Sunday, May 24, 2015

I'm feeling frustrated

I'm feeling it again, ah
A wish that I don't have to do it
Endless gnawing and such gloom
Yet looking to a life in swaraj
O but how steep tho' I'll have to climb

pearlie

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What it means to be a husband, a wife

A good husband makes a good wife.
~ John Florio

The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It's a choice you make - not just on your wedding day, but over and over again - and that choice of reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.
~ Barbara de Angelis

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord...Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
~ Ephesians 5:22, 25, 28

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.
~ Barbara Bush

pearlie

Friday, May 22, 2015

Not so sure anymore

I led bible study today on Daniel 7 in CG and it was quite interesting for someone who have not really studied much on prophetic passages in Scripture. I don't avoid it, but I don't delve in it either.

And in preparation for Daniel 7, Rodney Stortz's Preaching the Word Commentary on Daniel interpreted chapter 7 with the premillennialism stance.

I used to be an amillenial. Now I'm not so sure. And so is take it as undecided as I would need to relook into all the passages and details before deciding.

pearlie

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Having a good tête-à-tête

It has been awhile since I've spent time yakking and chatting till late. I'm not really a people person, I don't like crowds but when I get to spend time discussing deep matters with a good friend, it's fun.

And that's what happened today. A full five hours of talking and if it wasn't too late already, we could have carried on.

This is how introverts like me like it. A one to one deep tête-à-tête with a good friend.

But sadly, for that to happen often is quite rare.

pearlie

Monday, May 18, 2015

Indifference

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

“Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.”
― Virginia Woolf

“Politeness is organized indifference.”
― Paul Valéry

pearlie

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Divinely Interconnected?

It was an interesting Sunday of interconnectedness. Grace Notes was lined up to present a few songs in Living Faith Methodist Church in Ipoh, in their inauguration as a full-fledged church. We traveled up north for about two and a half hours and when we arrived, we found that one of our very old friend and his family from my good old Pudu Methodist Church days are worshipping there now. He was an assistant pastor of the church back then. On top of that, their kids are now studying in an international school in Kampar whose principal used to attend my current CG in Pantai Baptist Church. And when the preacher preached in the celebration service today, he preached from Nehemiah, which was one of the most significant session of bible study I had back then led by this same friend of mine. Too many coincidences for comfort. I shall call it divinely interconnected.

pearlie

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

It was quite a long time since I read a really good novel. The last one that was really memorable to me was People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

I took me four years to come across the next one, which happens to be also about books, that give me the exact same feeling as I read it, though People of the Book still come first for me.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a very delightful story about the life of a bookstore owner. It all began when a valuable collector's volume of his got stolen. But this was when he started to collect back his life. Even though the story span a period of almost twenty years, it does not feel draggy or long. I tend to read over the boring bits of most books or get lost midway and have to track back, but I did no such thing for this one. It was captivating from beginning to end.

pearlie

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My visit to Evangel BookStore in a really long time

I travelled for work today, and on the way back to the office, I had lunch in SS2, Petaling Jaya. I still had some time after lunch and decided to pop into Evangel, which was nearby. It must have been at least two years, if not three, since I've been there. Martin, the assistant, was still working there and it was nice of him to still remember my name.

It felt nostalgic to be back and it was a nice feeling. At first, I wasn't really looking but soon I have eyed four books that I might like to have. The only difference is I don't buy them now, like I used to, almost in bulk, but now I would check kobobooks.com for the electronic copies. Even Martin said that he had noticed that Alex, Noel and I, who frequented the bookstore so often previously have not visited for so long. He deduced that we may already gone digital.

But I was really attracted to this rack:

Preaching the Word Series, Crossway

The last time when I was there, this series was not yet very popular, and thus no such rack existed. It is a good thing they are cheaper electronically though I have not yet purchased the whole set. I will do so, slowly, eventually.

The books that I'm considering getting are these four, of which sadly, only the first two are available for sale in Kobo.


Come Let Us Reason
edited by Paul Copan, William Lane Craig


The Soul, How We Know It's Real and Why It Matters
by J.P. Moreland


Tough-Minded Christianity
edited by William Dembski, Thomas Schirrmacher


Doing Philosophy as a Christian
by Garrett J. DeWeese

pearlie

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My nagging thoughts on the existence of God 2

I finished reading Keith Ward's Why There is Almost Certainly a God today. Yes, it's a tough read but it did help me sort through some of my thoughts about the existence of God.

Whilst he postulates several points to support the existence of God, what convinced me the most is the part on The Problem of Consciousness. Ward writes:
The problem of consciousness is so difficult that no one has any idea of how to begin to tackle it, scientifically. What is that problem? It is basically the problem of how conscious states – thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions – can arise from complex physical brain-states. Even if we are sure that they do arise from brains, we do not know the sorts of connections that conscious states (such as ‘seeing a train’) have with brain-states (such as ‘there is electrical activity at point A in the brain’). We do not know if conscious states can have a causal effect on brain-states, or if they are somehow reducible to brain-states in some way we cannot yet explain.

No one can yet explain where and how consciousness came about. Whilst it does not "prove" God, it highly suggest there is a superior consciousness from where we came from.

My two problems I blogged about several days ago are these:
1. The perceived unsophisticated stance of being a theist whom some deem stupid and childish, being the reputation of theists.
2. The possibility of a God that is more complex than what is revealed. It's a bit tough to explain this. It's just that what if God is not what he describes himself to be. What if there is more to it that makes him less sovereign.

For me, the first is easy to tackle. I like what Ward wrote:
The question of God is not a purely intellectual puzzle. It is bound up with the basic ways in which we see our lives, the cultural histories and traditions from which we spring and against which we often react, and the most fundamental values, feelings and commitments we have. It is not just a question of evidence, in the sense of clear public data that put matters beyond any reasonable doubt. It is a question of basic forms of perspective and action.

As a believer in God, I strongly feel that in such questions it is not a matter of all the good and wise people thinking there is a God, and all the bad and silly people thinking there is not (or vice versa). All of us have partial perspectives, and we need to engage with others to see what the limits and advantages of those perspectives are.

So in my upbringing as a Christian and in my search for truth, I am convinced that I believe and serve the true God. Nothing stupid or childish about that. From my experience and knowledge about who God is, it all make sense and even though I'm not a genius, I am no fool either.

On the second problem, I need to work it out a bit more. And since I've tackled my first problem and have no doubt about his existence, and I'm convinced that the Christian God is the only one that makes sense, to me that is, then I will need to accept that who he says he is is exactly who he is.

And I need to watch less science fiction.

pearlie

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Broadchurch Season 1 ★★★★★



I have been watching Broadchurch, a mini-series about the murder of an 11-year old boy. It is a serious drama about the community and families in the small town affected by it. There is no comedy, no jokes, no funny stuff, as a real murder case would be like. My hubby did not want to watch it, saying it was too intense.

In watching the 8-part series, you get a bit more into the lives of the characters in comparison to say an episode of Bones, both of which are stories of the whodunit genre. In Bones, you won't feel much about the murders at all. You just get an "ahh...that's how it was done and that's the person who did it. Ok, what's next."

But in Broadchurch, you get more invested in the characters and with the discovery of the person who committed the murder in the end, why and how it was done makes you angry, and think how dismal humankind is, our self-importance, evil and our darkness.

But it's a good show, and the acting is really good. I'm now looking forward to the second season.

pearlie

Monday, May 11, 2015

My nagging thoughts on the existence of God 1

As much as I am holding fast to my faith in God and Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I began to have nagging thoughts about the existence of God for quite some time now, as a result of all the science fiction and movies I have been watching over the years.

My thoughts are somewhat circling around two areas, which I can't just simply explain. It's all still a jumble of thoughts in my mind that when I read about God, especially when I am doing my (almost) daily morning devotion--currently on the book of Isaiah--I keep asking, "Is this really who God is?" "Is there a God in the first place?" "What if this is all there is to life?"

The two areas are connected to the ideas I got from science fiction. The first one comes from the Star Trek series. There are many episodes where the crew finds civilizations with their own spiritual inclinations, with a particular set of beliefs, and a god they worship. Every one of these gods in these episodes will then be reduced by the crew to nothing but science or myths. With that, I can see that my belief is seen to be stupid and childish.

The second one come from the Men in Black movie, where a cat called Orion wears a collar round its neck, on which hangs a small sphere that holds the Arquillian Galaxy within. It is as small as a marble but contains billions of stars. And I thought our universe can very well be like that very small galaxy, and beyond our universe may exist another complex universe where God can be a complex community of existence, which is unlike who God is as revealed to us.

With that, I decided to dig up some relevant journal articles to read. But in all this searching, I am not worried that I will lose my faith, I know I will not. I trust in Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. I trust that God and his truth will not be maimed by any vicious attacks let alone mere scrutiny.

And I found these articles useful:

"Puncturing atheism: fourfold God squad brilliantly takes on Dawkins, Hitchens, & Co." by David Aikman in Christianity Today, October 1, 2007, p.110

"My failed atheism: Mark Bauerlein tells how he came to desire something beyond his contemptuous nihilism" by Mark Bauerlein in First Things, May 1, 2012, p.47

"The atheist's dilemma: I tried to face down an overwhelming body of evidence, as well as the living God" by Jordan Monge, in Christianity Today, March 1, 2013, p.88

"The new atheism: reflections of a biblical scholar" by John Barton in Modern Believing, January 1, 2012, p.36

It was in the above final article I read that had a reference to this book:

Why There is Almost Certainly a God: Doubting Dawkins
by Keith Ward

I read a preview of it and thought it might help, and so I bought a copy and started reading. It's not so much Dawkins I want to debunk. I want what the title of the book promises: to tell me why there is almost certainly a God.

As Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living" that would most probably have inspired Dr Elton Trueblood to say "the unexamined faith is not worth having", Ward said, "It is important to be critical of all our beliefs -- to ask what we mean by them and what reasons there are for accepting them."

So here I am trying to see if I can sort it all out. It will be a tough read though -- as I would have to figure it out through the philosophy, logic and physics, topics I am in no way familiar with.

See my subsequent thoughts: My Nagging Thoughts on the Existence of God 2

pearlie

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Holy Communion Litugical Reading

As I was walking up to church, I tried to remember how long since I attended service here in Pantai Baptist Church (PBC). It's good that I blogged about it here: it will be 4 years this June.

In comparison to the many years I attended Methodist churches before this, I have long missed the liturgical reading during Holy Communion, and every time I attend Holy Communion in PBC like this morning, I will try to recite the Prayer of Humble Access that begins with, "we do not presume to come to this Thy table, O Merciful Lord..." but I could not remember the whole prayer.

I did get my friend to send me the text from the Methodist Order of Service for Holy Communion but the reading was in PowerPoint format and I found it hard to refer it to read privately during Holy Communion service here. And so I thought I might as well post it up here for reference.

Holy Communion Liturgical Reading
Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking henceforth in his holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to your comfort; and, meekly kneeling, make your humble confession to Almighty God.

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Maker of all things, Judge of all men, we acknowledge and bewail the manifold sins and wickedness of our past lives, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our past misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father, for thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ’s sakes forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy name. through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

O Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of thy great mercy hast promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto thee; have mercy upon us; pardon and deliver us from our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Hear what the Scriptures say to those of a humble and contrite heart:
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up unto the Lord.
Let us give thanks unto the Lord.
It is meet and right so to do.
It is a very meet, right and our bounden duty that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Everlasting God.

Therefore, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we land and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee, and saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, 0 Lord most high. Amen.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption, who made there by his oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy gospel command us to continue a perpetual memory of that his precious death until his coming again; hear us, 0 merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee, and grant that we, receiving these, thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion may be partakers of his most blessed body and blood; who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Prink ye all of this; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins; do this as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me. Amen.

We do not presume to ‘come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy; grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may live and grow thereby, and that being washed through his most precious blood, we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

O Lord, our heavenly Father, we, thy humble servants, desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and thy whole church may obtain forgiveness of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that all we who are partakers of this Holy Communion may be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction. And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offenses; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor an glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.

pearlie

Saturday, May 09, 2015

What's wrong with "head knowledge"?

I attended church service today and the sermon was based on Colossians 1:9-14, on "Being Filled with the Knowledge of His Will" where Pastor Joshua said this phrase, which I have heard him say several times now: having head knowledge.

It's not that I don't agree with him, but I have another friend of mine warning me against having a head knowledge, especially back when I was still pursuing my Master's degree in Christian Studies, where I focused on Biblical Studies. Even though I did not speak out against her, I remembered being quite frustrated and thinking what's wrong with head knowledge? I have to start somewhere and having the right knowledge in my head is an excellent way to start.

So when I heard Pastor said that again just now, I asked myself again, am I so bad in seeking out head knowledge but with praying and seeking for the Spirit's strength and help in putting it into action no less?

Then I found Tim Challies article:
Head Knowledge = Good.
Heart Knowledge = Good.


Tim said, "I’ve never been too comfortable with this distinction between head knowledge and heart knowledge...We have all heard people speak like this (being all head knowledge and not heart knowledge) and we know what they are getting at. Yet here’s my concern: When we speak in this way, we pit the two kinds of knowledge against one another, with head being the enemy and heart being the friend. It’s like we need to battle the head in order to reach the heart, or like head knowledge is the necessarily evil we need to endure to reach the heart."

Exactly what I thought (though he said it so much better) and I'm glad now that I'm not alone.

He continues, "I believe we need to affirm the importance of believing what is true without disparaging the facts and knowledge necessary to even know what is true. Head knowledge is good; heart knowledge is good. More head knowledge is better than less head knowledge and more heart knowledge is better than less heart knowledge. Head knowledge is good because heart knowledge is impossible without it. Christianity is and must be a faith that involves the mind just as it is and must be a faith that involves the heart. The problem comes when there is a radical disconnect between the two."

Amen.

pearlie

Friday, May 08, 2015

Lessons from C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia

I have not kept up with my reading on C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series. I read them (the first two volumes) as children's novels and did not read it deep enough to see any messages in them; which is why when Christian writers draw lessons from them, I always end up in awe.

Raymond Ortlund did just that with this scene in The Silver Chair in his book, Isaiah: God Saves Sinner under the Preaching the Word series.

He wrote about "God's Surprising Strategies" on Isaiah 44:24-54:25. The lesson he drew from the passage was that God is bigger than we can ever imagine, though we more than often box him in our limitations. But God is great and he alone has the right to be God. God's will for us is better than we think and he invites us to turn to him and be saved, all the ends of the earth. But we are arrogant and we accuse him of bungling our lives, though we are far beneath God as clay is beneath a potter. However, God still invites us to rethink our lives and graciously receives us when we come to him. In his salvation strategies for us, he is both perplexing and faithful, because he is God. And we need to accept that.

Ortlund drove it home by ending the chapter with this:
C. S. Lewis wrote a series of children’s stories in which the Christ figure is a lion. In one scene a girl named Jill bursts into an opening in a forest. She’s thirsty. She spies a stream not far away, but she doesn’t rush forward to throw her face into its refreshing current. Instead she freezes in fear because a lion is resting in the sun right beside the stream.

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the Lion.

“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. “Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh, dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

Wow...see what I mean? What an amazing close to the message.

pearlie
Source: Raymond C. Ortlund, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, Preaching the Word, quoting C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (New York: Collier Books, 1970 reprint), pp. 16, 17.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Strength Will Rise When We Wait Upon the Lord



Everlasting God
by Chris Tomlin

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

pearlie

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Jesus never used the title "friend" for himself

I am in the process of choosing worship songs for this Saturday's church worship service when I was looking at this one by Matt Redman, "Once Again."

Whilst I could use the song, I am not all too comfortable with it, because of these two areas, especially the second one.

For one, I felt the phrase "once again", which is also the title of the song, hence its focus, is superfluous. Why once again? Why is it necessary that once again I am thankful or once again I lay down my life or once again I am full of praise for him? Why once again? I just am...alright, I suppose he meant it to be a never ending rendition of thankfulness and praise to God.

And secondly, I'm not sure if I would use the word "friend" for Jesus. Don't misunderstand me, I do regard the Lord as my friend but I felt that the meaning of the word friend now is more sentimental than it was then in the New Testament times. Therefore, by singing "thank you for the cross, my friend," I feel like I'm not honoring him and his sacrifice for me on the cross.

I remember I was at a bible conference several years ago when D.A. Carson commented that Jesus never referred to himself as our friend. And that is true. Jesus called us his friends but did not refer to himself as our friend. But of course, we can say it is implicit because friendship works both ways. But isn't it interesting he never called himself our friend?

With that I went searching for a journal article on the topic and found one titled, "Jesus as Friend in the Gospel of John," written by Gail R. O'Day. And this is what I learnt, and I quote:
Even though there is a consistency of vocabulary across the centuries used to discuss friendship in antiquity, there is no consistency of emphasis or definition...Each ancient writer, including the New Testament writers, developed the friendship traditions in different ways depending on his or her own community setting. (And what more in comparison to its usage in our time now?)

The Gospel of John is a pivotal text for the discussion of friendship in the New Testament. The vocabulary of friendship, especially the noun philos and the related verb phileöy is found at key moments in the narrative.

The word "friend" in John carried many associations for John's first readers. Modern readers cannot completely recapture those associations, but they can at least recognize that John did not create the theme of friendship out of whole cloth. Awareness of cultural embeddedness helps modern readers see that friendship is not a universal term for all times and cultures. Most contemporary friendship greeting cards, for example, adorned with roses, kittens, and butterflies, do not exhort the card's recipient to "lay down one's life for a friend." Jesus' words in John 15:13 seem unprecedented for a modern friend.

Two friendship motifs from the Greco-Roman world provide a promising framework for regarding Jesus as friend in John: Jesus' love for others that is embodied in his death and Jesus' boldness in speech and action...frank speech was encouraged as a mark of honest instruction, dialogue, and training...not engaging in flattery to further their own ends.

Jesus' friendship is the model of friendship for the disciples, and it makes any sub-sequent acts of friendship by them possible because the disciples themselves are already the recipients of Jesus' acts of friendship.

(Comments in parentheses mine.)
So you see, our modern understanding of friendship may not do justice to the friendship that Jesus was referring to.

As such, I am not too comfortable in singing it simply, "thank you for the cross, my friend"...but then it does describe the first motif above, him laying down his life for us.

pearlie
Source: Gail R. O'Day, "Jesus as friend in the gospel of John", Interpretation (April 1, 2004, p144)