Monday, May 30, 2016

Is it for me or for God?

The topic of motives came up in yesterday's sermon which my friend Ee-Tan and I discussed a little in relation to our service to God in our singing and worship leading. 

I always see it as a very, very fine line - do I sing to serve God or do I sing to perform? Am I doing it all with the right motive? 

I am often in that dilemma - is it for me or for God? Or can it be both? Maybe having that very dilemma is a good beginning. 

I don't know. I am still struggling with that question every time I go up onto the chancel to lead in worship, to sing the anthem either by myself, with others or with my choral group. 

Of course I want to make sure that I sing well so that the songs will be well-ministered to the people. I will be doing a disservice if I sing in an awful way without proper techniques, same as no one plays the piano in church if they can't play it at all. 

I like what my choral director Joanna said to us once: we should train ourselves to the point that when we sing, the people do not "hear us" at all but only hear the song and be ministered by it. It means that we should sing so well that people will not get distracted by our singing but are focused on God through the music. The focus is of course God, not us. 

It's like when we listen to radio, no one, except maybe the vocal pedagogy, would think much about how the song is sung but what and why the song is being sung. 

So in relation to my motives in singing in church, I will continue to train and improve in my singing technique but I also need to daily commit what I do and what I sing to God, that when I sing, my mind should be focused on both producing a good sound--nothing wrong with that--and in centering what I am doing in God as worship. 

So can I say then that it is both for me and for God? For me in terms of the effort and for God in terms of my worship of him.

Pastor mentioned Dallas Willard yesterday as one who cleared the confusion about effort and works. Maybe I can't apply it directly here but I like what Willard said: Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.  Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone. 

So in my effort to produce a good sound when I sing, it's the action that I do that should not become an attitude of pride, of what I can do, but as an offering to God in music and worship. 

It's tough, but not impossible. 


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jesus is both Saviour and Lord


The sermon today stressed on our Christian living coming under the Lordship of Jesus and that our lives in God and service for him should be an outflow of a grateful heart.

Our pastor highlighted the impossibility of separating the person of Christ from the work of Christ, that we cannot have him as our Saviour if we don't also have him as our Lord. I have not heard of such a dichotomy before. But apparently some of us, by our own conscious choice, take Jesus as our Saviour but refuse to live in his Lordship, hence a life without obedience and without the Spirit of God in us.

Some of us may not even realize it and do that in our daily living, thinking that we have Jesus as our Saviour but living our lives as we please.  

Is your life a living sacrifice unto God or do you live by the gratification of your own desires?


Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Tree of My Happy and My Stressors

I attended a seminar on Self-Care for Caregivers today. I am not yet a caregiver per se but I was there to accompany my mom and to help out the Ladies Fellowship who organized the one-day event, and I was so blessed by it.

One of the activities that I found very special was what I shall call The Tree of My Happy and My Stressors. 

In the context of being a caregiver, we need to be aware of who we are and the reason why we chose to be a caregiver. "Having no choice" is a reason in itself that will play into how we should manage ourselves in self-care, and self-care is something every caregiver should have an awareness of. 

In the activity, we drew a picture of a tree on a large piece of paper with our name stuck on the trunk. That tree represented each of us personally.  We then wrote down what our stressors are, things that stresses us.

But before that, we did list down our stress symptoms, or what happens to us when we get stressed out. They can be sleeplessness, fatigue, breakout of eczema, losing weight, over eating, etc. These act as alarm buzzers for us. When we notice these symptoms, it is a warning that we might be stressed and we will get burned out if we are not careful. One of my symptoms is me being really short tempered and my poor son will get the brunt of it. It is a sure sign that I am so stressed out that I know I must manage it. 

After listing out our stressors, we listed down the things we do that make us happy. Mine were stuff like reading, singing, journaling, family time and grocery shopping.

All these stressors and happy things are each written on post-it notes, which were stuck onto our trees. The stressors in the "soil", buried deep so to speak and the happy things on the branches and leaves, out in the open. 


When we were asked about how we felt when we did the activity, I wasn't so sure about it. I began to wonder why should my stressors be in the root area. Analogically, the stronger and deeper the roots, the stronger and firmer the tree. But when I looked at my stressors, they looked heavy and negative. I felt like they could poison my roots and the tree will die.

But as I thought about it and as what our speaker then told us was exactly the lesson behind this activity. It's that we may see the stressors as negative and bad, but they are not necessarily so. Yes, we need positive stuff and yes, we definitely have them in the roots but when it comes to our stressors, if they are managed well, these stressors can be the very thing that will build us to become stronger. It is true that they can poison us but only if we do not manage them properly and if we don't commit them to God.

Moreover, they are the very reason why our happy things are happy. They give our happy things meaning. Without the stressors, I felt that my happy things sounded very trivial and useless. But with the stuff that I am building at the root, both positive and negative, the leaves and branches will become healthier.


After we had our trees all done up, we each wrote a letter to God and placed it in an envelope. We then took down all the stressors and happy things from our trees and put them into the envelope to be "posted" to God.

It felt very therapeutical.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Let us find strength only in You Lord

O Abba Father, help us know that it is not in trying but in trusting you, it's not in running but resting in you and it's not in wondering but praying to you. I pray O God that we will find the strength that is only found in you. Amen.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

The dreaded passagio

In my singing, I have my passagio which is the transition area between the vocal registers, from my chest voice to my head voice at A4. With that I find it so hard to sing and lead worship songs in church because songs are usually in and around my passagio. I am quite okay in my transitions but if the phrase begins or ends with a A4, I find so hard to bring it out nicely. 

I had a one and a half hours practice in church today and by the time I sang all that time in my lower range, I could no longer sing the anthem song, one which I have picked in my higher range. I only hope I don't stretch my voice in the lower range this Sunday so I could actually sing the anthem. 

I pray I will be able to sing the song well so that the people will only hear the words and the song, and be ministered by it. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In the presence of the King, bow the knee

Bow the Knee
Words and music by Chris Macken and Mike Harland
Arranged by Tom Fettke

We began learning this song in our Grace Notes practice today and I found the words so beautiful and meaningful.

Bow the Knee
There are moments on our journey following the Lord
Where God illumines ev’ry step we take.
There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us,
As we try to understand each move He makes.
When the path grows dim and our questions have no answers, turn to Him.

Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall,
The cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow.
And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel;
We are tempted to believe God does not know.
When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why did the chicken cross the road?


I am still on the 16-type personality and was reminded of these responses I read in some forum to the question "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

The answers that you would expect each of them to give is just too hilarious. And I am sure you will be able to identify your friends in some of these. I can definitely see my friends who are INTP, INTJ, ISTJ, ESFP, ESTP and my ISTP husband saying these. 

ENTJ : Because I ordered it to cross the road

ENTP: Imagine if chickens continually keep crossing the road. It could be used as a renewable power source!

INTJ: Chickens are stupid.

INTP: Er, I didn't see it. Must have been thinking about something else...

INFJ: How can you be so insensitive as to question the motive of the poor innocent chicken?

INFP: The chicken probably felt unhappy with itself, and since the other side of the road had a more positive feel, it crossed to find inner harmony.

ENFP: A chicken crossing the road? This must be a sign that the world is eventually becoming a better place. Rejoice!

ENFJ: I always knew that the chicken would finally muster up enough courage to cross the road, it just needed a bit of gentle encouragement.

ESFP: Because there was a party on the other side!

ISFP: Such a beautiful setting with a chicken crossing a road in the sunset...

ESTP: We had a bet going if it would cross or not, and I persuaded it to cross.

ISTP: If it's not stuck underneath my wheels, I don't care.

ESTJ: Because it was illegal for chickens to remain on that side of the road.

ISTJ: The chicken crossed the road at exactly 15:35, and the crossing took 25 seconds. The reason is unimportant.

ESFJ: Because I helped it cross of course, otherwise the cars would've driven over it, the poor thing.

ISFJ: Because it was God's intention that it would cross the road.


Monday, May 23, 2016

My favourite people are INFPs

I was working on some training materials on the 16-type personality theory and The Four Temperaments and I was looking for famous people and their types to be added into my training slides.

The people I see in most of the categories are the expected ones like The Stabilizers ESTJ Margaret Thatcher and ISTJ George Washington, The Improvisers ISTP Steve Jobs and ESFP Richard Branson, and The Theorists INTJ Nikola Tesla and ENTP Bertrand Russell. They didn't quite mean much to me. Just people, but great people.

But when I got to the final category of The Catalysts, the NFs, this was where I found that most of my favourite people are INFPs, as I am, which delighted me.

A.A. Milne (INFP)

C.S. Lewis (INFP)

J.R.R. Tolkien (INFP)

Bill Watterson (INFP)

Not surprisingly, they are all writers. The other notable ones are Augustine and Vincent Van Gogh. And even the rare few celebrities who are my favourite are INFPs - Johnny Depp and Jude Law. Interesting.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Imitating God and be Sanctified


We had a sermon today, one that is seldom preached in churches on Christian Living and on sins that we are to avoid. 

Here in Ephesians 5:1-7, Paul lists six: (1) sexual immorality, (2) greediness and covetousness, (3) uncleanliness of our hearts, (4) filthiness in improper thought, word and deed, (5) foolish talk and (6) crude jesting. 

As it would have been in the first century communities where Paul was, so it is with us now that these acts may sound normal and so what's the big deal. And worse for us, we get sucked into it with the plethora of the media access we have and our ability to get access to almost anything we want. 

But in the end, these are the very things we need to avoid. And our lives will be much more at peace and in harmony with others. 


Saturday, May 21, 2016

A good me-time afternoon


I am having a nice me-time this afternoon with a cup of coffee and lemon slice. I know...I know...I did say I don't drink coffee much anymore but I didn't say I don't drink it at all. Just less. 

I am sitting here doing my stuff, mostly on 7 Cups but my attention was also on this family at my diagonal left. I noticed them first when the 4-5 year old girl sneezed into her cup and her father began scolding her angrily for getting sneezed onto his arm or something. I thought it was funny, I am even chuckling right now because it was a really good sneeze. Haha. 

That was 15 minutes ago and the father and daughter are now having a really good time talking and playing and laughing. This brings me to marvel at the human relationships that God gives to us in families. 

I find myself being like what the father angrily did to his daughter with my son. And after I berate him, I'd feel so guilty and ashamed. But in no time at all, my son and I would talk and behave like nothing bad has happened and it will be all good again. But I do apologize, especially when I know I have gone beyond the line. Ahh...parenthood. 

Anyway, it has been awhile since I've had a nice me-time like this, having coffee at the coffee shop, no TV to watch but watching people. 

And now a one-year old kid at the next table is talking to me, in kiddy talk of course and I just said "hi".

I must do this again soon. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse ★★★★★


X-Men: Apocalypse premiered today here in Malaysia and my colleague, a comic fan, wanted to watch it and so I went along and had a great time. It was good. 

Warning: some spoilers ahead. No serious spoilers though, no worries. But if you want to experience the movie for yourself, then stop reading here. But do take note of the last paragraph. 

I like the cast. I did not know who was playing the villianest villian ever En Sabah Nur. I was wondering while watching but could not make out at all who was behind all the make up and CGI. It's actually Oscar Isaac who played Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He was awesome here in X-Men, mean and bad. I remember the scene where he said he has been called by many names, including Elohim, a Hebrew word for God. Wikia claims that he even used the name Yahweh, God's personal and sacred name in Hebrew, but I didn't notice it in the movie. Now, I am curious. Did he?

My favourite scene was when Quicksilver arrived at the school to find that it was about to explode. His cheeky demeanor while saving all the students was funny and endearing. And it was ultimately nostalgic to hear Annie Lennox's Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These) played throughout the entire scene. It was brilliant. 

This was the first time I went for a movie on the first day it was released. I haven't read anything or any reviews about it. I have not revised on the previous five movies. And so I remembered only bits and pieces here and there. It's time I watch those five again and then maybe I'll go watch X-Men: Apocalypse, again. 

Oh yes! There is a final clip at the end after all the rolling credits. We waited for it hoping for something and there it was. So do remain seated till the end until all the lights are back on. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My addiction


I don't drink much coffee anymore. But I have picked up another addiction - Coca Cola. And if I drink any in the night, like I just did, I would be wide awake the whole night, like I am right now. 

I must stop this. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Need to talk? Someone will listen

It was just last week when I felt I needed someone to talk to. However, I didn't want it as a baggage with a friend. And so I thought how nice it would be to have a stranger to talk to, someone caring enough to just listen and help me through some thoughts and issues. I googled for "free online counseling services" and found 7 Cups of Tea

It is not a counseling website per se but a community of trained active listeners-volunteers who offer an ear to anyone who needs one. It is a free service, unless you request for extras or if you need a certified therapist. 

I thought I'd give it a go and requested for a connection.  I was hooked up with a listener in just a couple of minutes. It started off slowly as I treaded carefully but it turned out to be a very pleasant conversation. The listener I had was a good one and he practiced emphatic listening. He did not advice or lead me along with his interest or questions but spent time helping me bring out my issues and even answer my own questions. It was an excellent way for me to have a good sounding board. And it's comforting that the connections are anonymous and all conversations are deleted. I just let it all out and then I move on. I need not worry about any follow-up conversations that would be necessary with a friend. 

I then signed on to be a listener myself and completed the online training and tests yesterday. I did the practice chat this morning and went ahead and got connected to a couple of people. It was not easy and I hoped I had been a good listener for them. And I will be praying for this one person from now on as well. 

Do check it out. You can try it and get connected to a listener for a start, especially if you have something that is nagging at you, or some things you need a fresh perspective on. And after that, think about how you could also be a listener too. 

I also wondered why it was called 7 Cups of Tea. It was named after a Chinese poem by Lu Tong. The poem is beautiful and fitting. It brings you seven cups of tea as seven levels of healing. It is like going into a deep connection while sitting down with someone and have that seven cups of tea. Beautiful, profound, brilliant. 

7 Cups of Tea, by Lu Tong (795 - 835 CE)
The first cup kisses away my thirst,
and my loneliness is quelled by the second.
The third gives insight worthy of ancient scrolls,
and the fourth exiles my troubles.
My body becomes lighter with the fifth,
and the sixth sends word from immortals.
But the seventh—oh the seventh cup—
if I drink you, a wind will hurry my wings
toward the sacred island.
Translated by Christopher Nelson


Monday, May 16, 2016

NT Wright's Online Courses

I was aware of NT Wright's upcoming lectures on Romans and thanks to Kar Yong's reminder, I just checked it out only to realize that he has several MOOC lectures already running in and here am I, a MOOC proponent never realizing that my favourite writer is actually running MOOC lectures. But they are not free though, like the other MOOC lectures I that have been following, which explains why I did not know. I have not registered myself in yet because they do not give an option to take any courses free.

He has now six courses made available, including the Romans one which doesn't seem to be listed yet in though you can access it from his own website. Check them out here in his website where you can send in requests for discounts. The link to the Romans one is here.

  • Simply Jesus
  • Simply Good News
  • Worldviews, the Bible and the Believer
  • Paul and His Letter to the Philippians
  • Paul and His Letter to the Galatians
  • Paul and His Epistle to the Romans

Check out this 20-min video of his Introduction to Romans and see if it will whet your appetite. 


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Warm Bodies ★★★★☆

I caught up with this movie today and surprisingly I really liked it. The first four minutes was enough to get me hooked on to watch the whole movie. It may just start with a monologue but I found it so witty and funny I had to see more. And Nicholas Hoult's delivery of it was brilliant. 

What I'm doing with my life?
I'm so pale. I should get out more.
You should eat better. My posture is terrible.
I had to keep myself upright.
People would respect me more if I kept upright.
What's wrong with me? I just want to connect.
Cause I can not connect with people?
Oh, right.
It's because I'm dead.
It should not be so hard on me.
I mean, we're all dead.

And when I was at the half hour mark, the zombie had already unexpectedly saved and is now harbouring a living girl, keeping her safe from the other brain-eating zombies. But now what? Where could the story go? Surprisingly, it has quite an interesting plot and ending. Not spectacular but quite interesting. 


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Being home

Two quote-days in a row, how so? Well, as Jorge Luis Borges had said and I quote, "Life itself is a quotation."

If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home. 
~ Malala Yousafzai

He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home. 
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Home is the nicest word there is.
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

The home should be the treasure chest of living. 
~ Le Corbusier

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love. 
~ Billy Graham

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need. 
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach


My home is Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world. 
~ Billy Graham

Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven for beginners. 
~ Charles Henry Parkhurst

Home is where one starts from. 
~ T.S. Elliot


Friday, May 13, 2016

If ever you feel useless

Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless. 
~ Thomas Edison

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else. 
~ Charles Dickens

It is better, of course, to know useless things than to know nothing. 
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 
~ Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22


Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Jungle Book (2016) - absolutely loved it! ★★★★★

I decided to go watch The Jungle Book today on a whim with my colleague and it was a good decision. The movie was superbly good. Neel Sethi as Mowgli was adorable. Ben Kingsley as Bagheera was fitting and Bill Murray as Baloo was absolutely brilliant. The old cartoon was one of my favourites and it was a delight to have all my favourite scenes reprised so well digitally. 

I asked myself which my favourite scenes of the new movie were and it has to be these two: (1) Mowgli and Baloo singing Bare Necessities in the river and (2) Mowgli saving the elephant with his "man tricks".

I watched it in Berjaya Times Square GSC Premier and it was a good cinema. At just RM18 per entry, the double seats were wide and comfortable, and the sound system was fabulous. My only misgivings were that the screen could have been a bit bigger and the emergency floor lights at the aisles were just too bright. During the darker scenes of the movie, they were very distracting. They do not bother me in a regular sized cinema as I would be seated right in the middle away from those aisle lights. But no matter, it was still a good experience. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Horses and theatre, and story telling

I attended a seminar on human resource and learning today. It was organized by People Potential and it was their 13th year in running these one-day complimentary seminars where they invite HR and Learning practitioners for an exchange of ideas and experience. 

I was exposed to two news ways of learning and I learnt one new thing.

The new thing I learnt is the basics of business story telling. I am never good in public speaking though I have done a few good ones and I am quite alright in facilitating training sessions. But when it comes to persuading and influencing, I am utterly bad at it and so I thought learning how to tell a business story may help. The basics seem simple and I could now easily craft one. But the challenge now though is to find the stories and they have to be personal and real. To me that is tough and I'd be cracking my head on that for now and after that to actually tell the stories. Ah! I don't know. 

The two news ways of learning I have discovered on the other hand are really interesting ones. One actually involves horses. It is a way of learning that gets you to the innermost values that you hold. It is through the caring, grooming and bonding with the horses that you might be able to get you to your heart of heart. I must say I am not yet convinced of its breadth and scope but I believe horses can teach us a lot and it will definitely be deep and long lasting. 

The second one is is fascinating. It is in the form of an exchange theatre. You will get a group of skilled actors to portray a common scene or problem in your organization that you want to address. And you use the actors to try out scenes that you yourself can get to play out what you think might work with zero consequences. It should handle culture and human behavior issues really well by putting you in a live test environment which you can twist and turn however you like to try out behaviors and solutions to see what might work. 

It was indeed a good day of learning. 


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Do you read instruction manuals?

Whatever for? Just switch it on and play!

So do you read instruction manuals? We discussed this during lunch and two of my colleagues and I, out of the seven of us, gave a very loud no. So I'm assuming my other four colleagues do. 

The interesting thing is all three of us are INFPs. So with that, I can safely say that most INFPs would never read a manual unless we are forced to. This is probably because we find step-by-step instructions too detailed and uninteresting. When we begin something new, we'd like to just go for it with an expectation to learn and discover new things as we go along in serendipity. 

I will only try to read a manual when I think I have to. That is with the exception of the IKEA instruction manuals when I need to assemble stuff I get but then again, there is no reading required. I have with me instead simple and clear frame by frame instructions of assembly.

On the contrary, when I bought a pressure cooker a few weeks ago, I thought since it is a riskier product than most, I had better read the manual carefully. But when I did, I couldn't go more just than a few paragraphs! I had problem figuring what it was saying exactly and what items or parts it was referring to. I ended up having to look for some videos in YouTube to get an idea how it works. It was much simpler and I ditched the manual. 

So there. No manuals for me. Just like the iPhone. None is provided. And you wouldn't need one anyway. 


Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mothers are not always right

It was a good service today as the church celebrated Mother's Day, although I have some misgivings about celebrating us on the Lord's day, more so the sadness it brings to some people, especially to single women and especially the barren, God bless them. I am okay with the acknowledgment but not a celebration. 

Nevertheless, the message from the sermon and a mother's sharing was clear. We as parents need to be genuine and we need to be humble. We are not always right. We are fallible human beings. We need to admit it when we are wrong and we definitely need to ask for forgiveness from our children. 

This is a good lesson that is apart from all the messages as to how great moms are. We are not great, but we are there whenever our children needed us. We do our best but sometimes make mistakes. We try to make it as best as possible for them. Sometimes we may seem to be unfair but we thought it may be the best for them. Sometimes we may seem to be uncaring but we thought we need to teach independence. But sometimes we are definitely wrong and we need to be told that and apologize. 

God gave us the privilege to be parents. Our children are gifts from him and are placed in our care and to be loved. Our love is not perfect but we pray we will teach and lead them into godly people, pleasing and a fragrance to our God. 


Saturday, May 07, 2016

Rosemary is for remembrance

My dad's memory is getting worse these days. He is not able to maintain his working memory for long. 

Recently, I found this article that says that based on research, smelling rosemary improved the memories of people over 65 by an average of 15%. I need to now get some rosemary essential oil to try it out with him. I am not sure however, where I can get it and would most probably have to resort to an online purchase. 

In addition, the article claims that peppermint tea can improve alertness while chamomile does indeed provide a calming effect. Lavender, though, impairs the memory.

And it looks like I should reduce my use of lavender even though it's my favourite scent. But lavender apparently helps one to rest and sleep. Maybe it helps you forget about the day and makes you more relaxed and help you then to be restful. I only hope the memory impairment is temporary. 

Click here for the article. 


Friday, May 06, 2016

A humorous self-deprecatory prayer

I pray O Lord that you will help
Me when I'm oh so clueless
I seem to have no idea
What's happening around us
I am just not able to put things 
Together or make things clear
I go round and round and round and round 
Others say I don't seem to cohere
I need to realise my predicament
But I don't because I'm so blur*
And why do others keep muttering
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

* A Malaysian slang for being in a daze and unaware of what's going on

Thursday, May 05, 2016

One TV series that should not have been discontinued

I have watched all three seasons of Lie to Me before and loved it. I am watching Season 2 again in iFlix and since I can't remember much of it, I am having a good time. I still do not know why the series was discontinued just after three seasons. It should have been continued for many more. The episodes all have good storylines and the characters were so memorable, Lightman, Foster, Loker, Torres and Reynolds. And if you check its ratings in IMDB, it carries an average rating of 8.0. So why on earth did they stopped the series? Tell me why?


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Taking it all out of context

I was at lunch when someone partly quoted Matt 7:7, "ask and it shall be given", without realizing that it is from the bible, and was taking it out of context. 

I then realised that quotations taken from famous people may also be taken out of context. I suppose people in general would freely take quotations to be applied in whatever ways that are suitable and relevant to them. And I'm sure the originator of the statements quoted would mind their words being taken out of context.

Christians, particularly bible scholars and theologians, as we all should be, take the context of bible verses very seriously and we would not misinterpret them as we please. We read them in immediate context of the passage and in overall context with the whole of Scripture. 

We must not take bible verses in isolation and interpret them as we like. If we do that, we can take the Word of God to mean anything we please and that we must avoid. The intention of a writer of any books or of a speaker of any speeches is very important. If I say or write something, I am intending it to mean what I intend it to mean, not as what you would want it to mean as you please. More importantly for the Bible when it carries the gospel, a life giving message. 

Dr James Davis of says, "When it comes to making claims about what the Bible means, sometimes we hear comments from Christians or non-Christians like the following: “Well, that’s just your interpretation.” “The Bible can be made to say anything you want.” “You can’t really understand the Bible. It is full of contradictions.” “No one can understand the true meaning of anything anyone says.” Or, someone sitting in a Bible study might say, “This is what the Bible means to me.”"

So how are we to know what the bible is really saying?Some verses are very commonly taken out of context. One of them is definitely Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." If you read it with its previous verse, you will see that Paul was talking about the immense suffering he was facing and with that, we cannot apply it to ourselves so freely. 

Paul said, "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:12-13)

Davis gives 7 principle of biblical interpretation. Do you agree with them? Check it out here for the details. 

Principle 1: Interpretation must be based on the author’s intention of meaning and not the reader.
Principle 2: Interpretations must be done in the context of the passage.
Principle 3: Interpret the Bible literally (or normally) allowing for normal use of figurative language.
Principle 4: Use the Bible to help interpret itself.
Principle 5: Interpretation must be distinguished from application.
Principle 6: Be sensitive to distinctions betweenIsrael and the church and Old Covenant and New Covenant eras/requirements.
Principle 7: Be sensitive to the type of literature 


Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Do Asians really have no questions to ask?

I was at a conference today when a speaker asked if there were any questions from the floor after his presentation. Even before anyone asked any, he went on to tell a story of how another speaker, who was foreign, openly reminded himself he was in Malaysia and should not expect any questions. I am not sure about you, but I found that an insult.

Yes, I agree that Asians aren't as forthcoming in asking questions after speaking sessions or classes but we are not without any questions either. I have been to many local conferences where questions abound.

For me, it boils down to the quality of the speaker. If the speaker had not provided me with any insightful thoughts, where would the questions come from? I would have nothing relevant to ask if they have not caused me to think and to want to discover more.

I know I am one with loads of questions if the speaker had successfully stirred my curiosity or taught me something so new and interesting I want to know more.

So speakers, if there aren't any questions from the floor, you have not said anything interesting or insightful.


Monday, May 02, 2016

I am a nerdy Doctor Who fan

Let me first rant a bit. I am not very happy with the latest Season 9 of the Doctor Who series. I fell asleep halfway today watching the first episode, and it is very rare thing for me to do that while watching TV. Then I sort of half-watched the subsequent episodes including the absolutely boring Zygon Invasion and the so ridiculous Sleep No More. The only ones which were a bit more interesting were The Girl Who Died and The Girl Who Lived. I have three more episodes to go and I'm not sure when I will get the mood to watch them.

My Top-3 Doctor Who Episodes
Anyway this is what I want to blog about today: of all the 2005-reboot season episodes of Doctor Who, I have my top 3 here, which I would like share with you. I have included short clips below. If you have not watched this sci-fi series before, do watch these clips, or at least the third one; seriously, it's really really good. 

The Empty Child (2005)
Starring Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, John Barrowman, Richard Wilson, Florence Hoath

This episode is an eerie one but so eerie it's so good. It is set in London in 1941, during the Second World War. The story goes around a boy who wears a gas mask. Anyone who touches him will have gas masks grow out of their faces. And he goes around asking people "Are you my mommy?", which became an iconic phrase in Doctor Whodom. 

Blink (2007)
Starring David Tennant, Carey Mulligan, Freema Agyeman

This episode surely sits on the No.1 position in all best-episode lists out there, being one of the best time travel story of all times. The plot knits itself very well together and for a time travel story it actually make sense. And it involves the really heart-stopping Weeping Angels who would come after you when you blink or close your eyes. Watch the clip above and notice the Weeping Angels changing their positions as the scene progresses. And as you watch it, don't blink!

Vincent and the Doctor (2010)
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Tony Curran, Bill Nighy

And of all my three favourite episodes, I can watch this one over and over and over again. The colours, the emotions, the warmth, the art, it's just so fantastic. Tony Curran played fabulously as Van Gogh and Bill Nighy was just too precious as an art expert. Watching this makes me happy. If I had a tired and depressing day, this would be one of the things that lift up my spirits, and yet not running away from the reality of life, just as it was sadly with Van Gogh. "Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Good things don't always soften the bad things but vice versa the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant."


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Bono and Eugene Peterson

My hubby showed me this video today which I thought was very good. This short documentary was released by Fuller Studios, which I presume is tied to the Fuller Theological Seminary. 

It is quite insightful to listen to them both talking about music and lyrics, the inevitable violence in this world, and the honesty of Christian music. It's worth a watch, and what a lovely to live in where Eugene Peterson's home is. What a spectacular view. It's also quite amusing how Mrs Peterson was chiding Bono at the end of the video as he was leaving. 

It is also featured in this article in Huffington Post: Bono Wants Christian Music To Get More Honest