Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nothing beats a cup of tea

I am a tea-person. I like coffee but nothing beats a cup of hot fragrant tea - whether it is a cup of black tea for the purists or a cup of infusion for the not-so-serious.

I have yet to get serious though. I had wanted to get a nice Chinese tea set and Pu-Erh tea discs but I didn't know where to start.

Or how about the most expensive tea in the world, the Da Hong Pao (literally Big Red Robe)? I obviously won't be able to savor it being priced at USD23,000 for 20 grams! Not even in my dreams.

So I am still taking it easy with the convenient tea bags from the wide varieties from Twinnings, Marks & Spencer, Dilmah and Montea (a local Malaysian brand of chinese teas). My current favourites are the Darjeeling, Peppermint, Lady Grey, Chamomile, Genmai-Cha, Xiang Pian and Pu-Erh.

So here am I in the office with a mini kettle, my tin-box of assorted loose tea bags and boxes of tea. It is an everyday affair now - steeping and sipping tea while busy with work. It almost feel like sitting by the seaside with a tall glass of iced lemon tea, and a good book.


Photo source: Red Luxury

Monday, April 14, 2014

More on Christ in the Passover

Noel sent an email to his friends with regards to his thoughts on the sermon I blogged about yesterday. He touched on important points I missed. I have gotten his permission to post it here:

I found myself unexpectedly in Pantai Baptist Church this Sunday.

The Palm Sunday sermon was given by a Dr Richard Harvey, Jewish by birth and a former believer in Judaism who became a Christian and lives in England.

He spoke of his conversion and his missionary activities among the Jews, but the highlight of his presentation was his clear exposition of how the various elements in the Passover celebration point to Christ. He even brought several of this elements with him to the service. I learnt a number of things.

One of these elements, the roasted egg, symbolises the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

Another element, the horse radish root, symbolises the emotional trauma/bitterness of Jewish sufferring. The expression "root of bitterness" in Heb 12:15 is probably influenced by this Passover connection.

Parsley (hyssop) symbolises Jewish tears shed.

The roasted shank bone, another important element, symbolises the Jews who were saved from 10th plague as described in Exodus.

The importance of unleavened bread and the removal of any leaven from Jewish homes during Passover lies behind 1 Cor 5:7 (clean out the old leaven...because Christ our Passover has also been sacrificed).

As we focus on the cross where Jesus died in our place, may our love for him who is the first born of all creation and the perfect image of the invisible God who is our heavenly Father, grow more and more as our insight and wonder deepens.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Christ in the Passover

We were in for a real treat today. We had Dr Richard Harvey as our speaker. He is a Jew who believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was with us today and shared with us a delightful message of Christ in the Passover.

He introduced to us the Passover meal that is observed by Jews every year during the Festival of the Unleavened Bread. He showed us the items involved in the meal: the hyssop or parsley leaves in salty water, bitter herbs, the Haggadah, etc. but what intrigued me most were the matzah tosh and the afikomen, and the four cups of the Passover. I never knew about them and I am amazed at their significance in light of Jesus.

A Matzah Tosh

A Matzah Tosh's Three Pockets

The matzah tosh is a bag with three parallel pockets to place the matzah or unleavened bread in. The matzah from the middle pocket will be taken out, broken and wrapped in a cloth and subsequently hidden. That is the afikomen. It will be brought back at the end of the meal to be distributed and eaten as the final morsel.

The afikomen wrapped in cloth

Dr Harvey said that this is significant because the three pockets could very well signify the Triune God. The bread taken from the middle pocket (of the Son) will be broken (will die), hidden (buried) and brought back (resurrected) to be given to be eaten (partaken). He said that during Jesus and the disciples' Last Supper, it was the afikomen that was broken and distributed, "take, eat, this is my body" (Matt 26:26b, ESV).

The Four Wine Cups

The four cups, they commemorate the deliverance of Jews from the Egyptians in the time of Moses. They consist of the Cup of Sanctification, Cup of Deliverance, Cup of Redemption and Cup of Praise.

Dr Harvey said that it was the third cup that Jesus passed around to the disciples, "drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28, ESV)

After which, when it came to the fourth cup, the Cup of Praise or Restoration, Dr Harvey believed that Jesus and the disciples did not drink from it because Jesus said, "I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matt 26:29, NIV).

I was quite amazed. But I began to also wonder where and when did the matzah tosh, afikomen and the four cups come about. As far as I can remember, they are not mentioned in the bible, not in Old Testament and definitely not in the New.

Noel, who happened--or divinely arranged--to attend the same service today, asked me the same question, if these items were mentioned in Scripture.

I said and he agreed: if they were mentioned in the bible, Christian scholars would have already picked it up and we would have already known about it. These items and what they stand for are significant. So my take is that the bible as we have it, is sufficient by God's design for our understanding, for the Gentiles. For the Jews on the other hand, they have their practices since the OT days, which were, and are, special for them, since the gospel is after all, first for them.

The Jews have indeed, a richer and fuller background and history of the salvation and deliverance of the Messiah. It is my prayer that they will come to find Jesus as their long awaited Saviour.

As for me, I am blessed with a deeper understanding of Jesus' Last Passover, and the significance of what he said to the disciples, and of what he says to me.

I eat of the bread of life, broken, hidden and brought back. I drink of the Cup of Redemption, being redeemed back into his fold. And I look forward to drink of the Cup of Praise, Restoration and Joy with Jesus when I am finally in the Father's kingdom. Amen.


Photo sources:
1. Chow Ee-Tan, 2014
2. "Little Flock" Messianic Fellowship
3. MessianicSeder.com
4. Amy Letinsky
5. superhoop @Flickr

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Seventy times seven

I don't like conflict. Not sure if anyone does. I certainly don't, but I have learnt to handle it as best as I could. I would usually take a step back and not react, though I can implode when it becomes too personal for me.

So my next step will be to forgive. It is not easy but it is a decision I will make. I may not feel like it but since feelings has nothing to do with it and God has commanded me to forgive, so I shall.

Forgetting it though will be another matter. I have blogged about it before (here and here.) And reading back, I begin to wonder if I have even matured in this or have I regressed.

I suppose I have seventy time seven more times to forgive this individual, and to grow more into maturity in Christ.


Friday, April 11, 2014

My first circuit training

This is how I feel now after a circuit training with my gym instructor this afternoon. Thankfully it is a Friday, workday is half over and the weekend is merely hours away.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Work on the strengths, stop harping on the weaknesses

I attended a useful breakfast talk this morning presented by several consultants from different firms, two of whom were from Gallup. I have heard about Gallup Polls but I found out today that they do offer other services including those related to people performance.

Here was where I was introduced to the Clifton Strength Finders. I am a fan of personality theories. And even though they don't use the word "personality" but "talents" and "strengths", it's close.

I was quite captivated by it, and felt that it may be something more simple to implement company wide compared with MBTI and DISC.

I did a brief research on it and ended up buying a copy of Tom Rath's Strengthsfinder 2.0. By the way, he is Ronald O. Clifton's grandson.

Strengthsfinder 2.0
by Tom Rath, 2007

This book was the #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller and was listed as the top worldwide business bestseller by The Economist in 2011.

I have not started on the book, but I am thinking if I am caught up in all but a hype. I hope not. I really hope it is what it claims itself to be. I shall see.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

In all things, give thanks

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:18, ESV)

I do not find it easy to be thankful. It is difficult to be thankful in hard times and I feel guilty to be thankful in good times. Therefore, it is a comfort to read here in 1 Thessalonians that we are to give thanks in all circumstances, good and bad.

If we look at the original Greek, ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε· τοῦτο γὰρ θέλημα θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς, it literally means "in everything be giving thanks, for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you".

The verse begins with "in everything", followed by an imperative "give thanks". This accentuates the command in that first it focuses us on all of our happenings, nothing gets put aside, it is in all things that we must give thanks to God.

Therefore, in my good times, it is really the blessing that God pours on me and in my bad times, he is still with me, sustaining me through it all as I grow and mature in him.

And for that, I am thankful, that I can be thankful in all circumstances, because it is all in God's grand plan of salvation and sanctification.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Why do we work?

Why do we work? I believe when God created man, he created him to work and to enjoy work. Except that because man wanted (and still wants) to be king and lord of his own life, man rejected God and as a result, work is now a curse.

What do you want out of your career, your job?

I simply want to enjoy it. To create something that will contribute to the organisation that I work for. I know...financial security is important but it means nothing if I don't enjoy what I do.

Back to the question: why do we work?

I believe we are made to be productive and creative. That is how we are made. Until and unless we find something productive to do, we will amble along in life with no purpose or fulfillment. And that is bad.

I had a good day at work today, enjoying what I did and created. And I am thankful.

I am learning to live a thankful life no matter what's on my plate, whatever goes my way. I won't say it will not be difficult but I know God is good, no matter what the circumstance.


Monday, April 07, 2014

The Beauty and Melody of the Cantonese Language

I am Cantonese by descent but I only speak a very basic and vernacular version of the dialect. But when I was having lunch with a colleague today, I was in deep waters. She was using Chinese idioms in our course of conversation. I had to stop her many times to have her repeat what she said for me to figure out and understand what she was saying.

She on the other hand, found me absolutely amusing.

Here are some of what she said, those I remember.

This is common to us: 隔墙有耳 (gak chiong yau yee) - the walls have ears.

We then proceed to talk about life experiences, on how we all experience the same heartaches, difficulties and pain and off she uttered out: 天下鸟鸦一样黑 (tin ha oo nga yat yiong hak) - crows in the skies and on earth are all black.

Then our conversation turned to our families and she has another one: 家家有本難念的经 (ga ga yau boon lan lin dik geng) - every family owns a scripture that is difficult to read.

My life is enriched, albeit slightly, with the beauty of the language and melody of the dialect. How I love it when I hear people speaking formal Cantonese.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

My Song is Love Unknown (John Ireland)

I was in worship practice this morning and I fell in love with this song that is new to me.

I found the music score as well - and found that the timing is quite interesting. It does not even have a time signature. But I think most sing to a strict 4/4 timing now. I simply love John Ireland's music here and how he captured the emotion of the words with perfect notes.

My Song is Love Unknown
by Samuel Crossman, 1664

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.


Friday, April 04, 2014

Personal Renewal Checklists

In the training session I was attending today, the facilitator gave us several checklists for renewal in our states of physical, mental, spiritual and socio-emotional.

All my checklists look fine, except I don't agree on the spiritual one. Is that how those in the world see spirituality?

Physical Renewal

Mental Renewal

Spiritual Renewal

Socio-Emotional Renewal


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Seek first...

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
~ Matt 6:33


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Set our eyes on Jesus

These two verses in Hebrews are one of the most favourite passages of the saints: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2, ESV)

Kent Hughes in his Preaching the Word commentary of the book of Hebrews used quite an interesting example to show what it means to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

It is a one-mile race that happened on August 7, 1954 during the British Empire Games in Vancouver, Canada – regarded as the greatest mile-run match-ups that ever took place. It was between Roger Bannister and John Landy who were the only two sub-four-minute milers in the world. At the final lap, in peak condition, they were even and Landy was leading the race. Landy began running faster and Bannister increased his pace as well. Then came the famous moment – what is replayed thousands of times – the last stride before the home stretch. Landy had a fatal lapse of concentration. He could not see Bannister. He looked back, Bannister launched his attack and he lost his lead. Bannister won the “miracle mile” that day by five yards. (Kent Hughes, Hebrews Vol. 2, Preaching the Word, Crossway, 1993, p.167).

From the note accompanying the YouTube clip above, Landy actually said, "When Lot's wife looked back she was turned into a pillar of salt. When I looked back, I was turned into a pillar of bronze!"

Hughes reminds us of a very important lesson: we need to be careful not to even begin to take our eyes off Christ to fix them on the hardship challenging us. Paul in the subsequent verses exhorted us that it is God who disciplines us, only because he loves us, because he is our Father and we his children.

Another lesson that is so important is this: “We cannot be profoundly influenced (or encouraged) by that which we do not know…Knowing God’s Word is essential for spiritual survival…we must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away”


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Reputation of Christians

I must confess one thing: I have been somewhat, though not entirely, bought into the zeitgeist of our current thought, in that being a Christian is not cool. Or to put it bluntly, it's lame.

It is in most of current media and arts - in music, in documentaries, in TV, in the theaters, in the cinema.

Christians are mostly portrayed as crazy and unreal people. We are usually stereotyped as false and too good to be true, with this raptured look of otherworldliness that puts people on the edge.

Don't get me wrong. I am proud to belong in the body of Christ. I boast of the cross of Christ that only through Jesus's sacrifice of body and blood, I am justified and saved in him. I belong to Jesus.

Just that sometimes I do think about what the world think about us and how they see us: as goody two shoes, weak, uncool, illogical as opposed to the empirical. I am not referring to the apologetics side of it and our testimonial of reasonable faith. I'm all for that. I'm referring rather to our reputation as Christians.

Truth is, we are not being treated seriously. We have a message of eternal importance, but we are being put aside as deluded.

Paul in 1 Cor 4:9-10 may have said that they are fools for Christ in the context of being suffering fools for the sake of the churches, that through their witness and living out of Christ, it will bring life and wisdom to the believers.

We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! ~ 1 Cor 4:9-10 (NIV)

In the same way, we too are fools for Christ for the sake of other believers. And also in the hope that the saving love of Christ will reach the unbelievers especially in their times of dire need, in times when all they have left to consider is a "fool's" message - the good news of Jesus who gave us all the simplest, yet most profound gift of all: life, and life to the fullest.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Been there done that...not impressed

I first saw the TWG tea house in Sunway Pyramid a month ago and was impressed with its grand set up. I had wanted to try it out but did not because I was also kind of put off at the same time. I felt it was too grand for a tea house - it's like fine dining but they only serve tea and light snacks.

I had a meeting planned in KL today however, and we decided to have it in the TWG outlet in Pavillion. Just to try it out.

Verdict? Not impressed at all.

Food is not great. Tea is bland. Prices exorbitant.

And I felt deceived as well. Its logo had the year 1837 in it together with its initial TWG. You would think that the tea house is established in that year but no, it isn't. It is founded in 2008.

Judge John Saunders had harsh words for TWG Tea for using the date 1837 in its sign, when in fact the company started in 2008.
Company officials explained that 1837 referred to the year when the Chamber of Commerce was founded in Singapore, which was then an important tea trading hub. Its inclusion was meant to celebrate that year, they said.
But Judge Saunders found this was not the "real intention". He said: "There is no doubt that the existence of the date 1837 in TWG Tea's sign has led people to believe that the company was established at that time."
He noted, among other things, that Bloomberg Businessweek had published an online report in October 2011 saying the Singapore-based company was founded in 1837.
Source: The Straits Times

To me, that's plain deception.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Expository sermon on Roms 16:1-16

The sermon this morning was an expository sermon on Romans 16:1-16, which is interesting since the whole section consist of Paul's personal greetings to and commendation of a group of people in Rome. And it was in fact an excellent sermon on What Makes a Healthy Church.

The speaker Rev John Folmar's main point is that congregating as a church is very necessary. It is not enough to meet online or the worship alone at home. From the passage, we can see evident a diverse group of people – race, gender and origin – with one common bond in the cross of Christ, sharing in love and hospitality. This cannot be accomplished without meeting frequently.

The body of Christ, the Church, must meet and be together, as often as we can - "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Heb 10:24-25 (NIV)


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Total klutz

I am a total klutz today. I tripped and fell big time but thankfully I am not hurt, except my pride.

I remember reading here that negative emotions fade faster, which is good but I think we remember bad things better than good ones.

What do you think?


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Costume rentals

I have never rented a costume before and I am quite surprised when I visited a rental store today. My company will be having its first ever company dinner and as usual, departments are to put up events and off we went to rent some costumes for our performance.

There is certainly a whole variety of costumes for rental and they seem to have quite a good business and demand as well.

I am really not so adventurous and settled for a decent looking one. My colleagues look just absolutely fabulous in super hero costumes - Mrs Incredible, Batwoman, Captain America and Superwoman. The less super hero ones will be an apache, King Leonidas and myself as Princess Fiona.

Today is really the most hilarious day of the year for me. I simply couldn't stop laughing.

Someone said we should hang our colleague down from the ceiling as Superwoman. But I thought that would take too much work and preparation and said no, we could just lay her flat on her tummy with the hands stretched out on a roller table and just push her out. We nearly died laughing.


Photo source: McCullochs Costume