Thursday, February 12, 2009

Marriage and Walls

12 Feb 2009

Dear Prayer Partners,

1. Thank you for praying for us. Past few weeks have been hectic as I was preparing my notes. I would be leaving this weekend to Klang Valley for 2 weeks to teach in the seminary there.

2. Pray for me as I will be lecturing 2 courses, the books of Ezra-Nehemiah and Premarital Counseling. Pray that the pastors and church leaders will be better equipped for ministry and leading their churches after completing the course.

3. During the weekends, I will be preaching in several congregations. Pray that the HS will minister to the hearers and stir their hearts to live passionately for the Savior, especially during this time of economic slowdown and political uncertainty.

4. Pray for me to have wisdom and strength as I continue to disciple the different individuals that God has entrusted. There is a growing number of them but I have not been able to follow through with some of them.

5. Further, I need greater discernment to select those that will choose to seek the kingdom of God first in their lives, especially those who desire to enter into full-time ministry. I sense that I have not raised enough leaders into the full-time ministry for the past few years. I may need to prune some of my ministry involvements to be more strategic.

6. Pray for me to have more financial supporters during this time of economic downturn. Some have been badly affected. I continue to trust the Lord our Great Provider so that I can minister freely to all.

7. Thank you for your continual prayer covering for Jessie and Anastasia. Jessie has been extremely buzy with work after her PhD studies, and now buzy taking care of Ana (who is 3 years, 2 months old now). I have been exhibiting the absent dad syndrome.

8. I hope to take a short break next year, 2010, to spend more time with them as well as to start writing my doctoral thesis, which I have delayed! Prayerfully, I can finish by end-2011.

And in case no one has wished you, let me wish you a Jubilant Valentine’s Day! May you fall in love with the Savior, who demonstrated the Greatest Love in the Whole universe!

Character is something that is built and proven over time. And the way we develop character in our lives is by consistently making choices to follow God's way--not our own way--each and every day.

P/S: You can contact me through several ways :

facebook : Acra Zee

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Everyone is my teacher because everyone knows something I don’t know!

21 Ways to Prepare for the Ministry
Dr. Ray Pritchard
Keep Belieiving Ministries

Twice in the last week I have been asked what advice I would give to a young person preparing to go into the ministry. The question is so broad that it defies an easy answer.

But when you are asked the same question twice in the span of a few days, that does make you pay closer attention. So here are my thoughts, arranged in no particular order, to the question, “What advice would I give to a young person preparing for the ministry?"

1. Read widely.

In the years ahead we will need well-educated young men and women. So read widely, read from the bestseller list, read people you don’t agree with. It’s not a good sign if you’ve read 700 books and all of them support what you already believe.

2. Learn to speak well and write well.

All things being equal, the people who can speak with confidence and who can write clearly will rise to the top in any field. Take a few speech classes, join Toastmasters, take every speaking opportunity you can get until you feel at home on your feet. As for writing, technology gives this generation a huge advantage. My parents were raised on manual typewriters, I started with an IBM Selectric. The advent of the personal computer means that no one has an excuse for not writing well. Keep a blog. Write out your sermons in full.

3. Find out what you can do well.

This takes about ten years–or maybe a little longer. In the beginning, you naturally think you can do everything. You can’t. You’ll learn that the hard way. Find out what you do that God blesses–and keep on doing it.

4. Decide now to be flexible later.

Don’t get stuck in the trap of thinking that you have to be a pastor or a teacher or a missionary forever. We’re past the day when people stay in the same position for a lifetime. Your only call is to serve the Lord in whatever way he chooses to use you and wherever he wants to put you. Flexibility is a great blessing and inflexibility tends to be a career-ender. So stay loose.

5. Ask the Lord to put you in over your head.

He’ll probably do it anyway, but it’s more fun if you ask in advance. If you are so cool and so well-prepared and so competent that you can do it all, why do you need God? It’s a good thing to be thrown in the deep end where you don’t know what you’re doing and if God doesn’t help you, you’re sunk. That’s when you learn how to pray.

6. Beware of envy.

It’s a big time-waster. In the great game of life, we’re all constantly being compared to everyone else around us. We’re all being measured, quantified, and examined to see how well we’re doing versus those around us. And there is nothing we can do about it. Envy tends to be the sin of moderately successful people. Pray to be delivered from it because it destroys your joy and makes you a miserable person to be around.

7. Learn to do a few things well and the rest just okay.

In the beginning you won’t be able to specialize so learn how to do it all. In my first church I folded the bulletins, printed them, opened the church, led the singing and preached. But I started my writing by doing a weekly column on the back of the bulletin and continued for 27 years. Do whatever needs to be done–and then learn to do a few things well.

8. Travel.

In earlier generations travel was expensive and difficult. Today it’s no big deal to go online, book a ticket, and fly to Spain or China or Kenya or Chile. Tom Friedman is right. The world is flat, and the future belongs to those who have multicultural experience. So take a semester and study abroad. Build an orphanage in Ecuador. Go to Russia and see the Hermitage. Ride a train through Europe. Spend a few months on a Mercy Ship. Put down the remote, stop playing video games, hop on a plane, and go see the world. It will give you new vision for the global cause of Christ.

9. Serve the Lord now.

We used to say, “If you aren’t winning souls now, what makes you think you’ll win souls when you go to Thailand?” It’s a good point. One way to get ready for the ministry is to serve in small ways now. Teach Sunday School, sing in the choir, visit the sick, help in the kitchen, play the piano, be an usher, clean the altar, mow the grass, take Evangelism Explosion, type the bulletin, clean the church offices, speak at the nursing home, do whatever needs to be done. A record of faithfulness in small things matters more than great potential never used.

10. Get a good education.

This probably matters more than it did 100 years ago. One year isn’t enough. Two years probably isn’t enough. Get a college degree if you can. Go to seminary if you have the desire. Billy Graham has said that he regrets not having done more ministry preparation. You’ll never regret the time spent getting the tools necessary to be effective. Can’t wait? Take online courses while you serve the Lord somewhere.

11. Stay involved in your local church.

What I mean is, don’t think that you can ditch the church and be successful in the ministry. You can’t. We’re all in this together. So have a church, be part of a church, stay close to your church. And don’t criticize your own church while preparing for the ministry. You need the accountability of other believers to help you grow spiritually. And they need your contributions. If no one else around you supports your desire to go into the ministry, maybe you should think about a career in auto repair. Generally speaking, God’s call comes through the church, not apart from the church.

12. Get some real-world experience if you can.

You’ll have more credibility with people if you’ve had a “real job” somewhere along the line. Work at a bank, be an assistant coach, serve in the military, teach for a few years, work in an office, run a restaurant, start a business, learn how to handle money and people and all the problems that people routinely face in the business world. There is nothing like hiring and firing and balancing a budget (and maybe being laid off yourself) to give you empathy and believability in your ministry.

13. Don’t be too picky early on.

Sometimes young people try to “game plan” their ministry career (an oxymoron, by the way) too carefully. Few of us spend our lifetime in the same place doing the same thing. There really isn’t any rule for what the first step should be. Small church? Large church? Rural? Suburban? Big city? Staff or senior pastor? Internship? I just shrugged my shoulders because who knows what you should do. I’m not saying, “Go through the first open door,” only that you shouldn’t try to figure out where you’ll be in 20 years. Only God knows that–and he’s not telling in advance. But don’t say no because it doesn’t advance your career. Take the opportunity that seems right at the time and leave the future in God’s hands.

14. If you ever stop learning, you’re finished.

Keep growing, keep reading, keep your eyes open, keep stretching, keep learning. Very few twenty-year-olds know what they’re doing. Come to think of it, very few fifty-six-year-olds do either. Your seminary degree probably opens a few doors, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Keep growing!

15. Get out of debt if you can.

These days it’s possible to accumulate $30,000-$60,000 in debt by the time you graduate from college. You could double that when you add in three or four years of seminary. You owe it to yourself and to the ministries you serve not to start with a heavy load of debt hanging over your head. That may mean taking fewer classes each semester and spending a couple of extra years in school so you can pay as you go, or it may mean working somewhere for a year or two after your training to get your debt down to manageable levels. Given the current economic climate, this will become a more important issue.

16. Look for mentors along the way.

Note the plural. If you are fortunate enough to have Tim Keller or Howard Hendricks personally disciple you, you are greatly blessed. For the rest of us, we will need to find a variety of people along the way who can help us with parenting, spiritual disciplines, leadership, marriage, decision-making, prayer, conflict resolution, skill development, and the all-important but very general Wisdom Department of life. Most effective mentoring tends to happen in informal settings. You don’t need to have someone say, “I’ll be your mentor” in order to learn from them. But it is worthwhile to pray that God will send those people across your path and pray to see them and learn from them while you can because a true heart for God is better caught than taught.

17. Seek training through the local church.

I mention this because more and more churches offer internships, weeknight classes, training institutes, online courses, and other methods of ministerial training. In earlier generations training tended to happen on-the-job in real-world settings. Spurgeon trained hundreds of young men for the ministry in London in the 1800s through his college associated with the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Look around and see if your church, or a church near you, offers some sort of formal leadership training.

18. Expect some detours along the way.

This touches more the attitude you should have than any particular step you need to take. But since a big part of preparing for the ministry involves developing godly character, and since godly character is formed largely through the trials of life, set your heart to serve the Lord, knowing that the course of your life will not go exactly as you envision now, that you will face times of trial, and that those hard times are necessary for you to become a useful servant of the Lord. You may face sickness, you will certainly encounter opposition, you may see your dreams crumble more than once. Don’t be surprised when it happens. God’s leaders must go through the fire to produce the gold of tested character.

19. Be a student, not a victim.

This follows from what I just said. Victims complain, students learn. Victims blame others, students look in the mirror. Victims make excuses, students learn from their mistakes. Victims are stuck in the past, students keep growing. Victims accuse God of unfairness, students seek God’s face. Victims focus on themselves, students share what they have learned. Students make great leaders because their hard times develop wisdom, humility, compassion and courage.

20. See your marriage as part of your ministry.

I almost didn’t include this in the list because it’s not exactly like the other items. So I took it out and then decided later to put it back in for a very particular reason. I think many people put marriage in one category and ministry in another. It’s easy to act as if marriage is over here and the ministry is that stuff you do for God over there. But that’s not right. The Puritans hit the mark when they talked about “every home a little church.” As the list of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 indicates, there is a strong connection between leadership in the home and in the church. The one prepares you for the other. No one knows you better than your wife. You can’t fool a good wife and you shouldn’t try. Ditto for the kids. Marriage is one of God’s best tools in our sanctification. You certainly don’t have to be married to go into the ministry, but if you are married, you should view your marriage as a vital part of your ministry and not something separate from it.

21. Listen more than you talk.

I could have said this differently–something like “Be a follower first.” Remember that the essence of ministry is serving others. You don’t need to be in charge of anything at first. Prove your faithfulness and promotion will come in due time. Remember that “everyone is my teacher because everyone knows something I don’t know.” So pay attention. Ask questions. Don’t be a big shot know-it-all. Be swift to hear and slow to speak. And that “slow to anger” part is important too.

These suggestions are not in any particular order so you can rearrange them any way you like. As I think about these 21 things, it occurs to me that you could do all of them and still be a washout in the ministry. In the final analysis only God can make true ministers of the gospel. He must call us, he must qualify us, he alone can “establish the work of our hands.” There are no guarantees, but these 21 things can help you become the kind of person God uses to bless others in Jesus’ name. I would love to hear your comments on this topic. What’s your advice for a young person preparing for the ministry?

Originally published on: January 28, 2009

virtual deification of human faith

Faith in Faith or Faith in God?
Hank Hanegraaff
Bible Answer Man

In 1980 Harvest House published a book by Larry Parker entitled We Let Our Son Die. The book tells the tragic story of how Larry and his wife — after being influenced by one of America's numerous "word of faith" (or "word-faith") teachers — withheld insulin from their diabetic son, Wesley. Predictably, Wesley went into a diabetic coma. The Parkers, warned about the impropriety of making a "negative confession," continued to "positively confess" Wesley's healing until the time of his death.

Even after Wesley's death, the Parkers — undaunted in their "faith" — conducted a resurrection service instead of a funeral. For more than one year following their son's death, they refused to abandon the "revelation knowledge" they had received through the "word-faith" movement. Eventually, they were tried and convicted of manslaughter and child abuse.

Many other similarly tragic stories could be recounted. And yet, the carnage unleashed by this movement is not limited to physical death. Literally thousands are swallowing the spiritual cyanide dispensed by the word-faith teachers, leading to the shipwreck of their faith in God.

Much has been written over the past few years about the New Age movement and the threat it poses to historic Christianity. As real as this threat is, I have become equally concerned about the ominous threat that the word-faith movement poses to the body of Christ. If the New Age movement is the greatest threat to evangelical Christianity from without, I believe the word-faith or "positive confession" movement may well be considered its greatest threat from within.

No doubt many believers will contend that in writing about this subject, I am doing nothing more than splitting theological hairs. Yet the extent of the controversy is not merely an honest doctrinal difference among orthodox believers; it rather entails a confrontation between the gospel preached by the Lord Jesus Christ and another gospel.

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). In sharp contrast, the word-faith teachers promise unlimited health and wealth to believers who can conjure up their brand of faith.

Jesus exhorted His followers not to "labor for that which perishes" but to "labor for that which is eternal" (John 6:27). The prosperity gospel, by contrast, encourages Christians to focus on what they can receive from Christ in the here and now.

Much so-called Christian TV and radio programming today panders to what peoples' "itching ears" want to hear: the promise of earthly gain. Over and over again we hear the testimonies of businessmen who "turned on to Jesus" and saw their businesses double, or athletes whose statistics improved as a result of their faith formulas and Christ. Sacrifice and service have been traded in for self-fulfillment and self-aggrandizement. And while there is an element of reality in the message (e.g., faith is essential to effective prayer; Christ does meet our needs), sadly, the emphasis renders it merely the skin of the truth stuffed with a lie. Christ has become merely a means to an end, and believers are induced through slick Madison Avenue manipulation to come to the Master's table, not to experience fellowship and intimacy with the Master, but to enjoy what is on the Master's table. In sharp distinction to this message, the Jesus of the Scriptures is not a means to an end, He is the end (e.g., Phil. 3:7-8).

Jesus predicted for His followers poverty, rejection, and persecution. His disciples were willing to face the tyrant's brandished steel, the lion's gory mane, and the fires of a thousand deaths because they knew that they were not of this world. They were merely pilgrims and sojourners in a foreign land.

In Hebrews 11, often referred to as the "Faith Hall of Fame," we read of those who were commended for their faith, yet were destitute, persecuted, imprisoned, and suffered torturous deaths. These men and women set examples for us, and yet their lives were characterized more by perserverence than by prosperity.

Certainly, this message will not sell well in a self-indulgent age. Nonetheless, we had better be glad that our heavenly Father decides what is best for us and not we ourselves, because only He truly understands what we need and what we can handle. One shudders to think of what would happen if God gave us everything we clamored for.

I do not wish to be misunderstood: I believe in divine healing and in God's provision for every detail of our lives. In addition, I do not associate piety with poverty. I thank God for those He has prospered who are dedicated to using their resources for the extension of His kingdom.

But for the word-faith teachers, healing and prosperity became so important that they had to find some way to guarantee them, and they did this by exalting man's faith at the expense of God's sovereignty. Thus, they developed the doctrine that God created the world out of nothing by faith, and that He created men as "little gods" to exercise the same kind of faith. Faith therefore becomes a powerful force that gets results, whether in the hands of a believer or a nonbeliever.

On the basis of this virtual deification of human faith, the purveyors of the word-faith message promise health and wealth to those who exercise faith in their faith rather than faith in their God. As has been well said elsewhere, faith is only as good as the object on which it is placed.

Walter Martin used to say, "All faith is subsumed under the overarching biblical doctrine of the sovereignty of God." The Creator is the Lord of the universe, not a cosmic "gofer" at the beck and call of His creation. It is not our faith that sits on the throne, but our sovereign God (1 Chron. 29:10-12).

Original publication date: February 3, 2009


-by TPW.

A POPULAR criticism of the Welsh Revival was that four Churches
gained 80,000 in the Revival and lost 20,000 afterwards. Why did
converts leave these "mainline" Churches? They were frozen out.

Said Dr. Eifion Evans: "The ecstasy of the new wine was all too
soon curbed by the frigidity of the old bottles." Some ministers
even objected to the converts' assurance of salvation!

Like the Methodists over a hundred years before, against their
leaders' wishes Revival converts reluctantly formed new churches.
The Pentecostal-Apostolic Churches began.

In the Revival itself, great criticism was made against its apparent
leader, Evan Roberts. He was called "the young lunatic." A
respected minister published a letter against "the Evan Roberts
Revival" calling it "a sham Revival, a mockery, a blasphemous
travesty of the real thing," an "exhibition," "froth," "false fire" and
"utterly sacrilegious."

The effect on the young lay-preacher Roberts was dramatic. Though
he seemed not to notice the criticisms, within days his doctor
diagnosed a nervous disorder. Five months later, he went into
seclusion, almost never to minister in public again for the rest of
his long life.

The effect on the Revival was terrible. Before the published criticism,
conversions were 35,000 a month. In the month of the criticism
and the two months following, conversions dropped to 5000 a
month, recovering a little once the controversy had died down.

But the mud stuck. "For many years the 1904 Revival was looked
upon as 'much a do about nothing' because of its emotionalism."
Many more years were to pass before an historical perspective
could restore its name as a wonderful and lasting work of God.

How slow we are to learn our lessons! Because less than fifty
years before, exactly the same thing had happened in Wales! Of
the 1859 Welsh Revival a leading Christian wrote: "It is a man-made
Revival; the chief instruments in it are not persons of any weight or
character ... it is mere excitement and enthusiasm, and although
many persons of disreputable conduct seem to be for the present
changed, yet, when the excitement ceases, they will return to their
former habits, and their end will be worse than their beginning ...
the noise - the confusion - the loud and long prayers - and singing,
with various excesses of feeling, and extravagance of language -
these are most offensive ... The 'converts' will ere long be 'perverts.'
They will go back, betray religion and bring disgrace upon the
whole movement."

And what was the true situation? "About 110,000 were converted
and added to the churches ... one estimate, cited in 1897, is that
19 out of every 20 (95 per cent) maintained their profession and
were fruitful in godly duties."

104,500 still going strong for God 38 years later! Oh, for more
"man-made Revivals!" [so-called!!]

We have seen that Christians can ruin or stop a Revival. Can
Christians also cause a Revival to happen?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuhan bagi semua manusia? atau sebahagian?

Penulisan U-Start@Muhammad Haniff

Di Malaysia, baru-baru ini timbul satu isu mengenai penggunaan nama Allah oleh penganut agama Kristian dalam bahan-bahan penulisan mereka. Pihak berkuasa cuba melarang penggunaan itu tetapi kemudiannya, dilaporkan, menarik balik larangan berkenaan.

Hari ini, saya menerima sms dari seseorang di Singapura yang menyatakan rasa kebimbangan akan kesan penarikan balik larangan berkenaan di Singapura i.e. takut penganut Kristian di Singapura akan mengambuil kesempatan untuk menggunakan pula nama Allah untuk tujuan dakwah mereka.

Di bawah ini dikongsikan satu artikel yang menarik dan bagus mengenai isu ini.

Namun, komen dari saya ialah:

1. Tidakkah sememangnya agama Islam mengajar bahawa Allah taala adalah tuhan bagi semua manusia i.e. Muslim, Kristian, Yahudi dll.

2. Tidakkah pada hakikatnya agama Kristian itu sebenarnya datang dari Allah juga. Cuma sepanjang sejarah ia berlaku perubahan dan nabi Muhammad diutus untuk membaiki dan menyempurnakannya. Allah itu adalah Tuhan orang Kristian dahulu sebelum menjadi Tuhan pengkiut nabi Muhammad s.a.w.

3. Maka sebab itulah tidak hairan, kalau nama Allah telah digunakan lebih dahulu oleh agama Kristian dalam bahasa Arab dan bahasa suku sakatnya, sebelum kedatangan nabi Muhammad s.a.w.

4. Bahkan, nama Allah telah digunakan sebagai Tuhan yang maha agung oleh kaum jahiliyah sebelum perutusan nabi Muhammad s.a.w.

5. Allah taala mengutus nabi Muhamad bukan untuk membuat "exclusive claim" bahawa Allah adalah Tuhan untuk umat Islam sahaja, tetapi untuk menegaskan bahawa Allah adalah Tuhan semua dan Islam adalah agama untuk semua. Nabi Muhammad s.a.w diutus hanya untuk memperbetulkan konsep ketuhanan Allah sebagaimana dalam surah Al-Ikhlas yang berbeza dari konsep ketuhananan Arab jahiliyah dan penganut Kristian.

6. Oleh itu, isu penggunaan nama Allah yang berlaku di Malaysia, bukanlah sebenarnya isu keagamaan. Tetapi ia lebih bersifat budaya i.e. orang Melayu tidak biasa dan selesa untuk berkongsi penggunaan nama Allah taala dengan penganut agama lain sedangkan ia telah berlaku beratus-ratus tahun di kalangan orang Arab, tanpa banyak masalah.

7. Adakah ini akan mengelirukan orang ramai dan membuka pintu kepada Kristianisasi anak-anak Melayu? Perkongsian penggunaan nama Allah di kalangan penganut Islam dan Kristian telah berlaku beratus-ratus tahun di kalangan orang Arab, tetapi berapa ramaikah orang Arab yang menjadi Kristian kerana dikelirukan oleh istilah ini?

8. Menjaga akidah Islam anak Melayu ialah dengan ilmu yang ditanam melalui usaha dakwah yang bersungguh-sungguh dan berkesan, bukan melalui larangan-larangan yang tak boleh dipertahankan dari segi hujah ilmu dan realiti sosial.

9. Kalau berlaku peningkatan anak Melayu yang menjadi Kristian, itu pada dasarnya adalah petanda kegagalan kita dalam menanam ilmu dan menjalankan dakwah. Bukan pada dasarnya kerana kekeliruan akibat penggunaan nama Allah oleh pendakwah Kristian.


The idea of God is described in the sanskrit words Dewata Mulia Raya.

The origins of the word 'Allah'
By Farish A. Noor
Dec 28, 2007

CAIRO - I'M WRITING this in the company of my Egyptian friends who are Muslims, Catholics and Copts.

Eid al-Adha has come and gone, and I've been to several events which saw Muslims and Copts celebrating together, visiting each others' homes and feasting on copious amounts of food.

Now in the midst of Christmas, Muslims, Catholics and Copts are once again heading for the communal table and there will be much licking of chops, breaking of bread and merry making for everyone.

It is all simply too pleasant to believe, yet it is real and this is what life is like for many in Cairo, the 'Mother of civilisation' and home to more than 20 million Egyptians from all walks of life.

What is most striking to an outside observer like myself - though rather banal for the Egyptians - is the fact that in all these celebrations, the same word 'Allah' is used to denote that supreme and singular divinity, God.

Catholics and Copts alike exclaim Masha-allah, Wallahi, ya-Rabbi, Wallah-u allam, and of course Allahuakbar day in, day out, everywhere they go. The Coptic taxi driver blares out 'By Allah, can't you see where you are parking?' as he dodges the obstacle ahead.

The Catholic shopkeeper bemoans: 'Ya Allah, ya Allah! You can only offer me two pounds for the scarf? Wallahi, my mother would die if she heard that! Ya-Rabbi, ya-Rabbi!'

Yet Malaysia is now embroiled in another non-issue: the Malaysian Catholic Herald, a publication by and for Catholics in the country, has been told that it can no longer publish its Malay-language edition if it continues to use the word 'Allah' for God. Worse still, the country's Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum recently stated that 'only Muslims can use the word Allah', ostensibly on the grounds that it is a Muslim word.

The mind boggles at the confounding logic of such a non-argument, which speaks volumes about the individual's ignorance of Muslim culture, history and the fundamental tenets of Islam itself.

For a start, the word 'Allah' predates the revelation to the Prophet Muhammad and goes back to the pre-Islamic era. Christians had been using the word long before there were any Muslims. It is an Arabic word and thus common to all the peoples, cultures and societies where Arabic, in all its dialects, is spoken. It is also understood by millions of Arabic speakers to mean God, and little else.

One could add that as it is an Arabic word, it therefore has more to do with the development and evolution of Arabic language and culture and less to do with Islam.

It is hard to understand how any religion can have a language to call its own, for languages emerge from a societal context and not a belief system. If one were to abide by the skewered logic of the Malaysian minister, then presumably the language of Christianity (if it had one) would be Aramaic, or perhaps Latin.

The minister's remark not only shows his shallow understanding of Muslim culture and the clear distinction between Arab culture and Muslim theology, but also demonstrates his own lack of understanding of the history of the Malays, who, like many non- Arabs, only converted to Islam from the 13th century on.

Among the earliest pieces of evidence to indicate Islam's arrival to the Malay archipelago are the stone inscriptions found in Malay states like Pahang where the idea of God is described in the sanskrit words Dewata Mulia Raya.

As no Malay spoke or even understood Arabic then, it was natural for the earliest Malay-Muslims to continue using the Sanskrit-inspired language they spoke.

Surely this does not mean they were lesser Muslims?

The ensuing ruckus over the ban facing the Christian Herald in Malaysia forces observers to ask the simple question: Why has this issue erupted all of a sudden, when the word 'Allah' has been used for so long with nary a protest in sight?

Coming at a time when the Malaysian government is already getting flak from the protests by Malaysian Hindus who insist that they remain at the bottom of the economic ladder after 50 years of independence, it would appear as if the administration cannot get enough bad publicity.

The administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi came to power on the promise that it would promote its own brand of moderate Islam - one that was pluralist and respectful of other cultures and religions.

But time and again, the Malaysian public - first Hindus and now Christians - have felt necessary to protest over what they regard as unfair, biased treatment and the furthering of an exclusive brand of Islam that is communitarian and divisive.

This latest fiasco over the name of God would suggest that Prime Minister Badawi's grand vision of a moderate Islam has hit the rocks, and is now floundering.

Just how the government is to regain its course is open to question, but what is clear is that some leaders should get their knowledge of their own religion in order first.

The writer is a Malaysian political scientist and historian based at the Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin; and one of the founders of the research site, where this article first appeared.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where are the Leaders?

2 Feb 2008

Dear Prayer Partners,

1. Thank you for your prayers during the camp in Cameron Highlands. The Lord ministered to many of them.

2. There were about 170 campers, comprising of Orang Asli, Sabah/Sarawak, and Indonesians, and a sprinkling of West Malaysians. They came from many states, representing about 16 congregations.

3. On the final night, I gave an altar call for those who desire to go into full-time ministry, and about 30 of them came forward. Many of them indicated their hunger to serve the Lord, despite low financial support.

4. At the present, the Malay language services are experiencing growth, but they do not have enough trained spiritual leaders. This is a critical need for the future survival and growth of these congregations. In my travels, I have observed significant declined of church attendance because of this problem.

5. This is one of the major reasons why I invest a lot of time teaching in the various seminaries – prayerfully, it can nurture a significant number of skilled pastors. And God willing, in the next decade, I hope to write and publish commentaries in that language for the pastors.

6. Another major problem for the tribal people to enter into full-time Christian ministry is money, as many of them come from poor and large families. In addition, the congregations are also poor and unable to give – and made worse by lack of Biblical teaching on giving and stewardship. That’s why I spend time to minister among them as the need is great.

7. So pray along that all those who responded to the altar call will be able to respond totally to the Lord’s dealings in their lives. I am trusting for a great harvest of pastors and spiritual leaders in the next few years to come.

8. Pray for me as I prepare to teach 2 courses in Bible school this month as well as the preaching ministries during the weekends. Pray for wisdom, strength, and HS anointing. Continue to pray for greater financial blessings even during this economic downturn so that I can be able to minister freely to others.

Surrender our lives totally and completely to Jesus. Recognize moment by moment, day by day, that the Holy Spirit is the only One who will enable us to endure. By faith, we draw upon His supernatural resources to live a supernatural life. Only then will we ever be victorious and fruitful for the glory of God.