good books

Under the Unpredictable Plant :  An Exploration in Vocational Holiness.

By Eugene H. Peterson

(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992)  

I found the third chapter, "In the Belly of the Fish" to be very helpful. This is place where Jonah prays.  According to the author, Jonah is a great student of prayer.  The principle metaphor here is askesis. This is the Greek word for discipline and training.  But this is not a chapter about prayer. The author uses this word to describe the necessity of confinement, like the belly of the fish, for all spirituality and creativity.  Likewise, the askesis for us in ministry is our church setting and the discipline of prayer we exercise in our daily task.

The fourth chapter, "Finding the Road to Nineveh," recalls the faithfulness of Jonah.  In order to fulfill the call of the Lord, the prophet had to embrace the particular place to which God called him and the particular message God gave him to deliver. The author calls these two aspects of ministry geography (pp. 122-139) and eschatology (pp. 140-153).

 We need geography: "Jonah abandons his religious careerism, decides to be a true pastor, embraces an askesis, enters into a life of prayer, and goes to Nineveh. There we find him walking the streets of the city, doing what he was called to do: the work of a pastor" (p. 122).

We also need eschatology:  "Jonah entered Nineveh…opened his mouth to preach, he didn't make appreciative comments on the landscape; he let loose with something arrestingly eschatological: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (p. 140).  Without it we are powerless.

"Pastoral work devoid of eschatology declines into a court chaplaincy---sprinkling holy water on consumerist complacency and religious gratification," writes Peterson (p. 144).

The fifth chapter, "Quarreling with God under the Unpredictable Plant," talks about the prophet's anger and argument with God.  Jonah gets angry; we also get angry.  Why?

Peterson says, "Anger is most useful as a diagnostic tool.  When anger erupts in us, it is a signal that something is wrong.  Something isn't working right.  There is evil or incompetence or stupidity lurking about.  Anger is our sixth sense for sniffing out wrong .… What anger fails to do, though, is tell us whether the wrong is outside or inside us.  We usually begin by assuming that the wrong is outside us---our spouse or our child or our God has done something wrong, and we are angry…. But when we track the anger carefully, we often find it leads to a wrong within us---wrong information, inadequate understanding, underdeveloped heart." (p. 157).

 I would like to stop here.  But I would like to encourage you to read it. This is a book that gives refreshment for all who, fearfully or gladly, reluctantly or eagerly, sense the lure of God's calling.

This is the conclusion of a two-part review of Peterson’s provocative book by Dr John Lim.  Each week, the particular “Good Book” reviewed is placed at the Loan Counter of our Library. You are welcomed to come and browse and the book is usually available on loan by the beginning of the following week. We would like to remind our readers that BGST is open to the wider Christian community. You do not have to be a student at BGST to have borrowing privileges.

 

~ God Uses Problems ~

The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you - depending on how you respond to them. Unfortunately, most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems ­ rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring.        

 Here are five ways God wants to use the problems in your life:        

1. God uses problems to DIRECT you    

Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention? Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.

2. God uses problems to INSPECT you.    

People are like tea bags...if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God tested your faith with a problem. What do problems reveal about you? When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.            

3. God uses problems to CORRECT you

Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It's likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something...health, money, a relationship... by losing it.            

4. God uses problems to PROTECT you.        

A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem - but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management's actions were eventually discovered.            

5. God uses problems to PERFECT you.        

Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you're going to take with you into eternity. We can rejoice when we run into problems... they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.

  Here's the point: God is at work in your life - even when you do not recognize it or understand it.

    We continued this week with testimonies and sharing of students concerning their calling and the ministries they are involved in.  This week we had Mr Mathews Abraham.  He is a first year student from the Indian state of Kerala.  He is a member of St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India.  He shared some picture presentations of his church and missionary activities in North India.  He also sang a Malayalam song.

    Mathews lists the following prayer items that we may pray for the Lord’s work in India:

    ·        Pray that missionaries may stand faithful in the midst of hostile situations and persecution.

    ·        Pray for the evangelical Churches and the like-minded missionary organisations to have increased partnerships.

     Our Chapel Speaker for next Wednesday will be Rev Adrian van Leen. Do come and join us at 12 noon.

News Bits

Registration for “Religious Confusion in the Age of the Internet”.  This is the last call for this course, which will commence this Saturday­. For those who cannot attend the full course because of time commitment or other reasons, please note that you may register for this course as a seminar comprising only the first session, which is held on Saturday, May 17, 7.30-10.00pm . The fee is only $30 and it will cover the first Session only. The fee for the full course is $150.

 

A Blessed Birthday to ...

Dr Chan Kit Yee  12/5

Mr LIm Tanguy Yuteck  12/5

Rev Bernard Low  12/5

Mr Loy Chin Fen  12/5

Mr Lam Kin  14/5

Mr Chew Wee  15/5

flower pot

 

Mr Koh Soo Keong  15/5

Mr Lim Chin Keng  15/5

Mrs Rebecca Tay  15/5

Mrs Pauline Koe  16/5

Mr Cheong See Hock  17/5

Mr Ng Kok Beng  18/5

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This page is updated on 9 May 2003 by Leong Kok Weng.
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