Friday, October 31, 2008

Phuket, Day 3

Today's tee are with pictures with land animals, and off all the animals I got, I got a donkey.

I was trapped in a stomach of a whale yesterday and today I am a humble donkey. As much as the other "donkeys" insisted they are horses (there was a misinterpretation by the tee designers) I am proud of being a donkey: to be humble and submissive to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

As I reflect upon it, this conference is poles apart from the church planning retreat I barely attended a few days ago. Amidst the sea of people, I know God is with me. And it reminded me of the words of a song Grace Notes sang in Singapore, "as aliens and strangers in a hostile foreign land."


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phuket, Day 2

We were given simple tees to wear during this year's conference. The tees today were printed with pictures of various kinds of sea animals. God must have a hand in this because I got a tee with a whale picture on it. As much as Jonah was most probably swallowed by a big fish and not a whale, I felt like I was lodged in the stomach of the whale for this trip.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phuket, Day 1

My trips lately are really back to back. I am off to Phuket today for my company's management conference. I am going with mixed feelings because it will be 4 days away from home. And things keep going wrong lately: for one, the ATM ate my card (I did not forget my PIN number, the machine just ate it the moment I stuck in the card), and two, I lost my credit card. Well, I thank God that the airplane took off and landed safely today ... I seem to be getting a phobia of flying. I must be getting old.

It is the rainy season in Phuket as seen in the grey skies in the picture of the hills I took. Even though famous for its beaches, Phuket was named after the hills, bukit in Malay and later changed to Phuket.

Photo (c) 2008 Pearlie Ng

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Take on Time

I was watching "Kate and Leopold" some days ago when one of the character, Stuart, who in the movie found a crack into time, has this to say about time:

It is no more crazy than, uh, a dog finding a rainbow. Dogs are color-blind. They don't see color. Just like we can't see time. Oh... we can feel it passing but, uh, we can't see it; it's just a blur. It's like we're riding in a, in a supersonic train and the world is just blowing by. But imagine if we could stop that train. Imagine if we could stop that train get out, look around and see time for what it really is, a universe, a world a thing as unimaginable as color to a dog. And as real and tangible as that chair you're sitting in.Now, if we could see it like that I mean, really look at it then... maybe we could see the flaws as well as the form.

I was quite intrigued by it. Could it be a glimpse into what time will be like in heaven?


Monday, October 27, 2008

Frasers' Hill, Day 3

We completed our planning session today. It was a great 3 days of learning, planning, praying and bonding in the love of Christ. There were many lessons learnt as well. We experienced albeit a short 45 minutes of silent retreat. And we stressed a lot of having family devotions at home.

Before we head back home, we had an excellent series of photo-taking sessions, which were absolutely fun.

I find this picture so intriguing. They were waiting to take a group picture and Alexis began to dance. But if you see the few behind her - the scene seemed staged, just like a studio shot. And Alexis is here to introduce you all to it.

Viola! A group photo, though short of 3 or 4 of us photographers.

Then we started to take pictures of individual families. Calvin was back in the meeting room and he refused to come back down. So, we improvised!

Just before we headed down the hill, the youth wanted to have jumping pictures taken. We had SO much fun. Totally, and here are the results:

L-R: Esther, Daphne, Addison, Sarah

One more!

A High School Musical shot!

Change the background!

Addison - the sifu in kungfu jumps.

Then came this classic shot. The two men and the boy seeing the kids having so much fun decided to have one for themselves. This is my favourite of all the jumping shots.
L-R: Derrick, Desmond, SH

Then everybody, well, the jumping ones at least, wanted one too.
L-R: Derrick, Desmond, Esther, Daphne, Addison, Sarah, John, Jarod, SH and Pastorpher

Photo (c) 2008 Pearlie Ng

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frasers' Hill, Day 2

The planning session went underway. We spent a considerable length of time in reflection of God's word, in praying and in listening. We wanted to know what God wants us to do as a church.

We finally set ourselves on a modification of this year's theme for the next year:

Be rooted and built up, family in Christ
The theme next year will be focused on the family of God in Christ. Our direction and our activities will be aimed towards strengthening the family in the Word, in the Spirit, in love and and in unity first in the various family cells and then in the church as a whole.

Photo (c) 2008 SH Tan

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Frasers' Hill, Day 1

To discuss for our church's direction and plan for 2009, we headed up to Frasers' Hill for a 3-day retreat.

It's already 9! Let's go everyone. We need to make it for the 12pm Gap.

We did not use the highway but the trunk and even though this was the long Deepavali weekend, the road was surprisingly clear. Though we were stuck in Rawang town for awhile.

Turn right!

The dam at the foot of the hills.

We made it in time for the Gap!

The timetable for Jalan Gap (Gap Road) for travelling up to Frasers' Hill. Odd hours up and even hours down.

The narrow steep one-way street up the hill.

We're here! Rumah Methodist @ Frasers' Hill.

We were famished by the time we arrived and we waited for awhile for lunch to get ready and very happy when it was.

The walkway to the meeting room, with rooms on both sides. Rumah Methodist is a small rustic place - one of my favourite place on earth.

As I mentioned, it's a really lovely place.

Photo (c) 2008 Pearlie Ng

Friday, October 24, 2008

A fitting antidote

Amidst all the fiasco and frutrations I am going through at the moment, I was reminded of this passage that has become such an encouragement and fitting antidote to the resentment building within me.

Colossians 1:10-12
10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

And as my life motto goes: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Eccl 12:13), I have to keep myself in check to be close to my Lord at all times, to keep away from the dark foreboding temptation to fall into sin. God help me.


p/s By the way, SH, Calvin and I will be away for the next three days in Frasers Hill for our church's planning retreat. Therefore, I might be quiet for awhile unless there is even some faint access to an internet connection.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Do you think about death?

Something unusual happened to me today. I was taking a walk in the mall during my lunch break when I was approached by a young woman. She requested me to take part in a survey she had designed for her research work in psychology.

Okay, let me have it, I said.

There were 20 or so questions, and they sound something like this:
- Do you think about death?
- Do you think about ways you will die?
- Do you think if anyone would have cared if you died?
- Do you think about suicide?
- Do you think about what to write in a suicide note?

It certainly stopped me in my tracks and for a moment I seriously didn’t know what to think! Of course I have thought about these, only because I am in the midst of completing my assignments on heaven and the millennium. And even if I was not, the topic of heaven is always with me. It took me a couple seconds to compose myself, to reposition my thoughts into a more neutral context and zone, remove myself from my usual reflective and scholarly mode, and start answering the questions.

Yes, I have thought about death, that is only human but, no I have not thought about suicide or suicide notes or ways to die.

Morbid … but could it be an insight to the thoughts of the young people these days?

Photo (c) 2008 Constantin Jurcut

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We are people who read

I found a very interesting blog through Sivin, called and we also read. It is a site about the books people read in the Klang Valley – a celebration of those who choose not to stare into space while on the train, in queues, or when waiting. The site consists of bloggers who sign up as contributors, spot people reading (books in particular, not the newspaper or cellphones!), take a picture or two, and ask for permission if the pictures can be featured.

I thought it's one of the most brilliant ideas ever. And I signed up today! Check out my first post on my first day here.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Simple but good

When we ask God for help, especially when we are desperate, his response is usually astoundingly simple but spectacular. I was badly in need of cheering up and a cheering up was what he gave me.

Simple and true.

I received a text message this morning from a colleague asking if I could fill in slots with some interviewees. She was not well. I was down in the dumps and was very reluctant to take it up but I am a good soul. And so I agreed. And it did me good - I met up with three really delightful people, given two possible answers to my prayers and served a really nice cup of cappuccino to top it off and I was good for the day.

Simple but good.

Photo (c) 2008 Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Monday, October 20, 2008

Life is cruel

We live in a world full of indifference and cruelty. For once, I think I understand Paul when he said, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain".

I wish the world would be a better place to live in but I will have a new heaven and new earth to look forward to where these words will become a full reality: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Col 3:12-14).


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Purses with holes

We had Mr Selvarajah speak to us today from Haggai 1:1-11, a timely reminder as we face the economic crunch. While we are busy with the upkeeping and mending our own home, we must not ignore the building and the care of our church, the body of Christ.

Haggai 1:1-11
1 In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'This people says, "The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt."'" 3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?" 5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways! 6 "You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes." 7 Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways! 8 "Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified," says the LORD. 9 "You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?" declares the LORD of hosts, "Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. 10 "Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 "I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands."


Saturday, October 18, 2008

STM Graduation 2008

My parents, Calvin and I headed off to Seremban to attend STM's 26th Graduation Service where 65 students received their graduation. We were there to celebrate Lee Yng's graduation in Masters of Divinity.

Getting ready for the graduation.

Yeah, this is about right ...

Uncle Richard, my TEE classmate who is graduating with a Diploma in Christian Studies.

I didn't know Way Min is graduating this year as well. Congratulations!

Lucy busy with gifts for her graduating STM-mates.

Kow Cheong and Sakthi laughing at me for prolonging my TEE and not graduating already. I am taking my time and enjoying it, my friends!

Lee Yng with her STM bestfriends, Ruth, Lucy and Liza.

Lee Yng with my parents.

Lee Yng with her parents, family and the CMCCKL church members.

Andrea and Peay Ying.

More pictures and I need to be getting home!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More books: I never learn

I only just recently bemoaned the fact that it will take me 21 years to read the more readable books of mine. More than that, I have been housekeeping my shelves only to wonder why I bought some of the books I bought and vowed not to buy anymore to add on to it.

Poppycock! See what I did.

Stanley J. Grenz, The Millennial Maze: Sorting Out Evangelical Options, IVP, 1992
I was a bit lost trying to figure out my Christian Theology 2 (CT2) assignment on the millennium when I found out about this book. I called in to Canaanland to see if they had a copy. Yes, we do and oh, we are on a sale. So off I went to get a copy and of course as life would have it, a few more as well, all on 20% off.

Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation, The Bible Speaks Today, IVP, 1991
Christopher, my CT2 lecturer mentioned during class that this is quite a good book. He was impressed with Wilcock's treatment of the amillenial position. Based on the little I know, I put myself in the amillenialism camp and I must very well know what I am in there for.

Craig R. Koester, Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, Community, Fortress, 2003
The moment I saw this title, off the shelf it went. I have not seen it before but what attracted me were two things: symbolism and gospel. Leafing it through I decided I must have it. I only hope the book is as interesting as it sounds.

Mark D. Thompson, A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture, IVP, 2006
It is my intention to collect as many of the books in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series as I could. This one caught my attention this time - the clarity of Scripture. It will interesting to read the author's take on understanding Scripture, though written so many thousand years ago is still relevant to us.

Andreas J. Köstenberger & Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel, IVP, 2008
I was reluctant to get this at first but finally got it anyway. Again, two reasons: gospel and a 20% discount.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Amazing Grace, The Movie

I finally watched "Amazing Grace", the moving account of the life of William Wilberforce (1759-1833). He was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

Wilberforce was elected Member of Parliament in 1780 at the age of twenty-one. He was converted and became an Evangelical Christian in 1785. In 1787, he met Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists. He became committed to the cause and began his work to abolish slave trade. He obviously ran into opposition in parliament, those with interests in business and trading. It took a lot of hard work and many long years and the Slave Trade Act finally received the Royal Assent on 25 March 1807.

The scene that moved me most was when a ship filled with tourists on a cruise was unwittingly steered near a slave ship and William Wilberforce appeared on the ship saying:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a slave ship. The Madagascar. It has just returned from the Indies where it delivered 200 men, women and children to Jamaica. When it left Africa, there were 600 on board. The rest died of disease or despair. That smell is the smell of death. Slow, painful death. Breathe it in. Breathe it deeply. Take those handkerchiefs away from your noses! There now. Remember that smell. Remember the Madagascar. Remember that God made men equal."

The movie did wonderfully well in telling the story, in educating our dull historically-immune minds. It had me laughing and it ended me crying.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Living stones

1 Peter 2:1-5
1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Methodism, Day 6

Today we discussed Methodism in the context of its relevance and practicability in revitalising the life of the church today. I think we need to start from the basics. In Wesley's model of holiness from being a true follower of Christ, to personal and social holiness and towards to spiritual holiness, we need to go back to the basics, to strip away all the fluff and get back to real business of praying, reading and studying of Scripture, supporting and loving one another in Christ, helping those in need and reaching out to those who needs to know Christ. Anything else is periphery.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Methodism, Day 5

One of the reasons I was quite reluctant to attend Methodism was the fact that I had to go through The Book of Discipline of The Methodist Church in Malaysia 2004, but now that I get to it, it isn't all that bad.

In fact, I now find it quite beneficial to have it as a guide, though at certain times we need to realise we should adhere only to the spirit of the book and not take it as absolute. It must be used wisely. My only problem with it is that it isn't so systematically organised, or maybe it is and I have not gotten used to it yet.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Methodism, Day 4

We had a 2 hour lesson this evening where we focussed on Social Holiness:
Earn all you can,
save all you can and
give all you can.

Something we struggle to do, provided we don't earn all we can, spend all we can and owe all we can.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Undomestic Goddess!

I got this book in the mail today.

Melissa is trying to get me to read Chick Lit! I suppose this genre of books had existed from way back, but they are just not called that. And if that is the case, I have given up on "Chick Lit" so to speak for umpteen years now.

But it is nice being lent a book through snail mail. A first time for me, but it makes me think there is a possibility for us to share books because it is just a mail away, if you are not too far away that is.

I've glanced through the first 2 pages -- I have this feeling I will have a late night today ;)

And if you are still wondering how I drove over my mobile, read about it here.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My reading plan for the next 21 years!

I have done 2 chapters of Michael's Interpreting the Book of Revelations this morning during a long breakfast and it is a pretty good read. I enjoyed it so much that I begin to have this inclination to re-implement what I did in 2002-03, i.e. read a book a month.

But I realised somehow it is quite ridiculous -- I have more than 400 books and if I assumed that 250 of them are suitable for reading from cover to cover, with one book a month, I will need 21 years to complete them all!

21 years?! Oh dear ...

So much for the poem I included in the my side panel (taken from Alex's blog) about a week ago - how apt.

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time
I read them.
~ Arnold Lobel


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One down, one more to go

I am done, I hope, with the simpler assignment for Christian Theology 2, "What Will Heaven Be Like?" and now going head-on into the toughie, "The Three Millennial Views, A Biblical and Theological Analysis".

I seriously do not know where to start, even though I have dabbled here and there for ideas. I think it would be good to start with J. Ramsey Michael's Interpreting the Book of Revelation.
For thou hast laid a mighty treasure by
Unlocked by Him in Nature, and thine eye
Burns with a vision and apocalypse
Thy own sweet soul can hardly understand

Poem by George MacDonald, "The Beloved Disciple", The Poetical Works of George MacDonald, 2 vols. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1911), 2:304.