Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feeling guilty?

The project that I was working on has been completed. I was taken in on a contract basis, and I am not engaged in anything for now. There are no projects running at the moment.

I am talking the opportunity to a long deserved break. I worked a full month December last year, which has not happened before, and being contracted, there weren't many off-days I could take. And so, I think this long break is a well-deserved one.

Except that it suddenly feels weird not being at work, and feeling a bit guilty.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Parents' duty to their children

Pastor Marvin spoke on "Raising the Next Generation for Jesus" and I think it is an important and timely message.

To working parents, I am sure this is quite hard to hear. We relegate the duty of caring for our children to the babysitters, and daycare centres. We let the televisions, computers and iPads babysit out kids these days.

I am not saying that it is wrong to do so. We are thankful for the availability of these services especially when working parents do not have family nearby to help. And televisions and gadgets have their own good uses.

But what is important though is how we relate to them everyday. Do we spend time listening and talking to them as the main activity of the moment? And do actually listen to them, rather than only spewing out instructions after instructions, order after order?

Instead, we need to both make time to actively teach them about God and His Word, and to live our lives according to God's way and truth so that we are good witness of Jesus to them. It must be clear in our mind that it matters to them how we relate to each other as husband and wife, how we relate to our own parents, how we perform our work, how we talk and communicate with others, how we manage our finances, how we spend our free time -- basically how we live our lives.

And what Pastor Marvin did at the close of his sermon was excellent. Back in those years when I was teaching in Sunday School, I found that it was, and still is, the most neglected ministry. Teachers were not trained, they themselves were not very serious about it and the way I see it, most, if not all, handled Sunday School lessons like kindergarten lessons, with what Pastor Marvin termed as handing out "morality lessons". I did what I could in teaching them about Jesus, but what was lacking was the support and the active push from the pastor, the shepherd of the church. And that was what Pastor Marvin did and I thought that was superb.

He made time to introduce materials that the church will use in 2012, and how parents will be supported by the church in providing them and their children the platform to be saturated in the Word of God. And I was also delighted that the materials used are those under John Piper's ministry, Children Desiring God.

I actually felt the excitement by just listening to him and what the church will be doing in 2012.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Sabbatical Cycle

My husband pooh-poohed it as a normal tendency for us to see patterns in all we do, but I see it as something quite interesting nonetheless.

I have been working for 20 years now and as I began to reflect on what I have done and what lessons I've learnt in these periods of years in different organisations, I saw that I have have been at work in 7-year cycles with prominent breaks at the beginning of every 7th year.

This I feel is reminiscent of the Sabbatical year cycle, even though I do not take year-long breaks (except for the first cycle, which I did).

And so, as I enter into the 4th cycle, I'm taking a deliberate break to reflect, recollect and regroup myself in preparation for it.

And I am reminded of the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, which I will receive from the LORD, as a commitment to Him that He is the Lord of all, He is the source of all good things, He is the purpose of life:

The LORD bless you and keep you
The LORD make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you
And give you peace


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 STM Graduates
from the Methodist Church

Front row (left to right)
Rev Dr Philip Siew (Director of Advance Ministerial Studies)
Rev Dr Anthony Loke (Director of Communications & Promotions)
Rev Dr Ezra Kok (Principal)
Rev C. Jayaraj (President of the Tamil Annual Conference)
Rev Dr Hwa Yung (Bishop of the Methodist Church, Malaysia)
Rev Dr Ong Hwai Teik (President of the Trinity Annual Conference)
Dato’ Dr Alex Mathews (Council Member from the Trinity Annual Conference)
Rev Dr Wong Tik Wah (Dean of Students)
Rev Dr Joseph Komar (Tamil TEE Director)
Miss Ho Gaik Kim (Chapel Warden)


Monday, November 14, 2011

Grace Notes: The Evidence of Grace

Grace Notes together with The PJ Philharmonic Orchestra had worked together on a praise and worship piece entitled The Evidence of Grace to raise funds for the El-Shaddai Refugee School. It was organised by Migrant Ministry Klang and held in Harvest Christian Assembly Klang on Saturday, 12 Nov 2011.

Grace Notes has worked very hard on this, and in record time, compared to the other events we have taken part in. We took about a year to prepare for the previous big events. We only had a little more than 2 months for this one - and it was indeed stressful, and more so for Joanna, our conductor. Towards the end, we were literally meeting for practices every other day! It was truly all through the mercy and grace of God.

I do not think we did that well. But all in all, it is for the glory of God in His majesty. However, it was the journey that meant a lot to me and which I have thoroughly enjoyed. It was the learning, the going out of tune during initial practices, the frowns, the laughs, the frustrations, the accomplishments, the fellowship, the learning to bear with one another, that made it all worth it.

The one technical thing I have learnt from this round is the ability to sing more consistently in the lower register. The soprano part in this piece is quite challenging, with the lowest note being a Bb3 and the highest a B5. So it is good for me that I broadened my range as well.

On the spiritual end, I was quite moved by it on the whole. My favourite song is "I Can Only Imagine" - envisaging how it will be like when I am there. The song that brought me closer to God though was "Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord", reminding me to always be aware of God's presence in my life and to always keep my spiritual eyes open to the mercy, grace and love of God, open to obedience to Christ, and open to the needs of other people.

This video was created by Eddie Loh, a good friend of mine who was so willing to do it even though it was on a last minute request. The three of us, Eddie, his son Nicky and I, spent Sunday and Monday last week taking photographs and videos of a Myanmar church service and of Myanmar families in their homes in Kampung Jawa, Klang. However, I did not take any photographs this time - I left it to Eddie and Nicky. I was basically the driver.
(Note: the track used in the video above is the original from Word Music.)

The video was played during the song, "I Can Only Imagine", a wonderful song about how it might when one is in heaven and about to see God. If you notice the song lyrics, while they are mainly around the expectations and the imaginations of an individual, you will hear how it takes after Revelations in picturing how worship will be like in eternity in the presence of the Father and the Son - "Worthy is the Lamb, Praise the Great I AM! Hallelujah!"


Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

I was attracted to this book first by the title and then by the cover. And then I thought I have for myself a wonderful book when I read its introduction - it promises a lot of things I was looking for.

But alas it feel from the sky to the very depths of the underworld. I could not continue with it and stopped at Chapter 6 with 6 more chapters to go.

I was indeed looking forward to read about what it means to build a life in Christ. I did know from the start that Richard Rohr is a Catholic priest, but little did I know he is as one Amazon reviewer termed him as a "progressive Catholic". I would say that he is pluralistic more than anything.

His views about how life in reality is true and I agree with him. I also agree with him that many areas of our lives and the church needs to undergo a more radical transformation than they have. But I could not agree with his means, and his treatment of theology and Scripture. He gives statements that are blatant and I could not agree with his explanation and justification.

For example, his treatment of sin is rather light, with statements like "you cannot avoid sin...anyway". I find it too absolute - cannot...anyway. Yes, it is difficult to avoid sin, but something we can do and should strive to do.

In reference to Paul's "It is when I am weak that I am strong", he writes, "he was merely building on what he called the 'folly' of the crucifixion on Jesus." Merely?

He writes that Jesus praised faith and trust more than love. Really? Where in the Bible did he find that?

He writes, "People who know how to creatively break the rules also know why the rules were there in the first place." Excuse me?

He writes, "You must first eat the fruit of the garden, so you know what it tastes like." If he is referring to the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden...I really do not know how to respond to that. I suppose I can, in a tirade, but I am just rendered speechless for now.

And this is among the last ones that made me stop reading the book: he writes, "There is not one clear theology of God, Jesus, or history presented, despite our attempt to pretend there is."

I rest my case.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

It is oh so comfortable

Some of you may remember Daniel Radcliffe's splurge on a $17,000/RM60,000 mattress some years ago. Don't ask how I got to notice that piece of news, or actually even remembering it - I was a keen follower of some tweets back then I suppose, and I was on a search for a mattress in the past few weeks.

My husband has finally indicated that we need to change our pre-historic mattress and I have been mattress hunting ever since, and it has never been so confusing. Well, how often do you buy a mattress anyway. Ten years? Twelve years? Twenty years?

I did not know where to start. I did not know what was in the market. I did not know what is which and which is what. All I know was spring mattresses. But spring mattresses were the rave back then ten twenty years ago. Is it still the kind to go for?

Apparently not. Foam has been upgraded to memory foam and natural latex is back in business.

My first encounter of a natural latex mattress is quite amusing. Most mattresses sold here are locally manufactured and the only place I could find any reviews or recommendations of brands was the LowYat Forum, which wasn't much of a help as the information were scattered, incomplete and scant. So I dropped into a store just to have a feel of what's available. I remembered reading in the forum that King Koil mattresses were among the more popular ones, and so I requested for a view and a quotation. As I was about to leave, I sat curiously on a Getha mattress - I have seen it being advertised extensively for the past few years. I went, "Mmm...this is so comfortable!"

I knew then what I wanted. A latex mattress.

My subsequent search in the Internet was more helpful. I found some articles explaining the different types of mattresses currently available, and what I should do in choosing and deciding on the right one. I came away with several conclusions:

(1) The kind of mattress one should get depends on one's preferences, and of course, budget. There isn't any one best mattress for all.

(2) The key in choosing which mattress to buy is to lie on the display units of your choice for 15 to 20 minutes in your most preferred sleeping position, and if you still feel good after that, the bed is for you. Be prepared to visit the stores in your most comfortable clothes, save your pyjamas.

(3) It is very important to get a good and suitable mattress so that you get really good rest and sleep every night, since you will be using it for at least 10 years. So don't simply settle for any one. Get the best your budget can allow you.

(4) Most mattresses come with a 10-year guarantee. Find out all the information you can get about the warranty.

(5) Mattress purchases usually come with free gifts. Make sure you get your worth of extras without the extra cost.

My next visit to a store was when I was window-shopping with my mom. It so happened that we passed by a dedicated Getha showroom. I tried most of the mattresses there, which were so comfortable, and I took note of two which I preferred, priced at RM5000 and RM5800. It was above our budget though.

The third store I went to, sealed the deal. It was quite a random visit but it so happened that they carry another natural latex brand, Naturatex. They also have the memory foam type, which I tried but did not like. I finally settled on a Naturatex with a RM3290 price tag, which is well within our budget.

It just arrived awhile ago, it may not be RM60000 worth but it is oh so comfortable.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

After all these years

Someone posted an old group photo of us when we were back in Primary 5, and God bless her because of that, I had lunch with a really old friend this afternoon. We have not met for 31 years!

It was delightful that we caught up again to exchange memories, to share stories of our lives, to talk about our families and our dreams.

Now how often does that happen? Well, maybe more now that we have the good ol' Facebook.


Monday, November 07, 2011

125 volumes of commentaries and references literally at my finger tips

I just found out that the Bible✙ app by Logos in my iPhone and iPad now reads all the electronic references and commentaries I have purchased from Wow!

The thing was when I last downloaded and installed the app, the only commentaries available for use in mobile devices were those like the NICOT/NICNT, which cost about RM5000 for 40 volumes.

With the access now enabled, I am now carrying more than 125 volumes of work in my devices. I have 58 volumes of the Word Biblical Commentaries, 49 volumes of the Tyndale Commentaries and 18 volumes of the Essential IVP Reference Collection.

I am now very, very tempted to get the Bible Study Library at RM830. I am not a very fervent user of my BibleWorks, but I do wonder how the Logos one match up to it.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Oh! For a good night of sleep

I slept so well last night after telling myself off for the late nights I keep ending up having, and not that I am doing anything useful at all. I told myself that I must at least get to bed by 10:00pm.

Last night, I finally listened to myself and did just that. It still took me about an hour to wind down and I fell asleep at about 11:00pm, which is nevertheless a record by far.

I had problems sleeping recently, so much so that I reinstalled a sleeping pattern monitoring app back into my iPhone and had it monitor my sleep cycles. The next thing I did was to cut off on coffee and tea consumption after 12:00pm, not that I am very successful with that though. And now to get to bed by 10:00pm.

Results? I had it from a bad nights most of last week,

to a great night last night.

I could not even believe it when I saw the graph this morning.
It looks like going-to-bed-at-10pm is a habit I will need to build and maintain. And the amazing thing is that my brain actually felt much more industrious today.

I is common sense, but I think it all began with the invention of the light bulb, the television, the internet, right down to the iPhone and iPad, that are keeping me up most of the nights...bad...I know.

I am going to have to give up a lot of things I enjoy doing at night before I go to sleep.


Check out the Sleep Cycle app.