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5 - 11 FEBRUARY 200
WEEK NO. 5
Prayer for the Week
O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire you with our whole heart, that so desiring, we may seek and find you; and so finding you we may love you; and loving you we may hate those sins from which you have redeemed us; for the sake of Jesus Christ. 
                                      St. Anselm (1033-1109)
   BGST this WEEK
Good Books
           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.


News Bits

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 able to:
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 
Donít Forget!


More Pottery Ponderings ....
By Pauline Koe

       If 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 .....
        Picture this: 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?


Chapel

        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.


BIRTHDAY GREETINGS

We wish all these who celebrate their birthdays this week Godís richest blessings
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
 
 


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