35 years ago, I started a Christian Medical Fellowship in the new Medical
Faculty of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia).
This was a new university, the second one to be incorporated in Malaysia
with the specific purpose of using Malay as the medium of instruction and to
produce more Malay professionals. I am the third cohort of medical students.
In my cohort there are 3 Chinese and one Indian out of a class of 160
I became a Christian while I was in first year and started a Medical
Fellowship. I later started another Christian group in Bangi which is the
main campus. To this day, both Christian fellowships are still active in the
The mission of the Christian Medical Fellowship is to equip Christian
medical students to be leaders in the churches after they graduated.
By God's grace, that mission has been fulfilled in many ways. Some graduates
are pastors, Bible teachers, elders, ministry leaders and there is even one
politician. And all are still practicing medicine and a few have specialist
medical and theological training.
The UKM Medical Fellowship alumni has been meeting in camps and retreats
infrequently over the years. Recently a few of us wants to make it an
intentional annual retreat for encouragement and mutual edification.
This year the retreat will be held in Kuching, Sarawak from 28-30 August
2010. I have been invited to speak on the theme of "Transitions: Lessons
from the Life of Caleb"
My three sessions are:
(1) Become- developing a different spirit (Numbers 14:24) - to become a
man/woman of God
(2) Be- possessing the land (Joshua 14:12) - to be a man/woman of God
(3) Bequest- upper and lower springs (Judges 1:15) - leaving a spiritual
Fellowship Alumni Retreat 2010
28-30 August 2010
Transitions: Lessons from the Life of Caleb
To see you more clearly.
To love you more dearly.
To follow you more nearly.
Day by day.
(Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester)
Become – developing a different spirit (Numbers 14:24)
NU 13:28 But the people who live
there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw
descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites,
Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near
the sea and along the Jordan. 30 Then Caleb silenced the
people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land,
for we can certainly do it." NU 13:31 But the men who had gone up with
him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." 32 And
they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.
They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we
saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of
Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and
we looked the same to them."
NU 14:1 That
night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All
the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to
them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why
is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives
and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back
to Egypt?" 4 And
they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt."
NU 14:5 Then Moses and
Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.
son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the
land, tore their clothes 7 and
said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored
is exceedingly good. 8 If
the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with
milk and honey, and will give it to us.
9 Only do not rebel against
the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will
swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be
afraid of them."
NU 14:10 But
the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD
appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The
LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long
will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have
performed among them? 12 I
will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a
nation greater and stronger than they."
NU 14:13 Moses
said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you
brought these people up from among them. 14 And
they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard
that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have been seen
face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a
pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If
you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this
report about you will say, 16 `The
LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath;
so he slaughtered them in the desert.'
NU 14:17 "Now
may the Lord's strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 `The
LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he
does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of
the fathers to the third and fourth generation.' 19 In
accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you
have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now."
NU 14:20 The
LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless,
as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole
earth, 22 not
one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt
and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times-- 23 not
one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No
one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But
because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I
will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it
Caleb was one of the 12 spies
spent by Moses to spy out the promised land when the whole nation was camped at
Kadesh Barnea. One representative from each tribe was sent. Caleb was from the
tribe of Judah. The spies spent 40 days in the promised land. They discovered a
land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ The soil was fertile and well watered.
Fruits and vegetables grew to enormous size. A bunch of grape needed two men to
carry. The Canaanites were also big. They saw giants in that area. These were
the Anakites. So when they came back to report, 10 of the spies were terrified
and gave a bad report. They were so afraid of the giants that they regard
themselves as grasshoppers underneath their feet. Only Joshua and Caleb were
unafraid. They believed that with God’s help. Nothing is impossible. (They are a
firm believer in ‘boleh’). But because the people chose to believe in the
majority report and refused to invade and claimed the promised land, God was
angry. God declared that none of men except Joshua and Caleb will enter the
promised land. So the Israelites were commanded to wander in the wilderness for
40 years. 40 years is a whole Jewish generation. They wandered until all the men
who refused to invade has died. Even Moses was denied entry into the promised
What is this ‘different spirit’
that Caleb has?
How will you develop and
nurture a ‘different spirit’?
Dependent on God
Not afraid of people and
Christian spiritual formation is
the intentional on-going process of the inner transformation of the character of
a person to become more like the character of Christ himself, to become a
community of the people of God and become an agent for his redemptive purposes.
At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions
What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Whom did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence — why was I given this day?
— John O'Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us
Be – possessing the land (Joshua 14:12)
Joshua 14: 6-15
JOS 14:6 Now the men of Judah
approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to
him, "You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about
you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me
from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report
according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the
hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God
wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, `The land on which your feet
have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because
you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.'
JOS 14:10 "Now then, just as
the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he
said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today,
eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me
out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me
this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then
that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the
LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said." JOS 14:13 Then Joshua
blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So
Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because
he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be
called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)
After 40 years, the Israelites again gathered outside the
promised land. There is now a new generation of warriors. This time they
gathered in the plains of Moab. For 40 years they must have been preparing for
war. General Joshua in two brilliant campaigns conquered the promised land, land
of Canaan. Invading through Jericho, he conducted a central and southern
campaign which seized control of most of the major cities. Then he conducted a
northern campaign to seize control of the cities of the north. Caleb was his
right hand man in these campaigns. Thus they conquered Canaan. What they
actually did was to take control of major cities and deposed of a few kings.
Then they divided the land and it is up to the individual tribes to conquer the
people and the land they were allocated.
What motivates you?
you make sure that you will finish well?
Invoke a Blessing
What is a blessing? A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to
protect, heal, and strengthen. Life is a constant flow of emergence. The beauty
of blessing is its belief that it can affect what unfolds.
To be in the world is to be distant from the homeland of wholeness. We are
confined by limitation and difficulty. When we bless, we are enabled somehow to
go beyond our present frontiers and reach into the source. A blessing awakens
future wholeness. We use the word foreshadow for the imperfect
representation of something that is yet to come. We could say that a blessing "forebrightens"
the way. When a blessing is invoked, a window opens in eternal time. . . .
We never see the script of our lives; nor do we know what is coming toward
us, or why our life takes on this particular shape or sequence. A blessing is
different from a greeting, a hug, a salute, or an affirmation; it opens a
different door in human encounter. One enters into the forecourt of the soul,
the source of intimacy and the compass of destiny.
Our longing for the eternal kindles our imagination to bless. Regardless of
how we configure the eternal, the human heart continues to dream of a state of
wholeness, a place where everything comes together, where loss will be made
good, where blindness will transform into vision, where damage will be made
whole, where the clenched question will open in the house of surprise, where the
travails of a life's journey will enjoy a homecoming. To invoke a blessing is to
call some of that wholeness upon a person now.
— John O'Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us
Bequest – upper and lower springs (Judges 1:15)
JOS 15:13 In accordance with
the LORD's command to him, Joshua gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in
Judah--Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 14 From
Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites--Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai--descendants
of Anak. 15 From there he marched against the people living in Debir (formerly
called Kiriath Sepher). 16 And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah in
marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher." 17 Othniel son of
Kenaz, Caleb's brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in
JOS 15:18 One day when she came
to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her
donkey, Caleb asked her, "What can I do for you?"
JOS 15:19 She replied, "Do me a
special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs
of water." So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
JDG12 And Caleb said, "I will
give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath
Sepher." 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it; so Caleb
gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage. JDG 1:14 One day when she came to
Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her
donkey, Caleb asked her, "What can I do for you?" JDG 1:15 She replied, "Do me a
special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs
of water." Then Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
In the desert, water springs are
very important and strategic. Whoever who controls the water control the area.
Without water, nothing grows. Without water, all living things die. A spring is
a place where water comes to the surface of the desert. Normally water is
absorbed into a porous soil and then sinks until it encounter a non-porous rock
such as igneous rock. There it remains until it finds an outlet where it flows
to the surface. However, depending on the source of these springs, it may dry
out in summer or very hot seasons. These are the upper springs. Some water
collects in large underground chambers. So of it is under pressure and is what
we called the artesian wells. They never dry up. These are the lower or nether
springs. London and Paris is situated over such a reservoir. South and Western
Australia has a large reservoir. These wells or springs never run dry. So Caleb
was very generous when he gave to his daughter, Acsah, both the upper and lower
springs. In modern day Israel, the desert is a major agricultural area because
of water from these springs.
will you be leaving behind?
May you recognize in your life the presence, power,
and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you
intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that
you have a special destiny here,
that behind the façade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride,
and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.
— John O'Donohue in Anam Cara
Appendix: Lectio Divina
Lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-oh di-vee-nuh) has been
used for over 1,500 years. Literally, it means “divine reading’, ‘spiritual
reading’ or ‘sacred reading’. The primary source of what is read in lectio is
the Bible. It is gaining popularity as more and more people are finding it a
powerful way to nurture their spiritual lives. As evangelicals, we have
concentrated on the study of the Bible. We have come to know a lot about the
Bible. But we have not been very good at applying the Bible, much less hearing
God through the Bible. Lectio divina is an approach that builds on serious Bible
study but moves to new depths as we open ourselves to God through the Bible.
PS 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
PS 119:15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
PS 119:48 I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on
PS 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and
admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and
spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
1.The history of Lectio Divina
The early monks and nuns approached the Bible by means of lectio divina. In the
daily routine of the monasteries and convent, there is specific time set aside
for study, prayer and work. One of the leaders to commend lectio divina as a
spiritual exercise was Benedict, an Italian monk who lived in the fifth and
sixth centuries (about 480-550).
During the time set aside for study, a monk (or a nun) would go to a quiet place
and begin to repeat aloud a passage from the Bible. Often this is taken from the
Psalms or Gospels. The monk would speak the passage out loud until a particular
word or phrase strikes him. Then he would stop and ponder this word or phrase,
understanding it to be a word from God for him. In lectio divina, the
practitioner looks for direct message from God. This meditation (which is what
he is doing) will lead naturally into prayer as the monk seeks to communicate
with the Lord. As he moved further and further into prayer, he will come to a
place where he rested in the presence of the Lord. This is the state of
2.The process of Lectio Divina
In the twelfth century, Guigo II. A French Carthusian monk developed lectio into
a four step exercise:
2.1 Reading/Listening (lectio)
Read out a short passage of Scripture. When we read aloud, we become both
proclaimer and hearer of the Word of God. As you read, listen for the word or
phrase that speaks to you. What is the Spirit drawing your attention to?
2.2 Meditating (meditatio)
Repeat aloud the word or phrase that attracts you. Make connections between it
and your life. What is God saying to you by means of this word or phrase?
2.3 Praying (oratio)
Now, take these thoughts and offer them back to God in prayer, giving thanks,
asking for guidance, asking for forgiveness, and resting in God’s love. What is
God leading you to pray?
2.4 Contemplating (contemplatio)
Move from the activity of prayer to the stillness of contemplation. Simply rest
in God’s presence. Stay open to God. Listen to God. Remain in peace and silence
before God. How is God revealing Himself to you?
3.Entering into Lectio Divina
3.1 Select a passage, which you have read and perhaps
studied previously so that text and context are familiar to you.
3.2 As you come to the text you need to slow down. You are
coming to wait before God, a waiting upon Him.
3.3 Posture – are you sitting well? Kneel if you desire. Sit
if you need to. Be comfortable. Create space – secure and
peaceful. The environment –flowers, music, special place, outdoor etc.
Mark of block of time – 10-30 minutes a day. Make it regular.
3.4 Centring (Centering) – integrating yourself – mind, body
and spirit. Breathing exercise – palms up (to give up to God); palms down
(to receive from God). Recall a gift; sing hymn; recite a creed, etc.
3.5 Initial prayer – invoke God’s presence. Announcing that
you are ‘waiting upon God’. You are seeking His presence.
3.6 Turn to the passage – this is the passage for me;
savor the words; appreciate its inner and hidden meaning for me;
carefully and tenderly hold the words.
3.7 Read it aloud, slowly and softly. Notice the punctuation. Slow
down and breathe more slowly. Watch for the commas and periods. Taste the
flavor of the Word; hear the gracious Word of God; see the content
of the Word.
3.8 Read it again (or a third time). Gently dwell on each
word, each phrase, each sentence. Read slower.
3.9 If distractions come, recognize them and tell them that
you will come back to them later.
3.10 Attitude – patiently abiding in God’s presence and care of
listening and looking in humble expectancy.
3.11 You can intersperse the reading with prayer, praise, petition,
confession, or whatever comes into your heart.
3.12 Times of barrenness and darkness are also times of
spiritual transformation. Do not depend on our feedings.
3.13 Stay with your impressions that come. Concentrate on one or
two. Ask God to show you what they mean. Connect them with your present
life issue/ problem/ circumstance, etc. Do you need assurance? Does it reveal
your present situation? Are you in some need? Is it some issue you do not want
to face at present?
3.14 At the end of the meditation, write down your impressions
in your journal. Speak to your mentor or your close Christian friends or
your spouse about them. Connect them to your life. This is important because
some other person can help you make sense of what has been given to you. You can
also check on God’s message to you.
‘For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged
sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”
Hebrews 4:12 KJV
"treat, heal, and comfort always"
"spiritual forming disciples of
Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"