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Showing posts from September, 2007

Stronger Hands

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Pastor Chris gave another excellent sermon today from a popular text that I have not yet had the chance to dig in myself: Jacob's wrestles with God, in Genesis 32:22-32 . Taking a look at the passage in context:- I am quite curious as to why a wrestling match was nestled in the passage about Jacob meeting Esau. Jacob remembers his encounted with Esau 20 years ago when he had tricked his elder brother of his birthright. Esau had been so incensed that he willed to kill Jacob after the passing and the mourning of their father. Now that Jacob is moving out from Laban's he will be passing close to where Esau was. He had to meet his brother. He was worried. He made preparations and proceeded to meet him, but before that happened, Jacob wrestled with God. Why? I do not have any commentaries (at least not yet) on Genesis and I have to resort to the next best: http://www.bible.org/ . Deffinbaugh said, "As biblical scholars have observed over the centuries, there is much in this

Malaysia Jubilee Mission Expo

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I wanted to spend most of the day on James 4:4 but I managed to drop into MCA Hall this evening to view the Exhibition of 183 Historical Pictures of the Malaysia Jubilee Mission Expo, which celebrates the 200th Anniversary of Robert Morrison's Mission to China. The sad thing for me was that the entire exhibition was in Chinese. I was only given a booklet in English describing what each poster and pictures therein say and refer to. I teasingly called the book English Subtitles, except that they weren't really subtitles at all as all it provided was general information of the posters and not a word-for-word translation of the text. Midway through I lost interest, but it would be an excellent walkthrough if and only if I knew how to read Chinese. I can't say much here about the missionaries and their sacrificial contributions but what caught my attention was this poem (in English!), written by E.H. Hamilton, after hearing of the death of his missionary collegue Jack Vinso

Hebrew? Greek? Anyone?

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Kar Yong posted in his blog if biblical languages are still necessary in the seminary, triggered by a similar post by The Rabbi here . He asked: - Do we still need to teach Greek and Hebrew in the seminary? - Is the knowledge of Greek and Hebrew a requirement for exegesis? - Are biblical languages still necessary for Christian ministry? I have utterly no influence in this field of work - that is, I am neither a scholar nor a seminarian but my answers are yes, yes and a resounding yes! The Rabbi's Hebrew class suffered a 2-student-dropout. Let me tell you in our Greek class back in year 2004, when it was offered to us laypeople, the initial respond was tremendous. (I suppose for us, going for eh-hem Greek class sounded, well ... important!) The class size was more than 35! Siew Foong, our lecturer, was pretty worried on having such a huge class to handle, what more a language class. She did not have to worry long because by the time we sat for the exam for Elementary Greek 2 at

Job 17

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1 Ajalku sudah dekat, hampir putuslah napasku; hanyalah kuburan yang tinggal bagiku. 2 Orang menjadikan aku bahan ejekan; kulihat betapa mereka melontarkan sindiran. 3 Aku ini jujur, ya Allah. Percayalah padaku! Siapa lagi yang dapat menyokong perkataanku? 4 Kaututup hati mereka sehingga tak mengerti; jangan sampai mereka menundukkan aku kini. 5 Menurut pepatah, siapa mengadukan teman demi keuntungan, anak-anaknya sendiri akan menerima pembalasan. 6 Kini aku disindir dengan pepatah itu; mereka datang untuk meludahi mukaku. 7 Mataku kabur karena dukacita; seluruh tubuhku kurus merana. 8 Orang yang saleh, terkejut dan heran; orang yang tak bersalah, menganggap aku tidak bertuhan. 9 Orang yang baik dan yang tidak bersalah, makin yakin cara hidupnya berkenan kepada Allah. 10 Tapi seandainya kamu semua datang ke mari, tak seorang bijaksana pun yang akan kudapati. 11 Hari-hariku telah lalu, gagallah segala rencanaku; hilang pula semua cita-cita hatiku. 12 Tetapi sahabat-sah

Psalm 67

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To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. pearlie

Context, context and context

I attend bible study every Friday night, or at least I try to. The material used is Avery T. Willis Jr's Masterlife Series - The Disciple's Mission . Others may find it useful but I would prefer a more bible-centered hermeneutical material. I find that The Masterlife Series focuses on Christian life lessons and pulls up verses to substantiate them. Last Friday, the bible study also included material taken from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life , who also in my opinion take verses out of context to fit into his thoughts. During the study, we were given these steps to horizontal reconciliation, apparently from Warren. I am not convinced over the choice of verses. 1. Talk to God before talking to the person ( James 4:1-2 ) 2. Always take the initiative ( Matt 5:23-24 ) 3. Sympathize with their feelings ( Phil 2:4 ) 4. Confess your part of the conflict ( Matt 7:5 , Ps 73:21-22 ) 5. Attack the problem and not the person ( Prov 15:1 , 16:21 ) 6. Co-operate as much as possible

What do you make of the Tower of Babel?

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I was thinking about the concept of unity this morning. For now, we are all of different colour and creed, different languages and nationalities. The day will come when we will come to the Kingdom of God: as one people, with one creed, one King, one language. Why then do we live in such differences right now? Does the Tower of Babel incident have anything to do with it? In light of the Kingdom of God, why would God want to frustrate human’s efforts to come together? The account of the Tower of Babel is one of the most popular Sunday School stories. I am so familiar with it that it did not occur to me to ask questions. But I am now. Genesis 11:1-9 1 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. ........ 2 It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain ........ in the land of Shinar and settled there. .................... 3 They said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and ................ burn them thoroughly." And they used brick fo

The Promises of God

Rev Christopher Rao gave a very inspiring and stiring sermon today and I found it really profound. Based on Genesis 15:18, "On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, 'To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates'", he spoke about The Promises of God. He approached the promises of God in a way I have never thought of before. He said that "promises are part and parcel of the Christian life". I was a bit skeptical when he said that. All along, I never really looked at the promises of God like that, as something that take such a prominent place in my life - I do believe in his promises but look upon it as God's blessings, nothing more. And here he is paying a tad too much attention to God promising and keeping his promises. But as he went, I began to see his point view. God is a God of promises. In a great many places in Scripture, God's commandments are often accompanied by promises,

I know that my Redeemer liveth

I am working on this song now in class but I am surely having some problems! Never ever gonna sing like that - not in a million years. pearlie

Another booky day

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When I decided to work on James 4:4, little did I realise that there is very little scholarly work done on it, compared to other NT books. As such, LT Johnson's Brother of Jesus, Friend of God, Studies in the Letter of James , was a great find. He published in the book "a collection of essays on the Letter of James that were written over a period of two decades", and that in itself is impressive. Little did I also know that in most commentators' opinion, the book of James does not seem to have a structure to it. Most faced problems in finding any unity in the book. I tried to do a simple sentence diagramming of the entire 5 chapters. Not that I am any successful in coming up with a structure but at least I now have an idea of the basic makeup of the book. And while I was at the bookstore, I figured I needed another commentary on Mark. I knew I had William Lane's NICNT and thought that it will be worthwhile getting a copy of RT France's NIGTC. The problem wa

Writing

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Alex posted about writing and finished off the post with this: ... I have been reading about writing by Thomas Merton in Robert Inchausti (Ed.) (2007), Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton and the Vocation of Writing (London & Boston: New Seeds). If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men - you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish you were dead. (p.198) I must remember this. I told him I must also remember this but since my memory is as good as a goldfish's, I copied and pasted it here. pearlie

“Forgive, forget and reconcile”: a fallacy?

Forgive, forget and reconcile. Must these three come together? If there is this person whom I think I have forgiven, but I am not sure because I could not forget it, and I can’t see how there could be reconciliation, have I then forgiven? In the extreme case of rape for example: one can forgive, but not forget and there is definitely no reason to reconcile. So, what is forgiveness? Matthew 6:12, 14-15 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 18:21-22, 35 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you

James 4:4 (NASB)

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. I am now down to my final assignment for my Biblical Interpretation module. I need to write a brief exegesis paper on Matthew 7:6, 1 Timothy 6:10a or James 4:4. For whatever reasons, I have chosen the James one, which I think will be a good one to tackle, though the other 2 are just as interesting and just as difficult. Issues/problems to think about: 1. Why the usage of the vocative feminine "You adulteresses"? 2. What is meant by "friendship with the world", what is "the world" and why is it hostility toward God? 3. How does 4:4 fit in James, and in Scriptures, biblically and theologically? pearlie

STM's TEE 2007-08

Note: Please take note that the schedule laid out here is no longer valid - please refer the updated which should be up soon in the STM website. (25 Nov 2007) I have been quite hardworking this year taking more TEE modules than before. The main reason I suppose is because the modules scheduled were pretty good and interesting that I somehow have to sign up. STM has just posted its latest TEE schedule not long ago. I just got a look at it awhile ago. The modules lined up are pretty good as well. These are the ones I might sign up for, and if I do, I will not have time to sleep: Study on the Gospel of John (23-25 Nov, 30 Nov-2 Dec, 2007) KL/PJ Mr Allen McClymont Interpreting the OT Books (15 – 17 & 22 – 24 Feb, 2008) KL/PJ Rev Anthony Loke Malaysian Religions I (Wed, 26 – Sat, 29 Mar, 2008) Seremban Dr Solomon Rajah Christian Theology II (Wed, 18 – Sat, 21 June, 2008) Seremban Mr Sherman Kuek Introduction to the NT (18 – 20 & 25 – 27 July, 2008) KL/PJ Rev Tan Jin Hu

103rd Anniversary

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I attended two services today: the usual morning one and in the afternoon I went to the Chinese Methodist (Cantonese) Church Kuala Lumpur, Mother Church, which is celebrating her 103rd anniversary. Rev Dr Ezra Kok, the principal of STM spoke to us from Joshua 1:1-9, with the message to Arise for Jesus . While there is time and while there is freedom and while there are opportunities, we are to be strong and courageous and go forth to preach the good news. We, the Grace Notes presented two songs: Holy, Holy, Holy as the introit and Let There be Praise in Mandarin as part of the anthem. The picture shows the church's cell group presentation of a Cantonese folk song (the conductor is my dad and the one in pink is my mom). pearlie

"Was Jesus political"?

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I attended the OHMSI Inaugural Dialogue today at PJ Gospel Hall, entitled "Was Jesus Political?" The line-up of speakers, moderator and commentators were as follows: Moderator Rev Dr Hwa Yung, Bishop, Methodist Church of Malaysia Speakers Dr Lim Kar Yong, Lecturer in New Testament Studies, Seminari Theoloji Malaysia Dr K. J. John, Executive Director, Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute Commentators Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, General Secretary, CCM and CFM Dr Beth Baikan, Catholic Scholar from Stella Maris Parish, Sabah Mr Goh Keat Peng, Executive Secretary, MCCBCHST Mr Steven CM Wong, Chairman, NECF Research Commission Ms Tricia Yeoh, Senior Policy Analyst, CPPS Kar Yong blogged about it here . When Kar Yong posted about it about a week ago, I was obviously full of questions. Jesus was never "political" in the sense that he was never sought for power or position but came to save the lost. So I was quite unsure as to the relevance of the topic. At the dial

A mystery

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Something off-topic but this caught my attention when I was trying to catch up with the news: Kilo prototype mysteriously loses weight By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press Writer Wed Sep 12, 1:00 PM ET PARIS - A kilogram just isn't what it used to be. The 118-year-old cylinder that is the international prototype for the metric mass, kept tightly under lock and key outside Paris, is mysteriously losing weight — if ever so slightly. Physicist Richard Davis of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres, southwest of Paris, says the reference kilo appears to have lost 50 micrograms compared with the average of dozens of copies. "The mystery is that they were all made of the same material, and many were made at the same time and kept under the same conditions, and yet the masses among them are slowly drifting apart," he said. "We don't really have a good hypothesis for it." ... more Reminds me of Matthew 5:18: For truly, I say to you, until h

Faith and Works

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I have been using my morning devotion time to read articles for my exegetical-theological integration paper and feeling a little guilty about it. So this morning I wanted to take a spiritual lesson out of it. Ask and it shall be given. I am almost done with reading on Galatians 2:16 and now I need to do the same for James 2:24. While Paul was addressing preachers in the Galatia church telling the Gentiles that they have to be circumcised to be justified, hence his insistence that justification is by faith in Christ Jesus and not by works of the Law, James was addressing the danger of dead faith, a lesson I feel I must learn and something I must guard myself against. I was reading these articles on James 2: “Faith that works: James 2:14-26” by Sharyn E. Dowd and “Prejudice, partiality, and faith: James 2” by John B. Polhill. Polhill sums it up perfectly: Theological inquiry is important. Indeed, it is essential for a mature faith, a "faith which seeks understanding." But

Woohoo!

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If you think the title and picture of this post is familiar, that is if you have been visiting my blog for about a year, then you are right. It's a woohoo time for me again. I got my CT1 (or Christian Theology 1) papers back this morning. SH must have brought them in last night, but I was already asleep. I got an A minus! But an A is an A! I thought I did just okay, but Sherman thought it was excellent and thus getting an A is a bonus. Thanks Sherman! It was hard work getting to as much information, books and articles on Origen as I possibly can, but it was quite fun reading, collating and writing. I went to the extent of looking for help through LibraryThing.com, which came through in a big way. Rev Bryan Wyke scanned and emailed me several pages from Trigg's book on Origen, which contributed to my paper. I thank God for you Bryan! pearlie Picture by Yi-Chen Lin

Reluctant joy?

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Have you ever been so disappointed with someone that you decided, against the will of God, that you will forever harbour ill-feelings against the person, only to find that you just can't do it for long? Somehow or rather the joy of the Lord will evade into your heart and you will be happily speaking to the person as if nothing had happened. Don't try this at home. Habakkuk 3:18-19 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. pearlie Picture by Craig Jewell

Back to the grind

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I was enjoying 3 to 4 months long of being driven around when we were on a one-car basis with the other car being in the workshop for longer than expected. SH got his car back yesterday and I am back to being my own driver as well as back to having the morning for morning devotion during my breakfast, which for the last few months was mostly husband-time. I will miss the morning husband-time. pearlie Picture by Rodolfo Clix

The Calling of God

We had our service prolonged this morning. Rev Christopher Rao used the time encouraging us with very timely words: Take time to seek God, search him for his ways, for his plans. His challenge is for us to ask God and discover for ourselves what his calling is for us. The Scripture passage was taken from Genesis 15:1-21 . "Calling" is more often than not referred to the calling to full-time ministry, but the truth is all of us are called by God: to live a holy life, to be his disciples, to take up the cross and follow him. So there is no dichotomy between "who is called" and "who is not called". Not to be confused with the sacred-secular divide debate or the marketplace ministry movement (check these out here instead), it is a reminder to us laity that even though we are not pastors or missionaries or full-time ministry workers, we are still called by God for other purposes and we better not be caught sitting down doing nothing. There is just so muc

A Thousand Words #42

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pearlie

Klutz!

I am an absolute klutz. I tripped last night and hurt my toes. I had feared they will swell up a big as tomatoes the next day. With an important meeting to attend with the Malaysian business big boys, I am going to have a problem. And true to my words, it did swell, but I should be thankful that it was just one toe but that was bad enough. I practically limped the entire day, though I did try to look inconspicuous and it added to the pain. But thankfully the meeting went on fine. I flew back in the evening. From the airport, I took the train, jumped into a taxi and headed to a should-not-be-missed reunion dinner with ex-colleagues whom I have never seen for 10 years, with my luggage, swollen painful toe, limp and all. It was a fine time of catching up. I am glad I made an effort to turn up. I will get to the doctor tomorrow morning. pearlie

Off to Labuan

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I am off to Labuan again today for a meeting tomorrow morning. It is great that I can make use of KLIA's WIFI for free but not for long - short battery lifespan. A notebook computer, a hot pink bag, a Famous Amos cookie and a coffee. I am set to go. pearlie

A Thousand Words #41

Surely...

Surely what a man does when he is caught off his guard is the best evidence as to what sort of man he is. ~ C.S. Lewis pearlie

Birds and bees

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Hmm... our nine year old son began asking us about the bird and the bees. Isn't that too soon? I thought we won't have to deal with it for about a few more years. But I suppose at the rate we are going with the entertainment industry, the internet and the now more liberal stance in almost everything, it shouldn't be surprising. pearlie Picture by Dennis Bale

The theology of church architecture

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We visited a different denomination church today - the Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church . It was a new experience. The order of service was almost the same except for the Holy Communion and Parish Notice happening right after Praise and Worship and before the sermon. There were no bulletins to refer to and I wasn't used not knowing what's going to happen next. The church set up was different, i.e. not the traditional set up: it does not have a cross or an altar. The language used was also different: the sanctuary is called an auditorium and the pastor spoke about invoking Jesus in our lives. I didn't realise but now that I checked the bible and the word invoke is used in translation. I am just not used to it though. For me, when the word invoke is used, it carries the picture and flavour of calling upon the powers of magic. I don't know - I may have a wrong conception over this in the first place. I can now tell how "traditional" I am when it come

Ratatouille

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We went to watch Ratatouille today, which was delayed in its premier here in Malaysia. It was a delightful spread. I was taken into the movie one hundred percent. It was so believable ... well, at least until Linguini started roller blading and serving customers. The storyline was superb - it was in fact, brilliant. Who would have thought: put two of the most impossible themes together, mice and food , and there you have it, a blockbuster. How about putting life and death together: Jesus and the cross? You get eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16 (ESV) pearlie