Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Long Break Day 13
Goodbye 2008

We attended Watchnight Service this evening, and I am going to echo the same words I posted last year about the service -- that it was "special. The worship was amazing, the exhortation moving, the fellowship warm and to the heart ... connecting often with the numerous greetings and sharing of the peace of God. It was a lovely close to the year and a wonderful opening into the new year. We renewed our covenant together, we partook in the Holy Communion together and we supped in the first meal of the new year together."

But what was different this year was that I experienced a new sense of joy and contentment in the Lord. If the year 2008 was a year of frustrations and anxiety, I will pray that year 2009 will be a year of joy in the Lord, for the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10) ... and I will add that to the theme I have set several days ago, "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness" (Joshua 24:14a). It will be a year of faithful and joyful serving. Lord, I ask for your help and guidance to make it so. Amen.

Here is the covenant we made with the Lord this day. I have recited it in the corporate body of the church, and I have recited it again to myself during silent prayer. Here I put it in writing and that with a sense of foreboding as I begin to see the words of great weight. I will need to reread and revise it daily in the coming week and every now and then in the months to come. It is not something to be said and be done with. These are not easy or idle words.

Minister: Commit yourselves to Christ as his servants.
Give yourselves to him, that you may belong to him, Christ has many services to be done.
Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful.
Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both.
In some we may please Christ and please ourselves.
But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
It is necessary, therefore, that we consider what it means to be a servant of Christ.
Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:

People: Let me be your servant, under your command.
I will no longer be my own.
I will give up myself to your will in all things.
Lord, make me what you will.
I put myself fully into your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal.
I do here covenant with you, O Christ, to take my lot with you as it may fall.
Through your grace I promise that neither life nor death shall part me from you.
I make this covenant with you, O God, without guile or reservation.
If any falsehood should be in it, guide me and help me set it aright.
Mighty God, let this covenant I have made on earth be ratified in heaven.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

God help me, Amen.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long Break Day 12
Reminiscing 2008

I took the time today to view through my posts this year, and again I am thankful I have persisted in keeping the blog, which is not easy at times. I saw that 2008 was a faith journey. It was challenging and draining. I realised (again) this: be careful what I pray for! In the month of May, I posted this -- "Faith is for use, not keep ... It boils down to what we do with our faith, its practice and exercise. It is not so much a prayer to increase our faith but a prayer to help us exercise it," and what followed in subsequent months were truly a testing of my faith.

I thank the Lord for his deliverance, his closeness and his love. He is certainly my steadfast love, my hope and my joy.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Long Break Day 11
A delightful family time

We were scheduled to meet up with one of SH's aunt this afternoon and it turned out to be such a delightful day. SH and his sisters were very close to this family when they were younger and I am glad I have finally met up with them, and SH was pleased to catch up with them.

Aunt is a very good cook and she served us some very delicious snacks. We ate and chat over the table.

Paul (SH's cousin), Melissa (SH's sister), SH and Aunt.

The kids having a blast: Calvin, Ryan, Jasmine, Clara, Rachel

The Three Musketeers or The Three Stooges or the The Three Little Pigs?

SH and his favourite girl.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Long Break Day 10
Need a plan for 2009

Pastorpher preached from Joshua 24:14-15 today and it brought me to conclude that I do need to think and plan for 2009. There will be much to do and accomplish for the year.

In my spiritual discipline, I need (1) to be more faithful in prayer, (2) read, and study if I can, several books from the bible beginning with the minor prophet, (3) read a book a month, at least, and (4) find opportunities to share the Word of God and the Gospel with others.

In my own Christian education, I need to persist on with TEE, to complete my assignments in Methodism and History & Theology of the Exile. I plan to just take one module in 2009 -- Introduction to the NT. With that I will have 4 more modules to complete, which will take me another two to three years ... slow and steady.

In church ministry, I will be in the LCEC in 2009 in the area of Christian Education and the way I see things happening, I will have loads and loads to do. As such, I should just concentrate on CE, and lay off the rest for awhile ... though I will still be active in Grace Notes, since I simply love to sing and to minister in songs.

And I think I found the verse/theme to bring me through 2009: Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness (Joshua 24:14a).


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Long Break Day 9
Good friends, great stuff

Calvin and I spent almost the whole of the day with a very good friend - there's lunch, shopping, baking, watching TV, and surfing the net.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Long Break Day 8
Book Review: OT Turning Points

Old Testament Turning Points, The Narratives That Shaped a Nation
by Victor H. Matthews

This will not be much of a book review -- more like a book grumble. I have started on it at least twice, but I could not finish it. Maybe it is me, but I find the book hard to read because it has a table or diagram in almost every page, and these tables or diagrams does not flow with the text. They are just there as information, and they irk me so much.

The thing is this: if I stop to view them, I'd loose the flow in my reading and if I skip them to maintain the flow in my read, they will bother me because I keep thinking about them. So unless you are writing a handbook, please do not include anything that does not flow with the text.

Nevertheless, it does hold an interesting topic. It suggested eight narratives in the OT that shaped the nation of Israel:

1. Adam and Even Expelled from Eden
2. Yahweh Establishes a Covenant with Abraham
3. Moses Leads the Israelites out of Egypt
4. King David Makes Jerusalem His Capital
5. Jerobam Leads the Secession of the Northern Tribe
6. Samaria Falls to the Assyrians
7. Nebuchadnezzar Destroys Jerusalem and Deports the People of Judah
8. Cyprus Captures Babylon, and the Exiles Return Home

The author considered these the markers as God in history moved Israel on. I am not all familiar with the entire Old Testament, and so I do wonder if the author missed any out.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Long Break Day 6
Mesra Jiran Christmas Party

The day finally came for the evangelistic Christmas event we called the Mesra Jiran Christmas Party (Neighbourhood Christmas Party).

Getting ready for the party.

John - he would be the busiest man of the event.

A party will never be complete without balloons.

My sweet.

The youth have been practicing for their play for too long.

My new pair of shoes!

It will soon begin.

The choir practicing.

Calvin and his cheese costume for the kid's fancy dress competition.

Calvin, the Cheese with his two mice.

Chloe, the Pink Fairy -- I made the dress out of an old skirt of mine.

SH's sister, Melissa with her two kids, Jasmine and Clara.

The guests are arriving!

The food too arrived. See my cake? :)
I did hope it would not taste too bad, since I was not happy with the baking, nor the decorating for that matter, but what do you know, it received raving reviews. I am happy!

Hock Siong, SH and Desmond.

Let's begin!

Games time.

The event then started and this photographer had no more opportunities for anymore shots :)


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Long Break Day 5
I've not been baking for too long

I was to bake a cake to be brought to the Christmas evangelistic event tomorrow but it did not turn out too well. I made too many mistakes ... lack of practice, that is the problem. Hope it will not taste too bad.

My hubby chided me for not praying about it. He is right.


Addendum: It turned out like this. And I have also not been decorating for too long.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Long Break Day 4
Praying hard

We are in the midst of praying for the coming Christmas eve evangelistic event in our church, and obstacles are arising here and there, and I will not be surprised if many of the church members are facing the same. It look like the Evil One is worried about the work we are doing and trying its best to thwart it. We need to continue to be firm and courageous, and continue to pray hard. Pray with us.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Long Break Day 3
Playing Doubles

These 2 days have been rather interesting. Things seem to happen in doubles.

Yesterday evening, I was in my old church in the city singing in the choir, presenting Night of Miracles, a Christmas Cantata by John W. Peterson. I finally managed to work with Joanna, the solo section I was to sing and I finally sang it quite ok, thankfully. The entire choir did wonderfully well. The night was not over because right after the presentation I literally flew back in my car to Chee Seng and Wai Leng's home. They had invited us over to greet the carollers from our church. The carollers arrived at about 11 and we sang carols deep into the night.

This morning, the choir did another session of Night of Miracles in my old church, during its worship service. After the service, again I flew back to my church, in my car, and arrived during the after-service-refreshment/fellowship time. In a matter of speaking, I attended service in one church and fellowshipped in another, which soon worked into a wonderful community time - we helped out in preparing small gifts for the old folks home and then in the youth drama practice, for the Christmas evangelistic celebration on the 24th.

Then in the evening, we were in SH's parents home for dinner. Today is the Winter Solstice Festival celebration, based on the Chinese calendar. After dinner, we headed off to Yew Meng and Vicky's home for the second day of carolling team's visit, and we had dinner again! The night wore on, but we had a wonderful time of fellowship with Yew Meng and Vicky's family, and other church members who were also invited. I remembered when we decided to change church from a city church to a neighbourhood church, it was my prayer that we will get connected to a community -- and the prayer was clearly answered. We are indeed a part of a faith community, sharing lives together, in love and joy.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Long Break Day 2
Family Catch Up Time

SH's sister came back from the UK for a short holiday and she brought along her two girls. They spent the day in our house and it was a great catch up time. She and I talked quite a bit - about life, work, church, faith, family, and much more. And amongst what I enjoyed most was their British accent. As much as I can slip into one, I tried not to since mine's the fake one!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Long Break Day 1
It Begins

Yay! My long awaited long break is finally here. It started with some housekeeping work. Then I drove Calvin to his Malay tuition class. Did some shopping. Pick up Calvin and drove him to church for his fancy dress competition rehearsal (to be held during our Christmas event on the 24th). Went for the final practice of Night of Miracles.

It was a long day but lovely.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas "Gifts"

1. My long awaited break
This will be the last day of 2008 I will be at work before I begin my long awaited Christmas holidays. Yippee! I look forward for the time to be spent with my family, and especially with Calvin.

2. My favourite cantata - Night of Miracles
I participated in the choir singing this piece when I was 11 or 12, and we are doing it again after all these years. It will be presented in my family church on 20th Dec at 8.00pm and 21st Dec during the morning church service at 9.00am. I am privileged to do the Mary's lullaby and I am working very hard to perfect it. A beautiful tune but in the lower range, which is a bit difficult for me. And as usual, I sound okay during practice when there is less people, but when I sing proper, my voice go haywire!

3. My favourite Christmas song - Welcome to Our World
Joanna, Grace Notes' conductor gave us a present each this Christmas: the score to Chris Rice's Welcome to Our World, which happens to be one of my favourite Christmas song of the contemporary genre. She shared with us yesterday that it is a song beyond the story of Christmas. Our Christmas story does not end on Christmas, but it went on to the cross, where Christ died for us to we may live. I love the song because of its musical simplicity and beauty in its words. It is our hope that the Christmas message and Christ's sacrificial love will reach out to many.

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child, welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How we wish we would have known
But long awaited Holy Stranger,
Make yourself at home, please make yourself at home

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Words now breaking heaven's silence
Welcome to our world, welcome to our world

Fragile fingers sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born, unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfert Son of God, perfect Son of God

4. My Christmas article in Kairos magazine
I had my first-ever written article published. Kairos had requested that I write an article about Christmas and I wrote a short one entitled, "The Sights and Sounds of Christmas". It began like this:

We hear it every year, come December, that Christmas is only real when it happens in our hearts, that it is never the gifts or the tree, nor the food and the toasts. None of the festivities, none of the fanfare matters essentially. Only the heart.

But what if they do matter?

God forbid that we should equate Christmas with just material things and expressions. But somehow, we are in danger of reducing Christmas only to a “heart” thing and nothing more. If things are meaningful only if they are spiritualised, we risk forgetting the concreteness of our Christian faith ...

Photo (c) 2008 Wong Mei Teng

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My eyes have not seen it, yet

I have blogged several days ago about the books I want to read. Of the six books I picked up, I started with this one: Now my Eyes have seen You Images of creation and evil in the book of Job by Robert S. Fyall It turned out, this is book is beyond me at this point of time. I realised I need to be quite familiar with the book of Job before even attempting it. To start it off, I am having problems with Job itself, which is why my interest in getting books about the book. Maybe this is not the one to start with. I have read about half the book. For the rest of it, I only managed to scan through. So, I consider myself done with it, for now, until I have a better grasp of Job. What's amazing with Job is that when I first read it, I could not understand why the respond from the four friends were not accepted. To me, they make sense. It soon occurred to me that, what make sense may not be right. We may think we know, but in fact, we don't. For example, in a recent event, someone said something I had problems with. It makes sense but if you think about it, it does not. The person said that if in a group of 10, 9 of them are happy and 1 is not, something is wrong with the one. On the other hand, if 9 of them are not happy and 1 is, something is still wrong with the one. I am not sure what it was based on, I simply feel it is not right. Because there is equal possibility that something is wrong with the 9 and not the 1. In the same way I think it applies to Job's friends. They did not know why Job suffered and rather than lovingly attending to him, they accused him of a lot of things. And in the same way, we too need to be mindful of the "advice" or "help" we offer to those who are suffering. Sometimes, it would be best to just be with them - offering them our presence and heart rather than our words. Job's friends could have done better if they continued in their initial silent wait with Job as he struggled to understand his calamities. pearlie

Monday, December 15, 2008

Five Special Things

A slow day but an occupied one as well, with some special things I would like to document:

1. I learnt something new in MS Excel, a software that continues to delight me in my course of work: I learnt how to use the SUMIF formula, and I found out that F9 will "calculate all" formulas in your worksheet, useful if you have a very complicated one and the worksheet would not refresh after you've copied and pasted a formula across hundreds on lines.

2. I gave a good friend a book in return for all the small but heartfelt stuff he gave or lent me - notes, booklets, articles, references, over the past one year. His pet subject is Biblical Prophecy - and so I got him Robert B. Chisolm's Handbook on the Prophets, an excellent tome on the books of prophecy. I have yet to get one copy myself.

3. My brother and I have not had a meal together for awhile now. We went for dinner together today. He and his wife, Calvin and Chloe, and I.

4. I made a new "friend" last night with my cousin's wife, Angeline, and we started emailing today. I hope we will keep at it, like I did with Melissa, now my good, good ol' buddy.

5. And I think I finally wrapped up my Millennium paper today. I hope to give it a final touch tomorrow, print it, mail it out and close my chapter on the topic. Enough is enough.

Thank you God, for the special things you've blessed me with today.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy 70th Birthday, Dad!

We celebrated dad's 7oth birthday today with family and friends. We arranged a dinner in a restaurant for about 40 people and we had a wonderful time of sharing and being together.

Happy Birthday, Dad! We love you!

Happy birthday to you ... Happy birthday to you ...

Happy birthday to daddy ... Happy birthday to you!

My dad making a speech and pulled my mom along to accompany him.
After all, they are one ;)

Group photo time! My parents with good friends and relatives.
seated L-R: my third uncle and aunt, Doris, Mrs Yip, Mrs Yuan, Rev Yip Kwak Hoong
standing L-R: Rev & Mrs Ling Siang Ming, Dad, Mom, Auntie Molly, Dr. Yuan

seated L-R: Keng Mooi, Cheng Gaik, Jacob, Rev & Mrs Yu Chee Huat, Calvin
standing L-R: Lai Kuen, Chen, Uncle Thomas, Dad, Mom, Auntie Esther, Wai Ching, Lai Kheng

seated L-R: Garry, Uncle Solomon, Ben, Pam, Auntie Jo, Uncle John, Calvin
standing L-R: Angeline, Dad, Mom, Pearlie, SH

seated L-R: Jarryl and family Jennifer, Timothy, Simon, Leng
standing L-R: Mom, Dad, Wai Kuen, Chloe, Jason, Paul

All four tables with Rev Yu having a good laugh with SH.

Cheng Gaik and Jacob

Rev & Mrs Yu: "I wanted to get him a present this big ... but ..."

Jennifer, Timothy, Simon, Leng

Ben and Pam

Rev & Mrs Ling Siang Ming

Dr & Mrs Yuan

Jennifer and Timothy

Jarryl and family

What are these three men pleading for?

Mother and Daughter: Auntie Jo and Pam

Uncle Thomas and Auntie Esther

Lai Kheng, Lai Kuen and Chen

"Just the two of us ..."

Uncle John and Auntie Jo

Garry and Angeline

Here's to a splendid time together!

Photos (c) 2008 Pearlie Ng