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Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

Mixed Berry Tart, Joe Christian as Evangelist and Missionary, Wild Rabbit Stew

March 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Strawberry, blackberry, blueberry tart
Needed a think some days ago, so made a mixed berry tart to allow all the stuff swirling in my head the opportunity to settle down and get organised. Had been doing quite a bit of reading on the Heresy Of The Month and argued variously with Associates and Staff Workers alike, many of whom thought me quite the heretic. Some said i was making a fuss merely to avoid God-given responsibilities or getting knickers into twists for useless academic reasons that were far removed from practical reality.

Thought none of this quite valid though. Finally had a good old chat with the long-suffering Tutor about my concerns. The total smack-down i expected didn’t come and he instead agreed with me, with gentle smack-arounds of caveats and corrections (both hermeneutical and pastoral) of course.

Books on mission and evangelism
The query was this: is there an explicit biblical imperative for all people to do evangelism and/or mission? After all, we’ve all been on the receiving end of many a sermon or bible study that has laid the guilt on us for not telling our family and friends about Jesus.

Well, there isn’t any explicit imperative for every Christian to do so:

  1. Many proof-texts used to rouse the masses were primarily applicable to the 11 (and later 12 (with the replacement of Judas) + 1 (Paul)) apostles, for example Mark 16:14-20 (also, this section wasn’t in the earliest manuscripts), Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, and most famously, Matthew 28:19-20:

    Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

    (The Tutor thought that if these passages had to be applicable today, they would be to the church as a whole since the 12 disciples were meant to represent the whole people of God – the number “12” recalling the 12 tribes of Israel.)

  2. It was the apostles who talked about bringing the gospel to people who did not know God, as themselves as ambassadors for Christ, and frequently asked for prayers for themselves to continue to preach God’s word with all boldness (Acts 4:29-30, Acts 9:19-43, Romans 15:18-21, 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:1, 2 Corinthians 10:14-16?, Ephesians 6:18-20, Colossians 1:25-28, Colossians 4:3-4, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
  3. There was a specific group of people called “the evangelists” in Paul’s list in Ephesians 4:11-12, alongside the apostles, prophets, shepherds, and teachers, who were to equip the saints for the work of ministry. See also Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8) and possibly Epaphras (Colossians 1:5). (It is uncertain what an “evangelist” meant in New Testamental times; the word just means “gospeller”. We must certainly not import our modern definitions into the first century.)
  4. Timothy was asked to the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5).
  5. No where does Scripture explicitly require individuals other than these to do the work of evangelism or mission.

What is explicit and/or clear, though, is this:

  • God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
  • Christians must ensure that they are good “witnesses” of the gospel and that their conduct does not hinder people from deciding to trust in Christ (“Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33); “If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” (1 Corinthians 14:23); “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).)
  • We know that at least one church, the one in Thessalonica, proclaimed the gospel to those who had yet to hear it (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
  • Romans 10 says: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!””

So it would seem that one of the main missions of the church would be to proclaim the gospel to those who are not yet saved. But there does not seem to be any basis for us to burden each individual to do so. God gave different gifts to the church (1 Corinthians 12).

However, one has to be careful not to (i) overstate the case (eg. by saying that no one should do so except for certain people who have been so gifted, nor that others not so gifted should not be assisting (in accord with proper behaviour and with their own gifts) in evangelism and mission); nor (ii) introduce false dichotomies in exegesis (eg. either specific to apostles only or applicable to all; either prescriptive or descriptive).

The ex-Principal said he thought that speaking the gospel would come from the overflow of the heart, citing John 7:38. We weren’t sure that John 7:38 definitely alluded to that, though any cursory observer of human nature could easily conclude that we speak most about things that are most important to us and occupy our thoughts. That’s not quite an imperative though.

To allow time to think further, proceeded to stew a wild rabbit in red wine. These free-range bunnies are cheap environmentally-friendly protein and with the recession on in the United Kingdom, might possibly be becoming just as popular as a nutritious thrifty food as they were during World War II. Unfortunately, the housemates were less than enthusiastic, likening the skinned carcass to an alien baby.

Braces of Wild Rabbit, Borough Market

Wild rabbit Wild rabbit stew
Wild rabbit
=o=

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Mission Week and the Coffee Shops of Durham

February 14, 2013 1 comment

Homemade Burger Dinner

A yummy smoky homemade burger dinner at the neighbours’, with roast chillis stuffed with feta, washed down by vintage cider, the night before.

Chinese New Year in London Chinese New Year in London

And after a full Sunday that included popping into the Chinese ministry’s Chinese New Year celebrations to hang out with some Singapore visitors (despite understanding very little of what was going on),

Victoria Coach Station in the sleet

fought driving winds and sleet to get to Victoria Coach Station in good time for the overnight National Express bus to Durham.

Durham Castle at night Silver Street at 6am, Durham
A river in Durham Rowing on a river in Durham

Wandered around the town at 6am-ish, enjoying the quiet cobblestoned streets and the cold,

Esquires Coffee, Silver Street, Durham

then, when it opened, a hot pot of tea at Esquires Coffee (22 Silver Street, Durham) and a reviving square of the brownie some very kind person had baked for my journey, followed by a whirlwind of getting to know almost a hundred new faces and incessant chatting over ubiquitous milky tea and cold hot cross buns.

Seating for Uncovered Lunch Bar Uncovered Lunch Bar, Durham

And then, to use the specialist terminology of mission weeks, mornings were for First Contact, lunch for Lunch Bars, and evenings for Evening Meetings. Michael Ots was particularly helpful, i thought, on the question “Why Should God Limit My Sexuality?” (mp3 here on the See For Yourself website). Long talks with some students who were curious about the evidence for the Christian faith.

Spent downtime with John Stott and other CUGs at various coffee shops around Durham. The company was stimulating, and the delightful character of the cafes a better reason to visit than the coffee:

Al fresco seating, Flat White, Durham Al fresco seating, Flat White, Durham
Flat White, Durham
Flat White, Durham Flat White, Durham

Flat White (21A Elvet Bridge, Durham) – probably your best bet for a somewhat decent cuppa. The smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel was appropriately chewy and therefore, excellent. Typical indie decor consisting of ephemera and quaintness.

Treats Coffee Shop, Durham Treats Coffee Shop, Durham
Artwork, Treats Coffee Shop, Durham Treats Coffee Shop, Durham
Broccoli quiche, Treats Coffee Shop, Durham Loo, Treats Coffee Shop, Durham

Treats Coffee Shop (27-28 Silver Street, Durham) – relatively generous portions and so, popular with students. One group got two unequal slices of a tea cake, the larger of which being a quarter of a loaf. Loads of power sockets, a good clean loo. Despite the presence of an espresso machine, the “flat white” they served up was coffee from the heating pad with frothed milk.

Leonard's Coffee House, Durham Leonard's Coffee House, Durham

Leonard’s Coffee House (1 Back Silver Street, Durham) – The Pidgin’ Loft upstairs was a nice place to sit and chat, while looking out windows.

Vennels Café, Durham Vennels Café, Durham
Old Singer Sewing Machine Table, Vennels Café, Durham Vennels Café, Durham
Sugar bowls, Vennels Café, Durham Stove in fireplace, Vennels Café, Durham
Earl grey tea in vintage china, Vennels Café, Durham Coconut apricot cake, Vennels Café, Durham

Vennel Café (71 Saddler Street, Durham) – two floors of old Singer sewing machine tables, creaking wooden floor boards, dried flowers hanging from rafters, real fires in fireplaces, loose teas in vintage china, and scones in the morning.

How You Can Tell This Is A Christian British Kitchen
how to tell a British Christian household – tea for all tastes, numerous cups and teapots in expectation of guests

Kind strangers took me into their homes and lives. Comfy beds and hot showers, great conversations to midnight in freezing living rooms (there being no money to fix broken radiators) about the challenges of being a Christian teacher, and of being Geography or English majors (professors with entrenched postmodern mindsets penalising those with Christian worldviews and those who read the text with the goal of determining authorial intent).

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31)

My Life Would Be Complete If...

SPRMRKT, Franken-Monkey and Rabbit from Aranzi Aronzo’s The Cute Book, Cake

April 28, 2012 2 comments

SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, SingaporeThe prevailing holiday mood meant people were taking it easy on Friday. Since i wouldn’t be able to dally at Ocean Curry Fish Head while waiting for someone to run her banking errands, ended up next door at SPRMRKT (2 McCallum Street. facebook. No relation to the Amsterdam outfit).

Lights and seating, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore

Exterior, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore Door and Display, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore
Blackboard menu, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore Drinks menu, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore
Quinoa salad, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore Beef lasagne, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore
Flat White, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore Carrot cake, SPRMRKT, McCallum Street, Singapore
SPRMRKT, McCallum Street SPRMRKT, McCallum Street

Opened three weeks ago by a pair of siblings, the emphasis was on fresh (and therefore dearer) food. There was also a retail section for fruits, some veg, and homeware. The flat white from Smitten Coffee’s Thumper Blend was at times excellent – hot chocolate in a mug, and as personal preferences go, more favourable to me than what i’ve gotten onsite. Good texture in the carrot cake thanks to obvious bits of shredded carrot and nuts, and the citrus zest in the cream cheese was quite refreshing. Several people liked the peanut cookies.

Felt Monkeys and Rabbit from Aranzi Aronzo's The Cute Book

Back in the office, the girls were cooing over the kawaii-ness of Aranzi Aronzo‘s The Cute Book. I had a go for a lark and the unanimous conclusion was that not only would i never come near the likes of Ashley Isham, Kevin Seah, Edwin Neo of Ed et al, Jeremiah Ang of The J Myers Company, that OberBlünck bespoke jeans guy, or Woffles Wu for that matter, if i were old and decrepit and selling these franken-dolls for food, even sweet charity might turn heel and run like the hounds of hell were after her.

Felt Monkeys and Rabbit from Aranzi Aronzo's The Cute Book
(Old Monkey done by an expert, the Franken-creatures by Why-Can’t-We-Just-Use-A-Hot-Glue-Gun)

But altogether nice for a chill and chat.

ANZAC Biscuit, Sarnies, Telok Ayer Street

Dark Chocolate Mousse, Grin Affair, Everton Park Dark Chocolate Mousse, Grin Affair, Everton Park

And later on, we were biscuitted and caked-out by, inter alia, very lovely Anzac biscuits from Sarnies, dark chocolate mousse from Grin Affair, tiramisu and banana toffee tart from Da Paolo (after which there was yet another round of desserts after bumping into more friends).

This world is a brilliant place to live in with so much to see and do and enjoy, but still later on, listening to Richard Coekin on 2 Corinthians 5:9 – 6:2 (Motives for Gospel Ministry), i was reminded that when i became a Christian, my priorities changed and it became my purpose to please not myself but God. In the letter to the Corinthians, Paul defends his ministry against the accusations of the false apostles and in so doing states the motives for ministry and unpacks the meaning of pleasing the Lord:

  • fear of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:10ff) – when Christ returns, we must all stand before the judgement seat of Christ who will judge everything we have done and spoken and thought. If we have trusted in him, we have no reason to fear his condemnation because he has taken that condemnation when he died on the cross for us. But precisely because we have been saved from all this, we ought to know that God will have a reckoning for all we have done in this world. Jesus tells two parables of the talents – in one, when the servants were at first given different amounts of talents, the same reward was given in the end; in the other, the servants were rewarded according to what they had done with what they had been given. So we are encouraged to make the most of what we have been given to do what we can to please him. But more than that, there is a great seriousness in facing Christ’s judgement – it lasts for all eternity and a disappointing review but the person who matters most in the universe can never be changed. How much more frightening it will be for people who are still unforgiven. Therefore, just as it would be unspeakably cruel and inhumane to walk past a house engulfed by flames without warning its sleeping occupants, so it would be unconscionable not to persuade people to be saved from hell;

Cream Scones with Clotted Cream and Sarabeth's Orange Apricot Marmalade

  • love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) – the immense love that caused God the Son to come to earth to live the life we could never life, and to die the death that we should have died, as a sinner and a criminal, as our substitute and our representative. So when Christ died on the cross, we died together with him. We know we are now acceptable to God because we were raised with Christ. Therefore, we can no longer live for ourselves but for him;
  • responsibility for the message of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:19-20) – God entrusted the impossibly important message of peace and reconciliation to the apostles which the apostles passed on to us. As ambassadors of God, they were not not at liberty to change the message, and neither are we, just to make it more popular or palatable to others. And we are not at liberty to keep the message to ourselves, that would be stealing; we must pass it to others;
  • this is the day of salvation – this is the time to alive, not the days of the prophets of old. This is the period that the prophets of the Old Testament foretold and looked forward to, the last days before the judgement of Christ. These are days of opportunity and urgency.

Flat White and Anzac Biscuit, Sarnies, Telok Ayer Street

Sarnies (facebook)
136 Telok Ayer Street

Grin Affair (facebook)
3 Everton Park

*SPRMRKT
One Monday’s Menu
SPRMRKT, McCallum Street SPRMRKT, McCallum Street
SPRMRKT, McCallum Street

French Food at Hawker Stalls and Warnings About Hell

October 24, 2011 5 comments

We read last weekend’s Sunday Times write-up on Saveur and Le Cuisson with mixed feelings: these are places you’d want to tell your friends about if they were of similar culinary persuasion, but you’d hope they wouldn’t tell their own friends for fear that widespread popularity might cause quality to decrease in proportion to price increase.

foie gras on bed of lentils. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat leg of duck confit with citrus segment and boulangere potato. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat
leg of duck confit with citrus segment and boulangere potato. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat angel hair pasta topped with kombu and Sakura ebi. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat

Saveur is helmed by Dylan Ong (Shatec + demi chef at local French restaurant) and Joshua Khoo (Shatec + Commis 1 Chef at local top French restaurant). Menu includes foie gras on bed of lentils, angel hair pasta topped with kombu and Sakura ebi, leg of duck confit with citrus segment and boulangere potato. Sous vide in a coffeeshop where you can order teh si kosong peng from the drinks uncle and passersby stare at the white porcelain on your table.

Le Cuisson, Queen Street Foie Gras, Le Cuisson, Queen Street
Foie Gras, Le Cuisson, Queen Street Foie Gras Salad, Le Cuisson, Queen Street

The Le Cuisson chefs, Ang Wee Siong and Kenneth Lin, hail from db Bistro Moderne. But the media reports are silent as to their role in Daniel Boulud’s Singapore kitchen. Menu includes foie gras* as well (the size of this seems to vary, and it was once overcooked),

Steak & mash, Le Cuisson, Queen Street Steak & mash, Le Cuisson, Queen Street
Le Cuisson, Queen Street Chicken Roulade, Le Cuisson, Queen Street

grilled steak (with house pepper mix, mesclun salad, pomme puree, green pepper sauce), seabass (i think!), and chicken roulade.

Yesterday, we looked at news that could be told without detriment to the benefit accrued or to be accrued to the speaker. In fact, it is news that must be told by anyone who has any humanity and compassion about him:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said,’Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not do so, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said,’They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said,’No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him,’If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'” (Luke 16:19-31)

  • Popular culture sees Jesus as a bit of a hippie – all about universal love and acceptance, but a quick search shows that he mentions hell the most in the New Testament.
  • We usually talk about everyone (Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, young children, soldiers killed in war, beloved pets) going to heaven without stopping to consider that there may be an admission criteria for heaven and that the alternative could be a place/state called “hell”. Well, whether or not the rich man believed in hell or any sort of afterlife, he experienced it as reality eventually. Hell is described throughout the New Testament as a terrible place where there is the gloom of utter darkness (2 Peter 2:17), the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12), and from this passage, where there will be no hope of any sort of relief from suffering.
  • The rich man’s problem really wasn’t that he was rich since Abraham himself was fairly wealthy; it was his refusal to acknowledge God as God and worship him and to obey his commandment (the gist of “Moses and the Prophets” = the Old Testament, being love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself). If we are defined by our money or career, or the approval of others, or the pleasures of life, or the mark we have made in this world, and not by our relationship with our Creator, then we are in a wee bit of trouble.
  • If what Jesus says is true (and Abraham and the Prophets have already been saying the same thing for hundreds of years), then all this talk about hell isn’t part of some scare tactic to get people to join the Christian club. Rather, it is a real warning of coming disaster and the right response would be to try to avoid it at all cost.
  • The Bible isn’t an instruction book on how to win friends and influence people or to get rich/blessing quick with handouts from “Daddy God” or about fighting spiritual wars with parking lot attendants and people who block your promotion at work; much more important than that, it warns us to avoid hell at all costs (eg. Matthew 5:29-30) and tells us how to do so – John 3:16 “for God so loved the world, he gave his only Son – that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.
  • This is the news that needs to be told.

Chit, Le Cuisson, Queen Street

Saveur (facebook)
Ali Baba Eating House, Foodstall No 3
125 East Coast Road, Singapore 428810

Current opening hours:
Mon – Tue: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Wed: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Thu – Sat: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun: 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Le Cuisson (facebook)
Blk 269b Queen Street, # 01-236, Singapore 180269
Current opening hours:
Tue – Sun: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

*studied available evidence. Not convinced that ducks who swallow spiky fish whole are terribly put-out by being force-fed grain. Probably erroneous to anthropomorphise every thing. Anthony Bourdain is more emotional about this.

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