Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Economist:
The minister of magic steps down

I was reading with the headlines yesterday about the resignation of Steve Jobs, but no one but the The Economist has captured the sentiments so well - "The minister of magic steps down."

I wish him well.

Apple and The Economist: two of my all-time favourite corporations. One with amazing products and creativity that propel and stimulate my days, and the other with amazing writing and creativity that propel and stimulate my mind.

Click here for The Economist article.


Friday, August 26, 2011

It all comes to nothing

I really do not like working with MS Powerpoint - it is really limited to be used to generate documents but that is what I have been using for almost a year now. It is a requirement and a norm here to submit documents and deliverables in MS Powerpoint format.

I missed using MS Word and Excel.

Therefore, I was pretty excited to start working to analyse an Excel sheet this morning, and that is practically what I have been doing the whole day.

But alas, no matter how good the tool is, it is still the content that counts. I could not get any valuable analysis or conclusions out of the Excel sheet because of the poor quality of data and hence, nothing to include into the Powerpoint document I am suppose to update.

As such, I have been working hard for one whole day but nothing came out of it. Which means, in the eyes of others, I have not done anything.

However, at least I can proof that the answer to the question cannot be derived from that particular set of data, and there isn't any other data available. This will justify the use of a higher end model based on some assumptions.

That is at least one thing profitable out of my day, but as far as the Excel sheet is concerned, I had fun!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

I used up all my sick days...

The Bitbook (like Facebook or Twitter) of the Bitizens from Tiny Tower, the iPhone game am still at, is quite entertaning. This for example, is hilarious:
"I used up all my sick days, so I'm calling in dead."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Prayer

Psalm 25 (ESV)
Teach Me Your Paths

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed,none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.

The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My day of languages

If I were to mark each day of my life with a theme -- well, I actually have been doing that in a sense with the title of my daily posts -- then today will be the Day of Languages.

It began when we had a discussion among my colleagues about the Malay language - one of them commented that it does not have an original word for "bag". It uses a loanword: beg.

Later, I remembered Pastor Marvin (of Pantai Baptist Church or PBC, where I am attending for now) had announced that he will be speaking on the topic of the Bible this coming Sunday, in conjunction with the 400th year of the publication of the King James Version of the bible. I am looking forward to hearing it. Other than its spiritual aspect, the history and the technicalities of the Bible takes a very special place of my interests.

It reminded me of two books I have read before -- The Story of English by Robert McCrum and In the Beginning: the Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture by Alister McGrath -- that the work of both Shakespeare and the KJV bible is "regularly singled out as one of the most foundational influences on the development of the modern English language" (1). As such, the King James Version serves as a polished jewel in the crown of English language and culture (2).

However, I began to think that with the mark of the 400th year of the KJV, wouldn't the modern version of the English language be considered a very young language? What with the Chinese language that I believe is more than a thousand years old? And I have always thought that the Malay language is a very young language, but English too?

I do know that the modern English language has its origins in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which began in the early 5th century.

I shared this with a friend who goes to PBC too and he did not quite believe me when I told him he would not understand Old English. So I showed him The Lord's Prayer in Old English (3):

Original and Translation
Fæder ūre þū þe eart on heofonum
(Father of ours, thou who art in heaven,)

Sī þīn nama ġehālgod.
(Be thy name hallowed.)

Tōbecume þīn rīċe,
(Come thy riche [(kingdom])

ġewurþe þīn willa, on eorðan swā swā on heofonum.
(Worth [manifest] thy will, on earth as also in heaven.)

Ūrne ġedæġhwāmlīcan hlāf syle ūs tō dæġ,
(Our daily loaf do sell [give] to us today,)

and forgyf ūs ūre gyltas, swā swā wē forgyfað ūrum gyltendum.
(And forgive us of our guilts as also we forgive our guilty)

And ne ġelǣd þū ūs on costnunge, ac ālȳs ūs of yfele.
(And do not lead thou us into temptation, but alese [release/deliver] us of [from] evil.)

( Soothly.)

So in that sense, English isn't so young - it has been evolving for 1500 years till what it is today. A fully developed and perfected language takes a very long time.

A perfected language is one that has a letter of every single sound, one with words that are very original and one that has a wide vocabulary to cover a wide scope in the articulation of meanings. I do not think the Malay language is that fully developed, not even English but it is better, comparatively. I am not sure about the other languages, but I was told that the Arabic language is considered a highly perfected one, as well as Korean.

I went to check out the ages of language and found quite a comprehensive list here in Wikipedia. And I am surprised to find out that Old Malay is as old as Old English, 683AD and 650AD respectively.

Here some familiar ones:
* Greek - 1425-1375 BC
* Old Chinese - 1200 BC
* Aramaic - 950BC
* Hebrew - 950BC
* Korean - 100BC
* Arabic - 512AD
* Old English - 650AD
* Old Malay - 683AD
* Japanese - 700AD
* Old Hindi - 769AD
* Old French - 842AD
* Italian - 960AD
* Middle English - 1066AD
* Thai - 1292AD
* Korean (modern?) - 1446AD
* Early Modern English - 1470AD

Modern English is almost at the last of the list, albeit incomprehensive. And I did not realise that the Greek language is so old, older than Hebrew. But of course that will be Old Greek as compared to the current Modern Greek, which has evolved from Koine or Common Greek, what is used during the New Testament time, i.e. the language of the written text of the NT extant that we have now.

Indeed, a very interesting day of discovery for me.


(1) Alister McGrath, In the Beginning, (New York: Anchor, 2001): 253

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gaps in my brain

Why is it that you find what you are looking in the last place you look?!

My memory is failing me. I spent the whole evening looking for my computer charger cord. I tried tracing my steps to no avail. I finally checked in the most unlikely place and there it was. Then I remember putting it into a paper bag. I packed the paper bag aside forgetting what was in there.

I leave gaps in my brain.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Restoring, bearing and sharing in a local church

The sermon today completes the exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians. Paul in the last chapter sums up his overall theme and message of the epistle, i.e. the gospel is not a religion. It is not some laws and regulations that you can adhere to and as a result gain acceptance. The gospel is the salvation of God that happens at the very core of our being, that we are first accepted because of Jesus and as a result we desire to keep his commands.

What struck me though was the pastor's exhortation from Gal 6:1-10.

The passage can be summarised as follows:
(1) Restore your relationships with one another (v.1)
(2) Bear your burdens with one another (v.2-5)
(3) Share your blessings with one another (v.6)

The thing is this: in order to carry out all three, one has to be attached and active in a local church. Walking in the Spirit also means walking in the faith community, where there is mutual accountability of one another.

I am in a lurch at the moment - not being sure of where and how things will and should be concerning a local church. I am praying about it and hope to resolve the matter soon.

It is just that once you have been in a situation where you have been affected by church politics, you'd want to keep your distance and not be that involved again.

But I suppose this is why restoring, bearing and sharing with one another is so important.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

One Down, One More to Go

I finally sat down to work on my assignment. I have been procrastinating it like there's no tomorrow. I am glad I got down to work on it today from 11am to 11pm and completed the one on the Gospel of Mark, with another one to go.

I should hit the iron while it is still hot, which means I must do this again tomorrow. Though I would need more than a 12-hour stretch to complete the second one on 1 Peter.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Actually, that's not in the Bible (CNN Belief)

I found this article in CNN Belief blog. What do you think?

Actually, that's not in the Bible
By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season. “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Feeding of the 5000 according to John

The sermon text this past Sunday was taken from Matt 14:13-21 about the feeding of the 5000. I obtained an article from ATLA Serials, but based on John 6:1-15 by Gail R. O'Day, Professor of Preaching and New Testament in Candler School of Theology.(1)

I made a parallel comparison of the feeding account:

(Click on image to enlarge)

The professor's take on the John passage is interesting. I agree with her that comparing with the Synoptic Gospels, John tend to leave a lot of gaps and include several mentions that are not in the Synoptics:

1. The Passover was at hand (v.5)
2. The testing of Philip (v.6)
3. It was a boy who has the 5 loaves and 2 fish (v.9)
4. Jesus gave thanks for the loaves rather than saying a blessing (v.11)
5. The people saw it as a sign that Jesus is the Prophet who is to come into the world (v.14)
6. Jesus withdrew because he perceived that the people are about to come and take him by force to make his king (v.15)

Let me see what we have here:

1. The Passover
John mentions the Passover all across the Gospel (John 2:13, 23; 6:4; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28,39; 19:14), unlike the Synoptics where it is only mentioned in the Passion passages, except Luke who related the journey to the Passover feast when Jesus was 12 years old.

In my view, the Gospel of John is not structured chronologically and hence his mention of the Passover, which is not limited to the Passion narrative, is a significant sign pointing to Jesus as the Passover sacrificial Lamb of God. And it is only in the Gospel of John, not the Synoptic Gospels, where John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36).

2. Testing of Philip
I am not too familiar with the disciple theme in the 4 Gospels, except maybe in Mark where the disciples were unaware and blind to who Jesus is until Peter's confession in chapter 8.

What I am beginning to discover in John is that Jesus' focus on the disciples is in the revealing of Himself as the Messiah. This is in line with the general theme of the Gospel of John, the book of signs, i.e. the revealing of the Son of God, who is Jesus.

Right from the first miracle at Cana, the purpose of the miracle was accomplished as John said, "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him." (John 2:11) We must take note that in this first sign or miracle, no one else other than Mary, the servants and the disciples knew about it. And John stated that Jesus has manifested his glory, and as a result his disciples believed in him.

At the end of John's Gospel, we find the account of doubting Thomas, not mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels. The disciples have met the risen Jesus except Thomas and when he was informed of it, he did not believe until he saw and touched Jesus' wounds. Jesus' respond to him and implicitly to us is so profound: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (20:29)

3. The Boy with 5 Loaves and 2 Fish
I find it interesting that only John mentions the boy. I believe countless sermons have been preached and Sunday School lessons taughton the generosity of the boy with the bare minimum he had, and lowly kind of food too. O'Day validly commented that the Gospel does not say that the boy offered his food to Jesus. Andrew just pointed out that a boy had them and that Jesus later had the food, which he distributed.

I may be wrong but I think the focus here is still on the disciples. Andrew is inadvertently saying that they have the food but it is not enough for so many people, and the food belongs to another person anyway. It shows the lack of faith in the disciples in who Jesus is.

4. The Giving of Thanks
I am not sure if there is much of a significance between the saying of blessing and the giving of thanks for the loaves and the fish. O'Day referred it to the difference in relation to the Eucharist, but I don't see the point there.

5. A Sign that Jesus is the Prophet
This is the very character of the Gospel of John, with it being called amongst others, the Book of Signs, by some scholars. John has used the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 as a sign to show that he is the Messiah, Christ, Son of God and the Light of the world.

6. The people wanted Jesus as king
Jesus is the promised Messiah but in the form of a suffering servant, the Lamb of God. The people wanted a second David instead, a political king.

What I learnt:

The Gospel of John is really about who Jesus is and who is this Jesus we should believe in, and what we should do about it. John says in 20:30-31, "Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

And the Feeding of the 5000 passage in John accomplishes that very purpose - the display of who Jesus is and the requirement of our faith in him as the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (note "sin" in singular form).

As Philip got tested, so will we be tested in our faith in who he is. We do fall into the temptation of taking Jesus and wanting Jesus to be other than who he is, the Christ and the Son of God. We do fall into the danger of limiting him to our needs and desires, as if his only job and purpose is to fulfill us in our small and insignificant lives.

He is more than that! Jesus is the Son of God, worthy of praise and worship. As much as we are given the right to a relationship with him, an intimate one no less, we still must treat it with seriousness, and approach him with awe and reverence, respect and honor.

He fed the 5000, now he wants to feed 7 billion.
With the bread of life that only he can give.


(1) Gail R. O'Day, "John 6:1-15", Interpretation April 1, (2003): 196

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tiny Tower

My son introduced me to this game and now I am kind of hooked on it. It is something like Farmville though simpler and not as complicated, and not so much of a time waster, albeit still a potential. I wonder how many floors I'll build before I am done with it. I've built the 9th.


p/s (24/8/2011) I am not at Floor 24. Getting a bit tired of it already.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why the change?

The route that usually take me just 15 minutes to get me to where I am headed is now taking me almost an hour. Sigh...

Photo (c) 2008 drouu

Monday, August 15, 2011


I learnt a new word: logorrhea. It means speech that is pathologically incoherent and repetitious. It's wearisome volubility.

And I had to suffer a big share of it today. It was painful.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Body, the Church

My family church celebrated its 44th anniversary today. Grace Notes was invited to sing and so I was there. It has been awhile since I have attended Sunday service in this church and even though I spent more than half my life there and even though I call it my family church, I did not know half the people in the service.

It has now became a reality to me that the church is the faith community and not the structure. The longer you spend away from the community, be it physically or even mentally, the further you will feel in relation to it.


Friday, August 12, 2011

"...but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool"
(Oswald Chambers)

God as always has his way with me. I had prepared some devotional readings for Grace Notes to use every Wednesday to set us first in the presence of God before we practice and rehearse our songs. I have been taking it from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening: Daily Readings but have recently changed the source to Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. The readings are shorter but the language is quite up there. So I spent some time looking through each of the ones I've selected to simplify the language where I can.

Chambers is wonderful with his words and lessons. I was being chastened and corrected by most of them, even though my intention of reading them was only for editting purposes. The Lord has indeed spoken.

These two hit me quite hard today:

Imagination V. Inspiration
(Sep 14)

"The simplicity that is in Christ."
2 Corinthians 11:3

Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight. The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing (Matthew 11:25).

The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern. This is humiliating, because when we are muddled we know the reason is in the temper of our mind. When the natural power of vision is devoted to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the power of perceiving God's will and the whole life is kept in simplicity.

The Unheeded Secret 
(Oct 19)

"My kingdom is not of this world."
John 18:36

The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the Systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, for lo the kingdom of God is within you," a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives in the shop window. It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of the life.

We have to get rid of the plague of the spirit of the religious age in which we live. In Our Lord's life there was none of the press and rush of tremendous activity that we regard so highly, and the disciple is to be as His Master. The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men.

It is not its practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College, its whole strength lies in the fact that here you are put into soak before God. You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you either at home or abroad, and if you waste your time in over-active energies instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God's Redemption, you will snap when the strain comes; but if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in God on the unpractical line, you will remain true to Him what ever happens.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

A song to laugh at myself

Sing a song of sixpence
My day was in a daze
Four and twenty hours
Being stuck in a maze
Oh I feel so stupid
What have I here to bring
Won't it be a humbling thing
To set before the king

Don't mind me - it's just one of those days and I am laughing at myself...


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Whole Earth Had One Language

I was "chatting" with a good friend via emails when he brought up the topic of languages, of how he was revising his skills in the Tamil alphabet, something he had not done since childhood. I told him that I too am limited in the usage of the Chinese language, and isn't it interesting that we all now speak in one global language, English.

I began to wonder: if God dispersed the people of the world by language, what happens now that almost the whole world is using one language?

Gen 11:1-9 (ESV)
1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one anotherís speech." 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

The reason why God dispersed them was because they wanted to build a name for themselves (v.4). They wanted glory and honour. Their desires were akin to that of Adam and Eve's, i.e. to be lords of their own lives.

God dispersed them because not only will they do that but they will want more - human will never be satisfied with their current status, it will not be enough. Just imagine if God had not dispersed them, how the world would be like if there were only one nation. I think it will be the same or worse. There might not be any racial disputes, but there will still be much war and strife.

So God dispersed them and after the dispersion, God chose from all the nations, the nation of Israel, to teach them the way of God and to lead them into a dependence on God and God alone, and through them, to teach the world at large on the dependence on God. But Israel failed and in their disobedience, they ended up dispersed.

Then God sent his Son, and through the work of the cross, believers came together as one body to form the Church. But as we see it, the Church has its dark ages as well and in no time, we were also dispersed with differences in doctrines and denominations.

I began this train of thought with the question of what would be next now that we have one global language? It turned out that language is not the issue. When God first dispersed the human race, it was because of what they desired to be. So God dispersed them by introducing different languages, resulting in different nations. With that, the nations developed differences in culture, lifestyle, beliefs and history over the centuries, and with it, strife and discord. So even if we speak one global language now, it will in no way unite us. The only thing that can unite us is the love of God, through His Son, Jesus.

There will be a last dispersion - the dispersion on Judgement Day, and what will segregate us then will be the Book of Life, of the Lamb. Either we are with Jesus or we are not. This segregation will be the final one - whether we are good and faithful servants in Jesus or we are not, whether we are covered by the blood of the Lamb or we are not.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dying to self?

Someone said this to me sometime ago as something I needed to do - die to self - and I have been keeping mindful of that lately.

However, I know that we weren't commanded to die to self in the Bible. It is the denying of ourselves that was the command. It is the denying ourselves of our desires of the flesh and being dead to ourselves. We are alive because Christ is risen, we are not dead.

It may be just a matter of semantics. I found someone writing about it here.

What do you think?


Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Circle of My Relationship with Jesus

I completed my retreat today - I have mixed feelings about it.

For one, I signed up for a silent retreat but it turned out not a silent one. Silent retreats are a blessing for introverts like me who sometimes feel drowned in the sea of extroverts, God bless them, they are everywhere!

The theme of the retreat was Friendship with Jesus Through Spiritual Exercises. I tend to be careful about the theme of friendship in relation to Jesus. If I am not mistaken, Jesus does not call himself our friend. He only called us his friends.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
~ John 15:12-17

I have not done much exegesis on this passage yet, but what I can say is that Jesus in calling us his friends is related to his work on the cross, where he laid down his life for us. This friendship is not reciprocal nor chummy, which is the danger if we see too much into Jesus as our friend. The context of friendship, I believe, is only in relation to him giving up his life. The language in the passage do not portray Jesus as friend - a friend as we understand it (1) do not command as Jesus is doing here and (2) friends choose each other to be friends, but we did not choose Jesus but he chose us.

I have not fully digested what I read here but it might be useful if you want to think about it more.

With regards to the spiritual exercises, it was described in the website that spiritual exercises will be introduced in the retreat but only one format of exercise was used. It was alright, really - it is quite a good structure though I'd rather have some variety. I know I sound like a whiner, but doing 12 exercises for 3 full days using the same format is really a bit much for me.

But I have had a good experience with God nonetheless. Each of the exercise were accompanied with a symbol and I thought that was good as it will help connect us to the experience we had in each exercise.

The spiritual exercise involve:
1. Preparation - before my prayer place, I consider ____ (e.g. how God created life). I make a gesture of reverence and humility.
2. Opening Prayer - With simple words, I offer my ____ to God/Father/Jesus/the Holy Spirit (e.g. offer my whole life).
3. Desire - I desire to ____. (the one intention of the exercise, e.g. know the the life-giving God).
4. Prayer - imagination contemplation of a related Scripture passage.
5. Conversation using the symbol.

The symbols were presented in the friendship theme but I am going to change it into a broader relationship perspective. Another observation is that I find that not all of the symbols were directly applicable. I don't know...I do not want to have such a critical spirit but yet, these things matter to me. So I am going to make changes as well.

The Circle of My Relationship with Jesus

The Spirit hovers above the water to symbolise God who is the creator

Life that is brimming in the soil to symbolise Gos who is the life giver

My Grandma's Thimble
(anything that belongs to your grandmother or your birth certificate)
The link to my ancestors in our genealogy to symbolise my link to Jesus

My image in the mirror to symbolise God creating me in his image
(I do not know how to change this. This is one exercise that I had the most problem with. I could not carry out the spiritual exercise because I could not relate the image I see in the mirror,i.e. my face, as an image of God. And if the mirror symbol is picked up from 1 Cor 13:12, we have to realise that mirrors at that time are made of cast metal or bronze, i.e. the image that you see will be dim and unclear, and the context of the mirror here is not related to us being created in his image. What do you think will serve as a better symbol?)

The body and the blood of Christ in the coming together as one body of Christ

The ointment "in the alabaster jar" to symbolise that Jesus accepts us

The word of God that God sowed on us as soil to symbolise listening to God

The ring that the forgiving father gave to the prodigal son who returned to symbolise forgiveness

The healing oil that symbolises God's healing power

The towel that Jesus used to wash the disciples' feet to symbolise servanthood

A fruit to symbolise that I am merely a branch of the vine who is Jesus who is the source of everything I have and need

The cross of Christ where Jesus carried my guilt and shame

New Clothing
New clothes to symbolise that I am a new creation and risen with Christ into a new life

Fire on a candle to symbolise the Holy Spirit who is now in me, renewing me everyday in Christ, and bringing the symbols into a complete circle.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Grace and Power

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Cor 2:9


Friday, August 05, 2011

He gave me...

Beauty for ashes
Eternal life in Christ
Quiet moments with the Father
Unity of the body of Christ
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
Everlasting love of God
Truth in the Holy Scripture


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Why do you think God created the universe?

I know I did say in May that silent retreats will be an annual thing for me but it looks like I am taking on one more this year. It was the experience that I had in May that prompted me and also it was the topic of this retreat that attracted me - Friendship with Jesus, through spiritual exercises.

I must say that I was not in agreement with quite a lot of things during my first silent retreat here last year because the topic was with regards to teaching and doctrines. The Catholic father did have views I did not agree with. But I thought it may not go so wrong with spiritual exercises - as it was in May and I hope the same for now.

The spiritual exercise we did this evening was a meditation on the Holy Spirit who hovers over creation, with a purpose to know and recognize our God as the creative God.

The exercise taught and reminded me of two things and more:

1. God created space
Not space in the sense of the universe, but space in the area we now have. I have not thought about God's creation in that way before. First, it was nothing (cannot imagine how it was like) and then there is space, where things and live exist.

2. God created the universe
Yes, God created the universe. That is so fundamental as far as Christians are concerned, but during the meditation, I began to wonder why would God create the huge almost unlimited wide expanse of a universe and then created human being and other living things in one small teensy weensy, itsy bitsy bit of space in the universe call earth? Isn't that an overkill? Why not just have earth, and the sun and moon at the correct distance as they are now?

Why I think he did that is because of at least these three reasons.

One, because he is a mighty and infinite God, how else could he have done it but to create an almost infinite space?

Two, he is a creative God, and he wants to create.

The third reason, I think, has to do with us. If the first reason is true, then why did he create us so small? Imagine us big and huge with great supernatural powers. No, instead God created us small with limited powers and capabilities. But really, that is only true on the surface in a relative sort of way. We may think we are not big and huge but compared to a lot of living things, we are. We may think we do not have many powers but compared to the other created being, we have this higher level of consciousness and intellect. We are after all created in God's very own image, not physically since God is spirit but somehow in his likeness. What is significant though, is that God knows that given the choice, which we were, we will choose to rule our own lives and our own world and forget him as our creator and forget that we are merely created beings, which we did, hence Jesus and the cross. But are we lord enough or god enough to rule over the whole of universe? We do not even know where it begins and where it ends. The moment we think we found out, we realize that there is much more beyond. So, I think, God created the universe to put us in our place.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
~ Psalms 19:1

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
~ Romans 1:20

I need to know my place. I am special because I am created in God's image, as you too are. But I am a created being, as you too are, submissive to the creator God.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Word Removal Tool to Aid Memorization

Do you take the effort to memorize bible verses?

The younger you start the longer they stay in your brains. The few verses that I memorized in my younger days are still with me, but the ones I have memorized later in my life have disappeared.

The church I now attend does a bible verse memory execrcise every Sunday, by the pastor before he begins to preach. And I have picked it up again, using the Bible Verses app in my iPhone, which is good because apparently the act of memorizing using a word removal tool really aids in memorization, not flash cards.

For a web-based tool, I think this should be available -


Monday, August 01, 2011

Enjoy Your Assignments

I need to kickstart my assignment engine so badly. I have 2 more assignments to pass up before I could graduate.

I had initially decided to tackle the question on the differences and similarities of the portrayal of Jesus in Matthew and Luke - but I somehow could not get it started.

I tried. I read, I researched, I started on the assignment but it got nowhere.

So I thought I had better look for an option. I started thinking about this other question about looking for the themes of Mark in its prologue, and before I knew I was enjoying my assignment again. When I told Melissa that, she laughed at me commenting that people do not enjoy assignement - but I do! And when I don't, something is not right somewhere as it happened with the Matthew-Luke question.

I am now deciding on the 2nd assignment - should I take the one on apostasy in Hebrews or social discrimination in 1 Peter? The Hebrews one sounds more enjoyable.