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GRACE@WORK MAIL 44/06
[November 24th 2006 Edition]

Commentary: How To Approach a Bear

Recently I discovered what I should do if I were to
encounter a bear in the wild.

* If the bear is close to you, back away slowly. Never run.

* Act calmly. Move deliberately, as if you are not alarmed.
This will help to calm the bear, too.

* If you are in a group, bunch up, or join other hikers
nearby.

* If you are carrying pepper spray, get it ready, just in
case.

* Speak to the bear in a normal tone of voice. This helps to
identify you as a human and satisfy the bear’s curiosity.

(The Official Parks Canada Visitors’ Guide)

The underlying premise of the above instructions is that
bears are dangerous. They need to be approached properly.
It seems we are more afraid of bears than we are of God.

I think of how we saunter into the presence of God Sunday
after Sunday. I think about the kind of songs we offer to
Him.

Often we offer what my friend Leon calls “God is my
boyfriend” songs. Forgive me Kutless fans but when I hear
lyrics like the following, I blush. ( I know they do good
Christian rock stuff.)

“You are my desire
No one else will do
‘Cause no one else could take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace
Help me find the way to bring me back to You

You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near”

“To feel the warmth of your embrace?” Are you nuts? Do you
think you can embrace the Divine Flame and not be fried to a
cinder? What were you thinking?
Compare how the biblical saints respond to encounters with
God.

Isaiah becomes acutely aware of his sinfulness and think his
destruction is imminent. (Isaiah 6:1-5)

Ezekiel falls face down on the ground. (Ezekiel 1:1-28)

Daniel faints, his face to the ground. (Daniel 10:1-9)

Moses is given specific instructions as to how he is to
approach God — He is to take off his sandals as a mark of
holy fear and submission. (Exodus 3:1-6)

In the totality of biblical revelation, we learn that God is
also our Father (Matthew 6:9) and our friend (John 15:15).
But as Jesus Himself points out after He washes the feet of
His disciples, He is friend, but He remains Teacher and Lord (John 13:13).

A lonely and fatherless generation wants to draw near to
God. They crave intimacy. But on their terms. And they run
the danger of idolatry, drawing close to a god of their own
making.

Miroslav Volf is but one of many voices who warn us of the
dangers of confusing God with our images of Him. He warns us
that:

“But in fact our images of God are rather different from
God’s reality. We are finite beings, and God is infinitely
greater than any thoughts we can contain about divine
reality in our wondrous but tiny minds. We are sinful
beings, and God is different from what we conceive in our
selfishness and pride.

Finite and self centered as we are, we often forget God’s
warning through the prophet Isaiah: “For as the heavens are
higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (55:9).

When we forget that, we unwittingly reduce God’s ways to our
ways and God’s thoughts to our thoughts. Our hearts become
factories of idols in which we fashion and refashion God to
fit our needs.”
(Free of Charge, p. 22)

Recently I had the opportunity to thank a lecturer that had
blessed me so much in my time in seminary. I was in my late
20’s then. He was in his fifties and had a number of
successful pastorates before becoming principal of a
theological college. He was an excellent teacher but what
shocked me was how he treated me — he treated me as a peer
when obviously I was not.

His condescension was encouraging and empowering. It was
used by God to help me gain confidence about life and about
ministry. I was touched that he reached out to me as a peer
precisely because I knew I was not.

We will never appreciate what it means that God “came down”
(Exodus 3:8) unless we realize how far that journey was.
Yes God is a welcoming Father (Luke 15:11-32) but He is
still the Wholly Other. He is both. Any intimacy that
forgets His awesome holiness and majesty is an encounter
with an idol we have made in our own minds, and not an
encounter with God Himself.

In the end a God who is intimate but not big is of not much
comfort. As I write this piece, I am very aware of so much
need — growing racial tensions in my own country, a number
of friends fighting cancer, fresh violence in Lebanon, etc,
etc, etc. I need a God big enough to take all these and more
in His stride.
A “boy-friend” God isn’t nearly big enough.

And so daily I ask God for grace to fight the idolatry of my
mind and my heart. I continually allow Scripture to edit my
images and thoughts of Him. Periodic retreats to places of
natural beauty helps. And so does good literature.
C. S. Lewis is always helpful:

[of Aslan]
Mr. Tumnus: He’s not a tame lion.
Lucy Pevensie: No… but he’s good.

God is wild and dangerous. Approach with care.
But He is also good.
I feel loved in the embrace of this God. I feel safe
entrusting the world, and my life, into His hands.

Your brother,
Soo-Inn Tan

Write me!
At: sooinn@graceatwork. org

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Blinqué says (10:05 AM):
miss the good old times
we go padang n play football
cycle
here n there
=/
sca1lywag.tk says (10:06 AM):
ponteng pn poh go cendol
haha
Blinqué says (10:06 AM):
lol
i remember that
sca1lywag.tk says (10:06 AM):
rox
Blinqué says (10:06 AM):
u all sux
u & jon
i remember
sca1lywag.tk says (10:06 AM):
😛
why
Blinqué says (10:06 AM):
ALWAYS
after our class (3-5) we’ll go cendol
ur class suppose start at 5
mana tau
….see u all there
sca1lywag.tk says (10:06 AM):
oh izzit.. cant remember
Blinqué says (10:06 AM):
i still remember
Blinqué says (10:07 AM):
pn poh always call jon house
to ask where is he haha

May no parent read this.. and kids don’t try this at home.

Can’t sleep. Again. Just penning.. err typing… some thoughts.

I sprained my ankle again. It’s just a little knock. I think it will heal soon. It came as a result of doing something half-heartedly. But I guess it’s a price I have to pay. You can’t go in too wholeheartedly into certain things! Sigh, bad luck ><

My stammering problem got the better of me again. I have trouble pronouncing my own name sometimes. It gets very embarrassing when it happens as I try to introduce myself. The first time I got stuck, the other party asked me if I forgot my own name. The second, I said I’d tell him later which was weird. The third, today, I got a bit smarter and introduced myself as Chan. Ain’t that screwed up? Come on, brain.. function!

Finally caught up to the Zoro vs Hawk Eyes fight in the One Piece anime. The musketeer look-alike vs the Zorro look-alike. Su-gooi!! Everything looks better and feels more real in anime than in manga. Maybe it’s due to my lack of imagination.

Yes, that was how KeeKen’s mom described me. Sigh..

There was a buzz in the office today. Our company received something like a proposed takeover by Axon. Hopefully our salary will increase! Everyone is excited over the future.. But the seniors predicted will be torturous cos of the stressful environment in Axon. Some of the newer contractors are also worried about their future. All the best to them.

We organized a futsal session today. Joanne was the man of the match. She saved many shots as a goalkeeper, except for the one when she ran out to answer a call -_- Anyway it was great fun for me personally and I think everyone had their share of fun.. maybe for the exception of William who got a double-blister and Jared who’s shoe went crocodile.

The worse part is I had 3 dinners. One at McD before the game, one at Steven’s Corner after the game, and one at home cos I forgot to tell my dad not to buy dinner for me. No hope.

Tim Vickery does it again. Another excellent article on the use of full backs. Chun Ming Lew has joined the conference.

squall aow has joined the conference.

Chun Ming Lew: hi willy
Chun Ming Lew: that day we tested the bapi here can generate free goods
Chun Ming Lew: how come now cannot one>
squall aow: there’s no willy here?
Chun Ming Lew: ya hor
squall aow: hor?
Chun Ming Lew: erm..
Chun Ming Lew: i dunno how to explain 😛
alvin: “hor
alvin: “hor” = “la” = no meaning
Chun Ming Lew: ya lo ya lo
alvin: “lo” also
alvin: :$
squall aow: lo i know la…
alvin: haha
squall aow: hahahah.. 😀

Indonesians.. gotta love ’em! haha!

Played badminton on Saturday morning with some colleagues. Surprisingly my shoulder didn’t hurt at all. Wonder if it’s all ok now. Time to test it. Have to get Mark to organize some badminton on Sundays 😀

Warning! The siu loong paus in the NanXiang Mantou Dian in the Curve is not worth eating. It’s the shop opposite Italiannies / Laundry. The prices are extravagant for some puny tasteless food. It can get pretty ridiculous at RM5 for per tiny pau. It’s only the diameter of like a 50 cent coin. However the fried rice is pretty good.. and I heard the tea there is not bad too.

The “durian pancakes” from the Scrumptous Delights shop in front of Giant in Sunway Pyramid are pretty nice. But many durian eaters are purists and nothing can beat the real thing. Had the luck to be treated to some yesterday.. and now I know why it’s called the King of Fruits!

It has been a rather tiring week. Met up with a few old friends. Relived some childhood in the playground at night with Army Amy + Jason and Shaolin Shalyn. Still monkeys more than 10 years later. Met WaiPeng too. She’s still trying different funky stuff in her life. Jared also mentioned she looked very thin.. which is very true.

Work was pretty productive yet tiring. At least we feel useful instead of lazing around and LLB. HuiYing is away for a “week”. Wendy the “tiger” is replacing her. Willy is also gone for a few months. Tomorrow will be quite different.

A lot of my week was also spent on FM which took away a lot of my time for many other things. Ok time to sleep before Wendy and ChunMing torture me tomorrow. I’ll leave you with some excerpts of our magical journey in FM.

a day after Vista crashed..

[23:22] Blinqué: T_T
[23:22] Blinqué: still havent d/l FM yet
[23:22] Blinqué: 96%
[23:22] Blinqué: DAMN SLOW
[23:22] Blinqué: 1.7kB/sex
[23:23] Blinqué: I WASTED whole day today not playing
[23:23] Blinqué: i only have 1 more day left to play
[23:24] Blinqué: im gonna use Atletico also
[23:25] Blinqué: IF THIS DOWNLOAD EVER FINISHES
[23:26] Blinqué: i already plan out everything T_T

[00:02] Blinqué: im so desperate for FM

[00:33] Blinqué: T_T 97.4%
[00:34] Blinqué: this is by far the most painful d/l experience i ever had to go through
[00:34] Blinqué: i expected this morning when iwake up it’ll be done d
[00:34] Blinqué: mana tau…88%
[00:34] Blinqué: and…since this morning 88% until now 97.5%
[00:34] Blinqué: !!!

[00:43] Blinqué: T_T

[01:09] Blinqué: 8MB left ><
[01:10] Blinqué:
ARGH i hate the wait
[01:10] Blinqué: 8kb
[01:10] Blinqué: i downloaded all the face packs
[01:10] Blinqué: logo
[01:10] Blinqué: kits

[01:21] Blinqué: YES
[01:21] Blinqué: 2minutes!!!

[01:27] Blinqué: unzipping all my logos, etc

[01:47] Blinqué: im about to embark on my new atletico journey
[01:47] Blinqué:

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