Bryan is still in the kitchen

It was a busy week as usual, trying to catch up with project deadlines and doing overtime. It actually got even more intense this week since the project manager are coming down to the Singapore office; meaning that we need to push for a demo to him. So, while I always said that I wanted to have some rest, I haven’t got any chance to have some. Haha…

So there I was, going home in Wednesday night, taking taxi since there wasn’t any bus going through my office after 8.15 pm (figure out yourself what time I went home, luckily it is covered). Now I was resting on the taxi and the driver played a very nice Chinese song. I enjoyed it so much I felt relaxed after a while. When the taxi passed near SPH, I started to realize that the tunes of the songs were… familiar.

Now, I am a twisted Chinese who don’t know any Mandarin, so it took me a while to realize it. I kind of heard the song somewhere, and I also found the “color” of the song to be very close to my ear. And then I heard the singer said ‘Yesu’. At that time I started to think that the songs I have been listening on were Christian songs. It picked my curiosity so I tried to listen to the song more carefully – and the more I hear the more I am convinced that it is Christian songs.

I mustered up courage to ask the driver about it, and it turns out that they were really Christian songs. I was really impressed with the driver when I find out; he was playing the songs to his passengers. And then he told me, something that made me even more impressed, he was a new convert. As his English was not good enough and he prefer to hear sermon and songs in mandarin, he found that Chinese songs are more suited to him. We actually shared some things on my way home. It was a blessed Wednesday, there are a lot of things to be thankful of that night and it made me smile.

The next day we had our demo, things went well, and it seems that the effort paid out. It’s not perfect, but at least I was relieved. So, that night I didn’t have any overtime work, and the team involved in the project went to East Coast to do barbeque with the product manager. They booked bbq pit #57, but when we alight at East Coast’s McDonald by a taxi driver ‘wise’ suggestion, we found out that we were off by… 34 pits and 3 sectors? Great – 40 minutes walk in the east coast prepares my stomach for what is coming. Haha.

Outside of that ‘incident’ it was quite an enjoyable bbq. There were 12 of us, and there were variety of nationality inside, Indonesians, French, Philippines, Indians, Chinese and Singaporeans. And throughout the discussion we actually tell the story behind our cultures, and why some uniqueness exists within each culture. It was great things to learn, and it was really insightful. Now I know why the PRC’s tend to speak in a unique style of English.

It was a mixed experience this whole week. Tired I may be, but I thank God that everything turns out well. It was his providence that really enables me. Thank you Lord!

Just a song I want to share =)

A little boy of thirteen was on his way to school
He heard a crowd of people laughing and he went to take a look
Thousands were listening to the stories of one man
He spoke with such wisdom, even the kids could understand

The hours passed so quickly, the day turned to night
Everyone was hungry but there was no food in sight
The boy looked in his lunchbox at the little that he had
He wasn't sure what good it'd do, there were thousands to be fed

I think you know what this is about. Even with the contextualization made inside the story. This was taken from Corinne May's song, "Five loaves and two fishes". I've been listening to her CDs lately (especially her Christmas album, 'The Gift'. Turn on music and air-con, it's early Christmas. Haha) and this is one song that catched my attention. Well, we know how things turns out but let's just go on with the song anyway =)
But he saw the twinkling eyes of Jesus
The kindness in His smile
And the boy cried out
With the trust of a child
He said: "Take my five loaves and two fishes
Do with it as you will
I surrender
Take my fears and my inhibitions
All my burdens, my ambitions
You can use it all to feed them all"
Well maybe that's not exactly what happened there in the feeding of the five thousands, but she made an interesting remarks in her lyrics though. It was the willingness of the boy to give what he had, no matter how inadequate it was, fully to the hand of Christ. I have to admit it that the song was touching. But more than just that, it told the story in a different point of view. I posted the story in Andrew's and Philip's point of view when I made the entry for "The twelve" before, and this is another point of view that I found pretty interesting.
I often think about that boy when I'm feeling small
And I worry that the work I do means nothing at all
But every single tear I cry is a diamond in His hands
And every door that slams in my face, I will offer up in prayer
So I'll give you every breath that I have
Oh Lord, you can work miracles
All that you need is my "Amen"
Now, I know that some of you might found the idea of creating a study based on a contemporary Christian song to be a little strange or hard to accept, but you can made the same interpretation when you study John 6 as well. And to some of you who knew how to do IBS (Inductive Bible Study), you should have crossed about this if you ever had done IBS on the passage =)

Anyway, there she was, sharing her thoughts when she read about the story, and how she relate the story to her life. And I think, it was the same to our lives as well. True, we may not be someone big or someone powerful or famous enough to do God's work in earth, to disciple all nations under the Lordship of Christ. But He calls us to do so anyway. He wants us to work with Him even though He always knew who we are. In fact, He usually calls common people, and to tell you the truth, no one is good enough to do His work. He just want us to do His will and surrender our life into His everlasting arms.

I read about a lot of people in the 2000 years history of Christianity lately, and I can only say no matter how small we are, no matter how weak we are, God can use us, and it is precious in His eyes. Even when you are only a student, a office worker, or in my case, a software engineer. =)
So take my five loaves and two fishes
Do with it as you willI surrender
Take my fears and my inhibitions
All my burdens, my ambitions
You can use it all
I hope it's not too small
(No gift is too small)

A prayer from a reformer

Been missing for a few weeks now from blogging, work and activities has been making me busy lately. Thank God for having been able to go through that with a healthy body though. Although, the coming weeks will be harder as well.. Please do pray for me.

I'm reading "Church History in Plain Language" by Bruce L. Shelley now. It was quite nice, as the title says, it's in simple English and quite exciting to be read. I'll give my review after finishing it.

But one thing that I want to share today is the prayer of the reformer, John Hus, when he was facing execution in the prison. In the midst of suffering and in the face of death, suffering and weakened, he still said this prayer, which have given me encouragement in those times of struggle.

O most holy Christ,
Draw me, weak as I am, after Thyself
For if Thou dost not draw us we cannot follow Thee.

Strengthen my spirit, that it may be willing
If the flesh is weak, let Thy grace preceeds us;
Come between and follow,
For without Thee we cannot go for Thy sake to cruel death

Give me a fearless heart,
A right faith,
A firm hope,
A perfect love,
That for Thy sake I may lay down my life
With patience and joy.


Two Videos

These two days I watched two videos that really made my day. One is the video of my friend who's contesting for PINDOL (NTUers.. do vote for them). The other is the video of remarkable figures of Indonesia, the sons and daughters of Nusantara, singing Ismail Marzuki's classic song (credit to Alison for showing this video in his wall). I put the two of them in this post. Hope you will enjoy them =)

The Twelve Apostle

It takes me some time to finish this small project of blogging about the twelve original apostles of Jesus. I would say that throughout my readings I learned a lot of things. But the most remarkable words is that no matter who we are and how ordinary we are, God is the God who can change our life and enables us to do what he calls us to do. Our lives matters in the eye of the Lord, and he is willing to use us, no matter how weak or how imperfect we are.

Personally, I often find myself forgetting about this quite a number of times. I worried a lot about performing badly and felt unworthy of doing His calling into my life. But I thank God that He used friends to remind me that it was not me who is doing the works, it is Him, and for whomsoever He calls, He will give the power to enables them to do so. Seeing the life of the apostles reminds me of who I am, but more importantly, it reminds me of who God is.

So.. Just to give you the so-called homepage for the series of post about the twelve apostle, I made this post. I would like to give the credit of the post to Mr. John MacArthur though, since the content of the posts was taken largely from his books "Twelve Ordinary Men" (you can get it for S$15.90 at SKS. This post serves as a book review as well. LOL). Other source was taken from my notes of my church series of sermon two years ago about the apostles, and of course the Bible.

I would like to close the series with a sentence taken from the letter of an apostle who is not inside the twelve:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9, NIV)

List of posts on the twelve apostles
  1. Simon Peter (click here)
  2. Andrew and James son of Zebedee (click here)
  3. John son of Zebedee (click here)
  4. Philip and Nathanael (click here)
  5. Matthew and Thomas (click here)
  6. James the Less, Simon the Zealot, Judas Thaddeus (click here)
  7. Judas Iscariot (click here)

Let there be light!

The Twelve: Judas Iscariot

We’ve come to the last apostle chosen by Jesus: Judas Iscariot. I have been unable to write since I was sick this week; but after sleeping my whole day off I don’t have anything to do other than writing this and read books. Perfect for me. 

He is the most notorious and universally scorned apostle. He is always mentioned last in every account of Gospel, and every record of him in the Gospel includes a notation of him being a traitor. Simply put, he is the most colossal failure in all of human history. He committed the most horrible, heinous act of any individual, ever. He betrayed the perfect, sinless, holy Son of God for a handful of money. He spent three years with Christ, yet his heart always grows hard and hateful. 

The other eleven apostles are all great encouragement for us since they exemplify how common people with typical failings can be used by God in uncommon, remarkable ways. Judas, however, stands as a warning about the evil potential in our heart. The New Testament tells us plenty about Judas; summarized into two points: (1) his life reminds us that it is possible to be near Christ and yet became utterly hardened in sin and (2) no matter what treachery he or she attempt against God, the purpose of God cannot be thwarted. 

Who he was

His name meant “Jehovah leads”, a name which will always be remembered as the synonym of treachery. His surname, Iscariot, signifies the region he came from: “man of Kerioth”, a small town south of Judea. Apparently, he was the only apostle who did not come from Galilee. The Galilean disciple unfamiliarity with Judas would have aided him in his deception, no one knows who he was, and it would be easy to play the hypocrite. He was able to became the treasurer of the group and pilfer their money. 

His calling into discipleship was not recorded in any of the Gospel accounts, but it is obvious that he joined willingly, eager to see the Messianic prophecy fulfilled. He obviously left behind all he have and followed Jesus. He even stayed behind when most of the less-devoted disciple left Jesus. He had given his life to follow Jesus, but he never gave Jesus his heart. 

It seems that Judas has the same hope with most of the Jewish community: that the Messiah would defeat the oppressors and restore the kingdom to Israel. However, his motivation was more political than spiritual. He is interested with the things he could get from being his disciple, hoping to get wealth, power and prestige. He chose to follow Jesus, and Jesus also chose him. His role of betrayal was ordained before the foundation of the world; even prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus knew that he will betray Him, and he knowingly chose him to fulfill the plan. 

Having said that however, Judas was not coerced into doing what he did. No invisible hand forced him to betray Christ. He acted freely and without external compulsion, responsible for his own actions. There is no contradiction between being prophesied to betray and betraying out of his choice. It just perfectly concurred. 

He had the same potential as the other disciples; the difference is that he was never drawn to the Person of Christ. He only saw him as a means to an end. His goal was personal prosperity; he never embraced His teaching by faith. He never had an ounce of true love for Christ. His heart had never been changed, and the light of the truth only hardens him. 

Meanwhile, he was becoming progressively more disillusioned with Christ. It was no doubt that at the start all apostles thought of the Jewish Messiah as an oriental monarch who would defeat the enemies of Judea and reestablish the Davidic kingdom. Jesus was the obvious fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. But Jesus did not always their personal expectations and ambitions (and He did that to us too). The apostles left everything they have behind, but with an expectation of getting their reward. He did tell them that they will have their rewards, but not in the immediate time nor in the material reward. If they expect that kind of rewards, than they will be disappointed. 

The eleven apostles catch who Jesus really was, albeit slowly, and their expectation and understanding was changed; they gladly became the partakers of Christ’s work in Earth. Judas, meanwhile, became disillusioned. He hid his disappointment within the blanket of hypocrisy, corrupting the money of the group in the meantime. His worldliness in his heart was never conquered, and he remained as an outsider secretly. As early as John 6 we can see Jesus call Judas as ‘evil’. He was starting to get disillusioned. By the time of Jesus last Passover, his spiritual disenfranchisement was complete, it turned to hate, mixed with greed that finally turned into treachery. He probably was convinced that Jesus had stolen his life; he thought that Jesus had robbed three years of money-making potentials. 

Avarice, Hypocrisy and Betrayal 

Let us turn back to the raising of Lazarus. Shortly after this story, Jesus and the apostles returned to Bethany, had a feast there alongside with Lazarus, Martha and Mary in the house of Simon the Leper. And there it happened, Mary took a pound of a very costly oil of spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiped it with her hair and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. This act was shocking in its extravagance, as it was not only an overt act of worship, but also because that it has an appearance of wastefulness.

Perfume, even at this time, was designed to be used in a small amount. To pour such an expensive perfume at one time was unthinkable. Judas then protested: Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? 

Three hundred denarii. Three hundred days of work. Imagine you work for S$2800 a month for a year – that’s how expensive the perfume was. And it was poured all at once. 

His response was a clever ploy. He hid behind the names of the poor, and it seems that it was reasonable in the minds of the other apostles as well. He was an expert in hypocrisy. But the true reason behind it was so that he can steal the money for himself. No one sees his true reason, no one except Jesus. But he did not blast Judas with condemnation nor did he expose his true intention in front of the other apostles. He just gave him a mild rebuke. However, it seems that this event broke the last straw inside Judas, because right after that he made an arrangement with the priest to sell him for thirty piece of silver – that was all he can get, a price for a slave set in Exodus. 

Our Lord has been anointed with such overwhelming love by Mary but at the same time He was betrayed with an overwhelming hate by Judas. This apparently was the first time Judas exposed himself and it was the first time he received a direct rebuke from Christ. He blended with the other disciple cleverly, he stored all his bitterness thus far, and it was poured in secret treachery. 

Having collected the money from the chief priest he went to the upper room. He received Jesus’ teaching of humility by washing of feet, unmoved. As Jesus said that they were completely clean, but not all of them are clean, and said that one of them will betray Him, he could join with the other apostles in asking Him: “Lord, is it I?” We know what happened afterwards. Jesus dipped bread, gave it to Judas and told him this: “What you do, do quickly.” Even with this expression the other apostles did not realize that Judas was the betrayer. That was the extent of his hypocrisy. 

Only after Judas left the upper room did the Lord institute the Lord’s Supper. To this day, when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we were instructed to examine ourselves lest we come hypocritically and bring judgment to ourselves. 

He went straight to the Sanhedrin, gave them the way to get to Jesus secretly and let loose the event that lead to Jesus’ crucifixion. This however, was not an impulsive act or an act in the moment of insanity. This act was premeditated and planned carefully, and he has taken his payment for it. He waited to betray them in absence of the multitude. He was a coward, and we know what happened afterwards. 

Jesus was still gracious to him even at the time of Judas’ betrayal. He still addressed him as ‘friend’. He had never been anything but friendly to Judas, but Judas was no true friend of Jesus. Judas profaned the Passover that night. He profaned the Lamb of God. He profaned the Son of God. He betrayed the Lord with a kiss. 

The Death of the Betrayer 

Immediately after he gave Jesus to the chief priest, he was disturbed by his conscience. He found himself in the hell of his own making. It was not because of his guilt caused by his sin, but simply because he did not find the satisfaction he expected. He even gave back the money he received, but nothing can undo what he had done. He threw the thirty coins of silver, and hanged himself afterwards. 

He was such a tragic figure that his death was not even in the way that he wanted. Apparently, he fell after he died of hanging into a rock and burst open. His life and death were filled with grotesque tragedies. 

Judas is a tragic example of lost opportunities. He heard the Lord’s teaching and he had all the opportunity to ask the Lord about his questions directly. Christ had given him all the opportunity to do so, yet in the end Judas was condemned because of his own failure. 

Judas is the epitome of wasted privilege. He was given the highest place of privilege among all the disciples; and he squandered it for a fistful of coins that he throws in the end. He is the classic illustration of how the love of money is root of all kinds of evil. 

Judas exemplifies the ugliness and danger of spiritual betrayal, but he is also the proof of the patient forbearing goodness and loving kindness of Christ. The sovereign will of God cannot be thwarted by any means. 

After his death, his office was filled by Matthias. Nothing is known of Matthias other than that he was a disciple from the time of Jesus’ baptism by John. Another perfectly ordinary man was chosen.

The Case for Faith and Creator

Book Title: The Case for Faith & The Case for a Creator
Author: Lee Strobel
Genre: Apologetics/Journalism
Price: S$ 9.50 each in SKS Bookstore

Last time I wrote a review on Strobel's first book on his investigation about the evidence surrounding Jesus claims and historical background which lead him to believe in Christ (you can read the review here). Apparently he wrote some other books discussing about different topics with regards to skeptics' claim against Christianity. I just put two titles in the same post here since i am lazy feel that the review on the two would be more or less similar.

The first book discussed about Christian faith, and the difficulties experienced by some people to be able to have faith in Christ. He discussed about 'The Big Eight' questions that always nag people's mind, Christian and non-Christian alike. I have to say that some of these questions have been bugging me at one time or another. Questions like the suffering of men, existence of hell and the controversial event closely related with Christianity is discussed in the book to provide the reader with a simple explanation.

The second book discussed about the existence of the Creator, answering the argument of infinitely old earth and evolution, investigating the phenomenon that is happening around us and marveling on how improbable the world is if it is just about a matter of chances. Lee Strobel interviewed both scientist and theologians alike to find out that science and God does not contradict each other.

Personally, I think that the topic discussed in The Case for Faith was more doctrinal, while the topic discussed in The Case for a Creator was more scientific. Nevertheless, like The Case for Christ it was written and explained in such an easy way that I didn't have much difficulty in understanding about it.

I would like to suggest anyone to read these books, but i need to give my remarks that the argument here will not be final in the sense that it will give the answer to all our questions. The critics of Strobel's books said that he didn't interview the skeptics to give their rebuttal to the theologians, and I would say that it would be interesting to read if he does that. But even with all its imperfection, I do think that these books will give the reader something to think about and insights about who God is, and what Christianity is all about.

Perhaps, the most impressive story that I read comes in The Case of Faith. Strobel interviewed the late evangelist-turned-agnostics Charles Templeton and did an interview about what he think about faith in the introduction, followed by the story in the closing remarks. I found it.. intriguing. Why so? Well guys and girls, read for yourself! =P


There was a time when I lost my desire to write and to share. There was a time when I didn't see the point of doing a blog to express my thought. I am who I am though, inconsistent as I am in doing this blog, but I do want to share and I do long to write. Today I'm giving it another go. Fingers crossed. But I still wish that "Let there be light" is the message that I convey.
  • January 1st 2012, Kristo