Sunday, November 30, 2008

Splendidly Mundane Sunday

It was quite a mundane day today, which was good.

My PC was infected with a bad strain of virus and I had to leave it aside to be fixed when I get back to the office tomorrow. That was good – it meant some time off from the can’t-do-with-it-can’t-do-without-it internet. As such, I have the whole day today doing nice stuff.

I took one of the Foundational Class this afternoon, going through with the class briefly on Church History. We had a good one and a half hour of discussion right from the Great Commission, into the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the Great Evangelical Movement, zeroing into the spread of Methodism in Malaysia.

Then I stayed awhile in church helping the youth in their practice for their Christmas play, helping some of them with the songs.

When I got home, I even managed a nap, something I usually don’t have time for.

After dinner, I managed to catch Hairspray on TV. I loved it. Though I was quite disturbed with John Travolta being mom Edna, I really liked Nikki Blonsky as bubbly Tracy.

I had a splendid mundane Sunday.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday hiatus

I had been facilitating a training session for the past five days and today was a wonderful rest day the Lord has given me.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. (Gen 2:1)


Friday, November 28, 2008

Feeding of the 5,000

We did a study of John 6:1-15 today on the Feeding of the 5,000.  It is indeed an account we would most probably have heard or read 5,000 times but we did have some new insights on it this evening.

The barley loaves were food for the poor. In our time, they would have been stale bread.  Philo refered to barley products "suited for irrational animals and people in unhappy circumstances".*  And these loaves were brought forward by a very small boy.  Wouldn't you agree with me that with a crowd of 5,000 men, not to mention the women and children, there would at least be quite a number of them who brought food?  But they were unwilling to give them away, lest they have none.  It took a small little boy with very menial food to do it. Imagine how would it be if those with better food would have offered theirs instead.  The food multiplied could have been much better.

In the same way, what are we giving to God that he can multiply?  Things we don't need?  Our "spare" time?  Our loose change?


*Well, I suppose we could misinterpret Philo in our contemporary times, especially with what we do with barley!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Purify my heart

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me as gold, pure gold

Refiner's fire
My heart's one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
Deep within

Words and Music by Brian Doerksen; © 1990, Mercy/Vineyard Publishing

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wife, submit. Husband, love.

I was in conversation this morning with someone, a non-Christian, who said that he found the perfect way to behave at work, i.e. basically, not to be aggressive, but assertive.

He then said something that caught my raised eyebrows: while that is true in a workplace, it is not so in a marriage. He said he has yet to find a "solution" to a marriage. He said that in a marriage, it is a different ball game with emotional attachments and workplace strategems will not be applicable.

What I did was to tell him about Ephesians 5:22-27. I obviously could not recite from memory all of the six verses. I just said that as a Christian, we take Paul's words for wives to submit to the husbands and the husbands to love their wives as Christ has loved the church.

He was immediately on the offensive, stopping me at mid sentence. I had to stop him to allow me to complete my sentence, to conclude with what husbands need to do, after which he reverted to his offensive mode. He totally rejected what I had shared with him saying that what was written 2,000 years ago was in an environment no longer applicable to our modern age. I asked him why shouldn't a wife be submissive to her husband - he kept reiterating that there shouldn't be any submission at this age, full stop. With that, I decide to rest my case and let him be.

But my prayers will be with him. He has revealed that he has some issues with his wife. In fact, they just quarrelled the night before. I have for him my symphaty.

For one, "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb 4:12). I pray that what I have briefly quoted to him in time will penetrate to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow and judge his thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Pray with me.

And do you agree that only in Christ can Ephesians 5:22-27 be real? For a wife need to submit to the husband whether or not he loves her and the husband must love the wife, in the same way Christ loved the church, whether or not she submits to him. For such a submission and love, it is only possible in Christ, especially if it is one-sided.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Did Paul have an anxiety attack?

In Philipians 4:6-7, Paul said, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I think only a person who have had an experience with a deep sense of anxiety could say such words. What do you think?


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Full Armour of God

I just realised it has been almost two and a half years since I last preached! Pastorpher asked me if I could preach today, one and a half weeks ago, since they will be away for conference meeting. I agreed and did a sermon to follow up Pastorpher's Spiritual Warfare, basically to follow through Paul's reference to the armour of God (Eph 6:10-20).

The feedback from the congregation were these two:
(1) it was a comfort to know that we stand firm as one church. We are not alone, we are part of the body of Christ. We put on the full armour, protect ourselves as well as each other and extend our prayers and petition as well.
(2) one of the more difficult piece to put on will be the breastplate of righteousness. The holiness of God is not an easy thing to put on, but to put on we must.

Source of picture:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My days are held in Your hands

Beautiful Lord, wonderful Saviour
I know for sure
All of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan

You gently called me into Your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life
Through Your eyes

I'm captured by Your holy calling
Set me apart
I know You're drawing me to Yourself
Teach me, Lord, I pray

Take me, mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter's hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter's hand

© 1997 Darlene Zschech (Hillsong)

This is one of my favourite songs and it speaks to me today - I am indeed in His hands, and crafted into His perfect plan. I need to live all my life through my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Reflections on several verses in John 5

We had our bible study as usual this evening on the book of John and we studied John 5:31-47. I initially found the verses quite straightforward but when we looked into them, I learnt quite a lesson.

John 5:39-40
39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
There are those in our midst who are illiterate and yet believe with their whole heart in the Lord Jesus Christ, and there are those who are not only literate but who are so brilliant and yet are blinded by their will of disbelief.

John 5:41-42
41 "I do not accept praise from men, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
Just imagine God saying these words to us when we sing him praises every Sunday morning not realising or even aware of what we are singing. "I know you and I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts." Know the songs that we sing and have the fruits to show the love of God in our hearts.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pride? Proud?

Is there a difference between
I am proud of ...
I take pride in ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Need to sleep

I read this news article in Reuters today and found that a chronic lack of sleep is associated with a lot of illnesses, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease and depression.

Looks like I need to seriously have a re-look at my sleeping hours. There goes my reading and assignment plans.

I found more articles:
Time to wake up to the facts about sleep
Busting the myths about sleep


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Bourne Trilogy

We recently got hold of The Bourne Trilogy and SH hooked me into watching it and hooked I was. I find it a fascinating story about a man who lost his identity due to a memory loss and what he had to go through to finally gain it back. Antithetically, those who deliberately tried to erase all memory of the dirt they have concocted in the end lost it all instead.

The more we hold on to something that is wrong, the more wrong we’ll have to do to protect ourselves. The more lies we tell, the more lies we have to tell to cover up, and that include lies we tell ourselves.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

He is Coming

We had Rev David Loo with us and I am sure he would have been called the Singing Preacher, and he was excellent - he has a delightful ring to his accent and a good strong well supported voice, which made his singing a delight to listen to. He began his sermon with 2 songs and closed the sermon with a prayer in song, which is something I love to do, but in private though!

His sermon was edifying as it was a joy to listen to but what touches me most was his words on faith, love and hope, three words that Paul used a lot in his letters. Faith, the inward protection of our life in Christ - and we must yearn to deepen our faith in Him. Love, the outward protection of one another in the fellowship of Christ, to also do good to others even though bad is what is expected. Hope, the strength and intensity of our mind that we know we rest on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, we must waver not but to have the hope that is sure in Christ.

Our responsibilities is therefore to know that "God did not appoint us to suffer wrath by to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5:9) as well as to encourage (parakaleo) one another and build (oikodomeo) each other up, just as in fact we are doing (5:11).


Saturday, November 15, 2008

James Bond, Quantum of Solace
The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian

SH was to be discharged today and I arrived at the hospital at 10am to help get it done. As Murphy would have it, almost everything went berserk, the people and the system and the server, and we only managed to walk out of the hospital at 5.45pm. It was nothing but waiting, waiting and waiting and it was really a testing of our patience.

But as a celebration of a clean bill of health, we went for a movie: James Bond, Quantum of Solace.

It did not quite suit my taste - the movie was too action-packed and so fast moving I had a hard time trying to work out the more subtle sides of the movie. And Daniel Craig looked more cool and composed in Casino Royale than this one.

When we came home, I watched The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian on DVD.

Oh, I love this movie and I find it much more entertaining compared to the book, which is something unusual for me. What I did not understand was why at the close of the movie did they choose to return to London. I would have stayed and be queen.


Friday, November 14, 2008


SH got admitted to the hospital to carry out a procedure. We thank God that all is well.

Photo (c) 2003 Pam Roth

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hope in God

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. (Psalm 42:5)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

When God seems absent and everything is going wrong, will I still trust God enough to patiently allow him to prepare me for what still lies ahead? (Bruce Wilkinson)

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me. (Psalm 50:14)

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. (Psalm 43:3)



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grace Notes: Halle Halle Halle

This is one of my favourite songs that we sing: Halle, Halle, Halle (Traditional Caribbean Tune, Original Music and Setting by Hal H. Hopson). We have done it a few times and here was the latest one we did during the Boy Brigade Fund Raising Dinner beginning of this month. And yes, that was I, singing the descant ;) but I think I was slightly flat there somewhere! Ooops...


Monday, November 10, 2008

V for Vendetta

Melissa recommended me this movie for awhile now. I bought a copy of it from Speedy but left it on the shelf until SH got it from me today and started watching it. I had wanted to do some work on my never-ending Millennium paper but with just several minutes into the film, it has already caught my attention and my Millennium paper forgotten.

V for Vendetta is a portrayal of human wantonness for power, and as a result of that wantonness, a reckless desire to have even more power. While some of the commoners, like Evey initially resort to resignation and compliance, one man who was the victim of the government's want of power and more power, V, set off on a vendetta to free the country from oppression and totalitarian powers.

But evil was fought with evil. Isn't that utter hopelessness, but yet it is a reality.

What I say is: man and power breeds disaster.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Spiritual Warfare

Pastorpher preached from Ephesian 6:12 today.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

His message was a warning to us that the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. And we must at all times be (1) discerning, (2) have a close relationship with Him, (3) stand firm on the basis of the victory of Christ Jesus, (4) submit to God and (5) pray.

I looked further onto the following verses in Ephesian 6.

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (6:13)

The days are evil. There are so much nonsense happening and people are fighting one another for a mere pittance of power so that they can better than others. In such infighting, winning for oneself is what counts. In such a world, we who are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and mind and to love our neighbour as ourselves, will find ourselves in a foreign land, but yet so much a part of it. We are to stand firm and put on the full armour. There is a battle and we are in for a fighting.


Here Paul repeats himself - stand firm, the second time an imperative. Whatever happens, stand firm, O Christians.

I was trying to figure out what it means by girding one's loins with truth. The word in Greek could also mean waist and that is how NIV interprets it: "with the belt of truth buckled around your waist". It refers to the leather apron of a Roman soldier which is hung under the armour protecting the thighs. It signifies a preparation for vigorous activity (O'Brien, Pillar). As a Christian, we are not expected to sit and be lax about the war that is happening about us. We are to be prepared and our vulnerabilities to be guarded with the truth that is Christ.

The breastplate is put on to protect the chest area. It is an area that is most vulnerable when we go head on in battle, and with it we protect it with righteousness, God's righteousness. We are to don God's righteousness, to be his imitators and to act righteously in all we do. Being holy will protect our lives.


On our feet, we wear strong shoes that will bring us to all sorts of places and terrains. With these, we are prepared to bring the Gospel of Peace wherever we go as we fight in the battle.

in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (6:16)

This is one very important part of the armour, if not one of the most important. I happen to watch 300 today and saw how the Spartans protected themselves with the onslaught of thousands and thousands of arrows. They simply knelt and covered themselves with their shields. When we are out in battle, we will receive many arrows flying towards us: discouraging words, accusation, false testimonies, damaging remarks, threats, physical assault - all of which we can withstand with our faith in God our Father and Christ, our Lord.

From the movie 300, I also see that the armour is used to create a phalanx, to protect your comrade, your brethren together in the battle.

And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (6:17)

Our heads are to be protect by strong steady helmets - when we think about what is happening to us, the things said about us, and even what we read in Scripture, what should protect us is the knowledge that we have salvation in Christ Jesus. There is no other truth than the truth of his grace by which we are saved.

In our hands finally, we have the sword of the Spirit to block and strike at the right time, the Word of God to counter untruths and to spread the truth about God, about life, about death.

Photo (c) 2006 ejdzej

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The History and Theology of the Exile: Day 4

We completed the module today with the Priestly Writings the Chronicler History and the Historical Period Immediately After the Exile.

I have benefitted immensely from the classes in the realisation that the exile played a major role in a large part of the Old Testament so much so that we need to read these portions of Scripture with a good understanding of the exile in mind.

God has revealed to us through Scripture His working and presence through human history in the lives of the Israelites. I am beginning to ask myself: have I been reading Scriptures in a sanitised manner, i.e. whatever it is, it is all God's doing? Or it is a telling of what man is capable of doing and how God has chosen to intervene and direct their lives? I say that because we often live our lives trying to discern God's voice and sometimes that is not easy to do - we often ask if that is really what God says or what we are trying to convince ourselves. I think it is the same with the people in Scriptures - to discern God's voice and to decide to listen to which prophets amidst all the havoc surrounding them.


Friday, November 07, 2008

The History and Theology of the Exile: Day 3

Going into the third day, and the going gets tough. We tackled the writings of the pre-exilic, exilic and post-exilic period. Maybe tackle isn't so accurate a verb. Rather, we discussed, we scanned, we skimmed more like.

These are tough books - Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Deutero-Isaiah (Isa 40-55), followed by the relatively easier ones, Lamentations, Exilic Psalms (44?, 74, 79, 85, 126, 137) and Deuteronomic History (Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings). That's a lot in 8 hours.

Reflecting on what we went through today, I have 2 things:

One, the tension between giving up and standing up. The Israelites were to give in to the Babylonians, to be exiled, not to fight. And yet, there is a call for justice to be done. In our current context, we talked about not keeping silence amidst the oppression we are undergoing. What if we are indeed undergoing a sense of exile for things we have not been doing? What do we do now?

Two, imprecatory psalms. On this I have begun to understand it a little better as I traversed life in this fallen world. Some years back, I did not understand how they can be possible. I now have a glimpse - when a soul would have gone through dark, distressed, utterly difficult and terribly unimaginable times, it will understand imprecatory psalms. The darkened soul would wished something to be done on the enemies, but rhetorically left to the justice of God.

It is indeed difficult to square Psalm 137:9 "How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock" with Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things", but both are Scripture.

Can I say that it is better to leave it be if we could not understand the reality of imprecatory psalms? Imagine how dark your soul need to go before you could see for yourself these psalms. Unimaginable. Reb showed us some appalling pictures of the Holocaust. My question is, do we really want to see the reality of imprecatory psalms?

How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

The History and Theology of the Exile: Day 2

I took this module mainly because I know next to nothing about it, and I was right, I am totally ignorant as far as the exile is concerned. And we went through so much data today it is no wonder by the end of the evening, when the class were debating about original sin, my brain suffered a shut down.

But one thing about the exile did get me thinking - Jeremiah was prophesying to the people that they are to submit to the Babylonians. It was a hard message to take, because it would mean defeat. Didn't Isaiah said long ago that God is a God who delivers? Shouldn't it apply now as well? And who is this who now tells us that we have to give up? Preposterous!

If I were in their shoes, I would not have believed in Jeremiah myself. Bringing it into our modern context where we are almost always preaching a grandiose positivist theology, it is like being asked to give in to the current political oppressors, be submissive and live out a subdued life obedient to the powers. That sounds preposterous in our context. It would have sounded preposterous to the Jews then as well.

But yet, Jeremiah was speaking the truth. As such, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was inevitable, whether Jeremiah had risen up or not to prophesy.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The History and Theology of the Exile: Day 1

Of all the modules that I had planned to take, this has been almost an elusive one. To cut the story short, there were at least three close calls that prevented me from attending it. Finally by God's grace, here I am, though I must say, it's going to be a toughie.

We covered the general history of the Jewish exile today, which consists of two, i.e. (1) the exile of the Northern Kingdom in 722BC by the Assyrians and (2) the exile of the Southern Kingdom in 597/6BC by the Babylonians. We were given a rough sweep of the "history" of Israel and Judah, the north and south respectively, the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and several more neighbouring nations, all in their own conquests of expansion and survival.

The word "history" is an interesting 0ne that does warrant quite a bit of discussion. We were told that the topic of historiography is a hot one right now. Just how objective a historical account is, is a good question. Reb talked about the bible being biased of its historical account. I was not too comfortable about that statement, that the bible is biased. I felt this way because the word "bias" does have a derogatory nuance to it. But I suppose as long as it is meant that the bible relates history in favour of God's perspective, then I should be fine with it. We do need to be mindful when we read history because it can never be presented objectively. Every person writing history writes it in their context, favour and interest. It helps to have a wide panorama of the period of history in question to gain a fair view of what might have happened.

But how does that relate to the exegetical background study of a passage? Is it the same? If the Old Testament is seen to be biased in its historical account, wouldn't the letters of Paul be biased as well, or the Gospel acounts?


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

That book will find you

I remember reading an article in several years ago that one need not worry about buying a book and leaving it on the shelf collecting dust. Because come one day, that book will find you, and you will be glad that it did.

That article in a sense had set me off book-hunting and if you know me well enough, you'd know that I have been book-hunting ever since. The article was in a way special to me and I berated myself for not saving a copy. I tried searching for it before but failed. I tried again today and I finally found it. I was so pleased.

If you are interested to read it, you can find it here.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Videos: Grace Notes KL

Finally, some videos to share!

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

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

The Mission (during rehearsals at Yio Chu Kang Chapel, Singapore)

高声赞美 (Let There be Praise)
(Words and Music by Dick Tunney and Melodie Tunney, Choral Arrangement by Phil Perkin)


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Reflection overload

I am exaggerating.

I am not having an overload of reflecting. But nevertheless, I had quite a lot of it over the last couple of days culminating into this morning peak and some-what closure, for this session of reflecting that is.

As we were about to begin our worship service, John, the worship leader, could not get the song slides projected. There were some technical problems. After awhile, he gave up on the Powerpoint file and used an old one, which happened to be the songs we sang last week in Frasers' Hill.

This is difficult to write about but it was not an accident. The songs, albeit not intended for this morning, ministered to me so strongly that I began to cry from the very first one. God is definitely working in my life, even though I don't seem to see or feel him.

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm Your friend
You are my desire
No one else will do
Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace
Help me find the way
Bring me back to You

You're all I want
You're all I ever needed
You're all I want
Help me know you are near

(c) 1994 Kelly Carpenter, Mercy/Vineyard


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Phuket, Day 4

We have some time today before we fly off today and I took the apportunity to go catch some good shots of the place and the town.

At the entrance of the hotel.

As we enter the hotel, we were greeted by two lovely Thai ladies playing the khim.

As her hands move swiftly to strike the chords of the song ...

My favourite spot in the hotel, where I spent quite some hours reading and yakking with a friend.

Then off I go a-picture-hunting in the outdoors

I find this foreign looking bench in the green and rustic surroundings

I find myself inside a little hut romantically adorned with laces.

The shot was taken as the sun shined in from behind the orchids

A watch tower?

A retirement palace, i.e. if God will ever allow us to retire

A street in Patong Beach, Phuket


Here's to a hot sunny day in Patong Beach

Photos (c) 2008 Pearlie Ng