Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Drums, books and an awful salesman

I got a bit bored staying at home today, having the day off, and decided to go for a walk at the mall. And off I went to Suria KLCC.

First, I got to watch this awesome drums performance at the concourse area. Too bad I was watching it from the second floor and what I captured here is an aerial view of the performance. But I loved it!

Then I was at Kinokuniya, my one and only favourite bookstore. 

It was nice to be in a bookstore again, though I did not get many books, just one. Kindle books, especially those on sale, are so much cheaper. I noticed a couple of titles which I got from Kindle probably $1.99 or $2.99 were selling at RM80 and above!

Next, I went to take a look at some smartphones for my mom. Her phone is not working very well and we thought it's time she got a new one. She wanted a simple one and so I went to look at the lower end models.

To start with, I was at the Samsung flagship store. I saw the J2 series and its quality looks bad. But the sales service was worse. There wasn't much information about the phones on display and so I asked the salesperson what's the difference between the J2 Prime and the J5 Prime models.  His answer?  "The specs of the J2 is lower." Okay, that's obvious. And so I tried again and asked about their performance. His answer? "The specs are lower." Okay, I'm done with Samsung.

I then went to the Huawei store and the salesperson I met was so much nicer in comparison. She asked me what I was looking for and made recommendations what I should get for my mom. 

I also wanted to take a look at the Microsoft Lumia models as well but I don't know know which stores carry them. I think there is one in Low Yat and I will try to make a trip there in the next few days. 

I was a good afternoon window shopping, something I have not done in a long time. 


Monday, January 30, 2017

The Prodigal God?

The Prodigal God, Christianity Redefined Through the Parable of the Prodigal Sons 
by Timothy Keller

My husband and I will be participating in a covenant group in church studying and discussing The Prodigal God written by Timothy Keller. We will however be watching a video a week for six weeks. 

But I have always wanted to read Keller's books but haven't got to it and so this will be a good opportunity to do so. 

So I bought a copy today. It's a short book and I was halfway through in no time. But I decided not to go so fast and stopped midway. 

It is a very good book. Simple but profound. I can imagine there will be loads of thing to discuss, to unpack, to agree and to disagree. 

The title of the book itself is thought provoking. We've always known the parable to be The Parable of the Lost Son. But Keller said the focus isn't so much on the younger son but more on the elder son. 

Keller was right when he said that the "younger brothers" of those days were attracted to Jesus, but today, "the licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think."

And ultimately, it ends up with the magnanimous and prodigal father, with prodigal meaning being recklessly extravagant, having spent everything, which was what the father did. 

I really look forward to the sessions beginning this coming Sunday. 


Sunday, January 29, 2017

A church: sharing what we have in common

I was all into chiasms when I was studying (part time) in a seminary. I would always try to see if there were chiastic structures in the bible passages I studied. A chiasm is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism. 

So when today's sermon by Matthew Bellville began with a look into the chiastic structure Acts 2:41-47, I was quite enthused. The passage is about the early believers forming a community, a church. And with the chiastic structure, the focus of the passage is in v.44.

Acts 2:41-47 NLT 
[41] Those who believed what Peter said 
were baptized and added to the church 
that day-about 3,000 in all.
      [42] All the believers devoted 
      themselves to the apostles' 
      teaching, and to fellowship, and 
      to sharing in meals (including the 
      Lord's Supper), and to prayer.
           [43] A deep sense of awe came over 
           them all, and the apostles 
           performed many miraculous signs 
           and wonders.
                  [44] And all the believers met 
                  together in one place and 
                  shared everything they had.
           [45] They sold their property and 
           possessions and shared the money 
           with those in need.
       [46] They worshiped together at the 
       Temple each day, met  in homes for 
       the Lord's Supper, and shared their 
       meals with great joy and generosity-
[47] all the while praising God and 
enjoying the goodwill of all the people. 
And each day the Lord added to their 
fellowship those who were being saved.

The speaker highlighted that there the original Greek in v.44 do not have the word "everything" in it and the more literal translation of "all in common" implies that they shared what they have in common, beyond the materialistic things. They shared what is common in their one faith, one Lord, one Ruler, one future, one hope, one law keeper.

Acts 2:44
πάντες δὲ οἱ         πιστεύσαντες     ἐπὶ
all        moreover   having believed (were) together 
τὸ  αὐτὸ  εἶχον   ἅπαντα κοινά.
the same having all          in common.

And what they had been doing and what we should be doing in church and out of church are the four devotions we have in common as listed in v.42:
1. Apostolic teaching
2. Fellowship
3. Sharing of meals
4. Prayer, in hope and in confession

And with this, it lessens the emphasis we usually pay to v.45, where according to the NIV Study Bible, it is "not communalism or communism since this giving is voluntary (5:4) and since people still retain personal possessions like homes (12:12; 17:5) and property (4:37). A better analogy is that the church views itself as a family, and healthy families take care of their own."

I like the what it says of the church, "a family, and healthy families take care of their own."


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Our Annual Chinese New Year Family Gathering

Like every year, my relatives from my mom's side gathered in my uncle's house for the Chinese New Year to 拜年 baì nián and to enjoy each other's company, my one uncle, three aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces. 

My cousin brother organized a gift exchange amongst us beginning with a lucky draw and here are the shots we took of the lucky ones. The prizes are small but fun and useful stuff.

I hate my picture to be taken but I kinda like this shot where I picked up the lucky prize of a toothpaste and toothbrush travel set. Very useful but amusing as well. 

Then it was time for the gift exchange. The gifts ranges from Kit Kat chocolates to bunny pillows and Hello Panda cookies to Spotify gift cards:

And here are the happy people...

...and the three pretty girls. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

Spaghetti Yee Sang?


My mom stuck to her decision and we had our reunion dinner in a fusion restaurant, Take Eat Easy in Pearl Point Shopping Gallery. They also serves yee sang and so we ordered one serving. 

However the yee sang turned out to be spaghetti yee sang, which to us sounded and tasted weird. Only my husband found it good. 

But other than that, it was a good dinner and family get-together. 


Thursday, January 26, 2017

How many words do you know?

I was chatting with a friend and we were talking about our command of the English language, in particular the size of our vocabulary. This made me very curious as to how many words I know. I obviously can't count it, and so I did a search and found this website: http://testyourvocab.com.

It is a very interesting site. All you need to do is to pick out words you know the definition of, and it will give you an estimate size of your vocabulary. 

According to the test, it seems I know about 25,500 words and that is equivalent to being a native speaker. I know I am not technically a native speaker, but I still regard English as my first language. 

How many words do you know?


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

If you want your music, use your earphones

I have a colleague who plays music from her computer at work and it really irritates me. I feel that we need to respect each other in the space that we share, including the-what-I-shall-call-it the "sound space".

Maybe I am more sensitive to sound. I once found out about being 
misophonic and that it really irks me when people watch videos or plays music through their smartphones in public areas, that I had to be exposed to the sound pollution.

Why I think it is important to respect each other's space is because we all live and operate together in the environment we are in and we need it to be optimal in order to be productive. 

One good example was what happened today: I came back to my cubicle from a stressful meeting and I needed to get something settled quickly. As I logged into my computer, what I hear playing in the air was Bach's Toccata and Fugue!

Take a listen here, if you don't know it, and you will know what I mean. 

I couldn't concentrate because the music made me even more stressed with its feel and tempo. I could literally feel my pressure rising.

Why can't we all practice a no-music-but-silence office space with each other? If you want your music, use your earphones.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why do I always gravitate myself to sad songs?

I am currently getting too obsessed with this song. It really makes me want to cry. And yet, I can't stop listening to it. 

Kim Kyunghee - And I'm Here


Sunday, January 22, 2017

So we think we are so great

Today's sermon was an exposition of Luke 4:14-40 and the speaker, Brett Hartman, has approached it in a way I have not thought of before. 

He explained the passage as follows: Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and when it came to the reading from the prophets, he took the scroll and read from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD's favor has come."

Jesus then gave an exposition of the passage saying, "The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!"

The people were amazed and they were happy with what Jesus has said. They see themselves as good people, under the oppression of the Romans. And so they were waiting for the Messiah to come save them, and to proclaim the year of Lord's favour on them. 

But Jesus see that they have missed the point of the gospel. And so he continued with the mention of two people whom God chose to save: of all the widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, God only chose to save a foreign poor widow, and of all the lepers in Israel, God only chose to cleanse Naaman, a rich foreign. Both of them implying that God had not chosen to save Israel. 

The people became very angry when they heard that. They rose up, drove Jesus out of town and wanted to kill him. They failed this time, but we know, they soon nailed Jesus to the cross. 

The lesson here is that grace means that God is not obliged to save anyone but yet he is free to save anyone. The Israelites cannot have a claim to salvation anymore than the two foreigners can be excluded. 

The speaker also brought a more in-depth meaning to the passage read by Jesus in the synagogue, that four things will happen when you truly encounter God:
1. You will be set free from captive
2. You will open your eyes and see
3. You will be cleansed and accepted by God, no longer be loathed and shunned like a leper
4. You will be set free and no longer be oppressed or be poor in spirit 

We must recognize the deep desire in our hearts and lives that we do not really want to give God control in our lives. We want to be our own god, our own saviour. We want control. 

But how good we think we are, we actually do not have anything, do we? We are indeed nothing. We need the Lord, he is the one in control. 


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Restaurant hunting for reunion dinner


My mom and I were planning for this year's reunion dinner. She used to cook and have the dinner at home but in recent years, we decided to eat out and not slog so much in the kitchen. 

However, my mom kept changing her mind. We first wanted to just pre-order and take-away poon-choi and yee sang and have it at home. 

But before I could do that, she made a booking in a restaurant near home for a Chinese set dinner. 

That's not the end of it, we were having lunch in a western dining restaurant this afternoon and suddenly she said we should have it here and that there is no reason why we should only have Chinese food. 

I am flexible myself and said, why not. Well, she might change her mind again. We'll see where we finally end up in. 


Friday, January 20, 2017

Enjoy Your Work

Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.
~ Theodore Isaac Rubin

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. 
~ Steve Jobs

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off of you. 
~ Maya Angelou

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 
~ Confucius

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 
~ Colossians 3:23-24


Thursday, January 19, 2017

The whole church should grieve together


My good friend Ee-Tan's close and beloved uncle had passed on, and I was there for the wake service today to be with her and to offer my condolences especially the family.

I remember Rev Wong Fong Yang had once talked about wake services and how the whole church should be there for the body of Christ to console the grieving, even if we do not know them that well. We are after all one body in the Lord, and we should be there to grieve together. And I agree with him, I haven't been good in this regard and when I reflected on it, I would like to emulate that. 

It goes without saying here that Ee-Tan is a dear friend of mine and of course I am there for her. There is nothing else I could do. 

And wake services always make me think of my own wake service. How would it be? Who would be there? 


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

At a Chinese village for lunch

I do not like my photo to be taken but my colleagues and I were checking out the Chinese New Year decorations at the mall where we work and Berjaya Times Square has really outdone itself this year, and so why not, I thought. 

Its decoration theme is a Chinese village with shops and stalls and carts and produce stands. Visitors are allowed to immerse themselves into the scenes for their photos to be taken. 

This is my favourite shot. What would you suggest as a caption?



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My training challenge

I was facilitating a training for managers on communication, influence and teamwork today and I was quite stressed out about it because of the topic on communication.

Being an introvert, communication does not come easily to me. But through the years, I have developed my ability to communicate well in small groups. But I would choose not to relate to a large group of people unless I really have to.

With that as my challenge, I have obtained content for the 1-day training from so many sources for just a 1-day training that it's almost going overboard. I hadn't realized it until I listed them out.

Crucial Conversations
by Kerry Patterson, et. al.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
by Patrick Lenzioni

Type Talk at Work
by Otto Kroeber, et. al.

Games People Play
by Eric Berne

I'm OK-You're OK
by Thomas A. Harris

Games at Work
by Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read

Unmasking the Face
by Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Friesen

The Like Switch
by Jack Schafer

Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion
by Robert Cialdini
I have also just purchased this book that was on sale this month and will be adding content to the training sessions in the coming months.

I will be facilitating the same session for a different group tomorrow and I pray and hope it will also go well.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Languages: speak to their hearts

I love this quote by Nelson Mandela: "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

I think it's everyone's dream to speak multiple languages. 

I was introduced to www.italki.com, a language learning community social website, by my good friend Ee-Tan back in April 2014. Didn't realized it was so long ago. I was hoping I was able to sustain my learning of languages there but it remains a pipe dream. I wasn't able to put in the time and as Ee-Tan have told me, to learn languages I need to be more serious about it and it would work better if I got myself a teacher.

A teacher, maybe not yet. But I do need to get more serious and keep at it. But mostly to keep it fun.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Though we are many

I learnt this song many years ago. I can't remember when but I think it was when the group Vineyard visited us and taught us this song. I like it so much it has stuck with me all these years. And whenever I find the chance, when the theme is right, I will use it for worship when I get to lead in songs. 

Though We Are Many - Tom Inglis


Friday, January 13, 2017

My most favourite melancholic song

I would always listen to this song when I am feeling melancholic. I love the melody, I love the lyrics - no need to say goodbye. 

The Call - Regina Spektor


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Migraine and memory loss

I have had migraines since my university days and I've suffered through them with as little medication as possible. I would usually just take painkillers and once in awhile I'd take migraine pills when it's really bad. 

I took some yesterday and I noticed something quite unusual. I found that I could not remember the simplest of stuff, yesterday and today. I was in a few conversation with my boss and colleagues and I could not remember names and words. 

I did some research and learnt that memory loss is one of the many side effects of migraine medication. 

I think that is quite scary and I will now not take any until I really, really cannot stand the pain. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Walnut Cafe & Bar

My son and I had dinner in Walnut Cafe & Bar in Bandar Puteri, Puchong. The food there is quite good and it was quite crowded. 

Lemon Grass White Tea in a barrel 

Spaghetti Carbonara 

Soft Shell Crab Risotto 


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

From aerogrammes to messaging apps


In my project to learn a new language and to improve my dismal command of the Chinese language, I made some friends in italki.com today and chatted with them on and off for the whole day yesterday. 

It was good to connect and make friends to speak the languages we want to learn and from whom we are free to ask questions.

But I just realized something interesting that only people my age would understand. This in comparison to my childhood days when I was writing letters on aerogrammes with pen pals from the other sides of the world is just amazing. 

We now can have conversations with anyone anywhere in real time. No more composing of long letters, no more travelling to the post office, no more waiting for a reply. 

How things have changed. 


Monday, January 09, 2017

Is learning a new language difficult?

I happen to see this video in my YouTube page today and found it good. I especially like his 3 golden rules to learning a new language: live the language, make mistakes and make it fun. 


Sunday, January 08, 2017

Do not be derailed from our walk with God

Today's sermon was on Luke 4:1-13, on Jesus's temptations. It is interesting for me because this pericope of the Gospels have always intrigued me: why should Jesus be tempted and what were the implications of the temptations? 

We see here that Jesus was tempted both of his Sonship and Messiahship. He suffered through it all and is qualified to be our Saviour and Messiah. He shared in our humanity and suffered through the most extreme form of temptation. As much as the first Adam has failed, the second Adam was victorious.

Satan's desire is for us to fail and be derailed from our walk with God. 

So it is of great importance for us to find out for ourselves what does it mean for us to live as an obedient child of God. Satan would always want to drive a wedge between us and God. What are our weak areas or even areas we think we are strong, that nothing with move us?

Based on Jesus's three temptations, we need to be careful about:
1. Being tempted to use our own power and position for our own purposes. We must be obedient in our afflictions.
2. Being tempted to take shortcuts to glory. We may be offered a crown without the cross, without suffering, but it will not be real crowns in the end. 
3. Being tempted to test God's faithfulness.

We also need to be alert at all times because even if we think we are fine now, Satan is still at work and will look for every opportunity to derail us away from God. And he will be deceiving and we might not even realise it until it is too late.


Saturday, January 07, 2017

Mikey's Original New York Pizza


My son told me that pizza is best in Mikey's Original New York Pizza in Midvalley. I am not so keen on pizzas anymore after eating loads of it when my son was growing up. But since he said this is really good, I gave it a try. 

I must say, it is indeed very good. I ordered a slice of Tony Soprano Pizza. Its base was crunchy and topped with pepperoni and beef and tomatoes, it was yummy. 

Photo source: EatDrinkKL

Friday, January 06, 2017

Ringing in the ears

I got to know about someone who can't sleep at night because of tinnitus or ringing in the ears. It must be a bad one if one can't sleep because of it. 

Sadly, there is no cure yet for this condition and the only thing that may help is to listen to something else that will help cancel out the ringing. 

The app I like best is Brain Wave, 32 Advanced Binaural Programs by Banzai Labs. If I need to get to sleep I'd listen the sound of rain, which gives a very comforting feel that helps me sleep. If I'm reading or at work, I'd either listen to the forest or the sound of a running brook. 

But these days with Apple Music, my favourite songs work too. 

Anything is better than constant ringing that won't go away. 


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Going by gut feel

I have made many decisions in my life by gut feel and I just made one today. I have felt I need to do something about it but I still gave it a try and I was right, it is a right thing to do. 

Do you depend on your gut feel when you make decisions?

Inc.com has this article and it says, "There is no such thing as a purely logical decision. The brain uses a combination of logic and emotion when making decisions of any kind. That specific emotion, innate to us as humans, is intuition. We possess the capacity to feel, and thereby the ability to know things without consciously reasoning. The 'gut feeling' is real, and we use it all the time."

I depend on it quite a lot. I tend to have a feel as to what I think should or should not be done. But sometimes I may depend on it too much and make the wrong decision. 

As such, when it is a big decision that I need to make, I'd then pray about it a lot, talk to my husband and mentors before I do anything. 

But I'd still go by gut feel in the end. 


Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Are you a traveler or a tourist?

Most people I know love to travel. I don't travel much, though I would love to. I think it is because I see myself more a traveler than a tourist. And what a traveler needs most is time and money. And those are what I don't have. 

I would love to spend three months in a place and live with and live like the locals. I would want to immerse myself into the culture and learn their way of life. 

Maybe later in life I may get a chance to do this, at least once in my life. 

Photo source: Getty Images

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Time is sprinting faster away from us the older we get

We had dinner with my mother-in-law yesterday and she said something quite interesting: she felt that the years go by so fast once you've hit age 50. 

Well, time is subjective and it does travel faster the older you are, and so by the time we are in our 50s, I can imagine time sprinting away before we can catch up with it. 

2016 sure passed by very fast for me and it's a new year now and this too will be gone in no time. 

This reminds me of one of my favourite books which I should read again, Time Warped, Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception by Claudia Hammond. 

As summarized by brainpickings.org, "As we grow older, we tend to feel like the previous decade elapsed more rapidly, while the earlier decades of our lives seem to have lasted longer."

When time actually feels faster as we grow older, it is then more important for us to spend it wisely and treasure the moments we have with our loved one. 


Monday, January 02, 2017

My projects for 2017

I gave up on making resolutions years ago, since I don't keep any of them for long. And what my hubby told me is so true: if you want to do it anyway, you won't need any resolutions, and if you do not want to do it, making a million resolutions won't help. 

But at the start of the new year, I do think about what projects I would like to start and see if I will form a new habit or learn something new as a result. 

I started on three projects last year, to get back to cooking meals for the family, to start knitting and to take weekly sermon sketchnotes. I only somewhat succeeded in one, that is I am cooking more now but still not enough. I gave up on the other two, with no regrets. I soon found out they are not the things I really wanted to do anyway. 

I haven't really mulled over what I would like to do in 2017 yet but I have three things in mind. 

It goes without saying that reading is on top of the list. With the amount of ebooks I have been buying from Amazon, I have loads to read. 

I have also signed up to join a choral group that majors on sacred music. This will be a challenge for me because there will a lot of homework and learning of scores before appearing for their weekly practice sessions. 

One more thing I would like to do is to learn a new language. I am not sure though if this will materialize. I have always wanted to learn a new language but it will be tough when I do not have anyone to speak the language with. I also have been trying all my life to improve my Mandarin to no avail. Maybe I should try it again this year - in small ways at least. 


Sunday, January 01, 2017

We are sons of God

It is good to start the New Year on a Sunday, beginning it with corporate worship and the preaching of the Word. 

We began with a song of calling, Lift Up Your Heads. It's an old song by Don Moen but it's the first time I've heard and sang it. A very appropriate song to start the year with!

Don Moen - Lift Up Your Heads

Rev Wong Fong Yang spoke today from Luke 3:21-23, on the baptism of Jesus. Rev Wong asked a very good question: why would Luke include this in the gospel, the fact that Jesus was baptized and seen as one baptized amongst sinners when he has no sin? John the Baptist was reluctant to do it, as we read the same account in Matthew, but Jesus insisted that it should be carried out as required by God. 

Rev Wong suggested that Jesus did it in solidarity of the human race and from it we can also see the three eschatological signs:
- the opening of heaven
- the descending of the Spirit
- the audible voice from heaven

The voice from heaven said, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy." God has shown both affirmation and affection to Jesus, and in the same way, God has also given us affirmation and affection as adopted sons of God through his Son. 

This is a very important lesson for me as I start the new year. I am reminded that I do not need to seek for any affirmation from anyone or from anything I do. We are first and foremost sons of God, we are not affirmed by who we think we are or wish we are, not by our work, not by our accomplishments or lack of. 

With this I will begin the new year being affirmed and loved by God as his adopted son, through Christ. That is my identity, my position - a son of God.