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PCY Thoughts

Thinking on Elections

General election day will be May 9th, which is this coming Tuesday. Already, many British Columbians have participated in advanced voting. Still, there are many who are still undecided. Some lament the lack of credible choices. Others simply want change. Who should I vote for? Should I vote on the basis of party or personality? What if I dislike the leader of the party but prefer the candidate running in my riding? Should provincial concerns be more important than local neighbourhood matters? When push comes to shove, should I opt for policies over personality?

1) Person: There is no perfect candidate

No matter how we see it, every candidate is flawed in some way. Whichever party the person comes from is not going to change this basic fact at all. Some promises will be fulfilled while others would be broken. Expectations on how incumbents have performed will also vary from person to person. Continue reading “Thinking on Elections”

“Child or Christ”-Centered Parenting

Written by: Pastor Conrade
Date: Feb 6th, 2017

A friend of mine once told me his predicament. He moved to Vancouver when his kids were studying in Vancouver High Schools. After high school, they moved again to the East Coast because their kids started University studies there. After they graduated, they moved again. Where their children go, there the parents will be also. When will all these follow-the-children movements end? Surely life is much more than our children?

Times have changed. Unlike the past, where children usually follow their parents, many parents are now following their children. From schools to universities to job locations, some families literally move as one under the pretext of being together as one family. John Rosemond lamented about the shifting of parenting priorities compared to the culture back in 1972. At that time, his wife said:

We are not going to make this child the center of our lives. This child is going to adapt to us, not the other way around.” (John Rosemond, Family Psychologist)

I have seen quite a number of my peers, including Christians, whose lives revolve around their little ones. Even their marriages revolve around their children. I call this “Child-Centered Parenting.” In this article, I want to encourage Christian parents to aim toward Christ-centered parenting.

A) Child-Centered Parenting Continue reading ““Child or Christ”-Centered Parenting”

More Than a Merry Christmas

Image result for salvation army christmas kettle“Merry Christmas!” Says the man ringing the bell at the kettle stand. Having walked past different people at different times at the malls, I just smiled or nodded. Usually, I simply straddled past. It also got me thinking: Is there more to simply uttering a Merry Christmas wish?

It plucks my heartstrings with guilt. If I do not put any coins or bills into the kettle, am I less Christian? What if I simply say: “I am already trying to make ends meet. So why should I donate?” Such a guilt does not go away easily. Even if people decide to pop in a few coins, the stigma shifts from giving to the amount of giving.

What if I give only coins after the guy in front just inserted a few notes?

On and on it goes. The unbearable likeness of guilt and confusion. Is that kind of giving any virtuous? Guilt-propelled giving is a misunderstanding of what giving is really about. In fact, it is a selfish act. Selfish because one gives out of a desire to reduce one’s sense of shame. Selfish because one is more interested in pleasing people (including self) instead of pleasing God. Selfish because the giving is calculative rather than unassuming. Giving based on a Guilt-trip is not exactly the spirit of Christmas.

Continue reading “More Than a Merry Christmas”

A Moving Christmas Ad

Christmas is around the corner. For many people, it means lots of activities and the frantic rush to get the work in the office done, so that they can spend quality time with family. After all, in our culture, Christmas is a time for family and friends. Here is a really touching Christmas commercial that tugs at the heart of what being family means: Connecting in spite of language barriers. [Warning: There’s an expletive but don’t let it distract you.]

pcy

It’s Not Christmas Yet!

Since Black Friday, many stores have dressed themselves up with snowflakes, bright lights, and Christmas decorations. With real and artificial fir trees loaded with shiny balls, glittering ornaments, gift boxes below, and an unmistakable star on top, people are on a shopping mood. Roads leading to my neighbourhood shopping mall are already choking with congestion. It takes drivers double the time to find a parking slot and shopper triple the time to pay for their goods. The year-end Christmas shopping spree and madness has begun! Radio stations are also getting on board the Christmas wagon by playing carols and songs about Christmas. This includes Christian ones. Two days ago, I shudder when a popular Christian radio started playing: “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Michael Bublé. Oops!

Wait a minute. It’s not Christmas yet! It’s still the Advent.

1) Advent is both Looking Backward and Forward

Continue reading “It’s Not Christmas Yet!”

Five Post-Election Thoughts

TITLE: Five Post-Election Thoughts
Written by: PCY
Date: Nov 16th, 2016

1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. – (1 Tim 2:1-4)

[This article has also been posted on my blog SabbathWalk.]

For many people, the unthinkable happened. If Murphy was alive, he would have repeated with an i-told-you-so look: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” For nearly half the population of America today, it has indeed gone wrong when their candidate failed to garner the required number of electoral votes to win.

Donald TrumpOn January 20th, 2017, the controversial and straight-talk tycoon, Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States. In a result that took many people by surprise, it was the Democrat supporters, the widely leftist media and pollsters who had to flee with their tails between their legs. Even today, some are still scratching their heads wondering what happened. Others blamed it on the complacency of the Democratic establishment while some analysts said many Democrat supporters stayed home and did not vote. Those who could not accept the result took to the streets and protested the outcome. I watched the media and saw a 180-degree turnaround in their reporting. All their predictions were wrong. Instead of Clinton winning by a huge margin, it was Trump who took in the majority electoral votes. Instead of the former First Lady and experienced bureaucrat sweeping into power, it was a boisterous and shrewd reality-TV personality receiving the prize. News agencies and reporters continue to analyze the results and the reasons. Some blamed, others shamed. The truth is, many people continued to talk about what happened on Nov 8th, 2016 where America elects her new President. Some people might want some guidance with regard to this event. Let me then offer five post-election thoughts. Continue reading “Five Post-Election Thoughts”

Reformation Day! (Oct 31st)

Today (October 31st, 2016) marks the 499th year of the turning point in Church history. On October 31st, 1517, the monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses at the door of Wittenberg, essentially inviting the intellectual powers of that day to challenge him to a theological debate. An angry Martin Luther, having studied the Bible through and through, was utterly convinced that salvation cannot be tied to the sale of indulgences. At that time, indulgences were ways in which the Roman Church tried to bribe people into giving money to the Church in exchange for spiritual promises. He was particularly furious at the schemes of Johann Tetzel, who represented Rome in marketing the sale of indulgences. In fact, Tetzel even created a chime:

“When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs.”

reformation-day-serviceThough this had no biblical grounds, the common folks who had not read the bible for themselves were at their mercy. Under the authority of the Pope, people simply went along. Before bringing out the mallet, Luther had been studying and examining the Scriptures in their original language. Filled with conviction about God’s Word being wholly sufficient and authoritative, Luther would go on to construct the five pillars of the Reformation:

  1. Sola Scriptura – by Scripture alone;
    that the Bible alone is the sole and final authority for all matters of Christian faith
  2. Sola Fide – by Faith alone;
    that salvation is by faith alone, not works lest any man should boast.
  3. Sola Gratia – by Grace alone;
    that we receive the gift of salvation purely by the grace of God.
  4. Solus Christus – Christ alone;
    There is no other mediator other than Christ, for us to be reconciled with God.
  5. Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God alone.
    Our calling is to live and to uphold the glory of God alone.

This October 31st, 1517 event has such great significance for the Church of today. Not only has it spurred a vibrant offshoot called the Protestant movement, it has revived the Roman Catholic Church to take the Bible more seriously than before. It led to several inner reformations for the Roman Church such as:

  • The Council of Trent (1545-1563)
  • Vatican II (1959)

When the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) gathered in January 1959, they reiterated the significant place of the Bible. In the Dei Verbum (DV), or commonly known as the “Word of God,” the Roman Church declares the divine revelation of God in both the Old and the New Testament, and venerates the Word of God as divine Scriptures in the same way Jesus Christ has been venerated. This push toward a deeper love for the Scriptures is attributed in part to the great Oct 31st event.

It started a domino effect where one bold act of defiance triggered a whole list of reformed movements such as:

  • Lutheran Reformation in Germany
  • Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) and Reformation in Switzerland
  • Michael Sattler (1495-1527), Menno Simons (1496-1561) and the Anabaptists
  • John Calvin (1509-1564) in Geneva and the Five Points of Calvinism
  • King Henry VII (1534) and Anglicanism in England
  • John Knox (1513-1572) and Presbyterianism
  • Puritans

I thank God for the way Martin Luther was led to spearhead the dramatic event. Here are some of his famous quotes which should provide much food for thought.

  • “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
    A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”
  • “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”
  • “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”
  • “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
  • “Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we don not see.”
  • “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.”
  • “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
  • “Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart.”

His greatest hymn is none other than “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”

Thank you Martin Luther!

pcy

Can Christians Celebrate Halloween?

The signs are all there.

On the outside, with the Autumn winds and the changing colors of the foliage, October is the month where people brace themselves for the Winter cold. On the inside, you can see it at grocery stores all over the city. You can hear it being mentioned on TV commercials. You can also receive it in the flyers on our doorsteps. Even public schools get ready for this annual event: Halloween Fun!

The “Trick-or-Treat” question have commercial companies all heightened up for grand sales on both fronts. On the “trick” side, department stores and thrift shops stock up on frightening costumes, gory limbs, skeletons, witch dressings, complete with broomsticks and pumpkins. Not to be outdone, on the “treat” side, stores offer huge packets and gigantic boxes of candies, chocolates, and dental-unfriendly offerings. They are firmly there to make money out of an annual kids’ fun event. Hopping on the bandwagon are the entertainment players that range from opening up ‘haunted houses’ to some midnight rollercoaster rides at the nearby amusement parks. All for the price of fun.

For Christians, the key question asked is this: “Can Christians Celebrate Halloween?” This age-old question has been asked many times, answered many times, but still comes up every year. It is one of those questions that are actively asked simply because the event has been so widely promoted especially in North America. Let me give some guidance with regard to this. I offer three questions as a guide.

First, what exactly are we ‘celebrating?’ Continue reading “Can Christians Celebrate Halloween?”

The Younger Generation and Church

Derek Rishmawy gives us some insights on the challenges of younger people with regard to Church; how the culture of the world is such a big influence; and how in spite of the flaws of Church and Christian community, the Church is still the only community that God’s promises are attached to.

Take 6 minutes to watch and listen to this video clip.

The Church is where you find answers to those fears. The church is where you find true freedom, it’s not the freedom of unconstrained choice but the freedom to find yourself in others, and with others through the ties that bind…

Derek Rishmawy is a PhD student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

pcy

“If I Perish” – Reflections on Esther 4:16

Reflections on Esther 4:16
Date: Sep 30th, 2016
Written by: PCY

iiperishYears ago, I remember a book by the title of “If I Perish” written by a Korean Christian imprisoned in Japan during the brutal WWII era. Esther Ahn Kim (Korean name: E-Sook Ahn) wrote this book, detailing her six years of hardship and torture. It was a testimony of faith in God as she persistently held on to the promise in the Bible and constantly made reference to the Word of God in everything she said or did. Her faith was so vibrant and vivid that it touched not only fellow prisoners but the prison guards. Kim lived like she was ready to be a martyr for Christ anytime. She pledged to pursue God’s will whatever the cost may be. Miraculously, she was released but her witness continued. Such an attitude reflects the words of the biblical heroine, Esther. As it is written in Esther 4:16, Esther decided to act on the knowledge that her people would be annihilated if nothing was done. In doing so, she was putting her own life on the line.

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16

There are three amazing demonstrations of faith in this one verse alone.

First, she called on her people to fast. In turn, she too would fast together with her assistants. This is faith demonstrated on one’s knees.  Incredibly, she asked for a mass fasting event! In our day and age, food often bring people together. In contrast, Esther was calling for a fast that brings people together! The urgency of the request could be felt. In the Bible, the practice of fasting is closely associated with praying. In a book that does not have the names of God mentioned at all, this is one of the clearest evidence that the book is about God. What would they do when they fast? They could remember Esther and how to encourage her. They could come together to reflect on their plight. They could also do what they had been trained to do from young: Pray. Prayer and fasting are two intertwined rituals that Jews have been practicing through the ages. There is no fasting devoid of prayer. There is no deeper prayer without fasting. Though the passage does not specifically mention prayer, the implication is implicit.  Continue reading ““If I Perish” – Reflections on Esther 4:16″

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节)

mooncakeloveToday is Mid-Autumn Festival. It is also the night when the moon is supposed to be most bright and especially full. On this night, ethnic Chinese from all over the world would commemorate the event as “Moon Cake Festival” or more popularly called the “Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节).” In some places, it is also celebrated with lanterns, but purists would insist that the Mid-Autumn Festival is different from the Lantern festival. As many overseas Chinese become exposed to different cultures overseas, it is easy to confuse or to mix up all the various traditions. Nevertheless, when it comes to food, many people would be a lot more forgiving.

A) The Legends

mid-autumnMany legends and their variations surround the celebration of this festival. One of the most famous is the story of a beautiful damsel called “Chang E” who fell in love with an expert archer named “Hou Yi.” The story began with the Jade Emperor in heaven who had ten unruly sons. In their mischief, they transformed themselves into suns, scorched scorched the earth, destroyed the harvest, and made life unbearable for everyone on earth. The Jade Emperor authorized his chief archer, Hou Yi to take care of matters.

Continue reading “Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节)”

God is Always Close But Never Closed

Camp2016
Designed by Caroline

Last weekend (Aug 25th-28th, 2016), I spent time with a group of young people at an Annual Summer Camp over in Maple Ridge. It was held in a beautiful place called Loon Lake. The premises belong to the University of British Columbia Forestry division, called the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. We felt blessed by the people who had the foresight to design, to construct, and to build the beautiful cabins and the associated amenities that come with it. With a fully equipped kitchen to whip up meals for large groups, the whole place can accommodate up to 178 people. We live in the midst of an environment where wildlife is respected. On our way there, we saw a black bear cub on the side of the road scrambling to run away from our vehicle. Some people reported a cougar sighting about 3km from the site. The lake waters were pristine and clear. Several people swam the lake while others canoe and enjoy the natural waters. There were also hiking trails for people who prefer the land option.

CIMG1695
We are Up Close!

For me, it was an opportunity to connect with the young people. Somehow, the more I tried to connect, the more I become aware of my own limitations. Physically, I could not even do half of what many of the campers could do. While some went canoeing and hiking, my wife and I were content to just walk around the lake, to the docks, and to enjoy the sun and the shade. The average camper had known the others for many years.  I was a newbie. Yet, they graciously invited me to be their speaker. I was grateful for the opportunity to share about what it means to be “Up Close” with God and with one another. It was a time of eating, sharing, and on the last night, having fun with materials as simple as newspapers. I was amazed at how creative and knowledgeable the young people were about politics and current affairs. The highlight for me was definitely the Clinton vs Trump mock debates.

Continue reading “God is Always Close But Never Closed”

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