Monday, July 27, 2015

Stocking up on gold and silver?

My hubby and I had dinner with someone we haven't met for a long time. Whilst the catching up was good, the conversation was skewed towards the end times and doomsday theories. They told and warned us of the imminent market collapse on 28th September, and that silver and gold is cheap now and we should invest and stock them up to prepare for it.

This is not the first time I'm being advised to stock up on gold and silver. But I was not convinced then and I'm still not, though I have become fearful with a "what-if" and "should I".

Well, I may be wrong and they may turn out to be right, what with my recent study on the prophecies in the book of Daniel, my devotion on Revelation and the recent political upheavals in my country.

But I found this article to be quite true: "Six Wrong Ways to Face the End Times (& One Right)". It has convinced me that stocking up for self-sufficiency is not the right way. In the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, God has warned us to return to him, to be righteous, humble and faithful.

And this article on "Why stock market crashes happen in the autumn" is really interesting, in response to the warning of the supposedly coming market collapse on 28 Sept.

It says, "over and over again, in years such as 1929, 1987 and 2008, markets crash in the autumn" and so even if it did crash in Sept, it may not be too surprising.

Well, this world is a fallen one, totally imperfect. I look in hope to the day when I see for myself the new heaven and new earth.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Pebble Time

My son has been bugging me to get him a Pebble smartwatch. To be fair, I've been trying to get him to wear a watch to no avail, and I've left him at it since.

It takes a smartwatch for him to change his mind.

He initially wanted the Original Pebble, with a black and white ePaper screen.

He sent me a link to get it online. He also told me that he has seen a store in Midvalley advertising it the last time he was there with his grandma.

So off we went to Midvalley after church to check it out. We found it in Rhapsody Time, LG floor. But they do not have the Original Pebble. They only have the latest model launched just a few months ago in May - the Pebble Time.

My son then changed his mind and wanted this one with a colour ePaper screen instead.

The Pebble watch was first released in 2013, backed by the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. When it started a Kickstarter fund sourcing for Pebble Time, it hit its $500,000 target in just 17 minutes. It finally achieved a fund of $20 million in total.

My hubby is a watch aficionado himself and he is open to the purchase of a Pebble Time. And I am a gadgety person warming towards it, which is good news for our son.

So it's time we bought one ;)

There are three colours to choose from: black, white and red. But black looks best, always. And he finally gets his binary watch, as below. He has been bugging his father to actually make him one.

We then found out that we actually bought a limited Kickstarter Backer edition. At first, we thought the price was a little higher than what we researched online but decided to still get it anyway so we don't have to wait for its delivery. Knowing now that the premium price we paid is for a limited edition, we are pleased. It's amusing that the shop assistant did not know what Kickstarter Backer means.

I would have gotten one for myself too except that I have just now discovered that with my recent onset of presbyopia, I cannot see anything worn on my wrist, and it will be pointless to get my glasses everytime I need to look at my watch.

So I will remain watchless.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Book: Plucked, A History of Hair Removal

If there is one thing I love to do is to get a hair wash at the salon. I enjoy the gentle massage and getting a good scrub on my scalp. As I think about it, I realise that we all have a thing about our hair. And since I like reading about the science and history of stuff, I went searching for a book on hair.

I didn't find any other than this from a recent review in The Economist.

Plucked, A History of Hair Removal
by Rebecca M. Herzig

Well, not exactly what I am looking for, a book on hair rather than its removal. But I shall put it in my list of next reads.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Books from Goodreads

I am an avid user of where I log in the books I've bought and books I've read. I also frequently check the book recommender section to find my next read.

But what I did today was to check if the site can match me to those with similar books, so as to find books that might interest me. But no, it doesn't do that.

So what I did instead was to find the reviewers of the books I love, get to their page and perform a "Compare Books". I found several people with considerable good matches.

I am checking their books and I found this one:

Reading Like A Writer, A Guide For People Who Loves Books and For Those Who Want To Write Them
by Francine Prose

I just got a copy and started reading it. It feels like a good read. Though I'm not really in the mood for reading these few days, I hope I will get back into it with this one.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

No more baths for me

How so peaceful this picture looks, dipping in a bath is definitely not for me.

I decided to have a herbal bath yesterday at the spa. I was told that it would take half an hour. I wondered how I will survive doing nothing for so long. It turned out that I got scrubbed with a herbal sachet for about twenty minutes and was left alone for a dip for ten.

It was the longest ten minutes in my life. I could not nap. The angle of the tub did not allow it. And how can one nap in water? With nothing to do, no book to read or my smartphone to keep my mind busy, I felt so confined. I can imagine how isolation can be used as an effective torture method.

It will be the last herbal bath I'll ever take.

Photo Source: Herbal Bath

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dim Sum and Spa Time

I took the day off today, to spend my birthday relaxed and by myself. But my hubby took me for lunch, I then went to a spa and finished it off with my highlight of every Wednesday, our Grace Notes weekly practice.

We had dim sum lunch in Grand Imperial Restaurant in Sunway Pinnacle. We ordered the "basics" in dim sum: har gau (prawn dumplings), siu mai (pork dumplings) and ham dan sau yuk juk (salted egg and pork porridge). We also ordered the restaurant's specialty, chui pei bao (crispy skin barbecue pork bun).

But the chef also made us two surprise special dishes: deep fried soft shell crab, and pork and peanut soup. They were absolutely delicious.

Siu Mai

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab

The Sculptured L'il Crab Lime on top of the soft shell crab



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What shall I do tomorrow?

It's my birthday tomorrow and I am taking the day off. In planning what to do, I googled for "what should I do alone on my birthday" in those exact words.

And the first link I tap on was this and it gave me a great idea: Celebrating Your Birthday Alone? 15 Things to Do.

This was the list (and my comments in parentheses):

1. Just relax, try and celebrate yourself by reflecting on the years that God has given you. Spend this day journaling, meditating and looking forward to the years ahead. (I kinda do this everyday.)

2. Spend the entire day at a spa! Get a full body massage, facial and body scrub! Get the works and celebrate yourself. (Excellent! Without looking further on the list, this is exactly what I'll do. I haven't gone to a spa in ages.)

3. Go on a vacation and take advantage of “me” time, meditate on the beach, buy yourself a drink and enjoy your own company. (Need more planning and time. Will do this in the next few years.)

4. Buy yourself a bottle of champagne and have a celebration of life! (Not my thing.)

5. Purchase tickets to the play that you always wanted to see. And grab a front row seat! Enjoy yourself. (No plays here. Wish there were.)

6. What would you like? Buy yourself a present. Yes and wrap it too. (Nah, I buy what I need when I need it. No need to wait till my birthday.)

7. Buy a ticket to see your favorite artist play, live! (See #5.)

8. Go shopping! (Err...I work in a shopping complex. So, nope.)

9. Celebrate yourself by hiring a photographer to have a picture perfect photoshoot! (Are you kidding? Not photogenic enough.)

10. Rent your favorite movie, most rental houses give you a free rental on your birthday! (Been watching too much movies and TV.)

11. Get excited to cook for yourself! Try out a new recipe and make a nice meal. (Me cook?)

12. For the bookworms, spend the day diving into the book you promised you would finish but never had the time. (This list is definitely not written by a bookworm. A bookworm reads everyday!!!)

13. Yes, you deserve a day off. If you can, call out on your birthday and relax. Have breakfast in bed and spend the day how you would like. (Yup, this is what I'm going to do exactly, though not the breakfast in bed part.)

14. Giving back feels good, spend the day donating your time and volunteering. (Good idea.)

15. When is the last time you’ve been to a museum? Spend the day exploring art. (Don't think there are any good museums here.)

So? I'd be looking for a spa to go.


Monday, July 20, 2015

A dangerous fallacy

Our preacher spoke about Watchman Nee in his sermon yesterday and he gave Nee's books high commendation, which I feel is worrying.

I have heard many times from reputable theological speakers and scholars say that Nee's theology is not very sound. And though I have not read anything by Nee, I would take these scholars' word for it.

When I brought this up amongst my friends, one of them commented that even though Nee is not theologically trained, it is good to read something different, something more spiritual and experience based.

I find that a dangerous fallacy.

When we read and learn about God and his truth, his gospel, we must only take God's word for it. Yes, we interpret what he says to understand it better and yes, we interpret it hermeneutically to apply his truth in our lives to live as his children. But we still interpret Scripture with Scripture, not based on our spirituality or experience (what "spirituality" really means warrants another long discussion altogether).

I'm not saying that our spirit and experience are not important. They are but they must rest on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

I was reading James M Hamilton's commentary on Revelation for devotion today and what he says here is relevant:
We must know the gospel, know our Bible, and know Christian theology so that we can tell the difference between someone who increases our faith in Jesus by telling us the truth about his greatness and someone who makes us feel good about ourselves by giving us pep talks and “encouragement” to rely on our own resources."
Do what the Bereans did when we listen to sermons and when we read Christian literature: "And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth." (Acts 17:11, NLT)

That is one thing we do not do enough. We do not spend enough time meditating and studying God's Word. We do not need something different. We need the very Word of God. We need to dwell in it, to mull in it, to wade in it, to swim in it.

It's time we pull up a chair, sit, read and study Scripture.

Source: 'Revelation' by James M. Hamilton Jr.; R. Kent Hughes, gen. ed.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What about 1 Cor 2?

In continuation of the 1 Corinthians sermon series in church, it was on chapter 2 today. In looking into the chapter, I have these questions:

After Paul admonished the church in divisions in chapter 1, he moved on in chapter 2 to say that he is coming to them not in lofty words and impressive wisdom. Why?

And he continues the same in chapter 3, not talking to them as spiritual people but as infants. And in chapter 4, he reminds them of who he is and that he is warning them.

In that larger context, what was Paul saying to the Corinthians in chapter 2 and why?

And from all that, what is the teaching for us?

I should make time this week to read up and find out the answers.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

NaturalReader Text to Speech App

I read my books in the ePub format and they are not available in audio as in some Mobi books sold in Kindle. But today, I found this app that reads ePubs out loud!

NaturalReader Text to Speech

It's an excellent find.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Tired Mind

I found this picture I really, really like. And I am really, really tired right now.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Coursera, trying it again

I found out about Coursera back in 2013, but sadly I did not follow through the courses that I signed up for.

I am trying it again and I hope I will be more disciplined to keep at it and finish at least one.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gabriel's Oboe, The Mission

I've always loved this piece of music. I first heard it as the song Nella Fantasia and now I found this clip where it was originally from.

I should watch this movie one fine day.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why we should pray

I was reading my devotional on Isaiah and Ortlund has this to say about our longing for the love of God, and why we should pray, which I find so apt.
Look how Isaiah describes God: “...the stirring of your inner parts.” Does God have inner parts? Not literally. But God does have deep feelings for us. The Jerusalem Bible translates this, “the yearning of your inmost heart.” Or it could be translated, “the turmoil of your inner being.” What God feels for us he feels deeply, not superficially or sporadically. But sometimes he withholds from us the experience of his love, and at other times he pours out an experience of his love. God is committed to us. The work of Christ on the cross is finished. The Holy Spirit has come. The Triune God never changes. But our experience of him does change, and he is the one who changes it. That’s why we should pray.
Source: 'Isaiah: God Saves Sinners' by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., R.Kent Hughes, General Editor

Sunday, July 12, 2015

We are one in Christ

As I was saying, our church is starting a sermon series on 1 Corinthians which our pastors and guest speakers will be preaching on. We had Rev Dr Tan Soo Inn was our speaker today and he spoke from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

I found it quite fresh hearing it from him on the passage on divisions in the church back then in Corinth.

The Jewish Christians were proud of themselves as the originator of the faith, the chosen people and coming with the power of God whereas the Greek Christians were proud their intelligence and logic.

And here Paul is telling them they have nothing to boast about except the cross of Christ. At the cross, they are all on level playing ground. They have nothing they can bring with them to the cross. And as long as they are with Christ, they are on the same side. So why the divisions.

It is a good reminder to me. There is no divisions amongst us, no one is better than the other, we are one in the body of Christ. We may be playing different roles but we are one in Christ.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

The World of 1 Corinthians

Our church will be looking at 1 Corinthians both in our sermons and CG bible study materials.

I have done 1 Corinthians before in my classes but I have forgotten most of it and it will be good to get into it again. With that, I went searching for the commentaries I have which I can read and refer to.

Too bad the Preaching the Word series do not have a volume on 1 Corinthians yet.

But I have these in electronic form:
- 1 Corinthians, Tyndale New Testament Commentary by Leon Morris
- 1 Corinthians, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament by Roy A Harrisville
- 1 Corinthians, Anchor Yale Bible Commentary by Joseph A Fitzmyer

And these in print form:
- The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Greek Testament Commentary
- 1 Corinthians, Crossway Classic Commentary by Charles Hodge

As much as I needed those books in class back then, I'm feeling it's an overkill for the context I'm in right now.

But as a true bibliophile, I went looking for more! And I found this book which I remember Rev Dr Kim Kar Yong, my lecturer was using during class:

The World of 1 Corinthians: An Exegetical Source Book of Literary and Visual Backgrounds
by Matthew R. Malcolm

I have enjoyed the historical background study in all my biblical study classes, and this book should be a gem to have. What more, Malcolm states that, "In recent decades, 1 Corinthians has perhaps received more investigation and speculation regarding historical backgrounds than any other biblical book."

I will certainly be planning to buy a copy of this book real soon.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Small sins, big sins?

I have just found out that Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor and author whom I have recently been reading, whom I have found respect for, has resigned after admitting inappropriate relationship.

With that on top of one that happened closer to home, both of whom has my full respect, is certainly sad, and most disappointing.

And with what I have posted just yesterday, "What a stupid thing to do, but sometimes we are totally blinded by sin," I begin to wonder how really weak we are as human, but we think we are so great, so strong and so right.

In the face of temptations, we think we are indestructible. We think we can do nothing wrong and so what is before us is not wrong. We succumb to it and then reality sets in but it will be far too late. This is where we so wish we can turn back time.

I also begin to think what my friend said a couple of weeks ago, as I have also heard it many times over, "There are no small sin and no big sin. They are equally all sins before God."

I'm thinking shouldn't some pastors also be resigning because they lie, because they hated some people and spoke badly against them, because they manipulated themselves up the ladder, because they are addicted to pornography? I'm not saying that all pastors are such bad people, but why do only pastors who were in inappropriate relationships resign?

So are there small sins and big sins?

What I think it is this: there are no "small sins and big sins" because in the fallen nature of ours, in our total depravity, that there is nothing good in us except for Christ, the gravity of our sins makes no difference to the already depraved situation we are in. The hole is so deep it can't go any deeper. It is so black it can't go any blacker.

However, that does not help to explain Matthew 12:31-32, "So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven— except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come." (NLT)

But inasmuch as there are no small or big sins, it is different when it comes to the consequences of sin - there will be big or small consequences, and that depends on the expectations of each of us.

Sins that cause the disruption of the fabric of church and community needs to be seriously dealt with.

We can only beat our chest in sorrow and say, "O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner." (Luke 18:13b, NLT)

We can only admit in the face of temptations that we are but weak and in need of Christ, and in doing so we hold our ground with the armour of God, not our own feeble armour, if we can even call it an armour, but God's.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Such a disappointment of a book

I do have a few books I'm now reading but I was browsing through my stash of books when I saw this:

Imagine: How Creativity Works
by Jonah Lehrer

The blurbs were impressive and I'm recently curious about creativity, innovation and ideation, and so I started on it. It was really interesting especially when he started out with a reference to Bob Dylan on his song composition and the iconic song Like a Rolling Stone.

I was well into the third chapter on the book when I went over to to log it in my "Currently Reading" list when I saw this posted in the page: "This book has been withdrawn from publication (July 2012) by its publisher due to falsified quotations and factual inaccuracies."

What? I felt disappointed. What a stupid thing to do, but sometimes we are totally blinded by sin.

He admitted to it when confronted, and with that he resigned from the New Yorker.