Saturday, September 26, 2009

It also takes a village to kill a child

Reading this piece of news in BBC stirs my anger. Bullying is evil and it must be stopped, be it bullying in school where my son suffers from or workplace bullying where I have seen and experienced as well.

How can it be stopped. I always wonder what causes a person to bully. Their own upbringing? Their own lack of love? What do you think? Why do you think people bully? It is rampant in school and in the workplace too. Wikipedia has an excellent piece on workplace bullying here.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Committed Heavenly Father

I was listening to Dick Lucas' sermon on Psalm 23 today on my way back from work and it was an encouragement. In his own words, it is good to be reacquainted with an old friend. And here is Psalm 23 in the good ol' king's English:

Psalm 23 (KJV)
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Dick Lucas emphasised that even though this psalm is quite an individualistic one, it focuses on God - He is the shepherd, He makes, He leads, He restores, He leads, He prepares, He anoints.

Moreover, it makes less sense to refer to "committed sheep" than to the "committed shepherd" -- in the same way, it is less of "committed Christians" (though it is good that we are) and more of our "committed Father". It is not amazing that in our troubled and mixed up lives that our Heavenly Father is ever so committed to shepherd us, to lead us and to guide us. We would no doubt still face our valley of shadow of death and be in the very presence of our enemies - there will be storms and tempest in our lives - but God will be there for us. His rod and his staff, they will comfort us.

He will cover us. In Hebrew, the psalm begins with "The Lord" and ends with "the Lord", i.e. The Lord is my shepherd ... I will dwell forever in the house of the Lord. We begin and end everything in the Lord. Isn't that lovely, even in the midst of ugliness of this fallen world.

If you are interested in Dick Lucas' sermon, check it out here.

Photo (c) 2007 Reza Vaziri

Monday, September 21, 2009

Feel like a grasshopper?

I was reading Deuteronomy in my daily bible reading and remembered this account in the book of Numbers, where God told Moses to send out men to explore the land of Canaan, which He is giving to the Israelites. I do wonder why God did what He did because 10 out of the 12 men came back in jitters.

Numbers 13 (NLT)
The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.” So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran. These were the tribes and the names of their leaders:

Tribe — Leader
Reuben — Shammua son of Zaccur
Simeon — Shaphat son of Hori
Judah — Caleb son of Jephunneh
Issachar — Igal son of Joseph
Ephraim — Hoshea son of Nun
Benjamin — Palti son of Raphu
Zebulun — Gaddiel son of Sodi
Manasseh son of Joseph — Gaddi son of Susi
Dan — Ammiel son of Gemalli
Asher — Sethur son of Michael
Naphtali — Nahbi son of Vophsi
Gad — Geuel son of Maki

These are the names of the men Moses sent out to explore the land. (Moses called Hoshea son of Nun by the name Joshua.)

Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)

So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—all descendants of Anak—lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.) When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there.

The Scouting Report
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

We, on this side of time, reading Numbers 13 would automatically look down on the cowardice of the 10 and commend the strength and faith of Caleb and Joshua. But I am thinking if I were in their shoes, I may end up feeling like a grasshopper too.

I don't feel very strong or confident most of the time in what I do. I usually tread carefully and mindfully ensuring that I have taken as much as I can into account before I act or make any decisions. So if you were to put me in the same position as the tribe leaders, I would have freaked out as well because of the apparent sheer strength of the people there.

In the same way, how often have we forgotten the omnipotence of God? How often have we felt so small in situations that we are placed in that we cower in fear? I grant that God sometimes places us in difficult situations to mature and build up our faith, but He does not do it beyond what we can bear (1 Cor 10:13) and so we can be rest-assured that we will be safe in His hands. Whatever happens, we are safe in the refuge of the shadow of His wing (Psa 57:1).

We are no grasshoppers!

We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, and whatever happens, we are to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Pet 2:9).

Photo (c) 2007 allergyfre

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The right to complain in the Internet

I am not sure if I have blogged about HR-related issues before and so this might be the first. This news article was published and I think is it in our interest to be mindful of what we do in the Internet.

I have seen people's gripes about work and people in the workplace quite often and have read numerous articles about people getting dismissed or not hired because of the things they say online.

This recent article in the Business Week was about a group of prison guards dubbed the Facebook Five who has gone to an Australian court to fight for the right to complain about their boss on the Internet.

For more, read it here.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Grace Notes in Concert with the Petaling Jaya Youth Chamber Orchestra

Jen May and I did this showcase slide together. I first had it all in the center but Jen May gave it a nice effect by rearranging it.

Some of the cellist in the orchestra. Brings me back to the time when I was one of them. Playing in the orchestra is an amazing experience.

Joanna conducting both the choral group and the orchestra - a tough job definitely. I am amazed at her skills in being able to handle so many things at one go.

Lee Mei's solo piece - Light of a Million Mornings ... wonderful, beautiful song. I get goose bumps singing it.

Sin Yun looking great in her gown intently singing her alto part in the second round of songs.

This is an excellent shot - too bad someone was meddling with the powerpoint settings.

The boys (minus one tenor, my dad): Alex, Heng Yew, Boon Ho and Paul. All made up and face painted in face powder, rouge and lip gloss! Aren't they having so much fun?

Part of the Grace Notes team:
(Front L-R) Christine, Wei Chiew, Sin Yun, Lee Mei
(Crouched L-R) Paul, Grace, Jen May
(Back L-R) Tuck Lee, Alicia, Pearlie, Joanna, Heng Yew, Alex, Paul

Grace Notes
(Seated L-R) Richard (tenor), Joyce (1st soprano) - my mom and dad!
(Crouched) Alicia (2nd soprano)
(Back L-R) Janice (2nd sop), Cheng Gaik (2nd sop), Tuck Lee (alto), Keng Mooi (2nd sop), Wei Chiew (1st sop), Grace (alto), Pearlie (1st sop), Christine (2nd sop), Joanna (conductor), Lee Mei (alto), Paul (tenor), Sin Yun (alto), May Wan (pianist), Alex (tenor), Boon Ho (tenor), Heng Yew (tenor)

Grace Notes and the PJ Youth Chamber Orchestra

Photos (c) 2009 Ng Boon Ho & Wong Jen May

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I will not wither

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

(Psalm 1:3 NASB)

This verse in the psalms encouraged me tremendously this morning. I have just started a new job - as much as I am enjoying myself, I am pretty much exhausted ... and I am only at it about 3 weeks now.

Which was why when I read Psalm 1 and verse 3, it lifted my spirit. I am being assured that I am like a tree planted by streams of water, I will yield fruits in season, I will not wither and in whatever I do, I will prosper (with the "whatever I do" and everything else in verse 3 dependent on verse 1 and 2 of course).

I thank the Lord for his goodness.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No longer a daily

I have been contemplating it for a long time and as of today, I have finally made up my mind that Pearlie Gates will no longer be a daily.

Two reasons: one being lack of resources (i.e. I have less time now that I have taken up a new job! But I am actually enjoying myself ... so far ...) and two, lack of content (i.e. I am running out of profound things to say, having less time to mull and think and I do not want to resort to reducing Pearlie Gates into a today-I-did-this-and-today-I-did-that. That would be boring).

It is sad because I have been blogging almost daily since March 2006 and it is a shame that I have to do this now. However, Pearlie Gates will still be here. I will be blogging when I feel I have something of worth to say, hoping that I will soon settle down and get back to thinking and mulling and blogging again.

Photo (c) 2009 Gabriella Fabbri

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grace Notes in Concert #2

We are more familiarised with what to do and expect, but we still had to be there at 1.30pm today. However, the day was less stressful as we already have most of the things in place. We had our warm-ups and rehearsals, and spent rest of the time fellowshipping with one another, which was wonderful.

This evening's concert was to raise funds for the KL Chinese Methodist Cantonese Church's mission fund. This is a larger church and the attendance was bigger and I heard they raised quite a fair bit.

We were told that our make-up was too light the night before and so this time, Bee Yeow and Chee Ling went for the kill. We all ended up seriously looking like birds! But apparently we look almost normal on stage with the bright lights. We shall see when the photographs are ready.

I felt we more confident this round and I think we did pretty well. And I enjoyed myself tremendously.

All praise and thanks to our Almighty God and Lord Jesus Christ, the reason of our being, the author and perfecter of our faith!


p/s photos coming up soon - when I get them from Boon Ho :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grace Notes in Concert #1

I do not have any pictures to show for now as I did not bring my camera along, since it will be difficult for me to manage so many things at one time.

We had the event in Bukit Jalil Golf and Country Club and since we did not have any rehearsals held there before, we were required to be there as early as 12.30pm. It was a mad rush for most of us, to get all things done for the weekend in just one morning to make the 12.30 cut. Not all of us were on time.

Today's concert was to help Shah Alam Chinese Methodist Church raise their building fund. They are currently worshiping in the third floor of a shop lot and it is most inconducive. Their church entrance is just a side door of the shop lot, with a Chinese altar at the side belonging to the car mechanic shop that is operating on the ground floor. We do hope they will manage to raise the funds needed to build their church in a piece of land which they have successfully acquired.

The day was long and there was so much to do, warm-ups and rehearsals and there were so many things to get used to. The lightings, the stage, the microphones, the sound, the feel. And worst of all the dim and uncomfortable changing rooms we were given. The boys' room were much better lighted and ventilated but the girls' room were horrendous. But we had to make do - there we made it into our wardrobe, did our hair-styling and cosmetics. We had Chee Ling sponsor her In-2-It cosmetic product. Thank you, Chee Ling!!! Chee Ling and Bee Yeow were our make-up artist. Thank you, Chee Ling, Bee Yeow!!! Jen May inadvertently became our hair-stylist. That was unexpected. We did not know she was so talented! Thank you, Jen May!!!

Soon it was time. The guests arrived and they started with dinner. It took them quite awhile and we started a bit late but started we did. Our concert was divided into three parts: first, a rendition of 6 songs, then the orchestra performed 5 pieces with the piano, then an intermission followed by the final rendition of 5 songs and a benediction.

I enjoyed performing in the first part so much but made mistakes in the final part. I had three lines of narration to do in one of the songs and I got too excited I made mistakes. Arrrgghh!!!

But we were all happy but tired. One more night to go!


Friday, September 11, 2009

There will be new songs

Days are at the moment
Filled with only two things
The work just began
The songs will soon end
But there will be new songs
To sing


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Grace Notes in Concert
We Will Keep Our Faith Alive

Grace Notes will be performing this coming weekend. We have been working so very hard to ensure that we are almost tip top in our presentation, though I still think we have so much space for improvement. But I believe it will be our best. We have been working on it for the past one year and have enjoyed the experience so much. It is my prayer that hearts will be touched by the love and grace of God through the songs we sing.

One of the most heartfelt song for me is this one entitled, We Will Keep Our Faith Alive. The chorus goes:
And we will keep our faith alive
God will always be our guide
Through the darkness night
We will see God's light
We will keep our faith alive

No matter what happens in our lives, it is our commitment to the Lord that our faith will be kept alive in Him.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Psalm 62

Psalm 62 (New American Standard Bible)
God Alone a Refuge from Treachery and Oppression.
For the choir director; according to Jeduthun.
A Psalm of David.

1 My soul waits in silence for God only;
    From Him is my salvation.
2 He only is my rock and my salvation,
    My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will you assail a man,
    That you may murder him, all of you,
    Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
4 They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
    They delight in falsehood;
    They bless with their mouth,
    But inwardly they curse. Selah.

5 My soul, wait in silence for God only,
    For my hope is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
    My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
    The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, O people;
    Pour out your heart before Him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah.

9 Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie;
    In the balances they go up;
    They are together lighter than breath.
10 Do not trust in oppression
    And do not vainly hope in robbery;
    If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.
11 Once God has spoken;
    Twice I have heard this:
    That power belongs to God;
12 And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,
    For You recompense a man according to his work.

I need to be working on this psalm soon as well as two other passages to write a devotion from each.

Just read through the psalm and one truth we can get from it is this: God is God, whoever you are, whatever you do. He is God. And this God is not only a God of power but of lovingkindness.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Blood of Christ

Today's sermon was one of those that spoke to me in so many different levels that it would be hard to verbalise it. I did not even take notes, I was so absorbed in it.

The speaker was Rev Dr Chew Tow Yow and he spoke on the Blood of Christ from Hebrew 9:11-22.

He reminded us of the importance of blood - I think we have been talking about it, singing of it and using the word so much so that its significance is lost on us. We must be made to realise again that blood signifies life, and Scripture has this "trail of blood" beginning from the blood of animals, right up to the blood of Jesus that brings us eternal redemption as well as the blood of the saints, which represents the participation in the blood of Christ. There is a necessity of the blood of Christ because without it there can be no approach to God, no fellowship with God by faith, no enjoyment of God's favour. The blood of Christ is the life of Christ. When we pray for the covering of the blood of Christ, we are in effect asking for the covering of the life of Christ.

In our modern day world, we have lost that in our language and in our daily living. Blood sacrifices are not only not an event, it may even be abhorred. But whatever it is, God has chosen this to be the way to life - i.e. life for life. Only through the blood of Christ, there is reconciliation, cleansing, sanctification, union, victory, life.

The other two things that I have taken home from the sermon are these:

1. If you have followed this blog, you may remember that my mullings and reflection on the mysteries of prayer is almost never-ending. Rev Dr Chew said this, which somewhat settled it for me: prayer is powerful. I may not fully understand it, but there it is, prayer practiced as ordained by God is powerful.

2. When Rev Dr Chew talked about honouring the blood of Christ in our faith and ministries with its suffering and persecution, I began to wonder to myself what about those of us who do not work directly in ministries, but in the secular world so to speak? How can I say that my suffering and persecution that I am receiving from the world is for the Lord and since my work is not directly Gospel-linked, how do I see the suffering and persecution? It dawned on me that regardless of where we work, whether in or out of Christian ministries, we are a product of the work of Christ and we are to exemplify him and imitate him in all we do, and therefore in our Christ-like way of doing things in a non-Christ-like world, we will definitely suffer and be persecuted. Therefore, our suffering and the persecution that we face is because we are Gospel-centered, albeit indirectly. It is our hope that through our living out of the Christian faith, that we can be good witnesses for Christ.


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Do you know this song?

I was practising for worship tomorrow with a very young and talented pianist. During a short break, I shared with her some stories and songs of the good ol' days.

I sang her this song. How many of you actually know it? I can't even find it on!

Christ is the Lord
Christ is the Lord of the smallest atom,
Christ is the Lord of outer space,
Christ is the Lord of the constellations,
Christ is the Lord of every place;
Of the furthest star, Of the coffee bar,
Of the length of the Berlin Wall;
Of the village green, Of the Asian scene
Christ is the Lord of all;

Christ is the Lord of the human heart beat,
Christ is the Lord of every breath,
Christ is the Lord of a man's existence,
Christ is the Lord of Life and death.

Christ is the Lord of our thoughts and feelings,
Christ is the Lord of all we plan,
Christ is the Lord of man's decision,
Christ is the Lord of total man;
In the local street, Where the people meet,
In the church or the nearby hall;
In the factory, in the family,

Christ is the Lord of all;
Christ is the Lord of our love and courtship,
Christ is the Lord of man and wife,
Christ is the Lord of the things we care for,
Christ is the Lord of all our life.


p/s 13 Apr 2016: someone finally posted it on YouTube and linked me to it in the comments below. Thanks Lip Yen! I really appreciate it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

They said, he said, but then it was said ...

I said they said,
"Without duty, life is sort of boneless; it cannot hold itself together"
Whereupon he said, The Hedonese said,
"Without delight; our lives will be meatless"
But then it was said, Kansas Bob said,
"Without love, duty is empty; and delight, a farce"

Ah! Who can deny that.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

It was spot on

I have to confess that I have not been disciplined in my prayers and reading of Scripture, and so before I retire to bed today, I went to Spurgeon's Evening Devotion to read and meditate on God's truth.

It was spot on.

Here's a caption of it:
Our Lord in His infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon His people's faith that He will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace.

Here's the whole thing:

Thursday, September 03, 2009
This Evening's Meditation
C. H. Spurgeon

"The Lord trieth the righteous."—Psalm 11:5.

All events are under the control of Providence; consequently all the trials of our outward life are traceable at once to the great First Cause. Out of the golden gate of God's ordinance the armies of trial march forth in array, clad in their iron armour, and armed with weapons of war. All providences are doors to trial. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are not too low for temptations: trials lurk on all roads. Everywhere, above and beneath, we are beset and surrounded with dangers. Yet no shower falls unpermitted from the threatening cloud; every drop has its order ere it hastens to the earth. The trials which come from God are sent to prove and strengthen our graces, and so at once to illustrate the power of divine grace, to test the genuineness of our virtues, and to add to their energy. Our Lord in His infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon His people's faith that He will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace. Worldly ease is a great foe to faith; it loosens the joints of holy valour, and snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut; affliction doth this sharp service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk it is useless to man, it must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known. Thus it is well that Jehovah trieth the righteous, for it causeth them to grow rich towards God.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

They said, he said ...

I said they said,
"Without duty, life is sort of boneless; it cannot hold itself together".
Whereupon he said, The Hedonese said,
"Without delight; our lives will be meatless".

It held true for me today.