on turning people away from sin

“Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” 

Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” 

And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 

Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” 

And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the LORD said to me, “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, declares the LORD, and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around and against all the cities of Judah. And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands. But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”

Jeremiah 1:4-19

How would you act if you were to go meet a king? I’d probably put on my nicest clothes; I’d practice my bow beforehand; I’d act as respectfully as I could. When I was a little kid, anytime my classmates and I saw our headmistress we’d greet her very politely, but I noticed our voices always went up several octaves every time we did so. So if I were to greet a king my voice would probably sound like I was trying to sing the chorus to Let it Go.

Continue reading “on turning people away from sin”

on living in tension

In Hong Kong we classify schools as local or international. The former follow a state-set, local curriculum, and most of them conduct lessons in Chinese. The latter are a more mixed bag, following a dizzying array of international curricula, and many of them catering to particular expat groups: Singapore International School, Japanese International School, Chinese International School, and French International School just to name a few. International schools tend to enjoy a higher reputation, not least because they are status symbols, but also because of the general high quality of the education and teachers.

But for a while I had leaned toward sending my children (if I ever have any) to a local school.

Continue reading “on living in tension”

on glorious things

What is the most glorious thing you have seen?

I, raised on a diet of war stories and mighty deeds of the Greeks and Romans, had nothing to say. The pastor gave a few sample answers he’d heard: the Milky Way on a night sky, dawn rays over a canyon, the megalithic might of a world-class airport after a long-haul flight, the taste of the perfect wagyu stew. Glory, he explained, in the Judeo-Christian tradition is related to weight. Something that matters so much, that demands such attention, respect, and awe, stuns us as glorious.

Continue reading “on glorious things”

against Uzzah; or, the virtues of being a basic bitch

Uriah and Uzzah: two exotic and tragic names, recalling two men who were mercilessly screwed over while just trying to do their jobs. 

Or at least that’s how I’ve always interpreted it. And while I could square Uriah’s case a bit more easily in my head — he was murdered by wicked David, a cautionary tale of how all men are sinful, even a man after God’s own heart — Uzzah’s case was more problematic. After all wasn’t he just trying to be helpful? 

Continue reading “against Uzzah; or, the virtues of being a basic bitch”

on feeling aggrieved

I’ve been feeling aggrieved lately.

Years serving under the colours as it were and now that I’ve left abruptly, I have little to show for it: depleted finances, a dragging degree I’ve long since lost interest in, a handful of wistful photos, and a winding, misty path ahead.

I feel like I’m owed something for all I’ve done. Why haven’t You rewarded me commensurately? Aren’t You the great provider?

And all of a sudden I’m a victim of injustice. Society, church, school, and God have not delivered as I have delivered. Where is my reward? Continue reading “on feeling aggrieved”

flood

How do you act when the world is ending?

I imagine that when the flood comes, we all, one way or another, like to see ourselves as Noah. We stand tall, we have the answers.We have the bigass boat. We’re Kipling’s man in the storm, we’ll weather it while everyone else loses their minds. Continue reading “flood”

on our Father Jacob

Are you greater than our father Jacob?

He was the cleverest man alive. He was father to many. He grasped his fathers’ inheritance when it looked to slip through his fingers. He wrestled with God himself.

Are you greater than our father Jacob?

He was a liar and a miser. He was a coward and a hypocrite. He had assets, not friends and family. He failed his little girl when she needed him most.

Are you greater than our father Jacob?

Yes, says the strange, haggard man by the well.

And because he says yes, somehow I can say that too.

on the truth in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, my home, has seen better days. Protests, demonstrations, street violence, bomb plots, conspiracy theories of all shapes and colours, have shaken us all.

One side claims to fight for human rights and freedom, the other claims to fight for stability and order. I haven’t committed myself to either side despite the horrors of the last month or so, but here is what I make of it all:

We are, all of us, focusing on the wrong fight. Continue reading “on the truth in Hong Kong”

on the centrality of Jesus

“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”
And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” — 1 Peter 2:1-10

“Rid yourselves, then, of all evil; no more lying or hypocrisy or jealousy or insulting language. Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved.” I know these words don’t seem very inspiring. They’re probably not what you want to hear first thing in the morning, on your first day back to school. Continue reading “on the centrality of Jesus”

on the naturalness of death

Growing up in the 90s first in Canada, then in a westernised bubble in Hong Kong, I heard this idea a lot: death is natural, it’s just another stage of life. It sounds sage, it sounds nice, and reliable people say it – Mama Gump and Mufasa among others.

I heard it again tonight at a funeral service for a family friend. ‘We know that death is just another part of life,’ the priest told us. It’s ok, please feel better.

My buddy didn’t. The deceased was his uncle. He looked down at his feet as he told me ‘He got baptised before I was even born. I’ve never heard him talk about church even once. What am I supposed to feel about this?’ Continue reading “on the naturalness of death”

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