Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Open House at The Bridge Office

On Friday night, Dec 14th, 5:00-8:00, our church hosted an open house for the 7-story building where we have our office, seminar space, and meeting hall. We have five embassies and several businesses as fellow tenants, and we wanted the chance to get acquainted with our neighbors. Here are a few photos from the event. The three men posing with Jeni and me are from the Embassy of Afghanistan. One local staffer with the Finnish Embassy said, "In my ten years here, no one has ever done this. This is great!" We invited all to come: from the ambassadors on "down" to the security guards and the cleaning girls from Indonesia. It was a very nice evening. Thanks to all who helped organize and decorate, especially Ann Jones, Irene Lim, Rachel Sekar, and our own caterer, Seet Wai Song.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Light-hearted Look at Presidential Politics in the USA

A little political humor from my favorite candidate for president, Mike Huckabee...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bridge Worship Team Retreat at Kampar

Thirteen members of our Worship Team traveled a couple of hours north Nov 8-10 for a team-building and training retreat. The town, Kampar, is an old tin-mining town near Ipoh known for its lakes and some delicious Malaysian dishes.
We enjoyed the Bible teaching of RT Kendall by video and the worship and music instruction of Paul Baloche and his band, also by video.
We ventured onto the Kampar River for some white water rafting on Friday afternoon. Fourteen rapids going down a swiftly flowing mountain river! (Category 1 thru 3 rapids for enthusiasts who know what that means.) It was enough to give some of the ladies a scare! But no one was hurt, thankfully -- just some bumps, a bruise or two, and sore muscles later for some people from the paddling! BTW, until we get some of Nathan's photos of our time on the river, the tour company's web site photo will have to do. (See above.)

We memorized a verse together, Zephaniah 3:17.
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV) It's encouraging to know that, even as we enjoy singing our praise and adoration to Him, He is delighted to love us, take away our shame, and reward our humility and trust. What a gracious God and Savior! It is indeed a joy to praise Him with this dedicated group of musicians and worshipers.

Special thanks, Joseph, Rachel, and Immanuel, for your sacrificial service to us and to the Lord. And thanks to the whole team for your great cooperative attitudes! You're the best!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Musa to Miri :-(

Our young friend, Bridge regular, Worship Team vocalist, Sunday School teacher, and Alpha Course helper, Musa (aka Moses ;), is leaving KL tomorrow night for the town of Miri in Sarawak, East Malaysia. He's planning on doing a course and getting certified in Occupational Health and Safety. We had special prayer for him last Sunday night in our Worship Team meeting and again tonight before the Alpha meeting. Musa, you will be sorely missed! What a fine example you have been of serving any and every way you can. We will keep praying for God's clear direction as you seek first the Kingdom and trust Him for your future vocation. Selfishly we also pray that you can come back and work (and play!) among us, your Bridge family.

God speed, brother! We all love ya! And please keep us posted at your blog. :-) []

Thursday, August 02, 2007

August Itinerary

I'm traveling...
  • Flying from KL late Friday night, 3 Aug; arriving DFW, TX Saturday morning 9:00am.
  • Driving to Delta County, near Paris, TX, Saturday, 4 Aug.
  • Speaking at East Delta Baptist Church, Delta County, Sunday morning, 5 Aug.
  • In Fort Worth for appointments, Tuesday, 7 Aug.
  • Flying from DFW Wednesday morning, 8 Aug; arriving Jacksonville, FL Wed afternoon.
  • Time with Abby and relatives in Jacksonville.
  • Driving from Jax with Abby, arriving Tampa, Friday afternoon, 10 Aug.
  • Speaking at Tampa Baptist Church, Sunday morning, 12 Aug.
  • Week with Abby getting ready for first year at Southeastern University, Lakeland, FL.
  • Parent-Student Orientation at SEU, 18-19 Aug.
  • Abby starts classes, 22 Aug.
  • Flying from Tampa, Friday morning, 24 Aug, 7:00am; arriving back in Malaysia, 25 Aug, 11:45pm.
Preaching at The Bridge while I'm gone...

05 Aug -- Mr Chris Sekar (counselor)
12 Aug -- Col Hilton Smith (elder)
19 Aug -- Assoc Pastor Lisa Great

As I return...

26 Aug -- Assoc Pastor Lisa Great

Thanks, guys! See ya in about three weeks!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chow Kit Street Kids

Today in a lunch meeting of our small group leaders, pastors, and elders, a concern came up that we as a church should consider how to focus and mobilize ourselves to meet some social needs in our city -- how to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Kuala Lumpur. A specific example mentioned was the street children of Chow Kit, KL's red light district.

This afternoon later, while browsing news on the internet, I saw a headline, "Helping Malaysia's street children" which linked to the video report below from Al Jazeera. Coincidence? Or God-incident? You tell me.

We will be exploring the possibilities and taking some steps soon, I believe, to follow the Spirit's guidance into the lives of at-risk children in KL. We have the resources. It only remains to be seen whom God will raise up as a leader, and who will follow.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Waxing Nostalgic with "Tammy"

Dear reader, you may think that this is an odd music video for me to link to, but actually it represents an old memory from my childhood -- not the movie, the song. Debbie Reynolds, that icon of Hollywood wholesomeness sings a melancholy love song called, "Tammy". My parents sang it as a lullaby for my sister and me when we very young. Oh, the memories! Back scratches, "Tammy" and "Can I have a glass of water, please?"

The song is from the 1957 movie "Tammy and the Bachelor" starring Debbie Reynolds, Leslie Nielsen, and Walter Brennan. Click here to watch and listen to the song. The lyrics are here.

The picture is of Debbie from the 1950s. And for my younger readers, that is a record player she is sitting next to. [It's for playing music recorded with grooves on double sided vinyl discs -- not for hip-hop groups or DJs to scratch with. :-) ]

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Current Alpha Group Photo

Click photo for larger view.
Alpha Weekend Away
Awana Resort, Genting Highlands, Malaysia
14-15 April 2007

*Photo credit, Immanuel Dalantau; but actually taken by an unnamed security guard with Immanuel's camera :)

Alpha Weekend Away -- God's Spirit Visits Us

I just returned today from our Alpha Weekend Away in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. In the middle of our eleven-week course, 26 of us went up for a weekend of fellowship, fun, food, and learning. The three teaching sessions were centered on the person and work of the Holy Spirit -- the Spirit of Jesus. And He visited us in wonderful ways today. After the morning session, entitled, “How Can I Be Filled with the Holy Spirit?”, several people made professions of faith in Jesus, and others were convicted by the Word of God causing them to confess and to ask to be forgiven, filled, and empowered by the Spirit of God. And He was faithful to meet with us. There were many tears shed, inner wounds healed, and some prodigals found the love of the Father. Praise His Name!

It was truly an international gathering. Ten countries were represented, including a few from “restricted access” nations. For the sake of their security, I won’t mention names or countries.

I will, however, thank God for our Alpha Team: Derrick (ministry leader), Michelle, Ivy, Chwan Keng, Immanuel, Musa, Ian; and small group leaders/helpers this time: Don, Kurt, Amir, and Mahamoud. Other helpers have been, and were for this weekend, Martin and Irene. Up until recently, our scrumptious dinners were faithfully provided by Wai Song and Christine; now Chris and Winnie are handling the catering. God bless you all!

This is our ninth course in three and a half years. These folks, and others before them, have worked hard and patiently as volunteers for the joy of seeing people come to faith in Jesus and experience the fullness of His Spirit. Several new believers from Alpha have moved on to other countries because of jobs or studies; some have continued to work with us in Alpha as helpers and leaders; and other new believers are serving now at The Bridge in other capacities.

Every time, the weekend away strengthens ties of friendship in the group -- even when some participants do not yet come to faith. We grow closer together, and the Lord keeps working to draw people to Himself. And every Alpha Weekend, He answers our prayers for the pouring out of His Spirit on believers and seekers. What a loving, faithful God we serve!

If you'd like a report on the fun stuff -- the entertainment night -- I bet Immanuel and Musa will have something on their blogs. It was a great time of good, clean fun, MC'd by Mahamoud! :-)

P.S. (16 July) Now Immanuael has a post up, and a photo; but Musa's down with a sore throat. :-( Praying you'll be well soon, brother!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tagged -- Five Things I Dig about Jesus

I've been tagged by my friend Sugar Jeffcoat...

The rules are simple:

1. Those tagged will share 5 things they dig about Jesus.
2. Those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers.

Five Things I Dig about Jesus...
  1. His intimacy with God: He spoke and acted only according to His Father's directions.
  2. His friends: He hung out with sinners.
  3. His grace: He never shamed anyone who had already been condemned by the religious crowd.
  4. His method: He called and trained very ordinary people as leaders of His movement.
  5. His wisdom: He confounded the Pharisees every time they tried to trip Him and trap Him with a question.
And now I tag...

Amir (hurry up and get a blog!)

Monday, May 07, 2007

What a Privilege!

This is just a quick post to share a bit of the joy I have been experiencing recently. In the last week, I have had the privilege of sharing some Bible basics with two men in their twenties who are spiritually hungry. They are from two different "restricted access" countries (not Malaysia). One never had a Bible until I gave him one last night. The other had only recently been given a Bible but he has not yet read much of it. They both have been coming to the Alpha Course we offer at The Bridge. In addition to the weekly Alpha Course meetings, we three men will be reading John's Gospel together now once a week, and it is an absolute joy to hear them read and to discuss their questions. Opportunities like this excite me and keep me glad to be serving where I am. Pray for us, please, that there will be a counting of the cost and a joyous determination to follow the Savior and be an ambassador for Him. Maybe I will be able to post some details later; or maybe their stories will be better shared by email with interested inquirers. ;)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Graduation Announcement

Abigail Lynn Nelson

After eight years of schooling in Malaysia at The International School of Kuala Lumpur, Abby will graduate from high school on June 1, 2007 near the top of her class. (Proud parents must mention her SAT score of 2100, 4 point something GPA, plus participation in wind ensemble [clarinet], Tri-M, NHS, peer helpers, varsity girls basketball and softball -- and the worship ministry at chur
ch!) She plans to start at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL in August (, and she’s planning to major in English and Intercultural Studies which includes the equivalent of a minor in Bible. This major equips the graduate to teach English at the high school level and English as a Second Language in cross-cultural settings. Did I mention we're proud of Abby? We're proud of both our daughters. (Sarah has only two more years to go in high school and is also doing very well.) We are so blessed!

Abby would love to hear from friends, family, and well-wishers! You could comment here and she can read 'em, or I'll pass 'em on. Thanks!

Monday, March 26, 2007

New Location for The Bridge

On Easter Sunday we plan to celebrate New Life and a new location for our church. Renovations on the office and Sunday School/seminar space started last week and are supposed to take only ten days. We believe we'll be ready by Easter Sunday for the service in the large hall on the ground floor and for Sunday School space at our 7th floor location. After that, we'll begin to settle into our new office space. We're in the process now of choosing paint, carpets, furnishings, etc. A busy time.

Please pray with us that we will honor the Lord with our worship and reach many people with the Good News of His love and power to change their lives. My message will be "Come Alive!: to a Better Way of Living".

With this post are a couple more photos. The main hall and front entrance are pictured below in the Jan 8 post.

Monday, March 12, 2007

McLaren in Malaysia

On March 3rd and 5th, I got the chance to meet and converse a bit with American pastor-teacher-author and spokesman of Emergent Village, Brian McLaren. He was invited by our mutual friend and Malaysian pastor Sivin Kit to stop over in Malaysia on his way to Australia. (That's Brian and Sivin in the photo.)

I’m glad I went to the conference and the dinner that Sivin and several others organized. I listened closely to Brian’s provocative talks, interpretations of Scripture, and wide-ranging stories. I wrote elsewhere that his approach to theology and evangelism intrigues, inspires, and troubles me, all at the same time--which is, I think, the kind of reaction he is hoping for from pastors like me (I’m only five years his junior.) I found Brian to be very down-to-earth, approachable, and eschewing of any VIP treatment. He genuinely wants to interact and learn from others--especially in the "two-thirds world". This is refreshing. I also appreciated the insights of the several Malaysian church leaders and thinkers who engaged him in public conversation.

Brian’s visit prompted me to hurry and read one of his many recent books before he arrived, A Generous Orthodoxy, and to look again at Reinventing Your Church, his first book. I bought that book (now republished as The Church on the Other Side) back in 2004 as part of a small bundle of books for the elders of our brand new church to read and discuss. And in 2006 I bought A Generous Orthodoxy to see what all the fuss was about regarding Emergent ideas and Brian McLaren. When I heard he was coming to KL, I thought I should at least go ahead and read what I bought! Maybe I could ask an intelligent question. (Turns out I did a lot of listening and thinking and processing instead.)

What attracts me most about Brian and the whole emerging church movement is the combination of humility and passion--humility expressed through listening in conversations with Christians and non-Christians about truth and ultimate reality, and passion expressed in reaching present and emerging generations with the Good News of Jesus through patient and serving relationships.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything Brian writes or says, but that’s ok. The conversation can sharpen us both, if we’re willing to listen to one another and keep conversing, rather than shut down too quickly and lazily label the other as an opponent. Too many of us Christians operate this way over theological, political, and moral issues.

Thank you, Sivin, and thank you, Brian, for your “quiet revolution of hope”. I believe Jesus is calling us all to be revolutionaries in His cause--to participate in passionate actions and humble conversations for the purpose of world transformation. And all the while, we must stay in intimate connection with Jesus lest we get off track. "Thy Kingdom come, Lord, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Baptist History, Identity, and Charismatic Gifts

In response to an article in the Florida Baptist Witness, I wrote a letter to the editor which he declined to publish saying that, despite my deep Southern Baptist and Florida Baptist roots, seminary education and pastoral experience, it would be inappropriate since I was "not now a Southern Baptist." I thought I would post it here and invite any comments. (BTW, the Background Info below was for the editor's benefit, not for publication.)

20 Feb 2007

Dear Editor,

I’m compelled to write regarding your recent article on Baptist identity and charismatic gifts today. ("Is charismatic theology historically Baptist? The current debate in SBC life concerning ‘private prayer language’ may hinge on whose Baptist history is correct.") I do not believe your question can be satisfactorily answered by an appeal to Baptist history. The beliefs and practices of yesterday’s Baptists should not be determinative of Baptist identity today -- understood and appreciated, yes, but not determinative. Here's why...

Baptists have sporadically experienced revivals and movements of the Spirit, no doubt, but we have not, until modern times, seriously interacted with biblical scholarship on this issue. So, with a nod to Baptist history and historical theology, I believe it's more important to do theology for today. Every generation must understand and apply the Scriptures to its own context. And if our Baptist identity is affected, so be it. We must remain people of the Book, even if today's interpretations challenge yesterday’s identity.

I do not equate private prayer language with Spirit-fulness but I do believe it is a valid gift and sign. Other New Testament gifts and signs are just as valid and even more needed today for ministry today (teaching, prophecy, discernment, healing, casting out demons, etc.) I speak as one serving as a missionary pastor in Malaysia.

Maybe these are the last days in which God is pouring out His Spirit on all flesh, giving dreams and prophecies and other renewed gifts to men and women. I don't want to be one who says, "But we've never allowed that manifestation of the Spirit before!"

I dream of more "Word and power" churches in the SBC. We need a fresh wind of the Spirit blowing through all His churches, including and especially Southern Baptist ones.

Sincerely in Christ,
Todd Nelson

Background Information:
  • Tampa native; former youth pastor at Tampa Baptist Church (1981-83)
  • Former Univ. of Fla. Baptist Campus Ministry summer missionary to Miami Beach
  • Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary MDiv (1986) and PhD (1994)
  • Founding pastor of an international church in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Friday, January 12, 2007

GATOR RAID! Gators dominate Buckeyes to win college football title

The Florida Gators, my alma mater, shocked the college football world by running away with the national championship game Monday night in Phoenix, Arizona. They ran over, around, and through the Ohio State Buckeyes, 41-14. In winning this game, they did something never done before in US major college history. They captured both the men’s basketball title and the football title in the same year. It’s doubly great to be a Florida Gator!

I just wish I could have watched the game or listened on radio. Alas, no coverage here on our SE Asia satellite TV system! And no radio broadcast that I could find and listen to on the internet. Instead, I had to monitor the play-by-play on Yahoo Sports. At least I got live updates every 30 seconds in real time on my laptop Tuesday morning Malaysia time (we’re 13 hours ahead of US Eastern time.)

Year 2006 is the 100-year anniversary of Florida football. What an appropriate time to pull off one of the greatest upsets of the century. Exactly ten years ago under Coach Steve Spurrier, they won their first national football championship with a rout of arch rival and Number 1-ranked Florida State (Jeni’s former school!).Now under coach Urban Meyer a decade later, the Gators again dominated another undefeated team and brought home another trophy. Football and basketball champs in 2006. Go Gators!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Wedding and a Major Prayer Request

The handsome couple at left is Chris and Winnie Yen whose wedding I performed on Dec 2nd at our church. Winnie came to know the Lord through our Alpha Course in 2005. Both are Malaysians but Chris has lived in Taipei, Chicago, and other places. They have been active in our church single adult group for some time (known as CSI, "Christian Singles International.") Congrats to Chris and Winnie!

Please join us in praying that The Bridge will be able to successfully negotiate with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Kuala Lumpur to use their meeting hall and the top floor of their building. It's in a prime area of KL and near where we have been meeting since 2004. The hall seats 500-600 and we would have about 3000 sq ft of space for office, Sunday School, and other uses upstairs. We've been praying for over a year for a place that would give us room to grow. We sense that the Lord has brought this opportunity to us. The Chamber's Executive Council meets on Tuesday evening, 9 Jan to consider our second proposal (that's 13 hours ahead of US Eastern time, so 4 am Tues there). May we find favor in His eyes and in the deal with the CCC Council members. Thanks for praying! Here are photos of the main entrance and the hall.