a think about it next time something good happen; did anything happen (even the slightest) which was bad?

 

One other thing I want to deal with in regards to regret is that I think it’s something that gives us strength in something we have to move forward in, but cannot avoid. I would not hesitate to say that in important things to me such as my ministry at church and all, I have felt much regret (made up of many events, each feeling a small amount of regret). And when I say regret I’m not thinking: “Oh, I wish I never did it at all.” My thoughts are more like: “I feel sad because bad things happened along the way.” But despite recognising the bad things (for me) that have resulted from the way I’ve done ministry all these years, I’m still resolved to continue forward in the things I do for church, knowing that there is more good to be gained than bad. We may always choose to run from the things we feel regret about because we want to avoid that feeling; but regret is our strength when we choose to push onwards despite such negative feelings. For something that we know is good at the end of the day, regret helps us persevere in that good task because we choose not be deterred by all the bad things which may result.

 

Genesis 6

We don’t see the word “regret” in the Bible much (depending on the translation we read). I don’t do Greek but I suppose if we cross-referenced the Bible for all accounts of the word “regret”, we’d also have to look for synonyms such as “grief”, “sorrow” and other words. One verse I found recently from Genesis 6 goes like this:

 

When the LORD saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the LORD said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” – Genesis 6:5-7 (HCSB)

 

Funnily we always missed this passage in our NIV Bibles because the word used in those verses is “grieved”, which I suppose carries enough of the same feeling.

 

It should come as no surprise to us that God himself can feel regret. After all, we, who are made in His image can feel regret. Then surely the one who created us can feel the same thing. In this passage of the Bible, God is feeling regret that he created mankind because of how nearly everyone in the world was wicked and that evil had pretty much consumed the world.

 

What does God do? He could’ve turned back time and un-did everything such that mankind would not result in all this evil (we might not be able to time travel, but God surely can). But God doesn’t do that. Instead He moves forward and chooses the harsh option of destroying the whole world with a flood. Yes that does sound quite drastic; God seems to be overreacting at what the world became. Surely we see a lot of evil today as well, but perhaps none of us would think of wanting to destroy the whole world because of that. Has God lost His mind?

 

Or perhaps, His decision to destroy the world highlights just how horrible sin is to Him (even if we may not feel the same way towards sin). His way of wanting to “cleanse” the world of evil makes a lot more sense if we understand His perspective on sin. An example: Suppose you have a bucket of dirty water, how would you make it clean? Aside from trying to use chemical reactions to remove all the dirt and substances from the water, the simplest solution is simply to pour out that bucket of water, and get some more (hoping that the next bucket of water will be clean). I suppose that’s what God did. It’s not easy to understand why God chose to rid the world of evil in the way He chose, but if we did a similar thing with a bucket of water, who are we to judge God?

 

My point from this passage is simply to show that God feels regret too; surely we can relate to Him and learn from the way He dealt with regret. He took steps to fix the problem; but even more so, the problem He was so eager to fix (that He would go to such desperate measures) is that of sin.

 

For all of us, we may simply feel regret about small incidents here and there. Sometimes, we may feel regret at the way we’ve lived our whole lives. But I think that regardless of how long, or how great our regret is, the problem at the core of all that is sin – our desire to turn away from God and to live our lives the way we want to, making decisions on what we believe is the right way to live, on what is fair and not fair for us and the people around us; simply being our own God.

 

Feeling regret for sin is a good thing; first and foremost because you recognise that it is bad. But more so, in order to correctly respond to that regret, we need to change the way we live and move forward, away from that sin. And doing so means coming to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and accepting Him as your lord and saviour. My purpose here is not to give a reason “why” it should be done or why it’s this way (perhaps I’ve done a bit of that elsewhere), but I wanted to show how the idea of “regret” fits into the Christian message of salvation.

 

Lastly I want to share this verse:

 

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10

 

If we ever feel regret about the things we do in life, the proper regret we should feel (here it’s being described as “godly”) should be one that motivates us to want to change, by repenting and turning to Jesus. Read the verse carefully here, our decision to turn to Jesus is the thing that leaves no regret. Turning to Jesus will be by far the best decision anyone can make in their life, in that nothing bad will result of it – we are all destined to receive eternal life as a result. As a bit of a technicality issue, I don’t think Christian suffering is something that can be linked to our decision to come to Jesus, because technically suffering is common for both Christians and non-Christians. The worldly sorrow mentioned here I reckon is one where we try to live our lives better through our own sheer effort, and not relying on Jesus to sanctify us; yes, that will lead to death for we will never be able to become perfect by ourselves.

 

So if you do find yourself feeling a lot of regret in your life, may I suggest giving your life to Jesus? You certainly won’t regret that.

Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Friday

So for once on the last night of MYC, I managed to rack up 3-4 hours of sleep as opposed to 0 hours. Still, the dawn of the last day pretty much meant that camp was coming to an end, and we would soon no longer have all that time to sit together with other Christians, to have fellowship and to study God’s Word. Which is probably why over the years we’ve managed to see that the time spent at MYC is precious and needs to be used in a manner that reflects how rare the opportunity is. Just like all the speakers say, you really don’t get a daily chance to study God’s Word so in depth outside of MYC.

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Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Thursday

It’s funny how by the fourth day, you seem to not think about the rest of camp that lies ahead, but start to reflect on how much has gone by in the last three days. And to put things into perspective, the start of Thursday makes me think about how there’s only one more night left to enjoy the fellowship with everyone, one more night that have fun and to catch up people we weren’t able to chat with since the last three days; because Friday would pretty much be the end of MYC (and everyone goes *sadface* over that of course).

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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.

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