Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006

The last day of the year
I would usually feel a little bit
Of every kind of emotion
Of fear, joy, gratitude, guilt

Grateful for the Lord's guidance
For what he has begun
Sorrowful for what I have
And what I have not done

Blessed for all
The great friends I have made
Pained that some of them
Have not stayed

Assured of the faithfulness
Of the Lord
Fearful of where and how
Tomorrow I will trod

Thankful, that I am
For the trials and the thorns
Regretful though
That I have not much grown

I am thankful but yet
I am still so perplexed
Is this all of 2006?
Is this all?

O God have mercy on me
O God my hope is in You
O Lord have mercy on me
O Lord my salvation is in You

I hope, I delight in You
I fear, I depend on You
O God, I love You
O God, I do

Copyright © 2006 Pearlie Ng

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Noodles, sleep and fantasy

The best Pan Mee in the world! We usually drive about 20km almost every Saturday morning to this our most favourite eating place for a bowl of noodles. Read more about it here. Just thinking about it now makes me hungry for some!

Then I spent most of the day sleeping while catching a couple of hours working on the Role of the Holy Spirit and enjoying myself reading Paolini's, Eldest. I was not so much of a fan for this genre of fiction but I think I am now. I used to try to read a borrowed copy of Raymond Feist's The Magician many years ago but gave up just after several chapters. I am thinking of getting myself a copy after I am done with Eldest.

Noodles, sleep and fantasy - quite a good combination for a good day.


Friday, December 29, 2006

The Role of the Holy Spirit

The role that the Holy Spirit played in Acts of the Apostle is unique to the empowerment of believer for witness, unlike Paul's theology of the Holy Spirit which is mainly related to His intimate relation and work in the believers.

Luke give 20 references to the Holy Spirit in the Gospel (compared with just 6 in Mark and 12 in Matthew) and a further 60 in Acts. His role in Acts has to do with the Spirit of Prophecy, as shown by the quotation of Joel in Acts 2.

The Holy Spirit in Acts:
1. Driving force of "salvation history" and mission (1:8; 4:31; 9:17,31)
2. Initiator of mission (2:4; 8:29; 10:19,44; 11:12;13:2,4, etc)
3. Guide in significant decisions (16:6,7; 19:21; 20:22-23)
4. Legitimator of the whole endeavour (5:32; 8:17-18; 10:44-45,47; 11:15-18; 15:28)

~ Max Turner, "The Work of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts", Word and World 23.02, p.146-53

The Holy Spirit in the rest of Scripture:
1. Rest on Christ as a representation of his Messiahship and messianic activity (Luke 4:16ff)
2. Effects a radical reformation in the believers, giving freedom from the powers of sin and death (Rom 8)
3. Completes the new creation on the Day of Judgment (Rom 8:11)
4. Gives life (John 6:63)
5. Gives truth (John 16:13)
6. The Paraclete, Helper, who proceeds from the Father and bear witness to Jesus (John 15:26)
7. Gives freedom (2 Cor 3:17)
8. Given by God as evidence of his approval (1 Thess 4:8, Rom 5:5, 2 Cor 5:5)

~ Hans Hubner, "The Holy Spirit in Holy Scripture", Ecumenical Review 41.03, p.324-38

9. Comes with the gospel in power (1 Cor 2:4, 1 Thess 1:5-6) when one is redeemed (Gal 3:14, Titus 3:5) to prepare Christians for final redemption as sons (Rom 8:23, 26-27) by keeping them pure in sanctification (1 Cor 3:16, 2 Thess 2:13)
10. Seeks unity of the Church (1 Cor 12:13, Phil 2:1) by giving spiritual gifts that build up the Church and by producing fruit of ethical conduct that helps people maintain a proper attitude toward one another (1 Cor 12-14, Gal 5:16-25)
11. Operates through revelation and instruction to maintain the Church as God would have it (1 Cor 2:11-13, Eph 6:17)

~ Don Jackson, "Luke and Paul: A Theology of One Spirit from Two Perspectives", Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 32.03, p.335-43

The Holy Spirit among believers today:
1. The Cessationists argues that there are no miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit today. Gifts such as prophecy, tongues, and healing were confined to the first century, and were used at the time the apostles were establishing the churches and the New Testament was not complete
2. The Pentecostals and Charismatic hold that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the New Testament are intended for today. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an empowering experience subsequent to conversion and should be sought by Christians today. When baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs, people will speak in tongues as a "sign" that they have received this experience.
3. The Third Wave people encourage the equipping of all believers to use New Testament spiritual gifts today and say that the proclamation of the gospel should ordinarily be accompanied by "signs, wonders, and miracles", according to the New Testament pattern. Baptism in the Holy Spirit happens to all Christians at conversion and that subsequent experiences are better called "fillings" or "empowerings" with the Holy Spirit.
4. There is another position, held by a vast number of evangelicals who think themselves as belonging to none of these groups. They have not been convinced by the cessationist arguments that relegate certain gifts to the first century, but they are not really convinced by the doctrine or practice of who emphasise such gifts today either.

~ Wayne A. Grudem, (ed.), Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? p.10-12

I think this should be the framework of my paper though I am not too sure how I can approach Section 3. I had found something I could use in Wikipedia but the site is down. And Section 2 needs to take a more systematic structure.

Also check out - Some Things We Didn't Know

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Today is still 2006!

I hadn’t expected very much of a day today but it turned out quite good. From the moment I woke up I thought about what I need to do for work – yes, even though I am on leave, there is this report I still need to work on and to send out as soon as possible. However, I procrastinated and spent the day painting the front gate and packing and cleaning up the storeroom. Documents, bags and books – I accumulate a lot of things and I sometimes dump them in the storeroom to my usual regret.

It was at about 4.30pm that my day really started. I found a book, the only one so far, which is a “double purchase” – Paul Copan’s How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong?: Responding to Objections That Leave Christians Speechless. I must have bought it some months back, forgot about it and bought another copy just before Christmas. So I thought since I have been so hard working the whole day at home, though I have not even thought much about the report let alone work on it, I decided to give myself a treat and visit SUFES with Calvin.

SUFES Bookstore - Pearlie’s favouritest aisle

It was a short visit. I had wanted to change the book into a good one on the Holy Spirit but I did find find any that attracted or impressed me.

So I ended with this one: Arland J. Hultgren’s The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary – albeit double the price of Copan. However, later when I took a closer look at the book, I found that the author includes parables of the Gospel of Thomas in the commentary. He did not much mention about his stand on the apocryphal. He is silent about it – I will have to read it to determine that, if I could, that is.

Don’t ask me how, but we ended up in the downtown mall and inadvertently visited the bookstore there as well. It does have a good selection of Christian books and you’d know what happened. These:

Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick and
Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings: What You Need to Know About Fantasy Books and Movies
by Richard Abanes
Remember the first book I bought about Harry Potter? That one which is totally against my stand in Christ, which I thankfully got it returned. Noel told me about Harry Potter and the Bible. I saw that it carries a foreword by Doug Groothuis, so it must be at least dependable. I am looking forward to reading it. I also got his newer one where he makes comparisons between all three of my favourite books. It will definitely be a good read as well. Both books however, got poor reviews in Amazon - I will have to read them for myself since they could have gotten bad reviews on the virtue that these books are with a cultish following.

In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture
by McGrath, Alister

I know I had to refrain from buying books and more books but I just had to get this one. It is a combination of 3 of my most endearing subjects – Christianity, English and history. I had actually cried when I read about the story of the KJV in The Story of English by Robert McCrum, et al. Anyway, I was about to make to my first New Year resolution in years not to purchase any more books except commentaries or required reading, but today is still 2006!

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
by Francis S. Collins
I have not gotten any Christmas present for my husband and when I saw this, I knew it would be something he’d love to read. Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project. He accepted Christ after reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Just on that alone, I must read it as well, though it may not make any sense to me!

When I got home after a great day out, I started to work on the report and I am glad I got to send it out, though there is some more to work on. I will try again tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Holy Spirit: A Personal Being

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
~ John 14:26 (ESV)

I need to buck up and get working on my paper on the role of the Holy Spirit in Acts. I am beginning to worry about choosing the assignment on the Holy Spirit. With a 2000-word limit, I will definitely run into problems.

I plan to approach it this way:
    The role of the Holy Spirit in Acts
    - in comparison to His role in the Scriptures
    - in comparison to the various views held by believers
Who is the Holy Spirit?

According to Hammond, some people take the Holy Spirit as a divine "mode of action" - i.e. that scriptural references to "the Spirit" may be simply symbolic expression for an action of God in a spiritually creative manner. But if we look in the New Testament, references of Him would prove otherwise. The Holy Spirit is a personal being just as the Father and the Son. The Spirit is not an impersonal “it” or simply an influence.

1. The Holy Spirit bears the titles "the Spirit of God", "the Holy Spirit of God", "the Holy Spirit whom you have from God", "the Spirit of His Son", "the Spirit of Christ".

2. The emphatic use of the definite article, the Spirit.

3. Jesus discourse in John 14-16, where He gave the Spirit His most prominent title, the Paraclete; He is also referred to as "another Advocate" plus the use of a masculine personal pronoun in John 14:26 and 15:26.

4. References to "lying against" the Holy Spirit (Rom 9:1), "grieving" the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), the Holy Spirit bearing witness (1 John 5:7), and teaching (John 14:26).


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

Christmas is about His glory
Christmas is about His grace
Christmas is a gift of love our Father gave us
More than just another story
About a special time and place
Christmas is time to lift a song of praise

    For God is with us
    And we celebrate the glory of His presence
    Christ has come to fill our hearts with love
    He came to save us
    King of kings and Lord of lords
    His name is Jesus
    God with us
    Emmanuel has come
Angels fill the night with singing
God is reaching out to man
Bringing us a gift of hope
In Christ our Saviour
More than just a time of giving
This is God's eternal plan
Christmas is the reason we can sing again.

~ Don Moen

Picture by Gerla Brakkee

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

The tree is finally up! We had some relatives and friends over for dinner. It was great fellowship.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Waiting, waiting and waiting

The day is kind of wasteful - wasting time, that is.

We spent almost half the day waiting and waiting and waiting in the Immigration Department in the process of getting Calvin a passport. As a result I did not get much done.

I spent the morning in a client's meeting which was fruitful.

Then it was the entire afternoon in the Immigration Department. Which isn't that bad really because I brought a book along to keep me entertained. I am reading Paolini's Eragon. I felt I must read it after watching the movie (the same thing that happened after I watched The Fellowship of the Ring!)

We went for dinner with my husband's parent. Today is the Chinese festival celebrated one month before the Chinese New Year, called Gor Tong: literally crossing into the winter solstice, not that we have winter here but since it is a Chinese festival ... We are supposed to have tong yuen but this year, after my father-in-law was diagnosed to have the Parkinson's, I guess my mother-in-law was not really in a festive mood to make tong yuen. It is a must to have it every year - this year is an exception.

After dinner, I did some shopping to get what I need for the Christmas party but I am still short of a few things, which was not available in the store. I only have tomorrow left to get them.

Picture from Sensory Overload

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Plans for the week

I will be off from work from today until the New Year. I have all my days, at least those before Christmas, lined up with activities and errands to run.

Today I spent the entire day painting the walls outside the house and got the roof fixed as well. The paint was peeling off the walls. I had to scrape them off before putting on a new coat. Scraping is hard work, more tedious than painting, in my opinion. Not that I meant to spiritualise everything that I do but while doing the walls I did think about it being akin to the removing of the ingrained sin and habits that are etched deep in our lives - hard and painful but something that needs to be done.

The roof has been leaking for awhile and I am glad I got it fixed finally. I guess I was waiting for my husband to do something about it but since I have the time now, I called the repairman and got it fixed in no time.

I almost got the air-conditioner in the hall fixed as well but was advised against having to spend too much replacing the faulty compressor. Looks like we have to go without. A warm Christmas it will be.

I have a client meeting tomorrow morning (even though I am on holiday, I have to chip in 2 hours to attend this meeting), a visit to the Immigration Department to get Calvin a passport and more cleaning and some shopping.

On Saturday I have band practice. I also need to get some things ready for the Christmas party on Christmas eve. I should be baking my cake on Saturday since I will be spending Sunday morning in church.

I will be worshipping leading on Sunday morning and then I have to rush home to get things prepared for the party. I have already ordered a turkey (it is kind of a common practice to have turkey for Christmas here) and my brother will be picking it up in the evening. I am looking forward to a good time with family and friends.

On Christmas morning, we will be attending our church's combined Christmas service - 4 services together, with more than 1,200 people, if not 1,500. We will having it in Hotel Istana. There will be lots to do, but this year I get a break since we take turns every year to lead in worship.

From then on, I have no set plans. Not yet, that is.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Out of order

We have not yet put the tree up and so the minute I got home from work yesterday, I dragged it all out all eager to prop it up with lights and balls and garlands … but the lights didn’t work.

The tree is now sitting bare.

Reflecting on it, just how lighted up am I for God?

Picture by Agzu

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Deep calls to deep

Psalm 42:5-8

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God;
for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers
and your waves have gone over me.

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

Picture by Quil

Monday, December 18, 2006

Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands

I received a Christmas gift from a good friend (I am guilty of opening it before Christmas!) - a daily devotional series by Charles Spurgeon, which happens to be one of my favourite people. I read the devotional for today and was blown away by his words:

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands."
~ Isa 49:16

No doubt a part of the wonder which is concentrated in the word "Behold", is excited by the unbelieving lamentation of the preceding sentence. Zion said, "The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me." How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favoured people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush; he cries, "How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?" O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of his people. He keeps his promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt him. He never faileth; he is never a dry well; he is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapour; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert. "Behold", is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marvelling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of his hands. "I have graven thee." It does not say, "Thy name." The name is there, but that is not all: "I have graven thee." See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when he has graven thee upon his own palms.

Picture by Ventileit

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ

I posted about Mary several days ago and Dugalug brought up several good points about Joseph. I have commented on it but decided to give it a post status.

Much has been focused on the mother of Jesus, most probably because she physically bore Him whereas Joseph is somehow seen as playing a lesser role. I (and Dugalug) beg to differ.

Interestingly, our Christmas Musical this year featured a full length song for Joseph, for the first time, with a monologue Joseph addressing Baby Jesus.

If you read Matthew with Luke, and the sequence of events, Mary had already met Gabriel and told Joseph about her being pregnant from the Holy Spirit. Mary told Joseph about her encounter with the angel. Joseph was disturbed and mulled over it so much so that he thought with Mary being pregnant with the Holy Spirit, he must be out of the picture now and decided to divorce her but quietly to preserve her dignity. Then he must have fell asleep. He had a dream of an angel saying that it was okay for him to marry Mary. He is still in the picture and needed for the fulfillment of the Scriptures. He is to be Jesus' earthly father - to bring Him up in the Jewish family and faith.

I feel that Joseph is being given a very important duty to be the father of the Saviour of the world. With the Jewish family centering on the son, firstborn no less, Joseph's role in Christ becoming flesh is very important.

As much as Mary was chosen, Joseph was chosen too – only that Mary being a woman who has to biologically carry the Child, she is only seen to be more in faith.

And I believe that Matthew's simple mention of this: "Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife" is as powerful as Luke's mention of Mary's "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said."

Well, it we think about it, what else could Luke have said about Mary -- she went along her way and gave birth to a son? Possible but he has to mention Elizabeth proclaiming the Baby in her first. And I think Luke is more a story teller than Matthew with dialogues and songs, while Matthew is simple descriptive with only the angels' word in spoken form but more of a monologue.

Mary is chosen to bear, Joseph is chosen to bring up. They are both blessed.

However, what I found odd is that Joseph is not mentioned later as much as Mary.

I checked Easton Bible Dictionary: "He is last mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that he died before Jesus entered on his public ministry. This is concluded from the fact that Mary only was present at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. His name does not appear in connection with the scenes of the crucifixion along with that of Mary."

Picture by Vedrana Bosnjak

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Everlasting Light, A Christmas Musical: The Second Night

We were more steady this time round having had experienced it in full swing last night. We had time to pray, to relax and to mingle. The sound system was improved though it could still have been better.

I have a descant part in two of the songs and I did better this time as well.
    Arise and shine, for your light has come,
    Ring in the season of light.
    Hail the birth of the Holy One,
    Bring in the season of light.
    Arise and shine, for His joy has come,
    Ring in the season of light.
    God, the Father has sent His Son,
    Bring in the season of light.
    Christ has come to the heart that’s waiting,
    Now the dark of the night is fading.
    Come with songs of celebrating,
    Ring in the season, bring in the season,
    Ring in the season of light!
Picture by Patrick Lim (I'd prefer to post a choir photo but my photographer friend sent me this one! )

Friday, December 15, 2006

Everlasting Light, a Christmas Musical: The First Night

After 4 months of practice, today is finally the day: Everlasting Light, a Christmas Musical.

Like how we usually work in our church, a small team of planners automatically just assembled to get things in place and put it all in place. Putting up the musical in a different place makes it more complicated with more things to do, but we managed to pull it off by God’s grace. We did well despite the problems we had with the sound and sound system. Like what the Choir Director shared with us, no matter what happens, God’s work is done. He ensures His work is done.

He is the Everlasting Light who has come into our world to light our lives to shine for Him. To God be the glory, good will on earth and peace towards all people.

Picture by Roman Teng, the night before the night (i.e. our final rehearsal on Thursday)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy Birthday Dad!

It is my dad's 68th birthday today!
Happy Birthday Dad!
Thank you for your love, for everything! I love you!

Picture by MissCGlass

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mary, the mother of my Lord

Luke 1: 26-45
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

34 And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

35 And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God.

36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God."
38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

When I read this I wondered how long would Mary had thought about what the angel said to her before she said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." It is a big - more than big! - thing that is confronting her and she is amazing to have received it with such grace. How have I been receiving the lessons and hardship that would mould me to be more like Christ?

Heb 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Then I wondered about how the news of Mary being pregnant out of marriage fare with the people then. Would the people believe her? God being perfect had it all planned. Elizabeth who became pregnant with John the Baptist proclaimed Him even before John was born. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him (John 1:7). Several days after Mary's pregnancy announcement by the angel Gabriel, she went to meet Elizabeth. Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit proclaimed Mary as the mother of her Lord. Mary's account is now supported by Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah, a Jewish priest.

Glory to God in the highest heavens,
and peace on earth to all whom God favours!
~ Luke 2:14

Picture by Merlijn Enserink

Monday, December 11, 2006

Slow days

Jewels was talking about slow days and that is exactly what I am going through lately. I am going a long period of self-examination, or so I realize when I took a personality test and read about my personality. For one, reading the results made me feel a bit weird but I keep nodding as I read because I almost agree with everything in there except the part where it says that I may be psychic! No way.

The odd thing is that the very reason that I took the personality is because of my personality, since I am a person who “direct their insight and inspiration toward the understanding of themselves and thereby human nature,” and “if they do not marshal their resources, externalized their feelings, and take risks to move on, they may experience a long periods of self-examination.”

The test is found here if you are interested. I am an INFJ.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Milly's Fun Book Thing

Milly blogged about this and here's mine:

The rules are:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest!

Late Vicar of Everton,
and an Itinerant Servant of Jesus Christ,
who loved His Master and His Work,
and after running on his errands many years
was called to wait on Him above.

Art thou born again?
No salvation without new birth!
I was born in sin, February 1716.

John Stott, Christ the Controversialist

Picture by Benjamin Earwicker

Saturday, December 09, 2006

No time to be

I have not been very pedagogical in my postings for a long while already. It is hard to be so at the end of the year when I am all tied up in church activities and work. I look forward to a time I can think again and post my thoughts but that would have to wait.

Picture by Thad Zajdowicz

Friday, December 08, 2006

Oh dear ...

We had our first rehearsal at the main church where we will be having our Christmas musical and it was not easy. We have been practicing since August and we were doing okay until trying it out for the first time here. Having just renovated the church, the acoustics of the church have caused quite a lot of feedback causing delays - the choir and the musicians simply could not hear each other on time.

Picture by Andy Ridgway

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Favourite Christmas Songs

Missy cyber tagged me, which is good in a way because I am at the moment again involved in giving training off-site that runs late into the night. Having nothing much in mind to post, it is nice to be tagged then. However, my list is gonna be boring - only because we aren't exposed to much spiritual songs other than during church service and the choir.

1. Drummer Boy - I still remember the first time I sang this during a Christmas presentation when I was a kid. It was fun singing it - pa rum papa pum.

2. O Little Town of Bethlehem - of all the Christmas hymns, this has to be my favourite. The birth of Christ into our small world is a miracle. That He would choose to come to be born man in humanity's little town is too profound for words.

3. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus - an Advent song. Lovely tune and it requires quite some skill singing it especially when it comes to phrasing. Singing is telling a story, delivering a message - there are proper places to pause or take a breath and this one need some pumping up! The message in this song is that Jesus should be active in our lives and Christmas is a good time to remember to reinvite him into our lives if he is not already.

4. People Need the Lord - I think this may not be a Christmas song per se but we sang it once in a Christmas musical and we are singing it again in the musical this Christmas. In all the festivities and Christmas trees and presents, the most important message is people need Jesus.

5. Ding Dong Merrily on High - we have never sang this in church. Wish we could!

6. Angels We have Heard on High - I changed my mind, this is my number one Christmas hymn! The chorus sang in 4 parts shows the harmony in our lives to live it out for Christ. Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

I have to rephrase myself - my list is NOT boring after all!

I guess I have to tag it on now - Jewels, Codepoke, Dugalug and Milly then. No obligations though, if it is not your thing.

p/s Oh, I miss this one: For Unto Us a Child is Born by Handel.

Pciture by Sabine Simon

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Thousand Words #13

I'll catch up with your blogs soon ... I have just caught up with your comments here. Been really down and out ... but God is good ... I'll remember that.

Picture by Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Meaning of Life

I was thinking about life (and death, if you noticed) when I happen to read this sermon by Edward Increase Bosworth (what a great name!) in Treasury of the World’s Great Sermons edited by Warren Wiersbe, which by the way is a wonderful and treasure of a book – if you happen to need something to read, you will most probably find just what you need here.

I had wanted to put a summary here but I don’t think I will give it justice if I do – and so here’s all of it.

The Meaning of Life
by Edward Increase Bosworth

"If a son, then an heir." - Gal. 4:7.

There is one story that never fails to interest men. It is the story of the real experiences of a human life. If an old man should rise in any audience and describe with absolute frankness the most vitally important experiences of his life, he would hold the attention of his audience to the end. He would describe his earliest recollections of home, parents, brothers and sisters. He would tell of his first boy friend, he would describe the way in which he earned his first dollar. He would tell how he first met, learned to love and asked in marriage her who afterward became his wife. He would speak of the holy sensation of fatherhood that welled up in his heart as he held his first-born in his arms. He would speak of the dumb outcry of his heart as he held the same child in his arms and watched its breathing slowly cease. He would tell the story of the great loves and hates of his life. He would speak of the timid wonder or eager anticipation with which now, in his old age, he looks out upon a near eternity.

God is the supreme inventive genius of the universe. Men are possest of wonderful inventive genius that has exprest itself in all the countless devices of modern civilization. We may say of them in homely phrase that in this particular they simply "take after" their Father, who is Himself the supreme inventive genius. So far as we know, the supreme product of His infinite inventive genius is the situation which we call plain, commonplace daily life. Nothing else is more wonderful than the daily relation of a man to his personal and physical environment, that we call plain daily life.

What is the meaning of this experience, the story of which never fails to interest men? What is the purpose of this situation devised by the infinite ingenuity of God? What is life for? The answer is to be sought from the standpoint of the text – the Fatherhood of God: "If a son, then an heir." God appears as a Father of sons whom He wishes to be His heirs. Human life is a situation devised by the infinite ingenuity of God, in which to train sons for an inheritance of power by teaching them to use power in a friendly spirit.

There are certain things implied in this statement of the purpose of life. it is implied that God is a Father who has vast power to bequeath. The evidences of it are on every side. It is said that if one of the fiery whirlstorms on the sun should occur on the surface of the earth, it would be in the Gulf of Mexico thirty seconds after it had left the St. Lawrence, and everything in its track would be a hot vapor. The words that God left ringing in the ears of men, when he launched the race upon its career, were calculated to arouse expectation of power: "Subdue the earth," "have dominion." The words which Jesus spoke to His fellow men at the close of His life of marvelous manifestation of power were also calculated to make them expect to exercise power. "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do."

It is implied that God is an ambitious Father, ambitious to see His sons make the most of themselves. We sometimes think of God as a Sovereign whose plans are good for the world as a whole, but involve so much of hardship and limitation for the individual that a man may well wish to have the least possible personal connection with them. Such is not Paul's thought. To him God is indeed a Sovereign, but a sovereign Father, ambitious to see His sons become His heirs.

It is implied also that God is a conscientious Father, too conscientious to allow His sons to become His heirs unless they are fit to possess that which he would bequeath. Heirship was once synonymous with license. The heir to the throne was allowed certain exemptions from ordinary obligations. He might gratify his appetites with a disregard of consequences unpardonable in the case of other men. But with advancing ideas of the responsibilities inseparable from the possession of power this idea is largely passing away. He who would inherit must be trained into fitness for the inheritance. It is said that one of the present European sovereigns gave little promise as a child of ever being fit for the inheritance that would naturally come to him. His father, however, was a conscientious man, and systematically set about the process of making his son fit for heirship. He provided for his physical development, gave him military training, educated him in the branches of learning most essential to statesmanship, and in every way so devoted himself to the preparation of his son for the responsibilities of heirship that, finally, when the prince inherited the kingdom, few rulers were better fitted than he for the responsibilities of power.

That human life is a situation devised by the infinite ingenuity of God, in which to teach His sons to use power in a friendly spirit is evident from several considerations: The nature of life as revealed in its two most characteristic features shows that it is intended to serve this purpose. It may seem difficult to determine what features of life ought to be selected as characteristic. We naturally look for something very generally present in life and of fundamental significance. Perhaps, nothing more exactly meets this requirement than the phenomenon of human suffering, and the family.

Suffering is a universal and vitally significant feature of human life. Who escapes it? It begins with the physical pains of infancy. How many thousands lie today suffering in hospitals! How many millions suffer pain outside the merciful ministrations of the hospital! But who is there who lives long without knowing something of the suffering that is keener than bodily pain, the suffering of the soul, in all the violent passion or steady, relentless oppression of sorrow in its manifold forms? We may be unable to form a complete philosophy of suffering, but this much is at once evident: It makes a powerful appeal for the friendly use of power. Especially is this seen to be the case in our day when easy combination and swift transmission of power make it possible for a large number of men, each of whom has a little power, quickly to apply that power in a friendly way to any remote point of need. It is possible for thousands of persons, each with a small amount of personal power represented in his single dollar, to accumulate a sum of money within a few hours in the hands of a reliable central agency that will cable it to the other side of the world and release it there in some form of personal activity that shall be the friendly relief of suffering.

By the side of the phenomenon of suffering stands the family as a great characteristic feature of human life. A large part of the significance of the family consists in the training it affords its members in the friendly use of power. A little child is born into the world, "an appetite and a cry." Very soon an appeal is made to the little soul for love. It is the appeal of the mother's eyes. The appeal of the father is soon made and felt to be different from that of the mother. In time a third appeal is made by the baby brother, and a fourth, different from the other three, by the baby sister. The child becomes a man and loves a woman. The appeal of the wife for love; that is, for the friendly use of power, differs from any that have preceded it. When a baby boy lies in the father's arms a new appeal is made, and the appeal of the baby girl touches a new chord in the father’s heart. The seven-fold appeal of father, mother, brother, sister, wife, son, daughter, which is experienced in the fully developed family relationship, constitutes an appeal for the friendly use of power that can be matched by no creation of the imagination. When one looks, therefore, into the nature of human life as exprest in its two characteristic features, human suffering and the family, he is constrained to regard it as a situation devised by the infinite ingenuity of God in which to teach his children to use power in a friendly spirit, arid presumably with reference to giving them larger bequests of power.

The truth of this proposition also becomes evident when we recognize that this conception underlay Jesus' theory of life. When the rich young senator came to him as to an expert professional prophet, asking him to specify something the asking of which would guarantee him the advantages of "eternal life," Jesus simply directed him to begin at once to use the power he already possest in a friendly spirit, He pointed out to him the suffering on every side and told him to begin to use his possessions in relieving it.

Jesus' general teaching regarding the proper use of money is based on this theory of life. "Make to yourselves friends," he said, "by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, so that when it shall fail they may receive you into eternal tabernacles" (Luke, 16:9). That is, a man's money power is to be used in a friendly spirit that will lay the foundations for eternal friendships. When two men meet for the first time in tire age to come, it will be discovered that one is there because of the friendly spirit in which the other once used his money to meet the great needs of those whom he did not then know personally, and who perhaps lived in other lands. Jesus regarded money as a comparatively low form of power put into a man's hands for a little time in order that he might learn to use it in a friendly way and so prepare himself to be trusted with higher forms of power. "If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon who will commit to your trust tire true riches?" How can the Church expect God to trust it with any such large degree of prayer power as is described in the great promises of achievement through prayer, until it has first learned to use the lower money power in a friendly spirit? Jesus regarded money as something that really belongs to another. It often comes to us by inheritance from another, and is certain at death to pass from us to another. It remains in our hands a little while in order that by using it in a friendly way we may be prepared to inherit some higher form of power that we can carry out into the eternal future as our permanent possession. "And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?"

Jesus not only held this view of life as a theory, but He actually used human life as a situation in which to prepare men for an inheritance of power by teaching them to use power in a friendly way. The salvation which He brings to men is one which saves them to this kind of life. There is no more striking evidence of the seriousness of sin than the fact that the powerful appeal made by life itself is not sufficient to induce men to use power in a friendly way. There is still need that a great Savior should enter the situation and bring the persuasive power of his own friendly personality to hear upon men. But human life, as we have conceived it, is a situation big enough for, and suitable to, the operations of a great Savior. It affords him the opportunity He needs to link men’s lives in with His own ever-present life, and to train them through personal association with Himself in the friendly use of power. He not only pointed out the suffering poor to the rich young man who came inquiring about eternal life, and directed him to use his money in their relief, but He said also, "Come, follow me." He proposed to attach the man permanently to himself and to the friendly enterprise into which He was leading His disciples. The disciples of Jesus were a company of men being personally trained by Him in the friendly use of power. They were to be specialists in friendship: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." The Church of Jesus Christ is not a club which men and women join for what they can get out of it, but it is a company of men and women banded together to be trained by the living Lord in the friendly use of power. They keep the searchlight of their investigation playing all round the world’s horizon, and when it falls upon some point of special need, to that point some members of this Christly company hasten with power for its relief.

It is further evident that human life is a situation devised by tire infinite ingenuity of God in which to prepare sons for an inheritance of power by teaching them to use power in a friendly spirit, because human life has actually been serving this purpose. When we look back over the long history of human life in the world, it is evident that God has fairly been crowding more power into the hands of men, as fast as they have learned to use what they already had with even an imperfect degree of friendliness. This is seen, for instance, in the case of explosives. Men in the brutal first century of our era could not be trusted to use the power of modern explosives. We see evidences enough of brutality still, but if some new explosive should be discovered that would destroy the lives of a million men in an instant, there is now a friendly sentiment in the hearts of men that would instantly demand the elimination of this explosive from modern warfare.

In the industrial development of our day, increasing power is being put into the hands of employers and employed, as men are able to use it with increasing though imperfect. friendliness. Once neither employers nor employed could have been safely trusted with the power that organization has given to both parties, but now the growing sense of responsibility for the general welfare makes it safe to give larger power to both. It seems probable that vast industrial enterprises conducive to human welfare lie just ahead of us, which can be undertaken only when men have been trained to use power with a friendliness that will make it safe to trust them with the great increase of power that these enterprises will demand.

Human life, then, by its very nature, by Jesus' theory and use of it, by what it has already accomplished through the centuries, is seen to be a situation devised by the infinite ingenuity of God, in which to train sons for an inheritance of power by teaching them to use power in a friendly spirit.

It is in the light of this conception of the meaning of life that the peril of living appears. The danger is that man will refuse to learn the friendly music of power, and therefore be unable to inherit the bequests of power that would naturally await them. Such failure means inevitable loss. He who throws himself athwart the deep trend of the long evolution of life inevitably suffers indescribable disaster. It is of him that the most ominous words of Jesus are spoken. The power that he has will be taken from him and be given to him that has shown himself fit to be trusted with large and growing grants of power - "Take away the talent from him and give it to him that hath ten talents." From the farmer who refuses to sow his seed the seed shall be taken and given to him who has it in abundance and is willing to sow it, for seed must be sown that God’s children may have bread. "He will be cast out into the outer darkness," eliminated from Jesus' civilization of friendly workmen. Over against these busy friendly workmen, to whom, as they work together, God gives growing grants of power, the persistently selfish man putters away ever more feebly and painfully in his little lonely self-made hell. The peril is that men will not see the significance of plain daily life, with its commonplace most constantly recurring opportunity to learn to use power in a friendly spirit. The men that stood for judgment before the Son of Man cried out in surprized chagrin, "When saw we thee hungry and thirsty?" They had not noticed the significance of daily life. It is those with the least power, one-talent people, who are in greatest danger. They are too proud to do the little they can do because it will appear to others to be so little - "Others can do it so much better than I." Or the little power they possess is not sufficiently impressive to overcome the wicked lethargy of their anemic good will - "It is too much trouble." So they merit the descriptive words of Jesus, "wicked and slothful," proud and lazy, and pass out into the sphere of self-wrecked personalities.

But, on the other hand this view of the meaning of life gives birth to a great hope. The man who has only a little power, and who faithfully uses it in the friendly spirit of a son of God, is certain to inherit vastly increased power. He lives in a generous economy in which he who is "faithful over a few things" will surely be "set over many things." It is this conception of the future life as one of achievement that appeals to the strong man of our age. We do not like to think of the future life as one of endless rest. We do not care to sing:
    There shall I bathe my weary soul
    In seas of endless rest,
    Arid not a wave of trouble roll
    Across my peaceful breast.
Tennyson rather has struck the chord to which our age responds, when he says of his departed friend:
    And doubtless unto thee is given
    A life that bears immortal fruit
    If those great offenses that suit
    The full-grown energies of heaven.
The thought of "the full-grown energies of heaven" and the opportunity for their exercise that "heaven" must afford, makes immortality seem worthwhile. The sons of God are to inherit a career. Men may walk the shores of the "silent sea" not shivering and cowering with fear of death, but feeling rather as Columbus did when he finally got his three ships, and sailed away expecting to find opportunity for great achievements beyond. They may walk the shore like spiritual vikings, ready to start out on a beneficent career of high adventure. They may feel an enthusiasm for eternity which will
    Greet the unseen with a cheer!
But all this future outlook is for him who has present insight into the meaning of daily life and who puts himself under the daily discipline of Jesus. The homespun language of Sam Foss expresses his deep desire.
    Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
    Where the race of men go by?
    The men who are good and the men who are bad,
    As good and as bad as I.
    I would not sit in a scorner' seat,
    Or hurl the cynic' ban;
    Let me live in a house by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.
Human life is a situation devised by the infinite ingenuity of God, in which to prepare sons for an inheritance of power by teaching them to use power in a friendly spirit. "If a son, then an heir."

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE - Edward Increase Bosworth
PROFESSOR of New Testament language and literature, Oberlin Theological Seminary, Ohio,1892- 1926; dean 1903-1924; born Dundee, Ill., January 10, 1861; graduated from Elgin Academy, Ill., 1877; student Oberlin College, 1879-81; graduated from Yale, 1883; Oberlin Theological Seminary, 1886; student at the University of Leipsic, 1890,1; Congregational clergyman; pastor, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, 1886,7; professor of English Bible, 1887-90; author of "Studies in the Acts and Epistles," - "Studies in the Teaching of Jesus and His Apostles," - "Studies in the Life of Jesus Christ," etc.

Picture by Michael Bretherton

Sunday, December 03, 2006

You have died ...

Col 3:1-4
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Picture by Kristin Smith

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I Bow My Knee

I bow my knee before Your throne,
I know my life is not my own;
I offer up a song of praise,
to bring You pleasure, Lord.

I seek the Giver, not the gift,
my heart's desire is to lift You
high above all earthly kings;
To bring You pleasure, Lord.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, glory to the King;
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, glory to the King.

Bonnie Deuschle
©1990 Integrity's Hosanna! Music

Picture by Andrea Andrea

Friday, December 01, 2006

Timeless Prayer

Codepoke has started a group blog: Timeless Prayer. It is a good place to pray the psalms together. My OT lecturer used to encourage us to appropriate the psalms for ourselves. It makes it so personal to pray to God with the psalms using our own words but sometimes, we need to just pray the psalms as they are, when we cannot find the words at all to pray.

Do come and visit or better yet, join us as contributors.

And would you believe it, it is already December - my favourite month but not without its feeling of nostalgia. It is a time to reflect, a time to give, a time to receive and a time to refresh in the love and presence of our Emmanuel.

John 1:1-5, 9-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it ...

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.