BGST this WEEK
This weekís Good Book is a favourite
of mine, and one of the books that has most influenced my own thinking
and writing about the Old Testament. I refer to Robert Alterís The Art
of Biblical Narrative, first published in 1981 and still in print. Old
Testament narrative is often puzzling to modern readers: at times it seems
rather repetitive; at other times there are curious gaps (facts seem to
be given out of sequence, or the writer seems to withhold comment on the
events he is narrating, even when these events seem to cry out for some
kind of comment). What Alter does is to confront this fact head on. He
argues that these features of OT narrative are not accidental, but reflect
a set of literary conventions which need to be understood before one sets
about interpreting OT narrative. When one sees how OT writers make use
of repetition, gaps, and the rest, then texts that seemed to make little
sense suddenly turn out to be both clearer and richer in what they say.
But we need to learn these conventions, which are not the same as those
used by most writers today. I can still remember my excitement and admiration
when I first read this book as a Ph.D student. It seemed to explain biblical
narrative so much better than much contemporary biblical scholarship. It
is also very well written. If you want a book that will help you to look
afresh at texts you may have despaired of ever understanding, this may
well be the one for you.
Homiletics (3 credits) by Rev Edmund Chan will commence this
Tuesday from 7-10pm.
This intensive 7-week course seeks to equip the students with a firm
foundation in the art & science of preaching, with a fundamental emphasis
on Expository Preaching. By the end of the course, the student should be
Appreciate the primacy of the Scriptures in contemporary preaching
Know the basic types of sermons in contemporary preaching.
Appreciate the importance of Expository Preaching in the contemporary pulpit.
Understand the significant steps to crafting a biblical sermon.
Know the key principles of effective sermon delivery.
Develop a clear philosophy of preaching.
Away from office...
Serene will be on maternity leave till end March.
She has just given birth to a baby boy on 31 January 2001 . We
wish her Godís blessings and glad that she is under Godís protection at
all times. Do keep her in your prayer and bless her with all your blessings!
Chapel This Week
Mr Paul Yap, council chairman will be chapel speaker this week,
Wednesday, 7 February. Time : 12 pm
More Pottery Ponderings ....
By Pauline Koe
you should have the exceptional ability to remember what you read weeks
ago, you may recall my previous bit on centering. Well, hereís another
little thought Iíd like to add.
As a result
of the hard work Iíve been putting into lifting and moulding, turning and
trimming, glazing and regretting, Iíve acquired a whole new appreciation
for manual work. You know, work with the hands, phyical labour .....
Iím sitting there at my wheel working at my lump. Iíve got it to rise and
it looks pretty good. But no, somethingís not right. You can tell by the
rim -itís just not symmetrical enough. So I humbly look for help. And the
shih-fu (master) comes along good-humouredly, puts his hand to the clay
... and wallah, the fingers work magic. The piece is perfectly centered,
the thickness of its walls evened out, the rim trimmed and smoothened to
a pleasing shape. It took him just seconds .... and one hand!!
Now why couldnít
I do that? In my head, I know what should be done but why wonít my hands
obey me? The master, on the other hand, has no conflict whatsoever between
his hands and his head. They both act as one. Of course, I know the simple
reason is that heís been at it for 30 years.
So I think to myself:
how wonderful it would be if I could achieve that kind of synchronisation
in my spiritual life. I know all about what sanctification requires. I
know my 10 commandments and all about the fruit of the spirit. And Iíve
been at it for as long as Mr Chua has been potting ... but Iím nowhere
near the expertise he has over his clay. So just when shall I acquire that
kind of mastery over my clay (this earthly me).
Donít tell me till
I get to heaven, because I donít buy that line. We all know itís all got
to do with practice, practice, practice. So even as I aspire to be an expert
potter some day, I wish even more to be an accomplised child of God. If
only my progress in this area would match that in the first.
So if you have any secrets
into how to accelerate the progress of the spiritual life let me in on
it, wonít you?
Our chapel speaker last Wedneday
(31st January) was Pastor Sim Kay Tee, who works with RBC Ministries.
He addressed us on the holiness of God: God is faithful, loving and compassionate,
but he is also righteous, just, jealous and holy. The first and the last
worship songs in the Bible both speak of Godís holiness (Ex. 15:11-12;
Rev. 15:3-4). When we speak of Godís holiness, we mean everything about
him that separates him from, and elevates him above, everything that he
has made; in short, holiness is what God is in his essence, it is what
makes God God. Godís holiness lies behind everything he does; in particular,
it is what leads God to redeem sinful human beings. (Note how in Isaiah
God is more than once referred to as both Ďthe Holy One of Israelí and
Ďyour Redeemerí in the same verse (41:14; 48:17; 54:5.) Godís holiness
is constructive, not vindictive: it is what leads to his gracious saving
activity in history.
So what happens when a holy God
meets with sinful humans? Pastor Sim looked at three such incidents,recorded
in Is. 6:1-8, Ex. 3:1-8 and Lk. 5:1-8. Isaiah, Moses and Peter had one
thing in common: when confronted by Godís holiness, they responded in awe
and reverence; they were filled with a deep sense of their own sinfulness
and unworthiness. What a contrast with much contemporary worship, which
seems to be designed to make us feel comfortable in Godís presence, which
seems to have lost the sense that God must be approached on his own terms
or not at all. True, our God is gracious, and makes provision for our sin,
as Isaiah, Moses and Peter all found; true, we do now have access in Godís
presence through our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:16); but we should never
lose that sense of reverence and awe which so filled the minds of the biblical
writers (Heb. 12:28-29).
Pastor Sim concluded with two
reflections: (1) Is our God the God of the Bible? Then in our worship we
should take account of his holiness. Celebration is fine; but confession
and repentance must also find a place. (2) Our proper response to Godís
holiness is service and whole-arted obedience. That is what happened for
Isaiah, Moses and Peter; that is what should happen for us too.
We wish all these who celebrate their birthdays this week Godís richest
Elder Tan Ching Hai 02/10
Mr Chong Wei Hian Thomas 02/07
Mr Ang Ser Beng 02/10
Mr Tan Chin Kern Joseph 02/10