Friday, November 30, 2007

One dream, 2 books and 3 journeys

I had a really comical dream last night, or rather, this morning to be more accurate. I dreamt that I received results for a TEE assignment, which happened to be an OT paper, not that I did any for the past 2 years. On the cover of the assignment, it was marked E with an M in parentheses. In my dream, I felt panicky. Oh no! I got an E, a marginal pass! But wait - maybe it stands for Exceeds Expectations! (For those more initiated in the Harry Potter series would remember the priceless gradings of exams - Outstanding, Exceeds Expectations, Acceptable, Poor, Dreadful and Troll.) But as I leafed through the paper, I got really bad comments but they were ridiculous ones, bordering on insane. I woke up feeling so amused! Anyway, I don't think there are any E grades in STM's TEE.

Then I decided, unwisely, to drop into SUFES, on the pretext of taking a look at Anthony Thiselton's 1 Corinthians in the NIGTC series. I saw it, pulled it out and pushed it back in. The price was unbelievable. I thought I do not have an urgent need for it now - it will have to wait. However, I picked up 8 other books but finally settled happily with two.

Mark: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist by Francis J. Moloney
I have offered to give bible study on the Gospel of Mark to the youth in my church and I am pretty excited about it. I was quite impressed with Moloney having read some of his articles when I did my paper on Mark that I have been wanting to get this book for awhile. Now I have good reason to.

Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson
I was attracted to this book because somehow or rather when I was in SUFES, it really stood out amongst the other books. And since I have a penchant now for history and biblical backgrounds, I just felt drawn to it. And what more, it has many pictures in there: something not many books have.

Later in the evening, I went for the continuation of the Study on the Book of John, where we spent 3 hours on Textual Criticism and an introduction to the passage on the raising of Lazarus. What is interesting is the build up in John, right up to the miracle and from then on, the passion story of Jesus, according to John:

Stage I
An introduction
– Jesus' exalted being (1:1-18)

Stage II
The first journey (2-4)
– starts and finishes in Galilee (Cana)
– there were no conflict

Stage III
The second journey (5-10)
– starts and finishes in Jerusalem
– Jesus starts to face mounting opposition
– at the end of the section, Jesus is very close to being arrested

Stage IV
The third and final journey (11-12)
– to Jerusalem (Bethany, which is close to Jerusalem)
– the turning point in the gospel
– where the miracle of the raising of Lazarus was found

I look forward to the class tomorrow.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

KLVV / 1 Cor 7:1-8

Christmas is around the corner! I am very happy and joyful now as I have been logged on to KLVV Praise 88.7 where Christmas songs and carols will be on 24/7 till Christmas. "Angels from the realms of glory ... Come and worship Christ our Saviour!" Click on the image above to get connected yourself and fill your airwaves with the good news of Christmas!

Since it is the school holidays now, I thought I'd drop into my old church this evening to attend Rev Ling Shiang Ming's bible study on 1 Corinthians as I have not been to any of his sermons or teaching since he started pastoring the church this year. It is a good thing but of all chapters in 1 Corinthians, I got chapter 7, verse 1 to 8.

It was an interesting session. I made several discoveries and I now have 2 more questions to mull over:

Verse 1 in Greek reads:
περι δε ων εγραψατε
and about which you wrote
καλον ανθρωπω γυναικος μη απτεσθαι
good (for) a man (and) a woman not to touch

The translations render the verse as follows:

NIV: Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.

ESV: Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.

NASB: Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

NLT: Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life.

I do not have any of the commentaries for 1 Corinthians except for Charles Hodges' classic that took the verse in the NIV sense and so did Walter C. Kaiser Jr. et al's Hard Sayings of the Bible. Rev Ling disagrees and commented that the verse refers to the belief held by the church in Corinth that since all flesh is sinful, it is better to keep away from sexual activities after marriage. They were not at all asking about whether it is good or not good to get married.Gordon D. Fee in NT Exegesis calls γυναικος απτεσθαι an idiom, meaning to have sexual relationship.

At the moment, I am agreeing with Rev Ling but I need further study. High on my wish list now is Anthony C. Thiselton's The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NIGTC).

Taking a look at Craig S. Keener's The IVP Background Commentary (IVP, 1993, p.465-6), he has this to say:

Different views on celibacy existed in the ancient world. Most ancient writers condemned it; many Jewish teachers even considered it sinful, because reproduction was essential and marriage was the proper deterrent from sexual offenses and distractions ... a number of groups of philosophers and minor religious sects, however, as well as many Essenes among the Jews, advocated celibacy or the rejection of marriage ...
On 7:1:

... Paul responds to the position in their letter to him ... some members of the church may be following an idea common among many Greek thinkers: sex was fine as long as one did not get tied down with marriage ... others, whom Paul addresses here, are already married (7:2-5) and abstain from relations with their spouses ...

With that Paul responded to the church in the following verses:

1 Corinthians 7:2-5
2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Husbands and wives are not to deprive the needs of one another. If they do it will cause much marriage problems. They also should not use sex as a weapon in marriage, e.g. to get back at one another, lest Satan use it to tempt. According to Paul, the only time that the husband and wife can deprive it of each another is when there is a need to devote time to prayer, buy in agreement, for a limited time.

The other issue I need to think about it Paul's impression about marriage. He does not seem to think too well about it. I will take a rain check on this one.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Basal significance of time? ... Wha ...

Kar Yong has reminded me about the genitive of time. I told him I have a faint memory of it either having discussed over it during bible study some years back or more likely during Greek class back in 2004, because had it been during the bible study, I would have remembered it quite well since the bible study I attended previously was serious business and at times we'd have it run pass 11.00pm!

I have just given myself a revision as to what genitive of time is, in Daniel B. Wallace's Greek Beyond the Basics (Zondervan, 1996, p.122-124). According to Wallace, "the genitive substantive indicates the kind of time, or time within which the word to which it stands related takes place." It is to "relate the genitive back to its basal significance," - of quality, attribute, description, or kind.

In the next 3 chapters, he basically repeats what he just said. I have no idea why he did that.

Let me try to understand this:

John 3:2 reads, 'this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.''' (NASB)

If it had not been a genitive, John would have meant that Nicodemus came in the night at such and such a time to see Jesus: it is more like "by the way, he came at night." It would not have made a difference if John hadn't mentioned that he came in the night, what matters was that Nicodemus came.

But because it is a genitive, it emphasize the kind of time that Nicodemus came, and the kind of time here happens to be at night, not morning or afternoon or evening, but in the dark of night. Not only did Nicodemus came, he specifically came in the night.

Interesting, Greek.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A conversation ... by BK

BK has an excellent post on an account with his "neighbour" during Sunday service. Reading it, I felt as if I was just standing next to him. Thanks BK!

I sat next to a guy at evening service today. He was a little scruffy-looking, with a haircut not dissimilar to Nicholas Cage in Con Air. Actually, I thought he looked uncannily like someone (in?)famous, but I still can't figure out who. He looked fairly intimidating, not the kind of guy you want to play roughhouse with. It was a little surprising, then, when we both stood up at the end of the service, to find out that I was actually taller!

The service started with a reflection on Scripture,and I noticed that he didn't have a Bible and offered to share mine with him. He nodded politely at me and said he was fine without one. As the music struck up, I then noticed that he didn't have a service sheet. (We're old school, no OHP projectors!) So again, I offered to share. He mumbled something and declined again. Then I cottoned on. He must have found reading difficult, and if I insisted I would just have embarrassed him. So I let him be.

Because my church is pretty big and so it's likely you're sitting next to someone different each week, there's always a moment during the service where we have a pause and introduce ourselves. So at this juncture, I said hi to Nicholas Cage. He gave me a name.

More ...


Monday, November 26, 2007

Bookamania # x + 2½

I have not been to check CBD for quite awhile and now that I did, I have a long list in my shopping cart. I have not decided to get them yet since shipping rates would be quite a sum, but these are really good prices for books. If only they were in Ringgit Malaysia though.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Study on the Gospel of John: Day 3

Today's sermon is based on Matthew 16:13-22 by Mr Louis Ratnam of Wycliffe Malaysia, who has made me see things in new ways with regards to bible translation, mission and Scriptures. I have never thought much of v.18: on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I never quite saw it in light of mission - where the church is not static and neither is it on the defensive. The church is on the offensive and where it goes to proclaim the good news of the Lord, the gates of hell that protects cities and people will not stand against it. The church must move. I need to spend some time on these verses.

We then continued our study on John this afternoon with an indepth look into the passage on Jesus and Nicodemus. It is a very, very interesting pericope and among what was pointed out include:
1. Nicodemus came at night
2. Nicodemus never quite asked a question and Jesus didn't quite answered his implied question directly either
3. In calling Jesus a Rabbi, Nicodemus regarded Jesus as equal status
4. The phrase "the Kingdom of God" is seldom used in the Gospel of John
5. To Nicodemus, all Jews enters into the Kingdom of God automatically but now his belief is being challenged by Jesus
6. Nicodemus' question "he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" may take a more than a natural meaning - it can mean that he is working out what Jesus mean when all along he has believed that entry into the Kingdom of God is by virtue of his ancestry
7. What Jesus meant by "unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" may not mean the usual take of 2 births - one natural and one spiritual but it could have an allusion to Ezekial 36:24-17 where being born "of water and the Spirit" is strictly one phrase being taken to mean just one thing, that one is being cleansed and softened to obey God


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Study on the Gospel of John: Day 2

We spent the whole day on John today and we covered more of the introduction on the Historical Context, Major Themes and the Prologue.

A few interesting things I learnt include:
1. Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John gives hints as to who the author might be
2. John takes on a very strict dualism in the gospel - e.g. you are saved or you are not, you are in the light or you are not
3. Compared to the Synoptic Gospels, John is quite concerned about different things in the sense that he may have written it in complementary to the Synoptic Gospels, e.g. he does not mention the institution of the Lord's Supper nor the Transfiguration
4. While the Synoptic Gospels tell of what Jesus did to show who he is, the Gospel of John talks about who Jesus is, what he is like and what he said to show who he is
5. In John, it has the concept of realised eschatology, e.g. we are experiencing eternal life right this very moment, you don't have to wait until the Last day

We then proceeded into John's Prologue, which to me is one of the most profound and amazing passages in Scriptures. Even though I have read and studied through it many times, each new study is still like walking into a large white room which so much to see, to discover and to understand. I leave the room enthralled at what I discovered only to enter it again in wonder and amazement.

Photo 2004 © Peter Hellebrand

Friday, November 23, 2007

Study on the Gospel of John: Day 1

I attended the evening class today on the Study on the Gospel of John led by Allen McClymont. As mentioned before, I have a penchant for chiasms and was delighted to see it here again in John - what more the entire structure of John:

I. ...Prologue (1:1-18)
II. .......Book of Jesus’ Signs (1:19-10:42)
III. ...........Transition from signs to hours (11:1-12:50)
IV. ......Book of Jesus’ Hour (13:1-20:31)
V. ..Epilogue (21:1-25)

Among the features of the Gospel of John are:
1. The 7 signs or miracles are only found in the first half
2. John introduces several themes and then comes back to them ever now and then, e.g. light and darkness
3. The miracles of Jesus are presented in a crescendo, culminating in the resuscitation of Lazarus. The final miracle recorded in John is very pivotal because it form the basis of the Jewish decision to kill Jesus.
4. A transition can be seen in the mention of "the time has not yet come" to "the hour has come"
5. There are a number of extended discourses by Jesus, which is very different from the synoptic
6. There are the “I am” sayings
7. The use of Jewish festivals carrying theological significance as John sees in them fulfillment in Jesus – Feast of the Tabernacles, the Passover, Hanukkah


Thursday, November 22, 2007

This and that

I have completed all assignments and feeling quite relieved, except of course I have just signed up for a module starting tomorrow that will run for 2 weekends: Study on the Gospel of John.

I have not been reading God's word devotionally lately and it is high time I got back to doing that. I will get back on M'Cheyne's bible reading schedule, which I have been trying real hard to follow (found a very useful online interactive version here). I guess I am just not a person of routines, viewing my personality.

Anyway, I finally found the website where I found the profiles of personalities too hilarious for words:

ENTJ is the Evil Overlord
ENTP is the Mad Scientist
ENFJ is the Cult Leader
ESFJ is the Control Freak
ESTJ is the Bureaucrat
INFJ is the Conspiracy Theorist
INFP is the Idealist, which is yours truly!
ENFP is the Scientologist
ISTJ is the Thought Police
ESFP is the National Enquirer Headline
INTP is the Egghead
INTJ is the Outside Contractor
ISTP is the Psycho Vigilante
ISFP is the Crackpot
ISFJ is the Martyr
ESTP is the Conman

For more, check it out here.

I know I must stop this T-T-P-P thing already! But then again, this is just me being me.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A slow day

I handed up my exegesis paper on Mark 2:1-12 today - didn't quite want to look at it anymore as my migraine is still lingering after its attack since Monday.

I have updated the Grace Notes site a bit but not much: just some pictures. We also met up for the usual Wednesday rehearsals every week but attendance was bad. Nevertheless, we had fun learning some really cool and funky Christmas songs.

Photo © 2007 Nate Brelsford

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Thousand Words #48

I wasn't feeling all that great lately with headaches coming on and off. I had a full day of work today, came back, washed up, thought I'd read a bit in bed before getting back to work, but I fell asleep and slept till morning.

Photo © 2007 Clemente Lucca

Monday, November 19, 2007

The value of life

I got my results for Study of the Acts of Apostles today - a B+. No woohoo's. I must say I wasn't too thrilled but then again , I took the risk and did a paper on the Holy Spirit, which I suppose is the most difficult question of the lot. In contrast though to what I read in The Star today, I don't know what to say except this: isn't life worth much more than As?

Year Six pupil found hanged
NIBONG TEBAL: A family’s bid to rescue a 12-year-old girl found hanged at their home in Changkat, near here proved to be futile. They cut the blanket that gripped her neck and rushed the Year Six pupil to the nearest hospital in Sungai Bakap soon after the 1.40pm incident on Saturday. However, the doctors there decided that S. Subashini be transferred to the Seberang Jaya Hospital, where she died at 4.05am yesterday ... she was confident of scoring at least 4As in the examination, the results showed that Subashini had only obtained 4Bs, 2Cs and 1D.

Read the complete story here.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Penang: what shapes your ministry?

Grace Notes were invited to share in music and songs in Trinity Methodist Church, Penang. We had been practicing for awhile now and the day has finally come for our so-called debut, and it went well, all thanks and praise to our God. We sang:

1. Let there be praise
(Words and Music by Dick Tunney and Melodie Tunney, Choral Arrangement by Phil Perkin)

2. Halle, Halle, Halle
(Traditional Caribbean Tune, Original Music and Setting by Hal H. Hopson)

3. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
(Words by Rev. E.A. Hoffman, Melody by A.J. Showalter, Arranged by Geordie Roberts)

4. Holy, Holy, Holy
(Words and Music by Reginald Heber and John B.Dykes, Arranged by Camp Kirkland and Tom Fettke)

5. Holy is He
(Words and Music by Claire Cloninger and David T. Clydesdale, Arranged by David T. Clydesdale)

6. A Clare Benediction
(Words and Music by John Rutter)

John Oo gave a sermon based on Matthew 22:34-40 and Jeremiah 18:1-6, on What Shapes your Ministry?

In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus was responding to questions by the law experts to test him, what is the greatest commandment? Jesus responded: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. Take note what Jesus said about these two commandments - on them the Scriptures hang onto, and this brings out a very strong message on what drives our ministry - nothing but a total love for God and an in-depth love of everyone else.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Penang: on arrival

We have arrived safely in Penang and eating our way through it as well - Penang is a food-haven, so there's no escaping!

We had our rehearsals this evening and I must say it went well. The sound system in this church was fabulous. Before the rehearsal however, we had a time of devotion where John reminded us of Psalms 23. What are the characteristics of the relationship between the psalmist and God? I saw dependence, reliance and submission. How dependent, reliant and submitted am I to God?

In reference to v. 5: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows, John gave us a very good reflection question. If anyone were to bump into us, what will spill out? It is a very relevant question: it really shows what fills our lives.

Photo © 2007 Carlos Gustavo Curado

Friday, November 16, 2007


5:38pm I am asked to lead the bible study this evening and as I got into preparing it, I ran into a big problem. How am I going to lead a study when a big portion of the study material is seriously out of context? I am at a loss. I don't know what to do. How am I going to say that Acts 9:15-19, 26-28 is not about Paul being made into a disciple? This is not a discipleship lesson. I have about 3 hours before the bible study begins. I have to think of something.

5:56pm Ahhhh! The material is so seriously out of context I want to scream! Barnabas went to Tarsus and brought Saul with him (Acts 11:25-26). Together they stayed for a year, during which Saul learned from Barnabas? Where in the world did this guy got this information from?! Ahhhhhh!!!

7:07pm I am going to see if I can do a simple exegesis study on the other 2 passages in the book: Matt 28:18-20 and 1 Pet 2:2-3. Lord, please help me.

11.32pm It actually went well. Maybe because since most of them are away in South Korea, only three of us turned up, well ... if you also count my son who was busy reading his Sure-to-Win Science Fair Projects!

During the study, I was asked how can discipling be done. I think it is quite clear in Matthew 28:19-20:

Having gone
First, one must go and it is the duty of every believer to go. It is not only a coming to church, but also a going out to bring precious tidings to others - to all nations.

Make disciples
This constitute the main verb. It does not indicate how but designates an activity that will result in disciples. The how's I believe are in the two following present tense partiples, i.e. the continuing tasks of the church: baptising and teaching.

Baptising them
The action of baptising I believe, even though carried by the pastor or priest, does not involve the pastor or priest and the new believer alone. It involves the whole church as a body of Christ. While it is the public declaration of a person's commitment to Christ and to his corporate body and it is also the duty, responsibility and love of the church to embrace the person within, so that the body of Christ as a church lives as one and encourages one another in the Spirit. Discipling is everybody's work.

Teaching them
Even though the English translation includes a connecting participle "and" between baptising and teaching, there is none in the Greek, which means that teaching is strictly not coordinated with baptising. It is carried out as long as a person becomes a disciple. It is the teaching to obey everything that God has commanded. Therefore, in order to do so, one would first need to be grounded in the word of God to teach, though it is a sad thing that in these days, these "teachers" are the ones that needs to be taught. We first need to be discipled before we can disciple.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Serious Book-a-mania!

Talk about being a bibliomaniac, I had the wildest of a maniacal day as far as books are concerned. For the first time in three years (I think), Pearson held a warehouse sales. I was told that after the 2 to 3 warehouse sales event held several years ago, they do not have plans for anymore. Pam, my sister-in-law, who was in the publishing industry sent me an email yesterday about the warehouse sales and I headed there in no time. Pearson's warehouse sales are ones to-die-for ... err ... maybe not to die die-for but you know what I mean.

Prices were slashed by a minimum of 70% and on top of that, I signed up in their book club and I get another 10%. I was in book-heaven.

Since there aren’t many books that I need other than books from SUFES, Canaanland and Evangel, my main objective was to get books for Calvin. For a boy who finished three of Enid Blyton’s short story collections in one day, this was heaven-sent.

I spent a long time there and ended up with four boxes piled with books and books and books. Before I headed to the cashier, I did a final sorting and put away some, but I still amassed 97 books! 97! It was the most I bought at any one time. It was the most I spent on books at any one time. But at an average of RM6.60 per book, it was certainly a steal.

The sale will last until 21st November. It is held in Pearson Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Lot 2, Jalan 215 (or better known as Jalan Kilang), Off Jalan Templer, 46050 Petaling Jaya. It opens from 9am to 7pm.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Done! ...

... at least the three test questions.

My papers for study on the Gospel of Mark will be due Wednesday next week. I am very drained out today but because I have the following few days all tied up, I have to get some done up before it is too late. I have Grace Notes rehearsals tomorrow and that will be go on to be pretty late, I have a friend coming back from Australia and we are meeting up, I promised to lead bible study on Friday with most in the group away to Korea on a church trip and Grace Notes will be in Penang for the weekend.

So I made myself sit down at my desk and took 3 hours to do 3 take-home-closed-book test questions. And I am so glad it is done. I keep wanting to do more and get more points and think about them more - which is the usual for me - but time does not permit, enough is enough.

I did them and I passed them up. Done.

One more exegetical paper coming up!

Picture by Sophie

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How do we learn?

Learning is something close to my heart and to learn how others learn is quite interesting in itself. Beginning with the Es, here's an overall look at how we do it differently.

ENTPs are relentless learners. When the subject matter interests them, they are able to find meaning in whatever they are studying. Knowledge is important to them, but they may not feel the need to show this to their teachers and therefore may be somewhat lackadaisical about assignments and tests. ENTPs use their enthusiasm and energy to get others involved in their learning. They learn through give-and-take discussions and by questioning and challenging others. They are quick, verbal, and logical, preferring to use their skills in interactions with others. ENTPs look at the logical foundations in others' thinking and build on them to develop their own conceptual systems. They want to be taught concepts rather then facts. Models are important to them. They typically absorb their teacher's material and present it in a framework that ties all of the elements together. They like to challenge their teachers and classmates and enjoy competitive learning tasks through which they can show their conceptual versatility. They may also enjoy independent study in which they can pursue and area of interest.

ENTJs see education as one of the major ways of getting ahead. They are willing to learn about the past and what is but always with the mind-set of how that information affects their future. They particularly enjoy critiquing and solving problems. They apply their logical systems view to the issues they deal with. They want to change things to fit their concept of what should be. They learn best through a variety of instructional methods, including lectures and group activities. Without variety and action in the classroom boredom sets in. ENTJs like to debate and view problems from all sides. They are comfortable critiquing and analyzing. and do not mind intellectual conflict in the classroom. They like challenge. They may have a general study plan laid out, with test dates and paper deadlines noted. They set up a schedule and work to attain the goal within that time.

ENFPs often learn best through a variety of means, such as observing, reading, and listening to and interacting with others. They enjoy the search for new ideas and possibilities, and will put in the time necessary to master subjects they find interesting. One strength is their enthusiasm for the process of discovery. They enjoy survey courses, comparative studies, and disciplines in which there is much to research and explore. They do not like classes that are too structured, that consist only of lectures, and that allow no room for their imagination. They may get caught up in the learning process and consequently need strict deadlines to bring a project to completion. ENFPs prefer a learning environment in which the teacher takes personal interest in them, in which there is an opportunity to talk about ideas with their peers, and in which there is a chance to ask questions and develop new ideas. A motto that might describe the ENFP as a learner is "There's always another way or another answer."

ENFJs learn best in structured situations in which they are able to talk about the lesson and interact with their peers. Because they want their teachers to be pleased with them, they attempt to be model students. They are willing to do what is required in order to become personally recognized by their teachers. Because they take criticism personally, they can either be wounded by it or be willing to redouble their efforts in order to change the criticism. ENFJs enjoy classes that have subject matter relating to people, their needs, their aspirations, and their characterizations. Many ENFJs choose the liberal arts because it gives them an opportunity to more fully explore humanity. ENFJs are good students when the subject matter relates to their strong relationship values and people orientation, and when the teacher is warm and personal. They apply the necessary effort and energy to complete the tasks that they start. ENFJs also like some independent learning and projects.

ESFPs prefer learning through participating in groups where they can interact with others and do things, not just observe or listen about things. They want to get to know their teachers well. It is not that the teachers have to be nice, but they do need to care. ESFPs dislike and are upset by intellectual arguments and conflict. They need to experience the concept first before discussing it or receiving a didactically presented theory. Directions must be very concrete, simple and accurate. They are also plugged into the environment. Atmosphere, attitudes, physical setting --- all make a difference. If the encouragement they receive for their social life is more than the encouragement they receive for their academic life, they may err on the side of being too social. Most ESFPs learn actively and do not function as well when they must read quietly by themselves about matters that are theoretical. They find themselves easily drifting off while studying, and they are ultimately diverted by things more real to them.

ESFJs learn best in structured situations where they know what they can expect. They like to schedule their learning projects so that they can plan ahead to complete their lessons. They become uncomfortable with continuous interruptions and changes when they are trying to finish what they have started. Even more importantly, however, they want to like the person who teaches them. The teacher-student relationship is helpful to them in doing their best. When there is disharmony in the classroom, it interrupts their learning process. When their work is criticised, even constructively, ESFJs may feel demoralized until they get it right and the teacher acknowledges this. Because they tend to personalize the feedback of their teachers, it is important for them to know teachers' expectations so that they can work to meet them. Learning tends to be a personal experience for ESFJs. This attitue, combined with their ability to follow through and meet deadlines, results in a conscientious and effective student. ESFJs often enjoy studies about people and their well-being, and are usually less interested in theoretical and abstract subject matters. They like active learning activities such as field trips, experiments and group projects that get them personally involved with others.

ESTPs learn best in situations in which the subject matter applies directly to one of their interests, where the expectations are realistic, and where the explanations are clear. They like observation and hands-on experience, and have little tolerance for theory and material that could be, but that is not currently, useful. Teachers' comments that knowing certain ideas or theories will someday pay off leave most ESTP's cold. They want few constraints put on them. They prefer teachers who are entertaining and make learning active and fun. One of the ESTP's main strengths is using the five senses to notice what is happening, to find any flaws and inaccuracies that may exist, and to act quickly on them.

ESTJs learn best in structured situations in which the objectives are clearly established. They like schedules or agendas so that they can plan ahead. It is important for them to know the time frames, the course content, the requirements, and when papers or projects are due. It is not sufficient to know that a short paper is a class requirement. The ESTJ wants to know things like an appropriate topic or two, the number of pages, and the due date. ESTJs like plenty of advance notice and dislike changes in class schedules. However, when the teacher's authority is established, these changes may be tolerated. Their idea of a good teacher is one who is consistent, fair, and applications oriented. ESTJs may be good students when they put in the necessary time and effort. One of their main strengths is their ability to follow through and meet deadlines. They like learning activities such as field trips, experiments, and anything that gets them actively involved in the learning process. They sometimes get stuck when they concentrated only on the facts without putting them together into some kind of coherent whole.

INTPs are relentless learners in areas that hold their interest. They often seem 'lost in thought,' and this characteristic appears very early. INTPs enjoy the life of the mind and the learning process, regardless of whether that process takes place in a formal sense. They are often characterized as life-long learners. In school, well-rounded INTPs work on their assignments with a great deal of inward energy and interest that is usually not apparent to others. They tend to connect unrelated thoughts. As learners, they are able to find logical flaws in the thinking of others. They analyze these flaws and find ideas for further study. They go to great depths in their analysis. In taking exams, they prefer theorectical questions. When INTPs view a test, teachers, or subjects as irrelevant, they may respond as follows: 'I know what I need to know about this topic; I may even know more than my teacher. The teacher made this test, and this test is dumb. Therefore, my teacher is dumb, and I will not do the test.' Because of such reactions, the INTP's academic record may include successes or may be filled with failures.

INTJs learn best when they can design their won approach and when they are able to absorb themselves in an area that interests them. They tend to focus on systems, theories, and constructs relating to universal truths and principles. They prefer challenging teachers, ones who meet their standards. High grade-point averages and test scores tend to characterize INTJs, who like rigorous academic work. Learning needs to be a creative process. Rote memory can be dull and boring for the INTJ. INTJs are diligent in pursuing new ideas and thoughts, and they exert effort to master a given subject. This makes INTJs particularly adept in most school situations. Because of their resourcefulness, thirst for knowledge, and inner needs, INTJs tend to find ways of acquiring knowledge. They gravitate toward libraries, public lectures, courses, and other learners and teachers - sources that offer them information and direction.

INFPs learn best in flexible situations where they know the teacher takes a personal interest in them. They like to be able to interact with their peers, but not too much so. They want to feel free to dig into subjects that are of interest to them. Having both flexibility and creativity rewarded is encouraging to them. While they may not enjoy deadlines, if they value the assignment, they will meet those deadlines. Deadlines may force INFPs to decide that their work is 'good enough' to turn in. Subjects that hold a great deal of interest for them are learned readily. They will often do extra work in their attempt to learn as much as possible about something of interest. And they often read assignments carefully and them work their creativity into the given framework of the assignment. Thus it may appear that they did not pay careful attention to the details of the assignment in their reinterpretation. It is best if they have teachers who appreciate their unique approach and who do not hold them to the letter of the law.

INFJs have a strong love of learning, and they tend to do well academically. Through persistence, diligence, and conscientiousness, they complete their assignments on time. They are likely to enjoy research and will go great lengths to find answers. INFJs enjoy investigating the possibilities and meanings beyond the actual facts and realities. Reading holds a particular fascination for them because it allows them to have quiet reflection time and engages their imagination. They also like the written word (and rely on it more than the spoken word) since it is usually better structured and more coherent with a ready-made framework. INFJs write and communicate well because they want to formulate their ideas clearly. They place high regard on their reader and audience. They seek to communicate their ideals to others. When their ideals need to be championed, they speak up in an enthusiastic and impassioned way. As students, INFJs prefer learning from teachers whom they both like and admire, and who give them personal attention. INFJs are often 'model' students. They are quiet and orderly, reflective and thoughtful, and sincerely want to please their teachers and learn the right thing. They learn best from others but want time to assimilate material by themselves. INFJs will go beyond what has been presented and often mull material over in their minds. Occasionally they will discuss ruminations with others in order to learn even more. They particularly like the more conceptual and theoretical classes, therefore, higher education is comfortable to them.

ISFPs learn best through hands-on experience. They may not be as interested in traditional academic subjects as some other types. They prefer application and practicality rather than studying the theoretical and only potentially useful. Making drawings, constructing miniature models, or using other direct representations to master the subject matter are appealing activities for them. They dislike structure and institutional settings that take away their spontaneity and freedom. They want their learning to be relevant to what is going on in their world. They have less patience with conceptual and abstract learning. ISFPs enjoy learning subjects that relate to helping and knowing about people. They may be easily overlooked in the classroom unless the teacher has recognized their special ways of learning and their unique contributions. Encouragement helps draw out ISFPs.

ISFJs tend to be good students, because they diligently follow through in their work to please their teachers. One aspect of pleasing their teachers is wanting to know their teachers' basic requirements so that they can meet them to the letter of the law. They like having assignments that are clear and that tangibly demonstrate that they have worked hard. They are not likely to feel comfortable with an independent study project, because independent study leaves them too much on their own without a set of definite procedures. ISFJs learn best by doing. They like to be involved in their work, perhaps having a work sheet to follow along as the teacher speaks. They may feel comfortable in group activities as long as they are working with a cooperative and task-focused group. They learn well from lectures that are well organized, not too fast paced, and properly sequenced. Lectures that activate their senses or connect to sensory impressions are very rich for ISFJs. They find arguing to be nonproductive and even uncomfortable. They like clear conclusions to their learning. They want to know the right answer. They may need to accept that situations do not always have one answer and learn to feel comfortable with that.

ISTPs learn best when they can observe first-hand in a one-to-one situation. They are particularly fond of subjects that have a logical basis; mastering certain rules or principles allows them to efficiently work with the subject matter. They like individual projects that require them to solve problems systematically. ISTPs prefer to learn alone, at their own rate and in their own time frame. Because they are able to assimilate a great amount of detail in areas that interest them, they usually do well in those areas. ISTPs earn their best grades when it is necessary to accurately report facts and data. They are impatient with theorectical subjects and like their learning to be directed toward concrete and practical outcomes. Teachers are not particularly important to ISTPs in the overall scheme, unless they can show ISTPs how to do things more easily. When the teacher obstructs or gets in the way of something ISTPs want to learn, they may ignore or go around the teacher. The formal or traditional school setting is not as important to ISTPs as is the opportunity to increase their own practical knowledge. Nontraditional programs or approaches often attract ISTPs, especially when they can learn about things that they see as vital and central to their interests.

ISTJs learn best and apply themselves most carefully in subject areas that are practical and useful. They are diligent and persevering in their studies. As learners, ISTJs tend to need materials, directions, and teachers to be precise and accurate if they are to trust the information that is presented. They prefer concrete and useful applications and will tolerate theory only if it leads to these ends. ISTJs like learning activities that allow them time to reflect and to think. If the material is too easy or appears to be too enjoyable, the ISTJ may be skeptical of its merit. Because of their practical bent, they believe that work is work and play is play. Therefore, their preferred learning environment is task oriented, starts and stops on time, and has clear and precise assignment.

Enough of personalities for a long, long time!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Not an INFJ?

Click to view my Personality Profile page
I have been procrastinating this for the longest time, which is quite unlike me since I love this kind of stuff. I have taken the test some place else and it tagged me an INFJ. However, when I was in conversation with Lee Mei, who uses Myers-Brigg in her course of work, she was quite certain I am an INFP. Therefore, I decided to do the test today, this time at and it proves Lee Mei right – I am an INFP. And if I read the J/P preference right, then I agree that I am more a P than a J.

In reading the profile, I do see the traits in me. And what do you know, I am a dreamer! The scary thing is that I couldn’t agree more. A brief of what an INFP is:

INFPs focus deeply on their values, and they devote their lives to pursuing the ideal. They often draw people together around a common purpose and work to find a place for each person within the group. They are creative, and they seek new ideas and possibilities. They quietly push for what is important to them, and they rarely give up. While they have a gentleness about them and a delightful sense of humor, they may be somewhat difficult to get to know and may be overlooked by others. They are at their best making their world more in line with their internal vision of perfection.

INFPs learn best in flexible situations where they know the teacher takes a personal interest in them. They like to be able to interact with their peers, but not too much so. They want to feel free to dig into subjects that are of interest to them. Having both flexibility and creativity rewarded is encouraging to them. While they may not enjoy deadlines, if they value the assignment, they will meet those deadlines. Deadlines may force INFPs to decide that their work is 'good enough' to turn in. Subjects that hold a great deal of interest for them are learned readily. They will often do extra work in their attempt to learn as much as possible about something of interest. And they often read assignments carefully and them work their creativity into the given framework of the assignment. Thus it may appear that they did not pay careful attention to the details of the assignment in their reinterpretation. It is best if they have teachers who appreciate their unique approach and who do not hold them to the letter of the law.

In light of what I have been doing with my current studies, I am surprised they had me almost on the dot on “learning”. (But lest I am being accused of hinting again by my good lecturer) I must say that I am not taking it that seriously since many academic psychologists have criticized the indicator in research literature, claiming that it “lacks convincing validity data.” The scientific basis of the MBTI has been questioned as neither Katharine Cook Briggs nor Isabel Briggs Myers had any scientific qualifications in the field of psychometric testing. The reliability of the test has been interpreted as being low, with test takers who retake the test often being assigned a different type, as it did with me, though I did take the test from different sources. But having said that, I find it useful sometimes to manage people. Knowing, albeit roughly, the traits of the people I work with, helps a lot in accepting them and bringing the best out of them.

Anyway, I am delighted to know that these famous people are INFPs: A.A. Milne, Audrey Hepburn, Helen Keller, J. R. R. Tolkien, John the disciple of Jesus, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lisa Kudrow, Luke the physician and author of the gospel, Mary the mother of Jesus, Peter Jackson, Princess Diana and William Shakespeare. Fictional INFPs: Anne of Green Gables, Deanna Troi, Doctor Julian Bashir, Wesley Crusher and the one that delighted me the most is Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes.

Anyway, enough play for the day. I am seriously running out of time for my assignment and tests on the Gospel of Mark. Oh bother ...


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where is God in our lives?

There are several points of thought today.

One, I worship led today for the first time in the past one year. I shall not say I enjoyed it (to qualify myself on this statement, I enjoy worship leading but that is certainly not the main reason why I do it) because it was not on familiar settings and I was not totally as ease like I used to. But I am blessed to be able to serve this way again. The exhortation that “to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Mat 13:12, Mk 4:25, Lk 19:26) rings very loudly to me.

Two, today’s sermon was given by Rev Ong Hwai Teik on: Evergreen Titles. The Scripture text was taken from 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, focusing on the first 2 verses.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
1 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

The thrust of the message is that we must live our lives and roles being the same person, the real person. And we are servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

He brought an interesting perspective to being stewards of the mysteries of God. He said that we often face people who try to talk us out of being mesmerized with the mysteries of God. In our apparently information-rich world, people tend to believe that we have come to a stage where there is very little that we don’t know. They entice us to see God now as a smaller God since we are information-rich enough to know more. But this isn’t how it work, is it? How ever much we think we know, we even touch eternity? How can we even think we know God, except what He has revealed to us?

I am not too sure if being “stewards of the mysteries of God” can be put in this way, since the mention of “mysteries of God” in Scriptures is concerning the kingdom of God, which God reveals to us in His wisdom and timing. It is our duty to be stewards of these mysteries, to be passed on so that more will know about this great and awesome God, in a more personal manner. But it is an intriguing perspective nonetheless, and timely as well.

Three, I brought Calvin to his friend’s birthday party, which was held in a mall. I left him there and went to a deli for pasta, scones and coffee. I know that is a lot of food but for the span of 3 hours I was there it is not too really that much. I used the time getting ready for the test questions on the Gospel of Mark, which I must complete within the week. I dropped into the bookstore before picking Calvin up. This MPH outlet in One Utama has a pretty good selection of books on Christianity and Theology. I picked up C.S. Lewis’ Essay Collection: Literature, Philosophy and Short Stories.

I have read bits here and there, and it promises to be a good read. There is this one page essay on how he started writing The Chronicles of Narnia series. According to him, it all started with a picture he had in his mind when he was a boy: a faun trekking on snow with an umbrella and parcels. That was it! He picked it up later in life and wrote the stories. I am never without amazement when I read Lewis.

Four, when I picked Calvin up from the party, I had the opportunity to catch up with some parents. We were exchanging notes about school and life as moms would have it. I commented that I had been out since morning and this other mom responded saying that she was so grateful that she attended church yesterday. She said that church services on Saturday is such a blessing to her because it certainly frees up her entire Sunday for her and she will have a whole day to carry out duties, errands and activities. If she attends church on Sundays, she continued, half the day will be taken up and she could not accomplish much with the time left. She will not be able to get to malls because traffic will bad and for one, she will not be able to do her grocery shopping at all. I do not know how to respond to her at that time, and since we are but acquaintances, I kept my opinions to myself. I find it such a sad thing that city-folk Christians are “worshipping” God as it suits them and as it conforms to their lifestyle. God is only relevant when one has nothing else to do. God is only relevant as and when their timetable permits Him to be. God is only relevant if there is time left. But God is certainly relevant when there are needs. I wonder about churches that hold services on Saturdays to replace Sunday services, I wonder about their theology of worship. Now on hindsight, I wish I had spoken up: we accommodate to God’s demand and commands; not God to ours! Who do we think we are?


Saturday, November 10, 2007

I thought ...

... I have posted everyday. But looks like I missed one!

post-dated 7 May 2009

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bookamania # x + 2

It's Deepavali today and since it's a day off, I took the chance to sleep in, to pay back some of my sleep debt, and to spend some time with Calvin. We ended up in the newly renovated Sunway Pyramid and the mommy again ended up spending big bucks on books for the son. He takes after me in reading I guess. He can finish 2 to 3 books in a day, depending on thickness, and with that, I am compelled to buy them in dozens! And I am glad that we found Terry Pratchett's books for younger readers recommended by Alex - we bought 2. I am looking forward to reading them myself!


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A really wild guess

I found a very interesting article by John F. Walvoord entitled "Thirty-three Words for Sin in the New Testament" published in 3 parts in Bibliotheca Sacra in 1943. It may be a very old article, but priceless nonetheless. He did quite a good word-study on all the words that are derived mainly from 10 main ones.

He says, "The present study is limited to the thirty-three words for sin found in the New Testament. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer has pointed out that there are thirty-three aspects to the riches of grace bestowed upon the believer in Christ at the moment he believes. It is interesting that there should be, in contrast, exactly thirty-three generic words for sin in the New Testament, excluding specific names for acts of sin."

There is one part which caught my interest. He expounded on the adjective, αναμαρτητος, which has 2 possible meanings: one who has not sinned, and one who cannot sin.

It is only found in John 8:7. For context:

John 8:2-11
2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more." (emphasis mine).

According to Walvoord, it is obviously the former of the two meanings, one who has not sinned, though the latter is not impossible, one who cannot sin. In that case, Christ would have meant, "He that is not capable of the same sin," i.e., adultery, "let him first cast a stone."

This is very interesting because before this whenever anyone brings out this narrative and tries to give a guess what Jesus would have written on the ground, I would always smile to myself - only because I really have this wild conjecture what Jesus may have written on the ground. I did not discuss it because I am not sure if it can be supported. But now I think it can!

The usual guess is this: Jesus could have written the laws and commandments, by which the Jewish leader should submit to and Jesus said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." It was said that when the leaders heard that and saw the writing of the laws and commandments on the ground, they began to realise that indeed they cannot be without sin after all. They could very well have disobeyed some along the way.

But I don't think so. I feel that this bunch of leaders, who have been portrayed as oh-so-holy and righteous, would never have admitted to that. They would even be in utter joy if Jesus were to have written their laws on the ground. They would have demanded that the stoning be carried out. They will claim that Jesus had agreed to it and will condone the stoning of the woman.

In taking the second definition, it will be translated: "He that is not capable of the same sin of adultery, let him first cast a stone." And what I think Jesus wrote on the ground were names of women - who knows, these names may be linked to the leaders one way or another and therefore to avoid anymore embarassment and disgrace, they quietly moved away.

I did say it was a wild conjecture! I have not done any historical and cultural background check on this except for Walvoord's word-study, so I think it will remain just a wild guess. But I am contented that it is just possible.

Photo © 2003 Louis Glanzman

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My son, your sins are forgiven

I think I will get sick in no time, what with my late nights and irregular meals - what to do when I think and work best at night and yet I still have to get up at 6 in the morning to get Calvin to school on time. My current job is quite a blessing at times, and I thank God for it. I was able to get back earlier today, and for a person who does not nap, the one and a half hour nap today was one that I seriously needed.

I spent quite a bit of time today trying to get my hands on any materials that will give me some background information on how sin and forgiveness were viewed during the biblical times particularly in the Gospels. No luck.

I am working on an exegesis of Mark 2:1-12. I tend to think that I might have read v.5 anachronically. When the paralytic in expecting Jesus to heal him, hear instead Jesus saying, "My son, your sins are forgiven," how would he have felt? I would have been astonished - after the physically daunting effort of being lowered down from the ceiling by four friends whom I hope will not lose grip, into a room packed with people, I don't get healed but forgiven?

How we view sin now is certainly different from people in the biblical times. When I share the gospel with my friends and tell them they are sinners who need forgiveness, they'd go, "Who me? A sinner? I did not kill, I did not start any fires," (as the Chinese saying goes). I think even we as Christians view it differently among ourselves. By way I found an article entitled Explaining Sin in the Chinese Context by Mark Strand, if anybody is interested.

So, just how do they view sin in Jesus' time?

R.T. France has this to say in his commentary - "Mark clearly believed that Jesus dealt with the condition of the paralytic by focusing first on his sins, and that in some way the forgiveness of sin and physical healing were interrelated (vv. 9-11)." (2002, p.124) He said that it would not been so surprising to his original readers as it may be to us, as there is a link between sin and illness running through biblical text.


There is Psalm 41:4 where it is hard to tell where healing start and forgiveness begins.
As for me, I said, "O LORD, be gracious to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You."

In Isaiah 38: 16-17, we see that physical healing is clearly related to forgiveness of sin.
16 "O Lord, by these things men live, And in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live! 17 "Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back,

In Numbers 12:9-15 however, sin has caused the physical suffering.
9 So the anger of the LORD burned against them and He departed. 10 But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. 11 Then Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. 12 "Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother's womb!" 13 Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "O God, heal her, I pray!" 14 But the LORD said to Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again." 15 So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.

And yet, there is Job 27:6 where Job maintains his integrity in spite of his illness and sufferings.
I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.

In the light of this, how would the paralytic man have felt? I may be wrong since I am still not very good at performing searches using BibleWorks7 but I think this is the only instance in the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus pronounce forgiveness in a healing setting. Please do tell me if I am wrong.

I am going to do a word study on sin after this. I just found out that there are 33 words for sin in the New Testament. Oh dear ...

Photo © Rodrigo Valladares

France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark. NIGTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I went back to my old church for a visit today and it was great catching up with old friends again. However, on the sermon front, I will have to break my routine and not blog about it this time. Basically, the sermon was entitled Healing Grace and it ran along the lines of “I am accepted-I am valuable-I am forgivable-I am loveable”; in summary: “I am worthy”.

I'll restrain, not rant.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Home sweet home

After a half-day meeting, we're off back home and I am so glad to be home, and that is all that matters to me now. Thank you Lord.


p/s I hadn't been at the blogs for awhile now. So I had been catching up and found this at Bob's. Pretty interesting.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Greatness: a challenge, a dispute?

The conference began today with an invited speaker from FranklinCovey. He gave a presentation of The Greatness Challenge. To sum it up, he defined greatness as:
(1) sustained superior performance
(2) intensely loyal customer
(3) highly engaged and loyal employees
(4) distintive contribution

And in order to do that, a great leader must work from the inside out, i.e. from within his own core of character to inspire, trust, clarify purpose, align systems and unleash talent. What he then revealed next was very interesting to me. Apparently, Franklin Covey had spent many years studying all the books he can get on success and discovered that for the first 150 years, the focus on how to be successful was character. Then in later years till our present time, the focus had shifted to personality. Leaders began to use external techniques to build personality. As long we look good on the outside, it's ok what you don't have on the inside.

We were then given 2 questions to discuss within smaller groups:
(1) Do you see a majority of your team members possess far more talent, intellingence, capabilities and creativity than their present jobs require or even allow?
(2) Do you as a leader hold the key to unlock that potential?

Before discussing it, I softly nodded to my colleague sitting by my side, indicating that I agree with the first question. She said, "no, I don't think so." But when it was opened for the discussion, she had changed her mind and said that it is true, that sometimes in our work, we are so limited by resources and time that we limit what we can do as a team.

I then added this one thing: it is also true because we more often than not, demand that our employees fit into our box, confining them to our own definitions of work and expectations. Immediately, a lady in the group voiced her disagreement and stated that she is open to her employees. There was a refusal to admit that sometimes we actually do that, and I am not even saying that it is wrong because I feel that we do need to have that box and those definitions, it's only how big that box can go.

But what I am trying to say that I begin to realise this one thing. I grew up within the teachings of God, my character is built upon through the years in my Christian home, in church, in Sunday School classes, bible study and so on and so forth. My standard and value is really so different from that of my colleagues. And I began to see that from what this person is sharing with us from FranklinCovey, the change is not going to happen in us until and unless there is humility.

The irony of it all is, in the midst of all this, I am also busy preparing for my Introduction to NT: the Gospel of Mark assignments, one of which is about discpleship: the very topic of greatness. Just take a look at Mark 9:33-35.

They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?" But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.

Here I am in a conference when in the morning I am being told to take on The Greatness Challenge and then in the evening, in my room trying to work on my assignments, I read about The Greatness Dispute. Such irony.

Life is indeed a paradox:

Mark 8:35 35 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."

Mark 9:35 "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

Mark 10:43-45 43 "But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kuantan Day 1

We hold a management conference once a year - every alternate year locally and the other abroad. This year, it is held in Kuantan. A quiet little town in the east coast. Today we had a team building session - we all were broken into teams and we had to make a kite each. It was quite fun since I have not made a kite before. But the sad thing was that it couldn't fly. In tandem with building teamwork, what would you do if what you have been working together as a team did not work? That was not addressed in our session. When our kite did not fly, we looked dejectedly at the others gloriously flying high. Then we left the beach and that was all. Sad.