The Power of Right Believing by Joseph Prince

This is a collation of several posts about Joseph Prince’s book titled “The Power of Right Believing”. In the past I had written a string of reflections following the reading of each part spread over some time, as it was done while I was busy in ministry. I noticed that people do read these old posts even though they are all over the place. For convenience, I pulled them all together in internal links for the convenience of readers.








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The Future of Humanity: life on Mars?

It is quite fascinating to read a book like Michio Kaku’s “The Future of Humanity”. It is full of interesting details about outer space and the possibility of human beings becoming a multiplanet species that can colonise Mars and other planets. This is not a review as I have not completed the book but an off-the-cuff reflection on some of the things I have read thus far. 


I felt astounded by the arrogant assumptions and imaginations of migrating people to other planets, particularly Mars, and the sheer amount of money that countries and private citizens were prepared to invest in their pursuit of this vision. I felt equally saddened that such energy, vision, passion and resources would not be harnessed to practise love of our poorer neighbour countries and human community. I find it tragic that a richly resourced country like the USA, and billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have visions of conquering space and colonising Mars instead of redistributing their wealth. Visions with love of neighbour is always greater, grander, nobler and more inspiring and leaves unforgettable legacies. I suppose human nature being what it is, we should not expect from humans anything more than the pursuit of self-interest.


The reasons for making humans a multiplanet species is the supposed danger of earth’s extinction. Possibilities of self-destruction include global warming, modern nuclear as well as biological warfare, and an expanding population with limited resources. Then there are natural disasters we have no control over, like pandemics (covid-19 came after the book was published in 2018), onset of another ice age, colossal eruption of the super-volcano under Yellowstone National Park, future meteor and comet impacts on earth, and the expansion of the sun. Escaping to another planet would be the Plan B and Mars currently seem the best candidate for forming a human colony before earth becomes extinct. 

The way I see it there is no need to do all this. The future of earth and humanity is already clearly and plainly revealed for us in the Bible. Let me quote a few passages of scriptures regarding this. Jesus in answering a question the disciples asked, “What will be the sign of your coming, and of the close of the age?” said to his disciples: “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:5-14) 

Peter the chief of the apostles of Christ had this to say about the end of this age: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10-13)

Both passages speak of a frightening and climactic period of great human distress, natural disasters and destruction leading to the final and glorious appearance and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule an earth that has been purged and regenerated by God’s power and creativity into a new heaven and new earth where justice and righteousness will be established.

The future will not be life on Mars, but life on a renewed heaven and earth for all of God’s people.

This is my firm belief too, so reading this fantastically put together future of life on Mars, while thrilling and astounding, left me feeling déjà vu, like viewing in slow motion another Tower of Babel ending about to unfold. 

Lord GOD, You control the future of humanity and what it looks like has been revealed by Your prophets. We pray for wisdom to live with this revelation in mind, as we look forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to consummate the end of this age. Amen and Amen.

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What I learned from Netflix’s “My Octopus Teacher”

Initially, the title turned me off from pressing the play button. “What could this be about?” Probably a documentary about the eight-legged mollusc similar to a Korean dish called sannakji, killed and eaten raw. Not very appealing, as I recalled my culinary experience of having moving tentacles in my mouth. 

However, a month or so later, on an impulse I pressed play and was hooked on the film from its beginning to its end. As it turned out, this mollusc is of a different variety than the “baby octopus” that Koreans serve on a metal plate. It has to be, for the award-winning documentary’s lead actress was a much bigger, more intelligent, lady octopus that a burn-out filmmaker Craig Foster fell in love with.


I was delighted with the film for many reasons. I loved the way the documentary conveyed interesting information about the octopus in a story of a man’s transformation. I was amazed at how beautifully and gloriously and painstakingly the filming underwater had been done – the seascapes, the dancing kelp forest, the colourful fishes and corals, the snappy sharks, the strange looking crustaceans and the editing ….oh my how many manhours of filming and editing it must have taken. I loved the happy resolution of the early tensions: the burnout man went back to filming, found meaning and started a conservation NGO, and drew closer to his once-distant son. If this was done by a Korean director, it would have shown something about how his relationship with his wife worsened during his burnout and his obsession with the lady octopus (daily for 300 days he eagerly sought his undersea mistress), and how it was finally patched up. Yes, please do a part 2 and show us what happened with his wife. 

As I reflected on this film, I realize I too can learn a few things from this lady octopus. Well for one, the film points me to a Creator who created all creatures and the environment they live in – made so that every creature, including the crown of God’s creation – the human being- has a role in this my Father’s world. I cannot help but praise the Father for the way he created lady octopus with such artistry and genius, and this is but one tiny creature of the ocean’s floor.

This is my Father’s world

And to my listening ears

All nature sings and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees

Of skies and seas

His hand the wonders wrought.

(hymn: “This is my Father’s world”

As the Bible says, “The sea belongs to Him, for He made it”(Ps 95.5)

Second, it shows me how human being’s relationship with God’s creation should be one of wonder, respect and intelligent care. Having formed a kind of recognition and understanding with the lady octopus, I doubt the protagonist would consider putting his lady muse on his dining table like any Korean or Chinese would, but I would not stop eating that slice of octopus on a sashimi plate. God has given mankind all of creation – plants and creatures – as food, so I have no issue with dipping that slice in the sauce and putting it in my mouth. What we eat and how we eat is a matter of culture but sustainability and stewardship must surely be an important part of God’s intention for all mankind to acknowledge, and part of the Christian’s responsibility to steward.


Third, we can all get healed and whole. The octopus lost one of its eight tentacles to a shark attack. It went into a hole, grew weak and ill, but as it hid and rested in the silence, the fresh wound healed and a new tentacle began to grow out, and with time the lady octopus became as energetic and whole as before. In Christ the rock, we can find ourselves renewed, in rest and silence and retreat. I have been there before and if you have read my other blogposts about the retreats I had gone and received healing and wholeness, you will understand why I identify somewhat with the lady octopus.

Fourth, I am reminded that there is an enemy and we have to be armed with tactics for protection and to overcome his attacks. The film directors gave us a glimpse of this defence tactic at the beginning to stir our curiousity and later revealed that the soft mollusc used hard shells from the seafloor to cover itself both as camouflage and as a hard shield against the shark’s teeth. I am reminded of the need to realise that while we are grateful and enjoy God’s beautiful and plentiful world, there are dangerous enemies that wield sharp weapons that can fatally hurt us, so we need to have a proper defence and vigilance: “watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation”.

Fifth, this octopus film is very instructive of preaching. To be able to preach in the form of a story is an art. Not every sermon can be preached this way: begin with the tension and problem (a burn out filmmaker) and slowly introduce other characters and factors (the kelp forest, the octopus, other sea creatures, the protagonist’s son) that would bring a resolution of the tension/problem at the end. Some sermons are better preached like a film, with a storyboard, rather than with a thesis followed by a deductive three point outline. Such sermons will surely hold people’s attention, especially the younger digital natives generation that grew up on films and stories in its manifold social media forms.

If you have not seen this Netflix documentary, may I encourage you to watch it. After watching it, the story stayed with me for a few days, showing me, teaching me. The Father used all kinds of things to teach Jesus: lost sheep, lilies of the field, the farmer sowing and ploughing, etc. and he can use a film like this to teach us lessons that are tailor-made for each of us and will surprise us too. 

If you have already watched this film and it impacted you, do share with us what you have learned from watching this film in the comment box. God bless you.

Father, thank you for your glorious creation. You have given us a wonderful treasure and gift. Help us to appreciate, value and steward it with respect and intelligence and determination. Let your creation continue to sing your praises and testify of your goodness and genius. In Jesus’ name we give you praise.

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The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd: a reflection

I wanted to read something different after I retired and asked for book recommendations from a church member who keeps an Instagram account called “curiousbookreviewer” with over 5231 followers. She passed me three books, one on time travel by a Japanese author, on which I wrote a reflection HERE. Soon after that, I started on her second recommendation, a thriller titled, The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd.

I have watched many a thriller movie but hardly read books of this genre. I had mixed feelings. The cover and the blurb warned me of a peer into the twisted depths of the human heart and I must admit to being reluctant to begin.

Somehow I managed to make a start and was immediately gripped by the writer’s use of striking phrases, metaphors and descriptions. As the atmosphere darkened with the abduction of the heroine, a clever 13 year old student chess player at a tournament, I chickened out and stalled a few weeks. One day Grace visited my daughter and I asked her, “Did the abductee survive in the end?”. When she said, “Yes”, it gave me the guts to continue reading. What for most would be a spoiler became a prodder for me.

I was absorbed by the mystery, the twists and turns in the plot, the engrossing characters and use of first person narrative by the two main protagonists in the book. One night I read until my wife told me its already 1 am, quite normal for young people to be awake, but not for me. It became riveting in the final third, with a cliffhanger Hollywood finish. I must say the author probably wrote it with an aim at the big screen. I am no purist so to me he did a great job and I am sure some director will make it into a profitable hit.

Human nature is capable of the most deceptive, inhumane and violent acts when it boils down to survival. Unfortunately the two protaganists, one a thirteen year old, had to resort to deception and violence to survive. The human psyche has ingenious defence mechanisms to protect itself from trauma, harm and guilt.

I believe the intent of the author is purely entertainment and commercial (which is okay) and this is no study of human nature. I enjoyed the ride, I mean the read, and look forward to the final book, which is Michio Kaku’s “The Future of Humanity”, a futuristic look at man’s future with the current developments in science and technology, for example, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology. I wonder if he will include the threat of pandemics in his projections.

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Before The Coffee Gets Cold: a Spiritual Reflection

It was an award-winning Japanese play byToshikazu Kawaguchi. The author then converted it into a novel. The novel is clad with its birthmarks. This troubled some who read it but the cut and paste did not trouble me much. I find this a moving, poignant novel about the stage of bargaining we go through when we experience a great loss. 


Goodreads summarizes the story this way: “In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: a businesswoman to confront the man who left her; a nurse to receive a letter from her husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s; a sister who runs a mini-hostess bar to see her sister one last time; and the café owner’s wife to meet the daughter she never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold.


So why would they want to go to a different time when there is no chance of changing the past? Why would they want to meet the person they wanted to meet? What would they say to them or want to hear from them? These questions stem from the “bargaining stage” of the grieving process, the “if onlys” and the “what ifs” and “I should haves”. The author crafted beautiful, poignant stories for each of these ladies who wanted to time-travel. It seemed to be made with an eye to a film, and indeed there is a Japanese film of the same title, based on the novel.

Each of the women’s past was not changed as a result of their time-travel but they themselves experienced a change within, arising from new information they had gotten from their brief visit to the a different time. It corrected their assumptions…indeed misled judgments, they each felt loved or hopeful, and the changes in perspectives transformed their attitudes towards their loved ones, their losses and their suffering.

I like this book. It made me feel, it moved me. It got me ruminating about it. It made me curious. It engaged me. I want to watch a film version if available.


It got me to thinking that it is important for us to go backwards in order to move forwards. There are painful, regretful, hurtful experiences and relationships we have in the past that needs re-visiting and reflection and prayer. When we bring all those past experiences and trauma or pain to God in prayer and dialogue with him, he will give us perspectives, graces and healing within that will transform us even though it does not change the past events nor the present situation. It just changes us. Such reflective prayer on past hurts and events that affected us is vital to living in the present with wholeness, and to propel us forward as disciples of Christ.

I certainly got more that I had expected from reading this book. I wanted to be entertained but found something deeper within its pages. Thanks to Grace Phua for introducing me to this book.

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