Saturday, January 31, 2009

And off we went food hunting

We went food hunting via foodie-blogs this Chinese New Year and found these 2 places which are so good that they will soon become our frequent haunt. (I have posted pictures from these 2 blogs where we found the food places: Precious Pea, Eat First Think Later and Simple Tofu.)

Pan Mee @ Taman Sri Sentosa
Off Old Klang Road
SH is a real fan of Pan Mee and when I found a thumbs-up review of this place which is not far from where we are, off we went. And yes, the food is really good.

The place is very small and situated right opposite the market. As such, find a good time to go when the market is not so busy.

Photo (c) 2007 Precious Pea

Photo (c) 2007 Precious Pea

Photo (c) 2007 Precious Pea

Pan Mee Stall 28
Jalan Seri Sentosa 9A
Taman Seri Sentosa
Off Old Klang Road
Kuala Lumpur
Tel No: 016 - 288 3911
Closed on Monday

Puchong Yong Tau Foo
@ Jalan Puchong Batu 14

There must be something Puchong is famous for and sure enough, there is - Puchong Yong Tau Foo. We lived in Puchong for 8 years now and we never knew about this place. The food is good, it is really fresh and made to order. You pick what you need, only then do they put on the filling and cook it for you. We ordered so much we were stuffed!

Photo (c) 2007 Eat First Think Later

Photo (c) 2008 Pikey

Photo (c) 2008 Pikey

Puchong Yong Tau Foo
Jalan Puchong Batu 14
47100 Puchong
(opposite Han Ming Chinese Primary School)
Open from 11.00am- 9.30pm


Friday, January 30, 2009

Gentleness of spirit

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
~ Proverbs 15:1

It is easier to be harsh to the people we are closest to.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

A full day visiting

We took the time today to visit some relatives and friends. First, we went bai nien in my fifth uncle's and seventh aunt's homes, both in Sungai Long.

This is Tabby - my uncle's cat which is getting quite old in age. She must have gone through it all for she gallantly sat there as I snapped away.

Next, we went to Delicious in Bangsar Village 2 for lunch and to catch up with Allison, who came back for the CNY holidays from Bangkok.

The yummiest Sticky Date Pudding

After lunch, we went to a friend's house to bai nien. And soon after, to dinner with my dad, Jason, Pam and Chloe.

Yee Sang - Raw Fish Chinese New Year Salad

Chloe - happily munching away!

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An idle mind is the devil's workshop

I have taken the whole week off being the Chinese New Year holidays, to spend it with family. But I find myself with an idle mind. I have not been thinking much, haven't been diligently reading nor have I been engaged in any intellectual and challenging conversations. Though it has been a great time spent with family, I do not like an idle mind.

Photo (c) 2009 Roman Ploj

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Wishing all of you a prosperous
and Spirit-filled New Year!

We started a quiet Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox, visiting my-laws to bai nien, but soon found our way to my uncle's house where all the action and noise is.

My cousin Irene with her three kids, Aaron (left), Adrian (right), and Aeson (bottom, middle). Weng Hong, my nephew (bottom, left) and my son Calvin, (bottom, right). Adrian and Aeson are fraternal twins.

The only girl amongst the boys, sweet little Yong Xin, Weng Hong's sister.

My cousins (from top, left to right), Siow Yuen, Pei Yuen, Ai Hoon and my niece Sim Yee

My aunt and her daughters

My mom (top, left) and my aunts, her sisters-in-law

The girls went out for coffee whilst the mothers and grandmothers, husbands and fathers continued their New Year banter.

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Sunday, January 25, 2009

CNY Reunion Dinner

To ease my mother-in-law in having to cook, we decided to eat out this year's reunion dinner. And both being procrastinators, my husband and I, I am thankful we managed to get a table in a nearby restaurant, which was in fact fully booked. I pressed them for a table and they were gracious enough to give us one. We had a scrumptious meal together. We were happy.

My parents-in-law.

My handsome man

All in the family - minus the photographer and SH's 5 sisters and families. They had their reunion dinners to attend. (I took this picture with my new Tamron macro lens and Canon 580EX flash. Compare it with this photo - same place and ambience, with a less effective lens and flash. Quite a difference, eh?)

The old and the new, but all round.

And I must add one more thing. Calvin and I went to the mall this afternoon when we bumped into one of my colleagues. She asked me if Calvin was my brother! That was the best compliment I have gotten, ever!

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Reunion Dinner with my parents

My parents will not be around during Chinese New Year's eve on Sunday and decided to have the traditional reunion dinner a day earlier, which allowed SH, Calvin and I to attend it as well. (We are due to attend a reunion dinner with my in-laws on Chinese New Year's eve proper.)

My dad was the cook this reunion dinner and we look forward to savour his cooking - which is not often.

Delicious Honey BBQ Bacon
Being a procrastinator in everything, we went shopping for loong-yuk-gon (BBQ dried pork) at the last minute and thankfully the shop in Taman Seri Petaling was still open.

Stewed Mushrooms with Sea Cucumbers
Oh, the luscious thick and juicy mushrooms are the best in the world!

My dad's Signature Crispy Roast Chicken
Yummy and crispy, perfect everytime.

Now gather round - bon appétit!
Round the table from left to right: dad, mom, Pam - my sister-in-law, Jason - my brother, Chloe - my niece, SH and Calvin

It was wonderful to have all in the family together again.

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Friday, January 23, 2009

Men vs. Women

It is interesting that the topic of men vs. women keep cropping up for me today in different place, between different people and in different guises.

I was in discussion with a friend with regards to how men in general take advice. As I understand it, men seldom seek for advice actively, whilst women would be more willing to consult their circle of friends to get opinions. I may be wrong, but for one, it is a well known fact that most men are unwilling to ask for directions.

Then I came across Sze Zeng's post today about cosmetics. I never quite thought about it before but wouldn't you agree that men who wears make-up would be frowned upon whilst women who don't are not adhering to social expectations? If that is true, it would then be a forgone conclusion that men look good enough not to need make-up whereas women need it to look presentable.

Ah! Whose logic is that? Yes, I do agree that men do have their own beauty regime so to speak but you seldom see men armed with compact powders, eye-liners and lipstick everywhere they go. These 3 things are my basic requirement -- I would feel so uneasy if I don't have them handy in my bag.

Photo (c) 2008 Kamil Kantarcıoğlu

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Any books to recommend?

I have taken responsibility over Christian Education in church this year. And on top of it, I am in charge of the library.

The thing is we are not a reading lot. And I wish to encourage reading. So I am now thinking up a programme of some sort. But first, I need a list of recommended readings.

What books would you recommend?

So far, I have titles from D.A. Carson, C.S. Lewis, John Stott, J.I. Packer, Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey, James Dobson, Lee Strobel and Ravi Zacharias.

I need more titles but I also need to determine the reading level of these books - whether they are of the starter level, intermediate level or the advanced level. I am stumped at the moment since my starter level could very well be another's intermediate and another's starter could well be my advanced.

Any suggestions?


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Year Gift:
Alex's Spiritual Formation on the Run

Spiritual Formation on the Run
Meditations to Grow the Busy Life

Alex Tang, Armour Publishing, 2009

I received a New Year Gift in the mail today! Alex sent me a copy of his latest publication, Spiritual Formation on the Run.

"Many of us live life on the run. But busyness is not an excuse to neglect the spiritual formation of our souls. In fact the busier we are, the more we need spiritual formation. This book allows us to practice lectio divina, which is the Latin for spiritual reading. Lectio divina opens us up to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and instills in us the disciplines of reading/listening, meditating, praying and contemplation. Short and crisp, the meditations and stories in this practical and thought-provoking book will give you focus in your life, rejuvenate your soul and draw you closer to God."

I plan to read it when I am done with my current reading, Rainer Albertz's Israel in Exile (SBL, 2003). I am looking forward to it.

Thank you so much, Alex!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: Exploring Protestant Traditions

Exploring Protestant Traditions, An Invitation to Theological Hospitality
W. David Buschart, IVP, 2006

This book was an excellent read: one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. Buschart examines 8 main denominations: Lutheran, Anabaptist, Reformed, Anglican, Baptist, Wesleyan, Dispensational and Pentecostal.

I like his approach to the presentation of the various traditions. He begins each discussion by telling a story of the denomination, whether about a church he attended, a liturgical act he encountered or an experience he had with them. I find that very interesting as he draws us into his discussions. He introduces us into what the tradition is about.

Then he proceeds to give the context, approach and theology of each of the traditions.

The context is given in their historical and ecclesiastical background. It is very illuminating as he tells the story of how each of them began. It provides us with a footing to begin to understand the denominations, though I wished he had not only concluded on the American side of the history but provide a more a global view of them as well.

The approach is viewed from each of their theological and hermeneutical method. He closes each discussion with a general feel of their theology, particularly their characteristic beliefs. This is where we can identify what makes the traditions.

Albeit with only an average of 20 pages per denomination, he was able to provide excellent historical and theological summaries of them. I can now say that I am beginning to have a fair understanding of these traditions. While there are limitations, Buschart managed to highlight their main theological tenets that make them what they are.

As I read, I discovered much about each of the traditions.

Lutheran: A Gospel of Grace
I noticed from my reading that in comparison to the other denominations, the Lutherans are very much a confessional and creedal denomination. Buschart summarises them with the gospel of grace being the heart of their belief and practice of tradition. From faith to life, the Christian gospel is a message of grace.

Anabaptist: Faith for Radical Community
I was not familiar with this denomination until I read that the Brethren churches are offshoots of the Anabaptist. They did not accept baptism without a personal commitment and therefore most of them underwent a re-baptism even though they have been through baby baptism under the Catholic tradition. Anabaptist's hermeneutics were the hermeneutics of the church. The read the Bible together, interpreted it together and formulated comprehensive statements of faith. They paid particular attention to the Gospels and New Testament. They followed Christ in service to the world.

Reformed: To the Glory of God and God Alone
To the reformed, God is a sovereign God. God is great, God is good and theology is ultimately and finally about God. All men are to acknowledge and submit to him. He is the great I am. God is the subject of the verb.

Anglican: Spirit of a Via Media
My discovery of the Anglican tradition was what surprised me the most among all the others. I had not realise that I know almost nothing about this denomination. I attended a Anglican kindergarten when I was a kid but only one Anglican service more than 20 years ago. I assumed I knew enough about them. Wesley was a Anglican himself and it never occured to me that I should learn more about them. I discovered that the Anglican is a tradition of the via media, the "middle way". From the time it started until today, they have sought to articulate theological beliefs that strikes a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestanism, not by formulating some sort of theological synthesis or hybrid but by embracing ambiguity and inclusion. And their theology is more of a theology of liturgy.

Baptist: Freedom for Immediacy
Baptists are generally a non-creedal people but they cared about theology. The believer is free to interpret the bible apart from the binding prescriptions of a creed, church and state. They are guided by the Holy Spirit and the bible itself. The local congregation is free to oversee its own affairs.

Wesleyan: Grace-full Holiness and Holy Wholeness
Being a Methodist myself and after attending Methodism lectures some months back, I began to understand why I think the way I think. Buschart summarised it perfectly, "Wesleyan Christians go out into nothing less than the entire world, their 'parish', with nothing less than their practical divinity - a message of grace-full holiness. All people need to be saved, by God's grace all people can be saved, and this salvation can be wholly holy."

Dispensational: Rightly Divinding the Scriptures
This denomination is new to me - I had thought they were a cult, but not so. There are many renowned scholars from this group of people, like Dwight Pentecost, Craig A. Blaising and Darrell Bock. The Dispensationalists according to Herbert Bateman, "is a tradition driven by a desire to be scriptural and a recognition that infallibility is what the text - not its interpreters - possesses." Buschart summarised that "through reverent and methodical study of the Bible, Dispensationalists seek to discern God's plan for the ages as revealed in the Scriptures." The most distinctive characteristic of the denomination is their view on the characters and distinctions between the nation of Israel and the church.

Pentecostal: The Spirit of Continuity
I grew with the Pentecostals - in a sense where while I still attend Methodist services, I am surrounded by the Pentecostals during my school days , where the Holy Spirit must be experienced, evidenced by the speaking of tongues. They firmly believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and the experiences of the early church, as recorded in the book of Acts, provided patterns for us in all ages.

Buschart rightfully closes the discussion with a look into Christian Hospitality, that is we must come to position where we disagree, we disagree in love and in acceptance - to take on a "both/and" approach to unity and diversity within Christianity. It is ironic that most Christians agree that existentially and experientially, the church is diverse and divided, but will you not agree with me that in this age, the boundaries that separate the division may slowly be disintegrating. Not entirely for sure, there are still areas we could not reconcile, but the boundaries may be blurring in some. And where they are not, we are still one Church, with one Head, Jesus Christ, our Saviour, our King and our Lord.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Noah and Abram

As Pastorpher spoke from Genesis 15 today, where God made a covenant with Abram, I wonder about the background and the context to the choosing of Abram. Who was he? What did he do? Whom did he actually worship? Of all people why him?

Referring to Genesis 12, it was simply recorded that God said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him. That was it. The author of Genesis do not provide us with anymore reasons as to why God had chosen Abram. There was no mention that he was the best candidate - he was just chosen. No criteria given.

In comparison, when God chose Noah in Genesis 6, Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

If I am not wrong the only difference between the two choosing is this: Noah's was because there was judgment to be meted out, and the only condition Noah met was that he was righteous, he walked with God. In the case of Abram, it was a case of a call to obedience. The were no conditions to obedience. God would just call, and it is to be obeyed.

So in that sense, no matter who we are, it does not matter to God, he chose us all to obedience. But when it comes to salvation, he chose only those who walk with him.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Psalm 1

I was invited to do Psalm 1 with the young people in my old church and it has been brewing in my head for awhile what I wanted to do with them. The group was small what with some of them in school (it was a replacement school day for some) and some of them helping their parents at home to get prepared for the Chinese New Year.

I started them off by breaking them into 2 groups, gave them a big piece of paper and some crayons, and gave them 20 minutes for a depiction of Psalm 1 in pictures and colours. They had fun drawing the good man, the bad man, trees, sun and moon, flowing rivers and floating chaff. I hope they will certainly remember the beautiful psalm for life.

Psalm 1
1 How blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD knows (protects) the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

I highlighted that this psalms spend more time expounding on the righteous man than the wicked. Several points I brought up:

1. The righteous is presented in what he does not do - walk, stand and sit with the evil. The verbs are given in a progressive manner. First, one would walk and get in the flow and rhythm of the wicked. In time, he will get the wicked to stop and talk about their wicked intentions and finally to really sit down to discuss how to bring them through. This is not what the righteous do.

2. The righteous are the ones that delight in the Word of God. Not merely read or study or look through or even adore as an object - but delight in. A delight that will result in meditation of the Word all the time, to ponder and to put into practice.

3. The righteous is like a tree planted by streams of water - not a puddle, or pond or even a lake. It is not just planted in fertile ground but by flowing streams of water. The sustenance given by God is everlasting. The life that God gives is eternal, if we believe in him and stay true to him.

4. The righteous will yield fruits in season - not all the time, but produce fruits they will- after times of testing and trials.

5. The righteous will prospers - which may not be in the eyes of the world but in the eyes of God, as we prosper in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

6. There is only one thing to be said of the wicked. They are like chaff. Chaff are the seed coverings and small pieces of stem or leaves that have been separated from the seeds - they are lightweight and has no substance. This shows that even those who proclaim Jesus as their Lord can be lightweight and with no substance - as long as they do not delight in the Word and do not meditate and apply it, they are indeed wicked.

We need to choose right as we live our lives. It is one of the another - there are no two ways about it. Which would you choose?


Friday, January 16, 2009

This is a hard teaching
Who can accept it?

We tackled the last part of John 6 and a portion of John 7 but what kept us talking awhile was John 6:60: On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"

We spoke about how we sometimes encountered some hard teaching of God, which we do understand, but hard to accept and practice in our lives.

We also spoke about the times when we share the Gospel with others. They understood some of it, but found it hard to accept on the scientific and contextual basis. Scientific, because a lot of things don't make scientific sense, but if you think about it, this is God we are talking about, and he is beyond science, he created it. On contextual basis, what applies then can very well apply now, as we do with many things.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

1 John 1:8-10

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My first shot ...

... with my "new" set of lens. I splurged on a second hand Tamron SP 90mm 1:2.8 Macro 1:1 lens. And a Canon Speedlite 580EX flash.

This shot was taken with the macro lens but not the flash.

Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday was only a precursor

This is going to be an extremely long week. I attended two meetings in church today from 8:00pm to 11:00pm. I was thoroughly exhausted by then and what more I had to wake up at 6:30am the next morning, as I do every school day.

During the 2nd meeting, which was chaired by the District Superintendent, he gave a timely reminder about our work in the Lord.

Matthew 24:45-51
45 "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 "Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 "But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

There are 3 points in this passage, he said:
(1) God has called us to faithfulness and wisdom (v.45)
(2) God will encourage and motivate us (v.47)
(3) However, there is a warning (v.48-51)

I pray that I will be his faithful servant, and put on wisdom from the Lord, not the wisdom of the world.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday only?

It is only Monday but it feels like mid week already!

Prayers filled my mind today - there is so much to seek the Lord on. I thank the Lord that he allows us to cast all our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Pet 5:7). Let us commune more and more with him each day.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

If life gives you lemons
make blog lemonaid!

Alex awarded me a Lemonaid blog award. I guess this means I'm good at making sour things sweet! Thanks Alex...

1. Thank the person who was so thoughtful for giving you this award by linking their blog to this post.
2. Put the logo on your blog or post.
3. Nominate 10 blogs which show great attitude/gratitude.
4. Link your nominee to your post
5. Comment them to tell them about the award they've won.

I wish to award the Lemonaid Blog Award to my 10 blog-followers:


You are fantastic and great people whom I am so honoured to be counted as your friend. God bless y'all!


Friday, January 09, 2009

Talents and Bread

We have come a long way. We now have biblical discussion via sms. Melissa and I spent the evening exchanging thoughts over the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew. She wanted to know my thoughts with regards to the talents - what I thought they were. To me, the point of the whole parable is the kingdom of God and the talents was not the main point. We concluded that with whatever that God has given us, have we been investing them on the kingdom of God.

At the same time I was preparing for bible study on the Gospel of John. We have had too long a break since December and now back to John 6:22ff, the passage on the bread of life. We had a very animated discussion. I really love this group of bible-loving individuals. We range from an age of 40 to over 80. I overheard one of them commenting that she had fell sick but she did not want to miss any sessions. Kudos to her love for the Word of God.

Several interesting discussion points:

(1) Someone highlighted v.25: When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You get here?" If you read the few verses before that, the more expected question would be "how did you get here?" So why did they ask Jesus "when" instead? What were their intention of question? Based on Jesus' reply who knows their hearts, we presume that they asked "when" because had they know where Jesus were earlier, they would have gotten more of his bread, which they would not have to work for. Their concern was for physical gratification, as is evident in the remaining portion of the passage.

How often in our prayers, our vision is so narrow as to only be concerned about our physical lives here on earth?

(2) On v.60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" We laughed when we came to this verse because after discussing long and hard over the previous verses, which was a roundabout discussion between Jesus and the people, we find this verse, this is hard teaching!. We were also grappling with it trying to understand what Jesus was telling them. But what I realise now is that the people did understand what Jesus was saying, about the eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood. They knew that it was bringing Christ himself into their own, abiding in Him as one who was sent from God. But to them it was hard to accept, as verse 60 clearly indicate. They could not accept who Jesus said he was. To them he was only the son of Joseph and Mary whom they knew.

How often we ignore the Lord's leading because it will be hard for us to fit his plan into our lives? How often we subconsciously say: Jesus I know what you are telling me to do, but I have my life to live and it is going somewhere, I don't want you messing it up.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christian Perfection

I have begun work on my paper on Methodism, which consist of a 3-part paper: (1) Wesley’s Doctrine of Sanctification, (2) his methods to promote Christian holiness and (3) how it can be applied in our church today.

The doctrine of Entire Sanctification is the most distinctive aspect of Wesleyan theology and to begin with I was not sure if I even agree with it. I am doing quite a bit of reading and I am beginning to understand where Wesley is coming from. His understanding of Christian perfection is not one of absolute perfection but almost an antithesis of imperfect perfection, so to speak. He kept firmly to the doctrine of original sin and total depravity. He posits that a person is either a “whole Christian” or not a Christian at all. It is this perfection of a “whole Christian” that he is trying to explain – that a Christian is “perfect” in relation to his personal relationship with Christ, who is the Light of the world. Apart from Christ, there is darkness.

I know it is not easy to understand Christian perfection in this imperfect and fallen world. Even Wesley admits that “there is scarce any expression in Holy Writ which has given more offence than this. The word perfect is what many cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them. And whosoever preaches perfection (as the phrase is,) that is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a publican” (Wesley, Sermon 40, Christian Perfection, 1872). But if it is understood in relation to Christ, we can be holy as He is holy: to live a life that is dependent on His grace, in an unbroken conscious relationship with Christ, in an absolute conformity to the perfect will of God that there is a necessity for the Christian who is perfect in relation to Christ, to confess our sins and grow in grace.

In a sense, it is perfect but not perfect – here but not yet.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Minor Prophets

I am trying to keep to my so-called New Year resolution to read and study the Minor Prophets. It will not be easy since I am far from being “prophetically inclined” in the study of Scripture.

So to start it off, let’s see what this collection of twelve books called the Minor Prophets is?

The title apparently originated in Augustine's time, in the late 4th century A.D. They are called the “minor” prophets not because they are less important. They are called that by virtue of the length of the book - they are shorter than the four longer, hence major, prophetical books, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.

I don't think many of us really understood who and what prophets are. If you check a dictionary, you will find its definition in the lines of “an authoritative person who divines the future” but this is not entirely who they were. Evidence from the text in the bible show that they gave:
(1) warning of impending judgment because of Israel's sinfulness,
(2) descriptions of sin,
(3) descriptions of coming judgment,
(4) call for repentance, and
(5) promise of future deliverance.

In our English bible, the Minor Prophets are arranged mainly by length:
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

But if taken chronologically, they most probably will take this sequence (approximate dates in parentheses:

Pre-Exilic (to Nineveh)
Jonah (780-850)

Pre-Exilic (to Israel)
Amos (765-750), Hosea (755-715)

Pre-Exilic (to Judah)
Obadiah (840), Joel (835-796), Micah (740-690), Nahum (630-612), Zephaniah (625), Habakkuk (606-604)

Haggai (520), Zechariah (515), Malachi (430)

source:, The Minor Prophets

Monday, January 05, 2009


Ecclesiastes 7:8
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Word for the New Year

Pastorpher preached from a very appropriate Scripture passage as we begin to face a daunting 2009. We may be in "exile" so to speak, but God has a plan, not for calamity but to give us a future a hope. We look forward to the year in hope and an expectant heart, waiting on the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:1-14
1 Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying, 4 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 'Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7 'Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.' 8 "For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. 9 'For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,' declares the LORD. 10 "For thus says the LORD, 'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 'I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Book Review: Shades of Sheol

Shades of Sheol, Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament
by Philip S. Johnston

I have never thought of how I had presupposed my view of heaven and hell on the OT. It never occurred to me that the OT view of life after death is not only different, it is actually not very much discussed. Moreover, the topic of resurrection is almost absent, maybe except for Deuteronomy 32, 1 Samuel 2, Isaiah 26 and Daniel 12.

Philip Johnston has indeed provided us with a very indepth study on the topic in the OT: death and afterlife.

He first examined death in general in the milieu of the OT. This is quite interesting as he describe how the people of that time view death in its various forms: death and diversity, death as an end of life, death as a friend, death as an enemy, death as a separation, death as a reunion?, death by sacrifice, death by suicide, and more.

He then looked into the realm of the death i.e. the underworld, particular at this place called Sheol in the OT. He examines biblical verses to try to draw a picture as to what Sheol refers to, who goes there and what is thought to be there. It is clear that the OT has little interest in the underworld.

Next, he explored the inhabitants of the underworld and concludes that in the OT times, the dead were of minimal importance.

Finally, he looked into the afterlife: is there communion beyond death and is there resurrection from death. The first, he concluded that for most of the Israelites, hope remained firmly anchored in the present life but a few seem to glimpse some form of continued communion with God beyond life. On resurrection, they recognised that God has the power to bring life but it was rarely brought up or explored - the belief itself was enough to begin with.

The book was indeed a very good read, albeit tough at certain parts. It made me realise that the doctrine of life and death had actually developed through time as God revealed himself to us, and it might indeed continue to develop as we meditate more and more on Scripture and on this God-given life itself as it unfolds before our eyes.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Hosea: Immediate curses and distant blessings

I must mention that I begin work today in year 2009 and it was a good day. Well of course it is; it's a Friday! But nonetheless, it was a great day at work, and I thank the Lord for it.

I also began the day by adhering to my plan of reading the bible more faithfully. I have decided to read the minor prophets and started with Hosea.

The book of Hosea is a book of both predictions of destruction and restoration. Hosea was called by Yahweh to prophesy the destruction and exile of Israel at a time when Israel was at the height of its prosperity. The content of Hosea may be divided roughly into three categories: evidence, curses, and blessings.

1. The evidence which takes up 2/3 of the book demonstrate that Yahweh's covenant with Israel has indeed been broken.

2. The curses, taking 1/4 of the book, were the immediate punishment to be meted out to Israel due to the evidences.

3. The blessings, which is only less than a tenth of the book, are announced for the distant future. The era of restoration which the Mosaic Covenant promises will follow after the punishments for covenant-breaking have run their course.

I know we now have the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who paid for our death on the cross and resurrected to our eternal communion with the Father, but how often we expect ourselves to be delivered immediately from our wilful disobedience only to realise that we first have to face the consequences of our sins, or do we? Do you think that the message of immediate punishment and distant blessing apply to us?

Stuart, Douglas. Word Biblical Commentary: Hosea-Jonah. Dallas: Word, 2002.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Long Break Day 14
Hello 2009

Whilst it will be the last of my long break, which has been amazingly wonderful, today marks a new beginning for me in 2009. These three Scripture verses will set the pace for me for the year:

Nehemiah 8:10
Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Joshua 24:14a
Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
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.

Photo (c) 2008 Steve Woods