Saturday, May 31, 2008

Band Practice: in Bond Service to God

L-R: Addison, Esther, Daphne, Angel, James

Our church has an amazing group of youth - they are lively, full of life and of joy, eager to go for the Lord and an inspiration to the poorer in spirit.

We had band practice today, and I must say it was one of the best and most enjoyable one I have had in a long time. Trying different arrangements, teaching each other, playfully nudging each other to move along and most of all making music and songs as one voice in adoration for our Lord.

Addison was on the drums, this was the first time he played in my worship lead and I enjoyed his playing tremendously. Angel was on the bass, and even though I could not much hear the bass distinctly, bass being bass, she gave the crucial support for the entire team. Daphne was on the piano. She is one bright pianist. If Randy can say it, so can I: Daphne can play the phonebook, just write in the chords. It is rare to have a team who can just sense how you want it played. I only had to sing, and they will provide the right mood and the right flavour. It was fantastic!

I am going to sing this one song tomorrow, which is new to the church. They did it perfectly well during practice, right from the start. I never had to screw up my face, (as I always do trying to figure out what went wrong, since I am absolutely bad as an arranger, as my old music team will tell you). The song speaks for itself:
    Though we are many,
    We are one body,
    We are one body in Christ,
    Though we are many,
    We are one body,
    We are one body in Christ.

    One faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
    Binding us together in one cord
    One hope in the one God
    One Father over all
Then I had this sudden bright idea of mixing this song with an old favourite and familiar hymn. I did not know how it will turn out. I was even told during practice that the song was in 4/4 and the hymn in 3/4. But what came out of it in our practice was short of amazing - how the arrangement just came together and how the instruments and the vocals blended in so well. We listened to one another and fitted in together naturally like pieces of a clockwork.

We worshipped the Lord in music and in song of his Amazing Love and his Amazing Grace.
    I'm forgiven, because You were forsaken
    I'm accepted, You were condemned
    I'm alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
    Because you died and rose again

    Amazing grace how sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me
    I once was lost, but now am found
    Was blind but now I see

    Amazing love, how can it be
    That You my king would die for me?
    Amazing love, I know it's true
    And It's my joy to honour You
    In all I do I honour You

    You are my King, You are my King
    Jesus, You are my King, Jesus, You are my King
    You are my King, Jesus, You are my King
We live in Your amazing love Lord, only by Your amazing grace. It is You and You only that matters. We are but Your bond servants, who in service to You, worship and adore You. Use us as You will, for the fulfilment of Your purpose. Amen.

Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's not about John the Baptist

We studied John 1:19-28 today. A passage we all acknowledge we had not paid much attention to. On the outset, it appears very straightforward but on closer look, there are important lessons to be learnt.

It was never about John
Right from the start, when John the Baptist was questioned by the Jews representatives who he was up to the end when the Pharisees asked about the authority by whom he were baptising.

Take note of John's answers:

Who are you?
I am not the Christ.

Then who are you? Are you Elijah?
I am not.

Are you the Prophet?

Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'

Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?
I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.

Every question was directed to John, but each of his answer was directed to Christ. He never talked about himself, not even in the slightest bit. He is not the Christ, not Elijah, not the Prophet. He is only the voice and he is one who is not even worthy to do the most demeaning job of that time, that is to untie the thongs of Christ's sandals.

Was is ever about us?
In application, what does it tell us about ourselves? What do we say when we testify for Christ? Who is the main character? Is it not often that we usually draw attention to what God has done for me? How much he loves me? Where is our focus?

We need to look to John the Baptist as the model of evangelism - it is not about our experience, it is not about how touched we were, it is not about what we feel, it is simply not about us.

It is all about God
Yes, God do love us. But we are not worthy of his love, and so we are in no position to elevate ourselves to a platform to show off ourselves as evidences of God's love. His evidence of love is Christ himself. I am still perplexed by this, how are we not evidences of God's love?

But we cannot deny that we are mere channels, not the star.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

An excellent exposition on Ps 119

I have found Dick Lucas' expository sessions so well done and enormously beneficial. In my efforts to understand the bible and put God's commands into practice, I find his sessions a joy to listen to, with many things to learn.

I was listening in these couple of days to his exposition on Psalm 119.

He reminded us that there are those who paints a picture of a Christian life or standards for the church that would be too ideal and unreal. What we can gain from Psalm 119 though is a realistic model of Christian spirituality for every age and every person - not something that is too ideal or unrealistic to be followed.

He gave a clue or key to the reading of Psalm 119. It is one, unlike most psalms, that has no logical flow, no argument that leads to a conclusion, no melodic line, and it even ends with a sad anti-climax. Refering to Alexan Alexander, he said that Psalm 119 is intended as a "storehouse of material for pious meditation rather than a discourse of continuous perusal".

The psalm is rich in covenantal language that shows us what a close relationship the psalmist has with the Almighty God. I also realised that the psalm is full of pain - I never saw that. The psalmist was very open about his emotions on the dismal condition of himself, on Israel and on humankind.

There are many changes required in me to attune my life to God's standard. We need a standard to level up our lives on, and that standard is nothing but the Word of God. No sooner had I wanted to include "and our Lord and Saviour" to the standard, I realised in amazement that He is the Word.

Dick also said that in fact, only a pulpit and a table is needed in our churches.

A pulpit that only preaches the Word; a table that only serves bread and wine, and only functions as how Christ has asked us to remember. If the pulpit and the table is being used otherwise, we have strayed from the standard and they no longer represent the Gospel of Christ.

I need to be reading the psalm again today.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Psalm 31: a much needed one

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1 In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.

2 Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me.

3 For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.

4 You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.

5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.

6 I hate those who regard vain idols,
But I trust in the LORD.

7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,

8 And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.

9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.

10 For my life is spent with sorrow
And my years with sighing;
My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
And my body has wasted away.

11 Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach,
Especially to my neighbors,
And an object of dread to my acquaintances;
Those who see me in the street flee from me.

12 I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.

13 For I have heard the slander of many,
Terror is on every side;
While they took counsel together against me,
They schemed to take away my life.

14 But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, "You are my God."

15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.

16 Make Your face to shine upon Your servant;
Save me in Your lovingkindness.

17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon You;
Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.

18 Let the lying lips be mute,
Which speak arrogantly against the righteous
With pride and contempt.

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

20 You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the LORD,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.

22 As for me, I said in my alarm, "I am cut off from before Your eyes";
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You.

23 O love the LORD, all you His godly ones!
The LORD preserves the faithful
And fully recompenses the proud doer.

24 Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Church Camp Day 3
A Vision for the Church

We had a workshop session yesterday where we were broken into 4 groups. We were required to created a banner depicting what the church's vision ought to be.

Group 1
Their vision is for the church to grow through prayer and the movement of the Holy Spirit from a mustard seed into fruit bearing trees, from a small church to a big one on a hill.

Group 2
Their vision is for the church to be united in love upholding one another in the Spirit.

Group 3
Their vision is to be rooted in the Word of God and strengthened in love for one another in the Lord.

Group 4
Their vision is to be a beacon to reach out to all nations, the Gospel of Christ, being rooted to the message of the cross.

What are yours?
By the way, I was in Group 4, and I came up with the banner design and we all pitched in with the colours and the glitters.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Church Camp Day 2
Faith, Love and Hope

The second day of camp began at 6.30am with dawn prayer. I did not sleep too well but we made it to dawn prayer.

Mr Goh continued with his session on Colossians and I with my sentence diagramming.

Click here to enlarge.

Faith, love and hope in Colossians are always of a qualified kind. They are not just "faith, love and hope" but:

  • faith in Christ Jesus
  • love for all the saints, i.e. for all in the body of Christ
  • hope that is stored up for you in heaven, where faith and hope spring from, i.e. the source of the faith and hope
Is it not interesting that the hope that is stored for us in heaven has already sprung for us faith in Christ Jesus and love for our brothers and sisters in the Lord?

Click here to enlarge.

We are called to:

  • live a life worthy of the Lord - do I bring Him honour in the things I think, say and do? Do I spend my time worthily? Does my life have worth or merit or value in His eyes? Do I have a character or qualities that merit recognition in God's sight?
  • please Him in every way - in all ways
  • bearing fruit in every good work - whatever we do should bear fruits
  • be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might - we depend fully on the Almighty God
These are so that we may have:

  • great endurance
  • patience
  • joyful thanks in the Father
This is because:

  • the Father has qualified us in the sharing of the inheritance
  • He has rescued us and bring us into redemption through Christ in the forgiveness of sins



Saturday, May 24, 2008

Church Camp Day 1
And a New Toy!

It only dawn upon me yesterday that church camp is happening today. Therefore, if I were to get a DSLR camera, it is now. Thankfully, Boon Ho was free and offered to go with me to the camera shop last night.

I had planned to get the Canon 450D – a very good camera for its price. But to my dismay, it was out of stock until next Thursday.

It is a now or never kind of situation. I do not want to go feeling how close I would have been to taking that “perfect” shot.

I decided to go for broke. I got the Canon 40D.

Here I was with my new camera at the shop.

And here I was posing in happiness. Calvin snapped the picture. Not bad for a budding photographer to have captured a rather good shot of his unphotogenic mommy. I am not much of a poser anyway.

We were off today for church camp to Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. We stopped by Yong Kee in OUG for breakfast and this is my first of my better looking food shots, of one of town's best beef noodles.

The Church Camp was in Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, a little after Taiping. I have not been there before.

At least 50% of the our small congregation attended the camp.

Our speaker was Mr Goh Keat Peng. The theme was "Rooted and Built-up Together in Christ". He shared with us God's word from Colossians 1 - 2. I was mesmerised by these passages. I spent the time multi-tasking - listening to him while sentence-diagramming the passage. He gave us an introduction to the different genres of Scripture and his first session was centered on the power and ongoing work of the Gospel, to relentlessly continue spreading the word and praying for the unsaved. Mr Goh is a very experienced man in Christian mission and ministry, and his sharing was packed with the realities of life in connection with Paul's words in Colossians. It was good but it might have been better if he had also given an introduction to Colossians so as to give us a context of Paul's letter to begin with though.

Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

Check here for more pictures.
And here for featured shots.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My First DSLR pictures

Boon Ho has sent me the pictures I have taken with his Canon 450D. I only took 17, but I don't think I had the camera for more than 5 minutes!

I do not think they are very good. So I have got lots to learn.

My favourite boy, my silly cow and the BSITW.

Amanda, with her dad and sister in the background.

Kajang satay sauce!

Thanks Boon Ho, for letting me try this out!

Photos © 2008 Pearlie Ng

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Done with John and onto Psalms

Finally, I am done with my John assignments. I do not want to think about it anymore. I did not even give it another read before I popped them into the envelope and sealed it. I will be heading to the post-office tomorrow to get it mailed. (And what do you know, I cannot even remember when I last posted something!)

I have started a bit on my two Psalm assignments. There are four to choose from:
1. Herman Gunkel's form criticism
2. Metaphors used for God, the psalter and the enemies
3. Shape and structure of the Psalter
4. Exegesis of Ps 19, 30 or 42

As I have noted in my side panel on Monday, I thought I should not be pharisaical about it and so I broke my book-fast with a purchase. The order of Gerald Wilson's dissertation on the Psalter's shape and structure will set me on to tackle Q3. Shipment has already commenced and I am expected to get it on June 26. I am hoping it will arrive sooner though.

Then, I was deciding between Q2 and Q4. I gave Q2 a try to see what I can do with it and concluded that this question is almost as huge as Q3. So I better play it safe and take the exegesis one instead. But, more options: 19 or 30.

When I did some preliminary work on Ps 19 - I found it an amazing psalm. I made quite a lot of notes, jotted down questions, highlighted parallelisms, noted what I need to look into.

Ps 19 it shall be.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pachebel's Canon in D

I fell in love with Pachebel's Canon in D a long time ago, but recently I have been hearing it in a lot of places and in a lot of ways.

I have once posted in our Grace Notes blog this cool electric guitar version.

But when Angel posted this one she found, I have become Trace Bundy's newest fan! Simply amazing. I not only can listen to this over and over again, I can watch it many times over too. His website is a must-visit, super cool!

And here he is playing with 5 capos! Whoa!

The Love Song with 3 capos - I am utterly mesmerised just watching him. Wonder if the black capo is a special one.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Hutan Lipur Sungai Gabai

It is a public holiday today, being the Vesak Day. SH has made plans to go golfing with his friends in Kampung Kuantan and so, when Heng Yew asked if Calvin and I would like to join them for a picnic in the Sungai Gabai waterfalls, we jumped at the chance. Calvin has not been to a waterfall before and off we went.

We arrived at the foot of the hill at about 8am. Or was it 9? Heng Yew told me that there will be two flight of steps to climb and therefore to minimise whatever I needed to bring. I thought, "Two flights of stair? Ah! No sweat!"

It turned out to be the longest "two" flights of stairs in the world.

As I was walking up the TWO flights of stairs, I was panting badly. The steps were uneven and most of them were big ones. So I stopped every now and then, on the pre-text of taking photographs! But I had no proper camera. The compact digital camera I purchased more than a year ago, had been renounced to cold storage. I found that I cannot do anything with it.

So with my faithful mobile phone camera, I started snapping away. Quality is bad, but at least they do tell a story.

Part of the TWO flights of stairs I have laboured to climb.

More to go!

Ah! A glimpse of the falls.

Calvin: "Aren't you coming?"

Getting there ... getting there ...

We're here!

This is Boon Ho with his Canon 450D. I have been trying my utmost best not to think or touch anything camera. But I was not being very good at it today and later had the Canon in my hands. It is the last thing I need. This desire for an SLR.

Heng Yew took this with his compact digital - quite good. View a fuller size here.

Nice ... the forest of Malaysia.

R-L: Heng Yew, Grace, Chloe, Amanda, Marc and Calvin.

The kids were having a fantastic time. The men were off shooting themselves silly with one SLR and two digital compacts. We ladies were out of sight filling our stomachs with food and the air with chatter. How typical.

Told ja!
L-R: Jen May, Alicia, Grace, and I

Wheee! This is Calvin's first waterfall experience and he is having the time of his life. For our next trip, maybe a stream ...

Going down, going home ...

Satay lunch at Kajang!
L-R: Heng Yew (with his usual cynical looks), Grace (partly hidden), Alicia, Pearlie, Calvin (stuffing himself with food as always), Amanda (partly hidden), Marc (not very happy about something), Paul and Jen May (the ever so sweet, pretty and dainty lady among us)
Not in picture: Boon Ho (obviously with his Canon 450D)

This is one of my shots using Boon Ho's Canon 450D. I am already hooked. With the shots I have taken with only 5 minutes, I have become so shutter-ly delighted! And I was just telling Boon Ho how faces and flowers are so immensely awesome as subjects for close-up and macro shots. This pretty lady is Amanda Choong. She is definitely going to be one of my models. There are several more I took, which Boon Ho has yet to send them to me. You might see them, soon, if I see them good enough to grace your screen.

O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth
Who have displayed Your splendour above the heavens!

O LORD, our Lord,
How wonderful is Your handiwork
Who else have shown such grandeur in their endeavours.

O LORD, our Lord,
How amazing is Your presence all around us
Who has been so gracious as to give us a place in all this.

O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
All rights reserved © 2008 Pearlie Ng (Inspired by Psa 8)

Photos © 2008 Paul Choong, Liew Heng Yew, Ng Boon Ho, Pearlie Ng

For the interest of some of my blogger friends:
Hutan Lipur = Forest Reserve (I have to say "I think so" on this one!)
Air Terjun = Waterfall
Satay = roasted meat on bamboo skewers
Sungai = River

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Questions asked, questions answered

We had a testimony as sermon today, and I was discussing it over with Ann and with Melissa. I can only say I do not know how I can blog it. I had too many questions.

However, it was also the Sunday where I was scheduled to lead the youth in continuation of the study on the Gospel of Mark. I was given about one and a half hours - not a lot of time for a monthly bible study but it will have to do. I took them through the five conflict stories in Mark 2:1-3:6.

Leading the youth in bible study has proven to be both quite interesting and challenging for me. I cannot go too deep into the details or there will be yawns but I cannot merely graze the surface either or they will have their knowledge of the Word of God barely scratched. I have to look for a niche, pitch in and take a home run.

This round I got them to role play one of the conflict stories: the healing of the paralytic man. In our lectures last year, we did not quite have the role play in full blown but we somewhat assumed the characters and discussed the event. For the youth, I had them all up playing out the parts. The good thing was they got involved but the not so good part was that it was not taken quite so seriously. But it will have to do -- I can't ask for too much I suppose.

However, the discussion that ensued was good. I brought up Jesus' saying to the paralytic man, who most probably was expecting Jesus to say, "be healed". But Jesus said instead, "Son, your sins are forgiven." We discussed what sins were.

The topic of body piercings and tattoos were even brought up when one asked if those actions were considered sinful. I had to admit to them that I can't well answer that question fully but I did try, basically to tell them that while I think it may not be wrong in itself, what and why it is to be done is very important. And even if you think it is right, and still you are not comfortable with it, and if you think that it may be a stumbling block to others, then don't do it. Moreover, it will do you no harm by not doing it, but not the same can fully be said for doing it.

Bringing them back to the topic of Jesus' statement, I emphasised what I had brought up in Friday's class - that the sin that Jesus is forgiving is the fact that we have fallen off the mark, and that our ultimate sin is idolatry -- the very worship of ourselves, seeking for a God that fits our bill.

I encouraged them to go back and read the conflict stories again and ask questions. There are many questions that one can ask.

Photo © 2007 Sophie

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today is Food Day
Yuen Garden Dim Sum,
D'lish and Ma Maison

Today is indeed a food day. It started with really delicious dim sum in Yuen Garden in Bandar Puchong Jaya. For someone who does not quite fancy dim sum, I really like it here.

Photos by Chan Siew Soo in Photoblog

In the afternoon, I drove Calvin to Boys Brigade and stopped over at D’lish in Midvalley for a latte, a wi-fi connection and a place where I can get some work done. As I walked into the deli, I found Noel walking in front of me, going towards the table I spotted right from when I walked through the door. He was quite surprised to see me. We talked a bit, catching up on things, since I have not seen him for awhile.

D'lish is a great place to be, except when there are teenage girls around. I could not understand why they need to talk on top of their voices. And their topics of discussion and choice of words left nothing to be desired - absolutely atrocious, coming from the mouths of 16 to 18 year old girls. Mind you, this is not the first I am encountering loud chattering girls in D'lish.

Enough of venting. As I was saying, D'lish is a great place to be. Good food, good ambience (when the crowd is right, that is), good coffee, average prices, free wi-fi connection availability, and good coffee. What else could you ask for?

D'lish serve excellent food. These are its array of cakes and cupcakes, though my visit today had found them featuring a new line-up of desserts and cakes. I packed some home and I still have a cup of Creme Caramel and Banana Mascarpone Cheesecake in the fridge ... mmm ...

I had D'lish's potato salad with rosemary - it was the best in the world.

This deli either has a very witty owner or they had hired some really good ad agents. You could spend some good minutes just looking through the various lines they had, either chalked or printed, on the floor, on the wall, on food containers, on its drink labels, what have you.

Photos from Occasional Bon Vivant Diva

Photos from KL People KL Food

Then it was dinner in Ma Maison. SH was recommended this place, which was said to serve pretty good French food at good prices. Off we went. We ordered the foie gras for SH and I, escargot for Calvin, with cod, veal and steak as the main course. We were stuffed! But not our wallets, not only was it on cash terms, it was not averagely priced but more on the high side.

See that? Cash only ...

This little ducky graced my plate. It was a good touch.
Photos from A Whiff of Lemongrass


Yuen Garden Dim Sum House
Jalan Kenari 18
Bandar Puchong Jaya

47100 Puchong
Tel : 603-80763818

D'lish @ MidValley
G-001 Ground Floor, Menara IGB
Mid Valley City, Syed Putra
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-22875770

D'lish @ Bangsar Village
G1a, Ground Floor, Bangsar Village
Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-22881770

Ma Maison French Restaurant
32, Persiaran Ampang
55000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-4256 5410
Closed Tuesdays
Terms: Cash Only