Saturday, February 28, 2009

No Books? Mana boleh?*

I was commenting in Kar Yong's blog in his post, Books...books...books..., that in my case it will be "no books". Well, talk about speaking too soon.

I was in Pustaka SUFES this morning to pick up some books for the church library. I went there gritting my teeth as I enter the bookstore that I won't get any books for myself. I did not grit hard enough. The only consolation --or not-- is that I came away with two not-so-Kar-Yong-serious books.

Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth
Prayers of Walter Brueggemann
I bought it because I was captivated by his poetrical prayers, like this one: Retext us. We confess you to be text-maker, text-giver, text-worker, and we find ourselves addressed by your giving, making, working. So now we bid you, re-text us by your spirit.
(for copyright purpose, I will not reproduce the entire prayer here.)

The second book? Well, it is kind of a secret I cannot disclose here. And if you are one who can't live without trying to solve all the mysteries in the world, anobii is the clue. :)

* Where can?

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Jesus-Jews Dialogue (John 8:12ff)

We discussed in our bible study group today John 8:12 and following. We read the passage till the end but managed to discuss it only until v.30.

We find it amazing that the conversation between Jesus and the Jews started well, many believed in him but as the dialogue wore on, the more Jesus told them about himself, the more disbelieving they became and finally the dialogue closed with the Jews picking up stones to throw at him.

Has it happened to us before? Or has it happened to our friends or family, particularly those who were born in the faith? As we know more and more about God, more about who He is and what He requires of us, does it drive us away or does it pull us closer and closer to God in worship and obedience? Or do we in fact, stay where we are, in apathy?


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Survey: the Church Scene

I am in the process of running a simple survey on churches’ practice and participation in the basic elements of Christianity: the Lord’s Supper, prayer meeting, bible study and the usage of hymns and hymnals. I have so far collated data for 17 churches in Malaysia. Would you be able to help as well by answering the following questions? You can send the information to ngpearlie at yahoo dot com.

1) Tradition: (Methodist, Pentescostal, Presbyterian, Anglican, etc)

2) Church: (will not be disclosed; required to prevent multiple counting)

3) Average total number of people attending Sunday service(s):
If you have more than one service, please provide the total average, i.e. add up all the average number of worshippers of all services, regardless of language of the services.

4) When is Lord's Supper held:

5) Number of prayer meetings held in a week:

6) Attendance of all the prayer meetings added up together:

7) Number of adult bible study sessions held in a week:

8) Attendance of all the bible study sessions added up together:
If bible study is held in a cell-group format, please provide total number of cell groups.

9) Do you use the hymnal? Which one?

10) If no hymnals, do you sing hymns?

Thank you!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Movie: Quiz Show

I was down and out today and spent almost the entire day asleep at home, but I managed to catch this interesting movie on the TV: Quiz Show (1994).

It is a reenactment of television quiz show scandals of the 1950s, where the quizzes were rigged. The fallout guy was a college professor, Charles Van Doren, whose career was devastated as a result. He was slowly drawn into the hole little by little and was soon given the answers to the questions. He began justifying his actions, and before he knows it, it was too late to back out.

It made me wonder how would I behave had I been in the same situation? And how many times have I justified and rationalised my wrongdoings?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The joy of the Lord is your strength

Melissa sent me an mp3 lecture on "Liturgy, Worship and the Ordering of Affections" by Gordon T. Smith. I like his tone of lecture as well as the form and style of language but more than that, he spoke about something that I find close to my heart at the moment - the joy of doing anything at all.

He said joy is the tonality of Christianity. He quoted Alexander Schmemman, "I think God will forgive everthing except lack of joy." He believes that, "Spiritual formation must necessarily include the ordering of the deep loves, desires and longings of the Christian."

I find lately that I am been in circumstances where negative emotions were rife wherever I was. There is such a great need for us to order our emotions and desires to serve the Lord in whatever we do -- be it in the church or in our vocation, in the study of Scripture or the practice of the disciplines -- to do it all with joy in the Lord.

Our faces and our eyes mirror our state of emotion in all that we do. Are our faces mournful, are our eyes dull? Or are they brilliant, shining with joy in the Lord?

No wonder Nehemiah said, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."


Monday, February 23, 2009

I am going bonkers

I am really going bonkers. I am working on a paper on Methodism, on the topic of Entire Sanctification. I am okay with the discussion of the doctrine as well as Wesley's methods in promoting it, i.e through prayer, searching of Scripture and observing the Lord's supper.

But what about "their relevance and practicality in any attempt to revitalise the life of the Church today"? How should I answer it without sounding "duh!" as in, we have to prayer more, read the Scripture more and observe the Lord's Supper more. Help!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gone in Three Generations

Isn't this amazing!

Addison was giving us some quick lessons on the drums in church this afternoon when Aunt Rowena stepped up and without any hesitation, took the drum sticks and had her turn. She is 78.

And with that, it brings back to me Rev Vincent Lau's sermon this morning - there would be three generations between Addison and Aunt Rowena. Rev Lau's admonishment to us this morning was to pass on the legacy of our commitment to God down the future generations, in the faithful teaching of the Word, in living out our lives in testimony of our faith in God and in strengthening our commitment to the Lord in our very own lives.

We are to guard the Gospel, to be ready for spiritual warfare that is there whether we like or not and not to be complacent, apathetic or lazy, all ready to settle down in comfort while there is still so much to do in nurturing and discipling.

Let us not be like the Israelites in Judges 2:6-12:

When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.

Let us be faithful to the Lord, in ALL we do, including being responsible to the next generations and beyond.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Calvin's Birthday Party

Calvin celebrated his birthday with his friends and cousins today.

(Back L-R) Ryan, Sean, Julian, Gaston, Benjamin
(Front L-R) Chloe, Rachel, Chloe, Calvin, Marc, Brian, Amanda

It was a Gadgeteer Party and I baked him a Nintendo DS Cake - some of the kids that came earlier helped decorate it. That was suppose to be Roadcrosser - Calvin's penguin in Club Penguin.

Happy Birthday!

He was then suppose to cut the cake, right? No, he stabbed his penguin.



We all had fun but this mommy is extremely exhausted!

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy 11th Birthday!

It is Calvin's birthday today! Doesn't he look happy. His father was occupied and so I brought him for a special dinner - his all-time favourite: escargots. This round, baked in mozzarella cheese, which was absolutely yummy. Here he was waiting for dinner to be served, playing with his birthday present, a Nintendo DS Lite. We will be having a party tomorrow to celebrate his birthday with his close friends and cousins. He is happy.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love;
Brings every blessing from above.
~ C.H. Spurgeon


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Have I been murmuring against the LORD?

I realised I have been murmuring and complaining and grumbling. I need to stop that live this life that God placed me in. O God have mercy on me. Numbers 13:25-14:45 (ESV) At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, "We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan." But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are." So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?" And they said to one another, "Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt." Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, "The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them." Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they." But Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O LORD, are in the midst of this people. For you, O LORD, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 'It is because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.' And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, 'The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.' Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now." Then the LORD said, "I have pardoned, according to your word. But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea." And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, "How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, 'As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.' I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die." And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land- the men who brought up a bad report of the land- died by plague before the LORD. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive. When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, "Here we are. We will go up to the place that the LORD has promised, for we have sinned." But Moses said, "Why now are you transgressing the command of the LORD, when that will not succeed? Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you." But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah. pearlie

Monday, February 16, 2009


My second uncle passed away on Saturday, the wake service was held yesterday night and the funeral service this morning.

He was 97. He was a faithful believer in the Lord, honouring the Lord in all that he did, including the keeping of his "Sabbath" holy. Before he retired, he ran a business selling noodles. He used to open 7 days a week but was soon convicted that he should keep Sunday a rest day to honour the Lord, regardless of how much business he'd have to forgo being closed on busy Sundays. He honoured God and God is with him.

Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Prayer from Psalm 139

It has been a long week for me but the good Lord has spoken to me through Psalm 139. He has indeed hem me in, behind and before, and lay His hand upon me.

I respond to Him with these few last verse of the psalm.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Sikh Wedding

I attended a colleague's wedding wedding today - a Sikh wedding. It was the most colourful event I have ever been to.

Getting the groom ready.

We were served breakfast.

Hear ye, hear ye.

Here comes the bride.

The bride being led in by her brother.

The bride and her proud mom, or was it her sister?

The seating in the Sikh temple was segregated into the women and the men, which became a photographer's delight. Just look at the colours!

The group of women seated around me were so elegant and beautiful. I was snapping away much to their and my delight.

And this is my most favourite shot of the lot!

At the end of the wedding ceremony, blessings were given out when I caught this shot.

I was packing up my gears by the time lunch was served, but not until I get a shot of this girl seated just across me.

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Friday, February 13, 2009

What a day!
And it is not over yet

Today is one of the most interesting day of my life - eventful but tiring, and it is not even over yet, as I will soon be preparing to dress up in a saree and head off to my colleague's wedding dinner and party.

First, the things that went wrong.  It started this morning when I got stuck in a traffic jam at 8.30am on my way to work and it was a literal standstill.  I soon found out that the Le Tour De Langkawi cycling competition was to flag off at a place very near my office at 9am.  The roads were therefore closed and not being informed about it, we were all stuck.  When I got to the office finally at almost 11.00am, I realised that in the hush and hurry of the morning, I left my season parking ticket at home, and so I had to park in a paid area.  Then we were off to a client's place for a meeting, which was two hour's away only to find out that we missed the meeting because it was brought forward to the morning without our knowledge. It was frustrating.

Now the interesting, before we headed to the supposed client's meeting, my boss planned a detour to a Chinese temple for lunch. He had asked me if it will be acceptable for me if I joined them for a meal in a temple.  I assumed that it was just a lunch, which will not involve any acts of worship and so I said okay, thinking that if I were to find out upon arrival that it was otherwise, I will excuse myself.  It turned out to be a lunch meeting for them to discuss some pressing administration issues.  And there I was, someone who sits in an executive committee meeting in a church sitting in an administrative meeting in a temple!  It is just too amusing for me.

But there were a lot of things that were interesting as well.  The temple has devotees donating houses to them and they have at least 40 houses to their name.  And the administrative function of the temple was too efficient for words which was outright amazing: the secretary produced a letter for reference that dates back to the year 1949!  My eyes nearly popped out when I saw the date on the letter - I can't even locate my September bills!

And what do you think will happen when I go to a Sikh temple for a wedding ceremony tomorrow morning?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A doubting session

I had a doubting session today that I had to come face to face with God. And what came to mind was God counting Abraham’s faith as righteousness.

(I have reproduced the passage here from ESV, with the all the verse-numbers removed – see if you find it a better read.)

Genesis 15 (ESV)
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. And he said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess." But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."

Here we find God giving Abraham a vision that He will be his shield and will greatly reward him. What struck me was the word “but” which I am not sure if it is in the Hebrew text. It is present in the ESV, NIV, NLT and NRSV translation, absent in the NASB.

Whatever the case, does it show Abraham’s doubts? In view of the questions he posed God about his progeny, I’d say he had his doubts. But he “believed God and God counted to him as righteousness.”
But that was not the end, he continued with his questions for confirmation on the promise of land: “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” And what follows was a series of acts God instructed Abraham to do, and then God made a covenant with him, promising that to his offspring He will give the land.

What I realized is that Abraham did not stop doubting. Judging from the things that he did after, for example his decision with Hagar, their Egyptian servant, he was far from firm in his belief. But yet God was with him every step of the way. He may not have accepted Abraham’s actions but because God made a covenant with him, God stayed and continue to lead him through, in spite of his faults.

In the same way, we too will have our doubting sessions. But our covenant is a covenant by blood with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We may make mistakes in our decisions because of our lack of belief but we are still in the covenant with Him, as long as we believe, and with that, He will listen to us and lead us to live a godly life.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In a different culture

I had some time to spare today before Grace Notes rehearsal at 7.30pm and so I thought I'd pay a visit to a saree store. My colleague will be getting married this weekend and it would be nice and different, for me, to turn up in a saree, except that I do not have one nor have I worn one before.

So off to the store I went and I had such a great time, albeit alone. The store was full of saree cloths for sale as well as ready made Indian and Punjabi suits. I walked back and forth the shop many times looking at the various designs. The storekeeper brought out so many for me to view that if I did not stop him, he could have brought down the entire store.

I finally settled on this one. I love the colour combination of light green and navy blue, and especially the flower and scroll design.

We live in a multi-faceted country with various beliefs and customs that it is a challenge I find sometimes to live a faithful Christian life whilst still maintaining good relations with friends of different faiths. The wedding ceremony will be held in a Sikh temple this Saturday and all ladies are required to cover their heads. I was not too sure what the act would denote and initially I wasn't too comfortable with it.

What I did was this: I went to her and explained to her that being a Christian, there are some things I can and cannot do. I asked her to explain to me the purpose of the head covering. She told me that it was in respect of their holy word that is displayed at the front of the temple. I thanked her and told her I will do as required.

I reasoned that in covering myself with my own shawl, I am not performing any acts of worship but an act of tolerance and respect to the beliefs of my friend. In fact, I am looking forward to attend the wedding ceremony this Saturday to see the significance of the marriage ceremony to the Sikh belief, and what each act undertaken would mean.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paul Washer on Prayer

I was at Faith by Hearing and downloaded Paul Washer's sermon on Prayer. According to Todd from Faith by Hearing, "Paul Washer’s message on prayer is one of the best, and most convicting and re-orienting, that I’ve ever heard."

I have been searching about what I deem the mystery of prayer for awhile now and I looked forward to hearing what Washer has to say.

Todd further commented that, "One always comes to the question, 'Why did Jesus pray if he was God?' The answer we usually get is that Jesus needed to pray because he needed to depend upon God in his humanity, and because he had so much to accomplish. Rubbish, according to Washer. Jesus prayed because he loved to be in communion with God the Father. Need didn’t drive him to prayer, love did. We are commanded to the same love, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart…' "

This was enough to get me interested.

But upon hearing Washer, I am not so sure now - I have many questions, as usual ... and I am not sure if I agree with everything he said ... or am I just being unwilling to change? I need to listen to it again and re-evaluate my thoughts.


Monday, February 09, 2009


Rev Dr Chew spoke in our church yesterday from Hebrews 3:1-19 on Christ’s faithfulness and our faithfulness.

He placed the passage into context as follows:
Heb 1:1-14 The Deity of Christ – God’s self revelation prophesied in the past now revealed in Jesus
Heb 2:1-4 First warning to be faithful to Christ as the Son of God
Heb 2:5-18 The Humanity and Suffering of Jesus – God’s High Priest atoning for us
Heb 3:1-19 Second warning to be faithful to Christ as the Suffering Son of God

Faithfulness is rather cheap these days. One can change his faithfulness and loyalty quite easily as long as the price is right. We need to guard our hearts against unfaithfulness.

We need to be faithful Christians, carrying the following marks that exuberate from the inside to the outside:
1. Live joyfully in Christ – celebrating life by faith through faithful worship
2. Pursue diligently intimacy with Christ – living life by grace through the faithful study of Scripture
3. Witness Christ obediently – doing God’s work in obedience through faithful serving
4. Encourage one another daily to be faithful in Christ

I am being reminded that whatever I do for God, it must be done wholeheartedly. Anything done halfheartedly should not be done in the first place.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Growing in abundance!

I posted on 18 August 08 that I bought an aloe vera plant. I don't have a green thumb but I wanted to try growing it anyway.

I took this picture when we first got it.

Look at it now!

Had I not taken the pictures, I wouldnt' have realised how much it has grown.

In comparison to our relationship with God, I wonder how can we measure how much we have grown?


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Zeitgeist #2

I would like to take this time to take a snapshot of my bloggerland's zeitgeist - the interesting, the moving and one utterly frustrating.

Potential Knows No Boundaries
First and foremost, DugALug is back with a post 2 years after his last annoucement of sabbatical on Feb 14, 2007. He shares his wife's article which was written for a book titled "Children Have Strokes Too!". It is a story about their daughter, Elizabeth whose potential truly knows no boundaries.

The Four Kataks in the Silver State
This is the frustrating one - Reb posted about the current political turmoil in our country. One of our Malaysian state had its rug pulled out from under them, where four assemblymen from the Perakian government defected to Barisan Nasional and tipped the balance of power. The sultan of the state has, in the people's opinion unwisely decided for transfer of power rather than calling for snap elections.

The Sunday School Answer is Still the Best One
BK's post title caught my attention. He tells about how he got ambushed by a bullet-train-speed bombardment of questions after questions of the apologetic nature and how he finally tackled them the Sunday School way, so to speak.

Some "Silly" Quotes
Kar Yong quoted some seminary quotes you might find amusing. Here's one: If you are busy, you have bad time management. Hmm ... do you agree? In this current economical situation, being busy is in fact good news, or we'll be out of a job.

Value Parenting
Sze Zeng has something poignant to say about why we parents desire our kids to grow up to be doctors, engineers and lawyers. He asked a very thought-provoking question: how many contemporary parents want their children to grow up as doctors and lawyers because we aspire our children to help the sick and fight for justice?

Pastoral Misconduct
Kansas Bob posted a Christianity Today Poll on views about pastoral misconduct including sexual misconduct. Have you had a member of your church's pastoral staff leave because of misconduct? Should a pastor guilty of sexual misconduct ever be restored to pastoral ministry? What would be your view? The poll results are staggering.

Missing Pastors in Rural USA
Alex brought our attention to the fact that rural churches in the USA is grappling with a pastor exodus. Rural pastors are disappearing even faster than the general population, leaving graying congregations helpless in their time of greatest need.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Theological Candyland

You might have noticed I have just added a list on the right panel - Theological Candyland - a term I borrowed from Faith by Hearing, where I have been updating my collection of audio mp3s. I am currently listening to Gordon D. Fee's Reading and Studying the Bible for Life.

There are just so much resources out there - we just need to know where to find the good ones. I have listed several sites that provide excellent resources in expository preaching, sermons and theology & biblical studies.

Hope you will find gems as well and make full use of them to strengthen your foundation and relationship with the LORD.



Thursday, February 05, 2009

Afflicted but not crushed

I picked up 2 Cor 4 as my reading this morning. This passage is popular, particularly with verses like “we are afflicted … but not crushed … struck down but not destroyed” and “so we do not lose heart, though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”.

But as I sentence-diagram it, in my own minimal standards of diagramming anyway, I saw a more complete message: the reason for Christian affliction is the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In not compartmentalising our lives, and in line with what Wesley taught, that we are fully and wholly a Christian, there is no one who is “almost a Christian”, we live our lives in all that we do, for the sake of Christ. In all that we do, we live to show and tell His word and His truth to the people around us. We need to live our lives right in Christ.

As such, our lives will cause us great strife. It will be like we are being given over to death (v.11).

I summarise the chapter as follows:

v.1 We have this ministry to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

v.2-7 But even though we may do it commendably and truthfully, it will be veiled to some because of their blindness, but we do it still because we proclaim Christ and not ourselves.

v.8-9 Because of this ministry, we will be afflicted in every way, but we will not be forsaken or destroyed.

v.10-15 We are afflicted because we carry in the body the death of Jesus so that His life may be manifested and more people will be brought into His presence. (Notice the singular "body" - I believe it refers to the Church, i.e. we carry the death of Jesus as a body of Christ, the Church. So we suffer and endure as one Church, not as individuals. What a glorious truth!)

v.16-18 So do not lose heart. Though the affliction is harsh, it is momentary and slight compared to the eternal weight of glory that is to come. (Notice the play of words - momentary vs. eternal, slight vs. weight of glory)

It is an extremely summarised one but I believed it carries the message that we have Christ in us and we are to live Christ in us, in whatever we do, in whatever state we are and wherever we are. As such, we will suffer hardship, and when we do, in whatever form it takes, it is because we are living the ministry of the gospel of Christ.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

Take heart, my friends.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I have gone bonkers

I should have known what I am getting myself into when I bought the DSLR but I am having fun learning the more technical stuff as well. Actually I wouldn’t have minded just taking shots without digging into it and get it somehow through trial and error. But it would be hard to follow a conversation if I find myself in the midst of photography aficionados, which I did.

So I got down to it and started reading.

And what do you know, I learnt quite a bit. I got a better idea what an aperture is and for the first time understood why is there a reverse ratio. I found out what APS-Cs are in comparison with full frame digital SLRs. I figured out the connection between focal length and crop factor or the focal length multiplier. But what really appealed to me was the topic of composition: stuff like the Rule of Thirds, the Rules of Odds, the Rule of Space and the Golden Ratio.

Had I time travel back a few years ago and read what I have just written, I would have thought I have gone bonkers.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Cast your burden on the LORD
and he will sustain you ...

... he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

I have already broken my so-called resolution to read/study the minor prophets every day. I should have stuck to my guns like I had all these years and not made any.

But I am trying to read a psalm a day.

The psalm that accompanied me today was Psalm 55.

Psalm 55 (ESV)
To the Choirmasters: with stringed instruments.
A Maskil of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer,
O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2 Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
3 because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.

4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7 yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah

8 I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest."
9 Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11 ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace.

12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me-
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me-
then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God's house we walked in the throng.

15 Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
16 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change and do not fear God.

20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Photo (c) 2006 Nick Olsen

Monday, February 02, 2009

The mind in the day and the mind in the night

I seem to think differently in the night and in the day. Most of the times, I overturn in the day the decisions I made during long sleepless nights.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

A cryptic psalm

I wanted to read a psalm today and the number 39 just popped into my head. I played along and I read it but ended up puzzled.

Psalm 39 was one of the most cryptic psalm I have read and reading it again and again trying to make some sense out of it did not help.

Isn't it quite like life we have here? Try as we might to make some sense out of the madness we are in, we ended up even more perplexed.
Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.
~ Psalm 39:5

Turn Your gaze away from me,
that I may smile again
Before I depart and am no more.
~ Psalm 39:13