Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gifts Differing, by Isabel Brigg Myers

Gifts Differing, Understanding Personality Type
Isabel Briggs Myers

I have just collected Isabel Brigg Myers book, Gifts Differing 2 weeks ago from Borders, after having ordered it on April 27th (since it was out of stock and yes, it took them so long), and started reading it today.

I am amused to discover that she named her book after this passage from Romans:

Romans 12:4-6
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.

I am no longer dichotomising my life into the spiritual side vs. the secular side, like I used in the good ol' days -- I am looking at my life now on the whole, i.e. building towards one godly life in Christ, but I still could not escape from thinking how I can delve into the "more secular" Human Personality in a way that honours God.

But having known that Myers named her book after Paul's teaching, I am a wee bit more comfortable. I have the Bereans in mind, obviously: to "examine the Scriptures every day" to see if what I am learning and taking in is in line with God and His holiness.

I have asked Ann to be my guard, and she reminded me to be careful because the "cross-over" line is indeed very, very blurred. I shall do it prayerfully.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Good apples and good oranges

I have been chatting with Daniel on and off over the email on Personality Typing since April. We finally met up today, and he gave me a good introduction on the subject to start me of on my quest to be a type practitioner. There is still so much to learn but I think I am getting somewhere, I hope.

Human personality is such an intriguing thing. God made us different and it amazes me how different we are when compare ourselves with each other - what excites us, how we deal with information, how we decide on issues and how we order our lives. However, whatever our personalities, our core principles still makes us who we are.

You may be an apple and I an orange, but we both better have what's inside to make us a good apple and a good orange.

Photo (c) 2005 John Moore

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Cherubim

Terence asked me today if I have been doing much photography lately and I have to sadly say no. But I have taken this photo quite recently and I loved it. You would not believe where I got the shot and I am not going to tell either :P

Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

There was a home fellowship in Chee Seng's place today and I baked a Cream Cheese Pound Cake to bring along. I have reproduced the recipe from AllRecipes.com as below but substituted the flour with cake flour and it was velvety and absolutely yummy!

Cream Cheese Pound Cake III
from AllRecipes.com (submitted by Nanci)
"This is a heavy, dense, extremely good pound cake."

224 g cream cheese
340 g butter
600 g white sugar
6 eggs
375 g all-purpose flour
5 ml vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add eggs two at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour all at once and mix in. Add vanilla. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check for doneness at 1 hour. A toothpick inserted into center of cake will come out clean.

Photo: I did not take a photo of my cake but got the picture from here, it looked exactly like this ;)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Are we too complacent?

In John 12:31-32, Jesus said, "Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

All people will be drawn to Christ's death on the cross -- it is our duty to tell others of the work Christ on the cross. Are we too complacent, too comfortable? Is the church too complacent, too comfortable?

Ezekiel 33:1-6 (The Message)
God's Message came to me: "Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, 'If I bring war on this land and the people take one of their citizens and make him their watchman, and if the watchman sees war coming and blows the trumpet, warning the people, then if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet and ignores it and war comes and takes him off, it's his own fault. He heard the alarm, he ignored it—it's his own fault. If he had listened, he would have saved his life. "'But if the watchman sees war coming and doesn't blow the trumpet, warning the people, and war comes and takes anyone off, I'll hold the watchman responsible for the bloodshed of any unwarned sinner.'


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Have you considered my servant Job?

I started listening to Mark Dever's sermons on the book of Job beginning with the first one on Job's Trials (Job 1-2). It was good - it gave me a good introduction to the book of Job, a book I am really grappling with.

I was trying to figure out the obvious - God's involvement in the suffering of Job.

From Mark Dever's sermon, I began to look more closely at what God said to Satan from 1:6-12.

Job 1:6-12
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

When we read this section of Scripture, we are automatically drawn to the acute sufferings of Job -- he not only lost all his wealth, he lost all his children, and along with it, his health, he became an outcast. We begin to ask, "How can this be?" "How can God do this to him?"

It all has to do with this question God asked Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"

In the assembly of the heavenlies, Satan was also there and when he told God that he was roaming here and there on earth, God asked Satan if he had considered Job. It is as if Satan is round and about observing the creation of God, and as a result God wanted to show him the goodness of His creation. He proudly presented Job to Satan as a witness to that: "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil".

Satan's response was sheer insolence. The Message captured it pretty well: "So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can't lose! But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He'd curse you right to your face, that's what." (emphasis mine)

Satan did not want to believe the goodness of God and his creation. He insisted that God had failed in his creation of the world and of mankind -- to Satan, there is nothing good in what God had created, and he challenged God: He'd curse you right to your face if you just let him suffer.

And God's reply was: go ahead. He was confident in Job to be a good witness for Him. And God was right. Job passed the test - he proved that God is indeed good in his creation work by demonstrating that his allegiance is to God alone and not his family, wealth or health. Though they are important, God alone is his reason for everything.

So, coming back to my grappling with "God's involvement in Job's sufferings", I can see now that I have viewed it from the wrong angle. I should not be asking about God causing Job to suffer but instead I should be asking about Job's contribution to the ultimate will of God. God has shown not only to Satan, but to the whole universe that He has done good in the creation of the world and the people in it, that He is real in the lives of His creation. Through Job, it is clear that there is a relationship, and there is a binding between God and man.

Therefore, when we suffer, we must ask ourselves of our witness for God -- how are we to show to the world who God is through our suffering. In a sense, we are being considered by God to be a witness to the world that He is indeed God, who cares and who loves.

I am still grappling with this, but I am beginning to see glimpses of the truth. In that, this is a fallen world. We live in a broken society, suffering is everywhere -- there is no running away from it. It is how we undergo the suffering that is going to either bear good or bad witness for God. We must make others ask, "How do they do it? How can they handle it with so much grace? I can see their pain, but yet with so much peace. How can that be possible?"

We have this duty to show them Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, the Lord of love, the prince of peace and source of hope. He is the reason why we can bear the pain and suffering of this world.

It is because Jesus is the only other person who suffered a great deal more than Job, a whole lot more than us. He knows and He understands our pain, He knows because He bore it.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Word of God in all simplicity

But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight our deviation may be. It is not our judgment of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God. Here alone lies the promise of God's faithfulness and help. It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Ever since I delved into the study of the Word of God, I have become more sensitive to how it should be read, heard, handled and obeyed. But at this stage, from what I have seen and heard, it saddens my heart. The Word of God is seldom read, seldom preached (most of what is preached is the preacher's anecdote for the day, not the exposition of Scriptures), seldom studied, seldom discussed and as a result seldom obeyed.

But first, a very important question need to be asked: what is the Word of God? Most people these days will say that it also include what the Spirit "tells" them or impress upon them, which if you think about it, could be the reason why the bible is seldom read, preached, studied and obeyed. They are convinced that the Spirit "speaks" to them anyway.

But in this case, wouldn't it will be extrabiblical?

I agree that the Spirit do "speak" to us and "impress" upon us the truth, but I firmly believe that the Spirit reminds and teach us based on what we have learned from God's revelation, that is what is written in the Bible. The Spirit does not add to it, he helps us understand it. So, we still come back to the hearing, reading, preaching, studying and obedience of the written Scriptures, in all its depth and simplicity.

We must hear it read everyday.

We must read it for ourselves everyday.

We must study it.

Preachers must preach the Word, not just give anecdotes or may I say, not even what he thinks the Spirit impressed upon his heart. Preach the Word, it is already given to us.

And from what we hear, learn, study and preach, then we know what and how to obey.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tee Module: Ministry in a Pluralistic Context

I am taking a break from TEE but the module running in July has caught my interest. It is entitled Ministry in a Pluralistic Context, The Church Between the Temple and the Mosque. The sessions I have done are mainly those on biblical studies, Christian theology and a little on homiletics. It is about time I delve into the subject of missiology.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Online Prayer List: Echo Prayer Manager

Melissa had once chided me for being gadgetry in my discipline of prayer, when I told her that I used my phone calendar to remind me of my prayer list for the week. I am guilty of it. But wouldn't it be good to use whatever tools there are to help us--especially people like me who cannot keep a fixed schedule--to improve our practice of the Christian discipline.

I found this today: The Echo Prayer Manager

From its homepage, "pure and simple, Echo is a tool to help you pray more diligently." And that is what I need. With Echo, I can created a prayer list, set times throughout the week for reminders, and Echo will email me one prayer at a time from the list I prepared.

I am still trying it out and since I check my email almost every hour with my iPhone, I hope to spend more time to be faithful in prayer, and to set myself to stand before God in the gap on the behalf of the land (Eze 22:30).


Sunday, June 21, 2009

O Nata Lux by Thomas Tallis

Now I have come to love this beautiful work by Thomas Tallis.

O Nata Lux de lumine
Jesu redemptor saeculi
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes preces que sumere

Qui carne quondam 'contegi
Dignatus est pro perditis
Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis

(English Translation)
O Light born of light
Jesus, redeemer of the world
Mercifully deem us worthy
To offer prayers and praise

You who once deigned to become flesh
For the sake of your lost ones
Grant that we become members
Of your holy Body

My dream now is to one day sing this song in a choir.

I reproduced this from yesterday's programme sheet:
"The intimate and prayerful text of O Nata Lux comes from an anonymous hymn from the 10th century. The hymn, in its full seven-verse glory, served the Office of Lauds during the morning of the Feast of the Transfiguration. Tallis chose to set only two verses from the hymn in his single through-composed work. He did retain, however, the mystical fervour of the feast. The Transfiguration recalls the moment in the Gospels when the disciples suddenly receive a vision of Jesus, shimmering with light and robed in angelic garb, conversing with the similarly radiant figures of Moses and Elijah. The fragment of hymn text in Tallis set opens with devoted invocation, and closes with the believer's prayer to be one with Christ's "blessed body" as seen in that vision. True to the text's mystical intensity, Tallis creates a passionate and harmonically vibrant setting. Superficially, O Nata Lux is mostly homophonic and chordal; the final passage repeats twice, a common Tallis gambit. Yet the harmonic language bristles with ‘cross relations’, rapid juxtapositions of chromatically opposite notes such as F and F sharp. The very last cadence of the motet presents the most famous and pungent dissonance in all English music—one voice moves to F sharp right at the same time a second sings F natural; the second then moves to E flat, another shocking dissonance with the bass D. The mystical union with Christ’s body is not painless!"

The last section is absolutely profound--it suggests the quality of the language of music. In a sense, there are notes that cannot go together and yet if properly thought out and composed, it sounds beautiful. In the same way, we in our own ugliness cannot abide with Christ and yet we are called to, and when we avail ourselves to the Lord, we become one in the body of Christ, beautiful in the sight of God.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

VerSeS: A Journey Through the Ages

Alex Chai, my good friend, took part in a classical presentation by VerSes Music Ensembles, singing tenor. A few of us went to support him as well as to satiate our senses with their selection of wonderful and beautiful works of scared music. I love classical music and I enjoyed their ensemble of the following:

O Nata Lux
Thomas Tallis (1505-85)

Zion hört die Wächter singen, from Cantata No.140
Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No.6 Prelude
Arioso, from Cantata No.156
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Laudamus Te, from Gloria in D
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul in Hell
Rejoice! O Daughter of Zion
from The Messiah
George Frederic Handel (1685-1759)

Rollend in Schäumenden Wellen, from The Creation
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Benedictus Qui Venit, from Mass in C Minor
Alleluia, from Exsultate, Jubilate
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Ave Maria
Kyrie, from Mass in G
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Panis Angelicus
César Franck (1822-1890)

Cantique de Jean Racine, Op 11
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Magnificat Anima Mea, from Magnificat
John Rutter (1945-)


Friday, June 19, 2009

Alas, a break in my blog (not that I wanted to, it just happened)

(Something happened to text of this post -- it disappeared. Thankfully, I had it in my RSS feeds reader and had it reproduced here. Technology ... it bites sometimes.)

There is now a real break in my blog, and one whole week to boot. I have been undergoing a period of dunno-what-to-call-it: writer's block?

There is much to write but (1) I can't get anything on paper, metaphorically speaking, (2) there is just too much happening in life at this point of time to actually sit down to write about it and (3) I am riding on a high note emotionally speaking and thus, my writing suffers; so can I deduce now that depression feeds my writing?

Whatever it is, I certainly hope I can get back to blogging and catch up on blogs of my now-became-very-good-friends-through-the-activity-called-blogging friends.

I'm back!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Judas made it easier

For Bible Study today, we started John 12, and we discussed the first 11 verses. What is interesting to me was this - John gave an insight into Judas Iscariot that the other Gospels did not.

When Mary anointed Jesus with a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, Judas was not happy and said, "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (v.5)

John then provided more information for the benefit of the readers of the Gospel, that "he said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it." (v.6)

What I gather from it is this:

1. Judas' betrayal was not at the spur of the moment. It would have been the result of gradually falling into temptation until it was too late. Most if not all the disciples were Jesus' disciples with their own purpose and reasons. Each of them came with an agenda, albeit selfish or noble. But Jesus taught them, and led them. However, all of them misunderstood Jesus most of the time. Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him. Judas gave up, Peter stuck on and was soon reinstated and restored by Jesus.

2. Many people would conclude that God predestined Judas to hell. In that, if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, Jesus would not have been crucified and salvation work will not be complete. Therefore, someone had to be the victim. However, if we look at the whole picture, wouldn't you agree that even if Judas had not betrayed him, the Jews would have arrested and killed Jesus nonetheless - "So from that day on they made plans to put him to death." (11:53) Judas only made it easier.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goodbye ... Hello ...

We've been toying with the idea between fixing or selling our Honda Accord, which we have been owning for almost 10 years. It's a good car but it is showing signs of old age of late. SH has suggested many times that we replace it but at the thought of incurring additional expenses on a new buy, I kept procrastinating it. But finally I relented because SH convinced me that the longer we hold on to it, the longer we will be prolonging the problem.

So, goodbye Accord ...

To replace it, we've thought of various models amongst which were the Isuzu DMax. I like huge cars but the road tax is a killer and off it dropped from our list. We never quite like Toyotas and so we finally decided on the Honda City: it's within our budget and most importantly, the newer look is 10,000 times an improvement from the first generation City. So, off I went to the Honda showroom,

... and hello Jazz


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I am downright cognitive, so?

One day, about a year ago, someone told me that I am a cognitive person. I am not too sure what was implied, whether what I have is all in the head and less in the heart or just the fact that I think through things a lot (which a lot of my good friends already know). Later, someone else told me that I need to transfer what I have in the head to the heart. Again, I took it in constructively because the words were given to me in a very positive manner.

It all comes back to me now in light of the Basic Life Principles seminar which is happening in town. Aside from the fact that I would not be able to make it, I began checking them out:

Institute in Basic Life Principles
Basic Life Principles – seven universal principles in life
Exegeting Bill Gothard – three Christian apologists evaluate the conference speaker's life and teachings

I have this belief that we learn things differently, and I have a strong preference to the more cognitive way. I do not like to be told what to do. I prefer to work it out, through prayer and study of Scriptures, and then do. Which is why self help books and seminars like that of the above do not appeal to me.

I'd rather go re-sit Elementary Greek, which some of my friends are doing now.

But, I still ask the question: am I missing something here?


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I am starving

Have you ever experienced a time when you realised you have not eaten in awhile and you suddenly have pangs of hunger? I am sure we all have such experience. I am at this juncture now. I am starving. My blog posts attest to that fact.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Movie: Night at the Museum 2

Calvin is still having his school holidays and so I took an extra day off today to spend it with him. He wanted to Night at the Museum 2, and off we went to the cinema. The movie was quite hilarious. But that’s about all I can say about it.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Family Camp Day 3

We got news that Addison has been discharged from the hospital and Aunt Rowena is better now. Praise the Lord!


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Family Camp Day 2

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to a cottage industry producing scrumptious and yummy Kueh Nyonya.

Upon entry, I did not want to come off being intrusive lugging a huge camera, and so I asked permission if I can take pictures. This adorable lady said to me, "Eh sai ... boh sui la" (Can ... but I am not pretty though).

This is where the Kueh Nyonya are prepared.

And this is where the varieties of finished Kueh Nyonya are displayed for sale. This is also where visitors can sit for a cup of tea, and chat with the locals there.

Siong Huong, utterly delighted with the treasures she found.

After the Kueh Nyonya visit and purchase, we stopped by this food stall for some more Nyonya delicacies: popiah, pie tee and cendol. They were delicious!

We are back, with Nyonya goodies! From left: Choon Neo, Siong Huong and Ann.

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Friday, June 05, 2009

Family Camp Day 1

We are off to Melaka today for our Church Family Camp. The camp did not quite begin on a good note because a handful of people could not make it including the family of one of our youths, when he was hospitalised due to dengue and another senior member who was down with food poisoning. We pray and depend on the Lord that they will get well soon.

Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Last minute shopping

We will be off to our Family Camp tomorrow and I still have some last minute shopping to do.

Photo (c) 2005 Jose Torres

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Humble yourselves, therefore

1 Peter 5:5-11
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.