How I became an Arsenal fan

arsenal badgeI have been an Arsenal fan for ten years now. But it was not so before. When I was in Swiss Cottage Secondary School, I was a Derby County fan and then a Nottingham Forest fan. I liked manager Brian Clough and followed wherever he went except for his Leeds blip.  He brought the best out of his teams on a tight budget and that could only mean he was a genius.

Arsene Wenger  joined Arsenal in 1996 (when Arsenal was known as “boring Arsenal, 1-nil to Arsenal”) and was of a similar stature though of opposite temperament from Clough. He is more professorial, understated, detached, left-brained and philosophical.  Like Clough, he pieced together teams on a reasonable budget but got arsene wengerthem to play together like a premier orchestra. He transformed boring Arsenal into exciting Arsenal. That converted me into a fan. This is the only British team that plays with a Brazilian attacking flair. They are entertaining, and I hate it so it when they play against leg-kicking, anti-football teams. Yesterday, Arsene Wenger became the longest serving manager in Arsenal’s history and I hope he continues with the club till death do them part. This is unrealistic. Succession would be a real problem. They have to find someone with the same philosophy of football. It could be someone from the “Invincibles” team like  Henri Thierry. Or Tony Adams. As long as the baton exchange takes place without incident. I really wish Arsenal well in the post-Arsene era.

I am perhaps more a follower of managers. I sometimes ask myself, “Would I continue as a fan of Arsenal, if Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s heart and soul moved on? What if the players  and style of play changed, and it was no longer recognizable?” I probably would not remain a fan. Many fans are admirably or masochistically loyal to their clubs even when the club has been relegated numerous levels. I don’t think I can endure that kind of humiliation and pain. This makes me a fair-weather and happy fan! 🙂

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A slow down at Bukit Timah hill

 

Out of decay of hurry can come new life

hurried living cuts us off from His life

On Monday, a friend told me that we need to learn to be fully present and learn to savor life. Singapore is all rush and no hush. We do not savor our food; we gulp it down. The same with people. We are  not fully present with them. Our minds wander. We think we know what they want to say before they have finished. We are even assessing various solutions in our minds while nodding our heads. Children and their surprising spurts of growth and spasms of emotional turmoil are glossed over while we check on their school assignments. We are well off, yet poor. We have a high standard of living but a low quality of life.

 

This morning I decided to trek Bukit Timah hill alone and slow down and taste fully the sights and sounds of the forest. When I began walking I said to myself, “Slowly…..slowly.” Ever so often I paused to look around. When I see a good angle or the play of light on forest trees or floor, I take the mobile and shoot. I stopped at different points to drink and rest. Several times, I stood still and muttered the Lord’s prayer with heart and soul. It helped bring my frisky mind to rest. I would like to do this again…..and alone. Solitude with the Lord amongst trees and open skies heals and fills me. (put your cursor over pics and pray)

spring water for the thirst...and the brave

journeying with Christ is never without color

if love is not the greatest, then what is

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Church growth in the USA

This was what happened in the past(Source: Bob Buford, My Next Book Year 5):

Church historian Rodney Stark reports between 1960 and 2000, the Episcopal Church declined 55% in terms of members per 1,000 U.S. population. The United Methodist Church declined 49%, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) declined 49%. Megachurches have doubled in number and size in the past five years. This leaves the churched population among Christians at about 40% attending regularly. It also says, with about 85% nominally Christian in the U.S., only about half of them regularly attend church. They are not unChristian; they are unchurched.

These are currently the largest and fastest growing churches in the USA (Source: Outreach Magazine 09/09):

LARGEST (church name; location; pastor; attendance)
1. Lakewood Church; Houston, TX; Joel Osteen; 43,500
2. LifeChurch.tv; Edmond, OK; Craig Groeschel; 26,776
3. Willow Creek Community Church; South Barrington, IL; Bill Hybels; 23,400
4. North Point Community Church; Alpharetta, GA; Andy Stanley; 23,377
5. Second Baptist Church; Houston, TX; Ed Young, Sr.; 22,723

FASTEST-GROWING (church name; location; pastor; attendance growth by number; percentage growth)
1. New Life Church; Conway, AR; Rick Bezet; growth: 2,200; 61%
2. Calvary Temple Worship Center; Modesto, CA; Glen Berteau; growth: 3,180; 43%
3. Cornerstone Church of San Diego; National City, CA; Sergio De La Mora; growth: 1,439; 59%
4. Elevation Church; Charlotte, NC; Steven Furtick; growth: 1,598; 44%
5. Faith Church of St. Louis; Fenton, MO; David Crank; growth: 1,138; 102%

And here is a snapshot of the house church. Is this the future? (Source: Barna update 30/09/09)

Barna Research asked survey respondents about house churches by defining them as, “part of a group of believers that meets regularly in a home or place other than a church building. These groups are not part of a typical church; they meet independently, are self-governed and consider themselves to be a complete church on their own. Do you participate in such a group, sometimes known as a house church or simple church, that is not associated in any way with a local, congregational type of church?” The response to this inquiry consistently generates just 3% to 6% of all adults saying they have been involved in such an assembly during a typical month. Broader definitions of a house church generated “yes” answers from up to 33% of respondents. Barna Research reported in 2006 that 1 in 5 adults attend house churches. A follow-up study by Center for Missional Research commissioned a Zogby study that asked. “Do you meet weekly with a group of 20 people or less to pray and study Scriptures as your primary form of spiritual or religious gathering?” 26.3% of the 3,600 Americans polled answered “yes”.

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